15 Parking Hacks to Make Driving a Breeze

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There’s no greater feeling than hitting the open road for a drive, at least until you have to park. Try these helpful tips to save yourself a little time and a lot of frustration. 

1. PARK FACING EAST IN THE WINTER. 

Frost can be a huge problem on winter mornings. One small thing you can do to cut back on the amount of scraping you have to do before you head to work: Park facing east when you’re leaving your car outside. With this positioning, when the sun rises in the morning, its rays will be directly hitting your windshield. The extra heat will do at least some of the de-icing work for you. 

2. HARNESS THE POWER OF KITTY LITTER... 

The sun can help with ice, but it won’t defog your windshield. Fill a tube sock with (unused) kitty litter and place it on your dashboard right by the windshield. The kitty litter will absorb some of the excess moisture that would otherwise spend its morning fogging up your windshield. That litter will also come in handy if you find yourself stuck in the snow—sprinkle some under your tires for traction. 

3. … AND A RAZOR BLADE. 

Still having trouble seeing clearly or need to take care of residue or other messes that have landed on your windshield while you were parked? Carefully use a razor blade to scrape away tough or tacked-on messes. 

4. BREAK OUT THE HAND SANITIZER. 

In the winter, car locks and doors can freeze over, making it difficult to get back in your car.  A little hand sanitizer will get things moving again. Rub some alcohol-based sanitizer on the lock as well as your key, then insert it. 

5. PUT A TENNIS BALL IN YOUR GARAGE. 

If you’re lucky enough to have garage parking, hang a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling to work as a parking guide. To start, park your car exactly where you want it in the garage. Next, get a ladder and position the stringed tennis ball so it falls right in the center of your windshield. Now you know exactly how far you can pull forward without hitting anything. 

6. DO SOME RESEARCH. 

If you’re planning to use a parking garage in a city, it pays to do some shopping around. Before you leave, look up all the nearby parking garages and find the one with the best deal. Print out the advertised pricing structure and bring it with you. When bargaining for the right price with parking lot attendants, they won’t be able to argue if you have it in writing. 

7. PICK A QUIET STREET. 

Big city parking garages come with even bigger price tags. If you want to trim your expenses, street parking is usually a more affordable alternative. Not surprisingly, you’ll want to focus your attention on quiet side streets. Your phone can come in handy here: If you’re driving around an unfamiliar place, there are a number of apps you can download to help you locate vacant spots and figure out whether or not they’re legal. Have your passengers use an app to direct you to the open real estate. Once you’re settled, don’t forget to read all nearby signs to avoid getting towed or ticketed.

8. DON’T BE AFRAID OF SLOPED SPOTS. 

Parking on an incline can be tricky, but it pays to remember your old driver’s education class. If you’re parallel parking next to a curb on a road sloping upwards, turn your steering wheel away from the curb so that if anything goes wrong, your car will roll backwards towards the curb, and not into traffic. Parking downhill? Make sure your steering wheel is turned toward the curb. Finally, if you’re parking on a hill in either direction, but there’s no curb to be found, turn your wheel to the right to ensure your car rolls off the road should your parking brake fail.

9. GET HELP FROM THE DOORMAN. 

For the right price, doormen can help you avoid tickets and street cleaners. Friends living in the city usually have a doorman who will be willing to move your car for a small tip.

10. KEEP A COLLECTION OF QUARTERS ON HAND. 

Old pill bottles and certain candy containers are the perfect shape to hold a roll of quarters. Keep the whole thing in your glove compartment so you never have to search under seats just to park. 

11. REMEMBER PARALLEL PARKING IS ALL ABOUT THE BUMPERS.

Still suffering from residual nervousness over the parallel parking on your driver’s license exam? You have nothing to fear. To parallel park, start by lining up about two feet from the car in front of the space you’re after. While stopped, cut your wheels all the way right. Back up until you can see the back car’s license plate in your side mirror. Once those are lined up, straighten your wheel and back up until the front of your car is past the back of the first car. Next, stop your car, cut your wheel, and finish parking.

