Good News And Bad News
Protests seem to be spreading to Aleppo and Damascus, Syria's two largest cities, which would be a significant development. The protests against the brutal Bashar al-Assad government, which daily result in 10, 15, 20 shooting deaths of protesters by government security forces, had been limited to smaller cities and government forces had so far been able to keep protests out of Aleppo and Damascus.
Just about every week, the news media tell us that the disaster at the nuclear radiation plant in Japan is "worse than we have been told." Then we are told how bad it really is. Then, the week after that we are told it is worse than we have been told.
Three reactors and one tank of spent* cooling rods have melted down. (* These are fuel rods that have to be removed from the reactor because they have absorbed too much radiation from the nuclear reaction.) Infant deaths on the west coast of the US are on the rise.
The radiation being released into the environment will be there, essentially, forever, as I have detailed before.
President Obama still wants to build more nuclear radiation plants, although he can't guarantee their safety, and in fact will not even be around except for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the time the nuclear radiation he wants to create will be around.
Although still backlogged, you can once again order geiger counters from Mineral Lab at its web site, where they had stopped taking orders shortly after the nuclear radiation disaster in Japan because they were overwhelmed with orders. Some models can be delivered in a couple of weeks. Prices range from $239 to $1,200.
Mineral Lab also hosts the Radiation Network, an independent nationwide nuclear radiation monitoring program where volunteers connect their geiger counters to a national grid and the readings are all displayed on one map.
I turned in the following report Friday morning to my boss about a collision I was involved in Thursday morning. Someone pulled out in front of me and I was unable to avoid hitting him, although I was able to avoid hitting him broadside in his driver's side door at 60 miles per hour. The other driver received a ticket, and that fact, for all practical purposes, absolves me of any blame. That is some relief to me because I had a bad 2010. In that year alone I was issued three tickets, and I don't believe I would have received any of them except for the fact that many states are experiencing budget crises. One way to raise money quickly is to give a bunch of tickets to truck drivers. For many tickets, the fine for a truck is higher than for a car.
If you are public sector employee, say, a police officer, and your job is in danger of being eliminated, one way to justify your continued employment is to demonstrate that it financially benefits the budget's bottom line.
As for Thursday's accident, I wanted to simply exchange information with the other driver, which my boss said would be OK. That way, no one gets a ticket, and you can both be on your way sooner, and I had people waiting for me. But the other driver wanted there to be a police report made because he thought he was going to need it to get his pickup truck fixed by his insurance company. So he called the police and they gave him a ticket.
As we waited for the police to arrive, it occurred to me that if we had just exchanged information and went out separate ways, the other driver, and his boss, who had since showed up, could conceivably have concocted a story about what had happened that left me to blame. Conceivably, a lawsuit could have been filed against me.
My report was written with this, and with the four tickets already on my record, in mind.
Frank Conway - collision statement June 23, 2003, page 1 of 2
At 7:15 a.m. on 6/23/2011 I was enroute from Gallup, NM, where I get product from our linehaul driver, to Farmington, NM, where I deliver product to the Kangaroo courier service, and was northbound on NM 371 just north of the NAPI Navajo farming complex and about five miles south of Farmington. The weather was clear and the road was dry.
As I crested a slight rise, or hill, just as the highway begins its descent into the river valley, I noticed a dark colored pickup truck, roughly one-quarter mile ahead of me, sitting off to the right side of the highway, outside the fog lines, i,e., outside the white line marking the outside edge of the highway.
I estimate my speed at the time to be 60 mph. The last speed limit sign, which is south of the NAPI farms, is 70 mph, but since the NAPI area is congested I take my cruise control off as I approach it and slow down as the traffic conditions dictate.
When I spotted the pickup it was motionless, but as I was about to pass by the pickup it began moving, and its front wheels turned toward the roadway. Later I learned that this was because the driver was going to make a U-turn so as to head back south on NM 371.
I reacted automatically by taking evasive action, trying to swerve to the left of the pickup, which was still at the right-hand side of the road. As best as I can recall, the pickup had stopped once but at this point was inching slowly toward the roadway, and that I was still thinking, at this point, that the driver saw me and was going to stop but that he was simply lining himself up and readying himself to re-enter the highway after I had passed by. It was during the time of morning when people are going to work and the highway there is sometimes busy, since just a few hundred feet south of the crest are the north entrance to NAPI and a road leading from a subdivision.
However, the driver kept coming until he was actually in my lane. I swerved as much as I thought I safely could swerve, considering my sense of the tipping danger of a truck like mine, and I maintained my speed, since to slow down would have allowed the pickup to get in front of me with the result I would have hit his driver's side door broadside. That is, my natural reaction was to try to avoid the pickup by going around it. As best as I can recollect, the whole scenario unfolded within one second. I almost made it past the pickup, but clipped the outer end of its bumper and headlight assembly on the driver's side with the back part of my truck, namely with a ladder attached to the side of my truck about halfway back on the cargo box, or 3/4 of the way back the total length of my truck. There were also
Frank Conway - collision statement June 23, 2003, page 2 of 2
surface scrape marks on my right rear outside tire, scratches on that rim, and scratches on the outside mounting bracket of my rear mounted lift gate.
I pulled over and after making sure the other driver was OK called my supervisor, Hub Manager Kirk Douglas, and informed him of what had happened.
The driver of the pickup, a Marty Martino of Farmington, apologized to me and told me that he had called his company and that they wanted him to have a police report made for insurance purposes. While we were waiting for the police to arrive I took digital photographs of the damage done to each vehicle and also a perspective shot showing the crest of a hill from the vantage point of the collision.
Two New Mexico state police cars arrived. One of the officers interviewed each of us. Officer BD Duween, who interviewed me, asked me what happened and I related what had happened, essentially as I have here although in writing this statement I have the benefit of reflection and have included more detail.
Officer Duween before releasing me, informed me that Martino was going to be issued a citation "for the U-turn." "You can't make a U-turn like that," Officer Duween told me. Officer Duween also informed me that Martino claimed he had not seen my truck because I had just come over the crest of the hill, which is roughly one-quarter mile from the collision site. "He (Martino) should have seen a big yellow truck coming," Officer Duween told me.
Information I gathered from Martino, the other driver:
Name: Marty Martino
Insurance Company: Handit & Over
Year and make of his pickup truck: 2008 Dodge
License Plate Number: 324-LIO NM
Employer: Sandusky Sandblasting
New Mexico State Police Case Number: 11-962340
(note: I changed the names to protect the me.)