Rules of the Road

March 6, 2014

Howdy! I have been having an increasingly difficult time out on the roads as I see more and more “crazy things” happening. The latest thing that keeps seeming to happen is, people merging onto freeways at incredibly low speeds. I mean usually below or around 45mph onto a freeway where traffic is doing 70-80mph. This happens almost every day, so I have tried to find ways to work around it. Usually this just involves slowing up to give the person space so they can “get onto the freeway” without causing too much of a disaster. But, this is getting old.

Usually the person will end up speeding past, often one hand on a phone, a couple miles down the freeway. It’s as if they use the onramps to compose their messages, and once they click “send” they are on their way, but of course I have no idea why people really do this. I see this as dangerous behavior on many levels, because first of all, merging at such a speed differential causes problems for everyone involved, and there is no reason for it.

I have only had a few close calls, usually in the same place getting onto HWY 280 Southbound at a place where you merge onto a downhill section where drivers are frequently speeding. These close calls have been as the result of a person in front trying to merge at around 40mph. The last time I can clearly remember this, there was a large tractor-trailer in the slow lane on his air horn. Thankfully there was enough room for me to allow the tractor-trailer to pass before I merged, and I thought I was going to see the “slow merger” get crushed, but after a few swerves into freeway traffic they seemed to get it under control. Two weeks prior to this, I was about 4 cars back and again thought I was going to witness a pretty major collision. I watched as a “freeway speed” pickup truck essentially blasted through the merging cars that had to be doing at least 30mph less than the pickup. Strangely, there was no collision.

Drivers speed through that section so frequently that there is occasionally a CHP officer right at the bottom with his gun pointed at the hill. This makes the merging situation slightly safer, due to another annoying phenomenon on the roadways where people slow to well below the speed limit, often abruptly, upon sight of a CHP officer. So, this way with the nominal traffic down to a much lower 50-60, the people merging at 40mph will not be as big of a problem.

Today, I was getting onto HWY 92 Westbound, behind a car that seemed to be doing around 35mph as it went up the on-ramp. There was no traffic in front of the car, nor ahead on the freeway. There was a fairly large truck coming along in the merging lane of the freeway, but it was far back enough not to cause concern – unless the driver intended to merge at this current speed. I sped up a little, but of course not adequately as I did not want to get too close to the car in front of me.  I did not get too close, but apparently the driver thought I did, as he hit his brakes twice, hard and abruptly, just before merging onto the freeway. Thankfully I was able to swerve to avoid his offering for a collision.  I could see that he was flipping me off behind me, and then sped up right on my bumper, while holding a phone to his head. So, I assume I was also reported to CHP for whatever reason by this person.

After motoring along for a bit with this guy behind me, I decided to pull off the freeway and call it in. So, after merging onto 280 North, I pulled to the side of the road and put my hazards on.  At this same exact time, I got a call on my work phone from my boss, so I answered it.  As I was on the phone, a CHP officer pulled over another driver and ended up right behind me.  I finished my call, and waited for the officer in my car, thinking “how convenient, a CHP officer, I can just explain the situation to him.”  I think I will remember this as the last time I felt good seeing a CHP officer.

The officer came to my car, where I had the passenger window down, my keys on the dash, and my hands on the wheel – as I always do in an effort to make the officer feel safe.  He asked me what the issue was, and as I began to explain, he interrupted me saying that it was illegal for me to be parked there since this was not actually an emergency, and he could cite me for that.  I explained that I did not know that, thanked him for the information, and proceeded with my explanation.  I included the part about my work call, and this seemed to upset the officer.  He interrupted me again, asking why I waited so long and drove so far before calling this in, and I had not even bothered to call it in yet.  I explained to him that being in situations like this is not an everyday thing for me, and as I thought about what I should do, I ended up driving around 2 miles to this location.  He then went on to say that I was probably tailgating the other driver and that I do not have the right of way when merging onto the freeway.  I explained that I did not say or imply that I had thought I had the right of way, and in fact I was behind the car that was merging onto the freeway.

Each time the officer asked me a question, he belligerently interrupted me in the middle of my answer, with an accusation of wrongdoing.  I did also interrupt him once, and he got really mad and said that he was not going to waste his time talking to me if I was not even going to listen.  So, I smiled, folded my hands, and let him finish.  At this point, it was pretty apparent that there was not going to be any positive anything coming from this experience.  He continued to explain that I was probably tailgating the driver, which led him to brake check me upon merging and that it was my responsibility to just stay back and let the merging driver do whatever they are going to do.  He said it does not matter “what speed” the person merging onto the freeway is going.  I questioned this, based on the fact that his own department has determined that a speed differential is one of the most dangerous things on the roadways, and I had just explained that this driver was creating at least a 20mph speed differential before he brake-checked me twice and then held a phone to his head for two miles while tailgating me.

