Monday, August 11, 2003

Eric Rescorla wonders why municipal workmen have been digging up his street (which has no noticeable need for repairs) every two weeks all summer.

It's a little-known fact that many of the engineers responsible for street design in major metropolitan areas got their start as "serious" artists before drifting into a more practical profession. As a result, they tend to be somewhat temperamental and perfectionistic, imagining each street as a unique masterpiece in progress, with its own distinct character and beauty. And, of course, they're constantly spotting slight changes or improvements that they'd like to make to each one, to "perfect" it.

Sometimes, they change their minds at the last moment, and cancel the "repair"; on other occasions, they reverse themselves afterwards, decide that the last alteration would have been better left undone, and schedule work to restore it. There's a major street not far from where I work that some sensitive soul has been continually "putting the finishing touches on" for years now. To the less aesthetically aware among us, it was just fine long ago--but I guess that's why he's an artist, and we're not. I just hope he's satisfied with it soon.

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