October 2008 Archives

PSA: 625 ILCS 5/12-610.5

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(625 ILCS 5/12‑610.5)
Sec. 12‑610.5. Registration plate covers.
(a) In this Section, "registration plate cover" means any tinted,
    colored, painted, marked, clear, or illuminated object that is
    designed to:
    (1) cover any of the characters of a motor vehicle's
        registration plate; or
    (2) distort a recorded image of any of the characters of a
        motor vehicle's registration plate recorded by an automated
        red light enforcement system as defined in Section 1‑105.5
        of this Code or recorded by an automated traffic control system
        as defined in Section 15 of the Automated Traffic Control
        Systems in Highway Construction or Maintenance Zones Act.
    (b) It shall be unlawful to operate any motor vehicle that is
        equipped with registration plate covers.
    (c) A person may not sell or offer for sale a registration plate cover.
    (d) A person may not advertise for the purpose of promoting the sale
        of registration plate covers.
(e) A violation of this Section or a similar provision of a local
    ordinance shall be an offense against laws and ordinances
    regulating the movement of traffic.
(Source: P.A. 94‑304, eff. 1‑1‑06.)

Why do I bring this up today? Well, gentle readers, I am the proud owner of a $105 ticket because of that law ($75 if I want it to appear on my record as a moving violation).

Apparently they can pull you over for this and only this. My 8 year old clear license plate cover is a little dirty and he called it "tinted." Granted, the law was changed in 2006 to include clear covers--glad that was publicized--and ignorance of the law does not mean I am innocent, but still. Was the cop having a bad day to pull me over for this? Was he ticked off because I was doing the speed limit on the highway--I made sure that when traffic cleared I set the cruise at 55 so that I wouldn't go above it, especially when I saw him tailgating me in traffic--and couldn't get around me? Is it the end of the month and he was running behind on his quota? Oh wait... They "don't have quotas."

Whatever the reason, the guy was a pretty big jerk throughout the whole encounter, and started rattling off a whole bunch of things wrong. He "let me off" with a warning for not having my registration sticker applied (the state got their money, I just didn't put the sticker on--he could see all that in his SCMODS, and on my registration that I handed him). He was "nice enough" to not give me a ticket because I had an insurance card with an expired date on it (mental note: find the current one). He commented that my front plate was missing, but didn't say anything else about that.

I think the biggest thing that ticks me off is the 30 minute waste of time this morning, and the half a day I'm going to have to waste in court or the half a day I'm going to have to waste in traffic school. I should have asked him for a screwdriver to take the stupid piece of plastic off. Meanwhile, people were flying past us at the normal 70mph. Didn't he have anyone better to pull over?

Political preference

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I try to stay away from politics here--those kinds of conversations are best held in person--but I think this is important, so please bear with me. I promise that this post will not impose my beliefs on you, but it may change who you vote for in a couple of weeks.

I strongly urge all of you that read this to go visit Glassbooth and take the quiz. It's pretty easy--first you rate the topics that are most important to you, and then you are presented with a quiz on all topics, with more questions about the topics that are important to you, rating them on a scale of 1-5. When you're finished, it will compare your answers to those of the 5 "major" candidates (Barr, McCain, McKinney, Nader, and Obama).

The answer may surprise you. I strongly urge you to vote for who your beliefs most line up with, and not who the media crams down your throat, even if it's not one of the major two parties. If you live in Illinois, your vote is going to Obama, so if it's different, why not mark a vote in protest of our system?

If enough people start voting against the two major parties, we may see more of a push to switch the way our country votes. With modern technology (note, I'm not necessarily advocating e-voting--especially not as it stands today), we have the ability to easily support ranked choice voting, which helps make those alternate party votes count. There are many cities in the US that are already using this process for local elections (mayor, city council, etc.). The state of North Carolina is using it for it's general assembly. If enough places do this successfully, there could be a significant push to do it for national elections, perhaps Congress at first.

All of this to say, regardless of who's name is on your presidential ballot, please make sure you do vote--it keeps this country running. If you don't vote, don't complain about the outcome.

