Friday, September 29, 2006

Traffic Report

Chopper 5 here flying over the Mixmaster. We have a three car pileup with police on the scene. Traffic is backed up to Egypt and there is no end in sight. By the time you get to the point of origin, the wreck will be cleared up and you won’t even have the satisfaction of rubbernecking. What’s more is that this will be the 20th time you are late to work and written up despite leaving your house a 5AM. Here’s hoping you still have a job! Chopper 5 out.

That might as well be the daily report here in Dallas. From what I’ve been told we still do not rival cities in California or New York but it is bad. If it ever got worse, I would surely have to beat my head into the steering wheel until unconscious. It is 2006. I just thought I would remind everyone of that because aren’t we supposed to be in flying cars by now? We have the Jetson’s to blame for this expectation as well as countless other programs and movies. What year was it again that Marty visited in the future? I don’t see us progressing as fast as we often like to brag.

Here are some typical frustrations you might relate to: (Special thanks to Zaphod for giving me some of these ideas)

Cones For No Reason – Ever have to merge out of the lane you are in because orange cones have been place in the way? You think to yourself, surely these cones are there because of construction of some sort. Yet you move over and edge forward inches every five minutes only to witness three miles of cones, blocking nothing. Maybe the cone fairy visited last night. Maybe this was Joe Construction’s practical joke. Maybe the shipment intended for Madonna spilled out on the road. Whatever the case, I assume someone is hiding around the corner laughing as traffic stacks up for miles.

Stripers and Sweepers – Lately it is all the rage in Dallas for road crews to hit the highways to sweep and stripe the various lanes. Typically there are no less than 7 trucks in a row. Four or five of these trucks just carry large displays with flashing arrows directing traffic to merge over. It is only the front two trucks that actually sweep or paint. Seems like overkill and another unnecessary jam of the roadways. Their favorite time to conduct such services are during rush hour. I guess the middle of the night might be too inconvenient for city workers. On one particular day, I ended up traveling on three different highways to take my son to a doctors appointment. All three had this truck brigade as it was obviously National Stripe Day. Stupid me for not checking the calendar.

Copper Calamity 1 – When pulled over the police are specifically trained to minimize the life damage by parking behind you. All traffic on the main freeway slows down to look at the cop (thus impeding traffic). When the car is ready to leave, an UNSAFE entry must be made by the stopped vehicle (0 mph) must enter and merge with freeway traffic (60+mph). This is a MORE dangerous hazard than most offending cars that were traveling 10 mph over the limit to keep up with the general flow of traffic.

Copper Calamity 2 – We’ve all been flying down the highway and come upon a police car traveling the same direction. For some strange reason this police officer is traveling BELOW the posted speed limit, laughing histerically with donut powder circling his mouth. So what does everyone do? You guessed it…everyone feels compelled to stay in pace with Mr. Police Man. So we trudge along in one big merry clump all praying that this jerk will exit the highway and let us return to our speeding ways.

Copper Calamity 3 - When a police car is "hiding" to capture his next speeding victim, many cars see the cop on the side of the road and hit their brakes; which causes a chain reaction and a possible wrecks. The police are there to prevent such things…right? I am not picking on the Feds, just pointing out some obvious irony in their practices so please don’t mistake me for a person that has it out for The Man.

The Christian Cut-Off – It’s bad enough that we have such reckless drivers and rampant road rage these days. But it is something quite different when the jerk that sped around you and cut drastically back in front of you with middle finger wagging in the air, has a proudly displayed Jesus Fish on his car. I wish this was a rare occurrence for me but I’ve had many a fellow Christian witness to me in such ways.

Road Ragers – These people are like the fish toting variety but have no actual fish on their cars. They exceed speeds well beyond what is posted, they weave in and out of traffic, they ride your bumper, they cut you off, and you are lucky if the only thing they point at you is a little birdie. I cannot count the number of news reports of highway shootings between two vehicles that engaged in a bit of roadplay.

Granny GetouttaDaway – Old people. Need I say more? I plan to be one myself someday but I have made a few promises for the betterment of mankind: I will either stop driving if incapable of going the posted speed limits OR be the fastest old fart on wheels. When is the last time you saw Geezer Gary revving his engine at a stop light? Right...never. I am going to be the first so watch out for the year 2056.

