Worlds Worst Drivers: pt2

I’ve decided that among various spectator sports, watching bad drivers from the comfort of my living room is one of the most amusing. Here’s a video of some fella in a rear-wheel suv burning away rubber for a good four minutes. Keep in mind that all day dozens of cars had made it easily up our hill thanks to their driving skills.

Omaha Beer Week

This week, Omaha breweries, home brewers, and beer bars show off for Omaha Beer Week, a celebration of locally-brewed craft beers. I’ll be making the rounds with the wife and some beer geek friends, but if you’re in the area, check out the full list of events over at OBW’s website.

 

Favorite brews so far, included the Biere de Mars from NB and some excellent homebrews from the S.O.B’s

Recycling Woes

Apparently a few years ago, the City of Omaha decided to stop recycling glass curbside. As a whole, the city is abysmal with its overall recycling policies too. Driving down the streets on recycling day, I see very few bins. I’d at first have said it’s a Midwest thing…but discovered nearby cities like Des Moines have wonderful recycling programs, so that’s not it.

As with any municipal program, it likely comes down to money. Glass is heavy and costs more (and is worth less) to recycle than coke cans. As such, the city simply stopped it. In addition, right across the border is Council Bluffs, and Iowa has a 5 cent deposit for returned glass bottles. I should just haul my glass across the border and make some cold cash!

Alas, even if my trunk was full of months of glass bottles, and I spent all afternoon redeeming them via the machines in Iowa, I’d have a wasted afternoon and maybe five bucks for my trouble. I just want to get rid of this stuff responsibly! There are dropoffs in Omaha for glass; receptacles in a few grungy lots across the city, but none close to home…this looks like my best bet though. Either that or just pitching the bottles in with our trash.

Oh well, it’s just a few bottles…i’ll get over it. Besides, who cares about mountains of glass when you also live in the city with some of the most toxic tapwater? I also don’t want you to think that I’m bashing the fine folks in this city…well maybe some of them…such as the folks they chose to govern.

Standy Desk : revisited

So it’s been a month and a half since Standy Desk was born. I reckon that it’s time for an update.

I’m personally happy to say, that I use it every day, (yep, that’s right, I’m rhymin’ now too). I stuck with it the first week, which was tough on the feet and legs. After that, it was smooth sailing and I strut my stuff a good 6+ hours a day for work now.

I take a few breaks: for lunch, meeting and calls…where I can sit down at my laptop. I also have a small table next to the desk where I can move my main monitor…if I wanna ‘chill like a vill’.

As a whole, I’m writing about Standy Desk to encourage it to others. I’m not necessarily preaching…it’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s worth a shot. There’s literally billions of people who stand for 8+ hours a day. Hell, there’s probably that many who are moving nonstop for well over that amount of time. For a nerdy web developer like me, it’s the least of physical exertions that I could muster.

So, for a fun little carpentry and personal challenge, it’s proved very successful. I recommend it and if you stick through the first week or so, it’ll may just add a couple years to your life 😉

 

 

Free entertainment

It’s official: People in Omaha don’t know how to drive in snow.

It’s an odd realization to come too, since this place is rather snowy in the winter…big midwest snowstorms that roll in and don’t melt for weeks.This impressive discovery was made from the convenience of my own home, indeed via the double windows directly behind me as I stand here at my desk. Said windows look out upon our hilly road, thusly:

Keep in mind that this picture was taken nearly a week after the snowstorm. There’s still ice on the road. Temperatures had yet to rise above the mid-twenties, even in the sunny afternoons…with nights as low as 2 degrees.The result of this, of course, being that the road ice hasn’t melted.

For this last week, the spectacle on the street has been both reliable and hilarious. Cars try to make it up the street with drivers clueless about both driving technique and apparently the laws of physics…especially those governing inertia and friction. The disheartening part, is that some of these people are literally doing damage to their vehicles…gunning the engine, wheels spinning at 70mph,melting troughs in the ice until their wheels are spinning on pavement, thick clouds of rubber smoke pouring out as their vehicle sits in place. This is almost exclusively sedans and minivans. The 4×4 folks crawl their way up our hill like it was a pleasant summer day.

I can’t say that all Omahans are clueless either. There’s the few vehicles that take the hill at a steady speed, and those with light feet who don’t let themselves lose traction in the first place. It’s unfortunate how many are clueless though, and end up sideways in front of our house, sliding backwards while still gunning the engine…creating polished slick patches for the next car.

It’s not just our street either. On a trip to Iowa over the weekend,we saw dozens of abandoned vehicles strewn across medians, some looking like they rolled or hit other vehicles. Facebook was abuzz with people who got into accidents. Even our own little Honda was briefly uncontrollable, mere feet from our driveway.

It makes me want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Why were there lines at McDonalds? Crowds at the movie theater? People traveling at all?

This seems to be more of a phychological…or perhaps sociological…issue. People look outside and know that roads are dangerous. Cars accidents are already a leading cause of death and injury nationwide and that accidents are far more likely in bad weather. So why do people travel? Why do they feel that a Big Mac is worth risking a car accident? Is the increase in risk not fully perceived when making the decision? Do rational people weigh this type of danger low because of faulty logic, car commercials, or overconfidence? Do car drivers know when they’re approaching my house, their vehicle can’t possibly make it up the hill, but try anyway…or are they oblivious?

