Boy, it has been a while

I do apologize for disappearing. Life has a way of making things disappear. Like my tolerance for traffic! But today on my ways to and from work, I attempted a new strategy — chilling the fuck out.

Normally I like to get to where I’m going at the fastest speed possible because, well, fast is fun. It’s not that I’m running late all the time, I just like to drive quickly all the time. But in the desperate need to break speed limit laws, I tend to get stuck falling down an endless pit of anger, frustration, profanity, hatred (and of course, despair). It’s probably bad for my overall well-being that I get trapped in a cycle of questioning the meaning of life every time I venture onto the roads. Thus, I attempted to chill the fuck out… and you know what… it actually worked. I’d be stuck in a line of people at a light, and where I would have angrily cut into the other lane to pass them all, I would just say to myself “that’s fine, no need to be anywhere this very second.” To my own amazement it worked, and my commute went relatively pain-free today.

So, I’ve decided to return to my blog with suggestions on how to remain calm in the face of terrifying, terrible, treacherous, and torpid traffic.

1.) Listen to music. It’s a lot nicer to sit at a light or be stuck behind a giant line of people for whatever reason when a good song is playing. Whether it’s music you bring yourself or something’s that playing on the radio, turn that shit up and calm the fuck down. Sing along if you want. Dance in your car if you want. Whatever takes you to a happy place, get on it.

2.) Affirmations. Just repeat to yourself “There is no reason I need to be at my destination this very minute” or “calm down, you’ll get to your destination eventually” or “this isn’t the Oregon Trail, you don’t have to rest for three days until conditions improve.” Of course, this only works if you’re legitimately not running late for anything. If you are running late for something incredibly important, then you’re s.o.l.

3.) Take in the sights. You’re probably not looking around much on your daily commute, so take those times when you’re stuck in traffic to look around you. You might find some cool things, like a pretty tree you never noticed before or a hole-in-the-wall shop that you might want to check out some time. Granted, not all commutes are pretty, but do your best.

4.) Meditate. If you’re into that kind of thing. Just don’t close your eyes for too long…

5.) Think about stuff. Happy or productive stuff, though. Things like what groceries you need to get, ideas for a project at work or school, clever ways to ask out that guy or girl you’ve been eyeing for a while, what to have to dinner, and where you’d want to go for vacation. Avoid things like how your life is being wasted away sitting in traffic or how you could have avoided being stuck behind that accident had you taken a different route home after work.

Try some of these techniques while out on the road… maybe it’ll make your drive a little less stressful.

Also, now that’s nice out, I need to try and not swear aloud so much while I drive because people might hear me when I have the windows down.

Also also:

Bad Weather Driving: Keep Calm and Drive On

In light of recent wintery weather finally arriving in my city of residence, I figured now would be a good time to talk a bit about driving in bad weather.

This is a tricky one.  It really all depends on the vehicle you have and the exact driving conditions you’re in.  If you’re in an all-wheel drive Subaru with studded snow tires, you’re basically the epitome of winter vehicle.  If you’re in a Camry with balding all-seasons, you should stay home.

The number one rule in bad weather driving is do not tailgate. Well, that and maybe go slow, but I cannot express how important maintaining a good following distance is.  You cannot stop as quickly in snowy weather, and you cannot maneuver as quickly in snowy weather.

The second rule is do things gradually.  This is my weakness.  Gradually apply pressure to the accelerator, and gradually apply pressure to the brakes.  Trying to speed up to quickly will just cause the wheels to spin in place and you’ll slide or not go anywhere.  Applying the brakes too quickly will cause you to slide as well because you’re not giving the tires a chance to catch on to something to slow down.

Rule number three is don’t drive like an idiot.  Everyone always says, “Be careful!  People are driving like idiots out there.”  I wonder if the people that are actually doing the knucklehead driving say this as well?  Just drive normally (well, a slower normally).  Drive at a speed that is comfortable for you, but not too slow to the point that people are getting pissed at you (or just chill in the right lane with your hazard lights on).  Be on extra alert for any changes in environment, handling, and traction–then adjust accordingly. No need to panic because there happens to be precipitation falling from the sky.

The fourth rule could be don’t panic.  If you lose traction, don’t start flailing, hitting every pedal your feet can touch at one time, and ripping the steering wheel from one side to the other… unless you’re in a parking lot and having some fun.  Out on the roads, stay calm.  What’s that thing going around?  Keep calm and carry on?  Keep calm and drive on.

Then there are just some general knowledge things to remember when driving in wintery conditions.

a.) Don’t drive too close to a truck that’s salting the roads.

b.) Drive in the same track as the person ahead of you.  This at least gets you closer to pavement.  Just don’t focus solely on staying in their tracks, though.  Keep in mind your surroundings.

c.) Things get more slippery at night.  Those tracks I just talked about?  If the roads aren’t salted, those can get pretty icy at night.  Less people driving on it means less heat and nighttime means colder conditions, so those wet tracks become ice tracks.  I think, but don’t quote me on this, that in those situations, moving off the tracks and into the snow (given your tire condition and driving ability) is better.  Either way, go slow.

d.) In near white out conditions, find a constant on the road that you can follow to make sure you maintain your position and stay on the road. I experienced this when I was driving home through a snowstorm in Virginia.  The roads were pretty much covered.  I had to keep an eye on the reflective while on the right side of the road to make sure I stayed on the road and in my lane.  Thankfully there weren’t many people, but there were also no streetlights on long stretches of that journey so my headlights and the road were all I really had.  Heaps of fun.  Driving slow, keeping tabs on surroundings, and tracing the white line were all important factors in me getting home safely.

e.) Areas between lanes are slippery.  Always be very very very careful when changing lanes in snowy conditions.

f.) Keep to the main roads.  Side streets are often not plowed or salted and are therefore very treacherous to drive on.  If you must travel on a road that is not plowed or treated, drive slowly.   It’s safer to drive slowly on side streets because there is less traffic and less people to rear-end you for going slow.

g.) I’ve always been told not to stop in a snowstorm.  I’ve also heard that if conditions are bad enough, you should pull as far off the road as you safely can and leave your hazard lights on to let people know you’re there.  Stopping sounds like an all around bad idea–you can get stuck/buried, someone can run off the road and hit you, and it’s a little dangerous to try to pull off the road when you can’t see where the road really is.  Keep moving forward, if it’s bad enough move forward very slowly, maintaining proper distances between the car ahead of you, and staying calm.

–Most of the stuff that applies to snow applies to heavy thunderstorms as well.  In torrential downpours, have the wipers going as fast as you can and look out for anything with lights.  Look for the brake lights of the cars ahead of you to judge distance.  Do not go faster than you are comfortable, but keep up with the flow of traffic.  Don’t make any sudden movements if you happen to hydroplane (hydroplaning is totally fun, I don’t know why everyone freaks out about it).    Keep calm and drive on.  If you want to wait out the storm, exit the highway or roadway and chill in a parking lot until you’re okay with the conditions.

I couldn’t resist:

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***If I’m forgetting anything, feel free to let me know and I’ll add it to the list.***