There and back again

Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

Labor Day weekend had me on a long road trip. I left home on Saturday, Sept. 3 @2:30pm, and returned Tuesday, Sept. 6 @8:30pm. That’s 3300 (+/-) miles in four days.

Home to Tucson and back again.

That’s a lot of time in the car to think.

Nevada is mostly boring.

I like my bed.

Found out I can do it.

Trying to catch up on sleep and other stuff.

More next week.

Dark and stormy

Photo by Aleksey Sokolenko on Pexels.com

I was driving home last night across one of our state’s mountain passes – Snoqualmie Pass. The highway is Interstate 90 and I have to say that the pass is one of the worst places to drive at night while it is raining. The roadway is so poorly marked it is near impossible to see where the lanes of travel are and you pretty much have to guess and hope you are maintaining your lane.

Look, I get that it is hard to have reflectors and stripes and other means of marking the roadway on a mountain pass, one that needs to get plowed fairly often during the winter months. I realize that the plow blades rip up nearly everything you put down on the roadway. I get it.

But, seriously, all the technology that’s out there and means available to adjust the way those lane markers could be applied to the surface so they don’t get scraped off each winter hasn’t been found yet?

I don’t get it.

What I do get is that there are portions of the highway that are downright dangerous to drive when it is dark and raining, which is approximately half the day and most of the year.

Maybe it’s just my old eyes. I can’t imagine that there aren’t other people that feel the same way.

So, if you have to travel through WA, stay off the passes at night. They’re all pretty much that way.

You’ve been warned.

Traffic in Oregon

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

There are a lot of things wrong in Oregon. The direction of the state, politically speaking, is headed entirely in the wrong direction and the policies of the state are on full view as you drive through the state. However, that isn’t the point of this post.

I am not sure what the hell is wrong with drivers down there, but they (as a whole; generalization, I know) are terrible.

My recent trip through the state left me with a bad impression. It seems many of the drivers down there have little road knowledge or just have decided they are going to have no roadway courtesy at all. I couldn’t drive quickly enough to get through the state after all the frustration.

First case in point, left lane vs. right lane.

I-5 through most of the state is two lanes wide. Sure, it widens to some degree in major cities and through mountain passes, as needed, but for the most part there are more miles of two lanes than three. This is a problem for drivers who are going through the state.

It seems in Oregon a vast majority of the drivers (I can see license plates so I know what state they are from) like to camp in the left lane instead of being courteous and moving back to the right lane after overtaking a vehicle. They just perpetually are left lane drivers.

Now, for the road illiterate…on a two lane highway, the right lane is for slower vehicles (in general) and “local” travel. The left lane is the “fast” lane and for through (or distance) travel. However, courtesy says that on a two lane highway traffic should keep right except for passing (in some cases, like WA, it is state law). Regardless of your speed, even if you are “fast,” you should still move to the right (if space allows, think minimum 100 yards) until you overtake the next vehicle.

Anyway, Oregon drivers apparently don’t know these rules or they have total disregard for them. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to step on the brake to come out of cruise control to slow down behind a long line of vehicles in the left lane. In some cases, it was actually faster and a greater distance of free travel in the right lane because of these idiots!

I’ll tell you…you learn things on road trips (or maybe are reminded) and I learned again and was reinforced that I dislike people, and Oregon.

**disclaimer: I do really like the natural beauty in Oregon, but that is about it.**

Road fees

Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

Governments and their fees.

I realize that being part of a society requires some assent to a certain level of fees for the common good. That’s part of the social contract we make for living in a society.

I don’t mind paying some taxes and fees because I know that it provides for the common good. It makes life better for more people than just me. I’m someone what reasonable.

However, there comes a time when those fees become unnecessary and overbearing. Sound familiar? You might look back to one such fee that helped lead up the the American Revolution. What really gets me is that fees are being charged and collected and the government is rarely held accountable for the way the money is spent or mismanaged. That part irritates me to no end and isn’t part of the social contract. I don’t like waste. Big government wastes money. Big government isn’t accountable. Big government perpetuates bad government and bad spending.

