Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Some people like to spend the 4th of July blowing their fingers off.  I prefer to take the time to reflect on what it means to be a citizen of this nation.

In past years, I have recalled the Revolutionary War, thinking about how cool it was that the darn-awesome Patriots took down those stupid Redcoats.  I have thought of the Veterans that have made it possible for this country to be safe and free.  And I have thought about how lucky I am to have the rights outlined for me in the Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment.

But I must be a college student because this year, things aren't quite so rosy.  When I was little I remember being told how lucky I was to live in a nation where I could express doubts about my government.  In other places, people were stoned for such things.  I remember tales of places where women were little more than property, who had no voice in politics or at all.  And so I was swept into loving being American because that is what I was, but also because we were the best...

Certainly, I believe I am lucky to live in a nation where I can vote and run for office and say anything I want about the government.  Where I can get a good education and safely raise my family in the future.  Life here is very, very good.

But I think sometimes we have a little too much American pride.  I didn't know when I was little that there were nations that not only let women vote, but elected them into office as well.  I didn't know there were places where people are healthier than we are, and I most certainly didn't know that there were places where people are much, much happier than we are.

Guys, in 2010, the US ranked 90th in terms of women's representation in government.  However, we do rank highly in the illustrious and coveted posts of defense spending and oil and energy consumption.

I'm not saying we don't live in a great country.  I AM saying that we do not at all live in a country that could be in any way considered the best.  If it could have been at one time, it is not now, my friends, and our Empire comes ever closer to toppling.  So instead of running around thinking about how great we are, let's think about how we can be better.  We should do this even when at number one, but as we are surpassed by many other nations, we must keep running even to stay in the same place.  Pride will not help us. Pride goeth before a fall.

So yes, it is good that I live in a nation where I am allowed to write this.  But it would be better if I didn't have to.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I am Always Seeing Motorcyclists

Sometimes I like to go on rants about things that bother me.  This is one of those times.

You know what I hate, guys?  The public service announcement constantly reminding me to "Start Seeing Motorcyclists." I may be a terrible driver, but I am always on the lookout to at least make sure I don't hurt anyone else.  So I am always seeing motorcyclists.

I am always seeing motorcyclists acting like idiots.

For example:
If you would like to share the road with cars, you should act like one.  This DOES NOT mean weaving in and out of tiny spaces in fast-moving (or even slow-moving) traffic.  If you squeeze your motorcycle into my three-second-following-distance and something happens causing me to have to stop rapidly, I will hit you.  And I will feel bad.  And the world will call it a tragic accident reminding us all to make sure we are properly sharing the road, instead of a tragic accident that could have easily been prevented if you were not being an idiot.

But not acting like a car might be excusable if you took, like, any safety precautions.  For example, a helmet.  If you hit a rock, or a car, or if a car hits you, or if you hit ANYTHING on the freeway, you will die.  Hate to break it to you, but your head is not as hard as you think.  Also, long sleeves would be a good idea, but my goodness, start with covering your cranium.

These examples I see with all but the smallest percentage of motorcyclists, but of course there are always special cases that remind me that idiots truly prevail in this world.

A particular case that I remember from my childhood was an incidence of minor road rage involving a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet, talking on a cell phone, giving someone the finger, and SMOKING A CIGARETTE.  Clearly, you sir, have a death wish.

And not three days ago, I was on the road, minding my own business, driving slightly over the speed limit in the left lane on 35E when all of the sudden there is a motorcyclist on my tail.  I'm freaking out because no one with that much skin exposed should be near me in a very heavy, very fast-moving hunk of metal.

But I shouldn't have worried.

No, this particular man would not be on my tail for long.  Before I had processed fully what was going on, the motorcyclist had changed lanes and passed me, and was far, far, far ahead of me on the highway.  (Which was all well and good for me, as I wanted to be nowhere near that, but keep in mind, I was already speeding... which puts this man's speed at over 80 mph).  As he pushed his wheels faster and faster along the winding freeway, I couldn't help but notice he was wearing shorts and a t shirt... and no helmet.  To put some icing on this cake, as he sped at a rate I can't even imagine from inside of a vehicle, he removed both hands from the handlebars, and rode that way until I lost sight of him.

Yes, I am always seeing motorcyclists.  And the ways they are acting, I am always wishing I wasn't.