Archive for the ‘Opinions and Observations’ Category

Letter 307

On-street-parking.  I know I will get a lot of kick-back for this one but I think we should end on-street-parking.  Even in residential and business districts.  Safety issues, snow clearance, traffic flow, and maintenance costs come to mind immediately.  I know many areas do not have much parking space for residents and there are more multiple car families than in the past.  Businesses also benefit if customers can park right in front of their stores.  But I am not sure this is worth blocking local traffic including emergency vehicles, utility companies, snow plows and the like in areas easily affected by weather, accidents, building fires and a host of other challenges.

Still, if we are planning a city or community, let’s plan on eliminating this practice entirely.  Just think how much this would ease congestion, improve safety, reduce city road maintenance costs, allow for emergency vehicles and unexpected weather or unusual events and improve the look and health of our streets and neighborhoods.

Let me know what you think.  What would you suggest to your city planners?

Letter 306

Here are two little things that bug me about traffic patterns and planning.  Maybe it is just me, but if I am driving in residential or even business areas where there are a lot of intersections, I think it is weird and dangerous when you come to an intersection but the traffic coming from a dead-end street does not have to stop.  This seems to happen a lot where a main road ends in cul de sacs where the “dead-end” is only one block long.  Not much traffic comes from there and it is easy to miss the fact that on-coming traffic has no stop sign.

The second minor thing is when you have multiple lanes of road or entry ramps to a highway where the lanes merge and signs say the left lane ends!  Again this does not make logical sense.  Merging traffic in the US comes in from the right lane the vast majority of the time.  The right lane is the slow or merge/exit lane.  Faster traffic is encouraged to use the left lanes, implying they have priority.  Why tell a priority lane that the lane ends…… merge into the right lane……. and sometimes when you reach the end of the entry ramp you have to merge left again?   These little things just bug me from time to time.DSC_0010

Letter # 305 

I like to drive around cities and country sides.  It becomes obvious after a bit of traveling that some cities are better planned and have more logical systems in place than others.  I would love to have the ear of some city planners because it is clear they do not PLAN for growth and other transportation needs early enough.  I would like to share some of my thoughts with you, and hopefully you will share yours here as well.  Who knows, maybe we can get the attention of a few city planners while we are it!

One thing I would really like to see changed is the location of many schools.  I know there are good reasons, but all too often they are located on the main strip through towns of all sizes.  I thought about posting pictures as examples, but we have all seen them.  My guess is this makes the land rather expensive for all tax payers.  Or to look at it another way, the land is of commercial value and interest to local businesses.  A number of businesses could pay fair price for the prime locations and exposure the real estate could provide and that would translate to higher tax collected and business success in the area.

Now consider if the schools would be located a few blocks away from “the main drag” going through town.  Your children will be safer crossing the streets and playing in the area due to reduced traffic around the school.  People that are not supposed to be there would be more obvious if they are loitering around the area.  This would reduce risk to students.

Now that the school is not on the main road, traffic flow will be improved by not restricting speeds in school zones, reducing congestion in parts of town most people will have to travel through daily or at least quite often.  I understand this might mean a loss of revenue by reducing speeding violations through school zones, but I think we can live with that!

What do you think?  Do you see more reasons to adopt this policy?  Do you think there are reasons or situations where this would not be beneficial?

Let me know what bothers you about travel through your city and in other locations.  Who knows, maybe we can suggest changes that will help a lot of people.

I drift in thought again as I look out the home office window.  I send my wife a text while she is at work.   “… odd seeing daffodils and green grass with heavy snow fall mid-April ….”

For decades we have been feeding corn and seeds to the local white-tailed deer that live in an ever decreasing amount of free land near our house.  They have flourished here for many, many years.  I used to think they would be here long after I die.  I fear now that they will soon be forced out or killed and will no longer stop by in the spring after giving birth to their young.  Each generation bringing their new-born to our picnic tables.  We recognize familiar ones and watch them grow: then disappear.

We have witnessed within the span of a generation urban sprawl and light pollution making stars all but invisible.  My new grandson will probably have to travel many miles as a man to see constellations light up the night sky.  So few in his generation will actually see the Milky Way – from Earth.

So much beauty and wonder reduced to vague dreams or myths heard only in old folk’s tales.  How many wonderful things will will soon be gone forever?  Maybe worse; people will not even know what has been lost.

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Recently I was thinking about a work incident.  Not to go into details, but there were so many lessons to learn.  A co-worker with some minor authority over me tried to get me to ‘sacrifice something’ so that they could ‘benefit’.  There was no real reason that I could connect to this request – except that they thought they should get preferential treatment because they deserved it.

When I refused with a simple but unmistakable rejecting statement, the ‘bully’ came out.  Intimidation, threatening, and harassing behavior flew rapidly in my direction.

I am a rather easy person to get along with.  I do not get into gossip, rumors or status.  I just want to do my job, have a little fun if I can, and go home.  Sometimes that is not possible, and the occasional confrontation will creep in.  If personal friction happens, I will usually smooth it over and try to let it affect me as little as possible.  I would rather forget it and start fresh the next time I meet the other person.  But this time I wondered about being that passive and easy-going.  Was I improving things?  Did it make the day or life in general better?  Does it really help to let people take advantage of my flexible attitude and/or position in life?

