Two more inches of Global Warming here at Kenzie World Headquarters this morning.
And driving into (and in) The Big Smoke, I spotted three candidates for Idiot Driver of the Day - all essentially doing the same thing.
The first one was a man, maybe early-40s, in a dark green older Taurus - the fish-faced one - eastbound on the 401 near Trafalgar Road, about a quarter after noon.
The Global Warming was still on his car - all OVER his car. The windshield had been cleared, and it looked like the driver's side front window had been rolled down maybe four inches, which caused about that much of the snow to slide down, leaving the upper part of the window clear. He could at least see people coming at him from that side of the car, although it would be like driving from inside a mail box.
ALL other side windows and, most critically, the entire rear window, were still completely covered in snow.
And here he was, driving on one of the world's busiest highways, at 100-plus klicks.
I mean, at some point does he not try to look out his rear-view mirror and notice that he CAN'T SEE ANYTHING BEHIND HIM???
And this doesn't BOTHER HIM???
I can almost - almost - get it that he's too lazy to brush the snow off his car before he drives away. But can't he even reach over and push the rear defrost button?
A bit further along, driving past the airport, was Moe-reen, a blonde woman, maybe late-40s - early 50s (I'm a terrible judge of age). Her transgression was marginally less egregious, because only about four-fifths of the rear window of her black Honda Civic Coupe (current generation) was obscured by the white stuff.
And in the north-central part of the City itself, southbound on Yonge, a dark blue Neon with a rear deck lid spoiler, driver unidentifiable as to age or gender, and not a hint of his rear window having seen a snow brush today.
There are laws about maintaining driver visibility, and for sure the cops should run idiots like this, should they happen to come upon them.
But surely we don't need legislation or law enforcement on issues of plain common sense.
Except as I have often noted, the one thing about common sense is that it isn't all that common.
Flying to San Francsico and on to Monterey today to drive the Ford Mustang Boss 302 on Laguna Seca Race track tomorrow.
But our plane sat on the ground in Toronto for over an hour. Turns out we were waiting for a group of kids, a hockey team from San Jose who must have been at a midget tournament or something.
Then, we had to be de-iced.
So we touched down in San Francisco about 1:10, at least 40 minutes late, which was too tight to catch the 1:40 flight to Monterey.
Close, but no Kewpie doll.
The next flight at 3:00 was full, so we were re-booked on a 7:00 p.m. departure.
Five and a half hours in an airport? Come on; we're car guys. Where's the rental car desk? Monterey is only a couple hours' drive from San Francisco.
Well, you practically need a rental car to get to the rental car desk in San Francisco - it's at the very end of the inter-terminal railway line, which you only get to after a marathon trek through the airport.
Budget had no cars we could just leave in Monterey. The guy there suggested we try Alamo.
Turns out Alamo also handles National. Maybe they're one and the same; I seldom rent a car so how would I know?
There were four of us, so we asked for a full-size car.
"How about an Impala?" said the ever-so-cheerful clerk.
"Um, well, we're going to a Ford event - do you have any Fords?"
"How about a Fusion?"
Hardly our idea of a full-size car...
"Actually, you take this paper, go down to the lot and choose any full-size car you like!"
When we got to the garage, 'Edwin' the attendant told us, "Take anything in Row N6!"
"Can't we have that lovely Mercury Grand Marquis?" I asked. "I can pretend I'm a cop or a cab driver. It's built in Canada and everything."
"It's really an 'executive' car," said Edwin, "But - well, go ahead. Tell them at the check-out exit that Edwin said it was OK."
Edwin, my man.
So there we were, in a Mercury Grand Marquis heading down Highway 101. Me driving. Left Lane. 55 miles per hour. Left turn signal on for forty-seven miles.
I even had my flip-up sunglasses on.
Geez, it hurts to know you're in the demographic for this car.
OK, I'm kidding about most of the above.
But I DID drive a Grand Marquis to the Monterey Plaza Hotel. Here's the picture to prove it:
Problem with being the designated driver - some of my passengers got this on Facebook and Twitter before I will.
And I always thought Jean Jennings (a.k.a. Lindamood) of Automobile magazine had it right when she said Mercury should have offered a 'de Sade' package on this car. Black leather upholstery, of course. Steering wheel made of welded chains. Seat belts - well, you get the idea...
