I don’t know, call me sentimental

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I blame NewMexiKen and his recent blogging about citizenship tests. I pondered on it a bit in this post too, but lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about being an American and, yes, in my post-Fourth of July haze…about being patriotic.

I still get a proud chill when the Blue Angels fly low overhead. I put my hand over my heart when they play the Star Spangled. I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance with practiced ease.

Patriotism sort of became a bad word during the previous administration, where aspersions were cast left and right about who was and was not patriotic. That made me grit my teeth.

So ok, I don’t wear it on my sleeve, but sure, I am patriotic. I own it.

When I read this article in today’s Las Cruces Sun News, I have to admit, I got a little lump in the throat proud.

A small piece, really. Just a short bit about a local boy scout troop doing a proper ceremony to dispose of soiled flags.

I don’t really know all the rules about flying the flag, but I know enough. I get testy when I see a flag flying in the rain. Or unlit in the dark. Or when it’s been whipped to shreds but still flies.

I don’t really do anything wacky about it, like the guy who tore down the Mexican flag on the UNM campus when he noticed a violation of flag protocol.

But I notice stuff and it bugs me.

It was an interesting read at the VFW site about the main code for flying a flag. I learned a little there.

Also interested to see the link to this site, a company that provides proper disposal of a flag for a fee.

Mainly, getting back to the event held in Las Cruces, I was just happy to see a new generation of kids is learning respect and both the proper way to fly, and when the time comes, dispose of, Old Glory.

Photo recycled from this blog…taken at Fort Stanton, NM

Yanking. My. Chain.

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(Written last night, posted today)

The universe is yanking my chain. Messing with my head. Freaking me out, man.

Because tonight, I might actually kinda sorta believe in the goodness of humanity.

That’s so not me. No, I think people are mean, and mean people suck. But tonight…I have a softer spot in my heart for the world.

I was on my way to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. I waited in a left turn bay for the light to go my way. Out of the corner of my eye in the rearview mirror, I saw a small white pickup stomp to a halt at an odd diagonal to the left turn bay. Then the driver was out of the car and weaving around on foot in the opposite-side lane.

“Oh crap,” I thought, eyeing him in my rearview, “this guy’s messed up.” I immediately reached for my phone to call the police, and as I did I turned to look out my window to see what the guy was doing. Was he going to hurt himself?

Then I realized why he was making a weaving wavy line in the oncoming lane. Leading the parade was a Mama Duck and three little chicks tailing her every move, the guy madly following behind, making classic herding motions with his hands.

Obviously, the duck and young ‘uns had wandered into traffic and this guy was chasing them, trying to get them to safety, and waving off oncoming traffic at the same time.

Finally, Mama D got over to the curb and she hopped up. Three babies hopped and jumped in vain, unable to make the distance. The guy reached down, cupped his hands, and gently scooped up each baby and placed them on the sidewalk. When all were safe, he trotted to his truck and jumped back in.

This wasn’t a Teva wearing, hola granola, tree hugging guy, either. He was a tradesman, driving a worktruck and clearly had put in a hard day’s work on a freaking hot day.

And at the end of that day, he saved four lives.

I was stunned, and my heart felt warmth.

Then, while in the grocery, I went over to the bakery to pick up a few of my favorite cookies. They are baked on site and tantalize behind a glass case. A bakery employee has to help you get to the good stuff.

I stood by the glass and waited. The bakery employee was alone back there, on the phone, taking an intricate cake order. No worry, I got time. I can wait for delicious almond horns.

So I waited. I didn’t even feel impatient. It allowed me the chance to oogle all the other tasty cookies on display.

Finally, she hung up the phone and turned to me. She said, “Thank you so much for waiting, I’m so sorry!”

“No problem,” I said and ordered the horns.

She put a couple in a box then added one more. “One extra for having to wait,” she said, smiled, and sealed up the box.

I was stunned. I got rewarded for patience? Me, the least patient person I know?

Then on the way home, I arrived at a four way stop at the same time as another car. I was the car on the right, and thus supposed to be the first to go. That never happens according to the law in California, so as usual, I paused. The other driver, a teenage girl, gave me the wave. I smiled and waved back and turned left through the intersection.

At the next intersection, I arrived the same time as a huge SUV. I was on the left this time. I paid it forward, gave him the wave, got a smile and wave in return.

With a goofy grin on my face, I then made my way the final few blocks to home.

Sure, it’s a Monday, hotter than the hinges of hell, The Good Man is violently sick (Norovirus is the main suspect), Mom-in-Law got roughed up at her doctor, and the cat is hot and lethargic. By all accounts, it’s a sad day where I live.

