The lights are out in Cleveland

Those of us who live in northeast Ohio today experienced the first taste of winter: a sub-40 degree day, complete with a rain/snow/hail mix. I happened to be out on the roads during the worst of it (and truthfully, it wasn’t that bad. Visibility was a tad low sometimes, but the roads weren’t slippery). It was on the roads today that I once again observed a problem with Cleveland traffic.

Of all the cars driving today, maybe 10% were driving without their headlights on, during a visibility-impairing hailstorm. Let me repeat that. 10% of the people driving today were not using their best safeguard against low visibility.

Why would you not turn your headlights on in a hailstorm? Let’s run through some possibilities.

  • Maybe you don’t know where the headlights are. This is something that, if you’ve owned your car for more than fifteen seconds, is probably not a good excuse. I mean, how would you drive at night? And honestly, they don’t make headlights that hard to find these days. (Normally it’s a little switch on the left of the steering column or a knob on the steering column. Just in case.)
  • Maybe you think it’s suddenly not cool to have headlights on. Look, I appreciate being a ninja as much as the next person. But to be fair, most ninjas don’t drive silver mini-vans. In fact, wouldn’t a ninja drive a black car? A black car with no headlights would stand out far more than a silver car with no headlights.
  • Maybe your alternator is so old and inefficient that you doubt its ability to power your headlights. I can excuse this one if you were on the way to an AutoZone. Otherwise, seriously, get a new alternator. Or a bigger battery.
  • Finally, a bit of a compromise: never one to stick out in a crowd, but not wanting to blend in, you put your parking lights on. Good one.

I’ll leave it to you to make the call. Next time: turn your lights on.

Traffic

This is an article I’ve wanted to post for a while, but driving home from Giant Eagle last night has pushed me over the edge. It’s a fact of life that there are people who are good at things, and there are people who are bad at things. I think this applies to all skills: there are people who are good at baseball, there are people who are bad at baseball; there are people who can cook, there are people who can’t; there are people who can use a computer effectively, there are people who can’t.

Generally, if you can’t do a certain skill, or you aren’t very good at it, you tend to avoid it (yes, Mom, for cooking, that means you). The one skill this does not apply to is driving.

I’ve heard that there are bad drivers everywhere. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston traffic is usually what is among the worst. After driving in New York this summer, it occurred to me that in New York, Chicago, LA and Boston, there are just too many cars. You could put professional drivers in those streets, and there would still be traffic jams.

It’s places like Little Italy, in Cleveland, OH, that drivers are just bad. Here are some examples of people who should really just take a break from driving:

  • The way-too-courteous guy. I have no problem with courteous driving, in fact I encourage it. But don’t be too courteous. Don’t be one of those guys who stops in the middle of the road on a two-lane street to let the guy coming from the other direction turn left. There are two things wrong with this: 1) it slows down everyone else who is behind you, causing them to curse and question humanity’s existence, and 2) the other guy doesn’t expect you to. The second point is the most important here, because when the other guy doesn’t expect you to let him turn, he won’t turn for a while, until there’s that awkward hand waving exchange and he finally gets it. The other guy expects you to follow the rules of traffic, which is that the only vehicle with more right-of-way than a vehicle going straight down a street with no traffic lights or stop signs is an ambulance or fire truck.
  • The merging ninja. Look, I don’t really care if you’re going to merge in front of me. (I do have a problem with it if there’s no real reason for it, or if you should have done it a while ago, but generally, it’s how traffic moves and I’m okay with it.) If you’re going to merge in front of me, use your turn signal. There are few things that get under my skin faster than someone merging in front of me without a signal, because there’s absolutely no excuse for it. It doesn’t conserve gas to not use your signal for 2 seconds, it increases the risk that I’m going to hit you, and it’s against the law that the rest of us follow. I often wonder why people do it: do they think I won’t see them? Are they thinking, “well, I’m about to cut this guy off, but maybe if I don’t use my signal he’ll think ‘Hmm, there’s another car in front of me, how’d that get there? Oh well.’”
  • The guy who plays too much Risk. When you’re sitting at a traffic light, this is the guy who pulls into the intersection from the adjacent street and gets stuck there, either because he’s too afraid to make his left or he feels that the road is territory to be claimed and he wants the prime real estate right in the middle of the intersection. It’s for reasons like this that the state of Ohio will not allow me to carry grenades in my car, because if I was allowed to do that, I’d just roll a grenade under any car that got stuck in the intersection and prevented me from moving on a green light.
  • The mobile businessman. GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. You should have to take an extra license test if you want to be legally allowed to drive while talking on the phone (or eating, or smacking your kids, operating your iPod, etc.) while driving. I take pride in my ability to drive safely while on my phone (via Bluetooth, if possible) and operate my iPod (normally just simple “skip track” operations), but I think this should be a privilege, not a throw-in with the rest of your license.
  • The indecisive guy. This is the guy who likes both lanes on a four-lane street so much that he drives in both lanes at once. What’s worse, he’s normally driving 5 MPH under the speed limit and it’s impossible to get around him because he’s blocking both lanes. Normally, he’s trying to avoid parked cars in the right lane. Here’s a thought: get in other lane, like the rest of us.

