Texas Roads, Drivers, and Climate Change

 

As we age, funerals are more commonplace.  Saying so long to a friend or family member is tough.  Traveling the last two weeks to funerals well over 200 miles from home only to turn around and return, makes for a long day.

Driving down 30 to 20 going out west I was amazed at several things.

Speed limit 60.  What does that mean?

When I was in Drivers-Ed that meant that you did 60mph or under it but not too much under as you don’t want to impede traffic flow.

I stayed right around 60, and I was impeding traffic.  Most drivers were well over 70 and many over that.

Part of the problem I think is that there are too few speed limit signs posted on 30.  This makes it easy to forget yourself, and before you know it, you are going much faster than 60.

I have lived here for many years, and I am not stupid enough to keep up with traffic.  Just about always there is a cop outside of the city of Ft. Worth who sits there running radar. Today there was one about a tenth of a mile before the speed turned up to 65 waiting for someone to go faster.

We need more signs alerting us of the speed and a little more law enforcement visibility.

I wanted to know what person designed the roads and decided what speeds that they should be in the country?  There are really good roads with slow speed limits, and then there are these “shithole” two-lane roads that are 70.  FFS really!

If you look at the roads carefully, you will see tire marks on the turns where some driver took them too fast and didn’t make it.  Are you working with the grim reaper to get the soul count up, or are you just that stupid?

My favorite is this, you are on this two-lane pothole-laden road doing 70 as to not get run over, in the blink of an eye, the speed goes from 70 to 30.  Yes Barney Fife or the 80-year-old version of him is sitting there waiting with his number 2 pencil and big chief tablet waiting for you.

“What does it cost to go 70 in a 30?” 

You got to be kidding me Cross Plains!  Is that how you generate revenue? Some attorney needs to file a class action lawsuit against the town of Cross Plains for this practice.   I am damned serious because they are not the only cities or towns that do this.  Tickets should not be revenue generators.

Now we have the good folks in Arlington Texas.  On a Saturday mind you with the temperature of 113 degrees on Hwy30, traffic comes to a standstill.  “Why?”

Piss poor planning on the engineers or contractors part leaving road construction idle in an area that is congested anyway.  Arlington should be pissed as they host the Cowboys, the Rangers and then there are Six Flags and a water park all right there.

It took 45 minutes to go less than one mile. Never mind that it is 113 in the shade and never mind that peoples tempers were even hotter but, if you really are pushing climate change wouldn’t thinking things through like idle construction be a good place to start?

Are you only serious about climate change when you can sell carbon credits?

How much Carbon monoxide do you think tens of thousands of cars idling for 45 minutes each puts into the atmosphere?  Now factor in the large trucks billowing out black diesel fumes. Arlington, you can do better. The Rangers and Cowboys should be pissed.

“How can you do better?”

“How about a flashing sign at the 820 split warning of the 45-minute wait and you might consider taking 820 to 183 or stay on I 20 or take some other alternate routes? ”  With all the tax revenue you collect how about doing something constructive with it. Save a tree or the planet or the climate! How about saving me from my head exploding! What the hell happened with common sense?”

One fellow who also sat through that mess passed the traffic doing over 100 mph in a poorly maintained car.  Zipping in and out of vehicles the back of his vehicle swayed violently many times as he drove very erratically.  I see those guys on crotch rockets doing that but, that car is not built for that nonsense and he will not only kill himself but probably someone else.

Hello officer Smith, it might be a good idea to have officers around the areas past the congestion like that, as people will be pissed and late and might be tempted to do stupid stuff, like this clown.

KRLD where were you with traffic on the 8 ’s? 

To round out the fun of today in the 113-degree heat I want to speak to you truckers out there.  Now maybe this will never get to you but just in case…Put the damned phones up!

