I Miss Walter Cronkite

I confess, I haven't watched local or national TV news in years.

I bugged out once all of the stations were doing "death" teasers for their broadcasts. "This surprising item in your kitchen will kill you!" "There are unknown predators in your neighborhood!" "Find about the commonplace product under the third step of your stairs that can give you cancer!" "You MUST watch our broadcast or you're doomed!!!!"

You get the gist. It was all about sucking you in to watch and the teaser segment was always buried somewhere in the broadcast so you had to wait through it all.

Here's another thing that turned me off from TV news; reporters standing in front of a building hours after whatever action happened before. Seriously, you could put that reporter in front of a blank green screen and gotten the same amount of relevance. "What you can't see now because it's all cleaned up is that the bus jumped this curb and ran into another vehicle right here behind me." Being on location didn't help those stories.

I also don't watch the cable news stations. The last time I recall doing so in any consistent manner was when CNN reported on the Gulf War. Man, that was a long time ago.

I was on a cruise ship last month and the TV viewing was very limited. Besides watching the live stream from the camera at the front of the boat, the cruise chip channel where they broadcast commercials to get us to buy things we don't need from the onboard stores, there was one sports channel showing mostly Soccer games, MSNBC, Fox News and BBC News World News.

Since my traveling companion always wants the TV on (and I am indifferent), we alternated between the cruise ship channel and Fox News. Oh, yeah, my traveling companion is also a Republican. However, if they'd had CNN we would have met in the middle.

All of this long intro leads into my main point (you had to know I'd get there eventually) which is that our broadcast journalists have been replaced with pundits. Instead of reciting the facts of a news story then leaving you with "And that's the way it is" a la Cronkite, the pundits read off a couple of details then give their opinion on the story.

I can only imagine what he would think about today's "News".
But, that's not the only opinion you get. They then throw it to Pundits A, B and C who all also give their opinions. Not facts, mind you. Just opinions. To preserve the notion of fair and balanced, Pundit B might actually believe something different than the others. Or, at least say that he/she does.

The story that set me on the path to writing this lament was Trump's rally in Costa Mesa, CA. In case you somehow missed it, protestors pushed through barriers, got in some scuffles with police and Trump and crew slipped out a back way of a hotel and had to hoof down the side of the road to get in to their vehicles.

Fox News had an in studio pundit lead with the story then they threw it to a reporter on site. He described the barricade rupture and then gave out several speculations as to who the protesters were and the reason they were there. The next segment on Fox News was a regular show led by some dude I don't know who talked about the event, gave his opinion, then asked Pundits A, B and C their opinions.

To this day, I don't know exactly who the protestors were, what they were specifically protesting and what their end goal was. They could have been hired by some Dem group to stir things up, they could have been hired by some Trump group to make other protestors look bad, they could have been an organic collection of people who got caught up in the heat of the moment.

Why don't I know?

Because NONE of the alleged journalists asked them. Not even the dude right there on the scene.

Instead, we got a lot of "Well, I don't know for sure what their motivations are but I suspect..." From all of the talking heads.

It drove me crazy. To be fair, my traveling companion thought it was just as ridiculous. And, I'm not just bashing Fox News here. I've no doubt they all do the same.

Not once in the week that we watched did I hear any pundit say, "Hey, that's a great point you bring up there. I need to rethink my opinion." It was just repeated, "Here's what I believe and you're right, Pundit A and C and you're wrong, Pundit B."

Why have we gotten to this? I believe it's ratings and the need for people to hear someone else validate their opinions. If you think everyone who shows up to protest Trump is an illegal hooligan living off welfare, you can find someone to agree with you on Fox News. If you think that all Republicans are waging a war on women, you can find validation on MSNBC.

Of course, that's what I believe but I don't know for sure. Holy crap, I'm a talking head, too! I'm clearly qualified for my own segment on MSNBC.

I referenced Walter Cronkite's tag line earlier. He usually ended his broadcasts with "And that's the way it is" followed by the date.

You know when he didn't end that way? When the last story was an editorial or a commentary.

