It’s all in the angles.

Late in the comments yesterday, someone asked me to share my parallel-parking secret. I’m happy to. In the interest of clarity, I will dispense with the stuff about safety and signals and all that. You’re a grownup, you know how to drive. This is just about the raw technique, OK?

1) Pull up even with the car ahead. About two feet away, more or less.

2) Look over your right shoulder and back up straight until the parked car’s rear bumper is even with the roof support behind your back seat. (This was easier in the ’70s when all cars were boxes, but the proportions are still there. When the bumper is just ahead of your rear tires, if that’s clearer.) Stop and crank the wheel all the way to the right.

3) Switch your focus to your driver’s side outside rear-view mirror and start backing again. As soon as you see the curbside headlight of the car behind, turn your wheel to the left two full turns.

At this point the technique starts to vary depending on your vehicle’s size, but after the two-turn move, keep turning left while continuing to back up, and with any luck at all, you should find yourself parallel to the curb well within the one-foot range. Eight out of 10 times it works for me the first time. When it doesn’t it’s usually because I’ve rushed it. Rushing it is one of my big failings as a human being. Now you know.

The biggest mistake most people make is starting the turn into the space too soon. (If you have one of those cars with nothing behind the back seat, you might want to play around with this formula a bit, although it’s worked fine on hatchbacks I’ve owned.) Or they try to go in head-first — big mistake. Take your time, leave yourself room, and don’t be intimidated if you have to slow traffic for 12 seconds or so. It’ll wait.

Reverse all the motions if you’re parking on the left side of a one-way street, or in the U.K. or Japan.

By the way, I got 100 on the parking portion of my driving test, way back in the year 16.

Not a terrible day yesterday. Had lunch out, in a restaurant, with a waitress, rather than the usual standing-up-at-the-sink model of the work-at-home freelancer, so that was a plus. The snow was pretty and more or less entirely cleared by the time I set out, another big win, as the kids say. I found a parking spot on Woodward directly in front of the place, which I backed into with great smoothness and elan. And then I came home to discover my health insurance is holding me responsible for a portion of the cost of the flu shots I received a few weeks back, to the tune of $.01.

I know how these things happen. Computers can’t judge. All they see is, if you owe, you get a bill. And I owe a penny.

I’m ignoring it, by the way. I plan to wreck my credit score over this. Or else I’ll spend 42 cents to mail them a penny, so they can then reply that they don’t accept cash payments. When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

So, a little bloggage? Sure, why not:

Jim at Sweet Juniper once observed that one of the cool things about Detroit is, frequently there’s nobody around to tell you you can’t do something. A couple of my filmmaking friends went out during the snowstorm and discovered how true that is:

My role as a parent requires me to disapprove of this behavior, although I am relieved to see Sean put on a helmet and wrist guards (guffaw) before snow-surfing behind a car with another car following closely behind, and then running a stop sign. Doesn’t the Detroit ghet-toe have a marvelously creepy feeling at 1 a.m.? And no, I don’t know what that strange cutaway at the 30-second mark is.

While we’re posting video, here’s one Hank found, from the fittingly named website, I Love Local Commercials. Although I think that lady buck is actually a donkey:

Yes, I saw the newly released 9/11 photos. I don’t know what there is to say about them other than, that sure was a bad day.

It’s been a great week for weather clichés. Here’s one Alan hates: “the white stuff.” Which leads me to wonder: During the Dust Bowl years, did meteorologists call for “the brown stuff?”

OK, I’m flailing. Have a good day, all.

Posted at 9:11 am in Current events, Detroit life |

41 responses to “It’s all in the angles.”

  1. jcburns said on February 11, 2010 at 9:31 am

    The ‘related videos’ for that Detroit snowsurfing video include: ‘Long may you run Neil Young cover,’ ‘Google I/O conference 2009’, ‘Part 1 Street Hypnosis’, ‘EEP100 Lecture at UC Berkeley’ and ‘Bruce Springsteen Tim Russert tribute.’ Hand me my secret decoder ring.

