Monday, August 29, 2011

Driving 101: This Lane is my Lane

This Lane is my Lane. This Lane's not your lane. While I am driving, stay in your own lane. (think This Land is Your Land...) One car can fit into one space at any given time. When two vehicles try to inhabit the same space the end result is usually not pretty. This is called an accident. Vehicles and more important to note people can become greatly damaged in an accident so we must try to avoid these at all times. How can we do this? It is simple, stay in your own lane.

The lines running down the street are provided so that each vehicle knows the appropriate lane in which to drive. Vehicles that tend to drive fast are usually in the left, average drivers in the center and slow drivers on the right. This of course is the ultimate driving scenario and not always an accurate account of the cars on the road which is why it is extremely important for correct lane procedure.

Do not drive on the line. This technique does not allow the vehicle in the lane next to you adequate space in
which to drive. Do not lean towards the lane in which you intend to change with out properly signaling your intent. Other vehicles may not understand your lean as a lane change. This is how accidents occur. Do not look down to change the cd player as for some reason the angle of your arm on the radio is equal to the angle of your vehicle as you try  to change the dial. Do not decide at the last minute you no longer wish to turn and then awkwardly end up in two lanes blocking traffic. Do not text, talk without a hands-free device or do any other non driving related task while driving because not only do you wind up weaving in and out of your lane but you tend to speed up or slow down inappropriately causing great stress and annoyance to those around you.

This Lane is my Lane. This Lane's not your lane. While I am driving, stay in your own lane. We'll reach our final destination if we could drive there without frustration. Stay in your own lane is what I'm saying. There's lanes enough for you and me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Driving 101: Turn Signals

 The turn signal is to alert other drivers of your intended direction. If you are indicating you are turning right, the appropriate direction to turn is right. It also works if you indicate left that you should then turn left. Your signal indicating you are turning alerts the other driver that simultaneous turning is appropriate. Don't yell at the driver for nearly turning into your preciously polished Porsche when you were the idiot who indicated you were turning  and then decided to go straight.

If a car in front of you is pulled parallel to parked cars with a signal indicating they are about to park you should not drive up behind it at full speed, honk and yell at them for being in your way as you are the one stupid enough to speed up on a non-moving vehicle which has made it clear that it was waiting to park. In turn cars which are trying to park must visibly warn others of this intent. Sitting perfectly still and then deciding to back up is not proper parking procedure.

Signals should be turned off immediately upon turning in the correct direction as drivers behind you will become greatly annoyed at the fact that you are consistently driving straight and have not changed lanes or  turned for the past 11 blocks. Just because You supposedly know were you want to go doesn't mean the rest of us know. Thus the invention of the turn signal.

Monday, August 15, 2011

No Comment

I'm a curious creature by nature, most of us tend to be. I enjoy surfing the net and reading about various tidbits from all around the globe. I'm not a sports fan but I've read plenty of sports articles. I don't care for Lady Ga Ga or the latest rappers but I know what they've been doing. I've never seen most of the current run top shows out there and I've know idea why we keep up with the Kardashians but I've spent time on OMG just to see what the rest of the world is doing. It is a wonderful ability to be able to open up the World Wide Web and learn about anything. The world is literally at your fingertips. I can be a science geek one day and a Hollywood who's who expert the next.  I can learn about the joys of a family I do not know in Petra or the sadness of a fallen soldier I'll never meet from Arkansas. I can leave my respects, my awe, my bewilderment in a comment and feel as if I have participated in the world without ever leaving the comfort of my living room. To me it should be a beautiful thing to be able to feel empathy for the individuals who inhabit our world that we will never be capable of knowing in person.

What amazes me most in regards to all of these varied posts is the comments section. In particular the often arbitrary, insulting, demeaning, demoralizing, disgusting comments that most people feel are perfectly fine to add to every article. For instance, currently there's an online story regarding a 12 year old who wandered off from the camping group with out a buddy and became lost in the woods. He was found just over 20 hours later with minimal mishap. Many comments were thankful he was found safe as the overnight temp was 31 degrees and he had no jacket, food or water. However, many more comments were about him being a great target for a gay evangelical, not smart, no big deal that he was out, too stupid for words and the list goes on. Similarly I read an article this morning on a man's very touching tribute to his pregnant wife who died in one of  the 9-11 planes. Again the comments were mixed with beautiful thoughts about what he had done and ugly racial slurs and conspiracy theories that were not needed. An article about a 90 year old 9th degree black belt contained a comment about how she probably was a bitch in bed. Rebecca Black, an online singing sensation, not for good but for bad, has some of the most hateful comments I've ever seen in print. She has been forced to drop out of regular school due to the high profile hatred she's incurring. She is 15 and getting death threats. DEATH THREATS, really?! Are we so shallow a society that a 15 year old whose only crime was poor singing is being threatened with death? After reading some story comments, I am immediately reminded that it's not that unreasonable to believe, that  issues of the days of MLK are still alive and well and not just in the south. I've even seen comments at the end of articles which debase not only the author but the entire subject being written. Why read it if you don't want to know?

If the comments were relevant, well written positions of why you disagree with the subject being discussed it would be a different story. We would have a true open discourse about an idea or subject, person or thing that would instill a debate with reasonable respect for all parties involved. Unfortunately no such thing seems to exist. Those articulate enough to write an opinion tend to not be the writer. Instead we have individuals who think writing "First to comment" as the comment serves some value in the world. We have people who can not even be bothered to spell check or use even slang correctly. We have sex starved women posting links to their sites and penis enhancement ads trying to garner our attention. We have the freedom of speech here yet what we choose to say tends to have no value.