Because editorials aren't news. Editorials are what Pundit A, B and C tell you.

I miss Walter Cronkite and I miss the News.


Artwork Complete!

Our wall of tiles is complete! I wrote about the creative process a while back where we all had an opportunity to make the tiles. A lot of work by Kim, our resident artist (and VP), later and the wall is done.

Careful placement with spacers for the grout.
We hired some people to affix the tiles to the wall and do the grout work. They were at it for quite a while.
Supply of tiles to be affixed to the wall. 
So, yeah, we thought we had made enough tiles... Kim had to make some more as the space was bigger than what we already had for our supply. She did all the stain and kiln work and most of the final design determinations.
Kim overseeing the placement work.
There was careful consideration to placement to make sure the pattern of colors and tile designs flowed well.
Grout work.
After a few of the rows had grout put around them we found that the grout stain was also staining the tiles. So, they had to tape off each tile before putting in the grout. And, we had to clean the already stained tiles. (By we, I mean someone else. I just observed.)
Close up of a few tiles.
I have no idea which ones I made. They're all a far cry from the gray clay that they used to be but they're all gorgeous.
Close up of a few tiles.

The final product!
It's huge! And, it's impressive. I find myself stopping and staring at it as I go in and out the front door. Between the designs and the colors, there's always something to catch the eye.

Kudos to Kim and everyone involved for their efforts. I love that our team project will be a permanent fixture of our office.


Cologne Cathedral

We took a little site seeing trip while in Germany last week. My colleague wanted to show me the Cologne Cathedral or, as we almost locals like to call it, the Dom. According to Wikipedia (which wouldn't lie), it's the most visited landmark in Germany.

The Dom is a Roman Catholic cathedral and it took 800 years to build. Construction started in 1248 and ended in 1880. Well, there was a break in there from 1473 to the 1840s.

It's a very impressive structure. At one point, it was the tallest building in the world at 516 feet. The Washington Monument took that title from it in 1884.
So tall I couldn't get it all in the picture.
(I could have if I had walked further away but my ankles told me not to try it.)

Look at all the carving work!

One of the entrance doors.
The main entrance with a bunch of Saints (I'm assuming) watching it.
These were close to life size from the perspective I saw them.
You can't be called the "Hight Cathedral of Saints Peter and Mary" without Mary being there.
There was an incredible amount of stained glass work.
We tried to imagine living in the construction era. I suspect generation after generation was born with designated professions as skills were passed down. This family was the stone cutters, this family built scaffolding, this family did the tile work, etc.

The columns were HUGE!
This built in the Gothic style so the structure is supported with large columns and has many arches. It's also super ornate. I mean every where you look there's a curlicue of some sort.

The church was built to house the reliquary (a word I cannot successfully pronounce for some reason) of the Three Kings. Yeah, the dudes who visited Baby Jesus. Their actual bones are supposed to be in the church.

The Shrine of the Three Kings - fancy structure to store some bones.
In the courtyard of the Dom, there's a bonus historical site, evidence of a Roman gate built in 50 AD.

Hanging at the portal, thinking about all the Romans who'd been through there.
Layout of the Roman gate throughout the area.

Random sign on the ground - oh, those funny Germans!
I'm grateful we took the time for this side trip but not so grateful about the fact that I think this is where I lost my wallet. Sigh.


Kathy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

I never want to leave home again after the week I just had. Oy. Let's recap, shall we? And, by recap, I mean that even though I'm trying to keep it short there was... Just. So. Much.


I arrived in Germany at 7:20 in the morning and spent the day in the sales office. My only sleep was maybe an hour in the car on the way from Hamburg to Muenster. I had a Parrot Head conference call scheduled for what was midnight my time. I debated trying to sleep first but decided to tough it out.

I'm the Moderator of the calls. I dialed in a few minutes before midnight and it said my PIN wasn't valid to start the call. I tried again, thinking my sleep deprived brain just mistyped. No success. I then sent a text to the person who sets up the calls. She gave me some other PINs to try. By this time, people were emailing - "Are we still doing this? I'm on the call and it hasn't started."

