Archives for : August2010

America’s love affair with the outside turn lane

Drivers, I have only one urgent request. Sure, there are tons of things you people do that awaken The Anger, but there’s one habit you drivers seem to have that I just can’t understand. The worst thing is, I don’t even hear other people complain about it in day to day life.

What is your intense fascination with the outside left turn lane?

I’ve drawn a very simple illustration to …… illustrate what I’m talking about:

How often has this happened to you? You need to make a wide left so you can get to a place on the right side of the road immediately after you turn. This is one of the purposes of the wide turn lane. The other is to allow more people to make the turn at once. Most traffic lights in the Phoenix Metro area have red/green left turn arrows, meaning time is of the essence.

So you roll up to the light and every driver is stacked up in the outer turn lane, and you really have no choice. You have to get over to the right quickly, so you suck it up in get behind everyone else. The red arrow turns green. You beg the driver in front to notice. Often times they don’t. Things finally get moving. The arrow turns yellow and you’re still several cars back, so you curse, and you hit the brakes. Then, something fascinating happens. The car immediately in front of you punches it. Flies through the light with dubious legality, leaving you the only poor sap waiting to make your turn in the next cycle.

Now this is the part where it turns from “mild annoyance” to “societal blight” – everyone that made the turn from the outer lane goes straight on down the road. Nobody turns into the parking lot where you were trying to go. They had no reason to stack up in that lane.

And yet, they always do. Almost without exception, when drivers have the choice between the two turn lanes, they take the outside one regardless of where they need to go next or how many cars in already there. They have defeated both purposes of having two turn lanes. This is what I don’t understand. Are people afraid of committing to the turn? Do they want to preserve the freedom to do a dickish move and pull out of the turn at the last minute and go straight? Is it like people who prefer the aisle seat on planes?

Either way, the curriculum in driver’s ed needs to be updated to squash this phenomenon. And yes, the reason I think this is because MY time has been wasted.

Top five movies

Like any self-respecting nerd, I have a compulsive need to organize the things I like into lists. To kickstart what I hope to be a long series of Top Whatever lists, here are my top five movies as they stand today.

Note: The number five was chosen because this is actually a very hard list to make. To include every movie I consider a “favorite” would require at least 50. If I allowed myself the luxury of ten, I would be introducing certain films that, if included, would compel me to recognize several others. By limiting myself to five, I’m ensuring that the films on this list are the absolute most important to my life.

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Please resolve the spelling of your name

The English language is very irregular. It was comprised from a mishmash of incompatible cultural influences, archaic words, and defiant grammar rules. But when it comes to names, we have a unique opportunity to resolve some incongruities. I understand that most names have as rich a heritage as anything else, but I think with it being The Year of Our Lord 2010, we’re ready to start streamlining.

I believe that if a person or place’s name is pronounced opposite of the spelling, it deserves to be mispronounced. We need to come together as a society and decide – will we keep the spelling or the pronunciation? But when a word includes very clear and unambiguous spelling rules, but the pronunciation ignores them, we have no right to be annoyed when a person mispronounces.

Here is a list of what I’m referring to:

  • Newfoundland, a Canadian province, pronounced “NEWfinland”
  • Anna Faris, actress, pronounced “AH-na”
  • Spokane, a city in Washington, pronounced “SPO-can”
  • Alonzo Bodden, comedian, pronounced “BOH-din”
  • Poughkeepsie, a city in New York, pronounced “puh-KIPsee” (that one really gets stuck in my craw)

Of course, I had more examples in my head but I didn’t get my blog started quickly enough to retain them all. But you see what I mean. The thing that really chaps my ass is that people who are used to using these names love to condescendingly correct people who mispronounce them – people who may have only seen them in print and were following established spelling rules. If we’re married to these pronunciations, we need to edit the spellings, period.