Don’t have a fender bender—just have a bender

My Fellow Inebriates,

It’s snowing here, which happens only once a year or so, and I can hear spinning tires in the distance. Nobody knows how to drive when snow hits Vancouver, or by extension Langley—even when sober, which you should all be if you’re behind the wheel.

I wish we didn’t have to drive at all! Commuting is totally stressing my dad out, and not in a good way—i.e., he’s fed up with traffic, boredom and gas expenses, but not stressed enough to bring home a case of beer every night. My dad seems destined to give himself an ulcer when he should be getting his buzz on instead, and I feel bad thinking of him dodging incompetent drivers on the road…so I thought I’d give him some reasons to give up driving:

  • It’s bad for breathing.
  • It’s bad financially.
  • It’s bad globally.
  • It’s bad for physical fitness.
  • It’s bad for the psyche.
  • You can’t drink if you’re driving—OMG.

Right? Let’s get out some wine, stow the car keys and pat ourselves on the back for not being behind the wheel.

What, my die-hard driving friends (who I know always get themselves safely home before shaking a martini)—you want reasons?

What’s that smell?

The biggest problem with driving is the contribution it makes to air pollution. Ground-level car exhaust is poisonous. Asthma is on the rise, as is the number of “indoor days” recommended when pollution hangs in the air and threatens those with respiratory vulnerabilities. Despite efforts to limit emissions, the number of cars has increased, as has the average vehicle size. Urban sprawl continues, making cars necessities where they once were optional.

What do we do? It’s pretty hypocritical for a housebound bear to tell you that you shouldn’t be driving. But I’m worried! Worried for my dad driving, and worried for my mum walking around with two kids who are just the right height to huff the most car exhaust possible. By the time they get to wine-tasting age their olfactory receptor cells will have burned off with their lung alveoli.

Traffic is out of hand.

It takes my dad 90 minutes to get to Vancouver from Langley (a suburb of Vancouver) during rush hour IF there aren’t any accidents holding up traffic. That’s three hours a day, 60 hours a month, 720 hours a year. By the time my dad hits retirement age he’ll have spent four YEARS navigating through gridlock. That time could have been spent on a bar stool.

Gas costs a fortune.

Without taking into consideration car insurance, maintenance and initial outlay, it’s crazily expensive to run a car. That commute of my dad’s?—$500 a month in gas alone. Need I say it? Five bottles of kick-ass single malt.

We are getting really soft.

Even if you don’t have a beanbag ass, it’s probably soft from driving. Here in the ‘burbs we drive everywhere, often crossing town several times a day chauffeuring kids. Too tired to play with their kids themselves, parents instead oversubscribe their kids to numerous activities, then rush around like maniacs, when they could sign the kids up for one thing and walk to it. Let’s face it, we sign them up for activities to tire them out, because we don’t want them up with us at 11:00pm. If we made them walk they’d get plenty tired.

Traffic could make us snap.

So we’re physically soft, but there are psychic costs to traffic as well. It’s depressing; it sucks our energy away, and it makes us feel powerless. The power of a car ironically robs us of our own locomotive power, ultimately making our cardiovascular/respiratory systems all the more vulnerable to the pollution the car generates. Moreover, traffic makes people feel freaking desperate. Un-kinking your muscles after you emerge from a cramped traffic odyssey requires a live-in masseuse and more vodka than my parents would ever contemplate buying.

Our climate is f#cked.

Yes, you can find plenty of freaks out there wagging their jaws about the jury being out on climate change. Fact is, there’s pretty much full scientific consensus. If you’re not a complete whackjob and/or fundamentalist conservative you probably have the brain cells to appreciate that climate change is a reality, and that we’ve already committed our grandchildren’s grandchildren to cleaning up our shit. Sadly, we don’t seem to be willing to give them a head start by investing in some solutions.

Okay, so I hate myself for lecturing, and I really apologize because the stern tone is rooted in sobriety—my personal seventh layer of hell and the impetus to rain on everybody’s four-wheeling parade. I know it’s hard to get away from driving. As a society we’re chained to our cars. But here’s the thing:

If you drive, you can’t drink. So driving really messes with your alcoholism, doesn’t it? It’s a good reason to eliminate it (driving). And it’s so much more fun to reel around on the bus with strangers than it is to get arrested in your car.

So what needs to happen to demote the car in society’s esteem?

