By on October 13, 2017

Our 1985 Nissan Maxima was heading south on 219 from Niagara Falls at 70 mph. The Falls are beautiful in winter, but of course traveling through New York at that time of year can mean bad roads. My dad was behind the wheel and, with no snow in sight, he was confidently chauffeuring us home to the Carolinas. That’s when he turned to my mom and said, “I wonder if this is black ice we’re driving on? Let me tap the brakes and see.”

“Dad! WooHoo!” I grabbed onto the silver metal posts holding his head rest up with both hands. That tap of the brakes had sent the tail of our Maxima suddenly passing the front of the car for the lead. Of course, as a kid I was safely buckled into a child seat. That is, if by child seat you mean we had the seats folded flat and sleeping bags spread out so we could lay down and play. Oh, the 1980s.

“Daaad!” I was still convinced at this point in my life my dad could do anything, which would include throwing our family sedan into a 360-degree spin on the highway on purpose. As cool as the first spin was, I was ready for it be over. What with the semi truck barreling towards us from behind and all.

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By on July 18, 2017

winter driving snowy road (public domain)

Quick now: Just how full is your refrigerator at this precise moment? I mean, it is kinda full, is it sorta full, is it totally full, is it almost empty, does it have the bachelor’s portion of beer and Cretaceous takeout? The reason I ask is because when I visit my more successful friends I’m simply bowled over by the amount of empty refrigerator space they have. Double and triple Northlands or Vikings with nothing in them. Deep stacks of empty shelves. Sometimes they have empty sections, doors behind which the air is chilled to 33 precise degrees but where nothing is stored.

My friends tell me that they need the space for the parties and gatherings they are going to have. I refrain from pointing out that in the modern suburban era nobody ever goes to anybody else’s house unless it is on pain of death/shunning/shaming. That gregarious age documented by Updike and Cheever is long gone. My friends won’t be hosts. Nobody’s coming to the parties that they won’t really have. All of that empty fridge space will always be empty. They spend most of their nights on “foodie adventures” anyway, spending massive amounts of money to avoid being trapped in their homes with only Netflix to fill the gaps in their meaningless conversations. And it’s only the two of them anyway, plus one designer baby after the wife turns 38 and panics.

I feel very virtuous, almost Spartan, because I only have a single-width Sub-Z from about 15 years ago. And my fridge is relatively full. But still there’s empty space. Sometimes Danger Girl goes through and tosses a half-ton of expired food. Still more fridge than we need. Compare that to the fridge at my grandmother’s house. She had four boys living in the house. Six people to my three. And her fridge was under six feet tall. With two cramped compartments. How did she do it, particularly given the fact that she cooked a real dinner, a real lunch, and a real breakfast every night? How did she survive on one-fifth the frosted space available to my DINK foodie friends?

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By on December 29, 2016

Winter city snow

Boston, the city that gave us both the New Kids On The Block and Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, placed dead last on Allstate’s 2016 America’s Best Drivers List. With the weather in Beantown turning blustery and cold, the Car Talk slogan of “don’t drive like my brother” has become hauntingly sound advice.

However Boston isn’t a singular example of a city with overzealous insurance claimants and certainly isn’t only location about to get hit with seasonally inclement weather. There are plenty of places where you’ll want to look out for other drivers just as much as you will icy patches of road this winter.  (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2016

1998-2000_Honda_Accord_sedan_--_03-16-2012

Pete writes:

I find myself in a situation uniquely suited to seek out the counsel of the wise and insightful folks at TTAC (Sajeev, Mark, and the B&B).

I have been a long time resident of Tampa, Florida, where my ’98 Honda Accord and my wife’s ’04 Honda Accord perfectly suit the needs of my family (which includes our two boys, ages one and three). The ’98 has about 175,000 miles on the clock. I am just handy enough to do all required maintenance and repairs myself.

My employer has offered me the opportunity to relocate to Ottawa for the next three years. My wife works as a CPA and all of her clients are here in Tampa or greater Florida. The plan for now is for her to spend the tax seasons in Tampa with the boys while I enjoy the Ottawa winters solo.

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By on January 3, 2014

I’ve never quite understood why snowstorms in winter are news, but I noticed Diane Sawyer talking about it on the evening news today so I guess if you live in the eastern half of North America, you’re probably experiencing some winter weather. Living in Michigan, where we discuss the finer points of materials science when it comes to snow shovels (my personal preference is laminated hardwood but those are no longer imported into America from Austria), dealing with snow is just part of life here. Now there are plenty of people around here who stay indoors when the snow emergency announcements start getting broadcast, lots of people hate driving in winter conditions, and I’ve had more than a couple of white knuckle experiences due to poor traction caused by snow or ice, but to be honest, I flat out love driving in snow. Do you? (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2011


I moved to Denver over the summer and am now experiencing the joys of proper snow driving for the first time in the 29 years since the State of California saw fit to give me my first driver’s license. With just a ’92 Civic and a ’66 Dodge A100 in my personal motor pool, I figure it’s time for me to start shopping for something with four driven wheels. In fact, I need something that can do four-wheel burnouts on dry asphalt! (Read More…)

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