Don’t pass a car that’s waiting to turn left

I had some choice words for that driver.

At a level FAR greater than in previous years, my family has been involved in several near-collisions in 2017, specifically in March and April. None of them involved the weather, and most of them took place in the daytime.

A majority fit into the category of the title, which I stole from the Monday traffic column in our local daily, compiled by Tim O’Brien. He, like several folks with the Times Union, is leaving for greener pastures after dealing with the parsimonious Hearst Corporation daily rag for years.

ITEM: The Wife is turning left; we’ll call her car A. The car facing her is also turning left, car 1. A vehicle behind her, NOT the car immediately back, but the car behind THAT, car 3, gets impatient with the wait, passes car 2 and 1 on the right. Car A sees car 2, but barely breaks in time in the turn to avoid getting hit by car 3.

ITEM: The Wife is turning left. The car facing her is also turning left, car 1. She doesn’t see, but I do, the bicycle passing car 1 on the right. If I hadn’t called it to her attention, it was likely that she would have T-boned bike 2, the rider of which, BTW, was not wearing a helmet.

ITEM: I’m riding my bike, going straight ahead; I’m vehicle A. Car 1, signaling left, is patiently yielding the right of way to vehicle A. Car 2, however, is having nothing to do with THAT, and passes car 1 on the LEFT, across the crosswalk and practically into my path before slamming on its brakes. As it tuns out, it was a nice day, and car 2 had its windows down. I had some choice, albeit repeatable, words for that driver.

Not all the near-collisions involved left turns. The Wife was turning right from a one-way street onto a two-way. But the driver coming from our right apparently thought he too was on a one-way, because he wasn’t staying right. IF she hadn’t aborted the turn at the last moment, we would have hit him for sure. The Daughter, in the back seat, got pretty shook up about this, and understandably so.

There are a couple other traffic examples in recent months, but you get the gist. As Phil Esterhaus used to say, “Be careful out there!”

Z is for Zone

Those of us in the northeast US felt pretty secure about avoiding the remnants of hurricanes until Irene and Lee in 2011 and Sandy in 2012 roared through.

I came across this article: Alaskan villages try “climigration” in the face of climate change. The subhead is “When a town turns to a perpetual disaster area, it might be time to move it.”

I was thinking about this in following the Oklahoma tornadoes in May; the picture is from the aftermath. How DOES one live in a tornado alley? There was an intense storm in Moore, Oklahoma in 1999, after all. There have been a few articles about why there are few underground shelters in the area; Dustbury linked to one.

This led me to muse on other disasters; repeated flooding on parts of the Mississippi River, e.g. A couple of towns, I’ve read, moved to a safety zone several miles away from the river, but others get sandbags together for a near-annual threat of the town being swallowed up.

I recall after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was lots of chatter about someone who could be so crazy to build a city, New Orleans, that actually below sea level. It’s a major port, that’s why, and the government is building walls that – likely – will protect it from another storm.

Wildfires and earthquakes and the occasional avalanche in the western US, hurricanes in the southeast. What is the zone one can go to that is immune to the ravages of Mother Nature? Those of us in the northeast US felt pretty secure about avoiding the remnants of hurricanes until Irene and Lee in 2011 and Sandy in 2012 roared through. Sandy made a left turn; it’s not supposed to do that! The American meteorological models didn’t even predict that path, though the European models did.

So where in your country, or part of the country, are the danger zones, the safety zones? Of course, one cannot be 100% safe anywhere, but there are greater and lesser risks.

I’m still convinced that my locale in upstate New York is still a relatively safe zone to live in. That IS subject to change…

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

Guns in every school?

There are about 300 million guns in the US, nearly one for every man, woman and child in the country. ABC News has noted that, even if a gun control law were passed tomorrow, those extant guns aren’t going to disappear.

Tom the Mayor, my old FantaCo and YMCA buddy, asks: How do you feel about the NRA’s idea of having guns in every school, you being a parent. I think they are vile and evil.

