Diane’s Icy Adventure

Christmas night, Diane, on the way to a party, found herself in the fast line of the freeway with a car stopped in front of her and the brakes not working due to a patch of black ice. With cars and trucks honking on the right side, she had no choice but to steer for the shoulder, running over not one but two sign posts. The first sign, a tall one, she flattened without incident, but the second one, a yellow caution speed sign, grabbed the bottom of her car and wedged itself there so she could go no further.

The cause of the accident was a young couple with a 2-month old baby who had hit the ice and had probably thrown their hands in the air, then gone onto the shoulder, bounced off a cement wall, over a rise that must have had their car almost vertical, then back onto the fast lane of the freeway where they stopped, not knowing what to do.

Fortunately for them, another driver decided to pull up behind them and put his emergency flashers on.

When I got there in the (all-wheel drive) Subaru, only going 45mph and suddenly seeing her car around the bend, I put my brakes on and slid a little, but then steered onto the shoulder safely. When the cops got there with their flashing roof racks they blocked traffic in the fast lane, so it was finally a safe situation.

If that guy hadn't pulled up behind the first car, it would have eventually been creamed, I'm sure, with the baby in it, since they didn't think of taking the baby out of the car.

The tow truck company and the police said it would be hours before a tow truck could get Diane's car (due to several other accidents around town), so we left it there overnight.

This morning we were able to jack it up and pull the sign out, and Diane drove home without further incident, with no injury to the car except a mark in the bumper where she'd hit the signs.

So remember kids, don't trust other drivers to know what they're doing! (And only you can prevent forest fires.)

UPDATE FROM DIANE HERSELF:

I release all claim to the information contained in this report, Bill, so you have my permission to publish, although I can't speak for the author.

He is getting Chinese takeout for dinner later, in honor of those responsible for my accident 🙂

Both the car and I are in perfectly good shape.

I don't have even the tiniest sore spot anyplace.

Hannah (the car) only has two large scratches on her very front, one for each sign, which I will dab up with white paint once the weather improves so that she will not be embarrassed by them, and also some blackberry-peach crumble over the front passenger side of the car.

I think the original accidentees were going too fast and hit their brakes on the same patch of ice that I did; but since I was only going 40-45 mph, even when I skidded I got off the road sooner (in terms of distance) and didn't travel nearly as far as they did.

I was able to regain control of the car way before I would have hit the wall the way that they did.

Looking at the trajectory in the snow that our respective cars left, that was really key.

So, says Snowy the Bear, always travel with your road conditions in mind.

It saved my car, and my butt, last night.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday!

love, Diane

Winter Has Arrived

It's been snowing all day, at least an inch and a half accumulation. Earlier, I put some de-icer on the driveway in preparation for tomorrow morning. Before that, I had to walk the dogs in the snow. You know, pugs don't like snow. It just really throws them off, having to go potty on something white instead of green.

Lying here now, blogging and watching Sunday Night Football. I've got two of the three pugs and our only cat with me, asleep.

I'm happy to see NBC has at least ONE hit show. 🙂 Besides, there's nothing else on. I'm not going to watch Brothers and Sisters (chick show) or CSI: Miami (pompous lead actor).

Fastest Trooper

Montana State Trooper

In most of the United States there is a policy of checking on any stalled vehicle on the highway when temperatures drop to single digits or below. About 3 a.m. one very cold morning, Montana State Trooper Allan Nixon responded to a call.

There was a car off the shoulder of the road outside Great Falls, Montana.

He located the car, stuck in deep snow and with the engine still running. Pulling up behind the car with his emergency lights on, the trooper walked to the driver's door to find an older man passed out behind the wheel with a nearly empty vodka bottle on the seat beside him. The driver came awake when the trooper tapped on the window. Seeing the rotating lights in his rearview mirror, and the trooper standing next to his car, the man panicked. He jerked the gearshift into drive and hit the gas.

The car's speedometer was showing 20-30-40- and then 50 miles per hour, but it was still stuck in the snow, wheels spinning. Trooper Nixon, having a sense of humor, began running in place beside the speeding (but stationary) car. The driver was totally freaked, thinking the trooper was actually keeping up with him. This goes on for about 30 seconds, then the trooper yelled. PULL OVER!

The man nodded, turned his wheel and stopped the engine. Needless to say, the man from North Dakota was arrested and is probably still shaking his head over the state trooper in Montana who could run 50 miles per hour.