12. REVERSE PARK FOR AN EASY EXIT.

If you know you’re going to be leaving a big event like a concert or sporting event at the same time as a lot of other drivers, you can take some steps to make your exit a little more straightforward. For starters, back into your spot. To begin, pull up two and half spots in front of the empty spot. After checking for pedestrians, begin slowly backing up and turning your wheel towards the spot. Keep turning until the lines of the parking spot are parallel in your side mirrors. Once they’re lined up, straighten your wheel and back in. 

13. GET INTO A SPACE ON THE FIRST TRY. 

If you’re parking in a standard parking lot, the process is pretty straightforward. But sometimes, you come into the space at the wrong angle, and need to back up and try again. Avoid wasting your time on a redo by turning extra wide into the spot. This means turning the opposite direction first before cutting the other direction between cars on either side of the space.  

14. USE AN APP TO HELP FIND YOUR CAR...

If you find yourself often forgetting where exactly you parked, there’s no shame in calling in some outside help. There are a number of apps that help you locate your car once you park it. Most employ GPS to help you hone in on the exact location of your car in no time.

15. … OR YOU CAN JUST SNAP A PICTURE. 

If you really, really have trouble finding where you parked your car, try taking pictures. Take a wide shot of your parked car and another of the street signs at the closest intersection. It’s almost impossible to lose your car when you have the cross streets right on your phone.

7 Weird Super Bowl Halftime Acts

Al Bello, Getty Images
Al Bello, Getty Images

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez seem like natural choices to perform the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, but the event didn’t always feature musical acts from major pop stars. Michael Jackson kicked off the trend at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, but prior to that, halftime shows weren’t a platform for the hottest celebrities of the time. They centered around themes instead, and may have featured appearances from Peanuts characters, Jazzercisers, or a magician dressed like Elvis. In honor of Super Bowl LIV on February 2, we’ve rounded up some of the weirdest acts in halftime show history.

1. Return of the Mickey Mouse Club

The era of Super Bowl halftimes before wardrobe malfunctions, illuminati conspiracy theories, and Left Shark was a more innocent time. For 1977’s event, the Walt Disney Company produced a show that doubled as a squeaky-clean promotion of its brand. Themed “Peace, Joy, and Love,” the Super Bowl XI halftime show opened with a 250-piece band rendition of “It’s a Small World (After All).” Disney also used the platform to showcase its recently revamped Mickey Mouse Club.

2. 88 Grand Pianos and 300 Jazzercisers

The theme of the halftime show at Super Bowl XXII in 1988 was “Something Grand.” Naturally, it featured 88 tuxedoed pianists playing 88 grand pianos. Rounding out the program were 400 swing band performers, 300 Jazzercisers, 44 Rockettes, two marching bands, and Chubby Checker telling everyone to “Twist Again."

3. Elvis Impersonator Performs the World’s Largest Card Trick

Many of the music industry's most successful pop stars—like Prince, Madonna, and, uh, Milli Vanilli—were at the height of their fame in 1989, but none of them appeared at Super Bowl XXIII. Instead, the NFL hired an Elvis Presley-impersonating magician to perform. The show, titled “BeBop Bamboozled,” was a tribute to the 1950s, and it featured Elvis Presto performing “the world’s largest card trick.” It also may have included the world's largest eye exam: The show boasted 3D effects, and viewers were urged to pick up special glasses before the game. If the visuals didn't pop like they were supposed to, people were told to see an eye doctor.

4. The Peanuts Salute New Orleans

Super Bowl XXIV featured one of the last halftime acts that was completely devoid of any musical megastars. The biggest celebrity at the 1990 halftime show was Snoopy. Part of the show’s theme was the “40th Anniversary of 'Peanuts,'” and to celebrate the milestone, performers dressed as Peanuts characters and danced on stage. The other half of the theme was “Salute to New Orleans”—not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the comic strip.

