August 9, 2008: Visiting Grandview-on-Hudson

We got to sleep in a little this morning.  That was nice.  Oreo definitely enjoyed that.

My friend Clare pointed me to Microsoft’s Research on Six Degrees of Separation.  The topic came up when we realized that even though we live about 2,500 miles from each other on different continents that we had both stayed at the same hotel in another city several thousand miles away from either of us.  I would like to see Google, AOL and Yahoo! perform some silimar research using their own resources on an even larger scale.  Could be very interesting.  FaceBook and MySpace should get involved as well.  Using the conglomeration of these social networking tools might prove that the number of degrees is actually lower when they are used in conjunction with one another.

I got to working as soon as I got out of bed this morning.  My original day included an incredible about of work for the office but a lot of that work was canceled either Thursday or late yesterday evening so my day isn’t nearly as hectic as it might have been.

Most of the day was spent supporting the Surfing IT Wizard, John Stephens, as he did some work in Ithaca.  I also did some work for the office.  It was a mixed work day.

Dominica spent most of the day shopping for diaper stuff.  She is completely enthralled with diapers which I don’t understand at all.

My day was pretty long.  I worked a full ten hour day from nine until seven without even enough of a break to go to get food.  Around noon Dominica ran down to the deli downstairs and grabbed some French toast and scrambled eggs for me.  Other than that my only break all day was to walk Oreo once.

When I wrapped up around seven, I jumped into the shower as quickly as possible and we hit the road up to Katie’s summer place in Grandview-on-Hudson for her river party.  Our trip didn’t go too smoothly.  First the GPS took us on an insane route using i280 and the NJ Turnpike which didn’t make any sense at all.  Then, as we entered the turnpike, the person in front of us went through the EZPass lane pulling a trailer.  The trailer, of course, tripped the EZPass system for us so that when we went through it had already registered “Go, No Tag Read” – meaning that the Turnpike intended to charge us the full length of the turnpike because of someone else breaking the rules!

When we got off of the turnpike we stopped at the toll booth, not the EZPass booth, and explained what had happened and they had no resolution whatsoever and they, as well, charged us, in cash, the entire length of the Turnpike!  So, in the end, the punishment for coming to New Jersey and using the EZPass system correctly is to get double fined the max fine!  And, of course, since EZPass is based in Newark, their 800 number was down for the night so we couldn’t even speak to anyone.  There is apparently no recourse for people using EZPass – you are simply taking your chances.  Now we will probably have to deal with opening fraud charges against them through the credit card company.

It ended up taking us an hour and a half to go the forty-five minutes to Katie’s house.  Dealing with the Turnpike issue cost us over twenty minutes sitting in completely stopped traffic – an additional punishment over the double fine.  It was around nine when we finally arrived in Grandview-on-Hudson.

The party had been going on for quite some time by the time that we had arrived.  There were some portabello mushrooms on the grill for us still although everyone else had eaten long ago.  It was very dark but the view of the Hudson was awesome.  The glittering lights of the Tappen Zee Bridge and Irvington and Hastings-on-Hudson on the other side of the river were really spectacular.

We stayed at the party until around one thirty.  It was pretty late for those of us used to going to bed long before midnight and we had to drive back to Newark yet.  It was a little after two when we got home and got to bed.

Tonight might be the first time that I have actually hung out in Rockland County since Phil Ayers and I stayed in Rockland for the New York State Math Competition circa 1993.

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  1. Hey Scott, read what you wrote about EZPass again.

    If the EZPass hadn’t registered when you were getting *off* the Turnpike, then that would be one thing. But the trailer in front of you setting off your EZPass is irrelevant. If you got on the turnpike at the same spot as the trailer, it doesn’t matter where the trailer got off, because the EZPass sensor would read your pass when you got off the turnpike at your spot. So you’d be charged for the amount you actually used.

    I had an issue with the EZPass in which I had mine since 1997 or so, and the battery was starting to get weak. It said “No Tag Read” when I got on. I exited the turnpike in an EZPass lane, then called them the next day. They said to monitor my bill and call them when the errant charge appeared. Lo-and-behold, there was no errant bill, since the tag is tied to your license plate, and if your plate is in the system, and the tag is read at some point, they have safety measures that put two-and-two together.

  2. It seems like just getting off would cause them to charge the correct amount except that even when handled manually they were unable to determine the correct amount because there was no information as to where we got onto the turnpike. It does not matter where the trailer got off, it is just tripping the sensor, not being tracked in any way.

    Hopefully our license plates got read. We will see.

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