Firstly, we apparently had a 4.5 earthquake hit about 14 miles northwest of Seattle (at a depth of 36 miles) at 5:25 this morning. It's due to the pacific plate pushing under the plate that we sit on here in the Pacific Northwest. The same zone that caused the 2001 Nisqually quake.
And we slept through it.
Honestly, between a gal who loves sleep more than food and her man who grew up in California, it takes more than a measly 4.5 quake to wake us up. I am very glad no serious damage occurred, and thus far we are not aware of any injuries or fatalities.
There is a local news article here.
And, can I just say, I love the word "megathrust".
The original purpose for today's post was going to be addressing what I see as an escalating problem with drivers in this city. Some of the most basic driving etiquette is being tossed aside like a hand towel after someone's megathrust. It's enough to make a big Scotsman want to punch traffic in the face.
There are two main points I would like to make -- two pet peeves I have with Seattle drivers. No, wait. THREE main points. And a few little overall pointers. They are as follows:
1. Hang up and drive. Seriously. It's 2009 and there are a wide variety of hands-free options for your mobile phone. Wired headsets, Uhura-esque Bluetooth earpieces, or the good old-fashioned speakerphone option. There is no reason anyone should be holding a handset to his or her ear while driving a motor vehicle. And besides, it's illegal.
2. Roundabouts. They're all over the UK, and Seattle has them in great quantity as well. But it seems nobody here knows how they work. So here's a primer: The flow of traffic in our country is to the right. It's the side we chose when it came time to pave our dirt roads and paint lines on them. So, when you approach a roundabout (also called a "circus" in England -- and I would like to say I was very disappointed to find a shocking lack of elephants and acrobats in them), you follow the curve around to the right. If you are making a left turn at the intersection, you still drive around the roundabout until you hit your street -- you do NOT cut left in front of the roundabout.
This also must be said of roundabouts: when you are driving around one, cars coming in from your right must yield left, however it's not the Indianapolis 500, nor is it the chariot race from Ben Hur. You don't need to stop for them, but slow down and be courteous if they decide there's enough of a gap to enter.
Here's a handy video produced by the WDOT. Let's all listen to what Commander Dusty Pierpoint of the Lacey Police Department has to say...
3. Left turns at lights. From the moment I first attended driver's education class in high school (a required unit in California, I might add), we were taught that when we found ourselves making a left turn at a green light, but had no arrow, we were to move halfway into the intersection. That way, if oncoming traffic was particularly heavy and the light turned red, at least one car got to make a left turn per light. It's safe, simple and keeps traffic moving. But all too often I find myself behind a meek or oblivious driver who sits at the line and waits through more than one light change. And that is frustrating as hell.
Overcaution is just as likely to cause an accident as overaggressive driving. When you are merging onto the freeway, accelerate into traffic -- don't stop on the ramp with cars backed up behind you. Assert yourself politely -- you do not need to megathrust into traffic (okay, that one was reaching, but I just had to figure out a way to use megathrust again). Use your indicators. If the sun is not visible (and that's quite a bit of the time in Seattle), turn on your headlights -- not to help you see, but to help others see YOU. And wave when someone lets you in or does you some other courtesy.
It's so simple, but so few of us actually do it. Maybe we could use a refresher. Note that Jimmy Stewart is narrating. Also, the first kid shown driving the little trainer is the spitting image of my dad at that age. Crazy.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I think I can remove the rocket launcher from my car now.