Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Being a Good Neighbor?

Dan Edelen has a gripe he wants to get off his chest--specifically, folks who drive out to the country to drop off kittens which resulted from failing to spay or neuter. He says, bluntly, that by carrying out such a drive-by drop-off, you're dooming Fluffy to a dismal fate, and that he's tired of seeing feline corpses litter his property and community. I'm surprised that people would go to such lengths to be so unthinking and inconsiderate, particularly as there are animal shelters in most communities, and many of them sponsor low-cost spay and neuter clinics.

Conversely, as we've seen from recent cases of animal hoarding, you're not doing any favors by taking in lots of strays, especially when you won't have them neutered or spayed--you're just leaving (and ignoring) a mess to aggravate your neighbors and upset the police.

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As gasoline prices remain stratospheric, there are useful driving strategies that help save gas (and wear and tear on your car). Some of these tips boil down to driving sanely and cautiously. Imagine that. (Not that you were saving much time anyway by imitating NASCAR drivers.) Perhaps by driving more cautiously, other drivers (and pedestrians) won't need to be afraid of you, because, unfortunately, people feel more unsafe driving today than they did five years ago. It's certainly impossible to take a nice, aimless "Sunday drive" anymore because of all the recklessness on the road.

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New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has a few pointers on How to Have a Cell Phone and still remain a Christian. (Hint: Blabbing on a cell phone oblivious to others while driving is NOT demonstrating any of the Christian virtues.)

OK, that was the last of my rants for now. Now's the time to put into practice being neighborly.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Enough Already...

More explosions in London, pushing and shoving in high places, Newt and Hillary getting along; what's going on here?

Of course, it is a relief that the most recent bombings were small in nature, and that London police have shot a would-be suicide bomber, but a shoot-out at a busy exchange in broad daylight is still unnerving. (Of course, explosions are always unnerving, whether caused by a bomber or by a bug bomb.)

Diplomatically speaking, or not, the jostling of diplomatic personnel and press in Sudan is not only rude, but betrays a prickliness, a touchy defensiveness about--can it be--the situation in the Darfur region?

On another note (yet still a weird one), there's talk that Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton actually agree on some health care issues, which can only mean one thing: that the health insurance situation in this country has reached dire straits, indeed.

One more instance of a political about-face: the UN actually showing some backbone, criticizing Zimbabwe's wide-scale razing of "slum" areas. I wonder if that august organization actually meant to criticize "urban renewal" (oops!), although it's doubtful that Mugabe wants to renew anything.

Finally, columnist John Kelly has some advice for tourists, which many year-round residents could benefit from, as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Low Can You Go?

I've witnessed a new low in civility on this hot, uncomfortable day. An outburst, directed at the ladies walking behind me as we were crossing the street at mid-day, made me take a double (and triple) take.

As I started across the street when the light turned green, I noticed a car to my left that looked like it was going to turn; it then stopped briefly, then proceeded to go straight across the intersection, floating across a red light.

I guess one of the ladies behind me must have stretched out her hand to gesture to the driver to stop (they had the green light), because the driver then decided to roll down her window (letting out all her air conditioning, a bad sign right there) and yell, repeatedly, "Did I hit you?" "What 'cha worried about?" To their credit, the pedestrians continued to stroll across the street; understandably, one of them decided to get in on the fun and trade a few barbs with the driver, who eventually, thankfully, drove away.

Unfortunately, this is not the first driver/pedestrian verbal fracas I've seen recently on downtown D.C. streets, where pedestrians are not exactly rare.

A few weeks ago, a few blocks away, I was about to cross the street (or attempted to, at least), when I made the blunder of gently gesturing a driver to back up, as she was blocking the pedestrian walkway. I was greeted with a merry, "Walk around my car!" to which I just had to answer, "Get out of the pedestrian zone!" This merely caused the driver (a different irate woman from today's screamer) to keep ranting as she drove off. What can get you so wound up in the middle of the day? I'd hate to run into one of these women after quittin' time! Perhaps I should be grateful that neither screecher was talking on a cell phone while driving, or there might have been two actual, rather than verbal, collisions.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Little Panda Cheer

We Washingtonians get overly excited when there's any news about our furry black-and-white celebrities, so you can imagine the talk about the new panda cub. This fascination stems from more than the animals' legendary cuteness--I think we're fascinated by their placid lifestyles, which they demonstrate both in zoos and in their native environment.

Moreover, the pandas are a light-hearted distraction from our problems, equivalent to the chatter in the celebrity gossip rags. ("Did they or didn't they?" "Baby on the way" "It's a boy,", etc.) Those of us under the age of 40 practically grew up with pandas at the zoo, so the critters have been a backdrop on our lives. Go figure.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Across the Pond...and Nervous

Here we go again. Another large-scale terrorist attack in a major city's subway system, in London. Appropriately, perhaps, going to work on Washington's metro yesterday morning was a study in silence. If the other passengers felt as I did, they were too stunned to speak. But we had no choice but to go on, as people the world over must.

Now that London police have discovered that the terrorists used small devices that were easy to slip into backpacks, it makes one think: as horrifying as the carnage is, it could have been significantly worse. I wonder if the terrorists were afraid that carrying larger (even more deadly) explosive devices would have looked conspicuous to London's ubiquitious surveillance cameras, as well as to other passengers.

Who knows the motives of these terrorists, these misguided people? Such folk, who at least have organizational and mechanical skills, in order to synchronize explosions in a major city, certainly have the potential to contribute constructively to society. What a waste.