GPS in the Windshield

I like how people are worried that drivers looking down at their iPhone’s GPS is a major hazard, but have no problem with the people who stick their GPS on their windshield at eye level right in front of their faces, even when they’re not using them. I could never drive at night with a glowing three inch screen a foot in front of my face in the middle of my field of view. How do people do that?

Better yet, why do they do that? Did they forget how to get home from work? It’s a classic case of people growing reliant on technology for no good reason and blinding themselves to the obvious.

Let me Google that for you. Not surprisingly, it turns out to be illegal in one or two states. Should be illegal in all states.

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts and observations from the last 48 hours:

  • There’s a competitor to Delicious Library releasing on Saturday that has potential. Librarian Pro looks to catalog software as well as books, movies, CDs, etc. It has smart folders. And it will import your Delicious Library data, to boot.

  • On Wednesday night, I sat down in front of the computer and visited Amazon to check on the shipping status of Greg Rucka’s new Atticus Kodiak novel, PATRIOT ACTS. Imagine my thrill when I read “Delivered – Back Door.” Guess I should have checked there first.

  • Most embarrassing thing to happen to someone else this week: Woman got pulled over by a local police officer right at the front gate at work. And everyone going into work that day got to see her getting her ticket, presumably for speeding. (Speeding is an easy thing to do in the corporate park area where I spend my days.)

  • Speaking of annoying drivers: Yes, the shortest distance between two points IS a straight line. But when you’re turning around a corner, it is generally recommended that you stay to the right side of the double yellow line. It may be quicker to cut straight across that corner, but it’s also illegal and slightly dangerous when attempting it around a blind bend. Idiot.

  • I wish MARIO STRIKERS CHARGED would have one non-gimmicky level — no blocks falling out of the sky onto the pitch, nor lightning bolts. And no rampant shells firing off all over the place. Just pure 5 on 5 soccer.

  • The first $199 standalone HD-DVD player is coming. Let the format war continue. . . I expect we’ll see Blu Ray retaliate in the next month or two.

Evolution of the car horn

I was about ten feet away from the car when I realized I hadn’t locked it up, but I didn’t break stride. I reached into my pocket, pushed the button on the keyfob, heard the car’s horn honk once, and felt satisfied that the job was done.

It’s such a commonplace thing today that I don’t think of the car as being locked anymore until I’ve heard the horn honk. What was once a tactile sensation of pushing a button on the car door is now an auditory one. And it’s like that all day, every day in parking lots across the nation. Remember when a honking horn caught your attention? It might have meant that a friend was coming over to pick you up. Nowadays, they call you on their ubiquitous cell phone when they’re a minute away and you know when to look for them with uncanny accuracy.

Idiots in traffic use their car horn all the time for the smallest of infractions. They busy their hands on the steering wheel’s center instead of concentrating on slamming the breaks or swerving around the idiot in front of them. But it’s the boy who cried wolf. So many horns blare so needlessly that nobody notices them anymore. When’s the last time a horn honked in traffic caused you to seriously look around at your mirrors to see where it was coming from and why?

It’s the little boy crying wolf. Due to its incessant noise making, nobody hears its anymore. People lock their car doors remotely with the sound of the car horn when they’re parking at a condo complex, ten feet in front of someone’s bedroom. At night. And they think nothing of it.

And don’t get me started on the “panic” button on so many keyfobs that’s so easy to hit that they are more easily ignored than a single beep. . .

The car horn is just one of life’s little annoyances in the modern age.

Reasons to Love My Car

Really, it’s the little things.

