Author Archives: saravara7

Quinoa Meatloaf

Growing up my mom would make meatloaf somewhat regularly.  I have made her recipe before, but wanted to do something a little different.  I have binder full of recipes, some of which I’ve made and some that I printed out because they sounded good.  I found one in there for meatloaf that uses quinoa instead of oatmeal (like Mom uses) or breadcrumbs.  I decided to make a few changes to the recipe, most notably a change from ground turkey to ground beef.

For the meatloaf:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I used 80/20)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For the glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon water

For the topping:

  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce


  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350F.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.
  4. Mix the beef, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, teriyaki sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Drizzle over the top of the meatloaf.
  5. Mix the 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce in a small dish and then heat in a small skillet over low heat to combine the flavors.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes spread the topping over the meatloaf and then continue to bake for the final 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes prior to slicing and serving.



New Year, New Stuff

I’ve been incredibly lax for months.  A lot has been going on – even predating my last post.  Last March I quit my job after deciding I’d had enough of the insurance business.  I went back to work at Great Harvest for roughly 5 months while looking for another office position.  I started that position the end of August – I’m the receptionist for a private dental practice.  I’m loving the job, and have decided it’s the least stressful position I’ve had in easily 12 years.

The roommate and I moved in June.  We both love this house.  It’s surrounded by trees in a quiet neighborhood, and we can walk to the river.  The kitties love it too – especially all the squirrels!  As with any “new” home there are some things that need to be done, but all the urgent stuff has been done.

One thing I have been doing in the new house is breaking in the brand new range.  That was one of the urgent things that needed to be done.  Due to the design of the kitchen a “downdraft” range was required.  Only two companies make them, one is KitchenAid… and it wasn’t cheap.  The oven has a convection option, which I have not used yet – but I will.  I have mostly adapted to cooking with electric again (although I still miss gas), and with the ceramic solid surface stove top.  I’ve been making a lot of my classics, and working on some new dishes.  So, I’ve decided to start adding some of my recipes to my blog.  Hopefully my first one will be added tonight!

I’m not going to promise regular updates, but as always I’ll do my best to post about what’s going on in my life.  Happy 2018!

Commencement Eve

Twenty-seven years ago I graduated high school.  Twenty-four years ago I graduated with my Associate’s Degree.  Twice I attempted to finish my Bachelor’s Degree in music (at two different schools), and twice I left without finishing the degree.

My classes at University of Mary Washington (UMW) began in early 2008 on the Stafford Campus.  I was working towards a degree in business management as my employer at the time provided tuition reimbursement.  Unfortunately the last class meeting of my accounting for managers class was also the day my father died.  I missed that last day of class, received a small extension for the final, and decided to withdraw from the university.  When I decided to return to college in 2013 UMW seemed the most likely choice as I’d attended previously.  I contacted the registrar’s office and was advised that I could submit an application for readmission; that I would be entered into the Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) program with any offered major of my choosing.

I remember the day I met with Dr. Steckler (who was chair of the Psychology Department) in order to get approval to declare my major as Psychology.  I had been warned by my adviser in the BLS department that her bark was worse than her bite.  That made me a little nervous instead of setting me at ease!  LOL  As it turned out, he was correct, although I was slightly intimidated at first.  Trying to explain why I wanted to major in psychology was possibly the most difficult part because the answer of “I want to help people” is just not acceptable.  I remember telling her about my desire as I finished high school to enter into music therapy, and my inability to get accepted into the program at my desired university (there weren’t many offering it in 1990, and only two programs in the state of Florida).  It made sense to me to continue my desire to find ways to help others by expanding into psychology.  Needless to say, she signed my major declaration – and the rest is history.