It is bad enough when cars are all over the road because unlike the rest of humanity they are more capable of texting and driving at the same time, FFS!.  Cars are not driverless yet.  Trucks, on the other hand, I genuinely do not understand.  You cannot get on the highway and not see it.  18 wheelers all over the damned road.  When you pass them, you can see them with the phone in hand.  FFS, you are going to kill someone with that thing and while you may be ok with it, the person or persons you kill I assure you will not be ok.

Why don’t trucking companies have cameras in their vehicles so they can spot idiots like this and take them off the road?

I don’t know the answer to the problem but, I have an idea…

I would encourage people to get a dash cam and when you capture something like this, post it to youtube and tag the company that the truck represents. Now if you have a passenger, then they can use their camera and get it.  If you are driving and you do not have a dashcam or passenger, do not become part of the problem, just steer clear of the maniac and hope he or she doesn’t kill someone.

In summary: if you are upset with climate change, do something about having tens of thousands of car sitting in one place idling for hours on end.  Plan your construction projects better.  If you are the engineer who has anything to do with traffic lights, synchronize them when possible, so cars do not have to sit and idle on busy motorways.

You who figure out what the speed should be on the road, my god, put some common sense thought into the process! The inconsistencies boggle the mind.  It is almost as if you tossed a dart at a bunch of numbers when you were planning it.

You need more speed limit signs on 30 and 20.  You also need more police presence driving the posted speed limit setting the example.  When a car doing the speed limit is impeding traffic, that is a bad thing and indicative of piss poor planning on someone’s part.  More signs!

Finally my last bitch for the day…. Road construction zones.  I have traveled this great nation to all states but one. I must tell you that when I see these bogus road construction signs, fines double and there is nobody around or in many cases, not one spade of dirt overturned it just smells of extortion. Yes, Extortion.  To take miles of a perfectly good highway and have everyone do 55 instead of 75 only because some orange signs are posted needs to stop.  Tickets should not be a source of revenue.

I would call on the state legislature to introduce a bill making this practice illegal.  I would also ask to have the lower speeds in constructions zones not enforced on days when the workers are not present, again, a flashing sign.

If two-lane roads in BFE can be 70, I think a stretch of highway with no workers present can be 70 too.

Folks it is just common sense, and we seem to be short on supply…

For those of you who follow me, as I am a writer, I wanted to tell you that my latest thriller is finished.  I love it!

The name of the work is called “Presidential Assassins.”  The manuscript will now go to editing, and the cover art still has to be created.

The story is so good, you’re going to love it!

Follow me on Twitter for more updates @authortwscott

Follow me here on WordPress to keep up with my thought of the day.  Sorry if you don’t like my terse tone but my god, it is time someone uses that gray matter between their ears for something other than to hold up their hat.

 

Much Love -TW

The Ticket

Keep you hands in plain site

 

Greetings and Happy Sunday!
I hope you are having a great weekend.

In church this morning I heard a story that reminded me of a situation that happened in my life that I wanted to share.

