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!

I take back my night is dark posting

Wow – what you get for not reading the news is not realizing that about one million of your fellow New Englanders are still out of power from yesterday’s ice storm. Between that and reading tales of woe in Boston-area commutes (just heavy rain here, not ice), I’m really thankful we stayed around home today!

I thank the gods for the sea breeze. We live close enough to the coast around Boston that we get Boston weather, which is notably different from Metrowest weather a mere 6 miles to the west. Summers are cooler, and winters are warmer than just on the other side of the ring of hills. Hey, isn’t there a historical/geographical name for this ring of hills (most of them drumlins)?

Score one for Ning – some locals have created the Ice Storm Help Network already. Neat. Sadly, if your power is out, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to participate in the network, at least sans iPhone. And even then, I wouldn’t be surprised about cell towers being out.

As for us, we got our christmas tree this morning at Mahoney’s in Winchester, and the weather was cool but nice. They have all the usual holiday displays and plants – it’s actually a great place to walk around in the winter, since you can meander through the warm greenhouse when it’s cold outside. And this year they have a couple of really cute displays of stuffed animals from Hansa. Not only are the stuffed animals very detailed (and cute), they’re laid out in a couple of spots complete with plants all around, almost like a jungle (in potting supply greenhouse) or christmas wonderland. It took a while to get our little one away from all the fun.