By the way, I realize that we’re on the same road together (in some cases, for hours). But I don’t need to hear about your political beliefs via bumper sticker. Incidentally, the worst offenders of the people described above tend to have “Kerry/Edwards ’04″ or “Endless this war” or “Legalize marijuana” stickers. If you want to discuss your beliefs with me, pull over to the side of the road, get yourself a fair trade organic soy milk latte, and we’ll talk about it once I get off the road and less angry about the traffic I just went through.

Don’t wait up.

I used to rule the world…

It’s actually turned into a beautiful Sunday evening in Cleveland – no better time to sit next to an open window, watching a baseball game (not the Indians, who stunk up another one today) and blogging.

  • I guess the Indians are a great place to start, actually. Last year, when I turned on the Indians game to watch, I would stay on SportsTime Ohio for the entirety of the game (and more, if it was a good game and I wanted to see highlights). This year, I don’t mind watching the Indians pitch, but if they’re at the plate I have a tendency to change the channel, particularly if Ryan Garko, Jhonny Peralta, or David Dellucci are batting. Last year you always had this feeling that victory was always just around the corner, and the Indians would find it or come very close to finding it. Even if they were down in the ninth, it seemed like they would always figure out a way to get guys on base and make it interesting and occasionally they’d pull it out. This year, we have had one walk-off win (if I recall correctly) and I don’t think we’ve won at all after trailing after 8 innings (except maybe very early in the year).

    My point is that when the Indians are playing, the fans aren’t having fun anymore. And I can’t imagine the players are having much fun. For those of you who get on me constantly about writing in this thing, remind me sometime in the coming weeks to write a midseason review of the Indians, once I have some time to gather my thoughts.

  • Anyone notice that traffic in Cleveland is especially bad? It seems like you can’t go anywhere without hitting construction (and it’s particularly bad right around where I live, on Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road). I’m okay with construction, but I wish government projects were run like small business projects. If Lazorpoint were to run a project like these construction projects are being run, the client would have fired us or never done business with us again. I’ve told the guys I work with that if you live on the Ohio-Indiana border or Ohio-Pennsylvania border, you should hear a traffic report that sounds a little like this: “…and if you’re going to Ohio today…just don’t. Go around. Take the route through Kentucky and Virginia, because that whole state is just a mess. Back to you…”.

    And when you hit those construction free oases, it’s still very likely you’ll run into a driver that has absolutely no idea what they’re doing. I think if you were to give a driving test to every driver on the road, only 10% would pass.

