Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon
Borrowing a page from Thomas Sowell, I hereby offer some thoughts that have been running around in my mind most of the weekend.
Why is it that when we come back from vacation we need a vacation to recuperate from the vacation? It always seems to me that I need a couple of days to rest once I get back from vacation, even if I didn't go anywhere!
According to a source (which I don't happen to recall at the moment. After all it is
Sunday), there are approximately 850,000 words in the American English lexicon and 450,000 words in the British English lexicon. I'm not sure why that disparity exists unless it has something to do with American willingness to make up a word when existing words just won't do. Or maybe it's because America is such an acronym-loving nation, even when things are, at times, FUBAR. Then these acronyms become a word in and of themselves, and that's no SNAFU. It seems that most English speaking nations also have the propensity to borrow words from other languages when it suits. But one must remember that English is something of a bastard language, being a mixture of Germanic, Latin, Celtic roots. Now add all of the bits and pieces we've borrowed from Asia, the rest of Europe, Africa, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and North and South America. (In New England, where I happen to live, there are many towns, rivers, lakes, ponds, streets, and even states that borrow their names from the Algonquin-speaking tribes. For instance, in Massachusetts there is a lake called Chauggagogmanchauggagogchauggbunamungaggog. Today they call it Webster Lake. I guess too many people were cramping their tongues trying to pronounce it.) Even with its rather bass-ackwards grammatic structure, English is a language spoken by more people in more places on this earth than any other. (Yes, I know there are over 1.2 billion Chinese speakers, but most of them are located in one area on the Asian continent.) English is everywhere
Why do we park in a driveway, but drive on a parkway? Does one get high on a highway?
Have you ever noticed that the small packages of nuts or potato chips or Cheez-its are damn near impossible to open easily without causing the contents to fly all over the place, while the large bags of the same thing seem to open all by themselves when you don't
want them to?
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to driving on the highway is when somebody rushes past you and cuts across three lanes of traffic to beat you to the exact change lane at a tollbooth. Then, when it's finally their turn to drop their 75 cents in to the coin chute, they realize they don't have any change.
Some will sit there for quite some time, checking pockets, purses, and under seats to find enough change. Others will just pull away after 30 seconds or so and take their chances. And on one occasion I witnessed someone stuffing a folded dollar bill into the bottom of the coin chute, plugging it up. Unfortunately I see this behavior all too often, and mostly it's folks from Massachusetts and New York heading up to the lakes and mountains on Friday afternoon/early evening or heading home on Sunday (or Monday, if it's a three day weekend).
I happen to be fortunate enough to live on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire. Most times it's a joy. But once the summer season rolls around it becomes a mixed blessing. The summer people arrive. Those of you that live near summer tourist destinations know what I mean when I say 'summer people'. There are two kinds.
The first kind are the folks that come for a week or two and stay at one of the resorts, rental cottages, or camp grounds. I'll also include the folks that only spend weekends at family owned cottages. They are, for the most part, pretty nice people, friendly and giving. They enjoy the area and have a good time.
The second kind, however, give the rest a bad name. They are the 'summah people
'. This term is spoken in such a way as to be unmistakably derogatory. These are the folks that come to one of the summer resort areas and act as if everyone having the good fortune to live there year round are their servants and underlings. They have no concept of private property, except that their
property is private and yours
I've had the misfortune to have to deal with one of the second kind since the weekend after Memorial Day. He rents a boat slip located behind my home. On one occasion he left his dog tied up to a tree in my back yard for the entire day while he was out on his boat. The dog was a Boxer, and not particularly friendly. Due to the length of the rope he used to tie up his dog, access to my back yard and the rest of the boat slips was impossible as the dog would lunge at anyone approaching the dock or entering the back yard.
The local police department was called when one of the other slip renters couldn't leave his boat because the dog would snap and growl at him and his family every time they stepped on to the dock. Just as the Animal Control Officer was about to slip a control noose over the dog's head in an effort to take him away, the owner arrived back at the dock. The invective that followed would have made a longshoreman blush.
His attitude was "I rent this damn slip and I'll do what I want!" It didn't matter to him that the only thing he was renting was the slip and access to it through a private yard.
This fellow has also parked in my
driveway, blocking access to my
garage and everything inside. On one weekend his SUV was there from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. I didn't know it was his until he returned and I saw him loading his gear into it. I asked him to please park on the side of the road like all the other slip tenants. His response was "F**k YOU!" He then got in to his SUV and drove off.
My neighbors have use of the driveway when they have relatives or friends visiting for the weekend. On one particular weekend, this fellow again parked his SUV in front of the garage, blocking access. My neighbor's relatives were also visiting, so they parked their cars in the driveway, blocking the SUV in.
Late Sunday afternoon rolls around and the fellow arrives back at the dock. After loading his gear in to the back of his truck, he pounds on my door and demands that the other cars be moved so he can leave. I told him I had no way to do that. I explained that the cars belonged to the neighbors and that they had permission to park there. I also reminded him that he did not
He left, went to the neighbor's door and pounded on it. He got no response as no one was home. He was then back at my door demanding to know where they were. I told him that they were out on their boat. He then wanted to know when they'd be back.
My answer: "How the hell should I know?"
After he sat around and stewed for a while, he called his wife on his cell phone so she could drive up to Lake Winnipesaukee and pick him up. She arrived a couple of hours later. Not more than five minutes after they left, my neighbors pulled in at their slip.
When I got home from work Monday afternoon the SUV was gone.
Since then, his SUV has been towed from my driveway (once); the Marine Patrol has cited him for dumping oil into the Lakeport Channel when he pumped his bilge (twice); and the city billed him for the clean up of the oil slick by the fire department.
He just doesn't get it.
I've ridden motorcycles for years. For years I had no opinion one way or the other about loud pipes on motorcycles. Then, last year during the annual Motorcycle Week, I became a firm believer that too many motorcycles are TOO DAMN LOUD! The old adage that 'Loud Pipes Save Lives' is just so much crap. I don't need to hear somebody on their Harley at 2 in the morning while they're still three miles away. I don't need the ear shattering blast of exhaust at a stoplight when the rider twists the throttle less than three feet away from me. In many cases the only time a driver might hear such a motorcycle is after it's already passed them. Only now are the state and local police around here starting to enforce ordinances already on the books dealing with loud exhaust systems.