Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I feel better today

Rant on drivers and such is over. It's time to get back to important things...like MS3. I'm about to start row 243. I know, I know, I'm way behind, but I'm still having fun, and that's the point, right? I don't want to do the wings. I can't really picture them. So I'll probably start again on the other end from row 1 and Kirchner the pieces together. If you google Kirchner, there's a lovely video on how to do it.

If you haven't ready Stephanie's blog yet, you should. It is absolutely wonderful and is a good example of her writing. Her books are more grammatically correct, and just as much fun, as her blog. I try to check it every day.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I try not to get irritable, but . . .

While driving home this evening, about 8:45 p.m., I noticed two things that really, really irritate me.
  1. Invisible people. People who are black, brown, red, anyone with a good, dark tan: please wear light colors when you're out walking or biking at night. It's just about impossible to see you in the dark. If I hit you, it ends up being my fault. But you must understand that your dark skin, paired with dark clothing, doesn't reflect my headlights very well. And even white folks wearing dark clothing are hard to see.

  2. Don't turn left to turn right. And vice versa. When large trucks like semis go around a corner, it's important for the front end to pull wide so the rear tires don't hit the curb. Those rear wheels track inside the front ones.

    People! You're driving CARS. Very few cars have the same problem large trucks have (notice I said large trucks--NOT pickups). The rear tires of cars don't track more than an inch or two inside the path of the front wheels.

    This is very, very important:
    DO NOT pull to the right to turn left.
    DO NOT pull to the left to turn right.

    Most cars that do this end up leaving their own lane, crossing the lines clearly painted on the roadway. Do you really think everyone can just jump out of your way when you do this?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Foggy Morning in August and Hearing Aids

We haven't gotten much fog in the last few years. Don't know why. Too dry, maybe. Well, lately we've gotten more than enough rain, at least in some parts of the state, to make up for the drought. Lawns are looking much greener. Pastures, too. Too late for corn, however.

The southern part of the state, if you watch the news, has gotten so much rain they been flood out in areas that normally never flood. It's a real shame. Several people died.

Anyway, I like the fog. I remember many trips to the University of Illinois when I was dating my first husband, Steve, when it would be so foggy you could hardly see to drive. Walking in the fog felt cozy and closed in. It's hard to explain. But I liked it.

On another topic...after 3 tune-ups with the hearing aid guy, Jim, I'm starting to get the hang of hearing things again. I didn't realize how poor my hearing was until I got these things.

There are still some kinks to work out. One that has gotten better (but not great yet) is hearing trumpets and flutes in music. My hearing aids think they are hearing feedback and try to mask the sound. As a result, they play along with the music, but not in tune. It is most annoying.

The auto-program is working better now that the sensitivity has been turned down. Also, he made the transition more gradual between the "regular" and "party noise" modes so it's not so shockingly abrupt. Granted, I paid about $150 more for these than my 1996 Saturn 2 years ago. So they ought to work well.

The technician (I think that's what you'd call him), Jim, is a really nice guy. For one thing, he drives a Gold Wing motorcycle. Can't be all bad, huh? And he attends a church not unlike Eagle Brook.

Now if I can just convince the people who are used to SHOUTING around me to pipe down, I'll be happy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Twins Game - Indoors out of the Rain!

Here we are at the Dome. Free tickets (because I own a Saturn). Translate "Cheap Seats." That's what it said on the tickets, honest!

I climbed up a few steps to get a better photo of Ben, the one in front, Betty, hidden behind him, and James, on the right with the mustache, pretending to be fascinated by a game play.

This fellow's name is Doug. He sat in front of us and pretended to be "protecting" my jacket, purse, and knitting bag, which were in the chair directly in front of me.

Here's a better shot of Doug, ripping the bun off his hot dog. At first I thought he must be a health nut. He was all muscles. Then I realized those weren't muscles. Those were his brains. Later on he was poking tobakee into his lip and spitting into a not-quite-empty beer glass. Yuck.

That's me up and to the right behind him. The one with the silly grin. Betty is in the red shirt and knitting.

I took my right mitten to the game. I finished the left mitten which I worked on at the last game I attended.

Here's Betty's knitting. I think it's a mitten but it looks kinda skinny.

Betty finished her American flag sox. Aren't they cool?! The yarn created the pattern and looks a lot like stars and stripes.

I didn't knit a whole lot because of tennis elbow which I get from working on a computer all day. Oh, and because the beer would have messed up my knitting.

This fellow has a mega professional-looking camera and was taking videos of a little girl. I don't know if it was some sort of make-a-wish thing or not. I didn't ask. But he was nice enough, while blocking some of my view of the field, to let me take his picture.

And this is Betty and James. James is a friend of Ben's. Nice fellow.
The Twins lost 2-7 to the Seattle Mariners. I've never had the opportunity to watch them actually win a game.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More on the Bridge

David and I attended the taping of an MPR broadcast, scheduled for Friday, August 17, noon, this evening. There was a seemingly arbitrary choice of "panelists" which included Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, an economist, some sort of political "expert" from the University of Minnesota, and a few other people whose names all escape me. I'm not usually politically overt. I listen quietly, hope I don't get too riled up, and hope for the best.