Years ago I was driving through the city of Lewisville Texas. Lewisville is home to a many who live north of Dallas and south of Denton. There are a few shops that I go to on occasion.
On this particular day, I was trying to find a new place I had heard about. Taking the exit one must go under a bridge, around a loop and then go back down the feeder on the southbound side of I35.
The time of day was in the early afternoon so the sun about 20 feet above the street if it were right in front of you.
Once traversing the bridge the way to get to southbound feeder was ill-defined at best. There were two entrances one of which had “do not enter signs” around it. The other did not.
Now I had never been on this particular stretch of road. It looked confusing, so I actually stopped and looked around to see what I was missing. There in the parking lot across the street was one of Lewisville’s finest sitting there I assumed running radar. Looking once more that the intersection I turned into the entrance without the “do not enter” signs.
The same officer that I saw sitting there was now behind me with his lights flashing.
“Pull over in the parking lot!” I hear with my windows closed.
Ok, I was not speeding, had my turn signal on, why is he back there?
Getting out of his cruiser he asks for the usual stuff and disappears into his car.
After seeing that I was not a threat to mankind, not wanted for anything and that my insurance, license sticker and everything else was up to date, he hands me a ticket for making an illegal left turn.
“Where was the sign that said don’t do this,” I enquired?
“They don’t have one but they should, he explained. But, if you go back and look up, you will see some signs with arrows on them and one with an X through a left turn arrow.”
As he thanks me for my courtesy, he gets back into his cruiser and floors it, screeching the tire igniting all 500 horses into a full gallop as he leaves the scene of his crime-fighting efforts.
I took the time to turn around and go find the sign. Friends, there it was, 20 feet in the air and about 50 feet in front of the intersection were some arrows, and one certainly had a line through it for the left turn.
Do you remember what else was at 20 feet above the ground?
Yes, the glaring sun blinding you and obscured the signs for anyone to see.
I am not an advocate of hating on police officers. As a matter of fact, I have many who are close personal friends. This 30-year-old man could have done many things including at the very least offering me a warning, as this was my first ticket ever!
I, in fact, drove over a 1000 miles a week for 15 years and never got a ticket.
Looking at all the options, they make it really easy to send them the $200 plus dollars if you take differed adjudication.
What that means is, if you don’t get another ticket in a year, it does not show up on your record. You just go up to the window there and hand the clerk a credit card, and you’re done.
That was ten years ago, and I have still not gone back to Lewisville to shop. I did drive through that intersection on a recent trip to see if they had changed it, and they have indeed put some signs at eye level that take the confusion out of the process.
I guess that officer had to find another honey hole to use to hunt for confused drivers. I am sure that they exist, I have seen them as I travel a good bit.
There is an issue when one gets a ticket. That is this. I think it makes you a less safe driver, at least it did with me. I started second guessing every move that I made. Much like a student driver, I deliberately thought about each and every action when I drove.
Like life, we tend to do things automatically. We don’t think about driving like we don’t think about breathing. You just do it. If the signs are appropriately placed and thought out, that is what it should be like.
This man knew and I would guess was purposefully sitting there at this time of day knowing full well those signs would be hiding in front of the sun, which they were. He admitted that they should have a no left turn sign at eye level. Then he hands me a $210 ticket and leaves, screeching his tires and using unnecessary acceleration to get onto the feeder.
I wanted to take it to court. Because of a head-on collision with a drunk driver 30 years ago, I physically cannot sit for any length of time. So in effect, I am deprived of my legal rights to be heard by our system of justice, as I cannot physically sit in one place while they go through there painful procedures at the speed of grass growing.
Allow me to be very clear. I honor our men and women in blue. As I stated, I have many close friends who serve in this capacity. Those that I have shared this story with called the man a prick. I had a few other choice words which I will not share.
Having said that never, I repeat never adjudicate your case on the side of the road. We recently learned of an officer in Roswell using a coin toss app to see if he should detain a driver.
In Irving not long ago we saw a woman accosted on the side of the road by an officer.
Make sure they can see your hands at all times. If they pull you over in the evening make damned sure that your light inside the car is on and your hands are in plain sight. When they pull you over their adrenaline is pumping, and they too are human and might mistake a sneeze for you pulling a gun on them.
“Yes Sir, No sir, thank you officer!” should be the most common words in your vocabulary when dealing with the man or woman in blue. Judges go through a little more training than the people in blue do, and they are not afraid for their lives like the person who just chased you down might be, and is now wondering what he or she is about to face.”
I was driving a minivan, a soccer mom mobile so I am confident that this young person felt that it was a safe bet to pull me over and save the world from my illegal left turn. FFS!
The losers are the cops and the City of Lewisville. Yes, they got $210 of my hard earned money. But, that cop represents all police. He represents an unfair practice of finding confusing intersections and waiting for someone who is driving on automatic mode and not expecting something so out of the ordinary. Or my personal favorite is the officers who sit in parking lots at the bottom of a hill with their radars shooting up the hill.

If you need a radar gun to tell that I am speeding by a couple of miles an hour you probably should not stop me.