I’ve had some wonderful professors at UMW.  Several of them I’ve taken for more than one class because I was so happy with their teaching style.  Dr. McBride was not only my major adviser, but she (miraculously) got me through stats – even though I thought intro would be the death of me for awhile.  Although I only took one class with Dr. Steckler, it was possibly one of my favorites while at UMW; it was senior seminar on emerging adulthood.  There are two adjuncts whose classes I’ve registered for more than once:  Dr. K. Handley and Dr. Thaxter.  I had Dr. Handley for Abnormal Psychology and Foundations of Clinical Psychology – both of which really helped me further decide that I want to move forward into a role as a counselor.  I had a class with Dr. Thaxter in my final two semesters:  Cognitive Neuroscience (which I initially dreaded but did very well in) and Developmental Psychology: Infant and Child.

My summary of my time at UMW would not be complete without mentioning Dr. Hampton.  The first class I took with him was (I believe) my second semester:  Cognitive Psychology.  I can still remember him telling the class that if we were sick to not come to class, that for us it might be a cold, but it would kill him.  My final semester I took History of Psychology with him.  It’s his final semester as well.  He’s retiring.  It’s also the last time History of Psychology will be taught at UMW.  I don’t know how the faculty, staff, and returning students will manage without Dr. Hampton wandering the halls chatting, telling his stories to students, and the constant supply of M&Ms.  I’m actually happy I’m graduating this semester because I know I can’t imagine being in Mercer without him there.  I remember seeing him the beginning of the fall 2016 semester and him saying “You haven’t graduated yet?” and me responding that I was graduating in the spring.  His response?  “Me too.”  I’m gonna miss him.

As happy as I am to finally complete my degree I know that tomorrow will be bittersweet as well.  My father, who would be so proud of me, is no longer living and his absence is already being felt.  My family is unable to come up from Florida.  My best friend, Gloria, is unable to come down from Brooklyn.  My “daughter”, Ashley, can’t get off work (although she took me out to dinner tonight), and due to illness and work my friend Lezlie and her fiancee are unable to attend.  I won’t be alone though.  I do have two friends who will be attending, and I’m grateful for that… although I hope they both realize I’m going to be a wreck tomorrow.

UMW is going to live stream the ceremony tomorrow for anyone who would like to watch.  The ceremony begins at 9:00a and should be completed by noon.  I am rather far back in the order due to BLS being one of the last degrees to be awarded, but I cannot estimate time-wise around what time I will be presented my degree.  You can find the link to the live stream on UMW’s homepage, or here.

A Day of Thanks

Why do Americans only give a day of thanks (Thanksgiving)?  Why are we not thankful every day?  I believe you would be hard-pressed to find someone who cannot name one thing they are thankful for each day, so why do we insist on one day of celebration each year?  (Ok, the Native Americans might not have been entirely thankful for everything the pilgrims brought and shared, but I digress.)

Each year I find myself less attached to prescribed holidays.  I might get a day off.  Great, but what do I actually do with that day off?  Most likely it’s chores, cooking, studying… just more of the usual, only without having worked 8 hours beforehand.  Before everyone believes I’ve become the ultimate cynic, let me talk about my day today.

Last night I slept poorly as I’ve been sick since Tuesday (this did not keep me from working Tuesday and Wednesday).  I got up several times during the night, and I would have most likely spent time tossing and turning had Mina and Moonie not insisted on playing Tetris with my legs.  I got out of bed this morning, went downstairs and made both a protein shake and a cup of hot tea.  I worked on my continuing education credits that are due by year’s end in order to maintain my insurance license (which is required in order to keep my job).  Around noon I put the turkey breast in the crock pot, and a little after 1:00 I went to bed and napped a bit for roughly 3 hours.  I didn’t feel much better after getting up, but the rest most likely helped.  Prior to the turkey breast finishing I heated up the sides (mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, green beans), tossed some biscuits in the oven, made the gravy, and opened a can of cranberry jelly (yeah, I wasn’t dealing with make fresh cranberry relish).  So, even feeling like crap I put out a decent meal for my roommate and me.  He even had seconds.  After we cleaned up the kitchen I retreated upstairs and did some more of my continuing ed credits.