I am sure to have neglected many other situations that are common. Enlighten me to your experience with your commentary.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Not My Fault

We learn the blame game as children.

“The dog ate it.”
“Johnny made me do it.”
“It wasn’t me.”
“No one told me NOT to flush the entire roll of TP down the toilet.”

As adults personal accountability doesn’t change, the excuses do.

“I was told there were Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
“It depends on what your definition of is…is.”
“My parents screwed me up.”
“I am genetically predisposed to being fat.”
“It’s an addiction, a disease…I can’t help it.”
“My grandmother died…for the forth time.”
“I’m sick and can’t come to work…fishing is an illness, right?”

Free will is a gift and a curse. We use it for better or worse and have to deal with the consequences of our mistakes. What amazes me is how we react when a mistake becomes obvious. The mature thing to do is take accountability for it, learn, and make changes. But the word accountability is not one that many practice. And I don’t think this is particularly unique to our generation though the temptation is to say so.

Personal accountability is not easily learned, it must be instilled over time and usually in childhood. The lack of accountability is what leads so many to have a sense of entitlement. “I deserve all things good and deserve nothing bad,” seems to be the mentality. The correct phrasing should be I’ve earned what I have both good and bad. I realize this logic is somewhat flawed as we all tend to have things happen that are beyond our control. But with those exceptions in place, my argument still stands.

So until we find a miracle pill that cures us of entitlement and installs accountability, I will have to keep hearing phrases like those listed above. How awesome would it be if Bush (or any almost politician for that matter) stood up at the mike in front of TV cameras and said, “Hey, I screwed up and this is what I’d like to do about it.”?

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Unfinished Email

The following email letter is fictional and my personal way of remembering the tragedy of September 11th.


Leah,

I tried calling several times but keep getting a busy signal. Cell service and land lines must be tied up with all the emergency calls. I am at a desktop on floor 95. After an explosion below us we all searched for a way down but stairwells are blocked and elevators seem to be out of service. This floor is a bit smoky but seems to be in the best shape from some of the others I’ve been on. Some of our office crew is on their way to the roof in hopes of rescue but I am certain that we just need to stay put and let firemen instruct us. Ron says he will come back for me if the roof idea works out so I just wanted to take a moment and send you a message.

The mood is somber and serious but no one is too panicked. We don’t know what the explosion was and we’ve heard several more since the initial boom. I cannot see tower two but I assume the problems are just with our building. I remain confident of rescue but want to say a few things just in case.

I love you. I love our little family. Please reassure Madison and Matthew that daddy is fine. I am not always the best husband or father and it is times like these when I am reminded of the important priorities. I will make a huge effort to improve when this is all over. I need to take you out on more dates. I need to play ball in the yard with Matt more often. I need to play tea party and Barbie with Madie. Work is just work. It pays the bills but I make it too much of a priority. I want to be the man you deserve and the father that the M&M's need.

I still remember the first day I met you at the Christmas party five years ago. How crazy is it that you and I both had dates with different people and ended up ditching the festivities for a cup of coffee? I think Brian forgave you for that but Susan never talked to me again. Oh well, I got the better girl. Not just the better one but my soul mate. You are so beautiful, kind, loving, and gentle. You are the world’s best wife and mommy and we are so lucky to have you. Your smile lights up a room and your laughter echoes in my heart when I think of the good times we’ve shared.

The Caribbean Cruise comes to mind and the snorkeling excursion had me in stitches. The way you would jump every time a fish brushed against us. The way you kept asking about sharks and getting salt water in your mask. We need to take another vacation soon. No more excuses about work and kids and responsibility. We’ll go somewhere tropical again but no snorkeling, I promise. Just you and me on the beach with a tropical drink and sunshine. Gosh that sounds nice. I cannot promise to keep from splashing water on you or pushing you in but I'll try to behave. And we have to get the spa treatment. Remember the massage we got last time? I fell asleep on the table and you laughed when I started to snore?

Well, it is getting hotter and the air is thick. I am using my shirt to cover my nose and mouth but all I can taste is smoke. I need to find the gang and see if that roof idea panned out. I am sure it is just a matter of time before rescue teams make it to us and show us an escape route. But just in case, I need to be proactive. I will try calling you again but please do not worry. I’ll be home soon and