Mysterious are the ways of the Department of Sanitation. Now that it is law that alternate-side parking be suspended in the event of a snowstorm, so that the SDNY can mobilize its plows instead of its street brooms, the bulletins from the Department of Transportation have gotten spotty in their accuracy. Last week, snow was predicted for the evening, and alternate side was suspended while we waited for the snow, which didn't arrive. (Maybe it was snowing somewhere.) Alternate side was suspended again the next day, and the next, but the third day was a mistake, and the suspension itself was suspended. Today, it actually is snowing, and alternate-side parking is in effect.
If I were parking on the street, I’d be outraged. As it is, I had to trot down to the garage with my checkbook, an exercise I don’t enjoy, and point out to Julian, Julian’s superior, that my certificate of parking-tax exemption hadn’t resulted in eight percent off on my bill. Julian had to call Julio (or someone) while I stood outside the booth studying a flyer that said “Happy Cars Use Bumper Guards” (hmm). My bill for February was $152.36, but in March it will be $163.80; the parking-tax exemption was retroactive through January. Possibly I could have waited and trusted the parking company to prorate my bills, but I am determined to be vigilant and not let the parking industry (or the city) squeeze an extra dollar out of me.
Meanwhile, my sibling Dee was off to the Car Pound with five hundred dollars in borrowed cash to bail out her VW Bug, which had gotten towed the night before from a spot in Chinatown. She had parked in one of those sneaky areas with night regulations: No Parking 10 P.M.-4 A.M., or something. Dee was in town to do some recording, and luckily the recording was going well, so she didn’t mind, or at least her resignation in having to go to the Car Pound and cough up cash was tempered by the satisfaction of a job well done. The new CD will be out by the fall.
I still have not quit the Times, and am taken today by a piece by Charles McGrath, “Around the World in as Long as It Takes,” about an American, Rich Wilson, who is racing in the Vendée, “the solo-around-the-world sailing race” that begins and ends at Les Sables d’Olonne, France. “It is a route that exposes sailors to icebergs, the doldrums and some of the windiest stretches of ocean in the world.” Over the weekend, I accidentally recycled some chunks of the Sunday Times without first reading them, and I interpreted that as a sign that it was all over, that I could quit. I still had the Automobiles section, though, so I was able to read about the new “green” ice resurfacer that is being developed in time for the 2010 Olympics, posing a challenge to the great Zamboni.
According to the article, by Dave Caldwell, ice groomers first ran on gasoline, then diesel, and then propane, all of which pollute an indoor ice arena. Frank J. Zamboni built his ice groomer from spare parts in his back yard, in the late nineteen-forties. “In 1967, in Elmira, Ontario, a welder named Andrew Schlupp built his own ice resurfacer and started the Resurfice Corporation.” Schlupp has developed an electric model that is both green and much cheaper to use (though the machine itself is more expensive; Zamboni has one, too). I read on, anticipating the inevitable. “Essentially, all resurfacers work the same during what is called a flood. A blade on the back of the machine shaves the surface of the ice. The shavings are scooped up and a thin coating of hot water is sprayed on the rink, which is smoothed as the water freezes.” But the story did not have the expected payoff. The people who built the Resurficer (which, I have to admit, is pretty clever) failed to follow Zamboni's lead and name their product after themselves: the Schlupp.