I’m not keen on the NRA’s idea. I like what Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams had to say: Keep your guns out of my school! Among other things, the armed guards, in schools and elsewhere, are often early targets for would-be mass killers. I worry that having armed guards will accelerate the problem. And the foolish notion of making the teachers into a militia is beyond the scope of the job, when they have been given increasing responsibilities for – ready for it – teaching.

If we have armed guards in every school, where will the money come from? The strains on school budgets NOW are enormous. Now, if the NRA is willing to PAY for all of these people, MAYBE we can talk about it. (Nah, not even then.) Who will these people be, anyway? A police officer, with a level of training in situational behavior, or a rent-a-cop who just knows how to take target practice well?

The fact is I heard that about a third of schools already have armed personnel, according to NBC News. Columbine had at least one armed guard during the massacre at the high school in 1999.

Ultimately, I think that the NRA and other pro-gun advocates have been disingenuous; MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains it well. The implication is that more guns will keep everyone safe; clearly untrue. The Fort Hood shootings represent an apt example.

There are about 300 million guns in the US, nearly one for every man, woman, and child in the country. ABC News has noted that, even if a gun control law were passed tomorrow, those extant guns aren’t going to disappear. It would be foolish, though, to do nothing.

I have a friend who grew up in Newtown, Connecticut. and still has friends there. It’s difficult that “this horror happen in such a quiet, ordinary town.” I remember writing about the all-but-forgotten mass murder in MY hometown less than four years ago. I wrote that, on Binghamton’s newspaper’s website, “along with expressions of sympathy, distress about the human condition, requests for more help for the mentally ill, and people on both sides of the gun control issue…” This is why I despair about anything ever-changing; every gun tragedy generates the same damn conversation.

And it’s ONLY because six-year-old children were many of the victims that I have any hope that that, maybe, just maybe, things WILL be different this time.

And though you didn’t ask, I figure I’ll sound off on another topic: violent video games. I’m not a gamer, but I listened to the whole podcast when Chris (Lefty) and Kelly Brown discussed certain hazards they have faced;…how video games nearly shattered their marriage and the lessons learned… . This was all very good.

Lefty also discusses the tragedy in Newton, CT, and what it means for video games. He believes that the video games that simulate killing other people are, or should be, kept away from small children. I’m not convinced this is actually happening. I remember going to the mall some years ago and my 12-year-old niece was playing some game I can only describe as gruesome. She’s turned out all right, but I’m not convinced that’s true of all the teenagers who surely get to play them. This adult gamer notes that kids have been playing “cowboys and Indians” or “army men” for decades with no ill effect. I myself had a Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army), and I grew up to be a pacifist. But playing war just wasn’t that graphic. If kids have seen 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence via movies, TV shows, music videos, and video games, is it likely that at least some of them might be negatively impacted?

Jaquandor asked a few questions. I’ll take the first one here, and the others down the road:

I see the question’s already asked, but: Guns. What on Earth to do about them?

I was going to ask Superman to take a giant magnet and collect them all.

Seriously, limiting the type of guns and the sometimes magazines they use would be a start. Some communities have gun buybacks, which I favor. I know those Second Amendment folks think the Constitution is absolute, but as I said recently, Amendment 2 is no more absolute than the First Amendment. We limit certain types of speech to maintain a safer society, but we can’t with guns?

There’s that recent shooting in, roughly, your neck of the woods, in Webster, NY, just outside Rochester. Coincidentally, that’s where my wife was born, and where my best friend from college grew up. Four firefighters shot, two fatally, responding to a house fire, set deliberately so some schmuck could shoot the responders, and so he could burn down as much of the neighborhood as possible, with at least seven houses ultimately destroyed. One of the guns he used was the same type of high-powered weapon used on children and teachers in Newtown, CT. MORE guns would not have solved that situation either.