I could easily complain until I was blue in the face or out of breath over the fact that I’m sick, but I’m not.  It’s a cold.  I’ll live.  I woke up this morning.  I got out of bed of my own accord.  I have a roof over my head, electricity, running water, and food to eat.  There are a lot of people who can’t claim some of this.  I also have family and friends who love me.  I have my two fur babies who depend on me and share their love with me.  Things could be far worse.  I have no right to complain.  So I won’t.

Each day you wake up, even if your joints ache or you have a headache or cold, tell yourself at least one thing you are thankful for – even if it is simply the fact that you woke up.  Make every day one of thanks, not just the last Thursday in November each year.

Life’s “Little” Curve Balls

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write for close to two weeks now (actually, it’s probably been longer).  I wanted to re-cap my trip to Epcot, and I’m pretty sure there was something else I was going to write about… but I got thrown a curve ball, and now that is going to wait a little longer.

Just a brief recap before going to the curve ball (and chances are I will cover at least one of the recap items in an upcoming blog post).  Two weeks ago at this time in was in my room at the Yacht Club at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.  I was with Bonnie, and we were having a great time.  It was a great weekend.  I promise more to come in the near future.  Last month I started my summer volunteer work at Food for Others in Fairfax.  This is to fulfill my community service learning requirement portion of my degree.  It is incredibly rewarding, although a bit sweaty in the warehouse.  Overall things have been going well.

Thursday morning (June 2) I went to work like pretty much any other work day.  My newest coworker was a no-show for the second day in a row, with no contact.  So, at that point I figured she quit and  just decided not to tell us.  I noticed on the chat system we used in the offices that no one in our Petersburg location was online.  I texted one of my coworkers to see if their internet was down again.  She responded that our boss (Jason) had sent them all a text that morning saying the internet was out and to take the day off.  I thought that was a bit odd as it was highly unlike him, and was a tiny bit annoyed that I still had to be at work.  I left him a message at 10:00 as I needed to speak with him about some things.  I tried him again at 10:30, and again got his voicemail.  He called me back about 10 minutes later.  He asked if I was sitting.  Then it hit.  The company had closed the agency due to an illegal practice done last year by someone who is no longer associated with the agency.  Suddenly we were all unemployed.  At first I just managed to get a few responses out as I was in shock.  Then I started crying.  He told me that someone would be in shortly to shut down the office (which was why I had to go in because someone had to be there for them to officially close the agency location).

I began gathering my things when we got off the phone.  There were a lot of tears.  When the people coming to close the agency showed up (both of whom I knew), it was obvious they were upset over the situation as well.  They offered to help, but how do you tell other people what things are yours?  It was easier to do it myself.  I answered their questions, and they answered those of mine that they could.  They took my number so they could contact me about any possible openings in other agencies.  They even helped me take stuff out to the Jeep.

When I got home I called my roommate so he wouldn’t be surprised when he got home and found me there.  He made me promise that I wouldn’t drink the rest of the bottle of Jameson I have in the fridge.  (I didn’t plan to drink any of it, or any alcohol.)  Jason called me later that afternoon to see how I was doing, and he let me know he’d told the others.  He also said he’d spoken to another local agent (whom I know fairly well), and that she was interested in talking with me (she’d actually already left me a message, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk at that point).  From there I talked with one of my coworkers for over an hour about everything.  We both agreed that we were in shock over the whole situation.  I told those closest to me in private what had happened.

Friday I attempted to sleep in.  My body was awake just before 8:00.  I relaxed some this morning, then went to the gym.  From there I went back by the office to get a few things I’d forgotten.  It was surreal being in there, all the lights out, note on the door stating the agency was closed.  I went over to Great Harvest for a bit and spoke with Shannon.  Got a slice of bread since I realized I hadn’t eaten anything – that I’d only had a protein shake prior to the gym.  By the time I was ready to leave the office it had started raining.  So I delayed a bit waiting for it to lighten up a bit.  Which it did.  Naturally by then traffic was crappy.  I stopped by Ulta to speak with Beth to reschedule my June hair appointment (she had left me a message the day before).  Before heading home I stopped at Wegmans for my Friday night pizza.  I’m not quite ready to break that tradition yet.  Once home I just chilled on the sofa with the roommate, and watched some TV.

