Monday, April 28, 2008

fire hosers

I was just walking back to work and I noticed a crew of groundskeepers were cleaning an artificial stream bed here at the campus where I work with a big firehose-type hose that stretched across the sidewalk. As I walked over it, I remembered a time in my youth that served as one of the first experiences towards my learning that the world of adults is unfair and "ornery"

I had just turned 16 and had passed all my driving tests, written and road, with flying colors. I only drove around town for the first few months because I wanted to become a better driver without facing some of the scary things you find out there that weren't covered in Drivers Ed. So about two months after receiving my license, my friends and I were driving to a local tennis court to play our daily 6 hours of tennis (it was summertime). We had been there every day for weeks now. It was located near a fire department and some city offices. I luckily had my own car (a '67 Camaro given to me by my parents which they didn't drive anymore). It was 1988 so it was still in pretty good condition.

Anyway, as I'm driving along this busy road, I get to the point of which I'm supposed to left-turn into the tennis court parking lot. On this day, however, I noticed there was a firehose (unpressurized) stretched across the entrance. There was no fire and firemen were just standing around. Cars behind me began to honk as there was no room to pass until I moved. I made the decision that the hose wouldn't be there if they didn't expect people to drive over it so over it I went.

Next thing I know, a barrage of angry, seemingly drunk fireman came dashing towards me and I almost peed my pants. The spokesman cursed at me and told me that he wanted my name and address etc. They would pressure-test the hose and if it failed than I would be responsible to pay for a new one. I assume those things cost quite a bit especially for an unemployed 16 year old living in a world where minimum wage was $3.35/hr.

Luckily, weeks later, I received a letter stating that there had been no damage to the hose.

That experience was basically forgotten until today when I realized that if something like that happened to MY son in a similar fashion, I would be outraged.

First of all, there were no cones or any other reason to suspect that the entrance to the parking lot was "closed". There was no fire. The firemen were simply doing a drill, or who knows why that thing was there? Second, I was simply too young and too inexperienced to know you can't run over a firehose. You can run over a garden hose. You can run over a lot of hoses. What the hell did I know at 16? Nothing had been mentioned in Drivers Ed. Is this common sense? I did know that staying in the road, standing still IS against the law.

There was no reason for these guys to get so huffy at me. It was their fault for not putting some cones up.

Now I realize that if their letter had been a bill for the hose, I would have seen their butts in court because what I did was not unreasonable given the situation and any rational driver would have done the same thing given my level of experience.

They treated me like a punk teenager when in reality I was an honor student and Eagle Scout with no blemishes anywhere. After the experience I learned that a lot of adults were jerks and I could not trust a one of them.

I can see why a lot of kids might turn to gangs or rebel in some way given the "jerky" nature of some adults.

Sometimes it might seem that you have to tell a kid, in detail, what you expect of them. This is because they don't have enough life experience to read between the lines if instructions are too vague.

I appreciate those firemen for putting their life on the line to save others lives and property but they lost a lot of respect from me that day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The title of this blog was inspired by the Saturday Night Live character done by Christin Whig in which her Aunt Somebody reveiws movies...sometimes resulting in a rating of "whaaaat?"

I find myself saying this all the time because our current society is full of crap. I hear nothing but bad news coming out of Washington and nothing but negativity coming out of anyone who has anything to do with finance.

First, what's the deal with fuel prices? On the one hand, it's good gas has gone up because I'm hoping it will have an effect on those idiots* who don't care about the environment. But on the other hand, I drive a pretty fuel efficient car and live close to work but I'm unable to constantly make adjustments to my budget to accommodate an increase in fuel cost.

We built (and were allowed to build - mostly without a choice or alternative) a society based upon the automobile. In my little corner of Provo, Utah, there is no public transportation alternative for me with regard to traveling to my place of employment (which is only 4 miles which is about the closest you can get since it's in an industrial "park" area with no housing nearby).

Now that this society has been built, and we are all dependent on our cars, the idiots in charge have raised the price of our driving. In any other business, this type of thing would result in government action. But not in this case because Big Oil is a big financier of many a political campaign.

The same crappy advice fills our ears: "Get a tune-up", "check your tires", "carpool", "ride your bike", "buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle", "combine errands".

Okay, as a cheapskate, these are things I've been doing all my life. Besides, it'd be a little difficult to ride my bike to work seeings as how I drop off my daughter at the babysitter's on the way there as well as run errands on the way home, (see "crappy advice" tip above "combine errands"). Furthermore, I'd like to see a family with three or more kids travel around in a Honda Civic. Even the most fuel-efficient minivan is a gas guzzler compared to a rice burning Corolla.

Besides, who's going to go out and spend $20,000 so they can save a couple dollars at the pump? Only the rich who aren't influenced by rising prices anyway. If I were in the market for a new car, which I'm not (still driving an old '99 car with 143k miles to save money) I might consider a more fuel efficient car. But I tend to drive cars for a few years due to their extremely high sunk costs (taxes, depreciation), so a fuel-efficient car today is a gas guzzler tomorrow because technology changes and will need to change rapidly in order to keep pace with this crazy 400% increase in fuel over the past few years. (Back in 2000, I remember gas dropped down to $.95/gal). So a Prius today is nice, but will be a Hummer tomorrow when the new breakthrough car is developed.

So, how does one save money when the answer is to "buy into the latest fuel-efficient trends"?

So is the answer to reduce gas prices? Is it to create a new technology...possibly the eventual development of a vehicle that runs on carbon dioxide and produces oxygen?

I'm already sick of traffic. In my opinion the only thing preventing people from driving is the cost of gas...even when it was cheap. Given a vehicle that is cheap to operate, there won't be two millimeters of free space on any road...ever, anytime day or night.

So the only solution is for society to redesign itself.

Everything in our society encourages the use of a car. "Convenience" stores have higher prices which force you to drive further. That's just one example. Basically, it's nearly impossible to "have it all" today.