So, to say I was shocked when I got my vehicle registration renewal yesterday might be an understatement. I have had the car for almost 2 years now and suddenly there was a new fee that wasn’t there before – a “hybrid vehicle transportation fee”. That one fee was $75! That one fee doubled the cost of the vehicle registration all by itself!

Ridiculous.

How about we stop using state funds to pay for heroin injections sites? How about we stop using state funds to pay for an idiot governor? How about we stop using state funds for things that don’t benefit the greater good? How about we stop using state funds to pay for unnecessary art in public spaces? Get the idea? There are lots of places where money is spent that it shouldn’t be.

I pay the gas tax every time I fill up. They already collect the “Vehicle Weight” fee to fund the highway on top of all the other fees.

I’ve had it.

I am going to drive on both sides of the road whenever I feel like it. I paid for it, therefore I am going to use as much of it as possible!

Need to know

red and yellow stop sticker

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on Pexels.com

“You’re on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know.”

The above phrase gets tossed around a lot, but there are actual times when it applies. Yesterday, I ran into an instance from my employer that seems to fit this to a T.

The admin assistance to our department director came around with a new form to fill out. It supposedly is something that we have filled out previously and supposedly only has one line changed on the whole document. The supposed change is “to comply with federal grant requirements.” The added line really isn’t the issue for me though.

The document is basically a “driver screening” risk management form. I get that in order for me to drive a company vehicle, they have to ask certain questions and it is expected that I report certain details should circumstances require the necessity to do so. That isn’t really an issue for me. I understand the necessity of such a screening. HOWEVER…

The document goes on to ask about information that I believe is totally unnecessary and, quite frankly, a violation of my privacy by asking about my personal vehicle. As in, should I drive my personal vehicle during work hours and on work time. The document is asking for the kind of vehicle I drive and license plate (why would it matter what vehicle I drive if it is my vehicle?), what insurance company I use and the policy number (with specific amounts of coverage); it requires to inform my employer if I drop expected level of insurance to a lower level, and expects me to waive all rights as an employee if on company time and there is an accident in my personal vehicle.

Does this sound invasive? Is this typical? Do you willingly give your employer information they don’t really need?

Yes, there is travel required as part of my job. Yes, I do prefer to drive my personal vehicle instead of the crappy company cars. But, the requirements of this document are “part of my continued employment” with the company, as though the document and my driving my vehicle have anything to do with my job performance and skills as a trainer and software analyst.

A big part of me bristles as this whole thing. I can accept that my employer needs to know certain things about me, but I don’t accept that they need to know everything about me.

I partially joked with a co-worker who was feeling the same way as I was yesterday that it won’t be long and they’ll be asking for our homeowner’s insurance policies since we telecommute several days a week.

I can see the future, and I don’t like it.

Self important?

automobile automotive autumn car

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels.com

I keep seeing these videos on social media and its getting rather irritating because everyone knows they shouldn’t do it, but they do it anyway. What videos am I talking about?

I keep seeing videos of people driving. They are holding their phone (you can tell because the image “floats” and you can see the dashboard) while they drive and showing you the road, road conditions, night sky, etc. There may be music in the background or they are narrating something that happened. Whatever.

In a day and age where it is illegal (at least in my state) to have a phone in your hand while driving, you would think that people would not put themselves or others in danger by holding a phone while they drive.

It leads me to believe that they believe they are more important than everyone else. “I’m going to disregard the law and safe driving habits so that I can post a video of me driving on the road. Because, after all, everyone is interested in what I am doing and they should probably know the road conditions.”

Guess what? You ain’t that important!

I don’t care that you are on an open road, in the middle of the night, with no other traffic around you. I don’t care what the road conditions are. I don’t care that you need to tell your followers something. I don’t care that you have a song you want us all to hear.

I don’t care.

Get over yourself and drive safely. Period.

Not the fairest in the land

battle black blur board game

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There was a clear loser yesterday in the fast food wars. The food from a fast food restaurant was anything but royal.

Headed out of town yesterday and so busy getting ready that I forgot to grab something to eat while at the house. It was an hour drive to the destination, so I wasn’t going to make it without a little food. I remembered there was a Dairy Queen along the route that was easy to get in out of, so it seemed like a decent place to hit the drive thru.