We finally found a successful PIN and started the call late. I hate that. While on the phone, I forwarded an email to another BOD member. It bounced back from Yahoo with a message:

Error code 475: Suspicious activity was detected on your account.

What the what? I looked up the message and it says that Yahoo thinks you've either sent too many messages in a short period of time or that you sent to too many recipients and suggested using Yahoo Groups instead. Well, I sent 10 messages the entire day and the one with multiple recipients was indeed to a Yahoo Group.

I called shenanigans but decided to see if I was good to go in the morning as I needed to crash.


We had a good day at the office with our colleagues. That was the only good part of the day. As we were winding down in the afternoon, I got on a chat with Yahoo Support as my emails were still bouncing. The rep said it looked like my problem was solved and that she was able to send an email from my account with success. Of course, she sent it TO my account so I'm not sure that was a valid test. Sure enough, when I tried to send an email to someone else, I got hit with the error again. While I was shut down, I was in the middle of working on setting up a bunch of concert announcements. To say this was bad timing was an understatement.

Yahoo was still bad later in the day. I contacted them again in the afternoon and got the same "I was able to send from your account" BS that I challenged. This time, the Rep acknowledged there was still a problem and said the issue had to be escalated to Second Level Support who would only contact me via email. I gave her my gmail address and waited.

We worked until after 6 PM and headed out to meet back at our hotel and go to dinner with our colleagues. I was focused on looking forward, literally, and I missed the bottom step of the stairs.

Like, really missed. Like, I launched myself into the air. It probably didn't help my balance that I had my backpack with my computer thrown over my shoulder but I hit the ground hard and twisted both my ankles.

I scared the crap out of my colleagues and visions of an emergency room visit entered my American buddy, Mike's, head. It wouldn't be the first for a Germany trip, unfortunately.

You know how on cartoons they show stars and birds floating around someone's head when they get hit? Well, I saw spots. I think I was actually in shock, definitely had the wind knocked out of me and had internal visions of broken bones. Fortunately, I was able to get up and rest in a chair which cleared my head and I was able to rotate my ankles and, most importantly, there were no protruding bones. I Tim Conway shuffled my way out the door to the car and my teeth started chattering on the way back to the hotel. I think it was more shock than cold. (And just writing Tim Conway shuffle means that I'm old. Sigh.)

I passed on dinner and Mike had room service send up a bucket of ice. I took a bunch of Ibuprofen and spent the next hour and a half icing my feet and ankles before going to bed at 8:30. I didn't even have the energy to order room service. 


I was able to continue to shuffle and my feet hurt less than the night before so I counted that as a win. We stopped to pick up a snack on the way to the office and Mike brought me a much needed Diet Coke. Which I opened in the car and it immediately overflowed and spilled all over my leg. Not the ideal way to start the day.

The work day was again good. Yahoo was still bad. Once more on Chat with Support with the added complaint that it had been over 24 hours and I hadn't heard from Second Level Support. This time, she sent me a bunch of "don't do this so you can prevent the problem" propaganda, none of which I had done. I asked her how long the hold was and she said 24 hours. I told her it had been going on for several days. Her response was it started 9 hours prior (my test that morning to see if it was working). She would not confirm but I suspect that the 24 hour hold restarted with every failed message. Man, I was unhappy but technology miracles do happen and nearly 48 hours after it all started, I was able to email again.


Hey, what do you know, Thursday was pretty good except I still was limping pretty heavily and making Mike walk in baby steps with me. 


Time to check out of the hotel and head to the airport. I asked if they needed to see my credit card again and the answer was yes. One slight problem. My wallet was MIA. For sure MIA. I went through my very small purse, my backpack, searched my room, Mike searched the car and it was nowhere to be found. What was in it? About $300 in cash, my Driver's License, my medical insurance card, my debit card and one of my credit cards. 

Yes, the credit card was the one I only had for two weeks since the account got hacked as I was trying to book my flights.

Son of a...