5. A Tribute to the Winter Olympics

Super Bowl XXVI preceded the 1992 Winter Olympics—a fact that was made very clear by the event’s halftime. The show was titled “Winter Magic” and it paid tribute to the winter games with ice skaters, snowmobiles, and a cameo from the 1980 U.S. hockey team. Other acts, like a group of parachute-pants-wearing children performing the “Frosty the Snowman Rap,” were more generally winter-themed than specific to the Olympics. About 22 million viewers changed the channel during halftime to watch In Living Color’s Super Bowl special, which may have convinced the NFL to hire Michael Jackson the following year.

6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

“Peace, Joy, and Love” wasn’t the only Disney-helmed Super Bowl halftime. In 1995, Disney produced a halftime show called “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” to tease the new Disneyland ride of the same name. It centered around a skit in which actors playing Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood stole the Vince Lombardi Trophy from an exotic temple, and it included choreographed stunts, fiery special effects, and a snake. Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett were also there.

7. The Blues Brothers, Minus John Belushi

The 1990s marked an odd period for halftime shows as they moved from schlocky themed variety shows to major music events. Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 perfectly encapsulates this transition period. James Brown and ZZ Top performed, but the headliners were the Blues Brothers. John Belushi had been dead for more than a decade by that point, so Jim Belushi took his place beside Dan Aykroyd. John Goodman was also there to promote the upcoming movie Blues Brother 2000. The flashy advertisement didn’t have the impact they had hoped for and the film was a massive flop when it premiered.

11 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of TV Meteorologists

nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images
nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images

The first weather forecast to hit national network television was given in 1949 by legendary weatherman Clint Youle. To illustrate weather systems, Youle covered a paper map of the U.S. in plexiglass and drew on it with a marker. A lot has changed in the world of meteorology since then, but every day, millions of families invite their local weatherman or weatherwoman into their living room to hear the forecast. Here are a few things you might not know about being a TV meteorologist.

1. SOME PEOPLE JUST NEVER MASTER THE GREEN SCREEN.

 A meteorologist working in front of a green screen.
eldinhoid/iStock via Getty Images

On-camera meteorologists might look as if they’re standing in front of a moving weather map, but in reality, there’s nothing except a blank green wall behind them. Thanks to the wonders of special effects, a digital map can be superimposed onto the green screen for viewers at home. TV monitors situated just off-camera show the meteorologist what viewers at home are seeing, which is how he or she knows where to stand and point. It’s harder than it looks, and for some rookie meteorologists, the learning curve can be steep.

“Some people never learn it,” says Gary England, legendary weatherman and former chief meteorologist for Oklahoma’s KWTV (England was also the first person to use Doppler radar to warn viewers about incoming systems). “For some it comes easily, but I’ve seen people never get used to it.”

Stephanie Abrams, meteorologist and co-host of The Weather Channel’s AMHQ, credits her green screen skills to long hours spent playing Nintendo and tennis as a kid. “You’ve gotta have good hand-eye coordination,” she says.

2. THEY HAVE A STRICT DRESS CODE.

Green is out of the question for on-air meteorologists, unless they want to blend into the map, but the list of prohibited wardrobe items doesn’t stop there. “Distracting prints are a no-no,” Jennifer Myers, a Dallas-based meteorologist for Oncorwrites on Reddit. “Cleavage angers viewers over 40 something fierce, so we stay away from that. There's no length rule on skirts/dresses but if you wouldn't wear it to a family event, you probably shouldn't wear it on TV. Nothing reflective. Nothing that makes sound.”

Myers says she has enough dresses to go five weeks without having to wear a dress twice. But all the limitations can make it difficult to find work attire that’s fashionable, looks good on-screen, and affordable. This is especially true for women, which is why when they find a garment that works, word spreads quickly. For example, this dress, which sold for $23 on Amazon, was shared in a private Facebook group for female meteorologists and quickly sold out in every color but green.

3. BUT IT’S CASUAL BELOW THE KNEE.

Since their feet rarely appear on camera, some meteorologists take to wearing casual, comfortable footwear, especially on long days. For example, England told the New York Times that during storm season, he was often on his feet for 12 straight hours. So, “he wears Mizuno running shoes, which look ridiculous with his suit and tie but provide a bit of extra cushioning,” Sam Anderson writes.

