Friday, April 27, 2007

American Idol Gives Back rant - I oopsed!

Edit: Ok, I was wrong. American Idol IS giving back to America too. See, my problem is I've been bombarded with this stuff for all my life and now when it comes on the tv I tune it out. I'm tired of the film clips showing you how horrible it is, making you feel bad, pulling your heart out and stomping on it until you decide to give some money. So when AI was talking about all this, I tuned it out because I didn't want to hear it again. And I wrongly assumed they weren't giving money to America. I apologize to AI for that. We all know what happens when you assume, right? You make an ASS out of U and ME - and I certainly did that to myself.

I guess part of the problem is you rarely ever year about money being given back to our own country, you only hear about it when it's helping people in other countries, especially ones where living conditions are so bad. It's like watching the news - you rarely ever hear good stuff, it's all sensational things. You hear all the bad happing in Iraq, our soldiers dieing, but you never hear all the amazingly great stories of Iraq people who are thankful to our soldiers. It's just not newsworthy, and I think the same about when people give money locally. If I were to give 10 million dollars to some 3rd world country it would be all over the news. But if I gave it to some group here that helps people who are living just as badly, you'd never hear about it.

Anyhow, AI is doing the right thing. I love the show and am glad my brother pointed out to me that I need to check my facts first, I feel better now. :)

This post is likely to make me unpopular.

American Idol is "Giving Back" in the form of raising money for kids in 3rd world countries, places where living conditions aren't exactly nice (to put it mildly) and they don't have much in the way of food or supplies (medical and otherwise). While I applaud them for wanting to help people/kids in need, I have to ask this question:

What about the people here in our own country that need help? Why help these others instead of our own people?

This is something that has bugged me for a long time. You see groups like American Idol, celebrities, and others wanting to help people in these impoverished countries more than wanting to help people in their own backyard. I'm not saying the people in these other countries aren't in need of help. What I am saying is we have plenty of problems right here at home, plenty of people who need help. There are still many from Katrina who need help. A tornado went through a town in Texas that wiped out a school. There are lots of kids living on the streets, people who are living in horrible conditions, babies who are born with little chance to survive because the mother can't afford to go to a hospital. Why can't we help these people too?

American Idol raised over 30 million dollars. That's incredibly cool. If they want to help these other countries, fine, take half of it and give to those countries, and half to needy people here in America. How would it feel to you if you were living on the street, in some area where there is so much crime you worry about your life when stepping outside, couldn't afford medical help, etc, and heard all this money was raise to help people in another country? Aren't we supposed to help our own?

And what's what adopting kids from these countries? There are plenty of kids right here in our own country that could use adopting. When I see some celebrity adopting someone from another country I'm happy for that kid because they'll hopefully have a future they couldn't otherwise have - and maybe they wouldn't have lived past five. But it also seems like they are doing this only because it makes them look good, not because they really honestly care about the kids. Now I don't for a minute think they are going to mistreat these kids. I'm just saying there are plenty of kids right here in America who could benefit from being adopted just as well as these other kids.

And you know those films they love to show about how horrible things are in these countries? I'm not saying they are making these up, rather I'm positive you could easily make a film showing similar horrors of people living here in America.

Again, I think it's great that people want to help these other countries that have horrible living conditions. I just think it would be nice if they would care a little more about people in their own backyard.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Travelling in the 21st century

My how times have changed. As I said in my previous post, we went to Reno this last weekend. I remember going on trips with my family as a kid. We got in the car and went, maybe checking the weather reports on the radio, tv, newspapers, calling people we knew in the area, stuff like that. If we made this trip back in the early 70's we would have just said, "Don't know if we'll hit snow or rain or really nice weather so let's be prepared for all of it."

Now we have the Internet. Web cams. Online weather reports from many sources.

The week before we left I started monitoring the weather reports for the areas we'd be driving through. I also pulled up the traffic web cams to get a visual of what the roads looked like. On some of the web cams they had the temperature too. I saw a big cold front come in and some of the places we were heading were getting snow. All of the reports said it would be gone by the time we got there, but just to be safe we bought tire chains (don't really have a need for them around town and we can take them back if they are unused and get our money back, so a good precaution).

The morning we left I checked the web cams - all clear. And sure enough it was. If I had a GPS, I could have tracked our exact location all the time so we could see where we were and how much longer we'd be on the road. A friend of mine said he did this and input all of the rest stops so they could see how much longer before they could get rid of all that soda they just drank. While in Reno, I was still watching everything and saw a snow storm came through Saturday night. One web cam showed the area covered including the road. That was at 9am. By 5pm the road was almost dry. By the time we left, all but a few traces of snow was gone and everything was clear again, so we drove home relaxed and confident we'd have a nice trip.

Sometimes technology makes our lives miserable and can be a pain to deal with. Other times - like taking a 10 hour drive somewhere - technology can be wonderful. You can be prepared for road conditions, you know what clothes to bring/wear, you can see what's coming up, where you are and how much longer to go. I've been around computers most of my life, yet I think because I'm old enough to remember when they weren't around I still get amazed by some of the things you can do.

Speeding up in the passing lane

This last weekend we drove from Portland to Reno. Most of the drive was on I-5, a nice wide highway that has at least two lanes in each direction. Four hours of it was on a 2-lane road through some very beautiful national forests. The only problem with 2-lane roads is when you get behind someone who's driving enough slower than you are to make you want to beat them over the head with a lead pipe until they speed up. Fortunately there are usually plenty of places to pass, either a nice long stretch where you can see no oncoming cars so you can pass, or a real "Passing Lane", you know, where your one lane becomes two, the slower traffic moves to the right so you can pass them on the left.

At least that's the theory.

Why is it you are behind someone going 10-15 mph slower than you want to drive and as you come to a real passing lane, while they do move over to the right, they also speed up to how fast you want to go and sometimes faster? THEN when the passing lane is over, they slow back down to their original speed!! What is up with that? And it happens way too many times to be just someone being a jerk. Or maybe all of them are jerks, I just happen to find them all the time.

While this does annoy the hell out of me, I think I know what's going on. These people have one lane in their direction. On their left is another lane and on their right is unpaved earth (or a cliff or something like that). It's a normal width lane, but it feels narrower and they are probably a little nervous driving too fast on it. Then they get to the passing lane, there's now another lane next to them, their lane doesn't seem so narrow anymore, they feel more confident, and they speed up to how fast they'd really like to go. I'll bet if that whole way there were two lanes going in their direction instead of one they'd drive that faster speed the entire way.

At least that's my theory. Doesn't make it any less annoying, but sometimes rationalizing something makes me feel a tad less stress; enough to put the lead pipe away for another day.