Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | January 16, 2007

Grumpy observations while walking the dog

Every day for the two-plus months that he’s been a member of our family, rain or shine, fair weather or (more likely lately) frost, I’m up at six in the morning to take Sparky on a 20-minute walk.

These daily constitutionals have led me to the following grumpy observations:

• Adding daily exercise to my routine had better be doing a heck of a lot for my health, because it’s done nothing for my weight, which has not budged during the last two months.

Just like high-tech devices, which disappoint regularly – our DSL service has been down for the last several days, my “smart” phone intermittently and currently won’t synch with my desktop computer, our digital video recorder is having to-do list and wish list conniption fits, and my portable GPS unit crashes frequently – weight loss programs suck.

Considering I did exactly no regular exercise before acquiring the pooch, and that I’m still doing the occasional exercise I always did – like my recent chore of cutting back dormant raspberry, rose and butterfly bushes – the impact of a daily walk ought to b evident on my bathroom scales.

And, yes, I’m eating less.

But, just like the various high-tech devices in my life, the weight loss golden rule – eating less, exercising more guarantees melting pounds – is apparently an empty promise, at least for me.

• Overwatering your lawn is not just a waste of water, it’s a safety hazard.

Of course, wasting water is bad enough. I do not understand why anyone would use their automatic sprinkler systems in the winter. But when I’m walking the dog on dark, freezing cold mornings, it’s especially irritating to have to step off the sidewalk and into the street multiple times to avoid ice slicks created by runoff or overspray.

As I do, I try not to grumpily wonder about the people responsible for those homes: Are they too stupid or too lazy to turn off the sprinklers?

• Drivers pay shockingly little attention to piloting their one-and-a-half-ton vehicles.

(This realization makes those ice slicks that force me off the relative safety of the sidewalks and into the streets that much more irritating.)

I’ve made this observation after being nearly hit twice in the last two months while crossing the street with Sparky, despite crossing at corners bathed in light by street lamps.

In the first case, the driver nearly hit us when he rolled through a stop sign as we were making our way across the street in a marked crosswalk.

In the second case, the driver came to a complete stop then proceeded through the intersection – which we were halfway across when he approached the stop sign – and headed straight for us. He stopped just a foot or so from us after I screamed and jumped out of his path.

Either that driver has read my columns, recognized me despite the hat and scarf, disagreed vehemently with my position on some issue and wanted to give me a good scare; or he was on automatic pilot, making a subconscious assumption that because this intersection was empty every other time he approached it, the intersection would be empty every time and there was no need to pay attention and actually see what was there before he put the pedal to the metal.

If it was the former, mission accomplished.

However, I suspect it was the latter, as seems to be the case with at least some of the three pedestrian deaths in Gilroy late last year.

This time of year, it’s dark and the streets are fairly quiet at six in the morning. Instead of leading to careful, observant driving, the dark, quiet conditions seem to bring a sense of anonymity and impunity. Most drivers clearly don’t think, “Gee, a pedestrian might be crossing the street and I would have a hard time seeing them under these conditions, so I should drive slowly and with care.”

Rather, many drivers seem to think that because it’s so dark and quiet, odds are good that no cop is going to catch them rolling through stop signs or exceeding the speed limit by fifty percent on the residential, school-lined streets in my neighborhood. The possibility of injuring or killing someone doesn’t seem to enter their preoccupied minds.

Here’s hoping the scales will budge downward, technology will start keeping its promises, neighbors will figure out their sprinkler systems, or drivers will engage their brains when they engage their ignitions so my dog-walking observations will take a less grumpy turn.


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