Can you wear headsets while driving?

Depends on where you live in the US or Canada.

I always assumed that it was flat out illegal.  Turns out that there are some US States that do not have a prohibition against it.  As I write this with music playing on my headphones, they’re at a volume that you could carry on a complex conversation with me, but I don’t think I’d want to try that while driving. 

On the other hand, I drive a Jeep Wrangler.   Wonderful car but once you get above 55 MPH with the roof off, and I do that every chance I can, hearing the radio or the person in the next seat is a chance thing.  These cars can be noisy, as in teeth rattlingly loud. 

There are many people who wear hearing aids, maybe because they drove a car with their radio habitually too loud.  Boom Cars come to mind.  You know the sort, some clown that removed the back seat of the car just to place Kicker Boxes with giant speakers in them larger than anyone would need in their home.  They crank the music up so loud that they vibrate the license plate on your car next to them at a stop light.  Too bad it won’t stop them from having children.

I could legally buy a pair of seats that have speakers in the head rests.  In fact, if I had a spare $250 it would be worth it because it sometimes is necessary to drive the speed limit on the highway here in Florida, and the Turnpike is 70MPH all the way through the South Florida Sprawl.  Those little speakers next to your ears would be as dangerous as a pair of non sealed headsets or ear buds. 

When I rode my motorcycle, as a rule, I had earplugs in my ear.  Talk about loud!  I guess it’s just lucky I never got caught.

At any rate, turn down the radio, leave the headphones to the passenger since it may shut them up so you can concentrate on your OWN driving, and turn off the cell phone.  It’s not an office, it’s not a beauty parlor, and it’s not a restaurant.  It is a vehicle.  Be safe out there, the life you save may be mine.

If you want to check the list from AAA you can follow this link

In the meantime I think I’ll turn down the music in here.  I can’t hear the birds singing outside.

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Boom, That wasn’t good…

It is a cool winter day in South Florida.  Since everything is relative the windows are open and we’re in shorts in the house. 

The morning semi quiet was disturbed by the normal sounds of a Friday.   The radio was on playing some quiet classical music from an internet radio station.  The drip feed irrigation was watering the pots.  The water for my coffee was just at boil and I was taking it off the burner. 

Getting ready to pour the water over the grounds, the lights suddenly cut off.

The house was in an instant quiet.  There was a “PING!” noise like you hear in a Hollywood post apocalyptic movie.  At the same time, there was a distant BOOM! as if something just got hit. 

I hear from the other side of the house “Uh Oh, That wasn’t good!”. 

Setting the teapot back on the cooling burner I came out into the main house and surveyed the damage.  The TV Computer was restarting.  It hadn’t been enough of a power pop to restart the stereo, but the internet radio had just rebooted itself with a cheery “Logitech” logo streaming across its face in florescent cyan.  Ceiling fan was spinning back up to speed and the washer was burbling in the laundry room for the Friday Laundry-Fest.

Sensing all was normal, I padded back into the kitchen.  Pouring the hot water over the coffee, and stirring it to make the morning half-caff, I notice there are now sirens screaming in the distance.  

Apparently someone had hit a pole on the raceway that is Wilton Drive.  With our creaky power infrastructure here, any time that happens, the side of the city grid that that pole is on goes dark for a second or two then back on.  Not enough to stop you from making breakfast or that coffee pot that I am enjoying now, but just enough to restart sensitive electronic equipment like computers and internet radios.

This side effect of having a raceway in the middle of the city is a minor one.   We have a four lane highway running through the heart of the business district.   It is placed to move people from Downtown Fort Lauderdale to Oakland Park.  It is a bypass of Sunrise Boulevard.  People use it and see it as a good alternative to sitting at the lights next to Holiday Park.

This being South Florida, the speed limit is merely a suggestion at 30 MPH.  People seem to change their tires at speeds higher than that.  They also strike down pedestrians and cause a fatality at speeds higher than that.

A good argument for narrowing the drive is to watch the people fly past all the businesses on their way to somewhere else in rush hour.  An even better argument for doing that is to watch them fly past at 9pm on a Thursday Night.

The power pops we have here are usually only an annoyance. I have lost a significant amount of electronics since moving here.  Not enough of a reason to expect a city to rebuild its central core.  But it is yet another reason.  The accidents, not my electronics.

Hopefully that person who was in a rush to get from one side of our little island to the other didn’t kill anyone or cause too much damage when they caused that accident.  At this time of day, someone’s work day will be messed up.  Luckily few people are out walking their dogs at 7AM.  At 7PM it is a very different story.

This sort of thing happens at least once a week.  It is fairly predictable.  It is completely preventable.  Leave 10 minutes earlier, reduce your speed to legal limits, and chill out South Florida.  My neighborhood will thank you.

Post Halloween Calm, Pre Election Annoyance

Getting up before the dawn at what I’ve heard someone call “Insane O’Clock” with the dog, I headed out of the house for the morning mile.

A hint to those who have a dog who is out of control or a nuisance barker – your dog is bored.  Take the dog for three long walks a day.  If you can’t see your toes, your waistline will appreciate that.  I have a Border Collie, the number one breed in boomerang dogs – dogs who end up at the shelter for a second or more time because people don’t know how to live with such an intelligent animal.   Almost every dog will benefit from more exercise.  Living in these days, almost every human being would benefit from having a dog that requires three walks of a mile a day each.   So go take your dog for a walk, leave this posting up and finish reading when you get back.

There, wasn’t that pleasant?

