Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dangerous and Stupid Driving Incident Today

Today I had a meeting in the city.  We were all to gather at a restaurant for lunch then head to the meeting afterwards.  Since I was in the city I decided to visit a friend that I rarely see.  This friend doesn't live in a great part of town but I figured during the day wouldn't be bad.  I visited for an hour then had to head out to the lunch and then the meeting.  Not wanting to be late for lunch, I made a couple of stupid decisions.  Fortunately all ended up alright.

After leaving my friend's apartment I headed towards the freeway.  I try to stay away from this part of town.  It's not the drive-by shooting during the middle of the day area, but it's still an area with a nefarious crowd.  If you observe the people during your two mile stretch prior to getting on the freeway it you will notice lots of people just wandering: the drunks, drug deals, prostitution, gang members signaling to each other, etc.  It's not a place that I would ever be at night...daytime is bad enough.  But I was there.

On my way to the freeway there was some construction going on along the road.  The two lanes in my direction were moved into one.  The signal at the corner was not working which meant it became a four way stop sign.  This was a very busy corner as the other three directions all had two lanes going straight and one lane turning.  Couple that with the jam of the two lanes in my direction being squished into one lane, it was a very slow process getting through that intersection. 

I should have turned right to take a side street but I didn't.  I figured that even though the traffic was slow at least I was on the main road.  A better place to be when in the bad area of the city.  About four or five car lengths before coming to the intersection is a railroad crossing.  This railroad track is very busy with a train coming every ten minutes or so. 

Today I figured I'll just drive the Prius.  I'm going to be using the truck this weekend, so the truck didn't need to be exercised.  Now I know what I think of a lot of Prius drivers, even though I am one...I remind myself that my "real" vehicle is my pickup!   As I was driving down this road, a large pickup pulled in front of me.  Get on in there, mister.  You are bigger than me, I'll just get behind you.  Doesn't matter to me that I'm one whole car length behind where I would have been. 

We were all in the line of cars.  Slowly the first car would go through the intersection and the rest of the line of cars would creep up one space.  I'm almost to the intersection!  The truck in front of me just crossed over the track.  I'm next and was waiting patiently for the next person in line to go so I could cross over the track.  I don't want to get stuck behind a train.  Knowing my luck it would be one that takes 10 minutes to go through rather than 30 seconds!  

After what seemed like forever the first car went through the intersection.  All the cars in the line moved forward.  I crossed the railroad track then slammed on the brake.  The truck in front of me stopped.  He had lots of space to move forward.  He just didn't.  I honked my horn.  He didn't move.  And there was my car with the back end on the track! Can't back up.  I looked to the right and to the left.  No train.  How am I going to get out of this jam? 

There was no where to go on the right.  But on the left was the very beginning of the turn lane.  I found a way out.  Get into the turn lane and make a left turn.  But no.  I decided to be stupid.  I don't want to turn left.  It will take me out of the way. I want to go straight.  I see the freeway entrance just past this intersection.  Instead, I will make a plan.  If I see a train I will pull into the other lane and make the left turn.  Then it crossed my mind that maybe the left lane will fill up and I won't be able to get into that lane.  Maybe I should just get into the left lane now.  No, I don't need to, I decided.  Since the lane was just starting, if the train arms were coming down then the traffic would stop and I would be able to change lanes and not get smashed by the train.  

Finally, after what seemed like forever of being parked on the train the train didn't come...the front car crossed the intersection and all the vehicles moved up a bit.  Including the jerk in the truck.  Yes, I'm sure he had a good laugh.  Finally  it was my turn to cross the intersection.  As I was crossing I look in my rearview mirror.  There's a motorcycle cop behind me with lights on.  Surely he's not trying to pull me over...there must be an accident ahead or something that he's in a hurry to get to.  So I pull into the right lane to let him pass.  He pulls behind me.  Busted.  I knew right then that I was getting pulled over for getting stopped on the train track. 

He gets off the motorcycle and walks up to the window.  Before he even asked for my license he started lecturing about how dangerous it is to stop on a track.  YOU are responsible for making sure that your vehicle will have enough room to cross the track.  Great, I thought.  He knows the jerk in the truck caused me to get stopped on the track and he's going to give me the ticket anyway.  But polite I was.  He was right and I had been stupid. 

Not only did I cross that track without knowing for sure that there would be space, when I did come up with a good way to put myself into a safe location I chose not to.  I would have been inconvenienced by not getting to go directly onto the freeway.  As he was writing up the ticket a train did go by.  He made sure to point that out to me.  He handed me the ticket and said that I needed to make sure I read the bottom line.  Warning Only - No Court Appearance. 

