ISS Is Back Over Chicago in July

The good news is, ISS is visible again after using a different orbit for a couple of weeks. The bad news is, the last of the Space Shuttles has landed, so we’ll never get to see them together again. The other bad news is that all passes are in the morning. Feel free to get up early for them; I’m probably gonna stay in bed for this round.


Traffic Rant Part 2

Are you an I-pass user? If so, do you know what the octagonal red signs mean? Come one, you’ve seen them. Unless you drove past them too fast.

We I-Pass users seem to believe our little plastic box allows us to pick and choose which traffic laws we obey and disobey. But where I come from, a stop sign means stop. Let’s take a look.

Here are two signs approaching a Toll gate. The first sign, shown here on the left, would indicate fairly clearly that the right lane MUST STOP. Not “hey, if you get a chance, make an effort to come to a complete stop. If, of course, you aren’t in any kind of hurry.” The second sign, located next to the cash basket, not only says STOP, but even adds ALL VEHICLES. If you’re jogging with your I-Pass, read no further; you are exempt. If, however, you are in a vehicle, then the ALL VEHICLES part applies to you.

Go watch these interchanges some day. I’d bet that easily 90% of motorists with I-Passes using this lane proceed without stopping. It would seem that those of us making an effort to slow down somewhere in the vicinity of the posted 15mph speed limit are causing far too much of a delay for those of you whose time is far more valuable than ours.

Will anyone ever adhere to these signs? If not, take them down. But as long as they remain,  enforce them! With 59.6 million vehicles sharing one metropolis worth of roadway, it would be nice if we all played by the same rules.

The Chicago Left

Nope, not an organized crime outfit.

Not a political fund-raising group, either.

The Chicago Left. You may not have heard the name, but you’ve seen them happen. The traffic signal turns red, and 3 cars complete their left turn through the intersection. Whilst you sit there patiently (admittedly, in varying degrees) and wait to make your own left turn. Because you’ve had the green for at least 4 seconds. Adding to your frustration is the cab driver behind you, who honked his horn an eighth of a second after you got the green arrow because your car hasn’t started moving yet. 8.7 million red light cameras in this town, all worried about people coming to a complete stop on right turns, and nothing being done about the Chicago Left.

I vowed when I moved out here in 2002 that I would never become one of these left-winging fanatics (see what I kinda did there?). And, for the most part, I’ve stayed true to my promise. But sometimes, when you’re in a hurry. or just don’t feel like waiting, and you know there will be no legal repercussions, it’s hard to let the light change in front of you. Let’s see law enforcement make any minor strides in stopping this, and I bet people get the message pretty quickly, and stop mucking up our intersections.

On a related note, the next time the cab drivers demand a rate increase, and as gas prices continue to soar, who can blame them (tips people, tips!) I propose that only those drivers willing to have their car horns removed are eligible for the increased fare. Seriously. They don’t know how to use them.

Will We Ever See ISS and the Shuttle Together Again?

The Space Shuttle Atlantis launches from the Kennedy Space Center on Friday the 8th. This is the final voyage for NASA’s space shuttle program. As of this evening, there are no visible ISS passes over the Chicago area in the next 10 days. It’s a 12-day mission. I didn’t get a chance to see Endeavor while it was in the sky near the space station. If you’ve seen sighting information, let us all know. And good luck to the Final Four astronauts!