I had multiple orgasms today. No, really.
But I guess I should explain. I get really bad hay fever in autumn and it is beginning to hit me. For the most part, hay fever allergies are icky all the way around: congestion, runny/itchy/sore nose, coughing. But then there's the sneezing. I absolutely love sneezing. If you think about it, it is very much like an orgasm. There is the tingling sensation that builds. The entire body spasms uncontrollably. I've heard that your eyes close instinctively when you sneeze because the air pressure in your sinuses are so great that it is conceivable for eyes to pop out of sockets. They also say you heart stops when you sneeze. Then there is the release, that ap-a-tooie! that makes you kick out a leg and jerk your head. Frequently, not unlike an orgasm, there is a mucous discharge. It's also not uncommon to hear people swear and utter things in the name of God after a particularly bone rattling sneeze. Today I had five successive sneezes, one right after the other. You girls are so lucky.
I also had one of those sneeze teasers. Those are the best. That tingling, tickling feeling in your nose and head. The eyes water slightly and you squint, head bobbing... then nothing. Not a second later the swell inside your sinuses will seem to crawl up the back of your throat and into your nose like a feather... and still nothing. Finally, when it seems you can bear no more the sneeze finally decides to come (seriously intended pun) and the release is overwhelming. You feel light headed and see stars.
Yes, they are very much like orgasms. I pity the dainty people who try to extinguish their sneezes. You know the ones who squeeze their face up and purse their lips, trying to make as little noise as possible. It sounds something like "mmpht" or "eeemph". Let it go, prude. Sure, it is polite to cover one's mouth and nose, but cup your hand, let that air, and spit, and snot just blast out. When tissues are not handy there are always pant legs, or just sling your hand off to the side a little bit. Celebrate that you are a mouthbreather everytime you sneeze!
Which brings me to the eargasm. Another one of life's simple pleasures. After you've got your ear all clean and wax free, take a nice, fresh Q-tip and insert it slightly into the ear canal. Don't jam it in there, be gentle. Lightly hold the Q-tip between your index finger and thumb and spin it, back and forth. You don't want to do it so that the edge of the swab is touching any part of your skin, you want to keep it as centered as possible in the ear canal and let the tufts of cotton flog your skin. Each rotation back and forth will bring tiny sensations of joy. Usually, the inside of my head starts to tickle and I can't take any more. Sometimes it is so much fun that I become de-sensitized from overdoing it. Unfortunately, unlike sneezing, there is no defined climax to the experience, but eargasms are tons of fun.
Today I drove way out into eastern Ohio into the mountains. The town of Lansing sits right on the border with West Virginia's panhandle. I had a delivery there then had to truck on up to Dover, which is back west and to the north, near Canton. U.S. Highway 250 is the most direct route, which I have travelled parts of in eastern Ohio, but usually west of I-77. I once had driven parts of it down around Cadiz, but that is about as far east as I had ever driven on it. The stretch between Lansing and Cadiz was totally new for me and it was so much fun. I mean we're talking gear jammin', jake brake poppin' fun where the curves are so tight you can reach out your window and polish the brake lights on your trailer. I'm not always in the mood for this, in terms of ease, the open highway is much more preferable most of the time, especially in mountainous areas. But today I was just in the mood for it. It was late morning, and the mountains were misty. It was cool, too, only about 70 degrees. I rolled down the window and turned down the stereo, listening to the engine wind-up as I shifted through the gears and the jakes pop on the decline. The sun started to poke its way out of the clouds and burned the mist off by the time I made it out of the valley. The rolling hills were green with grasses, corn, pine trees, and maple. Aside from the multiple orgasms, it was the highlight of my day.
And what are these jake brakes of which you speak? It occured to me after writing the above that I used "lingo". I love lingo. It's safe to say it fascinates me. It's fun when you speak certain lingo and meet someone you can speak the lingo with and carry on complete conversations that would make no sense to an outsider. That's the fun thing about lingo. And it occurs everywhere, in industry, in subculture, and certainly on Livejournal. Actually computer enthusiasts have so many subsets of culture that the lingo is dizzying. But about the jake brakes. "Jake Brake" is actually a brand name of engine brake. Kinda like Q-tip, Band-Aid, or Escalator: it has become synonymous with the product. I don't know enough of the history to be an authority on it, but more than likely, the Jake Brake was the first engine brake designed. It is still in use today, however, some of the engine manufacturer's make their own as well.