 Why do humans feel the need to interject evil into every aspect. Why do we feel joy in tearing down those around us that may be trying to make a positive difference. I feel we are at a loss in our society. Everyone has an opinion. We do not live in a rose colored society but based on the comments that I have seen, the glass is definitely less than half empty. No Comments Please.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meeting in the Ladies Room

Ladies I call this meeting in order to discuss an incredibly serious matter. It is bad enough that we as women have so few stalls installed in public places but the fact that the ones we have are so filthy is absolutely appalling. Case in point: Saturday night I was waiting for the one available restroom at a local pub. I went in, pulled out the safety cloth that's supposed to protect us from each other's cooties and went to place it on the toilet seat. As I lowered the threadbare sheet I noticed what at first appeared to be a new pattern on the seat. In actuality it was a shoe print;a filthy black tread mark from someone's sneaker.

When I was first taken into a public restroom as a child, my mom told me to take some tissue and clean the seat in case you lost your balance, squat, and clean up after yourself. I really don't remember too much being left on seats or stalls and absolutely no shoe prints ever. What has happened? How did women's restrooms become filthy? As someone who has also worked in a restaurant and been in the men's room I can honestly say overall the men's room is cleaner than the women's room. I do not like being able to say this.

Time after time I have entered a stall and found pee on the seats, unwrapped pads/tampons on top of the garbage (or even on the floor), unflushed toilets, paper stuck to seats.... It's disgusting to find that most  women are actually incapable of using a public toilet. We are supposedly fastidious females. We are greatly missing the mark (and the toilet) when it comes to public peeing. This situation cannot continue. You are not at home. You are in a public place that many others will eventually have to use.

The floor is not a garbage can. Not all toilets automatically flush. It is just common courtesy to wrap your pads/tampons and dispose of them properly. Just because YOU do not have to clean the public restroom it doesn't mean there isn't another human being who won't be subjected to your bloody mess. Think how you would feel having to clean some strangers waste. Please  remember a rhyme we teach children in elementary upon your next visit to a public facility, "If you sprinkle when you tinkle please be neat and wipe the seat."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Digital is not a Book

Okay so I know I am writing a blog. I'm in the blogosphere which is admittedly a wonderful new form of communication, instant gratification, self satisfaction and so on. I will also concede the fact that many new voices have been more easily discovered through this medium. I am grateful it exists. I will never admit however that browsing online and downloading a title into the most convenient plastic covered screen is better than searching the aisles of the bookstore for hidden treasures. I will never admit that digital is better than a book.
As a child I spent my hard earned allowance on flashlights; tiny little plastic flashlights that I hid all over my room. Why? I needed to be able to read in the dark. Every night my mom would come in to check and make sure lights were out. She tucked me in, kissed my forehead and went down the steps to her room. I reached under my pillow, grabbed one of the several books I was reading , flicked on the flashlight and dove back into the wonderful world of the written word. Sometimes I would read until the morning light came through my window. Other times I would read until my mom somehow magically appeared by my side to take the book away and tell me to get some sleep. I however would always read. If I got tired I would curl up with the book content to know that soon I would be able to open the pages and dive right back in to a world ready and waiting for my return.

As I got older, my little brother would sneak into my room after lights out and I would read stories to him. We would both be anxious to see what would happen on the next page. We were so engrossed in the story that we never noticed our mom standing in the doorway waiting to confiscate yet another flashlight. I have a feeling she knew what was going on well before she invaded the room and let us get through the full chapter before sending my brother back to his room and reminding me I had to get up in the morning. She always had a hint of a smile when she said this.

These are treasured childhood memories which would be greatly altered if I were growing up today. The very young children still have storybooks with pictures but the older ones are now being given cold machines to keep them company. No flashlight is needed to read something that lights up. Page turning anticipation has been replaced with a scroll bar. My books kept me company. My books took me traveling across oceans to new lands and new adventures. Revisiting any tale only required the ability to take it down from a shelf. Now a days there seems to be no room for sentimentality. Instead of having a hard or soft covered tale to reread at will, you have an empty shell which you download and dispose the contents. Instead of being able to visit a shelf and browse the titles, you get the pleasure of waiting for it to finish recharging. There are no book jackets, author's pictures, signed copies or first editions in the digital realm.

Many characters on television and in movies have character traits we love and can identify with easily. One character's quirky quality that I adore would be Joey from Friends. He "never starts reading The Shining without having plenty of room in the freezer." When a book scares him or has a moment that he doesn't want to face, he puts it in the freezer. It's a silly tidbit. It's a warm and humanizing one as well. I can recall many occasions when a book has upset me and I've slammed it closed and shoved it away from me only to look at it from afar and slowly go back to it as I just needed to know what happens. I guess the equivalent reaction with a screen is just to turn it off. It just doesn't sound the same. Joey definitely couldn't put it in the freezer.

As we go forward we seem to be leaving a lot behind. The small bookshops are a thing of the past. Most of the conglomerates are gone as well. Self-publishing seems to be the wave of now and possibly tomorrow. It's not the same. I do not begrudge modern technology it's advances I mourn for the loss of simplicity and the beauty in sentimentality of the mere act of reading a book.