Stupidity, Part 2

(For Part 1, see here.)

So I woke up In Socorro NM after the previous night’s harrowing near-miss with an empty fuel tank, and you’d better believe that before leaving Socorro I filled the tank up again (even from 7/8 full), just to be sure. Then I set off, heading west along U.S. 60.

The outside temperature in Socorro was about 25F (-4C for my Furrin Readers); cold, but I was in the southern United States, right? so I figured it would warm up as the day went on.

Wrong. As I crossed the Continental Divide (altitude about 5,000ft), the temperature was 0F (-18C) but the day was clear, with no snow falling or anything.

As I drove on, I was a little worried because with cold that extreme, a car’s parts can easily start to break — and I hadn’t seen another car (in either direction) for about half an hour. So I was a little nervous, even though all the gauges looked fine.

Then, about twenty minutes later… ice on the road.

At this point, the road was no longer the arrow-straight highway in the above picture: it had become twisty and hilly, and the shade thrown by the hills was preventing the ice from melting. I slowed down, gradually of course (I’ve driven on icy roads before), but even at 30mph, I felt the car slip occasionally — all-wheel drive doesn’t help on ice.

Now I was really worried. Had I gone off the road, and crashed into a roadside ditch (or worse, off the road into a valley) and the windshield had shattered, I would have been exposed to the elements — and at 0F, even with blankets and warm clothing, death from exposure can take only minutes — and with the paucity of traffic, there was no telling whether there’d be any chance of timely assistance.

As I’ve said, my phone had “bricked” (gone completely dead) the day before. I was, to all intents and purposes, completely alone and isolated. And the temperature fell still further, to -4F.

It was as nerve-wracking a drive as I’d ever made, and only when I was finally able to head north towards the interstate, along a straight road with lots of traffic, did my stress level start to subside.

And I never thought I’d ever say this, but I was glad when I finally got onto I-40 — ordinarily a terrible road to drive on — but on this occasion, something to be welcomed with open arms.

Two things: under such conditions, I’m never going to take a long road trip along back roads without either a companion or else an accompanying car. And if I do have to take such a trip alone, I’ll stick to the poxy interstate highways.

Dying under such circumstances is tragic. Dying unnecessarily is stupid. And I’m not a stupid man — at least, not in this regard, anymore.

Stupidity, Part 1

I could have died, twice, on my drive from Plano to Las Vegas — and both times were from my absolute and utter stupidity.

Day 1 — last Sunday — saw me leaving home at about 8am, day’s end destination TBD, looking forward to a drive through small-town America.

By late afternoon, I finally cleared West Texas. I won’t say it was a boring drive — I did hit a tumbleweed full-on somewhere outside Plainview; terrible mess, cleaning twigs and such from my front bumper and license plate — but it was when I got to New Mexico that the fun started.

Normally, I travel very carefully and with much preparation so that I don’t have to worry while on the road. This trip was a little different. Maybe my mind was still in Britishland, where no trip lasts longer than a couple of hours, and if it does, there are always villages and such where one can find gas and such — and even on the small byways, there’s traffic.

This was not the case on US Highway 60 in New Mexico. Whoa. I could drive for an hour without seeing anybody — couple of trains, but few cars and even fewer people. So when my gas gauge showed a quarter-tank, I looked at the map and saw that the next town was 30 miles away — easy, because even when my gas warning light comes on, I get 40-odd miles, as my car’s handy lil’ trip calculator showed. Except that the next town wasn’t a town, per se, but a few houses; and no gas station. Okay, the next town was only 15 miles away, so no problem, right?

By now night had fallen and the temperature had plummeted from Texas’s warm and friendly 56F to much less: about 28F with, as I was to discover, a biting wind which put the chill to about 15F.

As I got to the next town, I looked for a gas station, but nothing was visible. According to the calculator, I now had 20 miles’ gas left. Shit. There was also (surprise, surprise) no cell phone coverage along that stretch of road.

There was a motel on the east side of town, and I decided that if there was no gas station in town, I’d turn back and stay the night there, and deal with the fuel issue the next morning: in that kind of weather, sleeping in the car was right out.

Luckily, however, I turned a corner, went under a railway bridge, and there was the blessed sight of a 7-11. I dad to pop an aspirin tab, my heart was racing so fast by that point.

I stopped, filled up (nearly freezing to death in the process, because — idiot! — I had forgotten my gloves at home), and set off again. Right before I filled up, though, I checked the trip calculator one more time, and saw that I’d had 12 miles’ of gas left. Way too close for comfort.

Anyway, just as an intellectual exercise, I looked to see where the next gas station showed up — US 60 was about to join I-25 shortly, according to the map, and there had to be a gas station there, right?

Wrong. The next gas station anywhere came up a full 30 miles after I’d filled up. Without that 7-11, I would have run out of gas in the middle of Fuck Nowhere, NM. I wouldn’t even have made it to I-25.

And with no traffic to be seen anywhere, I would have had to stay in my car and wait till morning. Where I would have been found, probably as dead as a doornail and stiff as a board — even though I had a blanket and warm clothing.

But that was nothing, compared to what happened to me the next day. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Enter The Food Nannies

Here we go again:

Britain is set to be put on a nationwide diet from March this year as public health officials impose new calorie caps.
Lunches and dinners are to be cut to 600 calories at fast food outlets and on ready meal shelves at supermarkets, in new guidelines from Public Health England (PHE).
Breakfast portions will be cut down to 400 calories as the government aims to stop Britons overeating and combat high obesity rates.

