Tag Archives: driving

Brain Dump 01

One of my goals for this year1)I don’t really do new year resolutions, but I do occasionally set personal goals for the new year around January 1st. is to write more here; so while I don’t have a single idea that feels worthy of a full post, here’s a dump of various things floating around/through my skull today.

  • Is today stupid driving day or something? I’ll grant I left for work a few minutes later than usual, but it seems odd that so many people would continually be pulling out into moving traffic (from driveways and side streets) and then going so slowly2)Example in a 40mph zone, a car pulled out of a driveway less than half a block ahead of me, pulled across the lane I was driving in into the other lane and then just as I caught up to them they pulled right back in front of me.. Fortunately the roads were relatively clean this morning, so I was able to stop before plowing into any of those idiots, but still….
  • Back in the day when Javascript was new to the web, many sites used it to frequently touch my browser in the bad way. So I quickly grew to hate it and pretty much ignored/disabled it for years. In more recent times, Javascript usage has grown up/cleaned up its act. To the point where I’m actually interested in learning to use it. So I’ve been searching around for some decent tutorials but haven’t had a lot of luck. Most tutorials either assume you already know quite a bit about Javascript or are so extremely dated that they’re useless. I did run across 2 sites with tutorials that don’t seem to be too awful: Codecademy3)Codecademy gives a decent general knowledge of Javascrip. Though the site is far from perfect, with bugs in the lessons that prevent you from completing them or with questions that unclear in what they are looking for and hints that can be utterly useless and jQuery for Absolute Beginners4)While technically these tutorials cover jQuery (a Javascript library) rather than “pure” Javascript and while covering an older version of jQuery (1.2.6), it still has been very interesting to go over so far.
  • I’ve been thinking about about redesigning this site, but I’m trouble deciding what to do. I’ve got some ideas floating around in my skull, but I might hold off until I can look into working up a logo.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I don’t really do new year resolutions, but I do occasionally set personal goals for the new year around January 1st.
2. Example in a 40mph zone, a car pulled out of a driveway less than half a block ahead of me, pulled across the lane I was driving in into the other lane and then just as I caught up to them they pulled right back in front of me.
3. Codecademy gives a decent general knowledge of Javascrip. Though the site is far from perfect, with bugs in the lessons that prevent you from completing them or with questions that unclear in what they are looking for and hints that can be utterly useless
4. While technically these tutorials cover jQuery (a Javascript library) rather than “pure” Javascript and while covering an older version of jQuery (1.2.6), it still has been very interesting to go over so far.

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Given the number of intellectually-challenged persons I had to drive around to get home over lunch today1, I figured it was long past time to write up my best winter weather driving tips.

  1. If the weather looks worse than you feel comfortable driving in, then don’t.  Stay home and save the rest of us some headaches.
  2. When the weather is affecting visibility, turn on your headlights.  Yes, this means you mister white SUV speeding down the road with no headlights during blizzard-like driving conditions.
  3. Clean as much of the snow and ice off your car as you can reach.  This does include the roof & hood of your car as well as the windows.  Failure to clear these areas tends to cause the snow/ice to migrate from them to your windows once you get moving, so all that time you spent clearing the windows suddenly has gone to waste.
    • And you were carefully clearing off all your windows and not just a tiny viewport in the front & back windows, right?
  4. Unless the road is 100% clean and clear, double everybody’s stopping distance and not just yours.
    • When you’re thinking about cutting through a yellow light (or red if you have a death wish), just imagine what will happen if your tires lose traction and somebody is coming the opposite way2.

1 My area is currently under a Winter Weather Advisory and a Blizzard Watch.
2 For those of you lacking in imagination, it’s called a car accident.

People need to learn to drive!

I don’t know if it’s because I was extra-tired & cranky this morning but it seemed like everybody forgot the basic safety rules of the road today. Let’s start with the bicyclist who cut me off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sharing the road and I know cycling myself, but I also know it’s suicidal to cut off a car with my bike. But that’s exactly what this lady did. Without even looking she rode right out into the street, cut right in front of me (forcing me to slam on the breaks to avoid running her over. Then instead of getting over to the side road like a cyclist should; she just kept going right in front of me just slowly enough so we both got to the stop light as it turned red.

