For the week starting: 2.14.2008

"Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.
Shakespeare's All Well That Ends Well (II.i.144-6)

Happy Valentine's Day. "What's your sign?" (Texas) Department of Transportation, that's the source of this week's merriment.


aquAquarius: "High Pedestrian Traffic." Near the University of Texas (Austin), in fact, right as a major traffic artery cuts through the campus area, there's a sign, two, really, and they both say, "High Pedestrian Traffic." Given the radically liberal orientation of the university's environment, and the student body's reputation, I couldn't help but giggle. Must've passed that sign hundreds of time before I snapped and started to be amused.

I have to wonder if there's a person in the sign committee with serious sense of humor. To be honest, there is a disproportionately high volume of pedestrian traffic in that area, but then located next to major university campus, this can be expected. Expecting the pedestrians to be high? That, too. I'm not saying that they all are, but there is that element, in and amongst the local university environment that suggests that feeling, whether it's true or not. The obvious warning, as this week unfolds with all its Valentine flavors? Watch out for the high pedestrians. Or high pedestrian traffic. It's one of those, I'm sure.


pisPisces: "Earth slides." I'm not kidding, I've only seen this sign once, but I kept a picture of the sign, just because it was odd wording. Yet, that's just what's going to happen. It's not an earthquake. It's not a tremendous shift, just sort of like a meander that has a certain direction.

Near as a I could tell, the sign should've said, "soft shoulders." What happens is that the shoulder of the hillside tends to slump into the road, hence the source of the sign's unusual wording. This is Texas Hill Country, akin to Tuscany, as much as anything, it isn't really that unstable, not geologically. It's not about big changes, it's about little changes. And the earthy slides, they aren't too much trouble in old trucks, as long as there's some ground clearance. The problem comes in a low-riding sedan. Rent cars? Not so much. But a family car? That's the problem with the earth slides.

Sort of depends on how you approach the problem. What I would suggest, and it doesn't matter what kind of a car or truck you're driving, I'd slow down and carefully nose around the obstacle.


ari Aries: "Right lane must exit." It's a typical highway sign, and what I've watched a number of humans, as soon as that sign appears, some smart-ass shoots into the right lane and tries to pass. It's not a safe move, but safety is overrated as a lifestyle choice. This is a lot less about driving though, and more about looking at what the roadside sign says, up ahead, reading it and anticipating your next move.

Better yet, besides just anticipating your own next move, think about that guy, like the guy who is trying to pass on the right, in that lane, which is clearly marked an exit lane, only.

We've all seen the guy who fails to read the sign, or doesn't realize that the right lane -- despite the big yellow sign -- is an exit only lane. Right lane, roadway narrows, only stands to reason, but then, expecting the folks on the highway with you to think is clearly out of the question.


tauTaurus: "Left turn on arrow only." I'm not sure, and I've lived in so many different places, it doesn't matter as much, as the rules change, but what I've seen, most often? Locally, the left lane, left turn arrow, that goes to a green light at certain times, the rest of the message is to yield to oncoming traffic.

This one situation is made better by a local traffic situation, near me, like this. The left lane turn signal is either an arrow, or the light is red. A reasonably alert driver will notice that there's a wide-open time, a safe time, to turn left, although, strictly speaking, the light is red. I wouldn't say that I've snuck through that intersection when the light wasn't green. But there wasn't a cop around, and there wasn't a traffic camera, and the traffic was light, conditions were perfect, so it didn't matter as no one got hurt.

Feel lucky this week? Like to try and beat the system? Like to get around a traffic light that is clearly a guideline rather than a real law? I don't suppose that you know about the way cops sit there, in unmarked cars, just waiting to get you? I'm not saying you're headed for a ticket this week, but in a situation where the letter of the law reads one way, like the red light, and the Taurus spirit reads another way? Stick to the letter of the law.


gemGemini: "Careful of merging traffic." It's a typical sign, but when I was living under a particular bridge, as us homeless guys do from time to time, there was this one spot, on the highway overhead, I could hear the accidents. No wonder, it was a good overpass to sleep under, and yet, due to the way the traffic engineer laid out the overhead patterns? Lots of squealing tires and honking, especially late at night. Especially late on a January night when it does get cold, and I was huddled under that bridge.

The sign, it warns about the situation that is fast approaching. That sign, the planets, they warn to look out for the other guy. Watch out for the merging traffic, the folks who, although there is a yield sign, those merging cars might not yield in a manner that is consistent with your Gemini understanding of the law. "Rules of the road" are not "rules of engagement." I'd watch out for the other guy who doesn't have the right-of-way, but seems to think that he or she does. Careful when "merging traffic" tries to move in on you.


canCancer: "Nightly Lane Closures Ahead." Typical flashing sign, sort of normal around here as the heart of central Texas is in the midst of a long, continuous freeway overhaul. Widening, striping, guard rail repair, and as soon as the new road is done? They have to resurface it again.

So I'm sure that the nightly lane closures ahead are pretty much the way it's been and the way it's going to be. Doesn't mean that everything is down and not working at all, but I'll guarantee, during the next few days, today with it being halloween and all? The one time you can't afford to be late? That freeway you hop on? It crawls to a stop.

Can't say you weren't warned about this, and you can't say that you didn't know that this was the time that the highway department decided to work on this one section of the freeway. I'll admit, in your favor, it does seem like the department of highway repair chose the time that is most inconvenient for Cancer.


leoLeo: "Slow." I was wondering if "slow" was strong enough. I was thinking, maybe, for Leo? "Proceed with caution." Point is that the planets are all nice and correctly aligned for you, for the most part. It's just that I can't make everything happen quite right, although, I'll be looking pretty good by the end of the scope's scope.

