The crazies are back – bad drivers

My commute is a nice sedate 7.5 miles up a major street.  No freeways, no HOV lanes. A couple of schools so you get the dropoff madness, but in general it is a smooth trip. Heck, if you time it right, you can miss almost all the red lights on the way in.

Lately, the traffic load has gone up. Significantly. Not sure whether it is the seasonal uptick (the snow birds slowly making their trek back to the sunbelt), or just something in the water, but at my usual time, it has been heavy enough that traffic doesn’t flow at or slightly above the posted speed limit.

Well, living in Arizona, where compensation is all around (re: truck vs. penis) I am seeing a lot of aggressive, stupid driving. Cutting in and out of traffic lanes. Passing one car and immediately cutting it off. Squeezing between a gap that barely fits your vehicle. All to go maybe 2 mph faster in aggregate.

You are still going to have to stop at the next light. Or, if you run it (blushing) you will be waiting at the next light when I catch up to you.

Of course, this increases the likelihood of an accident, and alas, today I was rewarded with an extra 20 minutes to get by some idiot who tried to turn left in front of a Suburban. Minivan vs Suburban = unhappy commuters.

I am just going to the office.  I am never in a hurry. And I am watching for the zany antics. The Chandler po-po could fill the coffers ticketing these idiots.

House trivia, part X

A little over a year ago, we moved to Chandler as I took a job there. We bought a good house in a great neighborhood. However, I knew there were some things to fix.

I already had the plumbing nightmare where every step of the way in replacing a bad bathroom fixture, and replacing a hot water heater valve, and ultimately replacing the main water shutoff valve.

The concrete in the side yards looks like a third grader put it in. The lot isn’t graded to drain, so in heavy rain, our yard floods. They went ultra cheap on the insulation.

But the worst, without doubt, is the exterior paint. I knew it was a bit rough, but hey, it was 15 years old. We got the nasty gram from HOA that we needed to paint. So, we got a painter. He point out that the exterior paint was just a colored primer. Not even a finish coat.  Sigh.

I wonder what will be next…

Grocery Shopping Theatre – The beer selection

The local Fry’s Foods is a smorgasbord of people watching. A few days ago, I was in the mood for beer, so I maundered in the alcohol aisle. In front of the cooler with the microbrews and imports was a gentleman (and that is a loose interpretation) who was idling in front of the good US micros.  I watched him hem and haw for a few minutes.

One of my favorites, not as good now that it is owned by a major though
One of my favorites, not as good now that it is owned by a major though

I could almost see him thinking out loud: “I have $12, I can get a six pack of really good micro brew.  Or, I could get a 12 pack of a reasonable import.  What shall I buy?”

Of course after wavering and standing in front of where I wanted to look for a few minutes, he walked over and bought a 30 pack of Miller Lite.  Obviously quantity won out over quality.

I hope I am never that person.

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Bad neighbors – Party goes Wild

A little over a year ago, we moved from our “edge of civilization” house in Tucson to Chandler, a much more standard suburban setting. For the most part it has been a pretty good experience.

But there has been a soft underbelly. We live next door to a house with a just graduated high school baseball player (presumably he is playing ball in college as well) who seems to love having loud parties. Throughout spring and early summer, the night for these parties was Tuesday, and they were not too bad, but still annoying. However as time went on, they became bigger and rowdier. A couple months ago, we started alerting the police (after midnight, we are not ogres), and that seemed to quench the growth.

But they learned to have a lookout for the cops, and would quickly quiet up and turn off the lights. The cops would look around, see nothing and move on. 20 minutes later it was in full roar, again. Sigh.

Last night they had a rager. When my wife took the dogs out to potty at 11PM, the yard was full, the house was full, and even the balcony on the neighbors patio was filled with people. We left it alone, but at 1:00AM it got (hard to believe it) even louder. So, a call to the police. This time, they came out in force, at least 6 cars, one k9 unit, and they processed the people on the neighbor’s lawn. The police even hunted for those inevitable “hiders” who try to become invisible.  That took well over an hour. Perhaps it was all the clear underage drinking.

One of the annoying things about these parties besides the noise, is the fact that those who attend and smoke seem to think nothing about flicking their butts into our yard (and presumably the other yards adjacent to them). Really annoying to have to clean up after someone else’s party.

Where are the parents you might say?  Well, I don’t know for certain, but their cars were in the driveway, so I have to assume that they either knew about the party, or helped with its execution. In any case, they can’t possibly deny that they knew what was going on.

(Update: As I write this, two women walked out of their house, looking pretty trashed, and drove away.)

This morning, as I was picking up the debris from the party that found its way to our yard, I peeked over the fence. Their yard looks like WWIII. I hope the son has to clean it up with a raging hangover.

In Tucson, there was an ordinance that if a party was loud enough to require the police to come break it up, they got a lovely red sticker on their window or door, easily visible, that signifies that this house had been a subject of a noise complaint, and that sticker must remain up for 180 days. Sadly, Chandler could use a similar ordinance.

What I miss about Tucson

After being in Chandler for a year, I do have some things that I miss from Tucson.

The weather – The predictable, and at times wild summer Monsoons. The smells of the desert after a storm is intoxicating.

The critters – The den of gila monsters near our house, the snakes (gopher and diamond back rattlesnakes). The Colorful banded lizards, the cotton tail rabbits, the javelinas, the coyotes, the bobcats, well, you get the picture. Suburban Chandler is nowhere near as diverse.

