Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More on merging

In response to Gretchen's comment on "Changing Lanes is not the Same as Merging":

Question -

"How do you feel about the situation where a merge is required and the merge lane is stopped but the main lane is steadily moving, but solid with traffic? It's rare, but I've seen it. Do cars stuck in the lane that is ending have to wait for hell to freeze over, or at some point is it ok for someone in the main lane who sees they will NEVER get in to slow down to a near stop and let them in?"

Answer -

If people actually followed the traffic laws, this is how it would go down:

A car approaches a merge where their lane is ending.
The car puts on their blinker before coming to a complete stop and should attempt to "change lanes" before coming to a complete stop.
If changing lanes is not possible before the lane ends, the car stops at the merge point and their blinker remains on.
People in the through traffic lane see a car with their blinker on. The stopped car(s) and traffic control devices indicating an upcoming merge should be an indication to drivers in the through lane of what is happening ahead.
The first few people can't react in time, so they continue on past.
People who are approaching the merge point should realize that a car is attempting to merge up ahead because they can see the blinker on well in advance.
This is where the part about "preventing a merge" comes in. Since people in the through lane have adequate warning that something is happening, they should be able to slow down in time to allow a merge to occur.
If they fail to allow the merge to happen when they've had adequare warning, then they're considered driving recklessly and should receive a traffic ticket.
Traffic should zipper together, every other car if there is a constant supply of cars in both lanes.
If only an occasional car is in the ending lane, then they must wait for the through traffic to slow down so they can merge.

If an accident happens while merging, it will always be the fault of the car who was doing the merge (ie: the car coming from the lane which is ending), because they left their lane before it was safe to move into the other lane. So, the merging traffic should be especially careful that the through traffic is actually letting them in.

So yes, someone should let the merge happen. Unfortunately people don't allow the merge, and never get a traffic ticket.

But if they never get a traffic ticket, how will they know they ever did something wrong? They never will, I suppose. This is why I think people need to take refresher Driver's Ed classes, or pass some sort of "advanced driving" test in order to renew their license. (I also think that "salvage titles" are a scam by the insurance companies... I'll blog about that sometime in the future.)

This does not apply to people pulling out onto the street from a business or side street. That is not a merge. I am un-aware of any laws which dictate how that situation would be handled.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Changing lanes is not the same as merging

Coming from Arizona, where driver's licenses don't expire till you're 65, I'm quite a proponent of requiring an intermediate driver's test in order to keep it valid. I don't blame the older generation for all of Tucson's driving problems though. Personally, I think that taking driver's ed before you can drive is educational, but nonsense in practicality. You really need to take it again once you've been driving for a while so that it might seem a little more pertinent.

Sometimes, I think that cell phones have become the bane of society. People no longer think -- they just call. But recently, I've changed perspectives and decided that it's the automobile that is the real bane of society. What has the car done for us? It practially makes it so you never have to talk to your neighbors. You get in the car in the garage and drive away. And where do you go? To some Wal-Mart store far away where you can buy your tires, shoes, mp3 player, and tomatoes all at the same place? What happened to Mom and Pop's corner store that you could walk to? What happened to community comrodary and Neighborhood Watch? When did you have to ride the bus for an hour to get to school?

Of all the reasons for the downfall of the automobile, the one particularly on my mind lately is the fact that the drivers don't understand that changing lanes is not the same as merging.

Oddly, these two topics are barely even touched on in the Arizona Driver's Manual. So, let me enlighten you on a few of the finer points of driving. (The official Arizona State Traffic Laws are here: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=28)

Changing Lanes:
"Broken white lines separate lanes of
traffic going in the same direction.
These lines may be crossed with caution.
(Remember to signal your intention to
change lanes.)"

Solid white lines are used for turn
lanes and to prevent lane changes
near intersections. Arrows are
often used with the white lines to
indicate which turn may be made
from the lane." (Arizona Driver's Manual, 30)

"You should always signal before you: Change lanes..." (Arizona Driver's Manual, 32)

Those are the only things mentioned in the manual about changing lanes. Now, let's consider the following roadway, it's an actual example that I drive on my way home from work. There are three lanes of traffic that travel straight through an intersection, and two left turn lanes which open as you approach the intersection.

