Everybody has them, even if they don't talk about it… stuff other people do when they're driving that really tick you off. So here's my list!
1. People who drive below the speed limit. Now, there are circumstances where this is okay, if not necessary… like when there's snow on the streets, or ice. Or if someone in an orange vest is holding up a sign saying "slow." But the rest of the time? If the signs say "Speed Limit 35 MPH," then dammit, drive 35 MPH! When you get on the freeway, get up to that speed, if not faster! I've got no problem with people who drive 5 MPH over the speed limit… or even 10 over (on the freeway) – they're not inhibiting my ability to get where I'm going in the least amount of time. But those people who absolutely refuse to get up to the speed limit — especially those driving in the so-called "fast lane" — I wish they'd have their licenses revoked!
This particuarlly frustrates me when I'm taking my lunch break... I currently live close enough to work that I can drive to my place or my girlfriend's and take a lunch break there (usually at Jessi's, so I can take both our dogs out for a potty break). My time is limited, and when I'm on the interstate, a 60 MPH zone, and people are doing 45....
2. People who don't understand how four-way stops work. It's very simple: You defer to the right if you get there the same time as someone else. If you get there first, you go first. Isn't that easy? I can't tell you how many times I've been approaching a four-way stop and seeing the people ahead of me, every one of them afraid to go first, to the point where I wish there was just a signal light there instead! And that leads me up to…
3. People who don't go when the light turns green! When you're stopped by a traffic light, you shouldn't be fiddling around with your radio, or dialing your cell phone, or doing anything else that distracts you from paying attention to when the light turns green. Here's a tip for you people who always get surprised by the light turning green… glance to the left and right, and look at what the cross-traffic light is doing. If it's turning yellow, guess what? You'll get a green soon!
4. People who take forever to get up to speed. There's no law saying the minimum time or distance you should take to get up to the speed limit when the light turns green, but let me give you a tip: If you're taking more than 30 seconds, you're taking way too long. I'm not saying you have to floor it when the light turns green, but you don't have to oh-so-slowly press down on the gas pedal like you're afraid if you press too hard, your car will explode! Maybe this will help you understand the importance of this complaint: Many major streets have their signal lights timed for the best flow of traffic going the speed limit. If you're on one of these streets, and you accelerate up to the speed limit when the light turns green, you've got a good chance of not being stopped by red lights for a while. If you accelerate too slowly, you're going to get caught at more lights. What would you rather use the gas in your car for, moving, or idling at a red light?
5. People who are unable to accelerate to freeway speed on the on-ramps. Now, I'm not talking about times when traffic on the freeway has slowed to a crawl… I'm talking about the times when traffic is flowing smoothly, except where an on-ramp is feeding additional cars on the road… and some dumbass has barely managed to get up to 40-45 MPH and he or she is expecting that they'll be able to merge smoothly into traffic… because, you know, just because they didn't happen to get up to freeway speed, that means that the people in the lane they want to merge into are expected to slow down and let them in. People, people… on-ramps are plenty long for any vehicle that should be on the freeway to get up to speed. If the freeway speed is 60 MPH, that's the speed you should be at before you get to the point where you have to merge. And you're supposed to be looking at the flow of traffic and adjusting your speed accordingly to fit into a space that already exists.
6. People who don't know how to use their signal lights. If you're going to make a turn that requires signal lights, then dammit, use the signal lights! And don't wait until after you've hit the brakes, either! You had to have passed the driver's test, you should know how much ahead of time you need to hit them! You use the signal lights when you're going to turn into a parking lot, onto another street, or to change lanes… and you use them before you do so, so the person behind you is aware of what you're going to do!
7. Drivers paying more attention to the passengers in their vehicle than to their driving. My mom does this… the scariest experiences I've had on the road were when I was a passenger in my parents' van, my mom is driving, and one of her grandkids is in the front seat with her. She will turn to look at them while she's talking to them while she's driving! Eyes completely off the road, sometimes for several minutes at a time! I mentioned this earlier, and I'll say it again… your attention needs to be on your driving, on the road ahead of you… if something else is distracting you, you need to stop doing it.