After getting past Ms. BikingWithADeathWish, I headed down towards to the interstate and into heavier & heavier rain. I got about halfway down the highway when I got stuck behind some giant, red Ford pickup. I don’t know what was going through this driver’s mind but I do know it had nothing to do with his driving this morning. Slow to stop at reds, slower to start at greens and an almost total lack of acceleration on the ramp leading up to the interstate. Then after finally getting on the interstate, I was able to get past Mr. ImDrunkAtSevenAm and on with motoring up the interstate to get to work.

Most of the way up wasn’t too bad, though the rain did get pretty unpleasant at one point. On the other hand the rain was also nice & soothing; unfortunately, I was tired and did not need any soothing this morning. *sigh* Anyway, I finally made it into town and was working my way past downtown through three-lane traffic with the rain pounding down. And what do I see before me as the traffic hits the 55 MPH zone? Why wouldn’t you know it, it’s another giant, red Ford pickup! This one had a few more of the extras installed and was an even worse driver. I first noticed him tailgating a vehicle in the lane to my right, but then I got my own taste of his brand of “driving”. When I was only about 2 maybe 3 feet back from this idiot; he suddenly decides to cut over into my lane (without signally) and go on to cut over to the far lane where he could pound down the gas pedal as he headed into the slower section of the interstate.

That pretty much covers the worst offenders on this morning’s commute. Now I just have to look forward to the insanity of driving home tonight. Wheeeee!

Update: Actually, it turns out I got to witness some extra fun insanity driving over lunch. I realized at lunch time 3 things:

  1. I was totally out of the trail mix emergency rations I keep at my desk.
  2. I’d packed a small lunch today.
  3. I was really hungry.

So I made a quick trip down over to a nearby Target to pick up one of their containers of trail mix1. Then I drove back to the office but I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before I had encountered both idiots.

Idiot #1 decided to start walking in front of me on wet pavement after I’d started moving forward from the stop sign. If I’d been driving our old car, that pedestrian would have been road pizza.

I had just about made it out of the parking lot when idiot #2 showed up. Oddly enough, it was another red pickup truck; though I’m not sure if it was a ford. In any case, I was heading for the back/side road access as it leads to a stoplight making it much easier to get back to my office. That’s when this idiot came tearing into the parking lot without slowing down at all and tried to turn to follow the curve of the “road” in the Target lot leading to the parking area. The main problem with this “plan” of theirs is we’ve been getting rain all day today and the pavement was wet slick. The idiot lost control of his pickup and went into a slide/skid/spin/whatever that missed hitting me by mere inches. He didn’t quite pull off a full 360° and he did pull away shortly so I figured besides being terminally stupid; he’d be ok.

But I really have to wonder, what the frak is up with people who drive red pickups? I mean that’s 3 of them in 1 day that all were driving recklessly!

1 They’ve got several flavors sold under their house brand, “Archer Farms”. And every one I’ve tried is good stuff.

Trying to lose my business?

Back in April, we bought a new car from Carousel Motors. And until yesterday, it’s been great. I let me explain…

Yesterday, I went home for my lunch hour. When my time was up, I went down to the car to get back to work. The car unlocked and started up without any problems. What was a problem is the ASL light turned on and stayed on. Normally, this light turns off once you press down on the brake pedal. It’s there to prevent you from shifting into gear without having the brake pressed to avoid accidents. Except now, my foot was on the brake and I was still stuck in park. I fiddled around with it for a bit, but couldn’t get aything to happen1. I rushed back inside, called by boss and worked the rest of the from home via the corporate VPN.