Yet, that doesn't accurately reflect the weirdness, nor, the intention of the message. It's about that special pause. I was listening to a comic talk about the work he did. Leo, for what it's worth, and he was describing how every pause, every sip of water, every motion is carefully choreographed for maximum impact.

It's all about taking time for that dramatic pause. If I were more Leo-like, it would be about taking time to consider what seasoning I'd like with the sole of my boot, as I would be about to stick my foot in my mouth. For Leo, though, this is a little less about the "hoof in mouth" syndrome, and it's a little more about just taking the time, going slow, as you proceed forward. I'm not saying don't move, just move with caution.


virVirgo: "Yield." It's that simple. No, really, it is. It's a simple yield sign. Yellow, inverted triangle. Although, it could be argued that the triangle is right-side up. I guess it depends on how you want to look at it, and then, we get into an argument about whether the yield sign is right side up or upside down. That's the issue, too. Despite the stars starting to align for Virgo?

There's still a little problem with exact details. As in whether that sign is right side up of upside down. And, unlike a lot of the folks you encounter, it doesn't matter to me which side of the issue that you take, I'll support the Virgo wishes. But I'm the oddball, here. Most of the people you encounter are going to be stubborn about whether that's a right side up or upside down. Which is why the inherent message is about yielding, not fighting. Figure, as Mercury pulls out of a tailspin, might take a few extra days for folks to get caught up to you being right again. Until then? Yield.


libLibra: "Men at Work." There's a tangential allusion to music, and then there's the less-of-a-tangent fact that highway construction? Around here? The fine doubles when workers are present. I know, I found out the hard way. Cost me a lot of money, and there was no way out of the ticket.

To be fair, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the highway patrol officer, he was as nice as could be, but then, when I'm dealing with uniformed officer, I tend to be unctuous, too. Just makes the transactions a little easier. I now watch for the "Men at Work" signs, and I slow accordingly. I'll also, especially with a boat behind the truck, be careful that when I'm going the speed limit, I want to know that everyone behind me, at least immediately behind me, I'll check the rear view just to be sure. Now, I might look like an old man dawdling in the slow lane, but I've gotten enough tickets so I know to be careful.

The "Men at Work" sign carries double, possibly triple, meaning. Consider all those possible variations, too. Music? Maybe. Higher fines? Maybe. Or maybe, it just means that work is starting to go a lot more smoothly.


scoScorpio: "Look right." When I started out a series of horoscopes around a theme, I was thinking of street signs. The Scorpio's "Look right" sign? It's a real street sign. I've seen it on the streets of London, at the "zebra" crossings, pedestrian crossings to the rest of us. The letters themselves are painted or etched into the pavement, usually white lettering and an arrow against the black pavement. Look right, or, on the opposite side, "Look Left." With an arrow indicating the proper orientation.

As a tourist, from a place on the planet where we tend to drive on the other side of the road, I'm rather grateful for the little lettering. I oftentimes feel like it was put there, just for me -- think -- the City of London labeled their streets and sidewalks just for one ill-kept Texan. And I'm not even a Scorpio.

The signs, more like mere lettering, on the street, at your feet? That's where you can best direct your Scorpio attention. I know it's not an obvious clue, not at first, but when I'm just off an airplane, that lettering helps a poor tourist who is all turned around. Mercury turned you around, follow the arrows artfully placed right at your feet for a good hint at sensible directions.


sagSagittarius: "Stop." It's the worst sign for a Sagittarius, I should know. But with the planets where they are? Think about the heavily romantic overtone. Think about where you are. Think about my old routine, typical Sagittarius routine, the bulk mail Valentine, "To the only girl I ever loved, or current resident." It was funny, at one time. But like a lot of my humor, it's all been overused and worn out.

Mercury is flipping positions, from backwards to stalled out, to, eventually, forward. Moon gets really full. Some folks would suggest that our Sagittarius selves are full of something, too.

Therein is the problem, and that's why, if I had to pick a special sign for us, for this week? The red, octagonal sign. The stop sign. It really applies. Stop. Don't make a bad situation worse, by continuing. Or, for that matter, don't take a good situation and let it all go to heck by talking the goodness out of the deal. Stop. It's simple.


capCapricorn: "Truck Crossing." I've always found this sign, usually located in and around active construction sites, rather amusing. Born and raised in Texas, I'm used to the sight of construction equipment, it's almost a constant element. So I'm aware, when I see cranes, or heavy trucks, I'm cognizant of the concept that there will big rigs, either hauling dirt, or long I-beams, or hauling excavated dirt away, or concrete mixers, something.

Plant entrances are the same way, especially, like a quarry. Or a cotton gin. I'm used to the idea that there will trucks, usually large trucks roaring to and from, and the sign, "Truck Crossing," isn't really required. Probably required by some law, or something. The first thought that usually flashes through my brian? "What are they crossing the trucks with?" Which leaves the genetic idea of impregnating a Semi with a sedan of some kind, get a diesel-belching half-breed vehicle.

The real meaning behind the "Truck crossing" sign, though, has more to do with slowing down and being aware that there might be a large, perhaps over-sized, vehicle bearing down on your self. Doesn't hurt, given the whole Mercury thing? Doesn't hurt to stop and look both ways before proceeding.


About the author: Born and raised in a small town in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel spent years honing his craft in trailer park in South Austin. He hates writing about himself in third person.

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