Fri, 07 Oct 2011

Why are there so many Dolfield Roads?

A question that perturbed me when I lived in Owings Mills was why there were so many roads named "Dolfield". There are three different Dolfield Roads, one South Dolfield Road, and three Dolfield Boulevards. I finally got around to researching the question, and now I share the answer (to the degreee that I have one) with everyone.

This is a map of Dolfield Road, past and present:

The thick, dark blue line is where Dolfield Road once ran. At one point, it connected Painters Mill Road and Deer Park Road.

The thinner, light blue line shows where Dolfield Road, in all its parts, runs today. When Interstate 795 was built, Dolfield Road was cut in two, as happened to many roads during the construation of the Interstate system. At the same time, part of the eastern portion of Dolfield Road was diverted to make room for the ramps from Owings Mills Boulevard to Interstate 795. The section of Dolfield Road south of Owings Mills Boulevard was renamed South Dolfield Road, for reasons I cannot find.

At some point--I cannot tell when, exactly--the chunk of Dolfield Road that extends from present-day Red Run Boulevard to Pleasant Hill Road was closed, though I was unable to find out why. The small section between Red Run Boulevard and Interstate 795 now serves as an access road to a SHA facility, and the rest of the closed section has been turned into a hiking/biking trail (colored in light green on the map). Finally, the section of Dolfield Road just west of Pleasant Hill Road was realigned when Dolfield Boulevard was built.

Here's a map of Dolfield Boulevard:

At some point in the past, the county planned to build a road named Dolfield Boulevard that would connect Owings Mills New Town with the eastern area of Reisterstown, both areas that were slated for new development. The road was planned to have two lanes in each direction with a raised median dividing the road. The dark purple line on the above map shows where it was to have gone, as far as I can tell. I'm not sure whether the original plans included anything further north, though it might have made sense to connect it to Owings Mills Boulevard.

Unfortunately for the county, a number of people living in the proposed path of the new road put up sufficient objections that the project stalled. Portions along Reisterstown Road and Academy Avenue were built and, in both cases, partly divided and partly not--the light purple lines are the divided sections and the pink lines are the undivided sections. Furthermore, the southern end of Dolfield Boulevard was built without incident as part of the development of Owings Mills New Town, though part of Pleasant Hill Road was rechristened Dolfield Boulevard but left undivided.

From what I can tell, the county never entirely abandoned its plans for Dolfield Boulevard, but they seems to be shelved indefinitely. Separately from those plans, they are currently considering adding an interchange between Dolfield Boulevard and Interstate 795 (which would have been really convenient for me if it had been in place when I lived there).

So there are three sections of Dolfield Road (and a South Dolfield Road) because Interstate 795 and other factors caused a former road to be split into pieces, and there are three sections of Dolfield Boulevard because that's as far as the county has gotten on the plans for a new road. This ends today's episode of "I'm a geek and will research anything that catches my fancy".

Wed, 21 Sep 2011

Knife Meme

This is a thing, apparently: "Take knife from pocket, post pic on the internet."

Myerchin Lightknife My main knife, and the one that best matches the intent of the meme, I think, is a Myerchin Lightknife L377P, which they apparently don't sell anymore. It's a very nice, light, compact knife, with a multipurpose half-straight half-serrated blade; a marlinspike, which is useful for knot- and ropework; and a small red LED, which is nice for seeing things without ruining your night vision. I use the marlinspike a lot less these days, because I don't do as much decorative knotwork, but it's still occasionally useful.

The knife was a Christmas gift from my dad and stepmother a number of years ago. (Possibly 2004 or so.) I'd been thinking about replacing my at-the-time pocket knife, something from Spyderco, with a lighter, more compact knife, when I read a Cool Tools review of the Myerchin L377P. It sounded like it would do everything I wanted and more, so I made a Christmas request and then got what I asked for.

Brookstone Credit Card Multi-tool The Myerchin isn't the only knife that meets the letter of the meme's wording, though. I also have a credit-card-shaped multitool from Brookstone in my wallet. I use it mostly for its tweezers, but its pen, needle, scissors, and knife blade are also occasionally useful.

Victorinox CyberTool A knife I also usually have on me is my Victorinox Swiss Army CyberTool. Technically, it lives in my laptop bag, not my pocket, but I usually have the bag with me. It's very useful for dealing with all sorts of small-scale hardware, because it's got the screwdriver with interchangeable phillips, flat, and torx bits, plus the small pliers (which also include a wire cutter).

This was a birthday gift from my parents back in 2000 or so. It replaced my previous everyday knife, a Swiss Army Automobile Special, which had also been a birthday gift from my parents. Victorinox had just come out with the CyberTool and I'd been working for a couple of years in a hardware and software tech support position, so I let my parents know I was really interested in the new knife. More than ten years later, it's still serving me well.

CRKT Rollock The last knife that I usually have on me (also in my laptop bag) is a Columbia River Knife & Tool Rollock, which doesn't appear to be for sale anymore. It's got an interesting opening mechanism; instead of unfolding, the blade flips up a little and slides out of the body, locking into place at its fullest extent. It's mostly in my laptop bag because it's very slim, so it doesn't take up much extra room and it's handy if I've forgotten my Myerchin somewhere. Because it's got a completely straight blade, it's less of a pain to sharpen than the Myerchin, so it's usually the sharpest knife I have on me, which sometimes means I use it instead of the Myerchin even if I have both with me.

This one was a gift from my youngest sister at her wedding as thanks for being a groomsman and playing trumpet in the wedding.

Mon, 02 May 2011

The MTA and GTFS

Just today I found about GTFS, a standardized data format from Google for describing public transit schedules. I subsequently discovered that the MTA has a GTFS feed.

Back when I didn't have a car, I used the MTA daily and had a set of scripts to extract their schedule data from the website and import it into trainsched on my Palm Pilot. I asked them for more structured data at one point but was rebuffed, so I stuck with my scripts that had to be updated every time they changed their schedule pages.

I don't have a Palm Pilot any more (and trainsched doesn't even run on the PalmOS emulator on my WebOS phone), but I thought it would be nice to update my old scripts to use the new GTFS feeds. This should even work with other GTFS feeds; there's nothing really MTA-specific going on.

The updated scripts are here: GTFS to trainsched converter.

Phil! Gold