Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘commuting

Future Arrives

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The kids stopped by yesterday for Cyndie’s day of canning pickles and Julian brought along a new commuting vehicle that bridges recreation and transportation. Have you heard of Onewheel?

I suppose it could be compared to a skateboard, but it gives more of an impression of snowboarding… only without the snow.

The device just recently arrived and he wanted to practice riding while wearing his computer bag to get ready for “boarding” (I’m told the term being used is “floating”) to work. He lives and works downtown in Minneapolis, so mastering our hills and uneven terrain would go a long way toward building strength and confidence for the urban surfaces he will more often encounter.

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He started down the driveway.

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Then turned onto one of our rough trails.

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He popped out in the back yard and rolled down the hill.

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Into the woods again.

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Floated through the gazebo beside the labyrinth.

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Along the back pasture fence line and around toward the barn.

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He picked up speed as he reached the weed-covered gravel around the hay shed.

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After that, he turned onto the asphalt driveway again and completed a very successful first attempt at adjusting to the added weight on his back. I think he will do just fine on the streets and sidewalks in the city. With each outing on the board, he will gain strength and skill.

No, I didn’t try it out myself. I’ll stick with two wheels and pedals. However, I am not against the possibility of an ebike somewhere in my future.

All these budding electric-assisted modes of transportation popping up definitely make it feel like the future has arrived.

I’m wondering if I will be able to catch up with it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

April Showers

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Yeah. These are April showers alright.

This storm arrived a little sooner than expected and produced a robust initial burst of snow, which chased me out of work early, in attempt to get well ahead of the inevitable afternoon weather-induced traffic disasters.

For the most part, I succeeded, needing only to slow down for a handful of congested sections, but not any backups that came to a complete stop.

My big day in court for jury duty today was foiled because the case settled at the last minute. That was good, and bad for me. Now I can get in another day of work, except it will need to be from home because the big storm is making the commute inadvisable.

At least I don’t need to try to navigate the scary drive to the courthouse in Ellsworth, either. My jury duty runs until April 30, unless I sit on a case, so a different trial remains an unknown possibility for a couple more weeks.

The short distance to the county courthouse was a drive I was willing to risk, if they hadn’t settled in advance, but the storm also created a threat of postponement that would have complicated my schedule, too.

The possibilities are almost too much for my little brain to comprehend all at once.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of May. It can’t possibly snow in May this year, can it?

And all these April showers will lead to blossoms of May flowers, no?

A guy can dream.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Temporary Ripple

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There has been a stressful ripple in the fabric of normalcy for our family recently. Out of respect for the privacy of all involved, I am choosing to be purposely vague, but I would like to provide some context that was otherwise missing from my narrations of late.

There is good news in that, other than some residual post traumatic stress that will take time to process, everyone involved is okay, and everyone impacted is on a path of recovery from a powerful dose of hyper-concern.

Yesterday morning, with Cyndie home from Florida, our children gathered at our house for much-needed hugs and a large dose of comfort-food for a brunch.

Trauma has absolutely no respect for time and place, and it does a person no good to live in a state of constant alert for potential threats, so the sudden unexpected rise of calamity is, well… traumatizing. Compounded in this case because┬áthe incident grew out of a well-intentioned effort to offer support for a friend in need.

I guess this falls under the adage of no good deed going unpunished.

One thing that our recent experience has reminded me of is this: We can’t always know, in fact, usually don’t know, what people around us have lived through. That person next to you on the plane may have just been to the emergency room before boarding. Or a police station. Or both.

Last week, on my way to work, I approached a sudden slowing of traffic and soon discovered a crash had just occurred. As my mind processed the visual while rolling past, it struck me that the final location and resulting damage to the van indicated it likely rolled before landing back on its wheels. There were still people inside, looking to be in shock.

I was traumatized remotely. One of my first reactions, upon arriving at work, was to tell someone about what I had seen. Talking helps to process the intense emotions of trauma.