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  2. Dorothy said on February 11, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Headline at the Dispatch yesterday really made me smile: BACK AND WHITE

    Which is in reference to the fact that we had a foot last Friday/Saturday and then on Tuesday we got about another 8″. The dogs are not crazy about this, due to the fact that they can’t find a flat place to do – well, you know.

    I was out of touch the last couple of days here at nn.c so I’m re-reading all of the comments from yesterday’s post. But before I read them, I have to share this, sent by my daughter.

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  3. alex said on February 11, 2010 at 9:50 am

    My vote for the absolute best “worst” locally produced commercial of all time:

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  4. Crabby said on February 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Send in a check for 2 cents.

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  5. Julie Robinson. said on February 11, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I think you should call them up, charge it over the phone, and ask them to mail you a receipt.

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  6. MarkH said on February 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

    “white stuff”. I totally agree. Jeff Borden used it w/o tounge in cheek yesterday. (I think).

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  7. adrianne said on February 11, 2010 at 11:34 am

    White stuff is banned from the copy of every local newspaper that I have any influence over. Snow is snow, people!

    That Bucks First ad totally made my day!

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  8. LAMary said on February 11, 2010 at 11:59 am

    The Bucks ad is wonderful, and yes that is a mule head on a deer suit body. Everything about the ad is perfect.

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  9. moe99 said on February 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Aloha from Hawaii. Snow? What a concept! Back, alas next week.

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  10. paddyo' said on February 11, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Just wondering about the 9/11 pix:
    “ABC said the NIST gave the network 2,779 pictures on nine CDs, saying some of the photographs had never been released before.”
    Why the hell not? Why did it take a Freedom of Information Act request to release photos take NINE years ago? And NIST, which investigated the Twin Towers collapse, had them all along.
    Yeah, yeah, a few were already published blah-blah. But these were cops on duty taking pix that day, too.
    I guess the answer is: Because they can (hold onto them)?

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  11. beb said on February 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    The Daily Show did a bit on the number of TV stations using “Snowogeddon” and “Snowpocolypse” (sp?) Either is just as bad as “the white stuff”

    My employer has decided to block all videos so, alas, all I see anymore are large holes in NN.C’s pages. Not that it mattered. Since they also locked down the computers years ago I’m stuck with a crappy, old browser that doesn’t have the latest Flash players either.

    Lately Comcast (Detroit) has been running some aweful locally produced commercials. They all sound like they were recorded in a bathroom. You’d think they’d at least ask some student from Specs Howard to record the commercial for class credit.

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  12. kayak woman said on February 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Love that snow surfing video! When I was a kid in the UP, it was great sport to grab onto the back bumper of a passing car and slide along behind it on the ice-covered streets. Helmet? We don’t need no stinkin’ helmet. I never tried it myself. I guess it was more of a “boy” thing to do.

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  13. Dorothy said on February 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    You’re in HAWAII moe?!?! Unfair, unfair!!!! (I’m going to Florida on the 20th. I don’t care if it stays in the 50’s; that will be a huge improvement over 20″ of snow on the ground and temps in the single digits.)

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  14. Julie Robinson. said on February 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Enjoy, Moe! You deserve a little fun.
    That snow surfing video reminded me of my Dad’s solution to kids who wanted to go sledding in the flatland area of my childhood. He hooked our sled to his brother’s tractor and we scooted around on the cornfields. Pretty thrilling stuff to little girls, although eventually my Mom put an end to it.

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  15. Rana said on February 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    “White stuff”? Yeesh. That makes me think of things like mashed potatoes and these frothy desserts my godmother used to make of cottage cheese, jello, and cool whip. There was a berry “pink stuff” and a lime “green stuff” variety – what would be “white stuff” then? Unflavored jello?