This little sideshow out front has allowed me to witness human decision-making in its most primal form. I can see the faces of those people; extreme panic, anger, frustration…I can see their decision process as they gun the engine, as they sit and pause to think, as they look around them for ways to either u-turn or tackle the challenge. It’s an interesting glimpse at the base decisionmaking that people make, and I certainly am in those places myself, all the time. What is most interesting, is how each driver is so different. Every person makes thousands of small and large decisions every day, and I get a perfect closed arena to experience this diversity of decisions, right from my window.

Awww, that’s nasty

One of the fun things with living in a rental house, is that you make discoveries. We made one such discovery a week or so after moving in and firing up the furnace on the first brisk autumn morning. As savvy members of post-industrial America, both the wife and I knew that central heating units have filters, and like any filter, need replacement on occasion. This was a morsel of useful modern-day knowledge that was passed down to me perhaps by my parents, and filed away in the back of my brain for the distant eventuality that I’d be living someplace with forced air when I grew up. It’s the sort of trivial fact that can easily be forgotten, but just as quickly remembered when in the basement, when the heater or A/C kicks on, or when you move a new air filter aside while grabbing golf clubs or trying to find the power drill in the garage.

“Oh hey, I bet the air filter needs changing,” you think, and you change it. You like clean air; you know that when clogged it makes the heater run less efficiently, it’s just something that you do.

Well, the Ollinger Family had no such inkling…no such concept. Who are these wiley Ollingers, you ask? They are the previous renters; the folks who leave a drawer full of legal documents, work performance reviews, and don’t bother to change their address with the post office. They are the ones who’ve been enjoying this:

That there, is a furnace filter, 1 inch thick, with another full inch of the grossest gnarliest filth adhered to it. That filter has been in the furnace for yeeeaaaaars. Upon its removal, the central air system turned from a strained whistling hiss, into a flood of glorious radiant heat. In a tug of the arm, I probably cut my heating bill in half, supplying the poor furnace the precious air it craved.

That white filter beneath it in the picture…well that was sitting up against the furnace, wrapped in plastic and waiting its turn to shine. Who knows how long it had been there, whether the Ollinger’s had planned to make the switch and didn’t know how, whether the landlord brought it over with hopes of use…we may never know. What I do know though, is that it’s clearly the wrong filter, you can see the dimensions in the pic. When alI was said and done, I had to go to Home Depot and drop a couple bucks on a correct size filter. In the long run, $3 is worth clean air and lower heating bills, I’m sure of it 🙂

As for the lesson of this tale:

1. Go check or change your air filter, it’ll be fun 🙂

2. I think i need to write some sort of further expose on the Ollingers. A rich full tale of these folks may be one for the ages.

A busy weekend or two

Here’s a hodgepodge recent photos from a couple different activities.
1. People’s Choice BBQ competition that was tied to the RiverCity Rodeo
2. Few Iowa wineries
3. Upstream and Nebraska Brewing Companies
4. Ditmar Apple Orchard

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that probably all these photos were shot (and in some cases edited) by Lindsay, not I.

holy coke

There’s a supermarrket here in Omaha that has easily become our favorite. They’ve got a lot of good things going for them, including their own tortillaria and smokehouse, as well as an impressive deli, meat, produce and beer department. Lots of strange hard-to-find items and local stuff.

As we walked in, we were greeted by this: the biggest wall of coke products i’ve ever seen. It’s like 20 feet tall. The diet boxs spell out “Super Saver Boystown” (plus i think thats a football on the far wall). I’d say that they have too many employees with free time on their hands, but the rest of the store was so impressive that I don’t know what to think now.

 

Another thing we saw was an entire section of vegetarian TVP (textured vegetable protein) canned ‘meat’. They appeared to be in the form of either soild masses that can be cut for burgers, or cans of hotdog-like things. They all had interesting names, like “Skallops”, “Choplets”, and “Prime Stake”. We had already bought a million-dollars worth of stuff by this point, so decided to give their veggie stake loaf a go next visit 😉 Here’s the company website that makes these canned meatish foods.

changes

Apologies to you, Misses or Mister Blog Viewer. Estoy muy ocupado.

We’ve been in the midst of a move, from our shitty apartment to a rather respectable house; 3 bedrooms, two garages and all the trimmings. The free time I dedicate to blogging took a back seat as we shuttled a dozen carloads of our worldly possessions to this new house and wearily unpacked.

I do plan to continue posting daily, or at least every other day…so don’t expect these dry spells very often 🙂

The art of moving

Well, it’s done.  We are now Omahanians…Omahaites? Hmm, what do we even call ourselves here. Anyone know, or is the jury still out? The internet couldn’t tell me, surprisingly.Maybe we’re just content calling ourselves Nebraskans, as strange as that makes me feel to say.

Here’s a three-part pictorial of my last week, which should sum up how f’ing busy I’ve been, as well as the brutal experience that comes with lifting up one’s life and transplanting to a whole new city.

 

Packing (no, our house doesn’t always look like this!)

 

Packed (awwww, poor traumatized dog)

 

Unpacking (yeesh)