Angry fairies blamed for road damage

An Irish MP is blaming fairies after a mysterious dip in a road surface recurred after repairs.

Danny Healy-Rae claimed the issues with the N22 were caused by "numerous fairy forts in the area" in an interview with the Irish Times.

He said "there was something in these places you shouldn't touch" and that the road passed by a place that was full of fairy magic and folklore.

Here's one of the forts, for reference:

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Why people name things, and themselves, "Zzyzx"

When I was a youngster, during the golden age of prank calls before caller ID, my friend and I found the name Zerba Zzyx at the end of the telephone book. We called Mr. Zzyx and asked if he realized he was the last name in the telephone book. Much to our surprise, he pleasantly told us that yes, he was aware of that fact, and hung up. (It wasn't one of our proudest prank call moments.)

Anyway, I hadn't thought about Mr. Zzyx for many years until I just saw this post on Weird Universe about "Zzyzx Road," just outside of Baker, California. Here's the origin of the road's name:

Entrepreneur Curtis Springer decided he wanted to be the last name in the directory, so when he opened a health spa at a natural springs in the Mojave Desert he called it Zzyzx Springs, so he could promote it as "the last word in health." By 1965 he had convinced the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to rename the road running to the springs Zzyzx Road. (It used to be Soda Road)...

Several movies have been named after Zzyzx Road, including the record-holder for the lowest-grossing Hollywood movie ever.

Sufficiently curious about any connection between Zzyzx Road and the Zerba Zzyx who I telephonically encountered in the 1970s, I did a Google search found this 1981 article from the Associated Press:

(Cincinnati) Roger Obermeyer wanted a way to make his name noticed in the city telephone book, so the advertising executive has himself listed as Zerba Zzyx, the last name in the directory. Read the rest

How to clear a road buried 60 feet in snow

Japan's Mt. Tateyama in the Hida Mountains is considered one of the snowiest spots on the planet. More than 125 feet of snow can fall on the region in a single year. Route 6 runs right through the Mt. Tateyama but just before you enter the tunnel, there's a 1/4 mile piece of highway called yuki-no-otani, or in English, Snow Canyon. The Toyama Prefectural Road Public Corporation is responsible for plowing the road after winter. It takes about a month. From Atlas Obscura:

At the Snow Canyon, the non-human star of the show is the HTR608, a rotary snow blower made by the Nichijo company—the 608 refers to the 608-horsepower engine. The HTR608 can plow through snow up to six feet high. The rotating bar helps pull snow into the machine, and a powerful propeller ejects it out of an aerodynamic pipe that can spray the snow nearly 50 feet high and half a football field to the side. But before this monster can even begin its job on the Snow Canyon, a series of prior snow-clearing events must take place.

Mt. Tateyama receives too much snow and is too remote to receive continual snow plow treatment, thus for much of the winter snow is allowed to bury the pass. Sometime in early March, a bulldozer specially equipped with both a GPS and a mobile satellite phone is sent up the mountain and over the Snow Canyon. The GPS and sat phone work in tandem to provide the driver a detailed video screen image of the dozer’s location in relation to the center of the snow-buried highway.

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Watch a massive spool of cable roll down the highway

A spool of cable fell off a truck on Route 40 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, turning the highway into a hyperrealistic video game.

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How not to get stuck in traffic

Of course, the best way to not get stuck in traffic is not to drive anywhere. But if you must, see the above.

And if the topic of traffic piques your interest, BB pal Tom Vanderbilt wrote the book on the matter: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

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India trying out optical illusion speed bumps

In India, 11,000 people die each year in automobile accidents tied to potholes or speed bumps, presumably because drivers fly over them, often on purpose. India's minister of road transport, Nitin Gadkari, hopes faux speed bumps will help by encouraging drivers to slow down while reducing the risk when they don't. "We are trying out 3D paintings used as virtual speed breakers to avoid unnecessary requirements of speed breakers," Gadkari tweeted along with the image above.

The optical illusions have been tried in other countries, including the US, as I posted back in 2008.

"Initially they were great," Phoenix, Arizona police traffic coordinator officer Terry Sills said at the time. "Until people found out what they were."

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The singing road that plays "America the Beautiful"

On a stretch of Route 66 between Albuquerque and Tijeras, New Mexico, engineers at Sand Bar Construction, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the National Geographic Channel installed a series of rumble strips that play “America the Beautiful" as you traverse them at 45 miles per hour. Apparently, the jingle of corporate sponsor Nationwide was originally included in the road's repertoire but it has since been removed. Watch the video above about the installation, meant keep to drivers at a safe speed.

(via TIL)

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Driver runs into motorcyclist who scolded him about using phone

In March, motorcyclist Samuel Ayres stopped at a red light and noticed a driver using a phone. He told the driver, "Put down your fucking phone. You're in your car." The driver apparently did not appreciate the advice so he followed Ayres, sideswiped him and knocked him off his motorcycle, and drove away. Ayers is soliciting donations to pay for the resulting bills. Read the rest

The cheesy streets of Milwaukee

Back in September, the city of Milwaukee announced that it would be spreading cheese brine on its streets this winter in a pilot program to see whether the salty liquid could reduce the amount of rock salt necessary to de-ice roads. Now, it looks like the plan is working out well. In fact, there's not even a smell to the streets. Read the rest