REFLECTIONS – Updated every Wednesday

by Steve Liddick

We are becoming a nation of addicts. I don’t mean drugs, although that is another problem to discuss at another time. No, we are becoming addicted to our smart phones.

You see it all the time; mostly young people walking down the street talking or texting on their iphones, seemingly unaware of the world around them. I have seen people walk into lamp posts, parking meters, and even into other people. Occasionally you see couples in restaurants or two people walking side by side, talking on their phones, not conscious of the actual human next to them. You have to wonder who they are talking to. Possibly to each other, but they apparently don’t know how to relate in the old-fashioned face-to-face mode.

I went to a county fair once and saw a young woman sitting on her horse, completely oblivious to her surroundings and–I’m not making this up–she was texting. It was as though the horse was not even there, just a convenient place to sit. At the very least she might have taken her weight off the poor animal and found a conventional chair to sit on to do her texting.

More and more car crashes these days involve drivers who were texting instead of paying attention to the road ahead of them. Texting while driving is at least as dangerous as driving drunk.

I own an iphone, of course. It would be un-American not to. I’m not addicted to it, though. I only use it for phone calls, email, messaging friends, connecting to the Internet, reading my Kindle books, checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, monitoring my checking account, watching TV shows and movies on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Crackle, taking pictures, checking Craigslist, ordering items through Amazon, and as a calculator. I don’t wear a watch anymore, so I use the phone’s clock and alarm features to give me the time and to remind me when to walk the dog, water the outdoor plants, take my pills, and carry the trash down to the road for weekly pickup.

But I it’s not like I’m addicted or anything—like today’s young people.

Comments are invited





by Steve Liddick

Ever notice how many different makes and styles of vehicles there are on our American roads and highways? If you go to Spain, you will see an ocean of Siat (SEE-at) model cars in subdued colors and not much else. Siat is the Spanish version of the Fiat. You may occasionally see a BMW or even an upscale American car. However, if anything but a Siat breaks down in Spain it is going to be a long wait to get the part to fix it.

In this country we have lots of choices of makes, models, colors, and configurations. It’s common to see a pickup truck with a noisy muffler and a body that is raised high above its oversized mud-grip tires. Most often the driver is male, in his mid-twenties to mid-thirties, has at least one tattoo, is a smoker, plays the radio loudly, and has rude and/or obscene bumper stickers on the back. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a large caliber weapon on board. Probably calls his wife “the old lady.”

I remember when one of those loud, extra large pickup trucks roared up next to me at a traffic light. I craned my neck and looked up at the driver to see that it was a geeky little guy with glasses who must surely have been sitting on a kiddy seat so he could see out over the steering wheel. When he was in that truck he was as big as any man.

Crude skyscraper pickup truck drivers are not the only ones making a statement with their vehicles. We all do to an extent. Fire engine red and school bus yellow cars surely are saying something, although I’m not clear what that is. I could speculate that vivid red car drivers have a serious “Look at me” need and yellow car drivers may be advertising superior intellect.

There are a few Humvees still around, despite the high cost of gasoline. I interpret that as a driver wanting to project a military image whether or not he has ever served in the armed forces. All he needs is a macho military-like vehicle that gets eight miles to the gallon. He can be a hero and never leave his driveway.

Some vehicles are designed to dominate. They’re the ones who come up dangerously close behind you on the freeway even though there is plenty of room to pass in another lane. They’ll follow for a couple of miles, then whip out around you, nearly clip the front end of your car getting back in the lane they just left and drive at the same speed in front of you they were driving when they were behind you.

Then there are the cars that scream, “I’m rich!” They’re the luxury car drivers who avoid the parking lot the rest of us have to use and park right in front of the supermarket to run inside for a few things. The privileged few. Their colors are rarely anything but black or grey, although they don’t call them that. Rather they are “Parisian Ebony” or “Arctic Charcoal.” I really shouldn’t make too much of that since I once owned a Prius whose color was advertised as “Driftwood Pearl.” We just called it “gold-ish” so people wouldn’t think we were putting on airs.

My personal preference in a vehicle is one that starts every time, requires little maintenance, gets decent gas mileage, and transports me reliably and uneventfully from one place to another. I care little about what it looks like and only a little more about what it sounds like because I truly believe that my right to drive a noisy car ends at your ears.

Now, having said all of that I have to confess that at one time or another in my life I have been one of everybody I complain about now, in my decrepitude. I had cars with loud mufflers, loud radios, loud colors, and believed with all my heart that offending people was my God-given right as a red-blooded American teenager.

Now that I’m old and perfect I complain about people who are just like I used to be.

Steve Liddick

A share would be appreciated

Books by Steve Liddick:

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”



by Steve Liddick

When the county planning commission held a hearing to listen to any objections to the creation of a cemetery adjacent to our acreage, we attended. For years before that, cattle grazed next door. We often reached across the fence between us to scratch a Brahma bull on the forehead. I enjoyed the experience and I assume the bull did, too.

But we knew that when planning commissions meet to hear objections from neighbors about anything, the fix is already in. The decision has already been made. The hearing is being held so they can say they held a hearing.

It was approved, of course.

We figured, how much trouble can a cemetery be? Dead people are well known for being a quiet lot.

Little did we know.

We forgot about visitors, lawn maintenance people, grave-digging machinery, dumpster pickup and delivery trucks, electric water pumps, noisy mufflers, and mourners who bring their loud children with them. In the nearly ten years since the cemetery started there has been a constant din coming across the fence between us.

The live-in maintenance man has a car alarm that goes off day or night. I ask you, why does a car alarm have to be so sensitive? Also, why do you have to set your car alarm in a—for pete sake—cemetery? Who’s gonna steal it? In all these years I have never seen a single zombie car thief.

Just our luck, the master bedroom in our house is at the cemetery end.

Our winds here typically blow from the south. The cemetery is south of us. Wind-blown debris from graves routinely finds its way onto our property; plastic flowers, balloons, flower wrapping papers, and wrappers from candy and fast food items that people—for reasons that baffle me—bring with them.

If the star of the funeral is a person of status, it is not uncommon for hundreds of people to show up to mourn—or to be sure he’s dead. They bring their cars with them, of course, and many of them park those cars along both sides of the busy narrow road bordering our land, blocking through traffic. Many of those cars are parked in front of our mailbox and between the “No Parking Between Signs” signs. On two occasions, cars were parked right in our lane, which is clearly a lane.

We have nearly a thousand neighbors next door to us who never make a sound. But those they left behind sure are a noisy bunch.

It would do no good to complain because, unlike cities, there are no county noise regulations and I know of nowhere that rudeness is against the law, although it should be.

When I’m King things are really going to be different around here.

Please share with your friends.


Books by Steve Liddick:

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”