According to the Arizona Driver's Manual, you should not cross a solid white line. In fact, it's purpose is to prevent changing lanes near intersections. That means, in order to enter either of the left turn lanes, one must be in the left lane of through traffic before the solid white line begins. At this point, you would change lanes into either of the left turn lanes by appropriately signaling your intention. Once in the either left turn lane, you may change lanes into the other turn lane, but cannot leave the turn lane to return to the through traffic. That would require crossing the solid white line, which is prohibited.

So, what do you do if you couldn't get into the left turn lane? Or if you mistakenly got into the turn lane, and you didn't really want to turn there? You are required to maintain your lane and cross the intersection with the traffic in that lane. This may require you to pass through the intersection, do a U-Turn and come back to the intersection to take the appropriate course. It is not only rude to do otherwise, it is illegal.

Suppose for a moment, that we're on a normal, straight road, with only a single white broken line.

"A person shall drive a vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not move the vehicle from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety." (A.R.S. 28-729)

Although vague, this is the most concise law respecting changing lanes and merging. While changing lanes and merging are not the same thing, many of the same laws apply to both.

Simply turning on your blinker to signal your lane change is not enough. It is the driver making the lane change who is responsible for ensuring that the lane of traffic is clear to move into (Arizona State Law: A.R.S. 28-729). In essence, through traffic always has the right of way, unless otherwise marked. Simply turning on your blinker does not give you the right of way. You must wait until there is a space large enough (and a little more) for your vehicle before making the lane change. You cannot simply stick the nose of your vehicle in the other lane of traffic and force other cars to make space for you. It is, however, illegal to purposely prevent another vehicle from changing lanes or merging. If you see a vehicle in an adjacent lane signal a lane change with enough advance notice that you are able to accomodate the lane change, you should do so. Remember though, that this requires the driver to turn on their blinker, and leave it active long enough for others to accomodate the change.

Nowhere will you find in the Arizona Driver's Manual that it says you cannot stop in a lane of traffic. This is quite common, for a number of reasons: Mechanical failures, traffic accidents, traffic jams, traffic signals or signs, pedestrians, left turns from 2 lane highways, ect. In fact, stopping is one of the best things someone can do in a dangerous situation, as long as it's done corectly. It is the responsibility of those behind the stopping vehicle to slow their speed as well. However, Arizona State Law (A.R.S. 28-704) makes it clear that you must maintain the flow of traffic, as long as it is safe to do so. This means that you cannot stop in a lane of traffic in order to change lanes.

"A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when either of the following applies:
1. Reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.
2. The reasonable flow of traffic exceeds the maximum safe operating speed of the lawfully operated implement of husbandry." (A.R.S. 28-704)


The major difference between merging and changing lanes is that merging happens when a lane ceases to exist. When changing lanes, both lanes continue to exist, or additional lanes have been created which can then be moved into. Sometimes a lane is closed due to construction, or maintenance or some other traffic hazard. This becomes a merge, not a lane change. Traffic which *changes lanes* before the obstruction or lane closure are participating in a lane change, not a merge. The merge applies to the first car in the lane before the obstruction occours.

Often during a merge, traffic cannot flow forward, so the ending traffic lane must stop. Ideally, traffic "zippers" together as the merge commences. This means that, when solid traffic exists in both lanes, cars from either lane alternate. However, this is not true when traffic is spaced as to allow more than one car from either lane through before another merge should happen. In this scenario, the merging traffic (ie: the traffic in the lane which is ending) must yeild to the through traffic (A.R.S. 28-729). It is the merging traffic's responsibility to wait until there is an opening for their car to safely move into. The through traffic is obligated to stop or slow down to let traffic in *only* when they've have a reasonable ability to do so. Failing to allow a reasonable merge to happen is considered agressive driving. It is the same as where a person purposefully attempts to prevent someone from merging or changing lanes where it would have otherwise been safe and legal (A.R.S. 28-695).

