Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As predicted...

...more snow.

Traction control or no, the summer-tread-pattern steamrollers on the back of the Zed Drei are useless on side streets covered in inches of snow, slush, and ice. The few, widely-separated grooves instantly pack with snow and I might as well be running slicks on the rear, turning my local driving into an adventure.

See, the city plows the main thoroughfares, but as a money-saving measure, they only plow side streets if we receive six inches or more of snow at a whack. In a normal Indy winter, with its sequence of snow-and-melt-and-snow-and-melt, that makes sense. This winter, however, there hasn't been a melt yet, and the snow keeps stacking up. Yesterday it was touch and go getting the Bimmer the couple of blocks to the nearest plowed street and with the couple-four inches added last night, I'm on foot except for the most urgent of errands.

Now, I'm not one of those types that's going to whine "Lower my taxes! And plow my streets!" but I'll note that the unplowed side streets would be much more palatable if they were part of some huge and visible citywide austerity program, but when you're living in a metropolis that just pissed away $33.5 million on a loserville basketball team, it's hard to square that with penny pinching on the snow plows. I mean, you don't have to be some frothing statist to see which is a more arguably legitimate function of government: Keeping the streets clear? Or lining the pockets of acromegalic rap video extras?

45 comments:

pdb said...

Precisely so.

Advocating the reduction of the size of government is not a plea to reduce or eliminate all services, but to pare down the frivolous so the attentions of the public sector can be focused on the essential.

$33.5M sounds like it would have bought a few snowplows and drivers.

Stranger said...

Indiana is not like the place I married into; where even the dogcatcher must be native born.

"Friends" keep asking me to run for the Legislature, but when I ask them if a Yankee can be elected I hear no more.

You are under no such disability. And your voice would be much louder as a council person.

Heinlein has a a blueprint for doing just that. Follow it - be an effective voice for "gittin' things dun" - and you too could succeed in politics.

Stranger

David said...

I had to look up "acromegalic," and it turns out to be the same as my friend who once went on a rant about those "glandular freaks." Awesome.

Blackwing1 said...

I'll say it again...here in Moneyapolis, my property taxes are going up 17.4%, while they claim my house value has remained steady (not...dropped at least 10%). Almost two weeks after a snowfall, my street still isn't plowed to the curb, and they've actually declared that they're officially giving up plowing them...just one-side parking for the rest of the winter.

In the meantime, (and as only one example) they're going to piss $6 million down a rathole called "Peavey Plaza", to "spruce it up" for civic pride.

Take your effing pride, shove it where the sun don't shine, and PLOW THE FREAKIN' STREETS.

Oh, yeah, after allowing the Hump to collapse during a snowstorm, they're going to use it as yet another excuse to build an entertainment factory on the taxpayer's dime...and everybody saw just how good that team was, right?

John said...

Your local bicycle shop can order studded snow tires, including fine Finnish ones, at reasonable prices. Take the bike so they can figure fender clearances, etc.

The two conditions to avoid are fresh glare ice, or snow over same. Otherwise, slow and low gear riding can get you there and back for grub and necessity runs.

Heck,it's fun. Sorta like urban cross-country skiing without planks on y'r feet.

You prob'ly won't be subject to an attempted mugging on that Molon Trail,either.

Old NFO said...

There is civic pride, and there is CIVIC pride... You need some folks that use the definition of CIVIC pride that means keeping the city running efficiently (plowing streets, water, sewer, lights) and not spending millions on frivilous items to bring in outsiders...

cj said...

Reminds me a bit of my little Colorado mountain town. We DO get plows through here, but they don't seem to want to lower the blades, so there's still 4" of slick, packed snow (when they finally get to us on the second day).

Of course, last week's storm which dumped an entire 1/2 inch had plows with blades gouging into the street pushing up sparks running past every 15 minutes. All night. It seriously sounded like someone was dragging shipping containers up and down the street.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"Oh, yeah, after allowing the Hump to collapse during a snowstorm, they're going to use it as yet another excuse to build an entertainment factory on the taxpayer's dime"

Not to hijack the thread, but...

