Monday, January 25, 2010

More On Excessive Safety

My wife & I are the proud parents of, among others, a 10 month old. Naturally he's curious about seemingly everything, such is the way of such small children. It's typical.

As part of that, we have to exercise caution. Cleaning fluids are not close-by. The floor has to be vacuumed very often because he is prone to putting every last crumb and bit of paper into his mouth. It's actually kind of annoying at times, but it's typical--and our place to protect him from such hazards. No problem at all.

Sometimes, though, the "experts" forget--there are parents living in that home, too--and last time I checked, the parents were the ones with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Working, making the payments, making sure nothing is out-of-stock, having food, debating which product will entertain their children while also educating them, fixing a water leak, making sure all the lights are out, etc.

You would think, in the midst of all of this, a parent can get some relief when they need it. Especially when the parent is experiencing some back pain and needs a little ibuprofen to help ease the tension, it sounds like a reasonable-enough request to be accommodated.

But in today's over-sterilized/over-protected world, seemingly nothing is safe from safety.

I experienced this today, early this morning.

I awake with some pain in my back, it's killing me. I am remembering that, not even a week ago, we bought a 50-tablet packet of ibuprofen. Perfect, I thought--I'll take some of that, maybe I will feel better.

In the dark I stumbled, piddling around, trying to locate it. I turned on the lights, looked harder & harder.


No matter how much I looked, I couldn't find it. Relief from back pain was not to be experienced today.

And why was this relief not available to me?

You guessed it--the "safety" freaks were at it again.

You see, someone had advised us that all medications had to be out-of-sight. Not out-of-reach, mind you--which I totally understand & agree with--but out of SIGHT. Children are not supposed to be able to even SEE the medication. Apparently, I am to believe that--somehow--my 10 month old will climb to the top of our refrigerator (where the pills had been) and get their hands on them.

The requirement for safety-proof bottles was one thing. But apparently that wasn't enough. Then we had to put the bottles out-of-reach. Now, even that isn't enough. Now the bottles have to be out-of-sight.

What's next--are we going to have to store the bottles at Ft Knox and request permission from the armed guards?

It's bad enough we're trying to take all the fun out of being a child. I recall with glee, for instance, us riding in the back of my Aunt's pickup truck--camper-shell attached--on the way to lake vacations. It was great for the children & the adults. The 5 of us would be back there cutting up and having the absolute time of our lives just being kids. The adults were up-front, with a quiet cabin all to themselves, able to talk about adult-things without us hearing the details, and without them having to keep telling us to be quiet every 5 seconds.

As this post makes clear, though, the thinking has changed. (I posted a comment there.) Safety is everything now, to the point of killing all the fun of being a child--or adult. What's more, you as the parent aren't allowed to decide for yourself what balance between safety-fun you wish to set things. Society has decided it's all about safety 100%, and that includes your children too--not just their own. Under the guise of safety, they refuse to mind their own business. If we were to dare replicate that camper shell/pickup truck feat today, odds-are some busy-body would yank a cellular phone out and be on the phone with social services before we'd get 2 miles down the road.

It's disgusting, nauseating, and--dare I say it--downright socialist. This is the US of A, save the nanny states for China & North Korea. To heck with that here, and all of those that would just spread it even more.

Tomorrow, I think the ibuprofen is going to be brought back to the top of the refrigerator. Next time I have a headache or whatever, relief is going to be available for me. Period. Anyone that doesn't like it, doesn't have to come in. Anyone that does & complains, they're going to be shown the door--and don't let it hit them on the way out.


Friday, October 9, 2009

We Need More 'Highway To Heaven' Trust, Less 9-11 Paranoia

As a (nearly) 41 year old I'm prone to "back in the good old days" wonderings of the brain if I'm not careful. However, the more I live & experience, to more I feel inclined to simply state this--I do not subscribe to the whole "it's a different world since 9-11" paranoia that seems to be sweeping the nation.

As one example, one recent story1 commented on how big-city random police street-searchings have doubled in the past 2 years or so, and people applaud this--after all, crime has dropped. Others do not, they consider it a violation of privacy and demeaning--even going so far as to change their route to-from home/work to avoid them. I subscribe to that mentality myself. Believe me, I am thankful for attempts to reduce crime, but at some point it begins to make me uncomfortable, as if we are pushing our society towards a police-state of sorts. I want no part of it.

