I’m on my way to Portland via car and there’s a wee bit of ice on the ground. Which is to say an epic amount. Brother Bob and I have stopped at a motel in Salem.
On my first two days back in the states, I started my day by biking on the wrong side of the street. The first day, for a few blocks until I was confused by oncoming traffic. But returning to the customs of one’s birth are never confusing for long (except when they are (i love tautologies)) and I look forward to many days of biking to wrong way in England.
Today was my first time driving a car since last July and only the second time in the last year. But I’ve got several hours under my belt from today. Brother Bob is from Los Angeles and has no experience on ice. It’s truly an alarming situation when I am considered the more winterized driver.
This area hasn’t had a significant snow storm for the last 50 years and therefore: no plows. No salt. No sand. Just bare packed ice. The blizzard was days ago and as far as I can tell, there has been no effort to clear the roads. Oregon is some sort of asinine libertarian paradise, which means the state has no resources to deal with anything. And to enhance our freedom, it’s our own personal liberty whether to use snow chains or not. For x’s sake, I want a nanny state to tell me about how to most safely use the roads. If chains are required, a bloody sign of some sort would be nice. And I swear, nobody can drive here even under the best of circumstances, so a layer of bare, packed (un salted, un-sanded, un-gritted) ice on the freeway is not helping matters.
So despite being less than 50 miles from my destination, I am spending the night in a naff hotel in the naff town of Salem. Because it’s the capital of this low-tax utopia, it is probably worse off than any other town in the state, but it’s also the southern end of the ice. So hopefully, in the morning, I’ll be able to slowly roll to a place that has heard of the idea of snow plows.
The airport here has been closed. The Amtrak stopped. Greyhound, put to sleep. This actually the only way I could have come to see my family. And despite all the many wrong pronouns, I’m sure it will all be worth it.
Costs of Car ownership
What they didn’t tell you in Drivers Ed
the actual cost of ownership is, of course, exceedingly high. you have to
buy gas, pay bridge toll, pay insurance, waste years of your life in
transit and stuck in traffic, while making your life shorter breathing the
extremely nasty diesel fumes which contain large amounts of particulate
matter and dioxin, while your limbs fall asleep and your mind is warped by
clear channel radio and bill boards along the ugly and polluting freeways,
which run through poor neighborhoods, poisoning the residents and also
poisoning the central valley, where the smog eventually blows, causing
astronomically high asthma rates and causing toxic pollution to gather on
the crops growing there and thus also poison our food supply, whether
organically grown or not. Biodiesel is a bit better, but not 100% and
meanwhile your car is still using up oil, still made of plastic, still
kicking up tiny rubber particles from your tires, still causing gigantic
tire disposal problems and lots and lots of really nasty air pollution
from tire disposal sites that caught fire in CA three years ago and are
still burning and it’s extremely likely that you and I both have been
transported by at least a few of the tires on fire out there and all of
these costs are hidden, but you pay later when your life is shortened and
your quality of life is diminished and people you like get cancer and die
or get killed when SUVs roll over on them or are hit by pickup trucks
while crossing the street and thus they never play bass again. and when
outcomes of decisions are statistically predictable, it shoudl not be
called an accident when a city delays putting in a traffic light
(expensive and paid for by taxes not on gasoline) and then somebody gets
killed crossing the street, that’s not an accident. When the auto
industry knows that making cars that can comfortably sail along at 80
miles and hour will lead to more speeding, more traffic fatalities, and
more gas usage and polltuon, causing higher asthma rates and cancer, these
deaths and illnesses are not accidents. When gigantic speeding cars
require huige amounts of fuel and we launch agressive wars in
oil-producing countries and soldiers and civillians get killed, this is
not an accident. When people see this and become angry and start placing
bombs around where we live and work, this is not an accident, but a direct
and predictable consequence of the decisions we make and our society makes
and part of the cost of owning a motor vehicle.