  • Jeep Grand CherokeeThe Temperature Gauge. No, not the one that tells you your engine is overheating. I mean the one in the displaly that tells me how cold or warm it is outside. It’s not really all that necessary. I mean, does it really matter whether its 30 degrees or 35 degrees? Does it matter if its 39 or 49? And in the summer, is there a big difference between 89 and 99? Heck, no, but that kind of stupid knowledge is required of you when you get to work or get to your family gathering and people seem obsessed with the weather. “Wow, can you believe how cold it is outside?” “Yes, I can. It’s 34 degrees. Isn’t that crazy weather to be having in the dead of winter? Wait, it isn’t.”
  • Time Delay: I also like the way it takes a few minutes for the temperature sensor to fully acclimate itself. I live in an area that is generally a few degrees cooler than where I work. When I drive to lunch with people from work, they immediately latch onto my car’s temperature gauge and laugh at how wrong it is. So I play the global warming card on them.
  • Temperature Control: I love it when it rains and the windows fog up, because then I have my personal choice between two forms of torture: Extreme cold, or extreme heat. Either will defog the windshield, and both will make me painfully uncomfortable. Plus, there’s that initial blast of the air that completely fogs up the windshield before it starts to disappear. This is always a fun maneuver to make at 65 MPH. (Yeah, like anyone on the highway does only 65. . . )
  • Fog Lamps: Other cars on the road will frequently mistake them for high beams and flash their own lights at you. Also, they’re very useful in the fog to help light the fog up and blind you even worse than what you started with.
  • Headlight Windshield Wipers: No, my car doesn’t have those, but I wanted to mention them here as the Most Useless Addition to a car that I’ve ever seen. You really have money to burn when you order that option.

Fancy excuse for Road Rage

Study says millions have ‘rage’ disorder – Yahoo! News

To you, that angry, horn-blasting tailgater is suffering from [tag]road rage[/tag]. But doctors have another name for it — intermittent explosive disorder — and a new study suggests it is far more common than they realized, affecting up to 16 million Americans.

It’s nice of them to try to come up with an excuse for “road rage” that we just can’t help, but let’s face it — driving any lengthy commute for a prolonged period of time is bound to get you honking mad.

I’m just linking to this because I had a story from the road the other day that made me laugh. I couldn’t get the road rage thing going, because the whole thing was too funny:

Once again, I was stuck in stop and go traffic. It’s a daily occurence for a couple miles of my commute home. I’ve accepted it. What I hate is when the car in front of me leaves about six car lengths to the next car ahead. We get nowhere that way because other cars come up along the side and cut in front.

This particular woman the other day was even worse. She barely paid attention to the road. She was looking down at the passenger seat half the time, then up at herself in the mirror. She was shifting left and right in her own lane. When I finally did pass her by, she had her head half out the window and was checking herself out in the side view mirror. This was no 20-something debutante, either. This was a middle age woman, complete with big hair and, well, big everything.

The funny part is this: The trunk of her car was duct taped in place. The damage to it and her rear bumper showed me that she’d been rear-ended before, and she chose to patch it with a roll of duct tape.

I was SHOCKED that she could have been in such an accident before. SHOCKED, I SAY!

Monday Link Dump

They really are driving faster than you

Cars in the next lane really do go faster

When driving on the motorway, have you ever wondered about (and cursed) the fact that [tag]cars[/tag] in the other lane seem to be getting ahead faster than you? You might be inclined to account for this by invoking [tag]Murphy’s Law[/tag] (“If anything can go wrong, it will”, discovered by Edward A. Murphy, Jr, in 1949). However, a recent paper in Nature by Redelmeier and Tibshirani seeks a deeper explanation.

It’s mostly psychological reasoning, but the reasons are there in the link.

Why radio is dying

The real reason radio is dying isn’t because the programming on it stinks, though it does.

The real reason is that nobody listens to it in the car anymore. They’re all constantly on their cell phones. Really, people, what’s so important that you can’t be in direct touch with someone in your address book for however long it takes you to get somewhere?

I was stuck in traffic the other day and looked at the cars around me. I counted 1 in every 4 drivers (a sample of about 20 cars) with a phone to their ear. Not only is that insane, but it’s also illegal in this state to drive like that. You need a hands free phone. No, that doesn’t mean you turn the speakerphone on and then hold the phone up with your hand about six inches from your mouth while serving in and out of lanes with the one free hand. That defeats the purpose.