He did not have a response for my comment about speed differential, and he quickly said that is not what he said, and that he was done wasting his time with me “since I just wanted to argue” with him.  He asked me what I expected him to do about this.

I said that I did not think there was anything that could be done – I had hoped to speak to him to get some advice, and he had pulled up behind me as I was sitting by the side of the road finishing a call before calling in the other driver.  I thanked him for his “advice” and he said something flippant about how he was going to watch to see how safely I merged onto the freeway now.

I understand that while this man was in a CHP suit, he does not necessarily represent the whole of CHP.  I will admit that my experiences with CHP have never really been positive, but I come away from this thinking that this guy could have said something like “yeah that sucks but you need to watch out for that, and you shouldn’t park here when not in an emergency because it’s dangerous/illegal.  Be safe out there.”  I would have been on my way.  I understand that he must face people like me, presenting a one-sided event that has no apparent solution and is most likely wildly biased.

That being said, this man single-handedly removed the last shred of respect that I had for these people (people dressed in CHP suits).  I am so sick and tired of dealing with drivers being offensively unsafe on the freeways out there.  To have one of those experiences, and then have this fellow basically shouting at me in blind “devil’s advocate” defense over the latest person who just tried to cause me to crash, is immensely depressing.

I have heard people mention that “there are no rules” and “it’s just a game” and stuff like that.  I have been a hard and fast follower of the rules because it’s these rules that allow us to rely on each other and be safer out there on the roads.  I have seen issues where people do not follow the rules as “a problem” but, after this conversation with this CHP officer, I see the point of people who say there are no rules.  Honestly it’s not just him, I guess he was just the straw that broke my camelbak.  I see that it really does not matter if I am following the rules or not, and of course the concept of “never talk to an officer” has also been reinforced.  At this point, I am just going to do my best to not let any fools crash into me, and keep CYA protocol in mind at all times.  I will not see CHP as what they are supposed to be, but rather, a team of well armed bullies that defend people who drive dangerously when it is convenient/fun for them, on behalf of the State.

Icing on the cake, someone nearly drove straight into the side of my car as I was turning, in the left-hand side of a double-right hand turn lane as he simply decided to merge into my spot in the middle of the turn.  I guess it’s time for a bigger car and louder horns.

TL;DR: I pulled over to call CHP based on an experience on the highway, a CHP officer conveniently showed up behind me so I talked to him instead, he reinforced everything I have heard about CHP being basically useless ass-holes.

Cheers,

-J

Google Glass: in the real world

March 2, 2013

I keep seeing things about Glass pop up, and have even watched a couple neat videos that promote the product.  I feel like so far, everythingI have seen or read is ignoring a critically important aspect of the product.

Put simply, people do not like to be filmed. I have often gotten some pretty fun and great pictures or even video from social engagements, but this requires one to intimately understand the environment and the people in attendance, and to be as like a Ninja with this information. If you rub one person the wrong way trying to get a picture or a video, your results will instantly begin to become worse.  If you present someone with a camera and ask them to “do something cool” you will see what I am talking about.

So, suddenly you have this new technology device that is protrayed as being a huge benefit to the user in the ways of integrating technology into one’s life. The real problem here is that it has a camera on it, and it’s aimed at everything BUT the user.

People love to be the one that was just seen in a popular photo, or a popular video – but they hate to be photographed or video’d. How can that be? Well, the “grey area” here is that many hours of editing and refinement has been spent making sure that those videos and photos – the ones that people want to be seen in – look good. The quick phone video or snap-shot from the party that looks presentable – is one in a million.

People know this.

So, when you are wearing a camera on your head that everyone knows – before they see the hardware in person the first time – is recording them – how likely do you think it is that they will be comfortable, or even able to pretend to be? I would imagine it is not very likely.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how it progresses.

-J

Bike to work part II

December 7, 2012

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Well, there it is – the bike of my dreams that I never knew existed before a little while ago.  This is using a lot of the same components from my old Specialized RockHopper, but on this mind-blowing hand-made SyCip Titanium frame.  Today I cheated by riding Caltrain to Millbrae and riding the rest of the way into San Bruno.  My excuse for that is that I am just getting back into this, and I don’t want to kill myself on the first couple days!

The bike performed flawlessly, and is really a blast to ride.  It’s smooth and rigid but I can easily carry it, even jog with it over my shoulder.  I need to get my backpack slimmed down a little, and basically just do this more.  I am thinking of picking up a set of commuter tires as well.  These are great, but the vibes are a little annoying, and it would be nice to cut down on the rolling resistance.

Please carry on and continue to have a lovely Friday!

Cheers,

-J

Breakfast is important!

December 7, 2012

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I know how important breakfast is, yet I often fail to take the time to make sure I actually eat anything. Sometimes, as weird as it sounds, it is my desire to eat right that keeps me from eating anything. I want to have more than a handful of carbs, so that rules out quick and easy stuff like cereal or a granola bar. Even though that would be better than nothin!