Man, everyone seems to be taking this Family Day thing seriously.
On the shuttle to the airport as I type - well, one-finger - this, and my drive to the airport which often takes over an hour on a weekday morning took about 20 minutes.
Family Day? I guess it was a long stretch between New Year's and Easter without a Stat holiday.
Or maybe we just got jealous of all those presidents' birthdays our American friends get to celebrate.
The few drivers who were on the road this morning seemed more disciplined lane-wise than usual - I can't even speculate as to why, but I'll take it.
It must have been slippery westbound though - one minivan had spun so far off into the weeds that I wonder if a tow truck will have a long enough cable to reach. I also wonder how the guy developed enough momentum to get in that deep.
And another guy basically wiped the nose off his Sunfire against a guardrail.
Apparently there is weather coming today, especially north and west of The Big Smoke, so take it easy.
Want to be the person about whom some budding Michael Moore makes a movie?
Not about the guy who 'invented' intermittent windshield wipers (he didn't, BTW, but that's a story for another day).
But about the guy (or girl) who invents a way to keep automotive rear-view cameras from becoming totally useless in winter.
Surely there's a bundle to be made there.
These cameras are increasingly common, and especially welcome, in the increasingly popular 'two-box' cars, like minivans, SUVs and Crossovers, whose back windows typically have high lower sills, making rearward visibility when reversing a serious issue. It could be your kid's bike; it could be your kid.
All Lamborghinis, with those sexy but crazy scissor doors and zero rearward visibility, should have one too.
But again, two-box cars always have an aerodynamic profile which causes the back end of the car to get very dirty, very quickly.
Take the thus-equipped Dodge Journey I was driving recently. (Capsule road test: a lot of car for the money, but go straight from the dealership to Canadian Tire to buy new wiper blades...).
Right out of a car wash, this (left) is what the view from this camera, tucked up beside the rear licence plate frame, looked like. Well, would have looked like, if it had been spring.
But the road was wet (not the ideal time to wash a car, but the Journey was REALLY dirty, and I couldn't bear to drive it like that any more) and within a few km, the road spray had rendered that rear-view camera completely useless.
These lenses are too small to be cleaned with a gas station squeegee. And even trying to use a towel or Kleenex proved futile.
I know; I tried.
Some cars used to have tiny wiper blades for headlights, but you'd need microscopic wipers to fit these things.
Would a high-pressure spray piped in from the rear window wiper/washer do the trick, as it does for some cars' headlights?
But I think what's needed is to keep the dirt off the lens in the first place.
Maybe a mechanism like an old camera shutter that only pops open when Reverse is selected?
A tiny window blind?
A 'clam-shell'-like device like the vacuum-operated sliding doors you always see in Sci-Fi flicks?
I dunno; geez - do I have to do all the heavy lifting around here?
You inventors, get busy.
And when you get that done, how about some sort of cleaning system for the side windows? They already roll past what appears to be a squeegee-like weatherstripping seal; how come it doesn't wipe the side glass clean when you roll the window down and back up?
Figure out a way to make that work.
Next, maybe take on dirty side-view mirrors? Those tiny headlight wipers might work here.
This 'coming up with good ideas we never act on' thing runs in the family. About 80 years ago, my Mother wondered, "Wouldn't it be a good idea to put a light inside the ice box?"
Yes, Mom. It would have been an even better idea if you had PATENTED IT.
I know it'd be unrealistic of me to expect royalties from any of these ideas.
But an Executive Producer credit on the movie would be a nice gesture...
Hey - wouldn't you just know it? I was searching the Internet for photos of the Journey's rear camera - forgot to take my own before the car went back.
I searched in vain, as it turned out.
But I did find a photo of the BMW 650i Convertible's rear-view camera.
And guess what?
BMW has solved the problem!
And it appears I was on the right track.
The camera is hidden behind the 'roundel' badge on the trunk lid; when you select reverse, sure enough - the badge tilts up and reveals the camera.
Clever, those Germans.
So all you inventors have to do now is figure out a way to make this available on a car that doesn't cost seven million dollars...