Use This Online Google Tool to Avoid Thanksgiving Traffic Jams

iStock/Marcin Kilarski
iStock/Marcin Kilarski

If you don't spend most of Thanksgiving Day cooking, you'll likely spend it driving. More than 54 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles away from their homes some time this week, according to AAA. This year, Google has teamed up with Polygraph to develop some tools to make the journey a little easier for the majority of holiday travelers getting to their destinations by car, Fast Company reports.

Using speed and location data from anonymous Android users, Google Maps and Google News Lab have determined the best times to hit the road on the way to and from Thanksgiving dinner. To anticipate traffic jams in your region, look at the Avoiding Traffic section and select one of the 25 cities from the drop-down menu. If you're from Los Angeles, you'll hit the most congestion on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. on your way out of town, and on Friday at 4:00 p.m when you're driving home. Motorists from Pittsburgh should wait to leave until 5:00 a.m. the morning of Thanksgiving and 4:00 a.m. the morning after to skirt traffic. The tool also includes visualizations of how traffic levels in your city fluctuate throughout Thanksgiving and the surrounding days.

Google's "Mapping Thanksgiving" project features other tools that you can use to plan your holiday. One visualization shows when crowds at popular spots will peak (avoid the bakery at noon on Wednesday and the movie theater Black Friday night). You can also see what people are searching for in your state during Thanksgiving to get some inspiration for what to do after dinner (brewery, electronics store, and coffee shop are some common searches).

Still feeling stressed about driving during one of the busiest travel days of the year? Check out our tips for a stress-free trip.

[h/t Fast Company]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Florence’s Plague-Era Wine Windows Are Back in Business

A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.
A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.

Many bars and restaurants have started selling takeout cocktails and other alcoholic beverages to stay in business—and keep customers safe—during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 17th-century Florentines are surely applauding from their front-row seats in the afterlife.

As Insider reports, a number of buildings in Florence had been constructed with small “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, through which vendors sold wine directly to less affluent customers. When the city suffered an outbreak of plague in the 1630s, business owners recognized the value of these windows as a way to serve people without spreading germs. They even exchanged money on a metal tray that was sanitized with vinegar.

Wine not?sailko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Things eventually went back to normal, and the windows slowly fell out of fashion altogether as commerce laws evolved. This year, however, they’ve made a comeback. According to Food & Wine, there are currently at least four in operation around Florence. Osteria delle Brache in Piazza Peruzzi is using its window to deliver wine and cocktails, for example, and the Vivoli ice cream shop, a go-to dessert spot since 1929, is handing out sweet scoops and coffee through its formerly dormant aperture.

Apart from the recent resurgence of interest, the wine windows often go unnoticed by tourists drawn to the grandeur of attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Florence Cathedral. So in 2015, locals Matteo Faglia, Diletta Corsini, and Mary Christine Forrest established the Wine Window Association to generate some buzz. In addition to researching the history of the windows, they also keep a running list of all the ones they know of. Florence has roughly 150, and there are another 100 or so in other parts of Tuscany.

They’re hoping to affix a plaque near each window to promote their stories and discourage people from defacing them. And if you want to support their work, you can even become a member of the organization for €25 (about $29).

[h/t Insider]