I grew up in one of those Judeo-Christian homes that apparently strike terror in the hearts of the likes of Betty Friedan, Alan Grayson and Kathryn Joyce. My parents never had sex until they got married to each other. Theirs is an enduring...

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Car Culture

When I learned to drive, there were few rules. The first was not to endanger any human being. I remember my dad telling me, with great animation, "Go ahead and destroy the transmission. I don't care if you don't use the clutch. When you need to brake, BRAKE! Go ahead and wale on it!" I was thirteen. This lesson has never left me. (It also left somewhat of an impression on my right foot.)

The second rule was not to hit anything. Dad told us it was very embarrassing to hit something that wasn't moving. I did not regard this rule as well. I have managed to hit a shopping cart, our hose bib, my uncle's trailer, Valerie's license plate (several times), the front of my dad's truck, someone's rear bumper, and scrape one moving mini van. :(

The third rule was to honor the rules of the road. "They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.", Proverbs 28:4. Dad also challenged us to consider that God may have ordained the posted speed limits in order to keep us out of a given intersection at a given time- maybe to prevent our timing from coinciding with the crossing of some hard-to-see little kid.

The fourth rule was to be courteous, that is, to take utmost care not to impede the progress of any cars behind us. We were conditioned to go at green lights, move to the far right, or the far left of our lane before slowing for a turn, maintain the speed limit as long as comfortable before making a turn and to reach 65 mph by the end of the freeway on-ramp. We were also encouraged to know how inaccurate our speedometers were and to adjust our speed accordingly. Traveling below the speed limit without having a really good reason was a sin.

Pretty much, we were expected to have our heads firmly affixed to our shoulders if we got behind the wheel.

Oh, there was also some complicated code about what we could be seen driving in and by whom.

Enter my fiance, in a 1997 Saturn station wagon in which he had yet to install the reverse function. He had learned to drive by a few rules as well, including some time-honored tradition of not owning any vehicle with less than 100,000 miles on it.

My family was making plans for a family gathering out in the desert, around a special event, the last of its kind, and the dates coincided a little too closely with my due date. As I expressed our regrets, my sister quipped that if we went, and I went into labor, my husband might discover that he could exceed the speed limit after all.

I realized my family doesn't begin to comprehend the rules my husband drives by.

The first rule is to never drive faster than the speed you are comfortable with. Any driving hazards may warrant slowing down. Something you wanted to look at by the side of the road probably does not.

The second rule is to honor the rules of the road. If the sign says 50 mph, it probably means 50 mph, even in Oregon, where the signs do not say "limit". Passing someone on the freeway is no excuse for going over the speed limit.

The third rule is to stay very far away from the car in front of you. He likes to drive with at least a 3-4 second following distance. In ice, this rule is adjusted to, "if no one is on your tail, you're moving too fast". [edit 2/11/12] A good rule of thumb is to always be getting a little farther away from the car in front of you.

The fourth rule is to never push your car's capabilities. If making the speed limit by the end of an on-ramp means going into 3000 rpm's, he's probably not going to do it, hence the continued usefulness of a car after so many miles.

In Better Off, Eric Brende cites a study, saying that every time you get behind the wheel of an automobile your blood pressure necessarily rises. After using the new rules for awhile, I'm not so sure. If it must rise, I know mine now rises a little less.

Oh, and a gallon of gas takes me a bit farther than it used to.

edit: After posting, I came across this great article about driving habits.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Members of the LA County Republican Central Committee

I know. I'm kind of late to post. And I don't think this counts as a post really. I have a real one, it's just a matter of getting it written down. :(

But, here's this. A conservative member of the LA County Central Committee blogs here. Another one is here. I'm not sure if the latter is a blog or not. :)