Attention, harbor master! Be on watch for a 64-year-old Forest Park grad in a yellow kayak and a great frame of mind. His name is Alan Corney, and he's kayaking from Jersey to Baltimore, via the Delaware River and the C&D; Canal. He could make the Inner Harbor by tomorrow. Corney, who has a cellular phone in his kayak, contacted me yesterday morning at 6.
"I'm near Cecilton, I think," he said. "Above the Sassafras River, below the Bohemia." A thunderstorm Saturday night blew him ashore. He expected to continue his journey down the bay yesterday and today. Corney (Forest Park, Class of February 1950) made this trip by canoe 41 years ago -- in the other direction.
"I went upstream to Trenton," he says. "Back then, I was younger, stronger and dumber."
A riskier drive at 65
I know some hotshots who think this 65 mph business is a swell idea (primarily, because they've been driving at 75 and 80 for years now, anyway.) Just remember: At 65 mph and above, accidents on the rural interstates are going to be harder to avoid, and much more traumatic. If you don't believe me, make an appointment for a brushup on principles of matter and motion at the Applied Physics Lab.
Anyway, now that 65 is here, State Police are promising to be tough on speeders. Pardon my guffaw, but we've heard that one before. There never seems to be enough money or manpower behind that pledge to make it good for very long. So, as the editorialists say, this bears further watching.
Catching chronic speeders
Personally, I'd like to see local cops do more speed enforcement in 25 mph and 35 mph zones. If you haven't had any luck reporting chronic speeders to the local gendarmerie, mail your moan (and map, if possible) to This Just In, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore 21278.
I have no sympathy for motorheads who get caught speeding. But, if you DO get pulled over, here are some DO's and DON'T's from Trooper Ernie Tullis, who monitors the JFK Highway.
DON'T defend your speeding by saying your cruise control was set only 5 or 10 miles above the limit.
DON'T ask why he singled you out from all the other cars going 10 mph too fast. "I tell motorists I'm only one trooper," Tullis says, "and I can only stop one car at a time. It's just not his lucky day."
DO keep your driving record clean. That can mean a warning instead of a ticket and fine.
DO be cooperative. A plausible and compelling explanation for an obvious violation won't hurt. "I've got to go to the bathroom and was trying to get to a restaurant" was one elderly man's bid for freedom. He got a warning and directions.
Tell it to the judge
Here are some of the loser excuses troopers have heard before. I picked these up a while back from troopers around the state:
"I was going down hill. . . . The car is smaller than what I'm used to. . . . The car is bigger than what I'm used to. . . . I get a vibration in my car at 55; it drives better at this speed. . . . I was putting my shoe back on and pushed the gas pedal down. . . . I was getting better mileage. . . . There was a bee in my vehicle. . . . I was eating a sandwich, and it was burning my mouth. . . . My dashlights are out, and I couldn't see how fast I was going. . . . I was stretching and pushed the gas pedal down. . . . I was trying to get away from the high beam headlights in the rearview mirror."
My favorite came from a trooper in Centreville, on the Eastern Shore: "I kept falling asleep, and I knew if I fell asleep [while speeding] that I would be killed, and I thought the fear of dying would wake me up."
The governor's gutting of the Disability Assistance and Loan Program means Maryland, with the sixth-highest per-capita income in the nation, joins five other states, among the poorest in the country, with no general cash assistance for their disabled population. The others are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Makes you proud, doesn't it?
The governor has replaced DALP's monthly cash payments ($157 per person) with a scaled back voucher program called Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance (TEMHA). It grants $50 a month to some disabled men and women who are in the process of applying for federal benefits. But the TEMHA money is not enough to cover the rent for most of these people. Here's a letter a disabled man received from the Baltimore Department of Social Services last week:
"We have received a rent form from your landlord stating that your rent is more than $50. The most money which can be given to a landlord is $50 and this must be the total rent. Please have your landlord fill out the attached TEMHA rent form. If your landlord will not accept $50 as your total rent, we suggest you find someone who will. Please send the TEMHA form back in the blue envelope." And someone actually signed this one "sincerely."
High heels, lots of jewelry
Hey, Towson gets hip! Check out the kids along the south side of the old Hutzler's. Saw a strapping lad there Friday in red stockings and heels. . . . I watch for yard sales. I always read hand-lettered signs people attach to street lamps and telephone poles. Last week, there were some around East Eager and St. Paul. The language was standard, until the bottom line: "Lots of jewelry. Female impersonators welcome."