Driving | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

Stuck Truck


Somehow this trucker managed to wedge his trailer under the train trestle at the entrance to Hoboken. This happened today a block from my studio and I shot video and photos. It’s a recycling truck that had just emptied it’s load about a 1/2 mile away. Took the tow company a couple hours to finally pull it out since it was wedged under two different tracks. Hoboken traffic was a mess with this major entry and exit route closed at rush hour.

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Macho Men Don’t Need to Signal


A study out of University of Montreal finds that “macho men” are more aggressive drivers than those men who were less inclined to hyper-masculity. More honking, more risky behavior. I’d guess they’d also be more likely to bash through lines of police cars and jump over washed-out bridges.

via Jezebel. Image from Smokey and the Bandit.

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Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Monster trucks at the Mall

Now I understand why people need SUVs to go to the mall. It’s so they can easily pull back and leave after they plow over the cars in the parking lot, like this skilled driver.

That’s cost you $500.

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We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!

Tom Vanderbilt commends the old 240 in a parenthetical comment on his blog post about “car diapers”:

I often wonder why (most) cars actually lost their extruding bumpers to begin with (look at those big rubber bricks on old Volvos) — some push for imagined aerodynamicism on the part of car drivers I suppose.

Every day my gigantic rubber bumpers scrape a little more of the “Umbria Twilight Pearlesque” from the Infinity FXs  in my neighborhood. If people would just use those hideous Bumper Badgers, everything would be all right.

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Paying for Public Street Parking

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The NY Times documents efforts by some city dwellers to share information about curb-side parking spots. StreetParkNYC has an iPhone app website that allows you to announce when you’re leaving a spot. Another driver who’s in need of a spot can get info about the location for $5 and you would get a $3 kick back, with StreetParkNYC pocketing the remaining $2.

This sounds so creepy. Street parking in Hoboken, where I live, is pretty tough. It’s rare that you see an open parking space. Most of the time you have to catch someone getting in their car so you can nab the spot. I’m wondering how people would react if someone beats them to a spot they just paid $5 for. StreetPark claims their system would reduce fuel consumption and emissions, but it seems to me that it would just defer these problems to someone else.

Update: Caleb from StreetParkNYC responds in comments.

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Car Phones

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With all the hype about people being distracted while driving we forget that in the beginning, the cell phone was actually the “car phone”. Or so the NY Time’s Matt Richtel writes this weekend in an interesting article about early mobile phone companies and studies warning of accident risks when chatting while driving. There’s a good interactive timeline showing ads from the 80′s of dudes cruising the highways with a phone brick at their ear.

My first car was a 1987 Volvo 745t I bought in 1994. It had the little antenna on the roof and a giant, glowing handset attached to the arm rest. I never got it activated, but it’s funny to think that something like that would be pretty much illegal now, seeing as the only way to use it is when you’re in the car and the car is running. Although I’m sure the PO always pulled to the side of the road to make a call. Right.

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Driving While Texting

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The NY Times has an article today about states legislating cell phone usage and texting while driving. It includes an interactive piece that demonstrates your level of distraction while texting. It’s a cool little piece, but I think it doesn’t demonstrate real-world scenarios and may be deceptive. The lane change decisions you have to make are steady, constant and rhythmic, rather than random and directed by the driver. Very often a driver can cruise in a lane for a while before needing to change lanes, but the game has changes every 5 seconds. Also, the texting doesn’t demonstrate how you might react to a real message. When asked to choose a pie from a list of options, I typed “peecan”. The message came back saying  it didn’t understand and I needed to write it again. Would a human being really not understand that  I’d like pecan pie, rather than apple?

It does demonstrate, however, that multitasking doesn’t work. Interacting with both the road and the cell-phone, you feel the stress of bouncing from one to the other. At times I just gave up on the road so I could type and spell correctly. I may have blown through a few toll-booth gates, but at least I knew I’d be getting ice cream on my pie, rather than whipped.

On the myth of multitasking, Christine Rosen writes:

For the younger generation of multitaskers, the great electronic din is an expected part of everyday life. And given what neuroscience and anecdotal evidence have shown us, this state of constant intentional self-distraction could well be of profound detriment to individual and cultural well-being. When people do their work only in the “interstices of their mind-wandering,” with crumbs of attention rationed out among many competing tasks, their culture may gain in information, but it will surely weaken in wisdom.

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