8. "Looky-loos." Do you know what a "looky-loo" is? It's someone who, while driving, sees that an accident has occurred somewhere in their field of vision, or something else, and they slow down to get a good look at it. This is how traffic gets backed up… all the damn looky-loos have to see what's happened, no matter how much they slow things down. Of course, when one looky-loo slows down, all the rest of them have to slow down to see what the first idiot slowed down for… and so on, and so on, and so on. If it's that big a deal, get your butt home and turn on the news… if it's something really worth seeing, it'll be there, trust me… you can even videotape it and watch it over and over again, if that's what floats your boat.
9. People who throw trash out the window of their vehicle. You know who you are. You're polluting the roads, and causing a traffic hazard… what do you think happens when you toss your empty one-liter bottle of Coke out the window? It bounces off the pavement, and who knows in what direction!!! It might bounce right in front of the vehicle behind you, and the person driving that vehicle doesn't know what's bouncing on the road ahead of them… they just know there's something there that doesn't belong.
10. People who are always surprised. On Interstate 5 southbound, approaching Tacoma, there's a section of freeway referred to as the "Fife curve," so called because it's the curve just before the city (and I use the term loosely) of Fife. Now, at the end of this curve, the freeway is facing directly west. In the evenings, most traffic there is heading southbound… and when the sky is clear, and the day is sunny, during rush hour, thousands of drivers round that curve… and immediately slow down because the sun is in their eyes. Hello?!?!?!?! Every single day this happens, and every single day none of these people can figure out to lower their visor before they hit the curve, and every single day traffic slows down there. Thank goodness I don't travel that section of freeway during evening rush hour any more! Apparently, people have no sense of memory, because they can't recall when something happens every single day how to deal with it in advance.
11. Big honkin' trucks and SUV's. Two reasons for this… one, they're gas guzzlers, further reinforcing this nation's dependence on foreign oil. Two, people who drive these things have "tank" mentality… that is, they act as though they're driving a tank, and that everyone else should look out for them… you know, they own the roads, right? Okay, a third reason… they keep moving their position on the freeway so as to block my view of the traffic ahead. If I move a little to the left to try to see past them (you see, I have this bizarre idea that knowing what's happening ahead of me on the road will allow me to avoid getting into accidents), they'll move to the left to block. If I then move to the right, they also move to the right.
12. Last one for now… although I may well write another rant at a later date. It really, really honks me off bigtime when someone parks so as to take up more than one space in a parking lot. Maybe they're all the way over to the left or right side of a space, maybe the wheels of their vehicle are on the line deliniating where one space ends and the other begins, maybe they pulled too far ahead and take up part of a space ahead of them, or some other tactic. It's rude, for starters… you're entitled to one space for your vehicle, after all, and taking up more than one space prevents someone else from using the space. Secondly, it makes the person who does this look like an idiot who doesn't know how to park (so either you've got an overinflated sense of of your own importance, or are just stupid). Thirdly, none of the businesses who own the lots people do this in ever do anything about it! I'd just once, just once, like to see someone's car towed for parking in two spaces.
Did you recognize any of your own habits on this list of 12? I hope not!
Let me preface this rant with a few notes... first of all, this is a rant I wrote a little over a year ago, when the whole gay marriage thing first started becoming a hot topic. But it's been sitting on my computer's hard drive since then, waiting for a place to share it.
In the past few weeks here in Olympia (the capitol of Washington State), there's been a lot of hoo-ha over the whole gay marriage thing, as our local lawmakers have been debating the issue, and there was even a whole anti-gay marriage rally that took place near the capitol building, which I happened to drive by one day while taking Krypto to a walk.
So how do I feel about this?
Okay, let me first get this out of the way… I'm not a religious person. If I'm anything, I'm an Agnostic. Maybe God exists, maybe he doesn't. If someone else is very religious, fine – just don't try to dictate to me how to live my life based on your religion!
A lot of people have been noticing that a lot of atrocities are done in the name of religion. The 9/11 attacks and probably all the fighting in the Middle East are done in the name of religion.
Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. --John Lennon
John wasn't a religious person himself, and if he were alive today, I'd have to imagine he'd be one of the biggest supporters of gay marriage. As I'm writing this, it's one of the biggest controversies going on, with George W. Bush trying to force through a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriages.
What the hell is the big deal? I don't understand why so many people get so hacked off at the idea of two people who love each other deeply wanting to make a permanent commitment in the traditional way… just because the two people aren't a man and a woman.