Didn't they go with the inflatable roof because it's cheaper to replace it once or twice a decade if it collapses than to build a solid dome that size that can stand up to typical MN snowfalls over the same period - even with the more intensive routine maintenance that a fabric roof requires?

Anonymous said...

Don't think of the millions wasted on pro athletics that won't produce a net return. Instead, think of your street's snowplowing money going to pay Frank Straub's salary. Now, don't you feel all better? regards, Alemaster

Nathan said...

I've notice the Colts haven't played worth a durn since they got their new playhouse.

Nathan said...

"notice" should be "noticed".

Matt said...

As long as we let the government own the streets, it's legitimate to declare street-plowing to be the government's job.

But I'm lucky...the mayor and police chief of my town live in my neighborhood, and the county treasurer lives on my block. I haven't seen an unplowed street in three years. :) (Truth is, they do a pretty decent job with all the streets up here.)

Pete said...

Forgetting the snow for a moment, have you driven on Springmill between 86th and 96th recently? Compare with 38th Street.

Nowayoutbutup said...

I live at 5000' ft elevation in the Sierra Nevada on a county road.
We have not had a plow go by in a week and the snow is not measured in inchs but feet.
My county has 18-19% unemployment and one of the highest rates of default on home loans in the nation.
Time to buy a skip loader....

Bram said...

I had great fun driving my rear-wheel drive go-cart when I went to college in Maine. The key is to turn the wheel well before the actual corner, then gun the gas when you actually want to go that direction while cranking the wheel the other way to stop the fishtail. With a little practice you can navigate snowy streets quickly while terrifying your friends.

James family outpost, Iowa. said...

If you are 1. gonna stay in Indy and 2. gonna keep the bimmer, I highly recommend going to tire rack dot com and a competitor or two (shop around) and order a set of winter tires pre-mounted on steel rims. Easy to swap out, and it will make winter driving enjoyable again! Seriously, you will be astounded at the grip & traction - it will be a world of difference. I know it's money up front, but your summer tires will last longer too! Either way, I will ring the tip jar, Merry Christmas!

Gewehr98 said...

I did the same with my S-10. Summer low-profile steamrollers on leftover Corvette mags, and winter snow tires on plain-vanilla steel rims. I also built a removable wooden cradle that sits in the box between the wheel wells, and holds 3 tubes of sand (225lbs) from Menards for weight over the rear axle. A bag or two of salt or sand in the trunk of the Beemer would probably help you navigate those well-maintained Indianapolis streets a smidgen better, Tam.

Anonymous said...

If you have a friend who can get to Mt Vernon, OH, there's a set of 15" snow tires in my son's garage that are free for the asking. That's about 4 1/2 hours away from you on a clear day - when you don't need snow tires. [The tires are on rims that fit only a few cars, including an '01 Jetta Wolfsbug Edition. Sell the rims and buy ammunition!]This, of course, is a "thank you" for the S&W 296. oldeforce

Discobobby said...

Mrs. Discobobby's 325i is uncontrollable in snow without swapping out the tires for dedicated snow tires on cheap steel rims, as mentioned above. I can't even imagine how the Zed must handle. Tire Rack is in South Bend, I highly recommend them, and you get much more life out of both sets of tires, so in the long run it's cheaper, especially when you factor in a fender-bender avoided.

I do the same thing on my Subaru, and it makes a car that was already great in bad weather drive like a tracked snow machine. Any all wheel drive can get you going, it's the turning and stopping that's the real test. :)

Discobobby said...

You might find used ones on Craigslist as well to save money. If they have a bit of life left in them or they're a set of 3 and you only have to buy a fourth, that might be an option too as long as the tread depth isn't too mismatched. Tire Rack will shave a tire down for you if you want to go that route. I don't know how finicky the Zed is about matching tires.

mc said...

I very much like the tactic of employing an acromegalic lexicon to dodge the attentions of coprophagic whiners who will complain about the recognition of certain demographic realities.

How to state the truth and get away with it.