But right now I feel…dare I say…optimistic about my fellow man.

Questionable fashion choices

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So. It’s expected to be about 90 degrees here today.

I know, I know. I hear my New Mexico peeps saying, “pish posh, 90 degrees is a walk in the park!” and you are right.

90 degrees in Albuquerque is a fine day for a walk/run/jog/picnic/bike ride/what have you.

90 degrees here is intolerable. Because of one thing…

Humidity.

See, the human body was made to be an evaporative cooling device. Just like a swamp cooler, really.

From the Wikipedia entry: “Evaporative cooling is a physical phenomenon in which evaporation of a liquid, typically into surrounding air, cools an object or a liquid in contact with it.”

Right. I sweat. The dry air evaporates it. I feel fresh as a daisy. A sweaty daisy, but a daisy, nonetheless.

In the Bay Area, due to this large body of water, the uh, you know, Bay, we have a bit of humidity. Not much, mind you. Not Georgia on a hot summer night or Singapore all year round. But enough.

Enough that my finely tuned machine, calibrated to the New Mexico climate, can’t properly obtain “fresh as a sweaty daisy” and I just obtain sweaty.

But that’s not the point of my discussion.

The point is…it’s due to be pretty hot today. “Pretty hot” is something of a rarity around here. We get maybe two weeks, when all totaled up each year, of “good lord it’s hot” days.

The rest of the time, the weather is temperate and mild.

Because of this, few homes and businesses have any sort of air conditioning. I know, right? I almost passed out when I first moved here. “You want to rent me an apartment WITHOUT air conditioning? Do you want me to *die*?!?!?”

So in order to stay cool, people go to their drawers and the back of their closets to withdraw their “warm weather” clothes.

Herein lies the problem. In New Mexico, it gets hot a lot. Everyone has at least ONE pair of serviceable shorts, usually two or more. Something that people wouldn’t be upset at being seen in public with you while you were wearing them.

Not so in the area where it doesn’t often get that hot.

Yes, the first “damn it’s hot” day of the year means seeing shorts that are a bit tight and frightfully short.

I don’t mean on a cute girl, I mean on the overweight middle aged dad-man whose legs haven’t seen the outside of pants legs in decades wearing the shorts he bought for Spring Break back in college, thirty years ago.

This morning I saw a woman walking down the street in a purple bathing suit with the elastic about shot, thus hardly supporting her ample upper parts. This was paired with some lycra bike shorts, scarcely concealing her ample lower parts. She also carried a pack of Kools and smoked profusely. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Unless you are actually ON a bike, I’d like not to see the bike shorts, please.

Look, not all of my stuff is great to look at, but I have the decency toward my fellow mankind to wear a pair of shorts that don’t crawl up my heiney as I walk. My skin is pale from too many days under office florescent lights, but I make an effort to keep cool and keep my dignity at the same time.

For the good of all mankind.

Stay cool out there, ya’ll.

A public service announcement.

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From eHow.com, the appropriate way to handle a four way stop. Emphasis added is mine.

  1. Slow your vehicle when approaching a 4-way stop. As you stop at the stop sign or red light, notice if there are any cars at any of the other stops, or if there are any approaching at the same time.
  2. Stop your vehicle completely. This means that your tires are completely stopped and not rolling at all. If there are cross walk lines or painted indicators on the road, stop at the appropriate lines. If it is a stop sign and there are no lines on the road, stop when the front of your car is even with the stop sign. If there is something blocking your view of the other stops signs, you may move forward only after stopping completely at your own stop sign.
  3. Look at the other stops to see if there are any other vehicles stopped or moving. The vehicles leave the stop signs in the same order in which they arrived. The first vehicle to arrive at a complete stop is the first vehicle allowed to leave the stop sign.
  4. Know that if there is more than one vehicle arriving at the same time at the 4-way stop, the vehicle furthest to the right is allowed to leave first. Always allow at least a few seconds to make sure no one else takes off even if it is your turn to leave first. Many people do not follow this rule, even though it is the legal way to leave a 4-way stop.

Note that nowhere in that discussion does it say that if you drive a big Mercedes SUV, that means you get ahead of anyone, anytime.

It also doesn’t say that if you come screaming up to the four-way stop at an excessive speed, barely touch the brakes, and then hit the gas, you get to go first.

I don’t care how busy you are. Or rich. Or good-looking. Or that your car is nicer than mine. Mine is paid off. And I don’t mind rolling that hoopty patched up with bailing wire and duct tape. Bite me.

This message brought to you by my frustrating morning commute.

(no, I didn’t get in an accident, but it was close. Thank goodness for that brake job I got last week.)

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