Signs Of Impending Financial Doom: Potholes

In this first of a series of classes about financial indicators, let us turn now to potholes. Everyone open your economics books to page 235, and … What? Of course some economics book somewhere uses potholes as an indicator – those economists have a theory about everything. They always use the same graph with two angled lines to explain everything, but it’s always tracking something different.

Potholes. Is it just me, or are there a lot more of them this year, considering how early it is in the winter? Yes, I grew up in New England, and yes, I understand frost heaves and plow damage. But there seem to be a lot of potholes already, even though we’ve had less than a handful of bad storms. If this trend continues throughout the winter, we’ll all need 4×4’s to drive through some towns pretty soon.

Most of them are the simple “patch the snowplow chipped up”, and aren’t very deep. But some stretches of roadway have dozens, in big long zigzag lines wherever there was previous road repair. There are a handful of larger potholes, although we all know that once they start, it’s only a matter of time until they grow. I’ve seen a few that expose two layers of pavement below on some roads that have been frequently patched instead of being resurfaced.

Only a few wheel-sized potholes of death so far, and no car-swallowing ones, at least not on my commute. But is this some freak factor of the recent Ice Of Slippery Death storms? Or is this a hidden financial crisis indicator that as yet is under reported in the media? Could this be the key to understanding financial markets? Might New England road maintenance expenditures not be a forerunner of a larger metric, like, I dunno, salt futures? Enquiring minds want to know!

Pothole Resources

On state highways:

To report a pothole on a state highway, contact your District Headquarters. To find out which MassHighway District your city or town belongs to, Click here.

Interesting. Googling “report a pothole” turns up a lot of links in Hawaii. Also, someone has reportedly use a hovercraft and GPS to create a map of Barbados potholes – they’re not just for frost heaves anymore!

Storrow Drive Loves You

Seen above this morning’s commute, a professionally printed white banner with foot-tall red letters:


It’s hanging on the railing of the footbridge immediately after the BU bridge. Driving by it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling this morning all over. And then I thought…

It’s maddeningly inspecific. Is this message for me? Or perhaps – glancing at the solid bolus of cars from the Elliot bridge stoplight speeding along beside me – for someone else? Is this some private message, who’s real meaning is known only to the intended recipient? If so, it’s not very private anymore, as several thousand people have seen it so far at least.

Is this a message from Storrow Drive itself, or perhaps James’ or his wife Helen’s ghost; one of affection for the thousands of drivers who rely on it daily to get them to work, and sometimes back home again. Or could it be an altruistic message of hope; one put up by an anonymous do-gooder who was seeking to spread the fuzzy warm feeling like I had this morning to all their fellow citizens?

Who knows. Only the internet – and the person who put up the banner – will tell.

Please: I’d love to see a photo of this one, if anyone can snap one.