Monday, December 10, 2007

Why in the world...

Why do we ask questions as a way to state the obvious? Why are we so infatuated with making sure other people know we have observed something that is, well, rather easy to see and/or know? For instance, one of my children was cooking something in the microwave this evening, and I opened the door and threw in a bowl of chili to cook alongside the steak & mashed potatoes already in there (partly because I was hungry, but partly because I had to be somewhere before too long, so I didn't want to have to wait for the first meal to finish before cooking mine). I did this while the child was out of the kitchen. When the microwave timer had expired (and the microwave did that fancy "beep beep beeeeeeep" it does when the timer expires, drawing the child, who will remain anonymous for protection of the nearly innocent, back into the kitchen), the child opened the microwave, saw the bowl of chili (which I'd filled while the child was still in the kitchen), and asked, "Did you put your chili in there with my food?"

I responded, flatly, "No."

That's just one example. I probably do this myself, but of course won't admit it. But why do we do that? What drives us to ask these questions? They're not really rhetorical questions (although, I guess, they might as well be). What is it in human nature that seems to require us to verbally expound on things which require no explanation? And why do I ask these questions, which really don't matter anyway?

Ok, here's another: why do some people feel it necessary to walk on the street when there's a perfectly serviceable sidewalk mere feet away? I mean, I'm trying to drive, but I have to wait or move out of the way (drive on the wrong side of the road, which, interestingly, in Alabama carries less of a penalty than speeding over 86 MPH... that is, the state of Alabama seems to consider it more dangerous to drive at speeds higher than 86 MPH than to drive on the wrong side of the road! more about that in a minute) to avoid the pedestrians who are not using the sidewalk that was deliberately built to provide a safe place for pedestrians to work. Come on, health freaks - use the sidewalk when there is one! Some poor neighborhood planning engineer is out there right now wondering if he should continue in his chosen profession, whether the sidewalks he has designed are so flawed that people would rather walk on the street than use such a horrible sidewalk. Or maybe it's a concrete pourer, wondering if his sidewalks are being avoided due to bad surfacing. Please, do these poor folks a favor... use the sidewalks, let them know you appreciate their hard work! And do those of us in a car or truck or motorhome or minivan or motorcycle or bus or semi or whatever else a favor, too... use the sidewalks, leave us our entire side of the road for driving our vehicles! Thanks, very much.

As for Alabama's Driver License Point System, here are some interesting notes:
  • speeding over 86 MPH is more dangerous than driving on the wrong side of the road
  • speeding over 86 MPH is more dangerous than disregarding traffic control devices (stop signs, traffic lights, etc.); note, however, that "failure to yield right of way" is considered as dangerous as speeding over 86 MPH (which failure could come from disregarding traffic control devices)
  • following too closely is rather low on the danger scale; depending on how closely this could be a very dangerous thing, often leading to an accident (note: this could conceivably be written up as "reckless driving" instead of or as well as "following to closely" - which is twice (or three times, if both are applied) the points on your license)
These observations are based on the assumption that the number of points assigned to a driving violation is an assessment of the hazardousness of that offense.

Gotta go... 'tis late, need to sleep some before the morrow comes and I have to head off to work.

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