Not a lockdown entry

My last lockdown journal was for Sunday, and here it is late Friday night. Wow. That’s a lot of remembering I’m sure I will fail at. But not tonight.

Just don’t feel like chronicling. I had a sleep-deprived work week in which I did not get enough done, but I finished strong Friday, as used to be my wont but hasn’t been lately. So I’m heading into the weekend feeling good. The last thing I submitted, that cancer center story that’s been bugging me for weeks, was enthusiastically accepted by the first two people I needed to satisfy, so this is good.

I could spend the whole weekend not thinking about work at all, but I’ll probably do a few easy, low-stress things just to keep them off my Monday list. I have a couple of mentally straining things to focus on next week, some of them with deadlines.

My brain is pea soup. My body is the fat trimmed from a slice of prime rib. My mood is rainbow shave ice. My eyes are a glass of iced tea when you’ve stirred too much sugar into it and you can see the grains swirling around before they settle.

It’s the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, and I’m (ssssh don’t tell my employers) running an office pool. Suuuuper low stakes. But it brings people together and gives them something to talk about at a time when, especially this year, we can all really use it.

I suuuuuuck at picking brackets. My final four was busted before lunch. Oral Roberts beat Ohio State in a major upset (a 15 seed beating a 2 seed) and I had Ohio State going to the Final Four. And you know what? I only regret that I picked them to go that far because I will NEVER pick Oral Roberts to beat ANYone unless it’s Liberty.

Liberty is also in the tourney and I of course picked against them. Because screw you, Jerry Falwell, and your charlatan offspring. And the crap university you founded. And the ground upon which it sits. But not the people who work and study there. I know some lovely people who went there.

A million years ago when I shared those screen shots of my crossword puzzle obsession, I lamented the blue square on a Monday last March. I remembered later why it was blue. The yellow squares are correct solves completed within a day after the puzzle posts. I nailed that puzzle but I forgot to do it before Tuesday evening, so it’s blue. Still annoying, but not as maddening as if I couldn’t do the puzzle.

I offer this explanation in case some lovely female reader out there crossed me off her list for having a blue square on a Monday. Lovely female reader, there are many completely valid reasons for crossing me off the list, but please don’t let it be for that.

I’ve been meaning to issue a rant about the uselessness of laws but my thesis is long and I never have that kind of energy anymore, so I may offer it in smaller bites.

Here’s bite number one. Most of us have known 55 miles per hour as the default speed limit on major American highways for our whole lives. There are a few places where in the last couple of decades the limit’s gone up to 65 or even 75. Here on Oahu, there are no roads where you can legally drive faster than 55, and because our major highways are so curvy in town, the limit is actually 45 in some places and 50 in most.

I haven’t checked my sources (okay, my source is a young adult novel read in eighth grade; it’s either Slaughter by Auto or Under the Influence by W. E. Butterworth, a pen name for the writer better known as W. E. B. Griffin, also a pen name), but if they are to be believed (and the author isn’t known for making this stuff up; he writes detective procedural novels), the speed limit on most American highways was 65 mph for a long time. It was lowered in the late 70s to 55.

You know why? It had nothing to do with safety. Engineers decide speed limits for safety based on roads themselves. That’s why the limit on the freeway through Honolulu is 45 or 50. The engineers set that.

The limit was lowered nationwide because we were in the middle of a gasoline shortage. Car engines didn’t burn fuel as efficiently then at higher rates of speed. This is less true today, as engines are designed to run better and more efficiently at whatever speed, but it was absolutely true then (less absolutely if you drove a manual transmission).

The government lowered the speed limit in order to get us burning less fuel. Given the circumstances, it’s totally understandable. Rough times call for rough governmental measures. This is not a rant about masks or the president’s COVID relief bill, although if you want to apply it there, I’m cool with it.

Obeying the speed limits is kind of an arbitrary thing for most of us anyway. The truth is, most people drive as quickly as they feel safe. The limit may be 25 on Nuuanu Avenue, but if the road is covered in steel plates, as it has been for like a year, very few people will drive 25. And if you live here, you know how slowly people drive to work on weekdays when it rains.

I live in a neighborhood with lots of multi-generational homes, which means lots of cars parked on the street (instead of in carports). And since it’s an old neighborhood, the streets are narrow and there are no sidewalks. Very few people drive 25 through my area because it feels very unsafe. And it is!

That stretch of freeway between Waipahu and Makakilo, though, is long and straight, and the limit may be 55, but if you drive 55 there, everyone is passing you. Unless it’s at night, in which case you have mixed observations. There are no freeway lights there, or at least there weren’t when I grew up in Waipahu.

This is all to illustrate one point in my thesis: we are generally a people who respects laws, but in many cases, such as when we’re on the road, our behavior and attitudes are goverened by something else.

Okay it’s a few minutes past eleven and I’ve got the typing itch out of my fingers, so it’s time to eat some dried apricots and kiiiiinda think about what I want Saturday to look like. Then it’s early to bed because pea soup.

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