Monthly Archives: April 2009

Dear drivers,

My employer moved a bunch of us to a different location to do some consolidation and as a result, I now commute down and up I-65 every day. As a result, I’m now an interstate driver again after two years of back road commuting. There are real differences, but, at least on the North side of town, it’s a little different than it is from other sides of town.

Whenever I’d have an occasion to drive I-65 to the South, I’d notice how people actually paid attention to the HOV lane markers and single drivers would consciously stay out of that lane. That’s not the case on the North side. It seems nobody cares about anything except being able to make a little higher speed in that lane. Between Briley Parkway (which is about the start of the HOV lane) and the Rivergate area (the end of the HOV) I saw a constant stream of people zooming by in the far left lane. Only one, a dually pickup with Florida plates, had more than one person in the car.

If Metro’s short on revenue, I know where they can scarf up a bunch of easy ticket revenue. Even if the profit’s only around $50 a pop, there’s tens of thousands to be made for a good long while.

Commuting

So far this week, my morning commute has involved passing people talking on the phone, Blackberrying, reading what appeared to be a child’s book (and I hope there wasn’t a child in the car too) and brushing on makeup. Oddly enough those informative signs over the interstate said the 7.5 mile commute to Broadway would take approximately 30+ minutes. I think there’s a connection there.

We seem to be surrounded by idiots and they’re driving two-ton missiles at 70 plus miles per hour. I’m just glad I get off I-65S before I get close to town.

Pontiac, dead at 83

Pontiac, one of the few car marques left from the golden age of autos, was pronounced dead at age 83 by the current CEO of General Motors this week. The death will take place over the next year in a drawn-out affair. Pontiac, named for the chief of the Ottawa tribe, and the city in which it was made, started as a separate model line in 1926. Chief Pontiac gained fame primarily for laying siege to the city of Detroit in a rebellion against British occupation after the end of the French and Indian War.

Pontiac, the car, started out as a companion car line for GM, providing the extra power of a six-cylinder car but priced comparably to competitors’ four-cylinder cars. This gave it the reputation as a higher-powered and sportier model in the GM lineup. This reputation continued until just prior to World War II by which point, Pontiac had become bland and unassuming. This outlook continued until the late 50s, when the Pontiac general manager, “Bunkie” Knudsen, decided to revamp the logo, removing the Indian head profile and replacing it with the “V” shape we now know. He also put the front wheels 5″ further apart, which made the cars look moderately less garish with all its fins and accidentally gave the cars better handling. The Wide Track Pontiac was born. This emphasis on handling and sportyness continued into the early 60s when Pontiac introduced the Tempest and the LeMans (later called the GTO) and eventually the Firebird.

FGF

I doubt there’s ever going to be anyone except Dewey Bunnell who has a clue what this song is all about, but I still like it. Yeah, it did kick Neil Young’s heart of Gold out of the top slot and yeah, they do sound like Neil and the lyrics can be a tad simple (the heat was hot – woah!!! — there were plants and birds and rocks and things – who knew?) and then there is the whole idea about the title. I mean, you’re alone in the desert — what in hell else do you have to do BESIDES naming the damn horse?

Quote of the Day

From San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office concerning a proposal to make the city the first place to sell and distribute medical marijuana:

The mayor will have to hash this out with public health officials,” press secretary Nathan Ballard said. “It’s the mayor’s job to weed out bad legislation. And to be blunt, this sounds pretty bad.”

Nice.

No, We Can’t, Apparently

Defeat entrenched lobbyists, even if we try, it seems. The bill reworking liquor laws to allow wine sales in grocery stores has been withdrawn by its sponsor one more time. From the Associated Press c/o The Daily Press and ACK:

NASHVILLE — A proposal to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee supermarkets has failed for the year.

State Rep. David Shepard withdrew the proposal, SB1157, from consideration in a House subcommittee today. The Dickson Democrat says the move reflects a lack of support among enough lawmakers in either chamber of the Legislature, and a failure to reach a compromise with retailers and wholesalers.

Under the state’s rigid three-tier beverage control system, every drop of alcohol is supposed to flow from the manufacturer to a wholesale distributor and finally to the retailers.

Grocery stores can’t sell wine and liquor stores can’t sell beer.

Ouch, That Hurts!

This video is of the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) offset frontal impact tests performed against the car I recently purchased, the Honda Fit. They tested it against a commonly purchased vehicle, the Honda Accord, and the Fit got a poor rating. The Fit had been rated Good in their tests against a solid barrier in similar offset frontal impact tests.

Unfortunately, they did this test long after I bought the Fit, damn them. Despite an abundance of airbags and a crumple zone, it seems there are significant risks of injury and death in this situation. My head would be fine, but the chances I’d lose both legs are pretty good. Although offset frontal impacts constitute a small portion of the crashes actually experienced, it’s monumentally more likely to happen than you or I winning the lottery. (For the math geeks out there it’s a contrast between 40 milion to one odds and roughly 250 to 1 odds.)

Just a little note to the Smart ForTwo people, though.  This little email did you no good. Facts are facts. Small cars do, well, suck when there’s an altercation between them and big cars. It’s called physics and it’s a real science. People who drive small cars are aware of this, particularly when they’re on the interstates surrounded by Mariners and Excursions and Escapes. And in other news, water is still wet and the pope is still Catholic.

The IIHS’ non-standard test is rare and extreme and unlikely to occur in real world crashes. In fact, federal safety regulators do not require this type of testing because the likelihood of an accident within these test parameters is so rare: fewer than 1% of all accidents can compare to this type of crash.

The most important thing to note is that the smart fortwo meets or exceeds all federal government crash test standards, including a 5-star side crash rating. It also received the highest scores for front and side crashes from the IIHS.

Government standards are minimal. Advertising how minimal you are is never a good idea.

State Fair Award-Winning Apple Orange Pie

Well, that’s what the recipe title says, anyway. And it’s one I found somewhere on the Internet  – it’s obviously computer-printed – but I have no idea whose recipe it is, where I found it,  what state, or even if it was really award-winning, but it was pretty good. I’ll keep the recipe. Our recipe cabinet has a combination of several families worth in it – my mother’s, my wife’s mother’s, mine and my wife’s, so we have a lot of recipes and cookbooks. We hardly ever cull any out (I noticed at least seven or eight recipes for varieties of Chess pie in there) so it can get full.

The orange juice made a nice addition to the flavor. The taste probably would have been a bit different with the apple pie spice mix instead of just cinnamon, but I didn’t see the other spice bottle until later.

We also didn’t have “pie apples” just eating ones and I’m sure that made a difference as well. Ah well, sometimes you don’t have the perfect set of ingredients and you muddle through anyway. Since the recipe suggested shredding or chopping the apples, I tried shredding them. It worked acceptably well, but the texture wasn’t what I expected from an apple pie, really. I’ll try it again when we have the “proper” ingredients – if I remember to buy them, that is.

Apple Orange Pie

4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon apple pie spice or cinnamon (I used cinnamon)
1 tablespoon flour
4-5 large cooking apples (we had golden delicious ones)
1 egg white + 2 tsp water
2 pie crusts

Melt the butter in a saucepan and  stir in the cinnamon, orange juice and flour. Bring this to boil and then set off the heat to cool.

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Line the pie pan w/ 1 crust. Peel and core apples and shred or chop (I shredded). Fill the pie crust with the apples and then pour the butter mixture over them. Cover with second crust. Seal the edges, cut some vent holes (extra points for an Easter bunny shape) and paint the top with the egg white mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes. Eat. Enjoy.