Battle Damage

Recently the area in which I reside had experienced this seasons first significant snowfall. Shoveled a lot more of it than I cared to as well. With a significant amount of snowfall comes the bad driving conditions because even when at full turn out levels the state/county/city plow trucks wont be able to keep up. Inevitably, this will result in accidents because there’s always the guy who has to be on the road and in a hurry.  As my paint and body guy says, “winter will always keep me in business.”

As I drive from point A to B now I will see at least one person driving around with some form of damage. I understand that the body garage is backed up with work or more likely you have to wait for the part(s) to show up. I get it, I’ve been there. What I don’t get though, is why anyone would think that driving around with a bumper or quarter panel barely hanging on is a good idea. When my truck was damaged and I had to wait a couple of days for replacement pieces to show up I removed part of the front end. Let me explain why.

Vehicle manufacturers go through extensive research  in order to develop aerodynamics into their products. Once you compromise the outline or contour of the vehicle you sacrifice that aerodynamic flow and as a result the performance of the vehicle as well. Removing the damaged part will help restore some of that aerodynamic flow. Leaving the damaged part on the vehicle to potentially flap around while you drive is as good as having up to 20% of your breaks applied while driving. I could pontificate further about the wear and tear that is being exacted on your vehicle as a result of this, but I have other points to make.

Let’s meow examine this from a safety stand point. The DOT of the state in which I currently reside says  that the damaged piece only has to be secured to the vehicle. It does not define by the manner in which it has to be secured. I have seen everything from tie downs, zip ties, duct tape, come-alongs, and bungee cords being used to secure damaged pieces. This is a bunch of BS. Most of the time the damaged piece is improperly “secured” or the means by which it is being held quickly breaks itself and the driver of said vehicle is either igornant of the danger the are now to other motorists or just don’t give a damn.

Honestly I could care less if you want to screw up the performance of your own vehicle. That’s on you. Where I do take umbrage is when people drive around with something that equates to a drag chute barely hanging onto the vehicle. There is now the possibility that it could break off and at the minimum cause damage to my vehicle, but also cause an accident and injury to myself, any passenger I may have with me, and other motorists and their passengers as well. What I would like to see happen more often is police officers pulling these shmucks over and issuing them a safety violation similar to how they do to people who ignore a burnt out headlight.



Brand Spankin New

I think I can safely say that everybody loves to open up something that is “factory sealed” new. As in mint condition. At least I do anyway. Let’s start with what I consider top of the list.

Fresh off the line cars are the best. They haven’t been road or weather worn. Providing the vehicle isn’t a lemon they are in pristine condition usually with less than 10 miles on them when they roll off the delivery truck. Lets put aside everything about how it looks and operates. The smell is where its at. Nothing beats the smell of a brand new car. That “new car” smell stuff they sell doesn’t cut it either.

A recent experience of getting something brand new that I had enjoyed was getting a brand new pack of boxers. “A set of freshies”, to quote one of the pharmacists I’m normally partnered with. Have to go agree his assessment is on point. A set of freshly laundered BVD’S is fantastic, but when its fresh from the pack and untainted by anything is even better. Combine that with just getting out of the shower and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

Although one can argue that snow technically isn’t new I’m going to run with it here. One of the best parts of winter is a fresh blanket of the white stuff on the ground. (No I am not talking about Bolivian Shale.) It enhances the mood for this time of year and if your like me and equipped with snow blowing equipment you can turn the white into green.

One thing brand new out of the box I know that most people don’t like is a deck of cards. They are normally slick and thus make them difficult to manage. I’ve listened to my poker playing friends complain about them enough in the past, a couple of whom are professional dealer at the local casino. I have also listened to magician Penn Jillette explain about how he likes to get card decks worked in/conditioned to a certain point when performing certain tricks.



Standard Operating Procedures: Shoveling Snow

A lot of the tasks that I do throughout the day whether teaching or in the pharmacy have some sort of standard operating procedure (SOP). The same could be said for a lot of my daily tasks as well. Since winter has final showed up and brought some snow as well shoveling said snow becomes a somewhat routine task.

