Rest? Yes, Please!
April 14, 2009
While I haven't been especially busy in the last month, except for work, school, cleaning the house, looking for a condo to purchase, gardening, and walking the dogs, I haven't really felt rested. Sure, I've been sleeping every night. Six hours just doesn't seem to do it for me. I need to feel rested, which I haven't in a long time. Although it is possible for me to go back to bed after wifey wakes up, I find that the gentle rustling of the alarm clock sounding every five minutes, six to eight times in a row kind of rouses me from my deep slumber. So, I am usually up.
I have been seemingly conscious while driving lately, too. I no longer arrive at my destination and wonder which path I'd chosen or how long it took me. However, in the presence of so much rain in the last two months, I have been putting together a list of the things I know about cars that I might not have known, if I hadn't grown up in Minnesota.
1. The arm-out-the-window wiper slap. This is surely more useful in climates that have frequent snow.
How it works - Have you ever tried to use the windshield wipers, but there is something stuck to them (or frozen to them) that is causing massive streaking? Most of the water or mud or snow is gone, but just enough is smeared across in front of you to make it harder to see now than when you hit the switch? You are usually in a hurry when this happens.
The fix - while driving, though I suppose this would be safer when stopped, put down the window and extend your left arm through the open window. Hit the switch to make the wiper go, the slower the better. When the blade is within reach along its arced path, grab it and snap it away from the windshield. It will slap back against the windshield and loosen whatever debris was causing the problem.
Be careful - A couple of things here. Don't hold onto the wiper arm too long or you risk breaking it, bending it, or causing a harder slap than you need. In colder weather, there is a real risk of cracking the windshield. I've seen windshields crack because the defrost was too aggressive. I would say that if you have to perform this operation more than twice, you probably need new wiper blades.
2. Car manufacturers are not always designing cars with you in mind. My first car was a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais. It was ridiculously underpowered, but that wasn't the real issue with the car. I drove it in Minnesota. The GM geniuses decided to form the frame out of steel in a U-shape, not an upside down U. It's bad enough in the Minnesota Winters that the salt from the roads makes just about everything rust, but when the frame traps the snow and salt together, it's just a recipe for disaster.
The fix - I'm sure it was as a reaction to this problem that car companies started selling underbody coats. They would offer to spray something all over the bottom of your car to "prevent" corrosion. It didn't really do anything besides prolong issues. I can't tell you how much it cost, but I'm positive that this particular problem could have been avoided with another $10 worth of forethought and planning.
Be careful - There are materials that won't rust, lots of them actually: plastic, aluminum, stainless steel. Plastic isn't exactly the safety solution as it is, um, plastic, and not likely to protect you a whole lot in the case of a head-on collision. Aluminum isn't exactly cheap and neither is stainless steel.
The strange part of having these thoughts come to me while driving is that they're not the only ones. One day on the way to work, I starting thinking about perfect squares (numbers multiplied by themselves). Of course, perfect squares have to end with either a 0, 1, 4, 5, 6, or 9. However, that interesting fact becomes more pronounced when you count in hexadecimal (count by 16's). In this way, the first twenty numbers would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 because to count by 16's, you would have to have 16 different symbols. So, for instance, 4^2 = 16 in decimal, but 4^2 = 10 in hexadecimal because it is the 16th number.
Okay, so to the weird part. Perfect squares counted in hexadecimal have to end in either 1, 4, 9, or F. Stranger yet is that when you see them this way, there is certainly some symmetry created, as shown below...
Each set of perfect squares forms a right-opening parabola, including the focus.
Well, I think that's all for today, but stop back later this week when I unveil the first part of a six month project we've been working on lately.
Posted by dennis @ 12:27 PM