The last time I saw my wallet was when I checked into the hotel on Monday night. Mike had been in country for a week with an expense report already started so he'd been picking up the tabs. I had no need to use any of my cards nor the cash. My only purchase was ,90 for a post card that I paid out of my random European change. (They don't take British coins in Germany, BTW, no matter how similar they look to Euro coins)

The hotel let me check out without it with an additional signature and they also checked their lost and found. I suspect that the wallet came out when I pulled my camera out on Thursday in the square by the Dom in Cologne and that I didn't see it fall. It's also possible that it fell out when I was in the office while I was digging for a pen but the office was closed for Good Friday and closed today for Easter Monday.

As we were driving to the airport in Frankfurt, Mike kept coming up with all these happy endings. "I get you're going to find it in your bag when you unpack." "Maybe it's in one of your jeans pockets." When he got to "Did you give it to me for safekeeping?", I just wanted him to stop. Seriously stop. While the thought of punching him in the head didn't actually enter my mind, it was about to. I know he was trying to put a positive spin on it all but it wasn't helping.

We got on our flight from Frankfurt to Chicago without any issues. At the first round of drink service I asked for a Diet Coke and the attendant gave me the can with a glass of ice. I poured some then looked away for a minute. When I looked back, my seat tray was rapidly filling with soda. There was a crack in my glass. Are you kidding me? The flight attendant said he'd never had that happen before and Mike and I had to laugh as it was just my luck. We gave him a summary of my misadventures and he suggested I should be drinking.

He was right. I ordered some red wine. Why I hadn't thought of that on my own, I'll never know.

Safely on the ground in Chicago and I used the washroom before going through customs. I had my passport in my back pocket. You may be able to guess what happened next. Yep, it fell into the toilet. I rescued it as quickly as possible and did my best to wash and dry it but it ended up pretty soggy from the washing part. Really, it was from the washing.

If I worked TSA, I would always wear gloves. This has to happen to more people than me.

At this point it was no longer surprising that things were amiss.

We headed to Chili's to get dinner and I called to cancel my debit card. It's not so easy to do when you don't have the card or your account number. As she was taking me through the security checks all was matching up until she asked for the information on my last deposit. I was able to say it was my paycheck that day but I couldn't give her my amount. The reimbursement for my flight and hotel was included and my "a lot more than usual" guess wasn't good enough. We eventually found a way and I am in no way dogging their process. I'd rather they err on the side of caution.

As I was sitting there drinking my Sam Adams, I tried to focus on the positives:

I didn't lose my passport which would have made getting home a challenge.
I was with a companion who paid for me and would have given me cash if I needed it.
I hadn't tacked on some personal travel at the end of this trip where I would have been screwed without my cards and money.
No one had used my cards.
The $300 I lost was a bummer but its loss wasn't going to prevent me from paying my mortgage.
I needed to update my Driver's License picture anyway.
My injuries were improving (though I did finally see some bruising).

None of that really helped, though. I could feel the emotions ready to fly. I told Mike, "One more thing, no matter how minor, and I think I'm going to burst into tears." I meant it.

Poor guy. He spent the rest of our way home praying that our flight was good and that my luggage made it and that just nothing at all hiccuped along the way. Fortunately, it all went well and I was home with my #terrors by 10:30 Friday night.

I just want to stay home for a while.


Random Happy Hour

My friend and work colleague, Steve, moved away for a few years but is now back and working with us again. I'm happy because he's a great human, a pleasure to work with but, most importantly, he's a social butterfly like me. (Well, I guess the great human part is more important, but not for this story.) The difference between us in the latter category is that he's much better at following through with events.

A few months ago, we set up an event called Random Happy Hour. The idea was to invite a bunch of different people within the organization, hang out in a relaxed setting and get to know each other better. We called it "Random" but it wasn't entirely. We invited our "usual" suspects, people we wanted to get to know better, people we wanted to introduce to each other and people with well developed internal networks. We then told everyone to invite whomever else they wanted to.