Now it’s technically Saturday – nearly 1:00a.  I’m tired, but I’m not.  I have a lot of thoughts swirling through my head, and not all of them are concerning me and what I’m going to do.  Some of them are worrying about some of my customers I’d become close with, whom I didn’t get to say goodbye to.  That hurts almost as much as losing my job.

I just took a look at my Facebook feed, and I see that Muhammad Ali just died.  May he rest in peace.  So many lost already this year.

To close, I’m going to leave you with a song.  It’s by a group who had a short life, but their music touched me in many ways.  When life throws a curve ball at you, don’t forget to take a break and enjoy the blue highways…

Scientific papers, finals, and music… oh my!

So… I’ve managed to not allow an entire month to pass between blogs.  Barely.  I thought once finals week was over things would be calmer.  I thought wrong.  Of course I did.  LOL  I’ll go back to finals week to start the re-cap and bring everyone up to date.

Finals Week:  I took my stats final Monday morning.  I felt really good about it; I left the room thinking that I actually passed and wouldn’t have to re-take the class.  I had even turned in my final SPSS homework assignment the night before instead of waiting until the deadline.  I felt good.  Plus, I knew I was not going to take the final for research methods.  I spent my evenings working on the scientific manuscript (from hell).  It was due by 11:59p Friday, April 29th.  Well, I knew mine would have to be in prior to that because I wasn’t going to be near a computer that day.  I turned it in the night before.  I’m fairly proud of my work considering this was the first time I’d ever written this type of paper.  Not counting my quiz grades, I went into the final assignment (the paper) with a 96%.  I was confident.

April 29th & 30th:  M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, MD.  My first time attending M3, and my main reason for going (besides to spend time with Bonnie) was because Night Ranger was going to be playing.  We bought our tickets the day they went on sale last year.  (December?)  Anyone who knows me well understands that I am not a big fan of crowds.  For me to agree to a huge festival was a big deal.  The weather wasn’t great, but we managed to only get rained on as we were leaving Saturday night.  The organizers did a poor job with organizing the meet & greets with the different bands, and the VIP area was a bit questionable.  BUT, I had a great time.  Got to hear a lot of great music.  Spent time with one of my dearest friends.  Got to chat with Brad Gillis (one of the guitarists for Night Ranger) Saturday night… Generally just a lot of fun.  I might do it again.  LOL

This past week wasn’t too bad.  It was my new co-worker’s second week.  She’s studying for her licensing exam (which she takes this Saturday), translating for our Spanish speaking customers, taking payments, and answer the phone.  I’m really pleased with her desire to get the license and to learn how to do things.  Our weather was less than pleasing… a lot of rain.  I don’t really mind the rain, but last week I just wished I could send it to areas that desperately needed it – like Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.  The horrific fire burning there tears at my heart.  Reports say it could burn for months.  On a brighter note, I got my final grades.  I did pass stats (barely), so no more stats classes and graduation is on schedule for next May.  I also managed a B in research methods!  I guess the fact that I failed the quizzes wasn’t enough to counter my strong A going into the final paper, and how I did on the paper (no clue the final grade on that, but I’m guessing an A or B).  That leaves me with community service learning over the summer (40 hours), and two semesters.  It’s nearly over!