FFS; is there no area of our lives that is exempt from this busybody we-know-what’s-best-for-you bullshit? (My advice: if the nu-meal seems inadequate, buy two instead of one. That will do two things: stick it in their eye, and end your stomach’s growling.)

But it gets worse, O My Readers. From the same article:

A separate study by researchers at Oxford University also found that current alcohol guidelines may be too generous.

As one of my heroes once put it:

As any fule kno, I’m on a diet at the moment. But when I see shit like this, I want to go to a pub, eat a double portion of fish ‘n chips, and wash it down with five pints of Wadworth 6x. Here’s the starter:

Or, if this bullshit ever comes to this side of The Pond, take down a couple-three family buckets of KFC (Original Recipe) with a dozen Classic Cokes.

Now, this wouldn’t be a pretty sight. But it would be a lot prettier than the alternative:

Warning Sign

When I first saw this little foray into feminism, I was amused:

People who yearn to become entrepreneurs may find guidance at the new Feminist Business School, an online program that aims to help women launch businesses founded upon the theory of “feminine entrepreneurship” and “body-loving business practices.”

But it gets better:

The only faculty member of this school appears to be [its founder] Armbrust, who does not appear to have any direct business experience, but did take a few business classes at Portland Community College. She concedes that her program will not teach any direct business skills, such as bookkeeping or legal knowledge, but suggests that she may offer such a course in the future.

Now when you’ve all stopped that cis-male giggling (and you Lady Readers are included in this), there is one positive aspect to this unutterably stupid venture: if any manager sees a graduate of this “business school” in an employment interview, the warning bells should go off, because if the applicant should be hired, the company can look forward to not only an incompetent employee but to endless complaints and whining about patriarchal hegemony or whatever they call ordinary business practices these days.

So this “Professor” Armbrust has done us all a great favor; her students, not so much.

And Evergreen State “College” should be proud of themselves: they’ve made their institution an even bigger laughing-stock than before, if that’s even possible. Here’s their mission statement:

Evergreen emphasizes collaborative, interdisciplinary learning across significant differences. Our academic community engages students in defining and thinking critically about their learning. Evergreen supports and benefits from local and global commitment to social justice, diversity, environmental stewardship and service in the public interest.

Translated: you won’t get an education here, just liberal indoctrination. Enroll at your own risk.

Airline Bullshit

When I first saw British Airways’ little pre-flight safety announcement, I was amused: a bunch of well-known Brit actors and comedians demonstrating safety procedures, all under the guise of being auditioned for the job of making the announcements.

Then I stopped laughing, because what this really was was a commercial for some poxy charity drive (video autoplay alert), whereby passengers empty their pockets of loose change, said proceeds going to feed the Pore & Starvin Chilluns of the world.

Now I have lots of sympathy for said Chilluns, because I am not without a soul. I have no sympathy for the so-called “charities” who collect this aid money because they are a bunch of thieving bastards who siphon off percentages of the funds before passing the moolah on to agencies who purport to help the P&S Chilluns, but whose efforts really perpetuate the conditions of poverty by making these people dependent on continuous aid.

I have even less sympathy — actually, tolerance — for organizations like British Airways who facilitate this bullshit. Why?

Because I’m sick to death of paying extra money (over and above the already-inflated airline ticket fees) for stuff that we used to get for free: things such as “extra baggage” fees (for a second suitcase) and seat selection fees (!!!) just because when you go online to check in for your flight, you either put up with the seat you were originally given, or, if you want to change your seat, you have to pay a fucking “change fee” when the change comes entirely cost-free to the airline. (I’m not even going to talk about how “better” seats also command a “seating premium fee” and how you’re bombarded with the ceaseless suggestions to upgrade to a marginally-better “class” of seat for only $320 (!!!!!).)

And a big thank you to Donald Fucking Trump and his Administration for allowing the airlines to hide their thievery (annoying autoplay alert). You bastards.

So here’s a little thought for British Airways and all the other little flyboys like American, United, Delta and whoever: fuck you. If you want me to donate money to your charities, you can start by leaving me more money to donate, and get rid of your fucking highway robbery fees. Otherwise, I’ll stick with the shitty seat you give me (last time: 42D, the very last row in the plane), and you can get stuffed. You and your fucking charity partners.


Afterthought: I know, why do I fly? Because driving across the Atlantic Ocean is problematic. Domestically, I drive wherever I can instead of flying because I hate the fucking airlines. Likewise the poxy TSA and their security theater because [20,000-word anti-TSA rant deleted].

No More Reason Needed

If ever you want to know why Britain’s leaving the EU (“Brexit”) is not only a Good Thing, but absolutely vital, here’s proof:

A change in European Union rules could see doner kebabs banned across the continent, infuriating takeaways and fast-food lovers.
The European Union’s legislature is moving to ban the phosphates used in the slabs of meat at the heart of the popular street snack that originated in Turkey.
Up-in-arms kebab vendors in Germany have skewered the idea.
EU lawmakers are citing health concerns based on studies that linked phosphates to cardiovascular disease.

Just so we’re all clear what’s being discussed here, this is what these tools want to ban:

Lamb Shwarma happens to be one of my favorite “fast foods”; and nobody tell my kids about this or else there’ll be murders (as they say Over Here). Along with pizza and crêpes, doner was one of their staple street foods when we traveled together in Euroland: cheap, filling and delicious; and if these disappeared from Europe, it would be a major disincentive to go there. I’m not kidding.

And if the above pic has made yer mouth start to water, I’m sorry (not really).