Dots on a screen

Yesterday I got to visit a bunch of employees that have a job that is as stressful (more so?) as a stock trader, as repetitive as a construction worker, and as straining on the eyes as an office worker that has to stare at a computer screen all day. I guess the bright spot is that they are unionized government employees, right?

artcc.map.jpgIf you haven't guessed it by now, I visited a bunch of air traffic controllers during my tour of the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). A map of the division of ARTCCs across the country is at the right--click to enlarge; they are code ZAU. You can see that they control airspace from central Iowa to the Indiana/Ohio border and from Green Bay, WI down to Champaign, IL. They aren't the biggest sector--Minneapolis takes that cake--but they are one of (if not the) busiest in the country, given that O'Hare airport (ORD) sits right in the middle.

The best part about going yesterday was that although the ceilings (cloud cover) and visibility weren't terrible--good enough to support transitioning to visual approaches (they need 1000ft ceilings and 3 mile visibility)--the wind direction coupled with the wet, rainy conditions forced them to only have 2 runways available for landings and 2 for takeoffs. With the runways being wet, they cannot use intersecting runways under a "land and hold short" program (LAHSO), but the wind direction favored using intersecting runways. This dropped their inbound arrival capacity from a normal of 94/hour to 72/hour (and it fell to 64/hour as the weather dropped while we were there).

artcc.sector.jpgI wish I would have been able to take pictures--it was nothing like I expected, yet everything like I expected. The "floor" is broken up into 9 main areas, each having 6-10 controllers stationed, each controlling a sector of the airspace. Each arrival into ORD comes in from the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, or Southwest, and each has their own area. Departures out of ORD go North, South, East or West. Traffic from other airports just fits in where it can. The 9th area controls the high altitude traffic that does not terminate within the airspace--transcon flights, military, etc.. Each controller has a 3-4' square main display that shows their sector, and all the traffic in it. The traffic all has a data block showing flight number (or tail number for GA), altitude, ground speed, etc. They also have an aux touchscreen display where they can pull up airport and airspace fix information, weather information, etc.

Other random things that I learned while I was there:

  • They keep track of any operational error, regardless of how minor, and display it on a big screen. For example, if, at a particular altitude, their separation requirements are 5 nautical miles horizontally and 1000 feet vertically, and two aircraft get 4.99 NM apart, that's an operational error

  • They have a meteorologist on staff that is familiar with the weather patterns in the area

  • They have 4-6 controllers (depending on weather and load) that are dedicated to talking to other centers, and approach to help control flow--these guys don't talk directly to aircraft

  • They have a piece of software that is supposed to correlate inbound aircraft with the number of available slots, based on inbound flow controls. It is also supposed to give the controller a delay time (i.e. slow this aircraft down or curve him around for spacing). It doesn't work when the weather goes to heck, and they often shut it off (as it was last night). They have a few nicknames for it such as pig's lipstick and Cedric (as in Cedric Benson--overhyped, cost a lot of money, doesn't perform).

  • Most of the controllers are not pilots, and many don't like pilots--especially Mooney drivers as they tend to be the ones that fly because they can, not because they want to, and therefore don't pay attention. Mental note: don't fly a Mooney

  • The computer equipment seems to be a hodge podge of whatever was on sale that week at Fry's. Granted, it's standardized, but each station is a self contained rack of equipment with both Sun and Dell hardware.

  • The entire area is all on a raised floor, I'm guessing to make rearranging, etc. easier, if necessary. I would also guess that all that equipment generates a ton of heat.

  • There is a secure cube off to the side. Apparently there's some coded gear in there, etc. The most interesting thing about it is that the raised floor immediately around it is made of Plexiglas. Apparently they don't want people crawling under the floor into there.

I'm really glad that I went, and I would urge any pilots (even if you're not a pilot) to find an opportunity and go. It's a great experience to understand the other side of the radio.

Circular Reference


This morning, Beth and I were talking and she used a word that I had never heard before: sonorous. I decided to look up the meaning of it, so I grabbed Old Trusty (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition) and here's what I found:

so·no·rous [pronunciation here] 1: production sound (as when struck) 2: full or loud in sound 3: imposing or impressive in effect or style 4: having a high or an indicated degree of sonority

Hmmm... Let's look up sonority:

so·nor·i·ty [pronunciation here] 1: the quality or state of bein sonorous: resonance 2: a sonorous tone or speech

[emphasis mine]

I was always taught never to define a word using a word whose definition is the original word. I would have expected better from Webster.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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