Now for this past weekend, and the reason why I’m basically dead on my feet today.  Saturday morning I hopped on a 9:55 flight to Chicago.  Night Ranger was playing at the House of Blues and recording it for a live DVD/CD.  You know I had to be there!  The flight up was ok; a little bumpy at times – especially on landing.  My hotel was literally across the street from HoB, which was planned for convenience so I could just walk there.  Speaking of walking… I know why Chicago is known as “the windy city.”  Holy hell!  I didn’t think I’d get my wide-toothed comb through my hair after my walk.  I had a lot of fun hanging out, talking with other fans while we waited to be let in.  I managed to be at the front, just in front of Eric and Keri.  I would have liked to be further center, but I was in the front.  That was what mattered!  The show was amazing!  They played a lot of the songs I’ve been hearing live over the past year, a couple I haven’t heard played (including closing with “Night Ranger”), and two new songs that are going to be on the new album they’re recording.  The show was definitely high energy, rock and roll!  Live Nation and Yahoo were streaming the show live, and Bonnie said she saw me during one of the songs!  I wonder if that means I’ll be on the DVD?  LOL  After the show I was so wired that there was no way I could sleep right away.  It was just after 2:00 by the time I climbed into bed.  I woke up at 4:00 briefly, and then again at 6:00 when my alarm went off.  All told, less than four hours sleep.  I boarded the shuttle to the airport at 6:50, and my flight was at 9:25.  Somehow I managed to do two loads of laundry after I got home.  I was in bed before 11:00 last night, and I slept through the night!

This morning I woke up and groaned.  Every inch of my body ached – including my toes.  I did not want to get out of bed.  I did not want to adult.  Hell, I did not want to human.  I wanted to cat, and stay in bed all day.  But I got up, showered, dressed, and went to work.  It was a busy day.  I didn’t get a break until 3:00.  Right now it’s 10:20 and I’m not sure how I’m awake, which means I’m heading to bed very shortly.  I’m expecting a busy week, and the boss is out of town for a company conference.  I also have my first community service this Saturday afternoon, so I’ll be keeping busy this weekend as well.  Definitely no dull moments in my life right now!  (And there’s more to come!)

Time to kick it!

I’ve been far too lazy for too long.  I have been doing a great job taking care of keeping my brain fit, but my body is another story.  A few weeks ago I went to the gym on a Saturday morning.  It was the first time I’d gone since July 2015.  Yikes!  No wonder I’ve put on 50 lbs!  (Ok, it wasn’t just the lack of going to the gym…)

I ended up with the flu within 48 hours of my last trip to the gym.  I was down for the count until Thursday of that week.  Being the person I am, I let that keep me from going back to the gym that weekend.  I made excuses not to go, like “I need to study for my stats’ test” and “we still have too much to do for our study, I need to focus on that.”

I started doing some small things at home over the past week or so: squats, modified push-ups, and this core exercise I saw on a fitness website (I have no idea what it’s called).  I didn’t always do them every day, but I tried to.  One day I even did them at night after I got home because I was too lazy to do them that morning.

Ultimately I’m annoyed that I’ve allowed myself to not only regain roughly 50 lbs, but to also get so out of shape.  So, this morning I got up, put on gym clothes, drank a protein shake, and went to the gym.  I worked out for an hour.  I focused mainly on my two problem spots:  my legs and my core.  I thoroughly expected that a few hours after I finished I would be in great discomfort, and unable to move.  Surprisingly the aches have been minimal, but the biggest surprise is my left knee.  It has been hurting for weeks.  It’s not bothering me at all!  I guess I did something right today.

Here’s the big catch:  keeping myself accountable and going to the gym regularly.  As of this moment my plan is to go to the gym every other day.  That means sucking it up at 6:00 and going to the gym after work and not coming straight home.  I will need to get my bag together the night before, and grab it as I leave in the morning.  No excuses of too much studying to do, or that I’m too tired.  It must be done.

How do I find the resolve?  And, how do I find the willpower to eat properly?  How do I get the processed carbs back out of my life?  Yes, I can go cold turkey, but that hasn’t worked so great in the past.  I need to find another way to do it.  Maybe some sort of 12-step program.

Somehow I will do this.

I know I can.

I will.

What a week…

Ah hell, it’s only Wednesday night.  If I thought I could stay awake long enough to finish it, I’d have an adult beverage… but as it is I’m fighting to keep my eyes open.  So much has been going on, and I only did an overview on Facebook the other night.  Right now I’m referring to this week as Hell Week.  But let me go back to last week to bring things a bit more up to speed.

