December 5th, 2002


I hate snow.

It snowed last night (probably actually this morning).

When I got up there was about 3" of snow on the ground. Before I was even able to go out (I had a conference call to deal with) my neighbor had shoveled my walk. Nice of her but totally unnecessary; I would have gotten it.

Anyhow, I hate snow. I went into Pittsburgh for lunch. Everyone drives crappy, like they've never seen the stuff before and they're not sure how their car will react. Geez, people, go find a parking lot with some space and play a bit. Figure out how your car handles.

Morning rush hour must have been fun; There were about 20 cars abandoned along the Parkway just between Monroeville and Wilkinsburg, but the road was fine. Well, except for the car with its left rear quarterpanel smashed in, facing the wrong way just outbound of Penn Hills on the inbound side. I guess there'd been another car there, but this one was being towed when I went by, and the lady (I guess the driver) was talking to the state trooper who was parked behind it, in the left lane, running his lights.

Then, on the way back, I got on in Churchill outbound, and all 3 lanes were full and moving slowly. I went all the way to the end, no accidents, no snow removal equipment, nothing. Things were so bad that I couldn't get off to go down 48, and things weren't moving down 22 either (despite 22 being apparently empty otherwise, people were just taking their time getting off). I went up the ramp to the turnpike, turned around outside the toll booth, and came home. Freaks. If you can't drive, stay home. Otherwise, learn to drive in the not even snow.

The other thing is that snow brings out all the ugly clothes. People who might otherwise try to at least look halfway decent are reduced to wearing heavy clothes, ugly shoes, nasty stuff. You'd figure after howevermany years of Civil Engineering study I'd have learned to celebrate practicality (function) but instead I've learned to detest it, because basically what ends up happening is aesthetic (form) sacrifice is made to achieve it. Look at modern bridges: they work, but it seems like they just take 3 steel beams, slap them across some concrete piers, drop a deck on it, and they're done. Then go look at older bridges. I crossed the 31st Street Bridge last week, and despite my dislike of the bridge for other reasons, like most other bridges of the era it has ornamental railings and artwork on the piers. The transition, locally, seems to have come around when the Point and Manchester Bridges downtown were replaced with the Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne Bridges. They were at least architecturally interesting even if they lacked the artistic touches. Later structures don't even have that going for them; They're just bland, dull, unexciting. Getting back to my original point, so are "winter clothes".

Even when it's not winter, the whole "casual" craze is another sign of the same problem. People don't case about aesthetics anymore. So, perhaps I'm just being reactionary, but to me, "functional", like "casual", has become a dirty word.