From time of order to food through the window, it was 18 minutes. Not fast food by any means. I happened to notice the time I placed the order because I was on a little bit of a time crunch by then. The line ahead of me in the drive thru was moving very slowly, so I started tracking how long it was taking.

Once back on the road, the food came out of the bag. It wasn’t pretty. Not at all.

Now, I realize it is fast food and the expectations aren’t for gourmet food. However, there is some expectation that the food is decently hot and, after that long of a delay, that the food is relatively fresh. Expectations shattered.

The fries were limp. Crispiness wasn’t even close to the vocabulary. Soggy is more like it. Slightly warm, maybe just above room temp.

The burger was warmer than the fries, but the bun had the consistency of being in the warmer and wrapper for 20 minutes. It had been microwaved to be warmed back up, while still in the wrapper. That much was obvious.

Crappy food after an 18 minute wait. Interesting. Disappointing. Since I was already down the road and running behind, I certainly wasn’t going to turn around and ask for new food.

Mental note made: Don’t stop at the Dairy Queen. Ever.

Lack of memory

road landscape nature forest

Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

Rain.

We have it here in the Pacific Northwest about nine months of the year. Yeah, it’s probably less than that, but it sure feels that way at times. Anyway, it’s something we have a lot of and we spent a good portion of our year getting it.

So why, when summer ends and the rain returns, do NW drivers have such a hard time remembering how to drive in the stuff? It’s not like it’s a mystery and it isn’t a new skill that has to be obtained. This should be “old hat” by now!

Seriously, people, get a grip on that steering wheel and slow down. It won’t hurt you unless you’re stupid…

Maybe what little optimism I have is being too generous.

I keep hoping.

I’ll stop.

Lane closure

low angle photography of orange excavator under white clouds

Photo by Anamul Rezwan on Pexels.com

I have said it in the past but I am going to say it again. Sorry if it sounds like I am a broken record, but WADOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) seriously has to do a better job – not just them, but the contractors they hire as well.

It was another painful travel weekend. It think it was three weeks ago I mentioned the reduction of lanes on a major interstate highway (it’s actually I-5, a federal highway) and how badly it affected the traffic on a Friday night. Well, this last Friday was no different. Miles and miles and miles of lane closures and not a soul in sight doing any work! While progress may be getting done, it surely doesn’t appear like it and they are in no hurry to get it done. It’s kind of ridiculous really.

So, yesterday (Sunday for those of you keeping track), a major north/south highway had ALL of the northbound lanes closed. That’s right, I-405 was closed with only one lane (a collector/distributor lane) getting by. That means five lanes diverted to one. To top it off, they didn’t close on-ramps that directly affected that one diverted lane, so merging traffic and diverted traffic had to fight for the same space. Ultimately, that mean five lanes got bottle-necked and didn’t have a steady flow. Kind of a CF if you ask me!

Look, I get that construction needs to get done. I am fully aware of the condition of the roadways. But, let’s be honest here. These days, there is never a good time to close highways and there is never a good time to avoid the hassle.

BUT, what doesn’t appear to be happening is that WADOT isn’t requiring construction crews to complete the work in the fastest time possible (overnight work, 24/7, until it is done). Traffic volumes are much lower at night and it affects for fewer people/travelers when work is done then. And, let’s face it, with the technology that is available these days there is no reason work can’t be done at night.

Get it together WADOT! You are costing people money and time.

Again, traffic…

accident action auto automobile

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, I am late again today. I guess maybe I need to do a better job planning ahead and get some blog posts ready on the weekend.

Anyway, there was a huge accident on the highway this morning and blocked all southbound lanes. Unfortunately, I found out about it too late and ended up getting on the highway at a stretch behind the backup where there was no way to get off the highway for about miles…so traffic crawled for an hour before I could exit and go around.

It looked pretty bad. Heard there was one fatality.

People were impatient and even blocking the shoulder this morning, making it tough for emergency vehicles to get to the scene.

Come on people. Drive safely and stop being stupid. It really isn’t worth it.