It’s been over a full month since we’ve spoken last, and I do sincerely apologize for that. I’ve barely been able to keep up a coherent Twitter feed in the last month, I’ve been so busy (but then again, coherent and Twitter don’t necessarily always go hand in hand, so it was an uphill battle to start with). With this post, you can assume regular updates to the blog in a weekly or twice weekly fashion, so not to worry. I won’t be hibernating for the season.
It’s been an eventful month and a few days. We’ve put on our costumes and gone door to door, the Northeast has been rocked by a hurricane/superstorm (I was lucky enough not to be truly affected by the storm here in Philadelphia; others in New York and New Jersey were not so lucky), re-elected a president and put an end to the obnoxious and pervasive political advertisements that come with election season, took time out to give thought and respect to our country’s soldiers, and eaten so much turkey and stuffing that we’ve had to loosen our belts (if you’re not from the US, just substitute whatever things have been going on where you are). And on a personal note, in a momentary lapse of all spatial reasoning, while reverse parking, I scraped the passenger side rear wheel arch against a pillar in a parking garage where I’ve been backing into a spot every morning for the last three years. All is well though, despite my wallet being lighter. I got the car back from the body shop in less than a week, apologized profusely (yes, to the car), and we’ve re-bonded despite that little bump in the road. I admit, it was a little confidence shaking, but shit happens and you move on.
Also, in news that came as a shock to no one, Suzuki is pulling out of North American car sales. You can still get motorcycles and cars will still be covered by their warranty, but they will cease selling cars. Or rather, cease offering cars for sale, since it seems that they weren’t exactly selling many before they pulled out.
And now, we are staring down the barrel of what is supposed to be quite a harsh winter (in some parts of the country, anyway, whereas some other parts of the country quietly shrug their shoulders, and Australians celebrate the coming summer). Top down time is dwindling, despite my addition of gloves and a jacket, I find it hard to go roofless when the temperature drops below 43, especially if there’s no sun. Which there never is anymore, since we turned the clocks back and I now live in perpetual darkness. I thought I’d touch on winter preparedness for a few moments, since it’s just around the corner and it always seems like everyone is so surprised when it happens. I may not own a calendar anymore (because I have a phone), but I do generally have an idea what month it is (what day it is, however, is a completely different story). I’m actually somewhat hoping for a harsh winter, after that mild one we had up here last year. I’m tired of summers where we have consecutive weeks of temperatures above 100F and I absolutely hate being swarmed by six- and eight-legged creatures that didn’t die off over the winter.
If you live in a place where you don’t have winters, you might want to put some laundry on or something and skip to the end.
It’s going to snow. There’s no real way around that. Best to prepare yourself now. Get a brush and a scraper and put it in your trunk. Depending on how far you live from a city or how your roads are, you may be caught in snow and slide off the road and get stuck. In that case, throw some water and food that doesn’t spoil in a bag and put it in your trunk with the brush and the scraper. And a first aid kit, flashlight, road flares, blankets, and warm clothing can’t hurt either. I’d also suggest maybe a folding shovel. If you have a cell phone, get a car charger and put it in your glovebox. If you don’t have a cell phone, you should get one, if not for the unfettered access to communication, because that can become as much a hassle as an asset, then for Angry Birds Star Wars, which is a lot of fun. Of course, this isn’t going to apply to everyone, so use discretion when putting together your emergency kit. I’d say at minimum, you’d want some water, a bit of beef jerky, flashlight, matches, and a cell phone charger. My emergency preparedness plan involves calling someone up who has a mind for practicality and a car that doesn’t have two inches of ground clearance, RWD, and summer tires to drive me where I need to go. And if I don’t need to go anywhere, I stay at home and indulge in hours of Netflix.
That’s also something to consider. If you don’t need to be on the road, don’t be on the road. Weather events are going to happen, and judging by the promo spots I catch a second of as I skip past them on my DVR, we usually get fair warning. I tend to pay a little more attention to the weather though, mainly because I have a huge crush on Cecily Tynan, the Philadelphia area Action News meteorologist.
But if you’re on the road when weather happens, it’s important to remember your ABCs; Always Be Cool. Don’t panic, pay attention to the road, increase the distance between you and the next car, slow down, and keep an eye out for other drivers who aren’t. Preparedness always helps you keep your cool in these types of situations. And I don’t mean that duffel bag full of guns, knives, hatchets, stakes, and other anti-zombie and/or vampire apocalypse stuff you may have squirreled away, but I mean looking ahead and watching for the behavior of other drivers. Put the cell phone away, stop fiddling with the radio, and keep your mind on the task at hand. It’s one of the best ways to avoid having to dig into that emergency kit or having to have that conversation with your insurance company representative, who is never as friendly as they seem in commercials. Panic never helped anyone. Remember, threshold braking is more effective than ABS, but if you’re not metered in your braking response, ABS will be triggered when there's snow on the ground. Of course, reading traffic, paying attention, and looking ahead are always important, but they’re extremely important when weather is bad.
Anyway, that’s enough of me and my soapbox for now. Keep your eye on the Twitter feed for some angry tweets when I’m inevitably kept from going where I need to at a reasonable pace because of a driver who wasn’t paying attention.
As winter approaches, I know my car will be left in the garage more often, in favor of the passenger seat in cars that are more suited to poor weather traveling. I will be missing out on some driving experiences as I continue to live a life in just a sports car (which I will do a full report on soon). But, just because I won’t be driving as much in the coming months doesn’t mean that I won’t still have plenty to talk about. Just to look ahead at what’s in the pipeline, I’m going to talk about some of my most memorable drives and what made them so memorable, car guy movie and TV show reviews, a look into my own car history, and an ode to the dead, where I dig up the best and worst of car companies that are no longer with us, and tell you where I think they went wrong and what they could have done to still be alive--if they deserved to be saved in the first place. I’d also like to put together a list of the best driving songs, so I could definitely use your help there.
You can always keep in touch with me by using Twitter, @accelerationdoc, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AccelerationTherapy. Feel free to send me suggestions for the best driving songs, let me know if there’s anything you want me to talk about, or if you just want to drop me a line.
One last word for today. If you can, and I know in the current economic conditions, not everyone can, please give a little to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Red Cross is of course the biggest organization out there, but if you take a moment, I’m sure you’ll find more local organizations that will be out there helping people, especially if you live near an affected area.