Friday, July 31, 2009

Apparently we can’t drive in the rain, either


I don’t know if people have gotten worse at driving in the rain here in Arkansas over the past couple of decades or I’ve just become impatient over the years.

It’s a well established fact that we Arkansans are absolutely clueless when it comes to driving in the snow. Folks who move down here from up north tend to marvel at our complete inability to drive on snow but that’s not totally our fault. We can’t help the way we slide around on frozen roads for a couple of reasons – we haven’t had the practice and we don’t have the equipment.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say a foot of snow falls on a town in Iowa. What do they do? City workers get up early, plow the streets and then drive around like nothing happened.

Here in Benton, Ark., a snow flake hitting the street and sticking might be enough to shut down the town. Yes, schools let out and a lot of us just stay home until the snow melts.

It doesn’t snow here that often so we haven’t had much practice driving on it. Also, we don’t have a lot of the equipment necessary to clear the streets when we get snow or ice. That actually makes sense – that equipment is expensive, so why buy it if you’ll use it (at most) about a week a year?

At any rate, I noticed today that a lot of us stink when it comes to driving in the rain, too. I headed off to work this morning in what I’d describe as moderate rainfall (i.e., it was raining too hard to get by with using the “mist” setting on my windshield wipers) and my 25-minute commute took about 45 minutes.Hood_Rocket_Emblem-75x270

Why? Well, a wreck on I-30 slowed things down quite a bit. I noticed  the wreck, really, when I ran over a piece of Oldsmobile on the interstate.

That’s right. A piece of Oldsmobile. I ran right over it. It was a rubbery chunk of that stuff that covers bumpers or something like that.

I assume it was a piece of Oldsmobile I hit, however, because it was sitting near an Oldsmobile that was in terrible, terrible shape. The front in was bashed in and the hood had that accordion look to it that’s typically reserved for Saturday morning cartoons.

A wreck that’s severe enough to cause pieces of one of the cars involved to back up traffic is something that delays things quite a bit. From the looks of things, the Olds clearly skidded into an SUV (that vehicle didn’t have pieces falling off of it) and one can only guess that the rain caused that wreck.

In fact, the rain caused wrecks all over central Arkansas today – according to the traffic reports on the radio, at least. I came across the battered Oldsmobile and saw another truck that had went into the median on I-430, too.

The truck one was interesting in that the vehicle was clearly bogged down in the median and it was being connected via a tow strap to another truck that looked like it was on its way to getting stuck in the mud. So, yeah, there was another delay – people had to drive by it slowly and look at it.

So we can’t drive on snow or ice. We can’t drive in the rain. People are getting in wrecks during rush hour constantly because they’re chatting on cell phones rather than paying attention to what’s going on around them. I’m amazed I haven’t yet been in a wreck during my commute.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some other neighborly reminders from your old friend, The Hawg

Neighborly Reminder

For my Wordless Wednesday post yesterday, I put up a picture of the nifty sign over to the left.

That’s one of the more disturbing signs I’ve seen in some time. My wife and I were out shopping in Little Rock on Saturday and stopped by a Cracker Barrel to grab some lunch.

Oddly, I didn’t feel too secure when we stepped out of our minivan and were advised to lock our vehicle and remove our valuables from it. Oh, what could be more neighborly than that? I know Little Rock has a crime problem but are thieves really lurking around a Cracker Barrel in one of the safer parts of town?

Now I – your old friend The Hawg – am the helpful sort. I was inspired to come up with a few more signs to be posted around Little Rock (the last one should be posted in every city in the country, but that goes without saying). Y’all enjoy and be sure to read the plug for Tell Me Thursday after you look at the dandy signs.

NoEyeContact FivePeopleKilledHere TheHawgIsGreat

This is my submission to the fantastic Tell Me Thursday event. If you participate in the weekly Wordless Wednesday thing, you really should give Tell Me Thursday a look.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A neighborly reminder?

This post is part of the famed Wordless Wednesday event. Head on over to see other entries or submit something of your own.

First United Church of Dude?


Folks, I knew it would happen – I turned 40-years-old in June and became, like, old almost overnight.