Look, I'm straight, and it doesn't bother me. Gay marriages are not a threat to me, and they shouldn't be a threat to anyone else! What's the definition of marriage? Well, in my mind, it's two people who love each other making a commitment for the rest of their lives. I don't care if it's a man and a woman, or two men, or two women.
However, a lot of people are so intensely threatened by the idea that they've got to throw every excuse they can think of in order to stop gay marriages entirely. "Let them have a civil union of some kind, but they can't be married!" Oh, good, let's tell the gay community that their kind of love is a second-class love… that’s real 21st-century thinking there. Real advanced. These people probably also think that all Asians eat dogs and cats. I'm amazed they believe the world is round!
To all the people who are against gay marriages, I have this to say: Get over yourself. It doesn't matter if you think homosexuality is right or wrong… what you think doesn't matter. Homosexuality is. People don't choose their sexual preferences, it's hard-wired into them.
You don't know this, but I have an uncle, one of my dad's brothers, who is gay. How did I find this out? When I was planning my wedding, my dad made a reference to this uncle's "friend." That's how both of my parents refer to my uncle's partner… his "friend."
The oldest of my two sisters and her husband own two houses… one of them they lived in for some time, the other (the more expensive one) is the one they live in. For a time, they rented the house to a lesbian couple. Of course, when my parents referred to these women, it was that they were "that way."
Good grief, as Charlie Brown used to say.
I find it ironic in many ways that my parents can't even use the term "gay" to describe someone they know, or is only one degree of separation from them. My Mom is a big fan of Trading Spaces, and if you've ever watched the show, you know some of the show's designers are gay. Hell, my mom's even watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy – and remarked on the fact that Carson reminds her of an old friend of mine from high school who did come out of the closet a while back.
When the topic of gay marriage comes up, my parents get embarrassed and hem and haw, and make some kind of non-committed remark, if that. I honestly don't know if they're for or against gay marriage. I know they're anti-abortion… but I don't know how they feel about this "burning issue."
Homosexuality is out there… it's on TV, it's in the movies, it's in real life. Accept it's there, and treat people like you want to be treated. If you want someone else to accept your way of life, accept theirs. You don't have to agree with it, but you an accept it.
Gay marriage is already happening… and it will continue to happen. A Constitutional Amendment banning it will be about as successful as Prohibition was… and we all know how that turned out, don't we?
You know what I think? I think a lot of the people who are so threatened by gay marriage are people who are in bad marriages. I don't think they've got a healthy marriage, and subconsciously, they're afraid that if men marry men, and women marry women, that those marriages will turn out better than their conventional heterosexual marriage has.
They're afraid that homosexuals will show them they can do marriage better. It's an understandable feeling, I suppose… a lot of people are threatened by people who can do something better than they can. There are probably people racist towards African-Americans because some African-Americans can dance and play sports better than they can. Or they're anti-Jew because some Jewish people are good in business. Or whatever the stereotype can be. Hitler must've felt threatened by the Jewish people, and look what he did as a result… and look where it got him.
So like I said before, get over yourself if you're against gay marriage. If you're going to put so much effort into something concerning marriage, put that effort into your own. Or if you're not married, put it into your own relationships, whether they're platonic or romantic. Don't tell other people how they have to live their lives, concentrate on your own.
As far as I'm concerned, people can do what they want, so long as it doesn't affect my own life or someone else's adversely. Don't try to take my rights away, and I won't try to take away yours.
Oh, wait, someone else already came up with a better way to say that…
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Just got some long-awaited news this morning... Justin, the fine webmaster over at WF Comics, has gotten back to me on a weekly column idea that I pitched to him a while back... it won't take away from what I'm doing here... this blog won't be going away... but I hope you'll enjoy it just as much!
Watch this space for a definite announcement in the near future, in which I'll tell you what the column is about, and when it'll start!
I love Half-Price Books. Unfortunately, there isn't one in Olympia, Washington (where I live), so whenever my girlfriend Jessi and I are going up to Tacoma (where most of my family lives), I always hope we'll be able to get there early enough so we can stop by HPB before meeting with the family. Usually, we're lucky if we manage to show up on time to the usual birthday party, and can't usually stop at HPB (since we're not living together, and have two dogs, this means getting ready can be complicated, especially when we're not sure how dressed up we should be).
