February 11th, 2012


Strange Day Photos

As Promised -- Or Threatened If You Prefer...

Here are some of the photos I shot during the long ice drive home yesterday (DW). All taken with the Nikon D1 and the 35-70mm AF Nikkor.

Coming north out of Kalamazoo on US-131, the road at first seemed wet, but between the small amounts of new snow being blown onto the road and the rapidly dropping temps, there was a lot of spray being kicked up and the road was already slippery. (Click on photo for larger.)

North of here I tried calling Joe Chicago's Pizza to bring home a Chicago stuffed pizza. But they didn't answer the phone. (And yes, this was done with the Bluetooth Borg implant and handsfree.) Finally gave up and called Mrs. Dr. Phil at home and said it was a good day for Campbell's Tomato Bisque soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. (grin)

North of the wall into Mordor -- milepost 70 or so between Wayland MI and the Kent County line south of Grand Rapids. There is getting to be a layer of slippery mess to drive through and speeds have dropped from 65mph at K-zoo to 45-50mph here. Amazingly only passed one wreck on US-131. (Click on photo for larger.)

The early snow was creating more white flocking on the trees. When I left WMU, it was very pretty on the hill curve down to the next stop sign. But I didn't get the camera out at the time, because I was driving down the hill curve to the next stop sign in 2nd gear and 4WD. There's a tendency for cars to zoom down the hill and then slide into the intersection. Though I don't do that. (in-control-grin)

The radio indicated that things were bad on the M-6 into I-196 at the Kent/Ottawa county line. But everyone seemed to be driving at reasonable speeds. You can see the 30-40mph winds sliding some snow across the road -- it's always trouble when the snows come out of due north. (Click on photo for larger.)

Even before I finished the curving ramp onto I-196 I could see traffic was slowing. First off, was this slide-off just past the end of the merge lane. (Click on photo for larger.)

And then we slowed down to a crawl at the 44th Street/Rivertown Parkway exit. Note to other drivers -- that space between me and the next car is called a cushion and not an invitation for you to put your bumper right in front of mine. And you behind me? We're slowed down to under 5mph and we're all sliding slightly as well because the road conditions strongly suggest you BACK THE FUCK OFF OF MY BUMPER. (Click on photo for larger.)

This was the cause of the delay. You can't see the damage to the rear of the car, but thankfully the state trooper had blocked the lane. You can see the tire tracks going over the rumble strips on the left, my left tires slipped off the edge of the pavement, but I got back on with no problem. (Click on photo for larger.)

Haven't called them yet, but Joe Chicago's website was still up. I am assuming that maybe the road conditions along 44th Street meant that they were either giving up on a Friday night or hadn't gotten staff in to do the evening business. And not that they'd gone out of business again. (hopeful-grin)

Last night I saw moonlight flooding in at 3am and spotted two bright stars out the window. Clear and sunny for a while this morning, it's been gray and on-and-off snow all the rest of the day. Weather Channel shows a thin band of lake effect running straight down the Lake Michigan coastline. Not a lot of snow and with the roads scraped, there seems to be no problem with people racing along Warner Street at highway speeds. The problem with a warm winter isn't the snow, it's the ice.

Dr. Phil

UPDATE: I'd thought Holland would take the hit from the thin band of lake snow, but it drew further south inland. Guess Kalamazoo was a mess all day. And Berrien County, south and west of Kalamazoo, got more than 15" of snow.

Temps down to 10°F last night -- going to 9°F tonight.

Saturday Night Pre-Lab

Time To Return To Middle Earth

Not a hard decision, since there was little on TV tonight, but we decided to put on The Two Towers [Extended Edition] in order to prepare for Friday night's Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with the Grand Rapids Symphony (DW).

Nothing Is Ever Simple Anymore

A good plan, but thwarted by the installation of our new TV two weeks ago (DW). We'd moved all the cables, but hadn't had a chance to check out the DVD player. Of course, its a pre-HDTV analog player, so what would the image look like?

Good news is the image is acceptable. The TV has decided to give us only one video mode, so its full-width but I think the aspect ratio is a bit too wide. I hate off aspect ratios. But the image is large and sharp.

Except... no sound.

Great. Mrs. Dr. Phil rechecked the cables into the TV. I dug out the manual. Then I turned on the stereo -- we rigged an audio line from the DVD player long ago, especially as the DVD player also does audio CDs. No sound either.

Here's the problem -- is this one issue or two? The amplifier in the stereo is from 1981 and it intermittently has issues. Wouldn't play sound from the VCR, though the VCR is working with the TV. But that shouldn't affect the DVD-TV connection. Mrs. Dr. Phil reached back and felt all the connections -- all there. We put in an audio CD into the old CD player and the tray kept popping out again and wouldn't even try to read a disk.

Arrrrgh! Entropy! Damn thee to hell! A third component not working.

Eventually we tried an audio CD in the DVD player -- and suddenly it worked. I don't know if we did anything or the TV finally recognized the audio line. Everything is computerized these days, so nothing is as simple as plugging it in or turning a switch. Somewhere I have a SF story where this starship is out of control because there are no manual controls anymore. We're reaching that point today and I fear it's a lesson we'll learn over and over again.(evil grin)

We're up to meeting of the hobbits Merry and Pippin with Treebeard now. It only took us an hour to get the movie started. Thankfully, though, it hasn't cost us any money today.

Dr. Phil