So what is it? Well, it works like this. There is a switch inside the truck which activates the engine brakes. It can be turned off and on at will, or simply left on if a driver chooses. To explain how jake brakes work, I guess I shouldn't presume the basic knowledge of a combustion engine. There are three essential elements to combustion, fire, fuel, and air. The fuel is shot into the piston chamber when the piston is fully raised, the spark from a spaak plug ignites the fuel and is made possible by the presence of the air, which pushes the piston down. This process, going on in a timed manner with half of the pistons up and half of the pistons down make it a cycle which doesn't stop unless one of those three things are impeded, either by turning off the ignition or otherwise. Of course it is more complicated than this with timing, cam shafts, and distributors, but for the purpose of explaining what jake brakes are, this should be sufficient.
When driving a vehicle, when you release the accelerator, the compression occuring inside the engine not receiving fuel and fire as quickly will cause deceleration because the pistons are not moving as fast as they were. You really notice this if you are driving a car with a standard transmission and you "gear down" and pop the clutch while moving at a speed too fast for the gear you just put it in. Jakes work on this premise but take it a step further. If the jakes are on, when you are accelerating or maintaining your speed, nothing is happening - all of the pistons are firing and the combustion process of the engine produces the horsepower to move the drive axle. When you release the accelerator, however, some of the pistons are "taken out". No fuel is delivered nor fire - only air. The air compresses in these piston chambers causing the entire engine to drag, which causes much more rapid deceleration. You've probably heard this from a big truck on the highway, especially in city traffic when decelerating they'll make very loud popping noises that goes "whapwhapwhapwhapwhap". That is the sound of jake brakes. The jakes are causing increased compression and that sound is the air being physically forced through the exhaust system and out the stack pipes.
And this got me to thinking about something else (can you tell I'm really bored and have no internet acces so I'm making a gargantuan journal entry to post later?). A friend of mine commented to me that she just learned very recently that exit numbers on the interstates correspond to the mile markers. For instance, if you have just passed the 93 mile marker, and there is an exit before the 94th milemarker, that exit is Exit 93. If there are multiple exits in that mile, they will be marked alphabetically, for instance, Exit 93A, 93B, 93C, and so on. I always thought this was common knowledge because I had learned it long ago, before trucking. But it got me to thinking that there may be lots of things about the interstate systems that most people don't know. Some of this I already knew, some of it I've learned along the way on my little adventure. At any rate, I thought I'd share. So what follows is everything I have and have not figured out about the American interstate system.
The above example of the Exit numbering is only virtually true. There are some cases in which it is not, primarily on interstates that are part of toll road systems or ones that used to be. I-5 in California used to be numbered sequentially but recently switched over, Many tollroads and freeways in the northeast still are. The first exit on the highway is 1, the second one is 2... regardless of the mile marker. By and large these are anomalies these days rather than the general rule. Several things I'm going to mention are general rules, so please don't send me comments telling the exceptions. Trust me, I know they exist, like New York's fucked up mile markers and exits on the Thruway. So here are the facts:
1. Mile markers run west to east and south to north and start anew when crossing state lines. The first mile marker on I-70 near Terre Haute, Indiana is zero. The last mile marker on I-70 near Richmond, Indiana is 156. The same would be true for entereing Kentucky from Tennesse and traveling north along I-75 into Ohio. So, when traveling west or south, you know how many miles you have to the state border by simply looking at a mile marker sign. Conversely, when travelling east or north, you know how many miles you have travelled since the last state line just by looking at a mile marker. I have been told from a source that wasn't exactly reliable that when Interstates run together, the north-south interstate's milemarkers take precedence until they split again, but to be honest I've never payed close enough attention to see if this is always the case.
2. All south-north interstates are odd numbers and all west-east interstates are even numbered, currently between 4 and 99. To my knowledge there are no exceptions to this. Three digit interstates are a sepcial case which is discussed later.
3. All transnational interstates end in either a 5 for south-north or a zero for west-east. Transnational meaning they virtually or completely cover the entire country in their respective directions.