Well, the best didn't happen last week when the bridge fell down. One of the questions for the evening was what does the public expect from our infrastructure?

The only consensus seemed to be that we should be able to drive across a bridge and not have it fall down.

Then there were arguments about whether we should be pouring money into rapid transit or maintenance of the roadways we currently have. Not: can we pay for both!

One panelist stated there was more than enough money if only someone would spend it to keep drivers safe from falling bridges. One panelist said there isn't enough money to do that. Mayor Rybak said there wasn't enough money to build roads to everyone's home. Another panelist said that, in fact, there has always been enough money for that because roads do, indeed, lead to everyone's home.

Show me where someone lives they can't get to or from via a roadway!

One question was what were we willing to give up for safety. I really don't believe this question was answered adequately by anyone there. I'm guilty of not raising my hand.

I'm willing not to go to the new Twins stadium that I'm already paying for. Why should I pay for a Twins stadium? Why should I have to pay for any sports stadium? I don't enjoy sports. The only times (twice since I moved here in 1972) I've actually attended a Twins game was for a "Stitch and Pitch" where a group of people get tickets through a local yarn shop like Three Kittens in St. Paul. We sat in the stands and mostly ignored the ball game and conversed with our fellow knitters (see my blog for July 22, 2007) and knitted on our various projects: socks, sweaters, shawls, etc.

And the other time I've gone to a Twins game (also twice) was with free tickets from Saturn. My dad always said, "For free take; for buy waste time." And my girl friend and I sat and knitted and chatted and ignored the game. (BTW, every game I've been to, all four, the Twins lost.)

Anyway, back to what I'd be willing to give up for safety. If I were assured that my tax dollars would actually go to fixing already existing bridges and roadways, I'd be willing to report my mileage each year when I purchase my license tabs and pay a tax on those miles. I drive 19 miles each way to and from work and also drive a few more to go to tai chi school (where I'm a student and instructor). I drive a lot of miles and if my cost would pay for the roads I use, so be it.

I'd also be willing to pay, if not per mile, per pound of car. David's SUV would pay for more road than my little 1996 Saturn. His Rav4 is very nice and has proven very useful in the work he does and in his personal life. But I have to think it wears on the roadways more than my little Saturn.

I'd also be willing to pay a toll to use our roadways. Rybak and company used a phrase something like "distance pricing." That's a euphemism if I ever heard one. It's a freeking TOLL, Mayor Rybak!

I grew up in the Chicago area. There are toll roads there. As far as I know, these roads are not paid for by tax dollars but by the people who use them. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.) You drive on it. You pay for the privilege. Simple solution.

One question asked was "are you afraid to drive over bridges now?" Yes, some of them. Terri Gruca has an article on wcco.com about 8 bridges in Minnesota with bad safety ratings as bad or worse than the 35W bridge that has killed 13 and injured over 100 people. After reading this one article, I'm no longer willing to drive on the Lafayette Bridge. I'm sort of willing to drive across the bridge on Hwy. 61 in Hastings and the Stillwater bridge, but only on a motorcycle. (Granted, if either bridge came down with me on it, it would be because of the cars/trucks. David's motorcycle does not guarantee we'd be safe. Just a teeny bit safer.)

The question really is this:

Would the money actually be spent in a way that would make us safer? I fear the money would be taken in and then spent foolishly.

Time will tell. . . time will tell.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It's not supposed to happen here...

I live in a Minneapolis/St. Paul suburb. I was driving home after my martial arts class last night when a co-worker called to ask if I drive over the 35W Mississippi River bridge to get home. I said no and she said "thank God." I asked why and she told me about the bridge collapsing.

These things are not supposed to happen in "my backyard." Maybe in San Francisco where they have earthquakes. Maybe in Texas or Florida where they have hurricanes. We have tornadoes but usually there's enough warning to go hide. But it did happen here. I won't speculate on why the bridge went down. I'm not any more qualified than the experts who are themselves not ready to speculate.

My first reaction was...well...I sort of froze. I was driving at the time so I had to keep doing that. But my emotions didn't know which way to go. Anger that it could happen? Well, my anger wouldn't do anything about it. There were/are people under those bridge parts.

Right now, there's only one thing I can do. And that is pray. I pray for comfort for the injured. Comfort for the families of those who are known to have perished. Comfort for those who don't know yet if their loved ones have died or are just somewhere else, safe and sound.

I also pray for courage and safety for the people who are trying to get the bodies out of the water. I pray for their protection from the swirling waters and unstable bridge parts and rebar that could really hurt them.

I thank God for the people who were willing to risk their own lives last night and help others escape from their vehicles and get them to dry land. There were many heroes at the scene.

And I thank God my son and, so far as I know right now, my friends are all safe.