Monday, December 29, 2008

Can't We All Just Drive Together

I have taken two major road trips this month and this caused me to experience a lot of driving from both Utah and non-Utah drivers. I am not saying one is better than the other - alright I am. I think Utah drivers are particularly bad. They are bad because they do things that are dangerous. Here are my top 3 pet peeves about Utah drivers (or as a friend called them "Utards").

  1. No Lane Discipline on the Freeway - The left lane is for passing, that is why there are signs every few miles or so that say "Slower Traffic Keep Right". People will get into the left lane and just cruise there, they won't move out of the way when you pull up on them but they will pull into the left lane and go imperceptably faster than the car in the left lane they were mindlessly following for the past few minutes, just as you get close to them. My friend from England used to tell a joke that driving in England is a lot like driving on the freeway in Utah - the fast lane in on the far right.

  2. Distractions - It is amazing the number of people who are eating, talking, putting on make up and who knows what else they are doing while they are driving that takes their mind off the task at hand. It usually shows itself by what appears to be a drunk driver; weaving, not paying attention to the traffic pattern or brake tapping. I actually saw someone on the belt route with a book in the steering wheel. That can't be good.

  3. Entitlement Driving - This is the strangest of the Utard phenomenon in that it takes many different forms. Anything from blocking the left lane so you can't pass to going three cars deep into a red left turn signal to yanking out on you from a side street to flipping a Uee in front of you without any forewarning to signaling and then squeezing in between two properly spaced cars, like they are entitled to the space because they put on the blinker.
Here is my moral of the story - we all need to drive with all of us in mind. Driving is a group effort - the objective should be to get everyone to their destination as quickly and safely as possible. This means we need to put our cell phones and food down, look around more often than every few hours and think about our next move more than a few miliseconds before execution. We don't do this on any other form of public transportation (yes I think driving in a city or on a major freeway or belt route is public transportation). We don't get to the airport or the train station and announce "I am here, we can leave". Can't we all just get along on the road?


Sunday, December 21, 2008

If the Shoe Fits

It seems fitting that President Bush would get pelted by shoes. No one wants to kill him, just throw their footwear at him.
Last week, while in Iraq at a news conference, an Iraqi journalist attending the news conference took off his shoes, one at a time, and threw them at the President of the United States.
In an interview after the incident President Bush was heard to say “ I saw his Sole”. Another journalist was quoted saying in his effort to avoid the pedal projectiles “President Bush hasn’t ducked that far left at any time during his 8 years in office”.
In a twisted way things seem sort of right with the world. In Iraq, throwing shoes at a person is an insult akin to flipping someone the bird. It shows a level of global disrespect that we aren’t used to, but which is all too prevalent toward the US nowadays. To us this act seems sort of silly, a lot like Bush himself. To the world it is just another in a long line of cartoon charactures of our man-child leader. It may even be one of the things that defines his presidency, like Jimmy Carter’s famous pond hopping rabbit.
After a while Bush seemed to recover with his typical swagger, not quite sure what went on but knowing he was out of danger. Sound like most of his reactions to Presidency defining moments? It did to me.
Unfortunately we are the recipients of his legacy and we will have to live with this on the world stage. We can only hope that the next President will repair our tarnished image, or put a shine back on things (no that isn't a racial reference, just a footwear one).
We can also hope that the Secret Service is quicker under the new administration. Why did it take two independent shoe removal and launchings before the armed (or should I say footed) assailant was subdued? Let’s just hope that the next group is better trained or the next attempt at humiliation of the President is done with something equally innocuous.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Solution to the Energy Crisis and the Auto Makers

I heard this on the NPR show "Car Talk" with those guys Click and Clack.

They said we should do two things to help our economy, the car industry and our environment:

1. Raise the tax on gas - Gas was $4.00 a gallon a few months ago, if we put on a $.50 tax per gallon it will raise the price now to $2.50 a gallon. It won't be that hard to handle and we will get a lot of benefit from it. Of course this will raise lots of money, money we can use to repair the ailing network of roads and highways that were built in the 50's and 60's and now are in need of significant repair. It will also curb our desire to go back to gas guzzling. It is shown that we are price sensitive to gas and as the price goes up we will drive less (putting less polutants in the air and killing fewer people) and we will seek out more alternative fuels and low consumption transportation options.

2. Restructure the Auto Makers - as part of our bailout we should insist that the big three automakers develop a mass transit division. They should re-tool their factories to make those high speed trains that can go between big cities. This would help them get back on their feet and would encourage mass transit.

My comment to this last suggestion is that we should also insist on more fuel effecient cars as part of our bail out plan. If the cigarette companies can re-tool to become high tech firms the auto industry can simillarly reinvent themselves for the betterment of all.

- Pedro

Monday, November 24, 2008

Which Church

Front page headline, right in the middle of the page, November 24, 2008, Salt Lake Tribune "Vandalism & the church". The article goes on to question whether the recent rash of incidents at LDS churches are tied to their support of Prop 8 in California.

The point I am making is that the editor of the Tribune fell victim to the same bias that pervades most everything we do in this valley. When we say "the church" we obviously mean the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I think its OK for us to use that shorthand in conversation but I believe it is sloppy to assume we all understand the reference when it is presented on the front page of the newspaper.
The people at the Tribune should be more careful. Of course this is just another in a long line of poor editing choices we continually see in the Tribune. I can't wait for my Christmas gifts from Eastern relatives so I can read the New York Times or Boston Globe articles they've stuffed in the boxes as wrapping.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kitchen Items as Jewlery

I glanced over this headline this morning in the Salt Lake Tribune "Man allegedly slashed victim's face with meat cleaver" without a thought, just another example of fury meets (no pun intended) opportunity. Then I read the first sentence - "A Salt Lake City man is accused of slashing another man's face with a meat cleaver he was wearing as a necklace - What????

Is this a new trend? Kitchen items as jewelry, are we going to see someone with a spatula, a frying pan or a cuisinart as an accessory? What bad Saturday Night Live skit did this guy get the idea from? And didn't the victim think not to enrage Tu Pac when he saw a meat cleaver just below his chin? Ah well, I guess I am just out of touch with things today when I would think a guy with a meat cleaver around his neck was out of the ordinary.


Friday, November 7, 2008

First post

Now that gas is getting affordable again there is the temptation to go back to our old habits. We start driving more, we take the larger car because it is more comfortable and we think about our next road trip. It'll be fun again.

But before we lapse back into cheap gas paralysis we should look at what we have accomplished. We actually began to consider how much gas we were using in our daily lives. Some of us even took public transportation or drove less or took the car that used the least gas or asked others to join us so we could increase the miles per person per gallon if we had to drive. This was good for us temporarily, it eased our wallet pinch, but it also was good for us longterm.

We actually may have started changing our thinking. We talked about going green, wind farms, alternative energy sources, our oil dependence and how we can reduce the impact of our gas addiction on our planet.

So let's keep it going. Let's do it so we can continue to reduce our dependence on oil, so we can begin to heal the planet and so we can keep some change in our pockets. We can also send a message to the oil companies that we can kick our habit. We don't need a full fix anymore and maybe we can get on methadone and get clean.

So even as the price of oil continues to drop, keep thinking about our impact on the environment and how to reduce our oil consumption. Ask yourself if you need to run that errand, if you can take public transportation or if you can go as a group. We will be shaping our future, it will help us be independent and it will put more money in our pockets. It can also be fun to see the basic economic theory of supply and demand bemuse the oil companies as they try to figure out why we are still using less oil even though the price is going down.
Drink less - live more.