Left Coast/Right Coast - So many complaints, so little time

The other day as I stomped on the gas to “get through” a light turning red (I swear Judge, it was still yellow when I went through) I looked up and saw another of those horrible traffic cameras.
Mike Gold is a retired entrepreneur providing his views on the Northwest. Photo credit: Katie Stearns.

Mike Gold writes for the News of Mill Creek on a regular basis. He is a retired entrepreneur and describes himself as a, “relatively recent transplant to the West Coast. I have lived (born and raised) in the Northeastern U.S. So these observations are based upon ‘living the dream’ in the Pacific Northwest.”

Highway 99 Encore: The other day as I stomped on the gas to “get through” a light turning red (I swear Judge, it was still yellow when I went through) I looked up and saw another of those horrible traffic cameras.

See, this is another example of bureaucracy run amok. The poor schmuck doesn’t stand a chance. The lights are timed so if you are dumb enough to attempt to run the light, the yellow signal is timed to be so short that unless you’re traveling at Mach 1 – you cannot make it through before red. Then that ticket shows up with your dumb face looking directly up at the camera – with your license plate displayed below (ask me how I know this).

If you are traveling at Mach 1 or above, you also get a camera ticket for speeding (again, ask me how I know this).

The only good thing here is that a camera ticket is not classified as a moving violation, so it does not go on your insurance and doesn’t increase your premium about 20% for three years (again, ask me how I know this).

The Weather: Yeah, it’s Seattle. What should one expect? In fact the annual precipitation here is not much different than any east coast city, somewhere between 25 and 45 inches a year. 38 inches Seattle, Boston 44 inches, advantage Seattle.

Furthermore, we get so much of what I fondly refer to as “gentle rain.” There is a perpetual mist in the air from October to June along with mild temperatures. My toes are starting to grow webs.

Boston’s 44 inches includes lots of snow in winter. Roughly one inch of rain is approx. twelve inches of snow. We’ve been through snowstorms in Boston that set records.

For example, in 1978 we had two snowstorms about 10 days apart. The first was 30 inches or so, the second 25 inches.

The Governor of Massachusetts at the time was Michael Dukakis. He is famous for when he ran for President in 1988. During his campaign a photo was taken of him wearing a tank helmet, which in my opinion made him look like a combination of Daffy Duck and Alfred E. Newman. What Me Worry?

Dukakis lost the election by one of the greatest margins ever. Of course vetoing a bill which would have prevented the escape of a convicted murder who raped a woman a year after his escape did not help his effort. Remember the Willy Horton ad? The Republicans certainly did.

Anyway, Dukakis ordered everyone off the roads after the two snowstorms in 1978 for several days. Commerce stopped. They had to plow the streets with a front-end loader, as regular plows could not move so much snow.

After three days, everyone in our neighborhood went stir crazy. A group of us plowed out our street using our regular snow plows all the way to the end where it joined a major street, which had been cleared. Then the entire street engaged in an act of mass civil disobedience by driving all over, to the stores, etc.

Can you imagine a 30-inch snowstorm in our area? Being a very “green” location, I’m certain all my neighbors would dust off their cross-country skis and “like” this inconvenience. We could start lotteries betting on which Community Transit bus would skid off the road next into a ditch. My favorite bet would be that one would skid down a steep street and go over the barrier down onto I-5 somewhere in Seattle.

As I recall, we had a near miss a few years back with a bus winding up on top of the guardrail. Close but no cigar! The then Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was skewered by everyone for doing a really poor job of clearing the streets.

I remember watching a Seattle snow plow crew skidding into a parked car, destroying one side of it and then simply driving off. Only this event being captured on video and posted on YouTube got relief for the poor car owner.

People in greater Seattle simply don’t know how to drive on snow. Hell, they don’t even know how to drive in rain.

See, after a few days of sun, the first rain brings all the rubber and oil up to the surface of the roads creating a sort of mini-skating rink. I like playing the “watch this” game, as you can anticipate the car in the next lane attempting to stop before hitting the stopped car in front of them with a panic stop.

See, if you don’t have anti-lock brakes, you’re supposed to mimic them by quickly applying the brake repeatedly. If you stomp on them, you lock up all four wheels. All you accomplish with this is a complete loss of any control of the vehicle.

I laugh recalling one driver in an old Volvo locking up his brakes descending Mill Creek Boulevard (very steep) approaching the Bothell-Everett Highway. The wheels locked up and the car swapped ends, skidding into the curb and destroying the front axle. I think this car would not drive well with the wheel at a 45-degree angle.

Anyway, I’m sticking to my observations. Next snowstorm, please don’t skid into the back of my car. Thank you.


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