So this stretches back a little bit -- call it Some July Notes.
On The Road To Chicago...
The weekend before last we had make a quick run to Chicago -- drive in on Saturday, out on Sunday. Naturally there was some concern, because the weather hyenas were going on and on about how drought stricken Chicago was going to be 100+ degF. Great -- nothing like getting stuck in traffic/construction in Chicagoland when the thermometer soars from Hot to Obscene.
The first surprise of the day came as we rolled along I-94 west and passed from Michigan to Indiana. I had been driving in the middle lane (three each way), but moved over to the right in anticipation of the change in speed limit in Indiana. It's 65mph, and since I am the only human being driver in the world who would actually shave 5mph off his speed and drop from seventy to sixty-five, I move over so as not to get run over.
Half a mile from the border, in sight of the markers, MDOT has a 70mph speed limit sign -- I've always thought it a cruel joke, but I suppose it's there for the traffic merging in from Exit 1.
But the expected speed drop never happened. There were new signs on the Indiana side. 70mph in Indiana? First they talk about joining Standard and Daylight Time -- then they go wild on the roads. What is the Hoosier state coming to? (grin)
When In Chicago, Be Sure To See The Highway Construction
The big delays on our usual route were either done or just not that bad right now. From the signs, message boards and a dummy police car in the median, I take it the Indiana State Police are having trouble getting people to slow down to 45mph in the construction on the Indiana Toll Road. The big bridge on the Chicago Skyway is mostly cleared of construction mess, and we breezed through the toll plaza, though they want $2.50 this year instead of $2.00.
Then things ground to a halt as the Skyway neared the Dan Ryan. Three lanes funneled down to one. And the rude drivers who, once the left and right lanes are nearly cleared of traffic, leap into them and rush to the last construction barrels trying to cut in and save their precious time, while the rest of us are supposed to rot in Hell, I suppose... well, they should know (I hope). (grin)
Getting off of I-90/94 and taking I-290 West is always a real bottleneck... but we started grinding to a halt even before 22nd Street and it got worse and worse. Then we saw the signs... Lollapalooza Musicfest along the lakeshore... Our usual bottleneck was clear, it was all the other traffic which was jamming things up.
All in all, the weather on the 23rd wasn't so bad. Turns out the century temps were forecast for Sunday. We had thought about calling in and picking up a Chicago stuffed pizza at the Oak Park Edwardo's on our way out of town, as we did last year, but because of the expected traffic and temp, we decided maybe we should just skip that (and the worry about its survival in a hot car or trying to fit a pizza into the cooler) and start our way into the Snarl.
But NewsRadio 78 "Traffic on the Eights" kept talking about how clear the roads were and that the traffic would be building later. So as the temps hit 99 at the lakeshore, I opted for skipping the Dan Ryan/Skyway construction, and took the Congress Parkway right through the big Post Office (one of my favorite Chicago drives) and straight on to the big fountain in Grant Park, where there were some people gathering but it wasn't bad yet, and turned south. 102degF in Chicago and we were rolling out of Illinois with "no worries, mate!"
Michigan City... in Indiana
Had lunch/supper at a Damon's in Michigan City. It's attached to a Holiday Inn and you have to go into the lobby for restrooms. We saw a bank sign -- notorious for overestimating the severity of any weather -- echo the 102degF that we'd fled in Chicago. I felt bad for the front desk staff. Every time the sliding front doors open, another blast of hot air rolled in, while the first floor indoor pool was driving hot, humid, chlorinated air in from the other direction... good planning...
Memo to Damon's: You're confusing your newbie waitstaff by having both a Damon's Caesar Salad and a Damon's Garden Salad with Caesar Dressing on the menu.
Gross, But Amusing
(2) And I caught part of an animated short on G4/TechTV last night -- something about some sort of superhero squirrel, whose special powers tend to add to the mayhem -- great bodily harm to the critter child falling off the cliff when caught, eyeballs popping out of the socket due to sudden stops and then, while racing up into space to take care of the incoming meteor (critter child still in hand) the extreme speed causes the skin to peel away from the body. And the weld of the break in the oil supertanker, fixed by laser beams from our superhero's eyes, causes the spilt oil to burst into flames, torching all the oil critters on the beach -- while the punched out meteor rains bunches of fragments on the ground... and that was just part of this madness.
After an engaging run of the 2005 Tour de France (i.e. Lance Armstrong VII), Outdoor Life Network (OLN) is showing the first season of Survivor. Just caught the end of one episode -- Jeff Probst looks so young and skinny, and it's funny watching them really explain to people how tribal council works, because they've never seen it. It would be easy to dismiss all of the so-called reality shows as crap. BRAVO running Being Bobby Brown? Puh-lease... And sure, Survivor is manipulative and I don't care for some of the personal sniping. But they have a slick choreography and editing process, with a killer soundtrack, which makes watching these people go through all the devilish tortures, I mean trials, very entertaining.
I didn't find out until "too late" this morning, but SciFi Channel is running all of the episodes of Firefly, presumably in anticipation of the Serenity feature movie in September. Is it too much to hope that SciFi will revise this series? Because the complexities and secrets of the ensemble cast was only ever scraped at in the few extant episodes.
Our Indianapolis friends, up at their Lake Michigan cottage this week, managed to bring only the first two Lord of the Rings DVD's. Hard to have the annual viewing when you don't have the complete set. So my wife and I watched Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) last night and will watch The Two Towers (EE) tonight -- in case on Wednesday they want us to bring The End and we'll watch it together. Not quite the same as watching all three back-to-back-to-back, but less painful... (grin)
You can always find things to complain about, but all-in-all, Peter Jackson's triumph is damned close to being the perfect movie.