I came to the conclusion that it did not help or improve things at all.   If I let a bully succeed at threatening, intimidating and harassing me, they will take their successful strategy and slam it on the next guy or girl.  As a friend of mine put it; I am more likely to speak up if someone else becomes a victim than if I do.  In some way to connect to the #metoo movement without being insensitive to that real concern, I needed to find not just the ability but the benefit in raising my voice.  I went to company admins and filed a formal complaint.  Doing nothing and ‘rolling with the punches’ does not and should not always work.  At some point I learned I needed to speak up and highlight an event that in my age I could brush off easily, knowing others might not have the ability to defend or endure the hostile environment.

Is there a reason they feel so privileged and deserving of what others are denied?

I wonder why so many people in power feel it is OK to mistreat others.

Why do they think they can get away with this kind of behavior?

 

Because historically: they can.

I would like to break from history and change the future.

 

I heard the other day that about 10% of people are left-handed.  This generated a few thoughts that I have been rolling around in my head.  I have been surrounded by lefties most of my adult life.  Sometimes I get confused and try to do things like a left-handed person would.  It usually does not work out very well!

Now, think about 10% of the population that most people perceive to be ‘backwards’.  In schools when I was growing up and long before, educators would try to ‘correct’ what they saw as defiant, wrong, defective, backwards (and the implied stupidity). Many teachers and nuns would crack a ruler over your knuckles if you used the ‘wrong hand’, or did not correctly follow instructions on how to do a particular task.

Unfortunately in this day of political extremism, I see many similarities.  Think of one party as left-handed and the other as right-handed.  I will let you choose which one is which for this analogy.  For many, many years the minority of left handed people were forced to conform.  This not only made them feel as if they were being unfairly punished but also made it almost impossible for them to excel and improve using their natural gifts.

When politics are split drastically, one group could dominate the other.  The traditions of the right-handers are forced onto the minority.  There is no concern or sympathy for the minority group and they will not be given the opportunity to voice their concerns let alone suggest alternative solutions.

So let’s pretend that over the last few years the number of left-handed people increased dramatically and now they are close to a majority.   The lefties are now teachers and policy makers themselves.  They encourage children to perform tasks that make use of their natural tendencies.  They pass laws giving them ‘permission’ to do what everyone else has done in the past – to be human.  They demand equal policies and fair treatment.

But the right-handers refuse to allow that to happen and believe it is their duty to fight changes every step of the way.  They see no need for change.  This does not help them at all and now they have to be ‘tolerant’ of these people.  They feel uncomfortable watching or learning from a leftie, and certainly do not want their children to become one. (OR MARRY ONE).  They twist the truth and use marketing techniques to discredit the opposition.  The Defense of Marriage Act is an example……. unnecessary as no one was attacking marriage or trying taking away any rights.  The people that were not allowed to marry needed defense against the majority.

Whether it is equal pay, marriage, educational opportunities, housing, jobs, criminal sentencing and a long list of other ‘privileges’, you cannot be a more perfect union and still deny these basic rights to minority groups.  Sure enough, one day they may be in the majority and will remember how they were treated in the past by those in power.

Left handed people are not trying to ‘convert’ you.  They are not trying to take something from you.  They are not denying or laughing at what you feel and believe.  They are not traitors or devils or the enemy.  They are human beings deserving of the same benefits in life the right handers have taken for granted.

I am a right-handed patriot and I approved this message.

As I was growing up there was always something going on.  Six kids in my family, pets, friends, school, chores, projects, neighborhoods and a world to discover kept things active.  Then came work, children, music, art, more projects and hobbies, more moving, supporting creative efforts, grand children, changing jobs, helping friends and family members move, it never really stopped.

I never had time by my self; I have never lived alone.  Room mates, family members, partners, spouses, kids, working then practicing in spare time and playing out in bands, learning new skills and keeping up with technology all demanded time from me.  Time from my own projects.  Time by myself.  I sleep less than most people I know (other family members aside LOL) and I got a lot done.  My older brother told me that he comes to me to get a task or project done because he knows I am the busiest person he knows……  He sees that I don’t put things off or put them on a list for later.  Later may be busier than now.

I get things done.

Now so you understand, I am the world’s biggest procrastinator;  if it doesn’t NEED to be done NOW, and there might be a more efficient (or comfortable) time to do it, I will wait until that time.  I often lump tasks and projects together to save time.  I never wore a watch and I keep my ‘daily planner’ in my head.  I did not need them.  I did not have the luxury of scheduling events as they came at me at all times with varying levels of necessity and priorities already set.

Later in my life I would be surprised when a situation came up and there was no one around.  I don’t mean waiting in a doctor’s office or standing in line for something.  I mean no one around and no immediate task at hand.  It got me thinking about how little time I do have by myself without a deadline or project or finally having time to get that low priority job done.  It was hard to come up with many times over the years when that happened at all.