He had me sign the warning ticket and then told me that they keep track of warnings.  If I do it again they will give me a ticket.  Don't worry.  I won't do it again.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The weekend is over so quickly!

We had a high of 70 today.   The chickens laid some eggs this weekend.  They haven't laid eggs all winter and I certainly wasn't going to buy any at $4.00 a dozen.  For store bought eggs!  Never!  We have still eaten eggs this winter.  During summer when we had so many I froze some.  I know you can separate yolks from whites and freeze them separately if you want.  I didn't.  Instead I cracked the eggs and whisked them up like I was going to make scrambled eggs.  I didn't cook them, just mixed them all together.  Then I froze them in the ice cube tray.  Two egg cubes equaled one egg.  After they were frozen I individually wrapped each cube.  I didn't have to, I could have packed them six or eight cubes into a baggie or at least wrap two cubes together, which makes one egg...but I didn't.  I then took all the wrapped cubes and put them into a couple of big freezer bags.  We did use them sparingly or we would have run out.  But this next summer, I am going to freeze them a little differently.  If I know we can use six eggs while making scrambled eggs for breakfast then it would be convenient to freeze those six eggs into a baggie.  Each bag could then be taken out of the freezer for a meal.  You defrost them in the refrigerator over night, or in our case, if we didn't plan you just defrost them in a bit of water and break the cubes apart with a fork.  The little bit of water will cook away so it's not a big deal. 

Since I forgot to finish pruning the fruit trees, yes really I did, I figured I'd better get started.  I got several done today.  Since last year I did such a good job, many just need a slight trim rather than a full pruning.  The prune plum needed a lot of work.  The tree tried to fall over a few years ago and now is just at enough of an angle that it's really hard to prune it well without it completely falling over due to too much weight from a good crop. I probably have to spend another day or two trimming trees but if we keep having warm weather I may run out of time.  I got the cherries trimmed since they are the first to bloom. 

One of the nice things about living in the Great Central Valley is the variety of fruit that I can grow.  I can almost grow everything I want.  Almost.  Today I picked oranges, lemons, and grapefruit from the trees.  Just last week I picked the last of the persimmons before they got too soft and the birds finished them off. 

I also watered all the trees.  It's the first time I've turned on the drip irrigation since last summer and only one of the hoses had a hole in it.  I also tried to water the raspberries but one of the sprinkler joints was cracked and water was spurting out in the wrong direction.  The ground is still damp from the little bit of rain we had last week.  Normally at this time of year the ground is saturated and you can't walk through the trees without sinking down into the mud up past your ankles.  I decided to water to try to saturate the ground.  I'm concerned that if we keep up the dry winter that this summer will be really stressful on the trees.  I water them each week from spring on because we don't get any rain at all during the summer and very little once April comes.  So now, I'm trying to recreate what a normal winter would be.  I will water again next weekend, and every weekend until we get some rain...if we get some rain.

Blind cat has made great strides this week.  First he relearned how to use the cat box.  He has been afraid of the cat box since he went blind.  He didn't care wear he was in the house or outside, he would just squat and go.  This is not good!  Fortunately I don't have carpet in the house or I know I'd be a lot less tolerant.  I found some cat litter that said it was guaranteed that the cats would use it.  I put it in my room and had to pick him up and put him into the cat box two or three times per day.  He'd jump out and I'd put him right back in.  And he would use the box.  He wouldn't go in on his own but would go every time I put him in.  The past few days he's gone on his own!  Hallelujah!  He also has been jumping onto the cat food table (I keep the cat's food elevated so the dogs don't get to it) and eating out of the regular cat dishes.  I'm not heating up his food and putting it next to the water bowl.  And just today, I was moving my finger in front of his face.  He was tracking me from directly in front and going towards his right side.  He has vision in his right eye.  Real vision!  Nothing in the left eye, but he can see and eat and take care of business.     

I'm going to have a good variety of things to do at work this week.  Monday and Tuesday will be normal long days, Wednesday I have a meeting in the city so I will be home to see the kids off to school and may even do some yard work before I head into town.  We are meeting for lunch at Red Robin prior to the meeting and the boss is buying.  I always bring home extra fries for the kids.  Thursday I will get a ride in the company helicopter and fly over the mountains for a meeting.  It's a cool part of the job!  And this Friday I am off.  Although I'm off every other Friday, this will be the first one in almost two months where it will just be me.  No grandkids home for school vacation, no doctor appointments for Girl.  Just me from 7:30 until 3:30.  I'll probably do yard work.  Unfortunately Spring is just about here.