    How do you solve this problem? Remedial drivers tests are an option, but I see both sides of that argument: on one hand, drivers who are adults in most cases absolutely need to drive in order to get to work, be productive and provide for their families; on the other hand, drivers who can’t drive are safety hazards to drivers who can.

    The only solution that really has any possibility of working is everyone taking responsibility for their actions.

    Hold your laughter please.

  • Anyone find it funny that one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises was ending our national debt, but now after her campaign is over, she finds herself $22 million in debt?

I’m kind of out of shape on this blogging thing – my endurance is low even though I didn’t write that much. Oh well…

Early bedtime on a Tuesday night

I’m tired and ready to go to bed but before I do, a few recent happenings.

  • A lot of media speculation lately about a Hillary-Barack or Obama-Clinton ticket and how well it would do. I’m not sure how well it would do (although my guess is that the Democrats will run away with this election anyway, so it doesn’t particularly matter), but I do find it incredibly funny how much disagreement there is; take the opinion of Bill Clinton vs. that of Rush Limbaugh.
  • The city of Cleveland is an absolute mess right now thanks to the visit from Father Winter this weekend. On Saturday…well, you saw the picture of the road (which has won acclaim from some for its artistic nature!). On Sunday, the highways were okay but the roads around Case were terrible. And now, it’s Tuesday and the roads around Case aren’t much better. That’s to say nothing of downtown. Getting there today wasn’t…terrible. But getting back was a nightmare. Not only is all of East 9th under construction, but now there’s snow on the sides of the road, so there are less lanes and thus cars (and pedestrians) are being stupider than ever. A general traffic tip: if the light is green, check to make sure you can get through the intersection entirely! If you do this, there aren’t as many times when you want to shoot yourself and wonder how a device as advanced and state-of-the-art as a traffic light could have allowed such a situation to occur.
  • I might post a bit tomorrow about Microsoft’s recent efforts in research and development, as some of the stuff they’re doing is pretty awesome. People really don’t give Microsoft a lot of credit (ahem), but they come up with some pretty crazy stuff. I think you can compare Microsoft to the Cleveland Indians. In the 90s, Microsoft was a big company who was buying and overpowering and getting wins. But in the early 2000s, the company (and the Indians) decided a rebuild was needed, and here we are in 2007 with the Indians returning as the Central Division champions. I think Microsoft’s rebuilding will take a bit longer – because software development often takes longer than rebuilding a baseball team. But if you ask me, Windows 7 will put Microsoft back on the innovation forefront – along with other technologies.
  • Today is March 12th, which means the Indians open their season about three weeks from now against the White Sox at Progressive Field. I hope to post some longer thoughts about what I’ve seen so far, but for now I’ll say a couple quick things:
    1. Travis Hafner was worrying me a little bit but he seems like he’s coming along, hitting a couple doubles the other day. He had a terrible spring last year and that said a lot about his year, so hopefully a better spring means more Travis Hafner like we know and love him.
    2. Same for Grady Sizemore – he hit his first two home runs today.
    3. Pitching-wise, sounds like Sabathia is lights-out, Carmona is still nasty and Westbrook knows what he’s doing. The other guys – well, they’re coming along. Laffey would be my pick for the 5th spot in the rotation, but his performance a couple days ago kind of hurt his stock.
  • I watched most of the 6 PM edition of SportsCenter tonight and noticed something entirely disconcerting: in the midst of the football offseason, there were 4 segments out of 6 with one or more football bits. In the baseball offseason, you’re lucky to get one. Dear Todd McShay: I don’t care that much about the draft! I’ll watch on April 28, until then, get a life! Seriously, Todd McShay must have been born on Leap Day or something, because you have got to be completely used to waiting for happiness in order to spend that much time covering a one-day event.

And on a final note, I found a new coffee shop in the first floor of our building today, A.J. Rocco’s. I really liked it – cheap but excellent coffee and a nice selection of breakfast stuff, and quite a nice atmosphere. I look forward to going back tomorrow. I’ll try to write more tomorrow, until then, stay warm!