Like the person highlighted in the story who started taking a different route between home & work because he found the constant searchings demeaning and a nuisance, I myself just want to live and be left alone. There is a reason we moved from the big city (Tucson AZ) to the "boonies"--to live without being bothered and hassled by, among other people, the police.

By the same token, I don't agree with warrantless wiretapping of phones, photo-finishers phoning police over every bathtub photo taken by parents of their children (in fact I applaud the parents who sued WalMart2 for doing this), I think it's totally ridiculous for someone like me to encounter "don't take photos of my kids, you pervert!" when I'm at the lake snapping photos of the ducks as part of my legitimate (and legal!) photography hobby (I don't snap photos of their kids, but in fact, it's legal to do, it's called Freedom of the Press).

Likewise I do not act all nutty and crazy if my daughter Helen (2½ years of age) is friendly with people she doesn't know. I don't want her running off with a stranger obviously, but I don't want her being all scared of everybody either. I much prefer a friendly, trust-presuming type of society myself. I watch old DVDs of "Highway to Heaven" and love it when the Michael Landon character, in response to someone saying to him "but why would you help me, we're strangers" and he responds "because people CHOOSE to be, I would rather choose to be a friend." I love it, too, when he asks someone he barely knows if they'd like to go with him to do whatever--young females, even, and they trust him. Right on. That is my kind of society.

That society is dead, you say? As he would say--only because we choose to do so. Just because 9-11 happened is no reason for us to lose our heads and assume a "trust no one" stance. I want no part of a world like that.

We need more of that "Highway to Heaven" type of thinking, and less of this crazy paranoia that I'm seeing in the 2000's & beyond. At the same time, those of us like me who value our privacy and being left alone by the police when we've done nothing wrong are not nut-cases with something to hide, we just don't like being hassled--and freedom from a police-state type of society is something that should ever go out-of-style, 9-11 or not.


1 Police Stop more than 1 Million People, source: Yahoo.Com
2Parents Sue WalMart For Bathtime Photos, Text-Based Article
3Parents Sue Walmart, Video Clip

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rat-Running, and 18-Wheelers/Tractor Trailers

One aspect of daily life that has always bugged me is driving--or at least many aspects of it. That is a post all its own--heck, that's a BLOG all its own. Today, I will deal with 1 aspect, or 2 combined into one (sort-of)--"rat-running" (or "shortcutting") and tractor-trailers (or 18-wheelers).

First-off, tractor-trailers/18-wheelers. I have long disliked the presence of 18-wheelers and/or tractor-trailers on the roads. At best, they're a necessary evil; at worst, dangerous and noisy monsters that dramatically damage the quality of life of anyone or anything within range. They block traffic, they're loud, they make you cough (especially if you're bicycling), and--frankly--too many of their drivers take advantage of their vehicle's size to bully people.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that they're necessary for deliveries and the operation of commerce. Truckers have a hard job in providing the services they do. That said, this doesn't mean that their presence everywhere is appropriate.

The main behavior I take issue with, and 18-wheelers are not the only ones that do it either, is "rat-running." This Wikipedia article describes what rat-running is. Basically, it's short-cutting through roads that aren't meant to handle large volumes of traffic. More to the point, it's shortcutting down roads which were designed specifically to be quiet and--paradoxical as it may seem (as these are roads, after all)--which were designed for residents who want as little traffic as possible so as to have a quiet, peaceful environment around them.

I learned of this while living in Tucson, AZ. At first I didn't see it that way myself; when I'd read articles about residents complaining of traffic on a certain road close to where they live, I thought they were being a hypocrite. I mean, gee whiz, Tucson was a city of 500,000 people, who were they to think their road was special? Why was it okay for the road near the mall to be packed with cars, but not the road near their house?

Over time, I came to see that I was wrong.