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  16. Dorothy said on February 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Rana my mom used to make a Jello dish that actually had shredded carrots and celery in it. GAG! My sister Chrissy dubbed it “dishpan Jello” because once the Jello reached room temperature and sort of melted, it resembled what you found in the bottom of the dish pan after doing the dishes.

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  17. nancy said on February 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Now that all involved are dead, I can reveal that one of Alan’s aunts once showed up with an orange Jell-O dish that had GRATED CHEDDAR CHEESE on top of it. My jaw actually dropped; she was very old at the time, and I thought she’d made some grievous mistake along the way, but no, it was orange Jell-O with grated cheddar, and it was on purpose.

    And the thing is, she always made a perfectly good seven-layer salad that I liked just fine.

    Kayak woman, we always called that grabbin’-the-bumper move “skitching,” and it’s a nice way to get run over accidentally.

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  18. coozledad said on February 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    My aunts made a variation of that dish called ‘sweetheart salad’, possibly because they made it in a heart-shaped copper cake mold. Carrots, celery, and the first layer of lime gelatin was mixed with either eagle brand milk or cottage cheese to give it a kind of bathroom stall look.
    The best jello based dish I’ve ever seen was at a hospital employee Halloween party. It was cherry gelatin served in a Barbie bathtub with Barbie. She had a double edge razor blade sunk in her wrist. I can’t recall if anyone ate any of it.

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  19. MichaelG said on February 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    First: Been out of town for a couple of days. So – glad to hear you are doing OK, Whitebeard. Also, enjoy the isles, Moe.

    When in the Army I vowed to never eat any of those Jello dishes again. Only vow I’ve ever kept. The stuff is beyond gross.

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  20. brian stouder said on February 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Well, luckily the IPFW parking lots near the Auer Auditorium are spacious enough that I won’t have to utilize my mad parallel parking skilz – and tonight the young folks and I are going to see Jamaica Kincaid.

    She is billed as a novelist and gardener, and I have no idea what to expect, but look forward to hearing her lecture nonetheless.

    And a non-sequitur; with the recent comments about FaceBook (et al) this article got me laughing today

    Now, there’s a new online annoyance — the person who doesn’t want to meet but is all too happy to e-mail, text, tweet, IM, or scrawl on your Facebook wall indefinitely. They don’t want a real relationship as much as its virtual doppelganger. Welcome to the world of the “elationship.”

    [I think “elationship” ain’t gonna last; it sounds positive rather than negative)

    But here’s the money shot:

    Why would someone spend all that time communicating with a person they never planned to meet? Giorgi says he thinks some singles just like to collect “cyber-harems.” “I have a friend who’s on a dating site and I can see that a lot of the people from the site have started following her on Facebook,” he says. “She has 12 to 15 guys all commenting on her posts and looking to get with her but she’s only interested in the attention. She’s told me plainly that she’s not interested in meeting anybody, she just wants to feel like people want her every now and then.”

    I love the term “cyber harem”, and that women have them, too!

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  21. Dexter said on February 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    The local commercial was funny as hell…especially the goofy masseuse’s face.
    I’ll be checking more stuff on that site. The car surfing looks like fun. I guess the stupid stuff we did was even worse. We would just sit on car hoods, fenders, roofs, and catch rides to the liquor store, about a mile and a half away. Once the cops stopped us , all ten or so of us were drunken young lads, and I was going to get written up for carrying a case of bottled beer while riding on top of a sedan. I talked my way put of it, when I leaned into our car and told the other night cop to come out and straighten up this situation. Yep, the off duty cop staggered out of the car and told the young cop to get the hell out of there and leave us alone. Still, I never rode on the outside of a car again…yet.

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  22. crinoidgirl said on February 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you again, c’dad. With all of the things you’ve seen, it’s a wonder you’re still alive.

    BTW, Brian, I believe you’re in violation of my non sequitur trademark.

