Dec 06

I spent some time back in Montana over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Spending some time driving in a normal state made me realize how ridiculous drivers are in Nebraska.

In Montana, especially eastern Montana, there are a lot of deer.  A LOT OF DEER!  When you drive in the rural areas after the sun’s gone down, you have to constantly scan the sides of the road looking for any sign of movement.  I lived in Montana for most of the first 22 years of my life; I hit two different deer on two separate occasions.  If you live in Montana and you drive at night, you will almost unavoidably hit a deer.  Something that Montanans realize is that it’s a heck of a lot easier to catch the glint of a deer’s eye in the headlights if your headlight beams are on high.  Thus, people in Montana, when approaching another car at night, usually dim their headlights about 4 to 5 seconds before passing the other car.

Nebraskans (and, to be honest, Wyomingites are even more anal about this than Nebraskans) start flashing their headlights from high-to-low in an effort to get you to dim your lights at anywhere from 1/2 mile to 1 mile away.  This means these morons are flashing you at 30 seconds to 1 minute away!  Seriously!  If these old Germans have such poor eyesight that they need oncoming lights on dim at this distance, they should have their licenses taken away… not only because they are increasing the risk of roadside hazards becoming unexpected surprises, they also just annoy the CRAP out of me!

These light-flashing idiots used to get to me so bad that I would wait until I was about 4 or five seconds away before I would dim my lights just to make them mad.  Of course, this backfired, because the light-flashing nincompoops started sticking it to me.  By “sticking it to me” I mean that they would wait until the last second and then hit me with all that they’ve got… high beams, low beams, and if they got ’em, fog lights, all at once.  The blinding brightness usually lasted well after the other car passed and made me even madder.  I actually considered turning around and running the idiots off the road on more than one occasion, but doing hard time because grandma Schultz ticked me off on her way to make butterballs at church wouldn’t sit well with the wife.  Instead of tinkering with my blood pressure more than need be, I have attempted to learn to conform to the local idiotic driving patterns.

And then I went to Montana and re-experienced night driving the way it should be: safely avoiding the hazards at the side of the road.  On our return trip, it started getting dark right about the time we arrived in our local driving area… and I once again had morons flashing their lights at me from up-to a mile away.

I wanted to get this straight once and for all.  Tonight, I went to several states’ DMV websites, including Nebraska and Wyoming, to find out what the law is regarding distance for dimming headlights when approaching another vehicle.  Nebraska did not list a specific distance.  It did list a distance of 200 feet when approaching another vehicle from the rear but it didn’t list a distance for forward-approaching vehicles.  200 feet from the rear was the same distance I found on several other websites, except for the Wyoming site which put this distance at 300 feet.  The funny thing is (and I don’t mean funny in the sense of “ha ha” but more in the sense of making you want to stick a red-hot steak knife into your eyeball) the distances on the sites I visited regarding the correct distance to dim you lights when approaching another vehicle from the front ranged from 300 feet to 500 feet.  The Wyoming site stated 500 feet.

So, you might ask yourself, how long would it take for two vehicles to meet each other from a distance of 500 feet… considering a speed of about 55 mph?  Thanks for asking!  The Wyoming Driver Manual, on page 75, states… and I quote… “You should dim at least 500 feet (about four to five seconds) before meeting an oncoming vehicle.”  I kid you not!

So, let’s see if we can get Adventurer Rich’s situation all straightened out.  I have been dimming my headlights in a very legal fashion and should have increased the safety on the road (due to potential roadside hazards) in the process.  The stinking knuckleheads that blast me with all that they’ve got are, in reverse, breaking the law because they think I am breaking the law (which I’m not) and causing a danger to me and anyone in my car by  obscuring my vision with their temper tantrum… not to mention that they are tempting fate that I don’t have a temper tantrum of my own, turn around, and run their sorry butts off the road!

Let’s see if we have learned a little lesson here.  If you are driving on one of the many rural highways in western Nebraska or eastern Wyoming and you come across a gent who refuses to dim his lights at 1/2 mile away, proceed with caution.  If you get to anywhere from 10 to 4 seconds away and he then dims his lights, remember that he is acting in a completely legal fashion.  If you, at this point, decide to blast him because he didn’t dim his lights when you wanted him to (law be damned!), accept that he may very well turn around and do everything within his power to see you run off the road (which would be no more illegal or put any more life in danger than you did by blasting him with your headlights.)  And the number one thing that I hope you have learned is this: if you would even consider flashing your lights at someone when they are 1/2 mile away in an attempt to get them to dim their headlights… you need to turn in your driver’s license, Grandpa, ’cause you shouldn’t even be on the road!

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Dec 06

Yeah, after the pity party of my last post, I thought I should list some of the things that I have going in a positive direction in my life.  After all, if all I do is gripe, God may see fit to throw a little Job-action my way to wake me up… and I ain’t ready for that :)

God is good.  He sent his only begotten Son to die for my sins, and that’s pretty cool.