I like.

Don Meaker said...

An alternative to snow tires is a set of chains. They make much nicer ones than they used to: with cables rather than steel links. Some are even composites.

They are particularly useful if you park your car in a garage. Keep them tight, so they don't grab onto bits of Zed III as the wheels go round and round.

Anonymous said...

With a gigantic 4 x 4 pickup, studded snows all arond, and four chains for really bad days, I tend to regard any and all snow removal as a waste of money (to say nothing of government sticking its nose into sports).

It may not be as much fun to drive as a BMW, but it gets one from point A to more point Bs than some can imagine.

So we're spending taxpayer's money so some people can drive little fun cars in conditions for which they were not designed, if you want to take this all the way. -- Lyle

Tam said...

Lyle,

They took my money at gunpoint to make the roads, so they can damn well keep them clear.

If they give me the road money back, I'll use it to buy an ATV.

BGMiller said...

Or we are spending taxpayer's money to ensure safe and efficient access for police, fire, EMS, sanitation, and postal delivery. So that's tax dollars being spent to provide safe work environments for public servants. Which reduces the expenses from equipment repairs and workman's comp claims. And that in turn saves tax dollars.

BGM.

BGMiller said...

Hah!
If they'd give me my cut of the tax money for roads I'd buy a horse.

I could ditch the car, the lawn mower, and make a little cash in the fertilizer business.

Not gonna happen though.
The .gov doesn't want any competition in the horse sh*t business.

BGM

Brad K. said...

Tam,

If they plow your side street, a couple of politicians, at most, will win a couple of votes, at most. And the plow drivers get longer hours.

With the BB team, they get the team, the companies that furnish uniforms (hopefully in town), the beer/soda/vending purveyors make money and pay taxes, the brothers-in-law construction outfits make money on parking lot and other facility upgrades and maintenance. Usually a few doctors get patients that pay their bill instead of the 30% or whatever from Medicare/Medicaid. And in a winning season, lots of politicians can bask in the (voter) glow.

So, grab your scoop shovel and bend over, when you are that far down on the 'politico-returns' scale.

Matt G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt G said...

Tam, you live in Indi-phuquing-Ana. Railing against the People's support of basketball ain't gonna do you any more good than my railing against my local school district's support of high school football, down here in Texas.

When in Rome, it's pointless to decry Catholicism

DirtCrashr said...

A buddy who lived in Chanhassen, MN had a bolt-on plow for the winter-front of his pickup truck, and would always make a bunch of money every snow-day off the non-equipped neighbors. He had some regulars too, like little old ladies.

Scott M said...

Snow tires. I feel your pain Tam I used to own a Fiat X1/9 (well actually I've owned a few of them) and the thing was undriveable when it snowed out. Blizzaks turned it into a 1900lb mid engined tank, at least until the snow got deeper than the ride height. Oh and the guy up thread a bit mentioned snow on his Subi, had a customer once upon a time with that arrangement damn thing was unstoppable.

Marja said...

Only one set of tires for the whole year? Quaint.

Of course here in almost socialist paradise (and we may be starting to slide just a little bit further away from actualizing that - I hope) it's illegal to use summer tires between the beginning of December and the end of February, so everybody who drives the whole year has to have two sets. Trust our government to do our thinking for us.

So, anybody wants to learn Finnish swearwords?

Buzz said...

Tam,

You need to trade the little thing for a real convertible that loves to play in the snow.

The bonus of being a gun-toting woman will add to the pedestal of being a female in the Jeep community.

LabRat said...

I have never had to put snow tires or snow chains on the Camaro, because Los Alamos aggressively and zealously plows every single time it snows, all roads, ASAP.

It appears the government, when it concerns its people it pays exorbitant sums to come up with weapons and occasionally other nifty projects, does not wish them to take the day off or worse yet to plummet off a cliff due to unsafe road conditions.

Either that or we have the best county council ever, and evidence strongly suggests otherwise there.

Jon said...