The first Random Happy Hour was fairly small but went well. We had good conversations and introduced some people to each other that hadn't had a chance to meet. Oh, and our CFO picked up the tab. Bonus! Oh, and Steve got caught in a work meeting and couldn't make it. Bummer!

We just had our second Random Happy Hour last week and it was much bigger and also quite fun. I won't say better than the first one because they each were great but it was a busier time. I was struck by how our random technique managed to gather such a diverse group of colleagues.

The group represented:
Two different countries.
All of the business units in the company (we have a lot).
The gamut of experience from one person who had just done New Hire Training that day to a Senior Manager who has been with the company longer than the new hire has been alive.
Ten different departments.

Just some of the gang.
(Next time, I'll get the group pic earlier and maybe even get in it.)
We went to a The Lodge - Sasquatch Kitchen in Tempe. It was a 10 minute drive from the office so no one had to go too far out of the way. They reserved an area for us that was next to the corn hole game, right outside the door from the pool tables and also near a Belgium outdoor game that was something like horseshoes and shuffleboard combined. Good food, great service and nice drink specials.

These four were willing to let their corn hole match end at 1-1.
Who knew I worked with so many Socialists? ;)
My heart overflowed at watching the mingling, discussions both light and deep and interactions within the group. There were personal tales, anecdotes about the colleagues in attendance and shared tribal lore. I truly believe that developing relationships between colleagues that go beyond just work relations make us a better organization and events such as these contribute to bringing us closer together.

I was nearly verklempt when we said we would plan a Random Happy Hour every quarter and there was a clamoring for one every month. Which was followed by restrictions on what day, what week and where which immediately decreased the level of verklemptness. (Yes, I'm making that a word.) To all of the special requests, I'll just say "You can't always get what you want unless you're the planner." :)

I'm grateful to have these times to remind me how lucky I am to work with these people and for our company. I'm also grateful to have Steve back and making these events happen.

A final tidbit on a personal highlight that really stood out. My friend T was telling a group of us how he and his wife moved to Arizona after college and that this was his first "real" job and that he's been here 25 years. The new hire was suitably impressed. Then, someone asked me how long I've been with the company and I replied "Seventeen years". The new hire exclaimed, "What, were you twelve?"

That was awesome in itself. The cherry on the sundae was that T is chronologically several years younger than I and she didn't even blink at his story.

Hearing stuff like that never gets old. Just like I will never get old.


Captain's Last Flight

Any day I learn something new is a good day. Any day that I experience something while traveling that the more experienced road warriors haven't is a great day! (Well, not scary experiences.)

I was flying from Phoenix to Houston and, while waiting in the lounge at Sky Harbor, overheard a conversation. One of the people was the brother of our pilot who said that there was a group of family getting on board to celebrate his brother's last flight before retirement.

Apparently, this is a pretty big deal. The agents at the gate announced it. The purser on board announced it and also gave a bio of the Captain, Rob Wilson, over the loudspeaker. A short while before we landed, the purser handed out copies of an official looking memo in celebration of the event. I wish I had taken one but I wanted to make sure all of the family got a copy.

But, that wasn't the end of it. As we taxied to the gate, the plane was subject to a water salute while another announcement was made thanking the Captain for his 30 years of service with Continental and United. I managed to get some pics from my seat.

The final celebration on board consisted of all the passengers giving their verbal congratulations as they exited the plane.

It was neat and gave me ideas for our next retirement party. But, I don't know that two garden hoses in the employee parking lot would be quite as momentous.


Twelve Albums

There's one those Facebook things going around. You're supposed to list 12 albums that have stayed with you, but only one per band/artist. Don't take too long and don't think too hard. No compilations.

You're also supposed to tag 10 people to do it after you. I don't tag people in these types of activities so I posted mine and told people to participate if they want to.

It wasn't easy. As soon as I was done, I thought of another 4 or 5 right away. 

I also wanted to explain my choices which would have made for a long Facebook post. But, a great blog post! So, here goes.