Now that I am older, I find myself relishing being alone.  Thinking.  Quiet.  Experiencing life outdoors.  Playing or listening to music.  Reading.  I consider myself a hermit in many ways and I think this is one of the driving forces behind the desire to ‘cut myself off’ from the rest of the world.  As with many things in life this is a double-edged sword.  I can see now that when I hesitate or postpone seeing a friend, going out to see a band, joining in on projects that I am actually being selfish.  I just want to have some time by myself.  Not to be ‘alone’, necessarily, but that is the cutting effect.

My friends will say that I am always there to help, a great friend and willing to do anything for my ‘tribe members’.  I thank them for sharing their lives with me and for loving me as I am.  But I do not go out of my way to contact people any more.  I often avoid gatherings or opportunities to be part of the group.  Inside I think I am very selfish.  Not greedy as I do not want anything and do not need more of anything.  Selfish about time to think.  Time to play with my toys.  Time to relax and do nothing.

Maybe after some time I will have had enough and venture out more.  Maybe this is short term to make up for lack of space over the years. At this point I am not sure.

Fact or Perception

As an update and a gentle lead-in to the title of this post, I recently put in a job application at the Sam Ash Music Store in Cincinnati.  I worked for years at a local instrument music chain a while ago (not records or CD type of music store…) and I also worked at an electronics music store called ICB Audio.  I thought that and my decades of management, sales and customer service experience would make me a good candidate.  I started working at Sam Ash about two weeks ago.  For me, it is like being a kid in a toy store……. because I AM!

So, do I feel like the employment situation is getting better because I now have a job?  In reality, unemployment rate is very low, and has been for a while now.  There are people still looking for work, but there are also companies that are looking but cannot find qualified workers in their field and/or location.

Do we feel that food insecurity is a myth because we do not see it in our neighborhood or town?

Everyone we know is well fed and has no difficulty getting their next meal.

Do we refuse to believe specific facts or national statistics because they do not apply to us?

I am glad to be working again doing something I love.  I will probably spend more money than I make as I have done in music stores in the past, but I will hopefully meet a lot of new talented people driven by their passion to make music for all to enjoy.

It is tough when you are unemployed.  For those of you still looking I wish you well in 2017!

The Politics of Safety 2

 

If you found yourself in a strange city late at night and your car broke down in a ‘bad section of town’ and you had to walk alone to get help; how would you feel?  No cell phone service is available.  Imagine it for a while.  Now add the possibility that you had your small child with you.  Feeling a little tense yet?

Soon you see a group of teen-age youths approaching you.  They do not look like you and are probably not part of the friendly local neighborhood watch.  They all cross the street to the same side you are walking……..

I will try to make this brief so play this out in your head for a while.   Think of a movie scene unfolding.

If you feel you and the child are in danger, what steps would you take to ensure your safety?

Would you cross to the other side of the street?

If approached and you felt intimidation, would you begin to run?

If you had a knife would you point it at the group?

If you had a hand gun would you point it at the group?

If you had an automatic weapon would you pull it out?

If you had a grenade would you pull the pin?

If you had a device that would destroy the entire block but you would be safe would you use it to save yourselves?

If you had a massive weapon that would level the city but you would not be harmed would you use it?

You are calm now and reading what seems like an unlikely scenario, but the protection and preservation of your life and that of your child is hard wired into each of us.  To avoid the possibility (real or imagined) of harm to you and your child are you willing or could you imagine killing or injuring one of the group.  How about two of them.  What about all of them?  In the stress of the moment would you risk injuring passers-by?

In the US we have the ‘right to bear arms’.  It is in the constitution plain as day.  But when this was written the bow and arrow had been replaced by single-shot guns as the major weapons of the time.  Cannons could not be carried or moved by a single person or easily reloaded.  Hand guns capable of rapidly firing multiple bullets were not invented until the 19th century.

The authors of the US constitution had no concept of revolvers, semi automatic weapons let alone modern military style assault weapons of today or tomorrow.  The thought of RPG’s (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and other military tools were unimaginable at the time.

We are required to take tests and acquire a license to drive a car.  More tests, training and licenses to drive a commercial truck or bus.  Even more to operate cranes and earth movers.

We need a hunting license to shoot wild game – are told where and when allowed by local laws.  We have to get a license to get married.  Statistics are gathered and analyzed in fine detail for all of the above.

Funny; when you ask manufacturers and sellers of weapons how to resolve civilian mass shootings and the real threat of criminals with hi-capacity guns – the ONLY answer is to sell more and bigger guns so everyone has one.  Hell, they want you to buy a dozen.

We can purchase guns of all sorts including military style assault rifles without question in a number of ways.  We do not need a license to hunt or kill humans in this country.  The government is prevented by special interest groups from spending any money to gather data on gun usage or sales.

With very few exceptions, no one is trying to take your guns away –  No one wants to stop you from defending your family from home intruders –  No one wants to stop you from legally hunting wild game – any more than they want to take away your car or pick-up truck by requiring you get a license.  But what we are doing now does not make sense.