Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The weather in the Upper Midwest lately has been very typical Upper Midwestern winter weather. And tonight, it's back -- a few inches of snow overnight with another predicted 8-10" over the next day and a half. Is the point of this entry to gripe about winter? Well, no. Yours truly is biking away and loving the reprieve offered by warmer temps. (Yeah! 30 degrees!) The warmth distracts from the hardship of surmounting 3ft plowed snow banks blocking bike paths and sidewalk shortcuts. (In winter all importance is placed on the roadway which is typically plowed to the bare minimum width. Bike lanes? Forget about it. Shoulders, sidewalks and crossings are where the snow is allowed to pile up. To be fair the greenways and most bike paths are plowed. Sometimes I wonder who the hell got approval for that. The Midtown Greenway, for instance, is among the first surfaces plowed in the city. Lucky is the cyclist who can get where s/he needs to go on the Greenway. My 12.5 mile commute to work includes only about .5 miles of bike path; the rest is city streets.)

There's nothing quite like a fierce blast of Nature's fury to bring out the best and worst mankind has to offer. Think of the technology behind snow removal. Even I am amazed how overnight the City of Minneapolis can scrape 8 inches of snow off most all the roads in the metro area. As a cyclist, I'm somewhat elated. It might be fun to trudge along through the snow on a bike, but anything over 2 inches deep makes for slow going. Whoa ... wait a minute. If it has just snowed 8-10 inches, why am I worried about getting somewhere fast?! Well, that's a good question. Gone are the legitimate "snow days." We'll be telling our kids about them as they're sentenced to uninterrupted school attendance because our technological might has ascended to a level on par with Nature. By Golly, there's no reason to miss work, school, shopping, or your hair appointment. Every single, solitary, frickin' day can be carried on just like the one before it -- and should be -- because nothing (NOTHING) should impede the wheels of commerce and slow down this pace of life ... err, "quality of life" ... we've created. Right?
Yeah, right.
As you might guess, this entry is going to have something to do with cars. Drivers of cars, actually. "Oooh, those rascally drivers," a cycling Elmer might say. And maybe it is a little about weather. Or, at least, all the incredibly drastic and expensive measures we take to counteract the effects of weather. The main message (tying in the title of this spew): SLOW DOWN! Yeah, that means me, you and everybody drawing breath in this fair and blessed of lands we call 'Uhmerica. ' (Gee Dub, you're the best.) So, what's with the image up top? Just a "serving suggestion," if you will ... a recipe for slowing down. Feel free to add spice and condiments to your liking. Look out the window of CRC Coffee shop ( as depicted in that image -- falling snow and nasty roads. Slow down. Go home. Park your car. Walk somewhere, like your local neighborhood hangout. (Oh, you suburbanites will just have to substitute your local TGI Fridays or Target Greatland.) Move away from your computer. Put down your cell phone. Hang out with your loved ones. Read a little. Discuss what you're reading. Play with your kids. Rejoice, ye children of Israel that god hath brought a spontaneous occasion for ye to rest (since the sabbath day doesn't seem to function as such anymore).
Okay, what the hell does this have to do with drivers? Well, literally, drivers need to slow down. No, really -- slow the fuck DOWN! I have to say that the past three days of bike commuting have revealed to me some of the most impatient drivers I've encountered all winter. What is it with you people? Do you leave your brains at home in the spot where you almost forgot your Starbucks gift card? It's not just your average Joe Schmoe, either -- it's policemen, it's school bus drivers -- all driving like freakin' idiots. It's the guy and girl in Richfield driving a POS Neon backing out of the driveway in front of me, me passing on the right, and him conspicuously gunning the POS Neon engine when passing me a half block later.
Of course, maybe drivers' impatience has nothing to do with the weather. Gas prices have gone up lately. Who cares? Gas is still cheaper than a lot of things. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than cologne, for instance. ($30/ounce or $2.55/gallon?) And, shit, it's cheaper than beer, even cheap beer which will still cost you about $6-$8/gallon. When gasoline is $10/gallon it will still not be fairly priced. But will drivers who can't even extract their craniums from their sphincters long enough to act like decent human beings to other human beings actually get it? You do the math. This skeptic is signing off to go spend some quality time with his family.

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