In for the Winter

Every winter that comes I have the same issue; when will it be that I get the garage situated so that the car doesn’t get snowed on?  This year the answer was December 1.  Like in many other years, with climate change occurring, the leaves seem to be coming off certain trees later and later in the season, so the ability to get them raked and off to the curb to be collected becomes both a challenge and a waiting game.  Wait too long, and we’re stuck with them for the winter and then finding a place to put them come the following spring.

Last year, the neighbor’s oak tree as well as one of the trees in the front yard waited until nearly December to both change and drop their leaves and with the prevailing winds, the leaves ended up piled not only next to the easterly side of my house, they also were piled in my driveway, impeding snow removal.  This year, pretty much the same thing happened, so I was forced to wait and hope that there was going to be time for one more lawn mowing to mulch up the majority and get the lawns around the house better prepared for the winter slumber.  Long story short, it didn’t happen.

Consequently, I had both the lawnmower and the roto-tiller parked in the garage at odd angles blocking my parking of the car.  Too, there are items in the garage that haven’t been moved since the day we moved into the house nearly 20 years ago.  In years past, since it’s only a 1-car garage, I’ve piled items in the corners, as well as on top of old furniture and whatever other debris just happened to be in the building, for the sake of getting the car in for the winter.  With the new Murano, it’s just a teensy bit longer than the Ford Edge was.  So getting it into the garage proved to be a little more of a chore.  Add in the fact it has multiple cameras, sensors, and sonar so it warns you (incessantly) if you get too close to one thing or another.

This past summer I was a little more interested in getting things situated, but of course, something occurred to keep me from getting it accomplished.  Knee pain!  Turned out to be arthritis, advanced according to the multiple doctors I saw, and I was on the shelf for a while and that impeded my progress.  Consequently, come late November, I had to contend with shoveling off the car of snow at least once before I got it back into its little house.

Where it is now and will stay for the next several months.  Then comes Spring.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  My plan for 2020 is to hoe out the garage completely and only put back what needs to be there.  Wish me luck, right?

Testing out the new equipment

This would be the third dash-cam that I’ve purchased since they became a ‘thing’ several years ago.  The two others I had, died almost immediately after being installed in our various vehicles, they were (for the most part) basic pieces of junk with extremely basic capabilities, but were priced as if they had more ‘oomph’ than they actually did when used in the manner to which they had been advertised.

My wife asked me a couple of months ago if I was interested in getting a dash-cam.  After regaling her with the stories about my previous attempts, she was unswayed so she went ahead and purchased one that was touted to have ‘4K’ video capability, and could use a 128GB micro SD card for storage, allowing about 10 hours of video time either in 3, 5, or 10 minute increments.

Naturally once it had arrived and I went to put it to use, I discovered it really didn’t have the touted 4K capability, it’s a simulated 4K on playback, the guts of the camera can’t produce that quality.  So basically it’s false advertising, but sending it back would mean incurring a shipping fee (they’re going to get you coming or going) so it was better just to make it work and wait a year or so until a new one comes out that actually does have that capability, though I don’t honestly think we need one.

We’ve just gotten back from vacation, and I was testing it out on the road, so to speak.  The first storage card I had for some reason didn’t work, even after I formatted it several times both on my computer and through the unit itself.  For whatever reason once it was used by the unit it was unreadable, so I endeavored to get a new card before we left to go visit family in the Hudson Valley of New York, where I grew up.  Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get one until we’d been in Poughkeepsie for a day, so I missed out on some decent opportunities to record video of places that were familiar to me, and yes I’m still kicking myself about that.  Too, when I finally did get the card and inserted it into the camera, I completely forgot about formatting the card, and even if I had, I never plugged the unit in so it wouldn’t have recorded anyway.  Took me a few tries before I actually got it to work, and was able to confirm that it was recording by removing the storage card and attaching it through a reader to my smartphone, which was easily able to transcribe the video and play it. vlcsnap-2019-11-18 This is a shot of us going over the Mid-Hudson Bridge (the locals call it that, and always have.  In 1994 it was renamed the ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge‘ in honor of FDR, but like the Tappan Zee downstate being renamed after former Governor Mario Cuomo, it’s still referred to by its old name by anyone local) yesterday morning.  It’s a pretty crisp and clear snapshot from the video, and I doubt anyone could tell the difference between a HD image and a 4K from this vantage point.  I certainly can’t.

I expect it’s going to take a little more trial and error before I’m completely comfortable with having it in the car.  I expect also I’m not going to be recording video daily, although I believe the intent of dashcams is having it on all the time in case something does happen, as one isn’t likely to turn it on just before something unfortunate occurs.  Better safe than sorry, right?  And in the event of an accident, even if it ended up being my fault (anything is possible) it’s better to have evidence just in case something could be seen another way.  So for the time being, it’ll stay in the car.  At least to justify the 10 minutes it took me to install the long power cord along the visor and around the interior in order to hook it into the car’s power system.

Things that go bump in the night

Last night we had a really bad storm in the area.  Bad enough that even in a brick house I could hear the wind blowing outside.  Coupled with a torrential rain (we live on high ground so flooding isn’t really an issue) that had lasted most of the day there were parts of town that were inundated with the wet stuff but not too terrible.

This past winter we’d had a fairly significant heavy snowfall that had weakened several trees near the property.  One in particular while belonging to the village also encroaches upon our front yard slightly, meaning one of the larger branches hangs over the property line.  The tree’s base has a rather old but unsightly gash in it, and it’s probably on it’s way towards dying in the next 10 years or so.

Last night around 10:45 I heard what sounded like a significant crash from the front of the house.  One of the cameras in the front of the house showed some accelerated activity in the form of leaves blowing around the steps, but nothing that suggested there was anything major amiss.  Looking out the front door, my wife informed me that there was something in the darkness that didn’t look quite right, that her view toward the street seemed to be blocked.  Turning on the porch lights I could see why.

windstorm1Granted this is the next morning, but going right off from our porch (off to camera right) I could tell that a significant portion of the tree I had been concerned about since this past winter was now residing in the front yard.  I put on my shoes and a jacket, went outside (it had stopped raining at this point but was still pretty windy, probably 20-25 mph gusts) with a flashlight and my phone.  Couldn’t really take any pictures at that point as there wouldn’t be any depth of field.  With my flashlight I could tell the positioning of the tree and the piece that had broken off.  It wasn’t impeding traffic so it seemed pointless to call anyone to take care of it.

About an hour later, the whole thing became moot anyway as the power went off.  Not just for us, but apparently for pretty much our whole town and quite a few towns around us.  The local electrical co-op posted on Facebook that NYSEG had for some reason shut off the electrical connection between them, so they were without power to distribute.  Until that was turned back on, their hands were effectively tied.  Certainly it had something to do with the windstorm, as the NYSEG website’s outage page was lit up like a Christmas tree with outages all over the state.  So it wasn’t just my area, it was all over the place.  One can surmise what probably happened.  One grid goes down, and like dominoes, as each grid is overloaded by others failing, someone needs to pull the plug before they all go down.  So, in my opinion, that’s what someone decided to do.

Regardless, the power was off for a little under five hours.  Came back on around 4:30 and in the morning, I took a few pictures before calling the village street department and informing them about the tree.  About an hour later a crew arrived and disposed of the debris.  I chatted with the foreman about the final disposition of what was left of the tree, and he agreed it will probably have to all come down, it’s pretty rickety the way it is.  Even so, it’s still standing as I’m typing this out.  We’ll see if they bother to remove it.