Last week I had a test in Research Methods (which I bombed, as did most of the class), on top of scurrying frantically to get everything ready for the “data collection” part of our study Thursday night.  Oh, and Thursday I was also leaving work early (hell, I was only going to be in the office for like 1.5 hours due to a meeting) to meet with the liaison at Food for Others to get set up for my community service learning (CSL) this summer.  Thursday I didn’t go to lab for Methods because I was home popping popcorn for the study.  I may never eat popcorn again.  Or at least not for a very long time.  I got to the office to find the back door locked.  I thought it was a bit odd, but was more perplexed when I opened the door and the lights were off.  I heard my boss’ voice, and then another male voice… but no sign of my coworker.  Turns out she’d been offered a job with another company (in a different field), and even though she’d planned to work Thursday and Friday the boss told her that Wednesday had been her last day.  Great.  The meeting never happened.  I went to get my CSL set up, then headed to campus.  I actually had a lot of fun with the girls doing our study (even though we were rushing to finishing weighing carrots and putting them into baggies).  We had 47 people show up!  Just proves that if you offer food, they will sign up!  (Maybe someone should do a study on whether more college students sign up for studies involving food than not…)  I’ll go into the study details another time.  I just don’t have the mental capacity right now.  Friday was fairly quiet, so we’ll move into this week.

Monday wasn’t too horrific.  The girls and I continued to work on our poster for our study presentation, work was fairly quiet.  It seemed like a decent start to the week.  Then yesterday happened.  Holy Hell.  I had to stop at the post office on the way into the office to place a hold on our mail (no one is in the office until noon, and the carrier comes before then).  It was about 12:10 when I got to the office, got the computer up and running… and basically hit the ground running.  I did not stop.  Somewhere around 4:00 I thought I’d heat up my lunch.  Dropped it on the floor.  Ran next door to Subway, got back to my desk, got ready to take a bite… 3rd walk-in customer of the day… wanted a policy review.  Thirty minutes later I got to take a bite of my sandwich.  The only times I left my desk yesterday was 2-3 times to use the restroom, 1 time to attempt to heat my lunch, and 1 time to go to Subway.  No joke.  It was non-stop.  Then I came home and studied for the stats test I had this morning.  The hits just keep rollin’ in.  The test wasn’t as bad as I feared – I need a good grade on this one because I’m barely passing the class and the only things left for our grade are one more homework assignment and the final.  Traffic going to the office was horrific.  I started my work day trying to finish things I hadn’t gotten to yesterday, only to get the blue screen of death and have my computer shut off.  Then a customer walked in.  Yeah, it was very nearly a repeat of yesterday.  Tomorrow morning the girls and I present our findings for the study at UMW’s annual Psi Chi Symposium (thus the poster we needed).  Thankfully it’s during our normally scheduled lab time, then off to work.  Friday morning back at school, then off to work.

What’s left?  Next week is our final week of classes.  I’m happy and nervous at the same time.  We (the research team) have to write a formal paper in APA format on our study.  Some of it we can collaborate on, but part of it has to be individual (and he will be checking)… it’s worth 25% of our grade.  I’ve never really had to write a scientific paper.  I’m a little nervous about it.  The follow week is finals week: stats Monday morning (also when our last homework assignment is due), and Methods Tuesday morning.  I have the option to not take the Methods final, and I’m seriously thinking of taking that option.  Not having to study for that final, and giving my all towards the paper and studying for stats seems like a win-win to me.

The boss has 2 more interviews lined up Friday.  We have one new person definitely starting in May, and last I heard one other we are just waiting to accept the job offer.  At this point we’re going to have them come in and start working ASAP (they can answer calls and take payments until they are licensed).  I can help answer questions they have on licensing stuff, and I’ll be training them as well (god knows the company training has gone to pot).  Hopefully these people will work out.  I’m awful lonely right now.

After my two finals… well, that’s a whole new ballgame of craziness.  I’ll save that for another time.

