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Archive for March, 2013

Getting a New Car

safety pilotWell, it’s not actually new, and it’s not actually mine to keep. But there is an extensive, multi-year U.S. Department of Transportation safety pilot research study being conducted in our area. It’s pretty neat. And, being somewhat of a vehicle safety nut, I find it interesting and signed up to participate when the study was first announced.

There are three levels of participation. The least-involved level (which we currently have on our main vehicle)  includes a small data collection device that involves no interaction from the driver. The middle level (which my boss has) includes the data collection device and also emits warning signals when another study vehicle is too close. The third level involves driving a study-provided car equipped with five cameras that collect data about driving conditions, proximity of other vehicles, driver reaction, etc.

I was notified today that they want me to participate in the third level. Besides being excited to participate further in the study (I happen to work in the research environment at the university, and was interested in research even before I started working there), I am really looking forward to driving one of their vehicles for 5-6 months. It won’t be a luxury vehicle, but it’ll certainly be nicer than the 2003 Ford Focus station wagon that I usually drive. (Or maybe it will be a luxury vehicle – I’m supposed to be getting a 2011 Buick Lacrosse. Not new, but nice!)

Here’s an interesting article on the study, from Wired magazine. (Though I do think their “300 vehicles” figure is wrong.)

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OK, a kid of a different color. Or a shirt, really.

The day after Allie wore her “Go blue!” clothes, she got to wear her “Go green!” clothes. And so did Adam and I. More specifically, we got to go to a hockey game at my alma mater! (Which just happens to be another huge Big 10 university within easy driving distance – and oh, did I mention that it’s my employer’s archrival?)

Adam and Allie with Aunt Betsy, our benefactor for the evening.

Adam and Allie with Aunt Betsy, our benefactor for the evening.

How did that happen, you may ask? Well, it was another example of why I love Facebook so! I posted a picture of Allie in her maize and blue – and one of my college friends chided me (good naturedly), asking how I could let her wear those colors. I replied that we wear the colors of both schools, and that we’d even go to another (alma mater) hockey game if my sister Betsy could get us free tickets again. Two minutes later, I had a private message from Betsy saying that she had free tickets to the game that night, and would we like to go! Of course we would! So I got off work an hour early, raced to pick up the kids and run home to change (why oh why did I have to wear a maize and blue shirt for casual Friday?) and get to the hockey arena.

We had a blast, as expected. Our team lost (5-2, yikes) but it was fun. My friends and I had season hockey tickets all through college, and our dorm was directly across the field from the hockey arena (on top of which I had my first-and-only cigarette – just a puff, really) so it felt just like the old days.

I don't remember the band being this big when I was in college (it was usually about a third this size at hockey games).

I don’t remember the band being this big when I was in college (it was usually about a third this size at hockey games).

In fact, it really felt like the old days because of where we sat. Our ticketed seats were quite a ways from the band, and we couldn’t hear it very well. And what’s the point of going to a sporting event if you can’t do the silly chants/cheers, sing the fight song, etc.? We quickly noticed that the student section was only about a third full – because it was spring break. So after the first period, we moved to the student section, which surrounds the band. It was kind of surreal. On the one hand, I felt like I was back in college, because this is how I spent many a Friday night. On the other hand, watching Adam cheering and singing with gusto – I felt like I was getting a glimpse of my son in 7 years or so, a college kid rooting on his team. Weird. But cool.

I admit that I was a little disappointed that the student section no longer does a couple of the gags that we used to do. I mean seriously, if the other team has someone coming back in after a penalty, and you know the announcer is going to say “Western, full strength!” – why wouldn’t you shout “Hey Jerry (or whatever the announcer’s name is now), what’s that smell?” Or when the announcer is going to say “One minute left to play. One minute.” wouldn’t you shout “Hey Jerry, how much time?” Sheesh. Kids these days.

Mmmm, the traditional hockey game snack - Melting Moments ice cream cookie sandwich.

Mmmm, the traditional hockey game snack – Melting Moments ice cream cookie sandwich.

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