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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

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Bit of a rocky road north

Jean’s Mom, who’d never been quite the same after a stroke in February, passed away in late August. The family decided to have a small memorial service. The date selected was Saturday, November 5.


We left around 10:15 AM, intending to stop over in Sudbury on the way to Timmins. The drive started uneventfully enough; we were diverted by the audiobook of State of Terror, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny.

But after an hour and a half or so, Jean noted that the car seemed to be losing power periodically, during which it was quite reluctant to accelerate. Maybe just gas quality? he suggested. As we Googled to find the nearest gas station, I suggested options. We still had time before we really had to be anywhere. Maybe we could get the car looked at. Maybe we could rent a car for this trip.

Well, let’s just try gas first, Jean suggested.

And indeed, filling it up did make it run smoother.

For another couple hours, anyway. But then it started doing the losing power thing again. Hills were a problem.

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Winter weather, winter tires

I’ve been a convert to winter tires for some time now, but a recent episode of Marketplace comparing the performance of all season and winter tires still really struck me. How much farther the all-season car skidded before stopping, at a mere 60 k/hour. The repeated but failed attempts by the expert driver to swerve and avoid hitting a “pedestrian”, compared with the absolute ease of doing so with the winter tires.

The show also had a few facts I didn’t know. Like all season tires start to lose effectiveness at 5C. (I thought it was a little colder.) That even on bare but cold pavement, they make a big difference. That the 10% of Quebec drives who didn’t use snow tires were responsible for 38% of the accidents.

That, with this week’s weather, is making me a little stunned that only 20-30% of Ontario drivers use winter tires. The logical part of my brain understands why: It’s an initial outlay of about $650, and the fact that your all season tires will last twice as long may not be enough to make up for that. You need some place to store an extra set of tires. And it’s just a bother to have to go and get tires changed each season. (Let alone the fact that all season tires are called “all season tires”, which certainly makes you think they ought to work all year around.)

But then I keep getting distracted by thoughts like, well, what is your life worth? And the lives of other drivers? Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do. Why are you increasing the risk by driving around on hard slippery rubber?