South-North: I-5 (West Coast, Mexican border to Candian border), I-15 (Los Angeles-Butte Montana) I-25 (El Paso-Gillete, Wyoming), I-35 (Mexican border-Duluth, Minnesota), I-45 (Galveston, TX then meets I-35 in Houston and ends), I-55 (New Orleans-Chicago), I-65 (Mobile, Alabama-Chicago), I-75 (Miami-Canadian border), I-85 (Montgomery, Alabama-Richmond, Virignia connecting I-65 to I-95), and I-95 (Miami-Canadian border).
West-East: I-10 (Los Angeles-Jacksonville, Florida), I-20 (Split from I-10 in Texas and runs to Florence, South Carolina), I-30 (basically connects I-20 with I-40 between Forth Worth, Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas), I-40 (Barstow, California-Wilmington, North Carolina), there is no I-50 or I-60, I-70 (Cove Fort, Utah-Baltimore, Maryland), I-80 (San Francisco-NYC), and I-90 (Seattle-Boston).
Bonus points if you noticed that, like milemarkers, the transnational Interstate numbers increase from west-east and south-north. Super-duper double bonus points for noticing that the south-north transnationals 5-45 are west of the Mississippi River and 55-95 are east of the Mississippi River (unless you wanna get picky about the last 200 miles of I-35). Likewise, the noticeable absence of I-50/I-60 is roughly where the Mason-Dixon line would be.
4. All non-transnational Interstates connect or cross one or more transnational Interstates. The only exception I know of is I-89 in Vermont/New Hampshire. Vermont, incidentally is one of only two states in the continental U.S. to not have a transnational Interstate within its borders. The other is North Dakota. Hawaii and Alaska obviously have no Interstates (duh).
5. Three digit Interstate numbers come in two flavors: loops and spurs The last two digits refer to the primary interstate from which they branch. Loops maybe be true loops like I-465 in Indianapolis or I-270 in Columbus. They may also be half loops which reconnect to the primary Interstate like I-470 in Wheeling, WV or to another principle Interstate, like I-670 in Columbus does between I-70 and I-71. The mile marking of loops is one instance where state lines generally make no difference. I-275 in Cincinnati goes through three states as it circles the city but doesn't "reset" as it crosses each state line.
Spurs branch off of the primary interstate and then terminate, like I-394 in Battle Creek, it shoots off of I-94 into the city and ends. I-196, also in Michigan, is actually a spur which connects two interstates (I-94 and I-96) but due to the distance involved doesn't classify as a loop. Sometimes, loops have spurs, like I-394 off of I-494 in Minneapolis. More bonus points if you noticed that loops begin with even numbers and spurs begin with odd numbers.
6. There are three Interstates with the same numbers but are different highways. There are two instances of I-76, I-84, and I-86. In all three cases, they occur in the northeast in or near New York. Their "twins" all occur out west in Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon.
7. I-95 splits into East and West sections south of New York City, with both halves carrying bi-directional traffic then coming back together just before the George Washington Bridge. I-35 does this not once, but twice. Once for the twin citties of Forth Worth and Dallas then again for the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In both cases, they split just south of the cities then come back together north of them.
8. There is only one instance of transnational Interstates running together with the same orientation (south-north or west-east). I-90 is forced south by Lake Erie and Lake Michigan so it joins with I-80 just east of Gary, Indiana outside Chicago then splits again just west of Cleveland. Transnational Interstates with different orientations do this quite freqently, usually for very short lengths and in metropolitan areas, for instance I-65 and I-70 in downtown Indianapolis.
9. There are only three Interstates with single digits: Interstates 4 (Florida), 5 (West Coast), and 8 (California and Arizona). Spurs and loops of single digit interstates add a zero, for example, I-505.
10. So what's the longest? The shortest? The busiest? Tough to say. There are probably some hard facts somewhere. I-90 is probably the longest, stretching from Seattle to Boston through two different mountain ranges and it gets pushed south by the Great Lakes then has to go back north again. As for shortest, not counting spurs, probably I-97 between Annapolis and Baltimore, it's only 20 miles long. As for busiest, I'd guess I-95 just due to the fact that a quarter of the American population lives between Boston and Washington, D.C. but I'm sure there are people on the West Coast who have spent hours on the 5 who would argue with me.