This man who stopped me works or worked for a group of people who think what he did was great, and wish they had thought of it. The city loses because I don’t take my business there any longer, period. I will go way out of my way to stay out of that city and have done so since the ticket fiasco.

Business owners in Lewisville should probably go to a city council meeting and bring this up. Do I still sound pissed? Yes, I think I am. That was unfair and wrong and just Bullshit!

Will they miss my money that I spend elsewhere? Will they lose the tax revenue? Probably not but, you see I am also a writer, Unlike that officer who could have made me aware of the sign hidden by the sun, and then tell me to have a beautiful day he chose to use it as a revenue-generating moment.

I chose to use this blog to point out that there are people in this world who are self-serving and some of them wear blue.

I am of the opinion that all money generated from traffic infractions should not be in the city’s coffers. Generating revenue from tickets encourages speed traps which I have seen throughout the country.

I am for law enforcement, just not as a source of revenue.

As I leave you today, I want to leave you with this thought. As I complain about an unjust treatment and an abuse of the vehicular codes, my heart and prayers go out to the officer and his family today who died in the line of duty. The officer was viciously attacked by a person with a rock and then shot with his own gun multiple times.
These people disserve the ability to work their shifts protecting us, and serving us, and then go home to their families where they transform into mom or dad until their next shift.

As I write this, I got a news alert telling me of three cops shot and the shooter killed. Pray for the police and their families.

I could pontificate about why this is happening, but when you see the heated rhetoric in this country today, and you see Hattie become a no man’s land because of civil unrest, just possibly it is time we dial back the rhetoric a little bit @CNN…
There is a loss of respect for just about everyone, and it is justified or rationalized through the lens of hate. I don’t hate that officer that misused his position of authority, I dislike what he did, and I think it is a disservice to his uniform, his fellow officers, and his community.

Those that push this hate driven agenda don’t care. They need the country divided at all cost, and it is a ploy that anarchists have used for centuries. With social media, it is just much more accessible.

“Screwed”  Food for thought

We have become too dependent on “services” to rescue us.  Services which cost money and leave you at the mercy of said service.

 

 

In as many weeks, I have had two sheet metal screws extracted from my tires.  This time I had the windows down when it happened.  You ask, what does that have anything to do with it?

 

When you drive in an alley, the sounds emanating from your car bounce nicely off the fences on either side.  This is a great diagnostic tool if your vehicle is making any noises that it should not make.  At slow speeds with your windows down, you can hear not only squeaks and other sounds that you may never otherwise hear but also if your tires have picked up a rock in the tread, or, in this case, a screw you might hear it tapping away on the pavement.

 

Halfway down the alley headed toward my house I hear this “tap…. Tap…. tap, that should not be there.

 

Much like taps on one’s shoes, a screw or other hard substance that does not belong embedded in your tires possibly will alert you to its presence…

 

Why?  Why do I waste your valuable time telling you about screws in tires?

 

Firstly, try it.  When you are about to enter your alley or leave your home as most of us do, roll your windows down.  Yes, the allergens are there, and this is still Texas in the Summer. It is hot but, if something is going on with your tires, or maybe your brakes, you might hear that metallic scraping sound of the “feeler” telling you that you need new brake pads. If you have something in one or more of your tires, you might hear that too.  You could possibly hear that incessant squeak of your CV joint or U joint that is ready to leave you stranded someplace.

Ideally, your car should not be making any sounds when not in motion other than that of the engine.  On the move, there should be minimal sounds too.  Any metallic squeaking or tapping is an indicator of something that might need attention.

Like the insurance commercial with the stranded kids holding a crowbar asking if this is a lug wrench, it is a sorry feeling to have a flat in the middle of nowhere.  Even with Cell phones, you are still stuck!

I hesitate to ask how many of us these days would even know how to change a tire or where to place the jack or possibly where the lug nut key is or how to use it.  Are your kids driving?  Have you had them change a tire? Can you safely change a tire?  Does your spare tire have air in it?  Do you know where the spare tire is? Don’t laugh; many cannot or do not know.