Different streets have different intended uses. A narrow 2-lane road, well away from the main streets, with speed-humps and houses lining the sides, has a far different intended usage than a wide 8-lane highway next to the mall and car dealerships. The latter is meant to handle large volumes of the traffic of the entire city as they commute to work and shop etc. The former is not. The former is designed for the residents living in the nearby houses to be able to walk-around, bicycle, jog, etc--without large volumes of cars polluting the environment. By pollution, I don't just mean fumes, but also noise and even just the irritation of cars being in the way.

What happens in "rat running" is that people use these residential roads in large numbers rather than using the main roads which were designed for heavy traffic-usage. In Tucson, this meant that work commuters would travel on these small, residential roads commuting to work. These small roads weren't intended for large volumes of commuters to use in that manner, and the residents of those roads were right to be upset at people using those roads instead of the 8-lane highways.

Around here, the common form this takes involves, often-times, 18-wheelers/tractor trailers. Rather than, say, taking a 4 lane state highway to go from the Interstate to the ultimate destination, they will instead take some narrow country-road--sometimes 1-lane roads--as a shortcut, often-times to avoid road tolls. These small roads were never designed for that volume of traffic, and in fact persons living on such roads often-times made the choice to live there specifically to avoid such large trucks to begin with.

In some communities, people have complained and laws have been passed forbidding 18-wheeler from being allowed on such narrow country roads. I support this. I get sick & tired of hearing the truckers whine about how they're not appreciated. Again, as annoying as 18-wheelers are, they are a necessity, and on major 4/6-lane state highways and the Interstate, so be it. But they have absolutely no business whatsover on narrow county roads. We're talking about places with no businesses, no employers, dotted with quaint farm houses--these are places people move to in order to get away from traffic, including 18-wheelers/tractor trailers.

In my opinion, it is amorale behavior for someone to shortcut through minor roads that they don't live on, especially when it's large numbers of persons doing this to save 2-tenths of a mile n their work commute, and then large 4-6 lane highways are readily available for them to use.

Think of it this way--you realize that loud shouting is inevitable at a rock concert. Would you appreciate someone doing this while you're researching in the library? Of course not. Same thing here. It's out-of-place and completely inappropriate--and downright immoral.


1Tractor Trailers Not Allowed in Left-Hand Lane, Source: Wral.Com
2Tractor-trailer Ban on Local Roads - New Jersey, Source: NewRules.Org
3Damage, danger spur possible Oglethorpe ban on tractor-trailers, Source: OnlineAthens.Com
4SAVE proposes truck ban on local roads, Source: Save41.Org
5State Funds to Pave Way for Truck Ban, Source: La Times
6Rules banning truck traffic on Central New York roadways move closer to being final, Source: Syracuse.Com

Monday, August 10, 2009

Legal Kidnapping: Passengers on Planes

I read this story today1, about passengers stuck on a plane for 6 hours, not allowed to leave. I have heard of a few such incidents the past few years, and I can only call it one thing--legal kidnapping.

I also imagine how I'd respond if I were in that situation. I tend to think that I'd respond along the lines of doing whatever I had to in order to leave the plane, even if it involved activities along the lines of a Chuck Norris fight scene (and I think anyone caught in this situation should do exactly that, although in all likelihood I probably would end up wussing out), because to me it is a clear case of kidnapping--yes, kidnapping--to not allow me to simply leave an airplane. Gee whiz, do these people think they own me?

I have heard that the laws, part of the Homeland Security Department regulations if I'm correct, are a large part of this. My response--I don't care. It matters not to me what the law is, and what the reasoning is (at least in principle), I don't care if it has anything to do with this whole post-9/11 paranoia sweeping across the country. (I need to do a blog entry about that very thing sometime.) It is totally a violation of my rights to make me stay on a plane that has landed on the ground. I don't care if the security screeners were not present, that's not my problem and it's not my fault.

My tendency, when I hear of these issues, is to say--if I were ever in that situation, then I'd do whatever I had to, even to the point of performing Chuck Norris-like karate moves on anyone, including air marshals if necessary, in order to not be a participant in what is, in my view, downright kidnapping. In fact, I think every person on a plane in this situation should do exactly that, if that's what it takes to protect one's right to freedom from improper (notice I didn't say unlawful) detainment.