And occasionally female meteorologists will strap their mic pack to their calves or thighs rather than the more unpleasant option of stuffing it into their waistband or strapping it onto their bra.

4. THERE ARE TRICKS TO STAYING WARM IN A SNOWSTORM.

“In the field when I’m covering snow storms, I go to any pharmacy and get those back patches people wear, those heat wraps, and stick them all over my body,” explains Abrams. “Then I put on a wet suit. When you’re out for as long as we are, that helps you stay dry. I have to be really hot when I go out for winter storms.”

5. THERE’S NO SCRIPT.

Your local TV weather forecaster is ad-libbing from start to finish. “Our scripts are the graphics we create,” says Jacob Wycoff, a meteorologist with Western Mass News. “Generally speaking we’re using the graphics to talk through our stories, but everything we say is ad-libbed. Sometimes you can fumble the words you want to say, and sometimes you may miss a beat, but I think what that allows you to do is have a little off-the-cuff moment, which I think the viewers enjoy.”

6. MOM’S THE AUDIENCE.

A retro image of a weatherwoman.
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Part of a meteorologist’s job is to break down very complicated scientific terminology and phenomena into something the general public can not only stomach, but crave. “The trick is … to approach the weather as if you're telling a story: Who are the main actors? Where is the conflict? What happens next?” explains Bob Henson, a Weather Underground meteorologist. “Along the way, you have the opportunity to do a bit of teaching. Weathercasters are often the only scientists that a member of the public will encounter on a regular basis on TV.”

Wycoff’s method for keeping it simple is to pretend like he’s having a conversation with his mom. “I’d pretend like I was giving her the forecast,” he says. “If my mom could understand it, I felt confident the general audience could as well. Part of that is also not using completely science-y terms that go over your audience’s head.”

7. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS MADE THEIR JOBS MORE DIFFICULT.

Professional meteorologists spend a lot of time debunking bogus forecasts spreading like wildfire across Twitter. “We have a lot of social media meteorologists that don’t have necessarily the background or training to create great forecasts,” Wycoff says. “We have to educate our viewers that they should know the source they’re getting information from.”

“People think it’s as easy as reading a chart,” says Scott Sistek, a meteorologist and weather blogger for KOMO TV in Seattle. “A lot of armchair meteorologists at home can look at a chart and go ok, half an inch of rain. But we take the public front when it’s wrong.”

8. THEY MAKE LIFE-OR-DEATH DECISIONS.

People plan their lives around the weather forecast, and when a storm rolls in, locals look to their meteorologist for guidance on what to do. If he or she gets the path of a tornado wrong, or downplays its severity, people’s lives are in danger. “If you miss a severe weather forecast and someone’s out on the ball field and gets stuck, someone could get injured,” says Wycoff. “It is a great responsibility that we have.”

Conversely, England says when things get dangerous, some people are reluctant to listen to a forecaster’s advice because they don’t like being told what to do. He relies on a little bit of psychological maneuvering to get people to take cover. “You suggest, you don’t tell,” he says. “You issue instructions but in a way where they feel like they’re making up their own minds.”

9. DON’T BANK ON THOSE SEVEN-DAY FORECASTS.

A weatherman reporting during a storm.
pxhidalgo/iStock via Getty Images

“I would say that within three days, meteorologists are about 90 percent accurate,” Wycoff says. “Then at five days we’re at about 60 percent to 75 percent and then after seven days it becomes a bit more wishy-washy.”

10. THEY’RE FRENEMIES.

The competition for viewers is fierce, and local meteorologists are all rivals in the same race. “When you’re in TV, all meteorologists at other competitors are the enemy,” England says. “You’re not good friends with them. They try to steal the shoes off your children and food off your plate. If they get higher ratings, they get more money.”

11. THEY’RE TIRED OF HEARING THE SAME JOKE OVER AND OVER.

“There’s always the running joke: ‘I wish I could be paid a million dollars to be wrong 80 percent of the time,’” Sistek says. “I wanted to have a contest for who can come up with the best weatherman insult, because we need something new! Let’s get creative here.”

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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