I have a wife whom I love and who loves me.  Yeah, believe it or not, she loves me!

I have two sons that I would die for… when I’m not wanting to strangle them because almost all they do is fight with each other with the sole intention of driving their mother and me insane.  I have to remind myself that they are gifts from God and I need to cherish them… which I do.  I’d also cherish a little brotherly love from them from time to time :)

I have (finally) a decent house.  I wish we wouldn’t have had to waited this long to get a decent place, but patience is a virtue that God is trying to teach me (of which I am, I believe, a horrible student.)

I have a job that doesn’t suck (finally.)  I like what I do, I feel like I make a difference in the course of our business, my boss is easy to get along with and my coworkers (although the most eccentric group of coworkers I have ever worked with) are all good people that I, for the most part, get along with.

I like snow.  It is cold and pretty and it covers up the imperfections of the dead earth created by fall.  I really like snow and am thankful for it.

Nebraska isn’t really that bad.  Ok… yeah, it’s pretty bad, but things could be worse; I could live in Texas.

I have good friends with good senses of humor (have to have a good sense of humor to be my friend or I’ll drive you completely stinking insane!)

I love my dog, Buffy.  She is AWESOME!  Beagles rock… even 10-year old ones that shed like there’s no tomorrow.

Life is, for the most part, pretty good.  Now that I got the sentimental crap out og the way, I can get back to the griping.

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Dec 05

It had to happen.  It’s approach led to this started-with-good-intentions-but seldom-written-in blog.  It has been the Moby Dick to my Ahab.  It has been a black cloud on the horizon of my life for the past 10 years.  “It” is 40, and it finally overtook me last Saturday.

Turning 30 sucked.  Turning 30 meant the end of innocence.  No longer a naive 20-something, I felt like my 30s were meant to be my true entry into adulthood.  It was during my 30s that I felt I was meant to create my career-life.  30s are meant to be a career building decade and if you play your cards right, you will be well on your way to building wealth and flowing into your “prime income earning years” (40s and 50s) with ease.

Of course, turning 30 sucked.  Did I mention that already?  As I approached 30, I panicked.  “What are you doing with your life?” I asked myself.  I was in my late 20s and realized that I was not in a good position to enter anything that involved a long-term career plan.  I panicked.  I talked my wife into researching franchises so we could open our own business and start down the road to financial independence.  We chose a business, we moved to Craphole… er… Scottsbluff, NE, and we tried to make a go of it.  All of this panic was caused by the turn to 30.

A few things went wrong.

1st:  The franchise we opened did not do bad… we made a small profit in our first year.  The franchise did not, however, make enough profit to support my wife and I and our young son.  The franchise did not live up to our calculated expectations.  We ended up selling it.

2nd:  We personally financed the person we sold the business to… and within a couple of months she declared bankruptcy.  Guess there was a reason the banks weren’t lending to her…

3rd: After getting shafted by the person that we sold the business to, we could have probably declared bankruptcy as well.  But NO… we decided to take the high, moral road and pay back all of our debt.  So, instead of taking a lump to the old credit almost 7 years ago (which would have resulted in much less scrimping over the last 7 years and a better quality of life for my family over the last 7 years… and the lump would be healed by now), we have reached a point where we are only a few months away from finally getting rid of all that debt.  I know I’m supposed to feel good about this, you know, for having repaid my debts… but I’d really much rather avioded the past 7 years worth of stress and that money, invested, would mean that I would have had a chance to retire some day.  Oh well, retirement is overrated, right?  Who doesn’t want to work until they die.  At least I owned-up to my responsibilities… again, that just isn’t doing anything for me.  Retirement would have meant more than making sure the stupid credit card companies got their money.  Who’d a thunk that doing the right thing would suck so much?

4th: The wonderful panhandle of Nebraska is not a good place to attempt to open a specialty retail business.  Not only is there little disposable income here, if you can’t make a living with the new business, your job opportunities in the Craphole are, well, quite limited.  Let’s just say that bright futures aren’t created here.  The Craphole is a retirement community… the Craphole is an agricultural community… people either come here to grow corn or people come here to die.  People shouldn’t move here to open a little business (in an effort to avoid the stress of turning 30)… because the odds are that you will fail.

Turning 30 may not be a walk in the park, but turning 40 after getting yourself stuck in stinking Nebraska… I don’t know much about growing corn, so I guess I’m part of the retirement community in the Craphole just waiting to die.  At 40, it’s really kind of too late to start all over again.  Guess I’ve kind of just given up on having the kind of career making the kind of money I went to college to make.  At least I have a loving wife and two great kids… if only I could provide for them the way I always imagined I’d be able to.  And it’s not that we’re doing bad… it’s just that I always thought I would be financially successful… not fighting to remain middle-class.

I usually try to make these gripe-sessions at least a little funny.  You know, cynically tongue -in-cheek.  I just really can’t find anything too amusing about the entire situation… not this time.

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