My first walk this day had me out of the house well before 6AM.  I had my headphones on and was listening to an audio book and taking note of what went on after the four day celebration of Halloween here in Wilton Manors. 

For the most part, the central business district was markedly cleaner than I would have expected.  The last four days were slammed with people walking up and down Wilton Drive at some time or another.  Saturday Night seemed to be the peak of it with cars littering front lawns, parked in other people’s driveways illegally, and people walking from their cars to the festivities on Wilton Drive. 

I have seen similar celebrations in other cities.  Places that were more conventional tended to have an almost Post-Apocalyptic look about them.  In other cities, I could find bits of the celebration for months after they happened in corners and alleys if I just looked.  Things may have been picked up but they weren’t cleaned up for the residents, and for the most part things were only set right after the nearest home owner or business owner went out and “Flea Dipped” their property. 

Wilton Manors doesn’t seem to have that problem.  I certainly attribute it to the demographics of the area.  There were no fights that I saw.  People didn’t go out of their way to be rude.  There was a festival atmosphere but there’s a spirit of camaraderie that didn’t have that edge I had seen in some places. 

It was carried through to the way the city looked this morning.  While we played host to some thousands of people, it was an orderly crowd.  Yes, they were there to party but there were no broken shrubs, no upset palm trees, and no street furniture uprooted and placed on top of cars. 

It was a success, although it could certainly have been better.  Next year, halloween will come.   Wilton Manors will have another influx of people.  Expect it.  Wilton Manors is the place to be for a party on most weekends, and Halloween is an amazing time here.   It has been that way for years, and it will continue as long as we have a City Government that will plan for the future Flash Mobs that will show.  With Wilton Manors Main Street assisting the bars to pick up the ball that was dropped by the original planners, we all made the best of a bad situation.  Wilton Drive could not be closed because the Drive is a State Road.  A State Road closure requires permitting that takes some significant amount of time and the deadlines were passed.  There are some significant fees that are required to be paid as well, and that would require some planning so that nobody is left holding the bag for that sort of expense as well as making sure the Police get paid, the liquor is paid for and people are compensated fairly for their efforts, time, and inconvenience.

Keeping the Drive open was a requirement due to all of the above and more.  It wasn’t the best situation but it was managed exceedingly well by a coalition of business owners and civic organizations.  

The only situation that I had heard that was unfortunate was that a woman passed out on Wilton Drive.  Perhaps it was too much partying, but she passed out.  The story I was told about the situation was that she went down in front of Current Mayor Gary Resnick and his partner Eric, and Candidate Joe Angelo for Mayor and his friends.   I was told that Resnick and his partner “ran away” and Joe Angelo and his friends made sure that this woman made it into a bar to sit and revive herself.

Thank you Joe Angelo, the City of Wilton Manors should be grateful that good people like you are here to help others in their time of need.

Walking through the drive and turning down the back streets, I noticed that they were generally clean and cared for.  The neighborhood changed from Commercial and High Density Residential to Low Density Residential fairly quickly.  It took the usual South Florida view of tidy yards and plantings within a block of The Drive. 

This being election season there were yard signs in front of people’s homes supporting one candidate or another, as I have written before.   I made it down to one particular lot that had been mowed last week and someone had obtained permission to place some election signs there.  It’s on a fairly major thoroughfare and people do cross through daily on their way to and from the Drive.

That plot of land eventually collected signs from almost every politician in the county and every one in the City who is running for office.  When the management company came through and mowed it, they picked up all the yard signs and piled them neatly together in one spot.  The next day, someone came through and sorted out three specific signs and placed them in the ground to see.  That morning they were thrown down.  Someone then picked them up again and by the next morning, they were down again.  This has been going on for around a week now.  I’m looking forward to seeing who keeps tossing the signs down because if I do, I’ll make it a point to let the candidates know so they can file a complaint with the police. 

They have left mine alone for the last two days. 

So as clean as the drive has been, the neighborhood is being trashed by overzealous supporters of one or more particular candidates who don’t think that their candidate has a good enough message to send by trashing a third party’s yard.  This is decidedly not in the tolerant spirit that drew me to this City in the first place.

Thankfully Wednesday November 3 is coming soon and we can all go back to living our lives without having to watch for trespassers.

Google Trends Review

There are tools that you can play with when you build a blog.  All this is designed to drive people to the page and hopefully see something that will bring them back and maybe even click on an ad.   You know, Beer Money…

One of them is Google Trends.  It looks a lot like Google but what it does is tell you how popular that search is by other people.   Basically what the neighbors are thinking.  Ever look at your dog and say “I wonder what she’s thinking”?  At least now you know how popular something is or what is going on in the world because you’re presented with the top ten search terms for the last hour or so.   For today 9/25/2009, when I clicked on this, the number 8 search was “Randy Quaid Arrest“.   I didn’t know he was arrested because that kind of news usually doesn’t get me to look at it.   I remember Randy Quaid from various movies and the first thought was Texas… they’ll shoot him.  But I was wrong and the Presidio County Sherriff’s Officers must have known him too.   Apparently, he was more calm than his wife was threatening and screaming like she was less than happy about it all.   Didn’t listen to the officers did you, Evi?   Tsk Tsk.   If it were you or I or any other “regular guy” I suspect you’d be going for a ride in the back of a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor after accidentally banging your head on the B Pillar… or worse.

At any rate, its amusing in a dry sort of way to look at the top 100 and find some quirk in our society that you hadn’t thought about.   Ok, I need to get out more…. but if you want to see the current top 100, click here.