April 28th, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Last night my wife and I saw the movie "Hot Fuzz". It was actually funnier than I thought it was going to be, and though it had some cliche plot elements the dialog was very original. I heartily recommend this movie to anyone who appreciates a good comedy, and if you liked "Sean of the Dead," you will definitely like this film. As a word of caution to my sensitive readers, or those with young children, it did have a few gory parts. It was cartoony gore, but gore none the less.

UT Parking and Transportation Services

On February 17th of 2007 I attended the 14th annual Juggling Festival as put on by the TJS. As always parking was difficult to find on campus, but I managed to find a spot close to the festival, and parked my motorcycle in accordance with all posted signs. After the festival and public show for that day, I got on my motorcycle and rode home.

About two weeks later I received a letter from the UT Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) stating that I had an unpaid citation for improper parking. You may have noted in the above paragraph that I never mentioned receiving a citation. That is because I didn't. This letter was the first I had heard of it. Now I fully believe some UT Police office wrote me a ticket, but they apparently failed to adhere it to my motorcycle in any meaningful way.

The notice had no way to contact the UT PTS other than a website, and stated it was too late to appeal the ticket because 12 days had passed. It went on to say that if I did not pay the citation it would be handed over to a collection agency. Great!

I went to their web site hoping to find a number so I could talk to a human about this. As far as I could tell their number is not posted on the website anywhere, and if it is, it is certainly not obvious or easy to find. Eventually I forgot about the citation, but they didn't. They sent me another letter stating I still had an unpaid citation, and it basically reiterated the first.

After receiving this letter I made a special trip to the PTS office on campus. I talked with a cashier there who, though polite, was most unhelpful. I believe they themselves have no power to do anything other than accept money for citations and answer simple questions. Our conversation went something like this.
Me: I am here about this letter. I never received a citation for it,
    and I do not want to pay it.
Cashier: (types in the citation number, and brings something up on
    the screen). This says you parked a motorcycle in spot designated
    for a car, which is illegal on campus. Do you drive a motorcycle?
Me: Yes, but I parked in accordance with all signs. It was not posted
    anywhere that motorcycles could not park there. How am I supposed
    to know that if it is not posted?
Cashier: You could appeal it.
 - pause as we stare at each other for a few second - 
Me: I thought this was the office where I could appeal it?
Cashier: It is. There is a form you can fill out over there on the wall.
Me: (internally sighing). Thanks.

On the form I filled out all the relevant information. I basically stated I was a visitor to campus, and that it was not posted that it was illegal for a motorcycle to park in a spot designated for a car. And that I only learned of this restriction, when I spoke to the cashier. I also mentioned that I never actually received a citation, thought I doubt they care about that detail.

After filling out the form I walked back over to the cashier, who was now gone. So I went to the second cashier, and handed her the appeal form. I asked her how long it would take, and she said up to two weeks. Two weeks! Additionally they would respond to me via email. And Lo and behold they did, last night at about 7pm, much quicker than two weeks. I am impressed.

Here is snippet from their response.

At least this time I have a phone number. So you can probably tell by this point that I am pretty irritated by the whole thing, and I am not going to pay this citation for the following reasons.

  1. They failed to actually give me a citation. How hard it is to attach a ticket to a motorcyle, especially when the motorcycle has a seat strap which you could securely slide the ticket under?

  2. Their first and second notice had no way for me to contact a human.

  3. Without explicitly seeking out and reading the parking code of UT, there is no way to know that it is illegal to park a motorcycle in a spot designated for a car. I know this reeks of ignorance of the law, but see my next point.

  4. The citation itself it bogus. Texas law explicitly allows a motorcycle to park anywhere a car can park, and UT is a public school.

I would rather hire a lawyer and fight this tooth and nail than give them a dime for their draconian and overly bureaucratic system. My dealings with the IRS were more pleasant than with the UT PTS.

New Helmet

About two months ago I dropped my motorcycle helmet onto hard asphalt from about 7 feet. If you know anything about motorcycle helmets you know that I basically destroyed the helmet. Everything looks fine, but the nice foam inside which protects your head is one time use only, and a drop from that height used it.

Today my wife bought me a new helmet. The Shoei RF1000 in solid white. This is quite a step up from my old icon helmet, and I look forward to wearing the new one.

Sadly they didn't have white in stock, so I have to wait a week while they ship it. So close!