Cafe Poca Cosa – A local gem that I have yet to find a replacement for.

Tucson Int’l Airport – Nothing like a small, local, easily accessible airport. Phoenix is typical big metropolitan, and chaotic (but we do get to most destinations non-stop)

Living at the edge of town – We had a lot of privacy, and great neighbors who were friendly and supportive.

Coffee Xchange – local coffee house that was vastly superior to any big chain.

Mount Lemmon – 25 minutes away. A short drive, and you were at 9,000 ft. A different world.

Hiking trails – Sabino canyon, window rock, finger trail, Douglas Springs, Saguaro Nat’l park. All within a reasonable drive, delivering world class hiking.

Cycling – Saguaro East was always my favorite loop. Or head out Old Spanish Trail and into Vail for a longer ride.

Tucson McGraw’s – a cantina/grill on the hill with a fabulous view. Decent drinks, good food, and great views.

The Grill at Hacienda del Sol – Probably the best restaurant in town. Great views, entertainment, and fabulous wine list coupled with a great menu. A good splurge!

Ah well, it is only 2 hours away…

The itch. It will pass

Out on the bicycle today, putting in my usual punishing 26 mile loop, I got to thinking how much I miss off road cycling. Alas, with my health concerns, I can’t get back on a motocross bike and roost like I used to, but I can get back on a mountain bike.

I have had mountain bikes in the past, first a Diamondback Ascent EX (which came with the shittiest wheels EVER, replaced them with wheelsmiths, and they were bulletproof), and much later a Pretty reasonable Specialized Stumpjumper Comp M2.

After moving to Arizona, I got out of the habit of off road bicycling. Yes, Fantasy Island in Tucson was a pretty good set of trails, but the mountains and hiking were much bigger calls to me.

Now that I am in Phoenix, and the hiking is less close at hand, the desire to get back onto a mountain bike is tempting.

My last ride, the SJ Comp I bought back in 1998, and rode the hell out of it. I lived in the San Jose area, and there were tons of great trails, not far from where I lived that were surprisingly bereft of other riders. I put a lot of miles on that bike. But, in the move last year, I sold it.

A while back we walked into a local bike store, and as always, I drooled over the mountain bikes. My, a lot has changed since 1998. Good suspension, better brakes (disc brakes) and 29″ wheels are all cool, and drool-worthy.

Alas, I will probably be able to resist this urge. I would have to drive the bike out to good trails, and if I am going to do that, I will probably just hike.

But it is fun to dream.

One year in Chandler – Time flies

On this date, one year ago, we were busting our humps with the movers to get our stuff moved into our house. There were boxes everywhere (most where they belonged), and furniture that was almost in the right room.

That day was a blur, but it felt good to arrive in Chandler and get down to settling in.

I remember the AC was flakey in the south side of the house (the living area), and the sod that was recently put in was turning into a rainforest in the back yard, but it was “home”.

The next couple of days were a blur of unpacking, getting the gas turned on (the one utility that I forgot to do before move in), and get to a state where we could cook and eat. Literally hundreds of boxes were unpacked. Yes, there are still a few to go (need to get enough ahead to buy some furniture and cubbyholes), but it is home.

One thing I hate about Chandler

In general, I love living here in Chandler. Great neighborhood, great neighbors, lots of quality restaurants, and good shopping.

But there is one bad thing. We have biting ants. Not the usual fire ants that you can see and avoid. These little black ants that swarm up your legs and sting like crazy.

We had a nest in our yard, fortunately the pest control people eradicated it post haste last year. But lately, we have had some rain, and rain brings out the bugs. On the walk with the dogs this morning, I got attacked. hundreds of them swarmed up my legs, and were stinging up my calf.

Ouch. About 10 minutes of swatting and wiping them off, and I am covered in bites.

I hate nature sometimes.

Quickie: School starts. My commute sucks for a few days

Ah, the children are back in school this morning. Apart from the fact that it is only July 22nd, and that is a sucky/short summer vacation for the kidlets, it also means chaos on the drive in.

School buses are learning their new routes (they practiced last week, but it always seems like it has kinks when there are actual pickups). Kids are doing lots of dumb things getting to and waiting for the buses (playing grab ass, and squirting into the street). And the helicopter parents who much drop little johnny off at school are kamikaze dive bombing, running red lights, blocking intersections, and cutting across 3 lanes of traffic to get 3 cars earlier in the queue.

This means it takes me about twice as long to drive in, and much head shaking behind the wheel (forget about cycling in this week, too dangerous).

But it will pass.

Oh, come on now… (hot and humid edition)

I don’t mind the heat here in Phoenix. Yep it is hot, often getting well above 110F, and the sun is punishing when it does. It doesn’t stop me from exercising, but I do adapt, and adjust my routine to remain safe.

But what is killing me is the humidity that has settled in. It has been as high as 60% RH. Couple that with 105F, and it is brutal. None of the usual “It’s a dry heat” cuts it. It is hot, humid and miserable out there.

Alas, the humidity comes up in the summer here as the monsoon patterns develop over southern Arizona. But, when I lived in Tucson, that meant pretty consistent rains, which contrary to popular belief, pulls the moisture out of the air, and makes for it being rather pleasant.

Here in Chandler, we get the humidity and cloud build up, but not so much rain. So the humidity just hangs in the air, making us miserable, and not actively cooling us down at all.

Ugh.