What do you think?

A toast to intelligence

My Fellow Inebriates,

It’s a truism that the closer you live to a Walmart, the bigger your chances of running into whackjobs, or even turning into one yourself. There’s nothing I personally need from Walmart, but my parents sometimes go there because—you guessed it—it’s really nearby.

It’s hard not to look at people like this and wonder if they wrote that Letter to the Editor in my local rag asserting that buses convey disease along with people, and that we are being “misled with ideology to buy into the global warming and climate change doctrine to convince us that in order to save the planet, public transit is necessary and we should give up our independent freedom wheels.” Whoa!

I bet it was this guy!

Or maybe this guy here!

Because, OMG, this is some weirdo thinking.

Source: National Geographic

Perhaps I should back up a bit. I do have a bit of a bias here, because I don’t drive. I’m only seven inches tall, and I’m always gooned. And then there’s the fact that I’m a bear, and the authorities don’t issue bears licenses. But the way I see it, if nobody drove, we could all be gooned all day.

As utopic as that sounds, I have to break it to Roland, the nutbar writer of the letter mentioned, that there’s pretty much full scientific consensus on global warming. And despite the gabblings of a few very vocal deniers, educated authorities assert with graphic evidence that we are losing ice, the sea level is rising, and that this whole thing is anthropogenic. Anthropogenic, people! That means: caused by people like f#cktard Roland, driving his hermetically sealed Dodge around Langley, visiting Walmart with his thong hanging out.

Let’s raise a toast to intelligence.

NARAMATA NUT BROWN ALE (Cannery Brewing Company)

My Fellow Inebriates,

I find the news baffling, local news most of all. In my local rag: the story of a 42-year-old woman who, after driving four blocks from Boston Pizza to Montana’s Cookhouse without de-icing her windshield and as a result hit THREE pedestrians, dragging one woman behind her car. OMG.

I have several questions about this incident.

Rocket science

First of all: Was my mother the driver in question? She’s 42, she lives in Langley, she doesn’t possess an ice scraper OR a credit card, and she’s the type of woman who gets flustered by the garage door. Could it be…? I will have to ask her later.

Second, why was this woman driving from a pizza joint to a rib cookhouse? Again, this points to my mother.

Third, how did she make it four blocks with an opaque windshield? Does this deserve some credit for bravado? Or probably not, right? Just to be sure, I googled “driving blindfolded” and learned that in some circles it’s pretty cool. In fact, in the UK it is a team-building exercise. Wow! 

It’s really mild here so I don’t even know when my mum would have done this. Also, she’s still at home instead of in jail, but I read that they only fine you $109 for failing to de-ice your windshield, so maybe she just paid the fine.  None of the three (!) women she hit died; I think a couple of them just went to hospital.

But $109! Let’s break this down. The Cannery Collection I just acquired (two cans Anarchist Amber Ale, two cans Naramata Nut Brown Ale, and two cans IPA) cost $11.75 plus tax. For $109 we could have bought NINE of these six-packs. But apparently it’s more fun to plow your car into innocent pedestrians in some kind of middle-aged remote-viewing experiment.

But I have to be happy with what I’ve got. Last night I had the pleasure of sampling the NARAMATA NUT BROWN ALE. I was happy because the Cannery Brewing Company had advised starting with the AMBER ALE (check), then progressing to the NUT BROWN (check). The IPA awaits, but here are my impressions of the NUT BROWN ALE.

A darker pour than its amber counterpart, the NARAMATA NUT BROWN ALE exuded roasted nuts and chocolate, immediately demonstrating more complexity than the amber ale. Again I used a Reidel stemless glass, the better to catch its nutty characteristics. Immediately I sensed it was the more serious of Cannery’s offerings, which made my fur tingle.

The first sip was strong and hoppy, with a slight molasses accent, but not as much sweetness as I’ve encountered with other nut brown ales. As I drank, the ale continued to strike that same note—satisfying but somehow not developing  from top to bottom of the glass. The carbonation was moderate, crisp and punchy. This is a solid sipper—four-chord rather than symphonic, and just fine for uncomplicated enjoyment.

I would have enjoyed several more of these delicious beers, but unfortunately the money seems to have been earmarked for other things.

But at least not dumb-ass driving fines. My dad informed me that we have a Nissan, not a Kia like the one with the icy windshield. Yay, mum, I always believed in you.