LOOKING AT WINTER ROADS

PHOTO CHALLENGE | The Road Taken


Winter roads are best taken as pictures. Driving down them in cars, even if the car has four-wheel drive, can be surprisingly scary. Especially if, like us, you live at the top of a long, steep hill that turns to ice very quickly when a storm comes.

Better standing about taking the picture than driving on this road ...

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong. – Better standing about taking the picture than driving on this road …

Photo: Garry Armstrong - Just one man walking on that road!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Just one man walking on that road!

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU’D SEEN IT ALL

This and That, by Rich Paschall


If you thought you had seen everything in politics prior to this year, then you were in for a big surprise.  The presidential election cycle is like none that has come before.  I hope we will not see it again.

No matter what lies the Republican candidate gets caught telling, his followers don’t seem to care.  They follow him anyway.

Grand Old Party?

Grand Old Party?

If you thought voters could be swayed by the truth, think again.

You will change no one’s vote with your Facebook memes, no matter how cute, accurate, or how well they state the case.  No one will be persuaded. You may as well watch baseball.

The State of Illinois has a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.  There has not been a budget for over a year and there definitely will not be one until after the election, when we will still have a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.

Are you tired of politics yet?  No?

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Republican senators in tight races do not want to be seen with the Republican candidate for president, especially in states that he is not likely to carry.  Senator Kirk of Illinois is up for election in the home state of President Obama and candidate Clinton.  Yes, she’s from Illinois (not Kenya).  The incumbent Senator will not be campaigning with the presidential candidate.

When I attended the Barbra Streisand concert there were many signs on the doors exclaiming “no cameras.”  Before I went through the metal detector I handed the security guy my cell phone, binoculars and a small case with my camera.

I set off the metal detector at the United Center, but they waved me on anyway after the security guy gave me back my camera and other items.  They probably thought I am just an old guy with a metal cane and there are lots of people waiting to get in.  Now doesn’t that make you feel more secure?

I have seen Streisand before and she had multiple opening acts.  This time there was a brief overture, she walked out, sang The Way We Were, and then said to the audience, “I guess you did not expect to start like that!”  Yes, it was all Barbra.

It is a requirement on the gay membership cards that all gay boys must see Cher or Barbra Streisand in concert.  They must also see Ricky Martin or Elton John.  OK, this might not be entirely true.

In concert at the United Center

Yes, we were WAY up there in the 300 level.  I brought binoculars.

Both Cher and Barbra Streisand are hosting fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton.  This one is absolutely true.

Cher never tours anymore so we must see Streisand and the ticket is très chère.

I have seen Elton John several times.  He is a good showman and always has high energy.

It is probably not a good idea to brag at work about how drunk you get sometimes.

It is not good to get drunk at a work outing because a coworker may take a video with her cell phone.

It is also bad if you get drunk and say uncomplimentary things about your boss on the video.  You never know if the person with the video will post it on Facebook or YouTube — or even email it to the boss.

No, not me.  I’m too busy to go to work outings.

My car has a video screen which is good for the back up camera.  Of course, the camera is not very helpful when drops of water are on the tiny lens.

With a backup camera, I might be able to avoid scratching up the tires and hub caps on the curbs as I have done so much in the past.  Soon cars will drive themselves anyway.

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My car has 25 preset buttons (touch screen) for the AM and FM radio.  There are that many radio stations in the metro Chicago area, but certainly not that many that I like.  If you touch the screen too often while driving, the next time you start the car you will get a warning that touching the screen too often while driving could be dangerous.  Really?

I can link to my video screen by flash drive or Bluetooth.  I can download apps to my phone then plug it into the USB port so I can have the apps on-screen while I drive.  When the car sales rep explained all this to me I told him I thought it was a remarkably bad idea.

Cars are now about entertainment, just like phones.  I think my car should be about driving, at least for the driver.

The coffee I make at home and at work does not come out scalding hot.  Many fast food places still serve coffee so hot you can not drink it.

If I buy coffee at a drive-thru on the way to work I may not be able to drink it en route, and I have a long drive.

My favorites in the Olympics were the beach volleyball players and the British divers.  Do I need to explain that?

My quest to watch all of the James Bond films in order continues.

KARMA OR MAYBE CAR-MA

It was a lovely crisp Saturday morning. I was heading north out of New York to visit Garry in Boston. I don’t remember which car I was driving. Probably my turquoise VW Rabbit, my personal pocket rocket.

72-ROADS_09I am not a slow driver, though I try to be a careful one. If I see a wide open road and I figure I’m not going to get a ticket, I’ve been know to put pedal to the metal. Perhaps a tad faster than the legal limit. Which is why I was surprised, as I drove along in the left lane of the limited access highway, to be passed on the right and cut off — leaving just millimeters spare — by a vehicle going so fast he nearly sucked the doors off my car.

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I was a bit shaken, especially since he had no reason to cut me off at all. The road was empty. He had plenty of room, so he was just being an asshole. I hadn’t even seen him coming.

“Go tiger,” I murmured, looking down at my speedometer. I was going a smidge over 80 MPH, so how fast was he going? He passed me as if I were standing still.

“People like him,” I muttered, “Give all of us a bad name.”

I continued on my merry way, made merrier by the music playing on my radio … until I saw flashing lights ahead. I slowed. Then I slowed more, until I was crawling along.

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Blue lights were flashing everywhere. This was no normal speeding ticket stop. It was not one or two police cars. There must have been a hundred or more squad cars, motorcycles, and a couple of vans.

It was a genuine cop convention!

My favorite speeder and all around dangerous driver had plunged right into a convoy of law enforcement officers on their way to an event.

The fellow, a young man of unimpressive demeanor, was standing on the shoulder of the road, hands in the air looking terrified. Officers stood near him, several of whom had telephones to their ears. They had bagged a good one and were clearly having fun as only a convention of cops driving official vehicles can.

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I was happy. Justice, so rarely served, was coming to one who deserved it. In such a memorable way, I doubted he would ever speed again. I couldn’t see whether or not he had (yet) wet his pants, but I could hope. I gave a thumbs up to the cops standing around the road writing out tickets — I wonder how many they gave him? To me, they gave a collective thumbs up.

I was laughing the entire remainder of the trip to Boston.