Well, Saturday night my family was celebrating both my father's birthday and my sister Sandy's birthday (she's the oldest of my two sisters... I'm the oldest of five, and it goes me, Sandy -- who with her husband Bob have an asbestos abatement business, Jeff -- a fellow graphic artist/designer, Debi -- who has three kids and works at Sandy's office, and Karl -- the "baby" of the family, who lives in a small town out in New York, and whom we rarely get to see. He's married with two small kids). We did run a little late for it, but we were all meeting at Sizzler for dinner anyway, so it was okay. As a digression here, the food was much better than the last time I went to Sizzler... and a tip: If you get a steak, order it one step down in doneness from what you like. For example, I like mine medium well, so I order mine done medium.
Anyway... we wrapped things up at the restaurant early enough that, with a brief stop at a furniture store or two (since Jessi and I are going to be moving in together in May, we're looking at some new furniture), we made it to Half Price Books.
I'd been looking forward to getting back to HPB since Will, who reads this blog, emailed me about the blog and mentioned the following "...Half Price books, where I buy comics by the bundle. I got a great run of Blackhawks comics for about a nickel each that way." Seems the Tacoma HPB has started doing bundles of comics, which I was looking forward to checking out (Hey, I love bargains!). I didn't find any bundles of 20 comics for a buck that I was interested in, but did find a healthy stack of CAPTAIN CARROT AND THE AMAZING ZOO CREW in the quarter box, as well as a number of trade paperbacks I'd been wanting, including a SPY BOY TPB, a STARMAN, SPY BOY/YOUNG JUSTICE, CROSSOVER CLASSICS II, and one or two others. HPB also had their 20% off everything sale going, so I got quite a bit of reading for $25! Always cool.
For those of you who have been wondering, Krypto is doing great... still hasn't quite gotten the hang of the housebreaking thing yet, but we're getting closer! He does great both on-leash and off-leash, too. Every Saturday and Sunday at 9 am, Krypto, Jessi, Jessi's boxer KO, and I go to an off-leash park for a walk, at which we usually meet up with our friends Paul and Bridget, who also have a white boxer named Claude (who's a female)... and often our friend Kathy with her boxer named Jaeger, as well as people who don't have boxers.
Well, Saturday around here was kind of cold, windy, and rainy... Krypto's fur doesn't keep him all that warm, and he was shivering quite a bit, and had to be picked up and bundled up to stay warm! After we finished up with the walk Sunday, we stopped at Value Village to see what we could find to help him out (I was originally thinking a toddler or baby's sweatshirt). What I did find was a baby's blue t-shirt with an S-Shield on it... so I had to get that for him! Hopefully, that will help (although it'll need some alteration in order to ensure he doesn't pee on it! It'll have to be the kind of alteration that can be undone, so he'll be able to wear it for a while as he grows).
So as I said above, Jessi and I are looking at moving in together (this would come as a surprise to any family members of mine who read this, but I don't think any of them are even aware of this blog, so I'm not giving away any surprises) in May. We've considered almost every option available to us, short of one of us moving into the other's place (which wouldn't be enough space). Unfortunately, my personal credit history hasn't been the greatest, and it looks like if we can get a home loan, it'll be very high interest, and monthly payments that could strain the budget (I'm talking a $150K loan with monthly payments of $1,100 or so). We're currently seriously considering going with a condo, which would be a lot cheaper, and more affordable, and living there for at least 5-10 years while I see about fixing what needs to be fixed. Or, we may opt for moving into a larger apartment in Jessi's complex, which would be even cheaper, and let us save some money as well.
Bad transition time now: One of these days, I'm going to start posting brief reviews of the current comics I buy. Currently, I'm only picking up my books every two weeks, on payday. I just got a stack on Thursday, and rather than run through them all right now, I'll just mention that I'm very much loving the current JSA arc involving time travel, as well as the ADAM STRANGE mini-series. The QUESTION mini-series is, frankly, ten kinds of weirdness, and I'm not sure if I really enjoy it or not... it's a different take on the classic Ditko Charlton hero, and it may be a case where I'll be better off reading the entire miniseries in one-shot when the final issue comes out.
I am a former graphic designer turned medical assistant turned truck driver who's into comics, sf, tv, cartoons, monsters, oldies rock, and lots of other stuff.
If your blog has a link to this blog, let me know and I'll add you to my linklist!
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org