Disclaimer: I am not an advocate of violence per se, at all, I am not at all saying every disagreement with someone in authority should be handled by acting like a Chuck Norris wanna-be. As a general rule, "play the game" as it were. It's just like with being pulled over for speeding--maybe you don't agree with that particular speed limit, but that situation is not the time to address it; just accept the ticket and do your advocating later. Same here, perhaps. But I do believe that, if a person is being kidnapped--and that's what I consider this to be--I think they're entitled to do whatever they have to do in order to no longer be under such improper detainment.

This site dedicates itself to the premise of flier's rights, and I myself strongly support them. This, also, is an issue where I (potentially) cross party lines--I don't care what the party affiliation is of a Senator that supports this, they are someone I'd vote for. Period.

This is just insane.

1Passengers Stranded on Flight, 08-10-2009, Source: Yahoo!
2Flyer's Rights, Founded by Kate Hanni
3Bill O'Reilly Clip About This Clip, Featuring Kate Hanni

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Texting/Writing: TOATLT (Tired of All The Lazy Typists)

This article1 highlights one of the petty/little things that annoy me--people that abbreviate excessively, especially in a manner similar to text-messages, even when the writing is more formal.

You know--LOL (laughing out loud), BFF (best friends forever), WRUD (what are you doing), blah blah blah.

You know what I call it? LTBLP (Lazy Typing By Lazy People).

What really irks me--frankly, I dislike seeing that even in text messages, but you see it everywhere, even in more formal writings, even in places where you're not limited to 140/160 characters. Letters, emails, online postings--some teachers have even reported seeing it littered all over the place in formal term papers.

Enough already.

Call me an old-fogie who "doesn't understand" or "is from the dark ages," but where I come from, you spell your words out. You do so because it makes you easier to understand, you're not placing a burden on your recipient to have to do any unnecessary work figuring out what you mean--and also, because it's just respectable, and juvenile to do otherwise.

One should take pride in knowing how to spell something correctly--that's what spelling bees are for, with children--and using proper grammar, etc. What is an education for, anyway? Why educate yourself to a collegiate level but then dumb yourself down to the level of a 3rd grader with your language & writing mannerisms?

I admit to being un-mainstream here. I spell out my words, even when text-messaging (granted, having a Palm Treo or Blackberry, with a full keyboard, makes it easier). I even capitalize the 1st word, I use the apostrophe, and I put a period/question mark etc at the end of my sentences. In other words:

Other people type: what r u doing 2day cant u cm ovr
I type: What are you doing today, can't you come over?

Yes, even in text messages, I do it like that, "all-the-way"--the first-word capitalized, the comma in-between, the ' in can't, and the question mark at the end. I do likewise with my emails--I receive emails all the time from people who abbreviate all over the place like that, never capitalize anything, mis-spell half their words, and they act like it doesn't matter a wit.

I think it's just plain lazy and tacky. I would never pick a fight or degrade someone over it, but I do think it's, at the least, sloppy and "dumbed-down" writing.

I do understand such things as, say, NASA, VCR, DVD, CD, A/C (for air conditioner), NASCAR, MSNBC, torn ACL (the common sports injury). I have no qualms with the use of acronyms with things of that nature. And don't even ask me what the heck "radar" means (radio detecting & ranging, maybe?). Those I understand, and use all the time myself.

But when someone says "My MIL [mother-in-law] came over and gave my DH [dear husband] a recipe for cake, and I shared it with my BFF [best friend forever] Pam," I'm sorry, I'm thinking--where do you work at, Irene's fish market? Did you not take any English and writing classes past the 3rd grade? Do you have any typing/word processing classes in your entire educational career? If you have, what was the point, if you're going to dumb-yourself down like that?

It makes me want to be an English teacher. I would immediately flunk any papers turned in written this way. Some teachers do this, and I applaud them. I know every student would call me an "old fogie from the 80s," so be it--but I believe in proper English, grammar, spelling, and yes--freedom from stupid acronyms like WRUD (what are you doing), especially in formal writing. Enough already. You're above the age of 7, talk like it, quit making yourself look dumb & lazy in your writing, it's undignified and unbecoming.

1Learning To Text. Source: Wall Street Journal