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  23. crinoidgirl said on February 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Also, Whitebeard, I’m sorry I’m slow on on yesterday’s posts. I’m glad you made it out OK

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  24. Rana said on February 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    The weird thing is, I actually kind of like both the “pink stuff” and the “green stuff” (though the pink version’s better). The thought of it with any sort of vegetable component though… ewgh.

    This reminds me for some reason – probably the gross-gelatinous-food angle – of this one Christmas party I attended while in grad school. I was living in a rented apartment at the time, one in part of a funky older complex with a kidney shaped pool in the center of it. The complex was owned by a pair of elderly sisters who lived together, and many of the residents had been there for years (there was even a family that moved in when the wife was pregnant, and their son was just about to start college when I arrived). Anyway… as a result of this, there was a regular round of social activities in the complex, and it was usual to invite all the residents to them. So one of the residents was a whip-smart older lady of Scandanavian background, and she decided to put out a holiday spread one year. Great idea… terrifying food. Think fish mousse… with raw onions. Herring jelly. That sort of thing.

    To cap it all off, I was on some ferociously powerful antibiotics for an ear infection, and was already feeling a bit dizzy and nauseous as a result. I couldn’t bow out of the celebrations entirely, because she was so obviously delighted to be serving us her favorite dishes, but ugh. One of the other neighbors, an even older and quite blind lady, asked me to come sit with her and admire her musical tin soldiers (some sort of complicated electronic thing that enabled little bell-ringing toy men to play Christmas tunes). I remember sitting there in her dark apartment, listening to the little soldiers hitting their bells, and to her telling me sadly about how she missed her long dead husband, while trying desperately not to vomit from the medicine and herring.

    Come to think of it, the herring jelly was white…

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  25. kayak woman said on February 11, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Nancy: I can’t remember that we had a name for the (yes very) dangerous activity of “skitching” but it’s probably my faulty memory banks. Thanks!

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  26. Deborah said on February 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    I definitely liked the green stuff my mom used to make with lime jello, cottage cheese and other stuff, grapes I think. It’s been about 40 years since I’ve had her version of it. It was only served when we had company and my sister and I used to scarf it down which pleased my mom immensely since we were usually such picky eaters and way underweight.

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  27. Kirk said on February 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    People who type “white stuff” and think it’s clever or a cutesy synonym for snow should have their fingers cut off. I banned it from The Dispatch many years ago, and it still doesn’t show up as often as it might.

    When I see/hear the term, I recall the “joke” that a short-term fellow college student from the Missouri Bootheel used to tell: What’s that white stuff on top of chicken shit? More chicken shit.

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  28. Dexter said on February 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Kirk: And as Sarah Silverman asks, “Whatever happened to the white dog poop of the 70s?”.

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  29. nancy said on February 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Every holiday season on the copy desk, the chief made a list of holiday clichés and common phrases, and if you used one, it was struck off the list. That meant only one person could use “’tis the season,” “ho ho ho,” etc.

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  30. judybusy said on February 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks, Nancy for the parallel parking how-to! I’ll us it the first chance I get!

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  31. Deborah said on February 11, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Nancy that’s so funny when I worked at a different architectural firm years ago they jokingly had an underground cliche list that you had to strike off if you used on a project like barrel vault, repeating facade graphic, canted walls, etc.

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  32. Kirk said on February 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I also like the dimwits who insist, in any story about Canada, on putting “O Canada” in the headline.

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  33. Kirk said on February 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    That’s only because Sarah S. is so young. I remember being intrigued by white dog poop in the ’50s.

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  34. Denice B. said on February 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

    When my Mom died, I found her old Jell-o Recipe book. The vegetable jello was called ‘aspic’. As if that made it more classy than veggie jello. Ghastly! There is even a recipe in there for the molded Salmon Moose. Mousse? Mooooooooooouuuusssssseeeeeeee!