As a longtime inhabitant of the giantly tiny state of North Dakota, and living right across a river that loves to flood from NoMoneySota - its amusing the difference in both speed of plowing, and quality. (not to mention general street repair) And Fargo's got nothing on Bismarck, the state capital and their plow speeds, but Fargo's about half as large again so I don't really bitch.

But the idea that one would not plow the sidestreets is just plain nuts.

Of course, we can get six to eight inches in a shot and it still won't keep anyone from work, either. Different climes, different priorities.

Will said...

I once had to drive my father's 1982 Fiat Turbo convertible in Reno on New Years Eve, in a snow storm (no rooms available). It had a set of M+S rated tires.

Car had really good traction, due to the rear tubular bumpers being loaded with a large amount of LEAD poured into them.
(Dad thought the rear was a bit too light for good handling without the weight.)

Dr. StrangeGun said...

... meanwhile, Dr. Strangegun merrily went about his way in a rear wheel drive mini-truck on cheap all-season tires, chugging along for several trips during one of Knoxville's more tricky winter events (everything being a thin sheet of slush-covered or just plain wet ice) while amusingly watching people around him dance around in their automatic AWD mini-SUVs.

I didn't even put any weight in the bed or fill the gas tank to the brim.

Secrets? None really, just carefully avoiding making the truck change it's momentum in any direction.

I'll tell you though, if the truck were an automatic it'd likely have been undriveable (automatics introduce extra inertia in the drivetrain, and an unlocked converter 'flares' when suddenly unloaded by loss of traction, making the problem worse by upping the driveline RPM).

If I had a limited-slip or locking diff it would have been much, much more difficult as well...That feeling of the passenger rear tire starting to slip is invaluable because at that point I'm recoverable and still have 3 tires planted, and with the light weight of the truck there's enough drag in the differential that there's appreciable thrust even with one tire off the traction mark. Last year I climbed a few slick hills with the truck crabbed a few degrees and the passenger rear spinning lazily along (didn't need to do that this time though).

Tam said...

Yeah, even with fancy clutchwork, the limited slip is annoying, as both tires let go at once and the rear end drifts to the right. (And this is a car with the torque to light the tires under good conditions...)

Like I said, it's an adventure.

Will said...

Tam,
have you considered getting a 4x4 with plow, to make some cash for gun type pursuits?

Even a garden tractor with a push blade could make you some, perhaps enough to afford a full size vehicle for next year's snow.

Anonymous said...

BMW does make all wheel drive cars;
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2536189/battle_of_the_allwheel_drive_luxury.html

Dr. StrangeGun said...

heh, all-wheel drive... perfect for losing trac on *all four* points when you take your foot off the throttle a little too quick (on ice, anyways).

I'll stick with my 1 1/4 wheel drive tin-box pickup, and if I can't make it up a hill, I had no business trying.

Marja said...

It's harder to drive an automatic in winter?

Interesting. Might explain why they are so rare in my country, most people use a stick shift. I have tried a car with automatic shift only a couple of times in my life, never owned one.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Depending on how slick the road really is, it can be much harder to impossible to pilot an automatic versus a manual. There are levels of control with a stick that just aren't available in an auto, as well as the torque converter causing it's own issues... they'll vary their amount of torque transfer by total load and that transfer efficiency goes up with less load. That means things can start spinning faster once they're spinning, even if you cut the throttle a little. You'd have to chop it *just* right, which is very hard since things just aren't linear like with a manual clutch.

Tam said...

Marja,

Unfortunately, classic manual transmissions are becoming rarer on new cars from all manufacturers, worldwide. They're being replaced with these ridiculous "manumatics" and clutchless manuals and CVTs.

Once Formula 1 went to paddle shifters, the writing was on the wall.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

heh, rare things in the new car market... I've gone from 'I'll drive it till the wheels fall off' with my truck to 'I've got to keep the wheels from falling off' because the number of new 6' bed ~3000lb trucks that get 28mpg, are rated to tow their own weight, and still get 0-60 in a frog's hair less than 10 seconds is...

... zero. I have the last model ever and everything else like it is as old or older. Bummer.