Saturday, March 21, 2009

What the Heck? Week 1

I've decided to start a (hopefully) weekly segment called "What the Heck?" which will showcase the worst driving offenses I witness in any given week. (I was going to use the "other H word" in my title, but thought it best to clean up my language for any sensitive readers.)

The idea for What the Heck began to form last weekend, when the husband and I were driving to the beach. A truck pulled out rather unnecessarily in front of the car ahead of us, cutting them off. If they had only waited, there were no cars after us. "What the heck?" I shouted. 

It then occurred to me that I shout this frequently while driving on Maui (for the worst offenses, it actually typically involves the "F" word). So I decided to begin paying attention to how often this phrase escapes me while driving and report the craziest instances on my blog.

This week, I had 4 What the Heck moments while driving. Here are the worst two:

1. While driving home from work on Monday afternoon, along the busy Haleakala Hwy, there was a queen-sized mattress in the middle of the road. That's a right, a big pink mattress. It lay in such a way that it blocked parts of two lanes, causing cars in both lanes to swerve to avoid accident. "Who drops a mattress in the middle of the highway and leaves it there?" I wondered aloud.

I prefer to think the best of people, though, so I'm guessing that the perpetrators didn't realize that they had lost the mattress and probably had a big "Oh crap" moment when they reached their destination.

2. While driving home from work on Friday afternoon, along the same busy highway, which is currently undergoing an extensive construction project, there was not one but TWO instances where all of the traffic signs indicated that we were merging down to one lane and that the lane we were losing was the right lane.

In both instances we in fact lost the left lane.

Of course, this created a lot of confusion and bottleneck traffic. Personally, I think the county is lucky they didn't cause any accidents with this kind of ineptitude.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Comfort in Difficult Times

Last night I was watching  a television show where all of the main characters are police officers. One of the policemen was shot, and his female colleague's father stopped by to check on his daughter, fearing for her safety.

At the end of their brief conversation, he father handed her a saint's medallion. I don't recall which one; but I remember that he was the patron saint of lost causes. As he handed the medallion to his daughter, he said, "If you're anything like me, you don't believe in any of this mumbo jumbo. But this has brought me a lot of comfort in difficult times."

The moment really struck me. I'm not a big believer in "mumbo jumbo" either. But I consider myself an agnostic who is open to all possibilities. I don't believe in pretending to know what the right answer is about God, the after life, the purpose of our existence, etc. I feel that people - believers and non-believers alike - who think that they know the absolute truth are just kidding themselves.

At any rate, the reason that this scene in a little TV show struck me is because I have a similar "talisman," if you will. A few years ago, at a Christmas party, I won a "saints" bracelet in a "Yankee swap." I was thoroughly charmed by the trinket.

The thing is that I often find myself wearing my saints bracelet on days when I'm feeling a little down, or on days when I know I might have a tough day, or on days when something big is going to happen. It gives me a great deal of comfort.

I'm not sure why this is. I suppose it's just nice to think that someone might be looking out for you when you need it most. Or maybe, if you get raised with a belief system, there's a part of you that never stops believing, on some level.

I love my saints bracelet. I'll be wearing it tomorrow when my mother has her open heart surgery. I suspect that it will bring me comfort.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Forgotten Observation

The other day I was reading the Maui News and found an amusing article about an 18-year-old man who was pulled over and ticketed for knocking over traffic cones while driving down the Honoapiilani Hwy.

I can only assume that the act was born out of the desperate boredom that only young people can feel. The young man was actually hanging out the window as he drove, knocking over the cones with his hand. Unfortunately for him, he did it in front of an unmarked police car.

By far, however, my favorite part of the news article was a quote from a police spokesperson. It turns out that the young man had been driving without a valid license. Said the police spokesman: "When driving without a valid license, it's best not to draw attention to yourself."

I got a good laugh about that.

Personally, I think that perhaps the best lesson one can take from this is . . . wait for it . . . NOT to drive without a valid license. But what do I know? I don't work for the police department.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Odd Things Observed This Week

The main highway to my home - and the only decent direct route - is currently undergoing a great deal of construction for much of the route. This requires merging, lane-changing, and routes marked off by traffic cones. Perhaps understandably, this often causes confusion and slow traffic.

Driving home from work on Monday, I believe, I witnessed the following. At one part of the trip, one is required to choose between two lanes marked off by traffic cones; the left lane puts you driving against opposing traffic, but is the only lane you can take if you want to go to a town called Haliimaile.