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  35. Dexter said on February 12, 2010 at 1:46 am

    I am wondering if all those who crocheted and played charades during the Super Bowl are likewise gonna stick their heads in the sand for the Olympiad…and I haven’t geared up either…NBC had fantastic coverage online with almost every event televised live if you downloaded that Silvertone program they offered for free. I was very busy watching last summer , but I only watch winter sports haphazardly.
    There is talk that Vonn’s shin injury is a work, a ploy to create interest for TV ratings. I can’t get excited at all.
    What caught my interest is the John Mayer Playboy interview. TMZ gve it to us:

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  36. alex said on February 12, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Brian, you’ll have to fill us in on Jamaica Kincaid. The local news stops just short of saying “IPFW Hosts the Anti-Christ.”

    “I think, on the whole, church groups should be banned from these places,” said Kincaid, a native of Antigua.

    Many Haitians follow Voodoo as their religion. Christian groups don’t like it and are only in the country to try to spread Christianity, she said.

    “Their main reason for going there is to eradicate this belief,” Kincaid said.

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  37. John said on February 12, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I’ve had the jello/carrot combination and cheesy jello too, but the nasty looking thing that was served growing up was Frog Eye Salad.

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  38. brian stouder said on February 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Alex – I enjoyed her talk very much; she struck me as a sort of Caribbean Julia Child; her accent is much the same, and her mannerisms were similar, but without Ms Child’s matronly demeanor (Ms Kincaid is somewhat hot).

    Going in without any idea what to expect, I found her talk interesting, funny, and informative – and altogether touching. Nominally, she was going to talk about British imperialism and the effects of colonialism, but instead it was more of an autobiographical talk about how she came to be who she is (a successful novelist and poet from Antigua, transplanted* into Vermont). As a father of daughters, I was especially taken by how she outlined going from being her mother’s little princess to being a gawky pre-teen (she didn’t use precisely those terms, but you understand), and then how her mother and her began clashing. (by then, a younger brother had been born, and she was supplanted)

    The Q & A drew several more interesting comments about her relationship with her mother; one lady asked about an argument between the author and her mom in one of the books, and Ms Kincaid made the point that the “dialogue” was really a lecture her mom was giving her, with her own (unspoken) responses in italics.

    She indicated that, at some point when she was 10 or 11, she began to view the colonial arrangements in Antigua as being exactly like her relationship with her mom; and indeed, as the evening unwound she had several positive things to say about mom and British imperial rule – so indeed, and at length, we learned that the ‘evils of colonialism’ overlay was a metaphor for her real subject – which was how she clashed with her mom and turned into an independent woman.(truly, one of the main things that drew me so strongly to Laura Lippman [once I discovered her, via good ol’ Nance] is precisely the way she writes about women and girls. So now I have to read some Jamaica Kincaid)

    It was a fine evening out – although the young folks actually bailed on me this time. They came with me to see James Galbraith(!!), and skipped out on this one; go figure

    *Whenever flowers came up – whether in the course of her comments, or doing Q&A, her demanor changed and she became visibly more charged up. She absolutely loves gardening, and can expound in great detail about all manner and sorts of flowers and plants and what grows in her beloved Vermont and what cannot, etc etc

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  39. Mark P. said on February 12, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I would send you a check for your one cent debt if only I had saved the check my home state (Georgia) sent to us as interest on its late payment of our income tax refund. It was for the exact amount.

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  40. Dorothy said on February 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I feel I must speak up in defense of fruity Jello dishes. My very favorite is Strawberry Pretzel Salad. If anyone wants the recipe I’ll be glad to share, but it’s available on line (try – my fave site). And in defense of Mom, she also regularly made a dish with Jello and cut up bananas and apples in the bottom layer, and in the top layer she mixed a different flavor of Jello with Cool Whip and made that two layer salad. It’s still yummy. But vegetables and Jello? Hell-no!

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  41. John said on February 12, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Jello and canned fruit cocktail was a dessert staple and Jello with colored mini-marshmallows was a fancy church pot-luck dish. But other combinations including cottage cheese just seemed wrong.

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