atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4078: Not designed for off-roading

Today, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Mrs. Fungus and I had planned to go to a posh eatery in Schaumburg, which serves very good food.

In a snowstorm.

By the time we were ready to leave there was perhaps an inch of snow on the ground. The main roads were fine because it really hadn't been snowing hard, so we piled ourselves into Mrs. Fungus' car and set out for Schaumburg.

But I noticed that her car had a shimmy at low speed it hadn't had the last time I drove it, and it had a bad pull to the right, so I turned around, intending to go home and take the Jeep. My inversion of our travel vector put me on a back road that I usually take to get to the highway; it was a bit slippery but not too bad such that I was able to drive a bit under 30 MPH and be safe.

...until I got to the intersection with the main road. To account for the slippery conditions, I began to slow down a sufficient distance from the actual road, but the pavement there was like ice. The antilock motor chattered at me and the car simply would not slow down.

I took a quick glance to my left, saw that there was a vehicle coming from that direction at speed--of course!--and the part of my male brain that solves the differential equations of motion in real time told me I could not avoid a collision with it if I remained on my present course. I made a decision: the ditch was safer. Cranked the wheel to the right and drove the car right into the grass at the side of the road.

Once that maneuver had been accomplished, I then concentrated on keeping the car moving and avoiding the manhole cover protruding from the grass, and after the other vehicle had gone past I angled the car up onto the road, neat as you please, and drove the rest of the way home without incident.

I had the gall to laugh about it, but it was a pretty humbling experience. In any case, I wasn't really responsible for saving our bacon; I think I had a little HELP, there, from above.

In any event, we got the Jeep and set out again, having to stop for gas; and we had a deligful meal to celebrate our having been married for a year. The drive home was hellish, though. What should have been an hour and ten minutes, tops, took very close to 1.75 hours because of how it was snowing north of the Cal Sag channel. Once we were past that, the pavement was merely wet and I was able to go the speed limit (or a bit faster, ahem) but north of there the roads were a mess and top speed was about 35.

Wednesday is forecast to be more of the same.

And I must work on Mrs. Fungus car to figure out WTF is wrong with it. And to, uh, clean the grass out of the front end....

I was going to change the Jeep's oil, too. I got a 5-quart jug of 10w30 at WalMart the other day but I need a sixth quart and an oil filter to do the job, and I'd bet the auto parts stores are not open tomorrow, so I'd wager that will have to wait until Friday.

* * *

I am going to have to try this recipe for macaroni and cheese. But without the swearing, I think.

* * *

Corporations have made a mess of copyright law. Corporations like Disney.

See, Mickey Mouse was first drawn by Walt Disney in 1928. Walt Disney proceeded to die in 1966 at the age of 65, rich beyond dreams of avarice, and he left behind not only an entertainment empire but a wealth of intellectual property (IP).

Under the old rules for copyrights, Mickey Mouse would have entered the public domain already. That would have represented a huge blow to the Disney empire--and other major studios--so naturally they spent a lot of money on getting the laws changed, and in 1978 the copyright duration was extended until 70 years after the death of the creator of the work...or 95 years if it was "work for hire".

Now, Mickey Mouse won't enter the public domain before 2061 at the earliest.

The advantage to Walt Disney Inc. is that they can go on having a monopoly on Micky Mouse merchandise for another four decades at least before they have to worry about what happens then, and anyone who tries to use their IP can be sued for infringement. (And possibly prosecuted, too.)

The original intent of copyright (and patent) law was simply to allow a reasonable period where the creator of something new could enjoy the proceeds of his creation, after which anyone could use the idea in whatever way pleased him without owing the original creator so much as a red cent.

Copyright law has, however, become a collection of statutes which protect large corporations while doing little or nothing for the common person.

* * *

Solar panels are not an answer to an energy supply problem. And what we have is an energy supply problem, and you cannot conserve your way to a bigger energy supply.

* * *

Happy new year!

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