At any rate, I was a few cars behind an SUV that was in the right lane, but decided suddenly - too late - to take the left. They proceeded to cut through a swath of traffic cones, sending several of them flying into the vehicle behind it. Fortunately, the vehicle behind was a large truck, otherwise I think this may have caused an accident. I did notice that the truck proceeded to tailgate the SUV for the rest of the trip, probably because the truck driver was pissed.

"Well, I guess somebody needs to get to Haliimaile," I thought to myself. But no. The SUV passed the Haliimaile turn off and proceeded up the highway, eventually turning at the same road where I turn.

So why did they so desperately need to be in the left lane that they nearly caused an accident? I doubt that they even know the answer to that question.

While driving to work Thursday morning, heard radio announcer read the weather report, in which he stated that we had blue skies (rare at 6:45 a.m. on any day) and that we would see sunny skies and 80 degree weather all day. At the time of this report, it was pouring rain so hard that I had my windshield wipers on high and could still hardly see out the window. It continued to pour rain for most of the morning, with high winds.

I assume that the radio station was playing a morning show out of Oahu, which often has different weather than us. But I prefer to believe that he was here and simply had not bothered to look out the window before reading a report that was written for him. This amuses me.

Ruminated Upon:
I realized today that nearly all of my current female friends either have no siblings, or only have male siblings. I find this strange. As I search my memory, I can think of only one female friend - my childhood best friend - who had all female siblings. The other female friends I can think of who have sisters each only have one, and have at least one brother as well.

I wonder if this means anything. I wonder if it says something about me. Personally, I have no sisters. I wonder if I, in general, do not like women who grew up surrounded by other women. Or perhaps I socialize differently, because I grew up with boys.

But it's probably all just a vast coincidence.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Chimpanzee Attack

I was reading last night about Travis, the chimpanzee now famous for the vicious attack on Charla Nash a couple of weeks ago. I have to admit that I hadn't paid much attention to the story until this week. I am emphatically opposed to keeping wild animals as pets. Therefore, these kinds of stories both anger and sicken me to a point I can hardly tolerate. This whole event was entirely avoidable. Ms. Nash didn't have to be horrifically injured; Travis didn't have to die.

I started paying attention this week after learning the extent of Ms. Nash's injuries. I was telling my husband about it, and he expressed surprise that the chimpanzee could do so much damage. I think that he, like a lot of people, erroneously believes that chimps are small. Travis weighed 200 pounds, had sharp claws, and very powerful jaws. At any rate, the husband's disbelief triggered in me a memory of a similar attack that occurred a few years ago, so I looked it up.

St. James Davis was attacked by two chimpanzees in 2005, when he went to visit his chimpanzee "son" Joe in a sanctuary (Joe had been removed from the Davis household by the state, although Joe had been part of their family for 30 years virtually without incident).  

When I looked up the Davis attack, I was shocked to discover that Mr. Davis's injuries were almost a mirror image of Ms. Nash's. Mr. Davis lost an eye, his nose, his lips, and several of his fingers. One of his feet was also badly mangled and now has a MRSA infection, so he may lose it. Ms. Nash has lost her eyelids, her nose, her lips, and her hands (I assume they were so badly mangled that they had to be amputated). She may also have brain damage.

I find this morbidly fascinating. I guess that this is just how chimpanzees fight: they go for the face and the hands. It makes sense, I guess, in a very instinctual way. Take out the eyes, your opponent can't see to fight you. Take out the lips, they probably won't be able to bite you. Take the fingers, they won't be able to grasp or claw you.

And that's the thing. People are talking about how Travis "went crazy." He didn't go crazy. He's a chimpanzee. He was being a chimpanzee. As human-like as primates can be, they don't have rational thought like we do. If I get mad or jealous, I'll most likely stew in the feelings for a while; I might even say something mean. But I'm very unlikely to attack someone. A chimpanzee gets mad or jealous, they don't sit around thinking, "God, so and so was such a bitch to me!" They attack. It's instinct.

It's all just so sad. I wonder if we as Americans will ever learn that just because we WANT something doesn't mean that we deserve it, or that it is good for us. No one NEEDS a tiger in their backyard or (I shudder to even think that she did this) a chimpanzee taking a bath with them. Let wild animals be wild.