Most of the time, living right next to the freeway is actually an advantage compared to where I lived previously. After all, with a major 405 onramp literally right outside my window, I can pretty much go right out of the parking garage, wait a minute or two for the light to change, and be on the freeway almost immediately. It also provides nice little animated backdrop out the window, although it has proven a bit disappointing in the weather-related carnage department this year (there’s still time though…) On the other hand, living next to the freeway does have its drawbacks too. Right now, this manifests itself in the form of a major construction project that’s going to completely change around the way people get to 520 from northbound 405 by moving access to 520 to a new onramp on NE 12th, and removing it from the existing NE 8th interchange. If you’ve ever wondered where spaghetti junctions come from, this illustration (PDF) should give you a pretty good idea of what’s being added to an already convoluted 520-to-405 interchange. And somehow, all this is supposed to make getting around easier. If I was a traffic engineer I’d probably know why, but for now I can just take their word for it and keep sending over tax dollars.
Although usually the construction doesn’t create any unusual distractions beyond some occasional flashing lights outside the window, around 11pm this evening, someone began jackhammering. Actually, to be perfectly honest I don’t know what the sound is (probably some sort of pile driver, now that I think of it, or perhaps a freakish mutant woodpecker escaped from some lab full of twisted biological experiments) but I do know that it’s loud, and that it’s been going pretty much nonstop for the past two hours. I suppose that all things considered, it’s really not that bad. It’s not too incredibly loud (most of the time) and if needs be I can probably sleep through it. The problem is that, just a bit before Midnight, the smoke detector in my room decided that it would be a great time to start beeping every 30 seconds. Jackhammering and piledriving I can probably abide. Beeping every thirty seconds, on the other hand, is pretty much a guaranteed one-way-ticket to a sleepless night of looking up the name of the guy who invented smoke detectors on Wikipedia and then cursing it for the rest of the night (yeah, I know the guy has saved millions from fiery death, but what has he done for us lately?) Anyway, I’m guessing the solution to the problem is a replacement battery, but since I don’t know if I have anything else in the house that uses a 9-volt battery anymore, the only solution to the problem is going to involve a Midnight trip to the store for batteries.
Of course, by the time you’re making the effort to get dressed back up, make the journey down to the depths of the parking garage (at least if they wanted to try to ticket my car down there it would take them the better part of an hour to make the trek down there) and drive over to the store, you might as well do some other shopping too. Assuming I can manage to navigate through the maze of pallets and boxes full of stuff for the overnight crew to stock on the shelves without tripping over something and faceplanting in the cereal aisle (*kkkkshhhht* Rick, cleanup on aisle 9, cleanup on aisle 9 *click*) I might as well pick up some milk, and some popcorn since I’ve been meaning to grab some. Oh, and some onions, because I might run out eventually if I use up the stuff I’ve got on top of the fridge. Oh, and look, they’ve got steaks on sale, might as well grab one while I’m there. An item here, an item there, and pretty quick a late-night trip to the store for a battery turns into $30 worth of groceries. Granted, it is groceries, which I’m probably going to need eventually anyway, but it still seems like it’s kind of missing the point. At least I managed to actually get the battery I was looking for, unlike the times when I’ve made a late-night trip to the store and walked out with $50 worth of stuff, none of which was the one specific item I went to get in the first place. Of course, just to make the whole exercise even more pointless than it already was, the beeping had stopped by the time I got home. I changed the battery anyway, because I’ve never been a big fan of fiery death. The jackhammering/piledriving/mutant woodpecker rampage outside continues unabated though, and I don’t think a trip to the store is going to fix that. Oh well, I suppose if it saves me 37 seconds of waiting in traffic three years from now I’ll put up with it.
Oh, and the smoke detector? This guy is the one who is credited with inventing it. An associate of Thomas Edison, but then again, it seems like practically every major invention of the late 19th century had Edison’s name on it somewhere.