Rick Springfield - Working Class Dog - 1981
This was my immediate pick. An instinctive one, really. It has Jessie's Girl which is sorta "my" song but also so many others that I love. It's not at all uncommon for me to queue this up on my iPhone and listen to it all the way through. It's not quite as cool as listening to it on vinyl but it suffices. My Rick Springfield crush persists to this day. He played at the Arizona State Fair back in the 80s and the ticket office had a note card with "Springfield Sold Out" written in Sharpie on it. I asked them for it (the lady looked at me like I was crazy) and I still have it. In a box somewhere. #packrat #drnoahdrakeforever #hewasonbattlestargalacticatoo

The Who - Face Dances - 1981
I had this on vinyl and played it all the time. Just hearing the opening riffs of You Better You Bet brings back memories of the 80s and sitting in my bedroom with my headphones hooked up to my "sound system". Said system was a radio, cassette and turntable combo hooked up to two big speakers that still produced a tinny sound. It was cool, though, trust me.

Jimmy Buffett - White Sport Coat, Pink Crustacean - 1973
If I hadn't picked a Buffett album for this list, I think I would be drummed out of the Parrot Head organization. Fortunately, Buffett was an easy choice. Easy in putting him on the list, not as easy to pick a specific album. This album represents to me the most "classic" Buffett songs. The ones that have stood the test of time and the ones we all sing along to. I bought this on tape at a truck stop for $3.99.  I wore the tape out. I can't even pick a favorite, I love them all.

AC/DC - Back in Black - 1980
I included this because it was one of those albums that everyone knows. Well, everyone who is culturally aware. Test it out - play a random song from this for a colleague and I bet they'll know it. (Pick a colleague over 30 - those kids don't know crap about "old" music. I blame their parents.) We thought AC/DC was so out there at the time but they seem tame now.

Barenaked Ladies - Gordon - 1992
It's amazing that this is a debut album. It's just so dang good. I still put it on to this day and play it through start to end and sing every song. Hopefully, for others, I'm alone at the time. My friends and I went on a cruise with Barenaked Ladies (post Steven Page leaving) and it was fantastic. They were fun, gracious and grateful, and played everything! So grateful myself that I got the chance to do that.

Billy Joel - The Stranger - 1977
There is not a mediocre song on this album. They're all fantastic. Well written and sung and everyone knows the words. I remember in high school that all the cool kids saw Joel every time he performed but I didn't see him until years later on the first tour he did with Elton John. I would see them together again in a heartbeat.

Elvis Costello - My Aim is True - 1977
Back in the day, one of our local radio shows started their Monday morning with Welcome to the Working Week. It was so long ago, I don't remember the DJ or the station but, despite the ungodly early hour, I heard it every time as my first job out of college started at 6 AM. Ugh. So glad those days are behind me. I love Costello's writing and his delivery. Red Shoes, Alison, Watching the Detectives...all brilliant! And, all songs I will never tire of listening to.

Men At Work - Cargo - 1983
Remember when we discovered Australia? It was the coolest and we couldn't get enough. My friends and I even spent hours watching Australian Rules Football. My friend Andy was the one who got there as he went on a graduation trip. I debated between this album and Cargo for my list and I'm not sure I picked the right one. Both had great songs that I still enjoy hearing. It's a Mistake, Overkill and Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive are my faves on this one. Colin Hay is still touring and comes to Phoenix fairly often. I really need to go see him. I thought he was too cool for words back then, even with his wonky eye.

Bee Gees - Main Course - 1975
I'd like to think we were ahead of the curve with the Bee Gees and listened to them before Saturday Night Fever but it's doubtful considering we were babies when the movie came out. I do distinctly remember listening to many of their albums from before that time at my friend Scott's house. I "think" some of the albums actually belonged to his older sister. To this day, I feel compelled to sing along to Nights on Broadway despite the fact that I can successfully sing neither the low nor the high parts. 

Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience - 1992
Gin Blossoms are a local Phoenix band who made it big. For a while, anyway. We saw them at Long Wong's on Mill Avenue at what was one of their last free bar shows. It was during the Olympics (1992?) and Robin asked if anyone knew the TV schedule. I had one in my pocket so I was able to answer his question. I felt so cool. My favorite songs on here are Cheatin' and the ever popular Hey Jealousy. And, Found Out About You. And, Allison Road. OK, I pretty much love everything on the album. And, I still harbor a crush for Jesse Valenzuela. 