Moral Implications:
So, with all the talk of what is legal and what is not, how am I affected by this morally? My opinion is this:

It is my personal responsibility to first uphold the law, regardless of what is considered polite or customary. I should be polite to others when doing so does not require me to break the law.

Often, people feel the need to let someone in. I think that is rude and inconsiderate to everyone else behind you. In an effort to be polite to one person, you are being rude to several. Stopping in the lane of traffic is against the law, and will likely cause a traffic accident by attempting to let someone in. Besides, if you followed the law, traffic would flow better, and the person wouldn't have trouble getting in by themselves. However, obeying the law should be considered being polite. Has that changed?

Occasionally, people try to let themselves in. This is rude. This shows a deliberate disregard for the well-being of everyone around them. It is prideful... that they think they should be allowed to disobey the law because it is convienient for them. That they are more important than everyone else, and should be above the law.

A little bit of brains goes a long way. Let me take a single word from Thomas Watson, founder of IBM. "Think." If people would just think, there would be far less problems. Hang up the cell phone, and just drive. If you need to make a turn, and you don't know when it's coming up, get in the appropriate lane ahead of time. Use your blinker, it helps convey what's on your mind to everyone else around you.

I should not feel bad for obeying the law. I should not feel pressured to break the law. Going the speed limit is my perogative. Yet, I should let faster traffic pass me, even if they are disobeying the law by doing so. It is not my place to force others to obey the law. They must choose to do so by themselves. However, it is my responsibility to stand up for what is right; especially when the safety of my family is jepordized by another's failure to comply with the statues of the state. I do not need to be ashamed to inform people about the law. They have already agreed to abide by the state traffic laws by choosing to live here -- even if they don't have a driver's license.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Need I Say More?

Really, is there anything cuter?

But here's a few more just so you can debate. :)

Reid loves our dogs... and our friend's dog too.

He likes Daddy too!

Guess he needed a better view.

I love it when kids sleep with their butts in the air!
(Thank you Jennifer - I get so many compliments on these PJs, I love them!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Does This Mean I am Aiming for Mediocrity?

So I know you have all been waiting for the brilliant moments of this geek child... And while I do think that he is truly a very smart baby I refuse to delude myself in a fictious dream that he is smarter than he is.

I mean, has he reached for me while in the middle of a "mamamamamamamama" babble? Yes. Has he smiled when I say "Daddy"? Yes. Does he know where to look when we hide a toy? Yes. Does he somehow always find those eletrical wires? Yes. Does he know what the cereal box and formula container look like, and express his joy that I am preparing him food by shrieking in the highest pitch possible? Yes. Can he hang on to my pants and walk with me across a room? Yes.

But do I say that my child can talk, problem solve or walk? No! He is simply growing up and developing. (Oh, and we won't claim that he "does" said things, until he does them on purpose!)

So no bragging here.


On a side note... because the camera is still without power... here are the exciting dates you are all wondering.

Crawling - Feb 15th-17th (8 months and a couple days old)
First tooth - Feb 24th
Stand up on own - Feb 25th
Second tooth - March 8th (at about midnight)

Another thing that I think is cool, is if he is kneeling, lets go of whatever he's hanging onto, then he can balance himself for quite a few seconds.
Also when standing, he will let go of whatever sturdy thing he has, if he can grasp onto any part of me.. no matter how flimsy. I love that he loves his mom!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Updates Coming....

I know, I'm way behind!

But we currently cannot find the charger for our camera battery! UGH. So I can't offload the pictures... dumb I know, the computer SHOULD be able to charge the camera through the USB hook-up, right? I don't know why it doesn't. ... Drives me crazy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Not-Blog

I recently re-realized that I'm an opinionated person. My wife can attest to that. We both are. You can imagine the debates we have at home about the proper orientation of dishes in the dishwasher, or in the car about what the correct fan level is appropriate for a given temperature setting. Really, it's not a differential equation, but it might as well be. At least if it were, there would be a logically sound, mathematically proven answer that we could both agree upon.

