April 25, 2008

Just Drive.

As I type this first sentence of this entry, I realize that I’m probably going to sound like a cocky prick as my words flow onto the screen. It’s a good thing I don’t care.

I have always been a fan of driving. I am a motoring enthusiast. I love roads (hence my career as a civil engineer), I revel in construction, I relax by driving as far as I can, only to turn around and come back home. My farts smell like exhaust fumes.

One concept that I can not wrap my head around is the idea that driving is scary. I have talked to many, many people from this area over the years that are afraid to drive in “the city”. They’re afraid to drive on the “interstate”. Mind you, during these conversations they are talking about our city: a primary contributor to the “rust belt” with a population of about 50,000 or so and our interstate, one of the shortest in the entire country clocking in at just over three miles long.

As a teenager I was counting the seconds until I could get my driver’s permit. On my 16th birthday (which was a Friday the 13th by the way) my mother took me down to the Department of Motor Vehicles and I promptly took the written test and passed with just one question wrong; we filled out the proper paperwork and I was behind the wheel on the way home. It wasn’t my first time behind the wheel, I once drove home from a neighboring town at 14 years with my Dad in the passenger seat. I had driven a fork-lift all over the lumber yard my family owned and I had ridden motorcycles and mo-peds.

I reveled in the experience of driving, and per the rules of my parents, went through one winter on my permit and Driver’s Education before getting my license before I turned 17.

As I mentioned before I can’t wrap my head around being scared to drive. I’ve driven through Los Angeles and Orange County while yapping on a cell phone and snorting coke (totally kidding about the last two points), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed 128 around Boston at rush hour, I’ve bombed through Phoenix on I-10, I’ve driven the 190 in Buffalo in the middle of a whiteout and I’ve driven through Dublin on the other side of the road with the wheel on the other side of the car. I know my limits and I know the limits of the vehicle I’m driving. When I’m in the driver’s seat, the car is an extension of my body and I treat it as such.

So here’s where I become a prick.

1. Freeway on-ramps are designed for you to reach the speed of the traffic on the freeway before you merge into traffic. Don’t look back at me in your mirror with bewilderment because I’m trying to coax you above 25 MPH. There are exceptions to the rule on outdated parkways in the Northeast.

2. When you are sitting behind the wheel of the car you are there to drive. You are not there to shave, put on makeup, talk on the phone, counsel the children, eat a meal or make a bagel.

3. Modern traffic signals will not know to change in your favor until they sense that you’re waiting. Creeping up to the light at 10 is just going to prolong the experience for all involved.

4. The “stop line” at intersections are not randomly placed anywhere. Traffic engineers have taken countless precise measurements and have strict standards to adhere to regarding their placement. Just because you can’t make a left turn properly (cutting the angle short across the other lane of traffic) doesn’t mean that you have to make mean faces because I’m right where I should be awaiting for you to complete your idiocy. Don’t look shocked when I stick my tongue out at you.

5. The left lane on the freeways of the United States is NOT the ‘fast lane’, it is the ‘passing lane’. If you’re not passing anyone, you don’t belong there. That’s why we are spending additional taxpayer’s money putting up signs that say “KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS”. This is just common sense. If someone blinks their lights at you (a common practice in Europe) because you’re dawdling in the left lane, don’t get all offended, you’re the one that is wrong.

Now, get out there and enjoy the driving experience. Happy motoring!


As an older college student I am in the interesting position to make silent observations about what goes on in schools these days. There are things that many students are hesitant to say around their professors, teachers and such that they otherwise share with their fellow students. Since I reside on the student side of the fence, I hear and see many of these things directed toward or about other students.

I am fortunate in that I realised my sexual orientation very early in life and pretty much came to terms with it while I was still in high school. The last half of my senior year it was pretty much a given that I was batting for the smaller team, though I never told anyone (other than myself) until after graduation. I was picked on once in a while (actually, that was mostly before I came to terms with it myself) but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle for the most part. During my current time in school I don’t run around screaming “I’m gay! I’m gay! Look at me I’m gay!” with my hands waving in the air but I don’t deny or mislead in anyway and I correct people who assume that my wedding band represents a heterosexual marriage. I, for the most part, have the respect of my fellow students and am able to “hang with the guys”. I attribute most of this to my age.

Like me so many years ago, today there are many teens coming to terms with their sexuality early in life. The atmosphere is seemingly more accepting, but in a way this can be a little deceiving. There’s television shows that show openly gay people all over the place. You can not go a day without hearing something about gay rights or gay marriage or whatever on the news. Almost everyone knows at least one openly gay person. So in many ways the atmosphere seems more relaxed than ever before.

On the other hand, there’s still a lot of hate towards gay people out there. Like the witch hunts of hundreds of years ago, I believe there are people out there that would become alarmingly gleeful at the thought of hanging a gay man or lesbian, simply because they are different from themselves. The old ways of intolerance are handed down from generation to generation and the intensity of the hate seems to increase in the process. In February, 15 year old Lawrence King was shot and killed by a 14-year old classmate simply because he was gay. There wasn’t a lot of media coverage about the murder, apparently the latest display of Britney Spears’ vagina is more important. Perhaps the lack of coverage is indicative of a true lack of progress in the acceptance of the differences amongst us.

Today is the National Day of Silence (click link for more information)1. To show my support to this cause (and taking a cue from fellow Tweeter ‘robocub’), I am completely silent on Twitter today.

But you can bet that I’ll be outspoken at school.

1 (from dayofsilence.org): What is the Day of Silence®?
The Day of Silence, a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a student-led day of action when concerned students, from middle school to college, take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment — in effect, the silencing — experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students and their allies. This year’s Day of Silence will be held in memory of Lawrence King.