Spring Cleaning

Okay, maybe it isn’t really cleaning.  Maybe it’s more just freshening up the place.  I figured it was time for a change, and considering I’d originally planned to make a change at the very beginning of 2016… well, it was time.  Even though it’s really late, and my sight is starting to blur I’m so tired.  I’ll try to post an update, or something random, soon.

A Rant

I realize it’s been more than a month since my last post.  Life and all that.  But that’s not what got me itching to write tonight.  Annoyance made me want to write.

This morning there was a 50-vehicle pileup in Pennsylvania.  At this time (over 12 hours later) the interstate is still closed in sections, and three people have been confirmed as fatalities.  I read some early reports on the accident and saw one or two photos.  It wasn’t pretty.  A little while ago I found a link that has a large number of photos: arial shots, close-ups, different angles…  The pictures didn’t get to me as much as the comments on the article did.  I’ll get to that in a moment (the rant).  After looking at the photos I have a pretty good idea which vehicles had the fatalities.  When you can barely tell there is a vehicle under part of a tractor trailer, well, it’s not a good sign.

Here is what I read in earlier reports:  There has been a weather related warning issued for the area.  Due to the storm front moving through, there was the possibility of snow and high winds.  At the time of the accident the snow just came on very quickly, and the winds were at 30 mph.  One person who was stopped by police said she managed to stop, but saw other vehicles slide off the road.  It was a white-out condition.  Those conditions are dangerous for any driver – regardless of how many years you’ve been driving, or how much experience you have driving in that type of weather.  Just because you feel you know what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean the others on the road know.  Anything can happen in a blink of an eye:  a gust of wind hits a vehicle the wrong way causing it to swerve, a driver hits their brakes and due to the white-out condition the other drivers can’t see the brake lights until it’s too late… anything.

Now for the rant.  In true “someone has to bear the blame” fashion, people who weren’t there are pointing fingers.  Some say it’s the fault of the truckers, that they drive to reckless.  Some say it was an idiot driving a car who wasn’t paying attention.  I read through a lot of the comments.  Enough to see a lot of bashing going on.  Guess what folks?  Right now it doesn’t mean a damn thing to know who or what caused the pileup!  It is possible that law enforcement/first responders may never know.  What matters is that three lives were lost.  Many others were injured.  Many people put their own safety on the line to get to the scene of the pileup to help those involved.

Here’s my take, short and simple:  if weather advisories are announced, and people are urged to stay off the roads (no, I do not know for certain if they were for this storm), stay off the damn roads!  Unless you must be on the road for your job (trucker, first responder, DOT road crew), stay home.  Bad/unsafe drivers come in all types of vehicles:  tractor trailers, SUVs, sports cars, minivans, etc…  The safest driver in bad weather conditions is the one who stays off the road.

One last thing before I share the link to the article with the photos and sign off.  One person who was very vocal about how poor truckers drive (cut off other vehicles, “blockade” private passenger vehicles, drive in the left-hand lane, etc…) felt the need to post a photo to prove his point.  A photo he took WHILE DRIVING, and then had the nerve to say it was okay (meaning he wasn’t driving distracted) because there weren’t any other cars around?  WTF, asshole?!  There were two trucks in the photo, but there were no other cars around so it was safe.  It is this mentality that is a huge problem, and no it isn’t just the millenials.  It is all age groups.  I have read the studies (the real studies in the science journals, not the fluffy versions posted in popular publications) and there is clear evidence that doing anything with your mobile phone while driving (including using hands free to talk) is a distraction to the driver.  This is the stuff that truly pisses me off.  He wants to blame bad truckers for all the accidents on our roadways, but he takes photos with his mobile phone while driving on a highway and sees no problem with it.

Before I got off on a really long (and most likely profane) rant on distracted driving and the whole “I’m not distracted” thing, I’m going to post the link.  50-vehicle Pileup in PA.

One final thing and I’m outta here:  Drive safely.  Drive defensively.  Be alert of your surroundings and what other drivers are doing.  Never demand the right-of-way.  You are important to at least one person in this world, and they want to know you’ve arrived safely at your destination.


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