Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I leave Seattle and come to Palm Springs to get away from the rain.

On average 354 days in Palm Springs each year are sunny, and the percentage of available sunshine is about 85; ... and humidity is low, reflecting the small annual rainfall total of only 5.8 inches, and around 20 days each year on which rain actually falls.

Guess which days I picked? 2 days, 2 days of rainso far. Also, an inch or so of rain.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Adventures in Parking

This is a repost of something I wrote 3 or 4 years ago. Today my son was driving around Philadelpia looking for a spot and I was reminded of it and told him I'd put it up again now that he's old enought to appreciate it.

I am torn. While I like the fact that Boston has freshly cleaned streets every week so that muggings and drug deals can take place in a clean environment supportive of the habits shitting dogs and barfing drunks, I'm liking the towing of my car thing not so much.
The other day , I went to get my car, and I couldn't find it. For those of you unfamiliar with Boston's Parking Calculus, with it's myriad streets, even/odd parking schema, let me explain what you have to do to simply find a parking spot.

Let's say you live in the South End at the corner of Union Park and Shawmut. Let's call this spot home. Intuitively you know there is a spot at some radius, R, away that qualifies as parking. This what you do to park:
  • Drive by your apartment in the hopes there is a spot. This is called the Christmas Spot since it happens once or twice a year.
  • Drive around the block looking for a spot.
  • Neighborhood parking requires a sticker. Drive to BackBay or Bay Village, see a spot, curse the lazy bastards who live there and their ample parking. Think about moving to Back Bay. You now now approximately how large R is. Exceed it again only at the risk of also exceeding the pressure tolerances of the delicate network of veins in your brain.
  • Drive past your apartment. Notice an unstickered car parking in front of it. Throw a gypsy curse at the tourist bastard. Think about calling the city to have them towed. Remember that the city won't do that. Curse the lazy bastards at the tow lot.
  • Drive around the block in circles of increasing radius.
  • Watch a valet from the restaurant around the corner steal a free spot at R/10 away from your home. Stop your car, scream at him for parking there. Threaten him with dubious threats like, "I'm calling the tow lot, that car won't be there when you come back in an hour", or "I'm often responsible for unexplained car fires when I'm off my meds!". If the valet is new, this has a chance to work, otherwise they know what lazy bastards they are at the tow lot and will flip you off.
  • Drive around some more.
  • Watch a tourist pull out, grab his space and park!
  • Realize tomorrow is the 3rd Tuesday of the month and this, the south side of the street, gets swept at 6am, so your car will be towed at 5:59am.
  • Tell yourself you will get up at 5:30am to move the car.
  • Remember that a) there will be even fewer spots at 6am when everyone else is moving and b) it still sounds too stupid to get up at 5:30am just to move the car.
  • Tell yourself you could drive over to the gym
  • Realize the gym has an even worse parking situation at 5:30am.
  • Drive around some more.
  • Get desperate. Park next to a hydrant.
  • Realize that the hydrant is on the south side of the street and tomorrow is the 3rd Tuesday of the month.
  • Drive around some more.
  • Drive out to the sketchy section of town at 2R from your house. There are no neighborhood stickers here. There is no street cleaning. There are a surprising number of syringes of the street. Broken car window glass grinds under your tires as you pull into one of the many spaces. Eyes light up as it pulls in and you reflexively touch your wallet.
  • Tell yourself the syringes are because there are a lot of diabetics here.
  • Tell yourself the glass is really from taillights where people touch park.
  • Tell yourself you had a successful parking experience here "that one time last year".
  • Tell yourself that, after 45 minutes looking for fucking parking, you really need to move out of the city.
  • Weigh the possibility of having your car stolen vs. having it towed vs. actually finding it at 8am tomorrow.
  • Drive around some more.
    After an hour, find a spot at exactly R, on the north side of the street.
  • The spot is the size of Miata
  • You drive an Eclipse.
  • Jam the car into the spot through a combination of superlative parking skills and crushing the bumpers of the other cars like egg cartons under an Acela.
  • Double check the north/south orientation of the street. Think again about which Tuesday this is.
  • Realize it's the second Wednesday not the third Tuesday.
  • See a red wall of rage descend over your vision.
  • 5 or minutes will pass, you will have no memory of them. This is normal.
  • Note the impressive dents in the hood of that guy's car. The gym is doing you good!
  • Realize you must have missed a spectacular accident since the parking sign is now on the ground tied into the shape of a Bavarian Pretzel.
  • You note that you see that a lot around here.
  • Walk the 15 minutes it takes to cross R and go home.
  • Go to bed.
  • Wake up at 5:30 and think about moving the car.
  • Go back to sleep.
  • Leave the apartment at 8:00am and try to remember where you parked the car last night.
  • Thinking about it, you can only remember a big red wall and your fists aching a little.
  • Walk the perimeter of R, looking for your car or a big red wall.
  • R is not a circumference of a circle, but a highly fractal path due to gerrymandering and neighborhood geometry.
  • The fractal dimension of R is .99287. That is absurdly high for 3 dimensional space.
  • Find a car that looks like yours but, in fact, has pimp wheels.
  • Keep walking the perimeter of R, looking for your car...

This is pretty much what goes on every night. You can count on getting towed about once a year.
Why is it you live in the city again?
I had parked on a first Wednesday side on a first wednesday. After walking 2R, I called the lazy bastards at the BTD. Sure enough, they towed me at 8:01. $105 later, I got a new lesson in parking calculus. :(