We have become too dependent on “services” to rescue us.  Services which cost money and leave you at the mercy of said service.

Removing a screw in your tires immediately might save you a tire as in my case, one of these was too near the edge of the tire to be safely repaired, they would not have fixed it. Had the screw violated enough of the tire’s tread, it would have been $250 plus, shot to hell for a 5 cent screw carelessly discarded or lost which will mess with your attitude as well as your wallet.  Removing it before it hammered itself into the tire saved me that money, as well as the aggravation and lost time.

If you remove a screw and hear a hissing sound, you’re screwed.  Mark where it is before you remove it.  Listen for escaping air, if none then apply soapy water to the area and watch for bubbles.  If none appear, you are ready to go, if bubbles appear you will need the services of an NTB or Discount or one of those other tire places.

A can of fix a flat might get you to the next tire place but do not rely on that stuff.  Like any tool in your arsenal, it is a tool that might get you off the side of the road.

If on the other hand, that little light on your dash appears days later, then at least you know where to tell the technician to look for the leak.

What else might we do?

 

These types of screws are prevalently used by air conditioner type people, but any handy man might use them for something including the use of plumbers tape.

If you look at the picture, you will notice that the end of the screw is very sharp and indeed made to pierce sheet metal and make its own pilot hole.  That is why these types of screws are very good at flattening tires.

If you are having any home repair, of any kind, as a courtesy to your neighbors and as a favor to yourself, you might want to inspect the area where the person was working and, where they were parked.

A quick peek inside their trucks, you will most probably reveal something that looks a child’s closet with an unkempt pile of stuff, including boxes of spilled screws on the floor.  I once had a man show up in a truck to give me a roof repair quote where a half bottle of Gin “the large size” rolled out and hit the ground.  While the gin is another story, the roofing nails and other screws could not only ruin your day but your neighbors as well.

 

No, not upset or angry and this is certainly not a rant. 

 

I walked the alley this morning picking up yet another screw, pointing straight up, while looking for anything that might ruin someone else’s day.  This is a habit with me at gas stations, parking lots, frankly where ever I am walking. If I see something that might mess up someone’s tire, or perhaps their foot,  I pick it up and trash it.

On a recent trip, I stopped at a gas station in Raton.  This was the least expensive gas station in New Mexico, (per gas buddy) so it was busy.  In front of me were some border patrol agents getting ice and other supplies as well as gas.  Opening the rear side door to put the ice into a cooler, all sorts of “stuff” came crashing out of the vehicle onto the ground.  I pulled out of that lane and moved into another beside them.  I offered them a hand as they were scooping up the rest of their stuff.  My assistance was declined, and I went about getting my gas.

After they left, I noticed the sun glinting off of something still on the ground.  Walking over there while simultaneously stopping another customer from pulling into their spot were several live rounds of 38 S ammunition.  Can driving on top of live ammo set it off?  Probably not but, do you want to be standing next to it when several tons of pickup truck drive over it!  I picked it up and then tried to garner the agent’s attention before they pulled out onto the highway headed south.  No such luck.  If federal agents can be that lackadaisical about leaving live ammo on the ground for anyone to find or drive on top of, what does that tell us about the fastidiousness of two men and a truck handymen or air conditioner repair people?

About services.

I had my oil changed at one of those places not far from here.  They offer a free brake inspection and tire rotation.  Well, of course, their goal is to replace your brakes, but mine were not needing replacing.  Using my lug nut key to remove and replace my tires they neglected to return it.  Of course, I did not think to check for it, so weeks went by without it in my car.

Offering a friend a lift to Grand Prairie in the middle of the Texas Summer, I managed to pick up a large bolt in one of my tires on the return trip.  Broken down in the midst of summer on the side of the road is no place to be.   I jacked up my car.  Sweat is now pouring off me without as much as a bottle of water in the car. I then went to get the spare tire out. Making sure it was inflated now all I had to do is remove a half dozen lug nuts swap the tire and get to the tire store to get it fixed.