Anyway, I re-located these cool little egg rings I picked up years ago but never used. I have been making myself an egg sandwich in the mornings here and there.  Yesterday, I attempted another bike ride into the office, but without much needed planning, or breakfast.  I was delayed and blah blah blah but still determined to go.  I got around 4 miles away and had a splitting headache and felt like I was going to barf.  So, I turned back.

This morning, I took it slow, and was thankfully not interrupted.  It took me around 15min to whip up that delicious breakfast snack, and that included the bonus of frying up some crispy turkey bacon!  It was lovely, and I feel great this morning.  I rode in without any issues beyond the fact that I am significantly out of shape, and need to do this more often!

Have a nice Friday!

Cheers,

-J

Lake Street Dive “I Want You Back” on a Boston Sidewalk…

October 17, 2012

I haven’t been around lately – this much is true. Just been all over the place and too busy to breathe.

Here’s something that struck me – it’s pretty amazing. I have listened to this over and over. I need to be better about just putting up some good music, even if I don’t have anything nice to say…

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Cheers,

-J

WRX Dyno tuning!

August 20, 2012

Oh sweet days! I have been waiting a few months to get to the point where I could get my Impreza WRX tuned. I needed a new clutch, so this had to be done and then broken in before the dyno tuning could take place. My clutch was literally so bad that it would slip under any boost at all. So, I had a shop do the clutch work along with a few other things and then I put a few miles on it to break it all in and make sure most of the Gremlins were worked out. Over the course of around 1500 miles I had some coolant issues but that was about it. I came back to the shop last week in hopes of finishing up the tune, and getting my car ready to put some miles on it.

I was hoping for 250hp, and the tuner was able to get 272hp with what he called a safe tune. He asked how I wanted it done and how I would be driving the car.  I mentioned I wanted to be able to do WOT in a 100 degree day if needed, and also to consider that this car has been sitting for a while. Needless to say I am pretty excited, and the car is more than a little fun to drive.

I have wanted a powerful turbo Subaru Impreza since some time around 1998.  I purchased basically this very car, back in 2003 and had to sell it for a move.  Now, I have this one which I must admit I like much better, and it came with all the Vishnu Tuning performance parts I longed for back when I had my WRX.  I am “living the dream” every time I drive this car!

Here’s a printout of the hp/tq versus RPM:

The car is also much easier to drive, and a whole lot smoother sounding. It’s still pretty loud, which I have to admit only bothers me a little bit. This car is a blast to drive around, and it just got a whole lot more fun!

Cheers,

-Jacob

Taj Mahal

August 11, 2012

I am not sure why, but – this makes me feel alright and brings a tear to my eye.  Usually when music does this I know exactly why but this – I can not place.  Either way it’s pretty nice.

Enjoy!

-J

Aw man.

August 7, 2012

Well, I really meant to post something today. I can’t believe I didn’t after all that build up. Wait..

Not much to report today. I am still employed, and still own too many vehicles.

-J

Four Tet and today

August 6, 2012

Okay, so I have been a little depressed lately what with trying to sell a car on Craigslist and it being “review time” at work. I was thinking about this today and how much I would like to have a daily update of some sort. There are times when I just can’t – not because I don’t have the time or anything like that, but because I am so sad or what-have-you that I can’t put words down. If that makes any sense.

Basically, what I was thinking was that if I cannot come up with something interesting to say, I should at least put up some cool music.  So, that is what I am going to try to do.

Anyway, along those lines, how about some music? It’s been a long time, so how about some Four Tet.

Cheers,

-J

Oh you, Subaru.

July 30, 2012
Crap!

Crap.

As a long-time Subaru owner, I like to think of myself as fairly capable of handling fairly strange and fascinating mechanical challenges. Take today, for example. I was just cruising along in my WRX and about 42/57ths of the way into my journey I noticed my temperature gauge had started to head a little farther up the scale than seemed normal. I instantly turned off the A/C and engaged the Auxillary Cooling System (heater/fan on full blast, windows down). This sucks even more than usual on 80 near Fairfield in July. The temp gauge came down and I was able to get where I needed to go.

As a Saab owner, you would think these cars would have also taught me things along these lines but it’s not the case. With a Subaru, you can usually “get by” for a bit. Like the issue mentioned above, which I believe to be caused by a failed thermostat. As long as I do not exceed 60mph or load the engine for too long and keep the heater going, I could probably drive the car like that for the next 5 years or until it got too annoying. The Saab on the other hand usually fails some thing that is difficult to pronounce, impossible to find, costs $1,000 and makes the car just stop in it’s tracks upon failure. No, the Saab teaches you to safely coast to a stop on the side of the road without assisted steering or brakes, and how to be really patient waiting for a tow truck to come.


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