For the first time in what has been a great while I grabbed the shovel and started removing the snow from sidewalks. I started with the two front steps and the short walkway to the main sidewalk as I always do and then completely blanked out on what I was going to do next. Now I’m sure everyone is thinking, “What’s the big deal just shovel the damn snow”.

Believe it or not there is right and a wrong way to shovel the snow. It’s not how I remove it from the sidewalks, but more so where I pile it. I have to account for two things. First and foremost, more snow. You can only pile it so high before it becomes unruly and won’t pile correctly. Secondly, the city plows. They are making quick runs and the snow is being thrown everywhere. The smaller the piles near the curb the less I have to re-clean from the sidewalks as the will eventually push more onto the tree lawns.

Driving In The Snow

We’ll after much delay some snow has finally returned to my corner of the world. With the return of the snow we also have the hundreds of drivers who forget how to drive safely in the snow. I am sure I have stood up here on my soap box and pontificated about it in the past, but here are the highlights again.

The most important thing to do is STAY in your lane and maintain a safe speed. You may not be able to maintain the speed limit depending on wind, visibility, and slick road conditions and it is acceptable to go below the speed limit. However, it is not acceptable to be at an almost negligible speed and still traveling. I don’t care if you have your hazard lights on you are now officially a road hazard.

At the same time don’t speed either. The only thing you are going to hurry up to is getting in an accident.

It’s common sense people. Don’t be on the road unless you have to and if you are drive safely.

Driving in the Snow

Today is the first serious snow fall for this winter season. Now we aren’t getting anything to the proportions that Boston did a few days ago, but enough that being cautious while driving is actually warranted. What I want to convey here is that there is safe and unsafe ways to drive in the snow.

Normally driving the actual posted speed limit or right below would be the correct thing to do. (Approximately up to less than 5 mph under the posted limit.) I also suggest adding an extra half a car length than the normal distance you keep between you and the person in front of you. Slick road conditions do increase required stopping distances. There is a limit to how reduced your speed can be despite the not so Kosher driving conditions.

There is such a thing as driving too slow. A reasonable amount of speed does need to be maintained in order just to maintain forward momentum of one’s vehicle, but also to allow tires to do what they are supposed to do and push the snow out of the way which a lot of newer tread designs do thus increasing the contact footprint with the ground and increasing traction. Driving significantly slower will cause traffic to back up and a line of slow moving cars does pose a hazard in addition to an inconvenience.

While driving to have my truck inspected this morning I ran into said slow driver this morning. While traveling on the main avenue toward my destination I ended up at the back of the pack of slow moving cars. Everyone’s speed was reduced due to the fact that the plow trucks have not touched the roads in a few hours. Even though we were moving the speed was a snail’s pace for bad weather conditions. I was about 8 vehicles back from what I would find to be the head of the line. One by one motorists would pass the slow moving truck, but it required them to move into the lane of traffic not really traveled so there isn’t the travel track of other vehicles to follow. So people are struggling to pass the offending vehicle and it eventually becomes my turn. I figured there must be something wrong and sure enough there is.

I am fortunate enough to have four wheel drive and had been using it from the word go this morning so passing was no difficulty for me. While passing I took a quick look at the vehicle causing the issue and thought there might be some assistance I could offer, but concern quickly turned to anger. This person was driving a truck of comparable size and scope to that of mine, barley had cleaned the excess snow off of it, and the driver was talking on the cell phone.  For about a heartbeats worth of time I thought about pushing them into the breakdown lane, but decided the hit and run wasn’t worth it. People’s stupidity is mind boggling to me sometimes.

The Smell of Winter

This evening it is exceptionally cold outside. The sky is mostly clear and the moon is bright. The air also has a crisp fresh smell to air with the faint odor of a wood fire nearby. This normally occurs the evening after a days worth of fresh snow has fallen. It’s like a cleaning of the atmosphere. It is nights like these that allow me to further embrace my inner Canadian heritage. This is also why I enjoy the winter about other seasons.