One of the things I feel strongly about is that both partners in a marriage should agree on some set of foundational principles. It'd be hard to keep a mariage in good standing when you vhemantly disagree and constantly fight about who is right and who is wrong. According to Chaos Theory, it'd be virtually impossible to find someone who agrees with absolutely everything that you do and you never disagree about anything. In fact, Chaos Theory suggests that slight deviations in initial conditions tend to result in divergant solutions which deviate greatly from the expected results.

But we try very hard when it comes down to politics to come to a consensus so that we both agree, at least at large, one way or the other. It just seems absurd to have one of us vote one way, and the other vote the opposite, thus nullifying our voting power. Some people even go as far as just not voting since they'd negate eachother anyway. But when you agree, you get 2 votes whichever way you decide.

As the number of variables in any system increase, the probibility of desired results decrease. Take a binary system (or fair coin), where every situation can be represented as a true or false value, or a set of true or false values. Thus, as a new variable is added, the total number of possible outcomes increases by a factor of 2. The system can be represented as 2^n, where n is the number of things which are to be decided.

2^10 = 1,024
2^15 = 32,768
2^20 = 1,048,576

As shown above, exponential equations explode very quickly into large values, even at small values of n.

With the above data, assume you and your spouse would like to agree on 20 random topics. Where the value of whether you or your spouse view the topic favorably or unfavorably are completely random. There are 1,048,576 ways your spouse might view those 20 topics. Since your views are pre-determined, you want to know the probibility that your spouse belives the same way you do. In a completely random scenario, this would only happen 1 out of 1,048,576 times, or 0.00000095367431640625. Say that's far too low of a chance, so let's reduce the number of things you have to agree on down to 10. Now, your spouse only has 1,024 possible ways to answer thsose 10 topics, but they still have to answer them exactly the way you would. That's 1 / 1024 = 0.0009765625. That's about 0.1% Yikes, didn't think it would be that hard to agree with other people, did you?

Luckily, our decisions aren't completely random, but it's understandable why dating is so difficult. Trying to find someone that has the same core values and principles as you is not an easy thing to do. And, really, who wants to fill out a questionaire on your date, and be statistically matched with people who are "compatible"? So, we're lucky that we find spouses with somewhat-matching interests and beliefs. The family and friends relationship implies that there is some pre-existing mutual interest or belief system. But when you branch out beyond your immediate family and friends the element of randomness starts to increase.

This idea is closely related to Quantum Mechanics. When dealing with particles on the sub-atomic level, you quickly realize that Newtonian physics is really just an aproximation; a consistant and reliable average of the chaos of particles that make up a substance. Newtonian physics is very simplistic. The variables are few, and their values known. In a sense, we can predict future events because we know the variables. We know that a ball will roll down the slope, because we know the values of enough of the variables. However, when looking at the interactions molecules on the Quantum scale, there are thousands, if not millions or billions of variables that affect the result of a given equation. This gives rise to the Uncertanty Principle, and Binary Entropy.

When a fair coin is tossed, it's entropy is exactly 1. You need exactly one bit of data to represent the outcome. However, when using a biased coin, you need less than one bit of data to represent the outcome, because the data is compressible. Truely random data will not be very compressable.

People are very much the same as coins. Your spouse is a heavily biased coin, your family and friends are somewhat biased coins, and random people are probably far from the ideal fair coin as well, just that their bias may tend to be further from your beliefs. And, when viewed on a Quantum level, there are so many people out in the world, that it is highly unlikely that any two people would completely agree on any set of topics.

So it really doesn't make much sense for me to post my opinionated political viewpoints on a blog where random people might read them. I'm much more likely to find positive feedback when I simply tell my spouse, family and friends about my thoughts than other people who might happen upon my blog.