Tag Archives: useless

MoPac and 71

MoPac and TX71/US290 is one of the more confusing interchanges in town. The overhead sign for the interchange describes three exits at the same time:

So, which one should I take?

So, which one should I take?

In reality, the first two exits go to the same place:

They all go to the same place!

They all go to the same place!

The third exit is a fly-over for westbound US290/TX71. Note that the sign doesn’t indicate eastbound TX71. That particular stretch of highway is both US290/TX71 until it hits IH-35 on the east side of town. To go onto eastbound TX71/US290, you have to get on the frontage road, cross Southwest Parkway, go under TX71/US290, turn left on the frontage road, then cross Brodie Lane, and then finally hop on the on-ramp for eastbound US290/TX71. What a mouthful, right?

So once you’re on the frontage road, you get a very informative sign that tells you eastbound US290 is the next left:

Convenient?

Convenient?

Guess what? You will end up going onto northbound MoPac if you make that left:

Yeah, fk you, you don't need to get on eastbound US290 anyways.

Yeah, fk you, you don’t need to get on eastbound US290 anyways.

Also, while you were in the left lane preparing to turn left, there is a smaller, overloaded sign on the right median telling you to actually go straight through the intersection:

Make up your damn mind!

Make up your damn mind!

* Take a deep breath *

I’m surprised there aren’t more road rage incidents or something to help pacify motorists. This interchanged is all sorts of messed up. Seriously, TXDOT, WTF?!

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Engine On!

Engine on!

Engine on!

The picture shows the instrument cluster from a 2013 Ford Fusion. I’m not sure why it shows an information box to indicate that the engine is on. It’s amazing that modern engines can be so quiet at idle, but does it warrant a dialog that tells the driver explicitly that the engine is on? The tach would be my first indicator of a running engine. The dialog just seems like a wasted effort and an annoyance if it pops up every time the engine is started.


Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are an evil of the modern automobile. This is partly to blame by lazy people. In the old days one would measure the tire pressure with a 99 cent tire pressure gauge from the auto parts counter. It was a simple device that was the size of a pen. You would put this device on the tire valve and hold it there for a reading. Then you would add air, remeasure, and repeat until the air pressure was within specs. You were suppose to do this periodically. Unfortunately people got lazy and just stopped checking leading to a series of events.

In the late ’90s SUVs because the choice of the masses for no rational reason other than vanity. Now a car with low tire pressure is going to handle a little sloppy, but it’s not a big concern until the tire is visibly under-inflated. An SUV with low tire pressure, however, makes it easy to flip over in the smallest of turns. Given the way people drive, Explorers were flipping over left and right and the government had to step in to blame the manufactures and make them install TPMS as standard equipment within the next decade. So here we are.

Why are TPMS evil when they monitor tire pressure in real time and prevents people from getting “dirty”? They are expensive, fragile, and annoying. One sensor can easily cost more than $100 because it is a wireless electronic device that interacts with the car’s computer and has to deal with harsh temperature differences. They are fragile so when a tire gets changed out, the technician cannot be rough with it. They are annoying because they need to be calibrated and have to be matched with the wheel and go off incessantly when there are altitude changes (like driving on a mountain).

My car was built before TPMS became mandatory, but I have my own tire pressure monitoring system. It involves paying attention to the signs: low gas mileage and sloppy handling. Over the course of a couple of months I notice that my gas mileage drops 2 or 3 miles per gallon. The car also brakes and handles like the wheels were made of jelly. This is the sign that the tire pressure is low and I’m usually right, all the tires are about 3 PSI under spec. Add about 5 PSI to each tire and everything is right in the world.

I’m sorry, but this is another electronic nanny to protect lazy people from themselves. Those who aren’t lazy have to deal with the lowest common denominator sucking the fun out of life.


Illuminated dash gauges

The recent trend of illuminated dash gauges is rather dumb. Sure it looks striking, but there’s no point. It’s even more idiotic that there needs to be a lit indicator to indicate if the headlights are actually on or not. At what point did people just think that this was the best, must-have feature in the world? There was nothing wrong, nor could be improved, from high contrast numbers and needles. At worst, coupled with daytime running lights (DRLs), the driver forgets to turn on the headlights. I was driving home last night and there was a Ford Edge with no taillights on. Of course they have DRLs semi-illuminating the roads (which was fine because we were in the city and the street lights lit up everything), but the driver was oblivious to the fact that the nighttime illumination on their vehicle was not on. Now, coupled with automatic headlights, illuminated dash gauges would make sense, but very few other makes besides General Motors have standard automatic headlights. Honestly, I don’t see why my dash gauges need to be lit up ALL the time. Stupid marketing machine.


Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

Blocking up the scenery, breaking up my mind

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the sign?


But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda

Is it me or are the trunks of sedans getting shorter and shorter? It’s almost gotten to the point where the trunk is non-existent. I mean, the trunk is still there, but the classic sedan shape is gone. We now have a short height opening with a very short horizontal opening. It makes the trunk very deep, but shallow. With the death of the Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car we now do not have any car with a ginormous trunk. What will gangsters drive? You cant fit a body into the trunk opening of a modern car,  you’d have to make the body smaller to fit. And you can’t get to anything deep inside the trunk without taking out whatever’s closest to the opening first. It’s very dumb since most people don’t plan what to put in the trunk. They just put stuff in without thinking. It’s very sad that the classic sedan shape is dying. It’s practical and handsome. I shall miss the classic sedan.


Drive Recklessly

Driving 5 MPH slower makes you a moron.