KD Lang - Shadowland - 1988
KD Lang has one of the most incredible voices I've ever heard. She's just as good live as she is on her recordings. I saw her at the Celebrity Theater here in Phoenix shortly after this album came out. Longest line for the women's restroom at any event I've ever seen. It was a fantastic show.
Lyle Lovett - Pontiac - 1987
I love Lyle. I love watching Lyle perform live. He's funny, self deprecating, immensely talented and funny. It's worth mentioning funny twice. If I Had A Boat is one of my favorite songs ever but there are so many other great ones on this album. She's Hot to Go and She's No Lady are both worth listening to over and over. On a personal, stalker, note, I remember my very first reaction to the news that he married Julia Roberts. "She's not worthy." I was right.

It says something that the newest albums on this list were released in 1992. That I'm old is one thing. That I strictly adhered to the "stayed with you" criteria and therefore eliminated anything "relatively" new is how I'm choosing to interpret it, though. Oh, and I can use the "album" criteria, too. Yeah, it's not that I'm old at all.


Work with me on that.

Pick A Lane!

I did two round trips on I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson this month and lost all patience with my fellow road warriors and part of my faith in humanity. Oh, the stupid and annoying!

I continually remind myself that I have plenty of time to get there or get home and that, if I arrive a few minutes late, it's OK. But, as soon as I get on the road and encounter a driver who violates "my" rules of the road, my blood pressure rises and I start fantasizing about owning and operating a portable rocket launcher.

The Left Lane

Is the above sign that difficult to understand? Maybe there are just that many illiterate drives on the road?

I know I'm a fast highway driver. I don't expect everyone else to be. If you get in the left lane to go past some slower traffic and slow me down for a bit until you can move back over, it's OK. What's not OK is if you pull in front of me and then drive at exactly the speed limit. If you pull in front of me and drive below the speed limit, I will wish upon you a long and painful death that starts right after you drive yourself off the road and into the bush filled median.

The Right Lane

Here's what I understand about the right lane. It's the merging lane. Traffic goes on and off. Completely acceptable.

It's understandable that a car may not get up to cruising speed by the time it merges. What's not acceptable is not making an attempt to get up to cruising speed miles after you've merged. Seriously, if you're unwilling, or your car is unable, to drive at the speed limit, get off the highway and enjoy your leisurely drive on the backroads. Where a tractor may take you out because you're going too slow.

And, those people who get down to 35 MPH on a 75 MPH road as soon as they spot the exit in the distance? They deserve a special spot in traveling hell. Maybe they just enjoy the risk of getting rear ended because the drivers behind them can't fathom that they would go that slow? Maybe they think their brakes won't slow them down on the offramp? Again, if you or your car can't handle it, get off the highway altogether.

The Middle Lane

Part of I-10 there is now three lanes wide. One would think that would eliminate all the issues that bother me so. The fast people can stay in the left, the slow people can stay on the right and the middle is for those somewhere in between.

One would be wrong.

The reality is that the people in the middle adjust to the speed of the people on either side of them. And, by adjust I mean that they will drive at exactly the perfect speed and angle so that they're in your blind spot at all times. If you speed up to pass, they speed up. If you slow down to move behind them, they slow down. It's uncanny. It makes me want to go NASCAR on them and tap their corner bumper so they go spinning off the road. But, I don't think a "Oops, couldn't see you since you were in my blind spot for the past five miles, you frakking idiot" would get me out of a ticket.

The Ideal

If I could make a rule, here's how it would work. The right lane is for anyone at or below the speed limit. The middle lane is for anyone up to 5 miles above the speed limit. The left lane is for the rabbits who want to risk a ticket by driving 6 or more above the speed limit.

Seems workable and reasonable, right?

Well, except for the drivers in two out of three lanes breaking the law.

There is that.