Who says troopers don’t have a sense of humor?


All joke images

Television

When I wasn't working on computers this weekend, I was trying to get the “new” used television working in the bedroom. Prior to even having a “new” used TV, I was thinking about finally breaking down and getting a digital converter box for our existing analog just so we could watch broadcast TV in bed occasionally. For the past few months, that TV has only been good for DVDs and VHS tapes. Anyway, I mentioned to Tara my idea of getting a converter box. She asked, “Would it make more sense to just get a cheap digital TV?” That was all I needed to hear. I went online to Craigslist looking for a good deal. I skipped over the obviously professional ads and looked for an actual human to buy from. I found one fairly quickly, some guy in East Nashville selling a 30″ HDTV for $90. It was a CRT type, not flat panel, which is why it was so cheap.

Elizabeth and I drove to East Nashville — not a very safe part of town, so Tara reminded us not to get shot. The seller's 94-year-old mother was out on the front porch to greet us — in the freezing cold. Maybe that's the trick to long life?

If she was packing heat, I didn't notice.

Anyway, the guy, Jim, brought his mother an extra blanket then took us inside to demonstrate the TV's good clear picture. I called Tara, asking her to measure the opening in the armoire where it would sit. The TV was 34 inches wide, the armoire space was 42 inches wide. Plenty of room. I bought it, and Jim and I put it in the back of my Nissan Pathfinder. Bringing it home, I backed into the garage for easier off-loading into the house. It was Elizabeth who had the brilliant idea of using the ladder as a sort of bridge/conveyer between the back of the SUV and the door into the house. Genuinely impressed, I told her, “You are a smart, smart, smart girl!” She ate that up, beaming with pride. It reminded me of the look she gave me three years ago in Russia when I first told her she was my daughter: (phonetically) Tea moy doach.

Once inside the house, I was going to use the dolly/hand-truck to move it into the bedroom, but it ended up being easier sliding it across the carpet. The thing weighs 120 pounds, according to the seller — and I believe him — and is difficult to handle alone. Once in the bedroom, I needed to lift it onto the shelf in the armoire, about three feet high. I was wearing my back brace throughout all this, by the way, due to my history of back problems — herniated/ruptured disc, but that's another story. So, trying not to hurt myself, I deployed another one of Elizabeth's earlier ingenious ideas. I would use my “back stretcher thing” — an arch-shaped piece of exercise equipment with padded rollers on which I lie backward and stretch my back. We would use that to roll the TV up to the armoire's three-foot height and lift it into place from there. For that last bit, I finally got Tara to help me. Couldn't use Elizabeth. She's only five. No, wait, five and a half.

Once in place, I connected it to the coax cable coming out of the wall, but only Channel 2, the local ABC affiliate, was coming in. That made no sense because the other TV was getting about 10 channels (and their .1, .2, etc. “sub-channels”) over the air. We don't have cable or satellite service, having turned it off to save money. This second TV was getting its signal from the same roof antenna, albeit from a different cable, wasn't it? Where were my channels?

Going outside and checking the antenna cable connection box on the side of the house, I saw that the old satellite TV splitter was still in use and this second TV cable was disconnected.

Oops!

Luckily, I already had a proper splitter (not quite the same as satellite splitters) from when I originally setup the roof antenna and other TV. Putting that in place, I was ready to tell this “new” TV do another scan for available channels.

Scanning, scanning, scanning.

I thought this must be a good sign, it was taking so long.

I was wrong.

It still only gave me Channel 2. What the …? Then it hit me that the antenna connection was going through the VCR first, then over to the TV.

Simplifying things, taking the VCR out of the equation — connecting that to the TV via RCA cables, instead — and connecting the TV directly into the antenna cable, I had it do yet another scan for available channels. Much better this time! Still not as good as the main, living room TV for some freaking reason, though. The “new” TV now receives almost everything but Channel 2.

Did I already say “What the …?”

Actually, what it gets are channels 4 (NBC), 5 (CBS), 6 (weird local stuff) and 8 (PBS). It doesn't get 17 (Fox), 28 (Ion and Qubo) or 30 (UPN). I still don't know why, especially when the other TV does and they're tapped into the same antenna on the roof! It's just weird.

Oh well, the best thing is that I learned my daughter is an engineering genius. I told her she would grow up to be an engineer. “What's an engineer?” she asked. “Someone who figures out how to make things work,” I said.