Solo drives

One of the thrills of learning how to drive is the newly found independence once you have your provisional operator’s permit or your full license. What I’d like to talk about in this post is my experience with my longest solo drives in increasing order.

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2006 Final Four #TBT

Though I probably should have posted this yesterday for the anniversary of me going to my first NCAA finals event, I’ll do it today so as to make it an actual #TBT post. Here goes!

(Unfortunately, I have no photos, since this was during a time before I regularly had access to photography).

Thursday, December 14, 2006 NCAA Final Four Day

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Life is a highway (part 2)

Last Friday, I had written a post entitled “Life is a highway,” mentioning how I might make a recurring theme of my blog the idea of being on a highway, looking for the road signs counting down milestones. So, I might as well put the pictures that I had promised last week into today’s blog post! I didn’t take as many photos on the weekend as I thought I might have, but… that’s the way it goes!

Pics! Yes, it happened!

[M.M.X.I.V. 97] Thinkin’ it should be blinkin’

I have to include a link to a certain xkcd comic as well…

One of my personal pet peeves when using transportation infrastructure as a cyclist is a worst-of-b0th-worlds situation.  In particular, if I am at a red light, I would be committing a double whammy if I am to “transform” from a vehicle into a pedestrian (i.e. go into the crosswalk that has the “DONT WALK” signal.  That trades violating a vehicle rule for violating a pedestrian rule, and I don’t like to jay-walk.  Even if I won’t get caught for it, I am more concerned about getting hit than getting ticketed.

Unfortunately, the crosswalk to cross Sheridan Road at Foster Street is in Evanston is incredibly annoying at night–it has the “TO CROSS PRESS BUTTON” trigger.  But even if you trip it at night, what happens?  Eventually, the crosswalk going north-south (mind you, I am trying to head west) will count down from 16 to 0.  Normally, when a crosswalk hits 0, the traffic light then turns yellow and red, and my crosswalk will display the “WALK” signal.

But NO!  At night, the button acts much like the “Door Close” button on an elevator–it does NOTHING!  The wrong crosswalk will count down to 0, and then change immediately from DONT WALK to WALK.  I have had many a time of being forced to jay-bike across the intersection after returning home from bridge or board game club.

What does this have to do with blinking, you wonder?  Well, in some places, traffic lights turn into red or yellow flashers during the night time.  For example, in some parts of the west side of Omaha and its suburbs (canonical example, near Oak View Mall), the traffic lights at minor intersections change into flashing yellow lights (proceed with caution) on the arterial 144th Street, and are flashing red lights (a-la a stop sign) on the other sides.

When traffic is super-light (i.e. if you are the only car on the road), I have a feeling that people are more likely to violate traffic control devices.  It’s another idea of spirit-of-the-law versus letter-of-the-law.  (Somewhat frighteningly, I have seen this firsthand–there was once a cab that I rode in at 01:30 that violated a red light in returning me to Evanston.)

I feel that Omaha has the right idea here, that Evanston and other cities should implement.  Even if there are tripwires on the minor streets that will activate the green light for that intersection at night, I feel that it is more fail-safe to just turn it into a red flashing light later at night.  Partially, this is a selfish reason, based off the failure of the “TO CROSS PRESS BUTTON” and the fact that my bike will not trip those sensors.


Today is the ninety-seventh day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes thirteen weeks and six days.

[M.M.X.I.V. 6] Bonus vacation!

When I flew into Lincoln for my winter break, my plane was delayed by about an hour.  I framed it as a sacrifice so that Casey would avoid the ACTHD (Angry Casey-Travelling Hating Deity… OK, that doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as AIRBHG).

At the end of the vacation (i.e. yesterday), my plan was to go to Omaha with Mom, Dad, and Levi, have lunch with my aunts, uncles, and cousins from Omaha, and then to go to Eppley Airfield to fly back to Chicago.

After a slow start to the day, I realized that I didn’t have my signature purple-white-red scarf.  So, we made a detour to the office–search failed!  Another place I might have left it: Valentino’s, which turned out to be where I left it.  But we had insufficient time to pick it up.

Not far away, however, on 84th Street, my phone went crazy with announcements: Ulpan cancelled Monday.  Northwestern closed Monday.  Northwestern women’s basketball game postponed.  Recalling that Southwest Airlines gave me an opportunity to change my flight to another available date and time (some restrictions apply) with no penalty, Mom convinced me to stay in Nebraska another day or two.  So, therefore I postponed my vacation’s end from Sunday at 18:55 to Tuesday at 16:20.  BONUS VACATION TIME!

The rest of the day in Omaha, therefore, was pressure-free.  Unfortunately, half of my Omaha family was not at the lunch, because they were “stuck” on vacation in a tropical locale.  Still, it was good to see whom I was able to see.  We also got some cold-weather implements at Cabela’s, had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, and dropped Levi off at his house before Mom, Dad, and I returned to Lincoln.  However, the scarf pickup mission failed.  I can get it today or tomorrow!

Interestingly, this is the third time that I have had a school break extended by weather.  The long weekend that ended the first quarter of 1997-98 was super-extended by the October Storm of 1997.  Then, in 2006, my spring break was extended by two days.  Although in both of those cases, I was “in town” with the extension of those breaks.

And, I’ve been attempting to get back into research today.  But it has not been easy, as my mind is in a weird limbo: my break is “technically” over, but because I am still physically in my locale of vacation, my motivation is low.  Of course, this is a difficulty that I must overcome!

The difficulty there is worth it, since I get to spend some extra time in the presence of my parents.  The readers probably know by now that I am a family man.

And tomorrow, I return to Chicago, unless I further anger the ACTHD…


Today is the sixth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes six days.