Monthly Archive:: August 2009

Fun at Traffic Court!

Traffic CourtWhat a great day I had today! I got to drive an hour north to the City of Kingston to sit for 1.5 hours on a hard wooden bench in Traffic Court! Woo hoo! That was almost as much fun as getting pulled over by an incredibly pleasant and warm-hearted (not!) state trooper at 7 AM on my way to teach the last CPS certification class. Apparently I was driving 72 on this stretch of highway and didn’t realize it was a 55 mph zone. My bad.  

To be honest, I was really annoyed when the trooper wrote me but he was annoyed with me too for not pulling over immediately (silly me was actually looking for a safe place to pull over instead of the non-existent shoulder of the highway). I tried, very politely, to explain this to him when he got all huffy with me but he didn’t seem to appreciate my concern for both his safety and mine. Whatever.  

The good news is that the prosecutor let me plead to a non-moving violation. I think I pled to parking on the curb or something along those lines. The bad news is that it still cost $100. Thank goodness my DH never reads this blog.  ;)

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

PriusI’ve ranted before about government bailouts.  A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.  Yet, somehow, not a dime seems to appear to help prevent the #1 killer of kids.  Recently, we’re pumping billions into helping people trade in their clunkers in order to take on even more debt so that they can buy a new car.  I’m glad it’s at least giving lip service to promoting better fuel economy.  I’d like to see some attention to better safety, too.

For example, I’d like to see new model year vehicles crash tested quicker.  Sometimes, it seems like it’s half way through the model year before results are available.  By then, half the sales are completed.  There are certainly very legitimate reasons why the NHTSA and IIHS ratings can’t be ready the moment a popular new model hits the market.  I’m also sure it’s nothing a billion or two dollars and some love from congress couldn’t fix!

Yeah, I’m a bit of a safety nut.  In our discussions about having a third child, I put in my request for a new minivan.  The old one had good crash test ratings, but the new one had side curtain airbags and stability control, plus top ratings all around.  My wife’s Subaru also lacked the latest features, much to my chagrin.  I’ve been hinting that she needed something safer and more fuel efficient for a year or two.

An Almost, But Not Quite Costly Mistake

pocket contentsI think every CPS tech gears up for a checkup event.  Mentally we prepare for what we may see at the event: the type of parent we may encounter, the types of restraints and errors we may see, and think about stock phrases we may use to get points across to parents and caregivers in a way that is easy for them to understand yet not condescending.  We also prepare by dressing for the part.  Perhaps it’s a favorite pair of old jeans or shorts and a t-shirt that identifies us as a technician.  I usually get ready for a checkup event by putting on my cargo shorts and stuffing the pockets with all kinds of goodies, like a small bottle of Purell, Chapstick, my iPhone, rubber bands for tying up tethers, and my pen.  Sometimes I’ll attach a hemostat to my shirt if I know I’m going to an event where I’ll be working with a lot of convertible seats, since those are helpful for pulling harness straps through slots.

First Years B540 Compass Folding Adjustable Booster Review

B540 PacificThis is a review of the B540 Compass Ultra Adjustable Folding Booster made by First Years/Learning Curve.

The B540 model is very similar to the B530 (they actually share the same instruction manual) but there are a few notable differences.

  • B540 has more padding built into the cover
  • B540 headwings are 2″ deeper for better SIP and sleep support
  • B540 has EPP foam lining the headrest (B530 has EPS).  Both EPP and EPS foam are energy absorbing materials but EPP is more durable and is less likely to crack under normal wear and tear conditions.

Since they do share the same instruction manual I can tell you that both the B540 and B530 models are rated for children 30 – 100 lbs, from 38 – 57 ” tall and who are 3 years or over. This doesn’t mean that it would be an ideal choice for a 30 lb, 3 year old child but for a booster here in the US these minimums are fairly common. Still, best practice is to keep children in a 5-pt harness until they reach 40 lbs – assuming they can still fit height-wise. With that “best practice disclaimer” out of the way, let’s look at what the B540 has to offer:

Tires Have Expiration Dates?!

We car seat geeks focus on restraints, but we tend to forget about the true tiresworkhorses of the vehicle: the tires.  While getting the family ride ready to go to the Happiest Place on Earth, dh noticed that the tires were looking a bit worn down along the edges.  I looked at them and yup, all 4 tires were wearing a bit thinner than either of us liked to see on the edges, but the middles still have plenty of tread left in them.  Between the two of us, we couldn’t figure out when or if we had ever replaced the tires; we bought the van new in April 2005, so it’s been 4 years.  That’s a mighty long time to have a first set of tires on a vehicle, but aside from a handful of long trips, I mostly drive it within just a few miles of my home on a daily basis during the school year (in the summers, I’m begging the kids to run errands somewhere, anywhere, just to get out of the house!).  The van still has less than 40K miles on it!