At the same time, telling strangers of our personal traumas is not a reasonable practice. Therefore, it stands to reason that we shouldn’t expect that others are freely telling us of theirs.

We can all hope that everyone around us is always having a safe and healthy day, but don’t take for granted the possibility that things might be otherwise. Someone you find yourself interacting with may be using precious effort to maintain a veneer of normal, despite riding an unspoken residual wave of some uninvited drama.

Hope for the best, but be prepared for the alternatives. Always give people space to have unseen reasons for the way they behave.

Sending love in advance to others around us is a pretty safe balm for what might ail a person.

Thank you to all who have offered your love and support to contain this temporary ripple for our family. It is helping to guide us all back to our preferred calm tranquility.

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Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

Please Stop

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Just make it stop. Please.

When I stepped out of work yesterday, this is how my car looked:

It was snowing again, perfectly timed with the beginning of the afternoon drive. Lovely. Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.

My commute home started well enough, considering the low visibility and slippery road surfaces, but in short order, progress slowed to stop-and-go, rolling along at a snail’s pace. That tedious speed lasted for more than an hour, during which I enjoyed a deep meander through my prized digital music collection on my phone.

With little in the way of driving decisions required, my mind was free to pay greater than normal attention to the music of my memories that was flowing from my car speakers. It served as adequate distraction from how extra-long the commute was taking, until the flow finally opened up and vehicles started moving at dangerous speeds again.

Somehow, I was able to steer clear of the two lunatics who were unsatisfied with the reasonable movement in the left lane and decided to race ahead in other lanes to cut back into the left again, disrupting everyone’s safety. One of them chose to cut off me, without the courtesy of a turn signal.

The other picked a driver who chose to “fight back” with a classic road rage tactic of “tit for tat,” racing ahead to cut back in front of the first jerk.

No problem, it gave me a chance to slow down even more to grant them plenty of space to take their grudge well ahead and away from me.

Beyond those two scares, the only other challenges of disaster I narrowly avoided happened to be three separate incidents of police and highway patrol cars precariously parked to protect vehicles that had crashed and spun out.

It took me twice as long to get home, but I did arrive without calamity.

Shortly after, the falling snow stopped, and the sun even appeared for a couple of brief glimpses before setting.

I’m going to visualize this as having been the last snowy drive I will suffer for the rest of the season. To help start this new run of luck in my favor, my goal this weekend (like it was on Tuesday, last), is to simply avoid driving my car at all over the entire weekend.

Here’s hoping I achieve that humble objective.

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Written by johnwhays

February 15, 2019 at 7:00 am

Risking Again

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After last week’s risky and dangerous commute home from work, I intended to be more cautious about venturing out when the weather gets wild and the roads are dicey.

However, there are some things that cause us to push that envelope of safety, like, say… a funeral for a family member. That is what we were faced with yesterday. The service for Cyndie’s aunt was at a church in Plymouth, MN, not far from the location of my day-job.

I stepped out to clean off the front steps yesterday morning, and soon learned the snow was coming down so fast that the areas where I shoveled were getting covered right back up in minutes. That caused an alert that our drive to the cities was going to take much longer than normal.

I rushed inside to let Cyndie know that we needed to depart as soon as possible, and anything she was hoping to accomplish before leaving needed to be immediately re-evaluated as to whether it was more important than possibly missing the funeral.

It was another day of crash-defying navigation in horrible visibility with heavy snow falling and roads slippery and snow-covered. Just the conditions I never wanted to find myself in again for a very long time. It’s exhausting.

To complicate matters, we needed to drive separately. We would both stay overnight in Edina, and I would drive to work this morning, while Cyndie will join immediate family at the cemetery for a brief burial service. After that, she will drive home to take over from our house/animal sitter, Anna, who stayed overnight at Wintervale for us.

I drove ahead of Cyndie, but kept a close eye on her in my rear view mirror. Together, we slowly made our way with barely a minute to spare, luckily avoiding the fate that we witnessed maybe a dozen times along the way, of cars losing control and crashing into the ditches all around us.