If I could tell who was using the proper hands-free tech and not just singing along with the radio, I’m sure that 1 in 4 number would increase.

Am I the only one who enjoys the “Me Time” to listen to music or a podcast?

Friday Link Dump

Questions. I have questions.

  1. I was driving home at just about 5:00 p.m. on Monday. Daylight Savings Time had just ended. The sun was very low on the horizon. It had fallen behind the treeline and the sky was partly cloudy. In general, it was still bright and very obviously daylight out. Everyone had their headlights on, though. That part doesn’t bother me. It’s better to err on the side of caution, after all. But if it were the same time of day with rain pouring down from the sky, at least one in six of those cars would not have their headlights on. Why is it they remember their headlights in broad daylight, but not in the rain? (And, seriously, I’ve counted cars on the highway in the rain before. It averages one in six who don’t put their headlights on. Sickening, isn’t it? That’s been the law since the dawn of time. . . )

  2. Why don’t we have “smart” traffic lights yet? For example: It’s 1 a.m. in your small town with one traffic light. As you approach it, the green light clicks to amber and then red. You’re stopped at a light that won’t turn green for another minute. But there’s nobody else on the road for miles. Yet, you’re stuck. You can’t run the red light, because there’s a cop in the parking lot on the other side who wants to meet his monthly quota with your help. Why can’t the traffic light see that there’s nobody else coming for miles around and flip your light green?

Another example: It’s 5 p.m. and the big corporate campuses just let out. Traffic streams onto the street towards a large four way intersection. It’s so far backed up that people can’t get into the left lane to make the delayed green left hand turn. If nobody can get to the lane, why is that lane’s green light still on? Why not turn the light green in the opposite direction to let people start going early?

I don’t know the technical solution for all this, though I’m sure it would be expensive and require massive amounts of testing for safety’s sake, but c’mon. We’re smarter than this, aren’t we?

Glue on the road – News – Glue Spill Slows Turnpike Traffic

Police and hazmat crews in Cumberland County had to deal with a sticky situation on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Tuesday. A tractor-trailer carrying glue overturned on an exit ramp at the Carlisle interchange at about 11 a.m. The rig was carrying glue and 1,500 gallons of glue spilled onto the road.

I’ve probably told this story here before, but it still amuses me so: There was once a turned over liquid soap truck on a highway near me. The next night, it rained. The road around the spill was sudsy for 300 yards. After passing through it, my tires sparkled.

The real speed limit

This re-enforces what a lot of us believed already. Now, however, there’s a study to prove it.

Survey: Most States Allow Driving Speed Cushion

Authorities patrolling U.S. highways tend to give motorists a cushion of up to 10 miles per hour above the speed limit before pulling them over, says a survey by a group of state traffic safety officials. This practice creates an unsafe comfort level at high speeds and is a potential safety hazard, according to the report being released Monday by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The group found that 42 states allow drivers to regularly exceed the speed limit before they are stopped.

Phantom wreck

I love it when an accident on the northbound side of the highway ties up traffic southbound for miles, so people can slow down to gawk at the “wreckage.” Those people deserve every bit of bad kharma that comes their way after that.

Then there’s the following quoted story, in which a car wreck that didn’t happen tied up traffic for miles.

Meanwhile, there was a fire on NJ Transit this morning paralyzing trains into NYC, and a portion of a retaining wall on a major highway (~200,000 cars a day) in NYC collapsed yesterday. This is just not a good day to be heading into the city.

Of course, if you ask me, it’s NEVER a good day to be heading into that city.

Now, back to “upstate” New York:

Phantom wreck wreaks too-real traffic havoc

A motorist called police about 4:15 p.m. to report that a teal-colored Saturn traveling north on Route 6 had swerved off the shoulder of the road, struck a guardrail and possibly launched itself over the edge of a cliff along Route 6 near Route 293, police said. Woodbury police, state police, a legion of firefighters and a helicopter responded to the call, frantically searching for the wreck. They found no sign of a crash, and no car anywhere on the mountainside.