Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stay classy, Seattle

Palms in Seattle? Really?

Ah, winter. Which, generally speaking, I love - but, if it comes with any kind of persistent precipitation, cripples the Northwest. Not just because they're wimps when it comes to snow, it's at least partially justified by tendency it has to turn into ice and the number and variety of hills which make up Seattle proper. Outlying suburbs, not so much - for them it's mostly the wimpy part.

The studio I live in now is probably hermetically sealed, as evidenced by the condensation that forms on the windows. A couple days into the various storms it managed to drip down to the bottom and freeze, pictured here.

I also keep it cold in here.

Tigger, our inherited orange tabby, has an odd habit of licking things which suit him: gloves, coats, pant-cuffs, hands. It's anybody's guess what it's going to be, we have yet to identify any common element amongst his targets - there are other things which cats would typically love, like the wrapper from a stick of butter, which if given the opportunity to inspect he'll attempt to bury the same way he would his leavings in the litter box. However, he does leave a pretty pattern on the window:

Tigger Tongue Tracks

Given my easy proximity to work, and my distrust for the driving ability of others in these conditions (as well as a healthy respect for the elements and an acknowledgment of my own limitations), I haven't been driving since it snowed. That means my car's been parked out on the lonely street accumulating snow this whole time, along with a few others in the neighborhood.

We've had about 8" so far - the first night was the strangest though, it started snowing in pellets before changing to conventional flakes. Not hail, honest pellets of snow that you could hear hitting the foliage - around 5am it was accompanied by a couple bolts of lightning less than 1/4 mile north of me, too. First time I've ever experienced lightning first-hand during a snow storm.

Last night added its own strange condition to things, blowing in tiny flakes for much of the night and eventually causing everything to ice over. I'm not sure if it was a change in temperature, or a fog which settled in on everything, or what, but the top 1/8th of an inch of snow has frozen into a texture like frosted glass. Every footstep crunch-crashes through the crust into the fine powder below. It made digging out the car an experience too, since it was not spared this treatment - in fact, any area not covered in snow is also covered with this same sheet of ice.

Ice sheet from snow - broad view
Ice sheet from snow - edge view
Ice sheet on side mirror

Which brings me to the title of this post: Stay classy, Seattle.

When I was 17 I got into a minor car accident in the Northwest. There were almost 2 lanes westbound on this street, but not quite (or at least not officially). There also isn't a turn lane, and shortly after an intersection the car directly in front of me stopped in order to turn left. I hesitated a moment, decided there was probably enough space to the right that I could go around him, and put on my blinker after checking my rear-view mirror to make sure traffic behind me was indeed stopped and was making no indication to go around me. Between the time I put on my blinker and started to move, the driver behind me decided that was a good idea too and pulled around on the right, and managed to clip the front third of my passenger side.

After pulling off to the side of the road to inspect things we wanted to make sure everything was in order and call the authorities in case a report needed to be filed. This was before the time when cell phones were common place, so neither of us had one - it was therefore decided that, since the other driver lived nearby, he'd run home real quick and give them a call from there. Which he did, and promptly returned, and everything was squared away - no report was needed because the damage to either vehicle didn't exceed the threshold, and no ticket was issued although I was apparently at fault for failure to yield right-of-way (another one filed under lessons learned).

It didn't dawn on me until days later that the driver of the other car didn't have to return. It was some time after that I realized that I too could have just taken off (we hadn't completed our information exchange yet) while he was gone and just left him in the lurch. My realization wasn't a "would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling etc." epiphany, it was more akin to a rumination about what a remarkable area to live in. That's just what the culture was.

Was. Past tense.

Hit & Slide

No note, no indication of ownership. I've heard spinning tires up and down the road and knew it was bad shape out there. I've always turned down the music and paid close attention, listening for the fateful crunch that would indicate assistance was necessary and/or somebody owed someone else money. Never heard it though - which means this probably happened some time Friday while I was still at work, and I missed it when I arrived home that evening. There are no recent tire tracks (and they're easy to spot in 8" of snow) that correspond to the accident, which is my only other clue as to the timing (it snowed fresh Friday night and most of yesterday afternoon and night). I'm fairly certain they were headed West (toward the rear of the car), as evidenced by the fact that the remains of the hub-cap were all slightly to the west of the rear tire.

Hub Capped

Though I suppose it's just as possible they were sliding to the East, knocked the hub cap off, and a spinning tire ejected it to the West on their way. Either way I don't think someone could have done this unknowingly, which makes the lack of ownership disappointing.

Fortunately the door opens, moves its full extent, and closes just fine. There's no disposition in the tire which would indicate axle damage, and the sidewall is completely intact. It hurts the resale value of the car, and will probably contribute to the deterioration of the body, but the immediate serviceability appears intact. I'll find out when I move it later today to go to church, and eventually stash it in the garage of a friend for an extended stay while I visit Utah next week.

And if I hit anyone while I'm driving, which is unlikely, I'll be sure to leave a note.

UPDATED 2008-12-21 20:28

I was informed by a fellow motorist in passing (whilst stopped at an intersection) that it appears one of my rear wheels is about to fall off, based on how it's wobbling. A little more than superficial then I'm afraid - I have either a bent rim or a bent axle. I'm hoping it's the rim, since it's an order of magnitude less expensive - we'll find out when I finally have a chance to take it in for repairs after the holidays.

1 comment:

McConnehey said...

I still remember when you hit a car while we were in your sisters car and you were going to pull up to the front to go in and talk to someone to let them know and someone pinned us in thinking we were hitting and running!