The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, June 06, 2003

World's most dangerous rail road crossings

Fellow reader Jerry Supe (who I know of from FAU; he's also a friend of Mark's) sent me the following about the rail road crossing picture:

The CSX crossings in Boca are notoriously dangerous. They have been mucking with them for 10 years and they still don't work right. I remember riding Tri-Rail many times and seeing the arms up like that. The conductor would get off the train prior to the crossing and act as a flagman for oncoming traffic. In fact, many crossings don't work right and CSX has been very lax in addressing the problem. I suspect part of the issue is the harsh weather, which seems to affect the signaling systems after heavy thunderstorms. There doesn't seem to be any redundancy in their system to contend for this.

How nice.


The pathetic warbling car alarm

A very wierd thing happened to me on the way to the Friday D&D game.

I got into the car, inserted the key in the ignition, turned the key. I heard a weird noise that I can't fully describe and nothing happened.

I'm attempting to start the car and it appears that the electrical system is D-E-A-D dead. Pining for the fjords dead.

I turn the key back and the car alarm go off. Well, in this pathetic warbling-I'm-dying-here-but-must-continue-on going off way. I turn the key over and everything is dead. Turn the key back, the pathetic warbling of the car alarm.

I do that a few more times, trying to figure out what is going on, cursing loudly since this is one of the few days of the week I can actually get out of the house and I know, I just know I'm going to have to call Triple-A and any chance I had of getting out of the house is as dead as the electrical system. I take the key out, warbling car alarm. I push the trunk release button and everything goes dead. I release the trunk release button and the warbling continues.

So if I leave the key out, the car alarm will be in this continual pathetic warbling and the last thing I need is pissed off neighbors and a dead battery to compound the problem I'm alread facing. So I remove the key from the keyring, and leave it in to keep the car quiet. I then go in the house and call Triple-A, getting more and more depressed. I'm told that the tow truck will be here within the hour.

So now I'm outside with the laptop. I can't sit in the car since it cuts the WAP signal right out. So I'm sitting on the hood of the car, sending email to the GM saying that I probably won't be able to make it. I then start answering email and surfing the web, waiting for the tow truck to arrive.

Half an hour later, the car alarm goes off!

And not the warbling-I'm-dying-here-but-must-continue-on going off but the full-blast-wake-the-dead-and-piss-everyone-off going off. Could it be that what ever happened fixed itself? The only way to turn the alarm off is to use the remote frob to unlock the doors. That works. I then get into the car, and turn it over. It's running. I stop it, pull the key out. No alarm. I put the key back in, turn it over and it's running.

It's like nothing happened at all.

I head back into the house, call Triple-A to cancel the tow truck, call the GM to inform him that I am indeed on my way. I figure that if the car dies at his house, I can call Triple-A from there. There is no way I'm missing a chance to get out of the house.

Update on Monday, June 9th

Car has been fine since. No problems at all. I'm guessing that something may have gotten into a relay or something just as I was starting the car, got carbonized, thus acting as an insulator preventing the electrical system from fully functioning. Since the car alarm bypasses the ignition system it got just enough juice to warble pathetically. And it took a bit of time for the carbonized whatever to crumble away, thus restoring the current.

At least, that's my explanation of the event.

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