It was crazy making. It was white-knuckle gripping of the steering wheel the whole way. That kind of “edge-of-disaster” driving is really, really exhausting.

Follow that with heavy emotions of a funeral service, and that’s one heck of a draining day.

Wouldn’t you know, tomorrow we are due to get hit with another big snow event.

Something tells me I won’t be driving to work Tuesday.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2019 at 7:00 am

Crosstrek Love

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Have I mentioned how much I love my Subaru Crosstrek? It virtually drove itself home yesterday in the heavy snowfall we received. I just pressed the pedals every once in a while. The car plowed through the deep snow easily, holding the lane even when I had no idea where the lane was.

My only complaint was the icing on the wiper blades, but I wasn’t alone. Everyone was having the same problem I was on the last leg, reaching out their window to attempt “thwacking” the blade as it swung near, and pulling off wherever possible to get out and knock off ice.

This was my view toward the end:

There was nowhere to pull over, as each spot I came to was already filled by two or three cars, creating a scary hazard of potential collisions.

When I reached my driveway, I paused to clean my windshield so I could see to stay as close to the center of the pavement as possible. There was no guarantee that I would make it all the way up to the house.

After I parked in the garage, I noticed the back of my car was so coated by snow that my brake lights were hardly noticeable. I had been running with my 4-way flashers on during the craziest portion between River Falls and home, but they probably weren’t making a big difference in visibility.

After dinner, I went out to plow and poked a yardstick into the snow up by the house to check the depth. It was a little deeper down toward the shop garage, but this reading was a solid 8.5 inches.

That melty snow of last weekend is a thing of the past now. We have a fresh dose of the real McCoy. According to the forecast, this batch of flakes was just the warm up. Tonight and tomorrow, we are supposed to receive even more than what fell yesterday.

I’m not sure where I will put it all when plowing and shoveling. The piles are already impressively tall.

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Written by johnwhays

February 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Contrast Comparison

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Let’s review.

Last week, polar vortex:

A few days ago, February thaw:

Yesterday morning, the commute to the cities was an ice adventure. On one of the close-to-home country roads, my tires lost grip and the Crosstrek started to float at a bit of a sideways angle. At the wee hours of morning, there were no other cars around, otherwise, that slide could have been a head-on collision disaster, as I encroached into the oncoming lane.

After a short distance, the tires re-gripped and the car violently responded with a sudden jolt of physics reality, returning without trouble to rolling straight forward, aligned in the proper lane of travel.

I adjusted my speed accordingly for the rest of the commute.

The residual trepidation that gripped me after that brief adventure in free flight was the possibility, or probability, of someone driving toward me losing traction like I had and then floating uncontrollably into my lane. Luckily, there were only a few cars that approached while I was on two-lane roads. After that, it was all divided highway.

I witnessed no crashes driving in the 5 o’clock hour, but my nerves were further rattled by a radio report that 4 salting trucks had slid into ditches in the county just north of our home.

I carefully pulled my car into the parking spot at work and breathed a sigh of relief. When I stepped out onto the glazed pavement, I was startled over how slippery it actually was. I couldn’t walk up the tiniest incline of sidewalk to the front door. I needed to “penguin” my way over to some snow and walk on that.

A coworker had the best solution for all this crazy winter weather we’ve been facing lately. Humans should be genetically engineered to hibernate during winter.

This is how I am able to recognize I am truly aging. That idea actually sounds appealing to me.

I suppose in a few more years, I will start talking about moving south over the winter months.

It’s enough to make my 20-year-old self roll over in his hypothetical grave. There are days I miss that guy.

I gotta admit, though, the sight of my 60-year milestone approaching on the horizon has me leaning more toward liking the looks of that future snow-bird guy a bit more than the young winter athlete of years gone by.

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Written by johnwhays

February 5, 2019 at 7:00 am