After work, I called the dealership but found out the service department closed an hour before I called. I talked to the salesman who sold us the car and he suggested calling the VW roadside assistance 800# to have them tow the car out. I called them up, waiting on hold for several minutes and then got to talk to *mumble, mumble #1*. He had me go out ot my car and try several things to get the car out of park. I was just nearing the end of his instructions when the battery in my phone died. *grumpf*

I tromped back up into the apartment and called back on a wired phone. Again I had to wait several minutes and then I got to talk to *mumble, mumble #2*. I explained what was wrong and what I’d done so far. He gave me the complete instructions and I wrote them down. Then I set down my phone and ran outside to try them. Success! I could now get my car out of park! Before I ran back inside to relate my success, I turned off the car and tried starting/shifting normally. No luck, that was still screwy. I went back inside, picked up the phone and… And nothing, all I got was dead air. *double grumf*

I called the roadside assistance a third time and once again had to wait several minutes for the privilege of talking to *unidentified pissy man*. This guy never gave me his name. I told him everything that I’d been through and the resuylts of their procedure for getting the car out of park. I asked if I was supposed to be ok now, or if I still needed to get it to the dealership? He grumpily answered that “of course I needed to get it to the dealership.” All this around, though not entirely their fault, was not exactly making my evening any better.

Today, I called the dealership and their receptionist was waaaaaaay to gorram happy for 7:45 AM. Fortunately, she quickly transfered me to their service department. And they answered the phone with a “Good Afternoon”. While time is relative and there was a period in my youth where I always used “Good Morning” as a greeting that was high school for crying out loud. Still, she could have just been tired by the early hour of the day, so I didn’t go off on her. I explained my problem and that the roadside assistance people had given me a procedure to get the car out of park. She said since I could technically drive it; their first opening to have somebody look at the car is next Monday. I made the appointment, but it left me feeling very disappointed. I think if this is the average level of customer service I get from them then when we replace our other car, it’s not going to be another Volkswagen. As much as I like driving the car and as good as their sales department is; if the rest of their team is lacking in customer service then it’s not worth it.

Or I could just be grumpy from having to handle all this so flippin’ early in the morning.

1 Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. All I did appeared to make things worse. After my fiddling with it, the EPC light came on. Though after following the instructions from roadside assistance that light went back out.

Daaaaang, that’s loaded!

Today, I have to travel to my company’s home office to teach a class. The day before I’m supposed to drive over I find I’ve got a voice mail. As I do 99.9999% of my job either via emails, IMs or F2F, this in itself was extremely odd. Then I listened to the message and found out it was a sales manager from dealership where we bought the new car.

It turns out that they want to borrow the car for a bit to have to their insurance people look it over (since it was on the lot at the time of the tornados hitting Iowa City). I thought this more than a little odd. As I was busy getting ready for my trip to the home office, I kind of blew off the message. Then this morning, I got another call from the dealership asking for the car again. I called the guy back and explained that I’m driving out of town today. He said it should really only take about 20 minutes and they’d give the car a wash while they had it. He also said they’d bring a loaner by for me, just in case.

I agreed to let him do it and then immediately got a tad nervous about it. I checked their website and found him on it. A little bit later our receptionist called and said a guy from the dealership was here. I went up to the front desk and the only person around was a scrawny looking kid. But he was wearing a sweatshirt with the dealership’s name & logo on it. Then he held out a key to him and we walked to the parking lot. The key was to a 2005 Volkswagen Passat. The stationwagon version. With a dealer’s plate in the back window, a sales sticker on the same. I felt a lot better about giving him my key and took him to my car. He drove off, and I hopped into the Passat for a quick peek.

Oh my God! The wagon is fully loaded with all the goodies Volkswagen has to offer. Now I feel slightly cheated in that I won’t get to drive this puppy for my trip. Don’t get me wrong, I love our new car and our new car does have more gadgets in it than any car I’ve ever owned. But still, that Passat sitting outside if so dang plush and luxurious. I could definitely enjoy driving that card. 😀 Oh well, at least I’m getting a free car wash. Though, now that I think about it; I’m wondering if I should have asked them to top off the gas tank. With gas at $2.84/gallon, that would have been a nice bit of savings for me. *shrug* That’s probably being a little greedy and they’ve been good to me already.

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