“No lug nut key!”

After tearing the car apart looking for it, I could only conclude that the bozo that worked on my car last did not replace it.

Calling the place that rotated my tires, the technician admitted that he had a “few” in his toolbox and one of them “might” work!

That is like saying I have a few keys on my key ring and one of them might open up your car.  Those are not generic they are keys just like the key that goes into your car or home.  Either it was made to fit my locking lug nut, or it was not.

Translated, he knew he had it among others and was rather crappy about calling and admitting his screw up.  They, of course, had no way to send it to me or get it to me on the side of the road, so I now needed “the service” which I paid for monthly.

Calling the service, they could not find a record of my account.  I ask them just to send out a wrecker, and we could deal with it later.  “Nope if you are not a customer we cannot help you! Click”

I was indeed a customer with “WAS” being the operative word but, the side of the road is no place to litigate with idiots.  Calling 411 getting a number to a wrecker service, finally, I had one on the way.  Five hours later a wrecker shows up.  Did I mention it was over 100 degrees and I was on the side of the road now for over 8 hours without food or drink!

 

What can we learn from this little story?  “A true nightmare endured by yours truly.”

When someone works on your car, always make sure that they replace the tire key.  Without it, you are screwed.  Carry water in your vehicle as even hot or warm water is better than no water.  Don’t depend on any service, as it is only as good as their employees, who as you can tell were not shining examples of intelligence.

 

Things that I should have considered are phoning a friend.  With all of the friends that I have, I did not want to burden them with my problems.  Had I any idea that a wrecker driver would take over five hours to show up, picking me up after six p.m. on a Friday night off the side of a busy freeway, I might have just left the car there, and phoned that friend.  I might have gone and picked up that lug nut key in person, which probably would have ended badly.  One should never deal with idiots when one is “upset.” Things tend to work out as they should and just possibly this is one of them.

As I conclude this series of short skirmishes with vehicular mishaps, I might also add that one should never ever under any circumstance argue with a cop when they are being pulled over.  “Yes sir, thank you sir, my hands are in plain sight sir,  I am not moving sir until you tell me!” All of this is with lights on inside the car.  The side of the road is no place to litigate your case with a cop.  Are they idiots?  Who knows.  Probably not but, what they are is anxious.  Their adrenaline is pumping when they turn on the lights.  They know who the car belongs to before they approach your window.  What they don’t know is who you are.

Once they have your information then they know something about you as in “no wants or warrants.”  At this point they are probably a little less tense as they know that you just messed up, and will take their ticket, maybe grumble a bit, and go about your business, and allow them to hunt for their next prey.

Now let’s say that you are not a model citizen.  You have been in trouble before.. You my friend need to even be more purposeful in complying with him or her and not giving them any reason to put their hand on that gun.  Again, yes sir or ma’am, with hands in plain sight not moving unless instructed to do so.  The side of the road is where more bad things happen! You do not want to be the reason an officer is on administrative leave.

Yes, I said prey.  Let’s face it, these people have tools that resemble ray guns from some Sci-Fi movie shooting invisible laser beams while hiding behind some bush or in some darkened bridge shadow while hunting their next victim.  If they cannot tell by visible looking, that you are driving recklessly and indeed need sophisticated technology to see that you are going a few miles an hour faster than the posted speed, that is just crap.  

Before they changed their radio technology to a scrambled or encrypted form of communication I would listen to them.  Young men and women bored I suspect made games out of “hunting” for their next victim.  It is kind of an adrenaline charged game to some of them.  These are people’s lives and a game it should not be.  

I get why some are upset with cops.  Some cops need to find another vocation.  They are there to protect and to serve, and anything else is not part of the job description.  It is a job like any other job however; at the end of their shift they deserve to go home and live life like anyone else.  Full disclosure, I have many friends who are cops or are first responders.

 

Have a great rest of the day.