Monthly Archive:: March 2013

Snow Day

We got three calls this morning at 5am.  Two on our cell phones, one on our home phone.  Plus two emails.  Yes, school was cancelled for our three kids on the first snow day of the school year, due to an impending snowstorm.  Oddly enough, when I went downstairs at 6am to cancel an important meeting I had for today, in order to be home for the kids, there wasn’t a hint of snow falling.  I checked the forecast just to make sure whoever cancelled school wasn’t hallucinating.  To be fair, it did call for 6″-8″ of snow by nightfall.  By 7am, a few flurries were appearing.  By 9am, the end of rush hour, it had finally turned into a modest snowfall, with about a half inch of snow on the ground.  My wife surmised that they were concerned the roads wouldn’t be plowed for the trip home from schools around 3pm, because there sure wasn’t an issue this morning.   Normal dismissal is well before rush hour, usually not a problem in suburban Chicago where we have very good snow removal and street treatment.  Even now, around noon, there is just over an inch of accumulation.  Maybe the white-out blizzard is yet to come in the next few hours?

This wouldn’t be the first time in the last few years we’ve had a snow day for what didn’t appear to present any transportation issues.  Maybe this afternoon will be a lot worse, but for now I have three bored kids who barely have enough snow to make a snowball lol!  Hopefully I can get a couple of them outside soon…

Safety Features You Can’t Live Without

A couple of weeks ago, my dd’s softball team had a fundraising car wash at a local car dealer. My SUV had already been through the line and we were winding down, so my dh had me go get his SUV from the parking lot to run through the wash tunnel. I got into the driver’s seat, did a quick adjust of the seat and rear-view mirror (he is 6’5” and I am not), started the ignition, began to back out and froze. I couldn’t remember how to do it!

I mean, of course, I back out all the time. But I have a backup camera to assist me and in his SUV, I don’t. His SUV is a 2004, before backup cameras were commonplace in vehicles; in fact, I think at that point in time, it was a nearly $1500 add-on. I looked in the rear-view mirror, looked in the side mirrors, turned and looked out the back windows, and yet still felt like I was missing huge chunks of visibility. Even though I knew no one was behind me—it was a deserted parking lot since the dealership was closed and I was the only one there at the time—I still felt like I could hit someone or something. It scared me. Anyway, I did make it safely to the wash line and handed the keys back to dh. He can have his SUV. But not for long. Soon his backup screen will be even bigger than mine or yours ;).

I know that my seat belt and airbags are an important safety feature, of course, as are the steel reinforcement bars in the door, etc., etc., etc., but for driving on a daily basis, I cannot drive without my backup camera. I’m too dependent on it. Is there a feature in your car that you’ve come to rely upon heavily?

Interstate Intelligence

During my recent cross-country drive, I did a lot of thinking about interstates, because if you’ve ever driven Interstate 40 through Oklahoma and Texas, you’ll know there’s not much else to think about, except maybe windmills.

Many years ago I learned some cool facts about interstates. With the prevalence of GPS devices, it’s not likely you’ll ever need them to help you navigate somewhere, but you never know. If nothing else, they make for semi-interesting cocktail-party factoids. (As with everything in America, there are exceptions to just about all of these rules, so don’t yell at me if you have an example of something contrary.)

  • Interstates are numbered from south to north and west to east. That means that lower-number interstates (like Interstates 5 and 8) are found in the southern and western parts of the country. Higher-numbered ones (like 80 and 95) are in the northern or eastern parts of the country.
  • Mileage along the interstate is labeled the same way and starts over in each new state or at the beginning of each new branch. For example, when you enter a new state along its southern or western border, you’ll start with mile marker 0. When you enter at the north or east, you’ll start with the last mile of interstate in that state.
  • You can use mile-markers to determine whether you’re traveling in the right direction. If the numbers are going up, you know you’re headed north or east. If they’re going down, you’re headed south or west.
  • Exit numbers correspond to mile markers. So if you’re at mile 185 and your exit number is 285, you know you have 100 miles to go. (I try to keep the math simple around here.)
  • Interstates that run north-south end in even numbers. Ones that run east-west end in odd numbers. (Any variation here tends to happen in major metropolitan areas.)
  • Interstates that run all the way from the west coast to the east coast end in 0. Interstates that run from the top of the country to the bottom end in 5.
  • Primary interstates are numbered with single or double digits. Off-shoots have three digits and end with the same number as the primary interstate they branch off of. (For example, Interstate 177 branches off of 77. 405 branches off of Interstate 5.)
  • Generally, if the branching-off route begins with an even number, it will reconnect to the primary interstate at some point. (280 branches off of 80 and will likely merge back with it.) This is usually done to create an alternate route around heavily traveled urban areas and can be a good way to avoid congestion.
  • Conversely, branches that begin with an odd number generally do not connect back to the main line. (175 branches off of 75, but won’t meet up with it again.)

Now go find a cocktail party and wow some people. (Have a designated driver for afterwards!)