I became aware of that last Wednesday afternoon. My 12-year-old son was wearing a pair of gym shorts and a tee shirt.

“G’bye,” the boy said.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“Church. With my friend blah-blah.”

“Dressed like that?”

“Yeah, that’s how everyone dresses there.”

“Where? The First United Church of Dude?”

Apparently, things are very casual at that church on Wednesday nights and I suppose that’s fine. However, I was raised to observe at least a bit of formality when it comes to church. The big hubbub when I was a kid was whether people ought to show up in Wednesdays in jeans.

Apparently, that issue was resolved years ago and people are now wandering off to church dressed like they’re ready to mow the lawn. Perhaps that’s OK, but I could just imagine the sermon.

“Dudes and dudettes,” the pastor might say. “That Jesus cat was gnarly, man. I mean, like, way gnarly. Whoa!”

That image has plagued me for a week now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Music Monday – Revolution

One of my favorite Beatles songs…

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It’s just a shame about the Dreamcast…


One of the game consoles I still enjoy as much today as the day I got it is the Sega Dreamcast.

Why? That system was years ahead of its time in 1999 and the games still look great on my HDTV thanks to the innovative (though odd) VGA box I bought for the system. You’ve got games to satisfy just about anyone there ranging from arcade hits (Hydro Thunder is particularly great) to a couple of outstanding role playing games (Pirates of Arcadia is so good it makes owning the system worthwhile) to sports titles (anything from the NFL 2K series compares well to the famed Madden lineup) to innovative titles that used fishing rods, etc.

By the way, you can get Skies of Arcadia for the Nintendo GameCube and it’s every bit as good as the original. Heck, it is almost the same as the original save for a few more wrinkles thrown in and a soundtrack that was compressed too much for my liking. If you own a GameCube (or a Wii and a GameCube controller), Skies of Arcadia is a title you absolutely need. I still prefer the Dreamcast version because the soundtrack is noticeably clearer, but the GameCube port is certainly worthwhile.

When the Dreamcast hit the streets in September 1999, it simply blew the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation out of the water in terms of technological sophistication. By 2001, Sega pulled the plug on the system in the U.S. and got out of the console hardware business completely.

So, what the heck happened? Why did such a great system just up and die? The answer is two-fold at least.

For one thing, Sega had a rotten reputation when the company released the Dreamcast. This was the same company that released the Sega CD add-on for the Genesis and then discontinued support of it in a hurry. This is the same company that released the 32X add-on for the Genesis and cut that one loose shortly after it was released. By the time the Sega Saturn was released, the company had a terrible image problem and that plagued the poor Saturn.

That horrible reputation spilled over to the Dreamcast. Sega worked hard to earn it’s reputation as a company that would dump hardware on the market then not support it well enough. Gamers, apparently, didn’t want to get burned again.

In 2000, the Playstation 2 was released and gamers tended to flock to that console rather than the Dreamcast. Why? The Playstation 1 was a major hit and people expected even greater things with the PS2 (they weren’t disappointed). Furthermore, the Playstation 2 was backward compatible with those great PS1 games and it had a DVD player.

Yes, oddly, that was a big deal back in 2000. The Playstation had a DVD player and the Dreamcast didn’t. That lack of a DVD player, believe it or not, had an impact on sales.

At any rate, the Playstation 2 clearly dominated that generation of consoles to such an extent that Sega simply took its ball and went home.

That is a true shame on a number of levels. The Dreamcast is a great system that had a lot to offer, but Sega had lost the trust of consumers and people were upset that a blasted GD-ROM drive didn’t play DVDs.

The saddest part of the Sega story, perhaps, is that its absence from the market left a bit of a power vacuum. With only Nintendo and Sony left standing in the console business, that left room for Microsoft to slither in and introduce the Xbox.

God. Microsoft. Haven’t they ruined enough already?

At any rate, I still play the heck out of my Dreamcast. For people who love emulation, you’ll find plenty of support for the Dreamcast. People have written emulators that run everything from Atari 2600 to Neo Geo titles on the Dreamcast. Fortunately, the old Sega system has life in it yet.