Thursday, August 02, 2007

While I Was Crawling …

Actually that refers to the pace, not the motion mode. And my car was doing that, while I was driving to work this morning. Tampa is undergoing (almost tempted to use “currently”, but was quick to realize what I’ve previously blogged here) a raining spell, much like the afternoon showers back home, but with reduced intensity, most of the time.

Alternating between 20 and 30 mph, occasionally dipping to 10 mph, I inched my car along the Interstate. That’s the first exit after I entered the Interstate (to Busch Blvd). After some time, the second exit (Sligh Road) appeared. Well, about 6 or 7 more to go, I muttered to myself. Normally these road signages just flash by, but today they seemed to be moving (relative to my car) in slow mo.

Then a song came on Magic 94.9 that struck a chord in me. This is one of my favorite songs, more so because of the melody. I’ve never paid attention to the lyrics, until a few (or perhaps longer) nights ago when the dances by the So You Think You Can Dance contestants using the song as accompaniment were criticized as anti-war. Huh? I did not even realize there is some kind of political statement somewhere.

So, I paid attention to the lyrics this time. So we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change … That’s the chorus that I caught. And I did hear something about war and information.

While blogging, I got the name of the song from my D, Waiting On The World To Change by John Mayer (of Your Body Is a Wonderland fame). And I latched on to Youtube to listen and read the lyrics. I must say the lyrics do reflect the sentiments of a right-thinking young man, the underlying anti-war rhetoric notwithstanding. Definitely qualifies as a song that makes a statement.

Back to the slow drive this morning. My mind then wondered to the tragedy spawned by the collapsed Interstate bridge in Minnesota. Without warning save for some rumbling noise and ground shake lasting perhaps a few seconds, those cars caught on the after-work traffic jam and practically stalling on the bridge deck careened like toy cars into the river.

It all happened so fast, practically out of the blue. In the aftermath of the unthinkable mishap, investigations are afoot to get to the bottom so that we can learn from the mistakes. Much like the Tacoma Narrows bridge that I blogged here, but then that afforded sufficient warning for anything untoward to be averted.

A before & after image comparison of the I35W Bridge in Minnesota
Left: before the collapse on Aug 1, 2007 (from GoogleEarth)
Right: After the collapse on Aug 1, 2007 (adapted from AP photo)

Engineering designs are often injected with a healthy dose of redundancy, especially when failure can be expected to be catastrophic. There are also built-in safeguards such as sensors that emit warning should progressive deterioration of structural capacity is imminent. Then there is periodic inspection and monitoring, built on experiences gained from similar systems.

However, despite our best intentions and precautions, disasters can and do happen. That of course is no comfort to those who bear the full brunt of the tragedy. And our hearts go to them in this time of sorrow.

Just then my exit appeared (Ashley) and I reached the office ten minutes later than usual.

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