Think of it: 418 people were injured and/or killed in the Yuba-Sutter area in a span of just one year (Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018) because of one or more of just three of the causes of traffic accidents: traveling at an unsafe speed; improper turning; and driving on the wrong side of the road (including passing over a double-yellow line).

Since the start of my career included taking pictures of accidents, some of them terrible, I’ve tended to drive slower than many and have tried always to be careful. Doesn’t mean I haven’t over the last half century been gifted with a ticket or two and a couple warnings for driving a little too fast and maybe rolling through, more than stopping, at a stop sign. I’m just saying I’m fairly conservative, and when you go slower than most everyone, you have time to see some scary stuff.

I can believe those statistics, courtesy of the California Highway Patrol, are true.

I drive east of Marysville to one of a few different hiking venues every week. It’s a short drive, but it’s surprising how much traffic there sometimes is. And it’s surprising how many people take incredible risks. No one goes the speed limit. No surprise, but some are really pushing it. And sometimes they’re passing you regardless of the yellow lines, like they have a death wish (for you more than themselves).

Sometimes it’s easier to pull over whenever there’s a handy turnout and let the hotrods go safely by. I’m not trying to be uppity and snarky; it’s just that you’ve got to be careful out there. And the latest CHP information proves that up -- 418 injured and/or killed in one year in our two counties.

If injury and/or death isn’t enough of a disincentive to engage in risky highway driving, keep in mind that CHP is in the midst of a safety campaign, now through late next year -- extra patrolling in problem areas. One more reason to be careful out there.

**

Thumbs Down: There’s an easy way to keep your car clean, it seems: throw all the trash out the window. But it’s not an easy way to keep our environs looking respectable.

Caltrans reported this past week that they’re trying to reinvigorate their highway cleanup program. It’s one of the things that was shut down for a spell because of the pandemic. And the garbage has been building up.

If you want to be one of the good people, consider volunteering to help -- go online to dot.ca.gov and do a topic search for “Adopt-a-Highway.” Or, prevent the problem by throwing your garbage in a garbage can.

**

Thumbs Up: The Lost Angeles-based artist Shane Grammer’ work creating a large outdoor mural in memory of Natalie Corona looks fantastic.

The painting of the Arbuckle native and Davis Police officer slain in 2019 graces a side of the Alsco-Geyer Ace Hardware store. It’s her face, a thin-blue-line flag, and an array of sunflowers. A fitting memorial.

**

Thumbs Down: It was a hellish summer: the pandemic, the heat, the smoke. Seems like we were hardly outside at all for a couple months.

Now ... even on windy days, it seems pleasant outside. The air might not be pristine, but it doesn’t stink and you can see for miles and there are birds singing.

If we could just get by the fire weather days and the power shutoffs, we’d be doing great. We keep looking at weather apps and sites ... it will be cooler, but there are nothing but little smiling sun icons far into the future. 

Think of that: we live in a place where you can get tired of sunshine.

**

Ugh: Random thoughts from an old friend:

“When you do squats, are your knees supposed to sound like a goat chewing on an aluminum can stuffed with celery?”

“I don’t mean to interrupt people. I just randomly remember things and get really excited.”

“When I ask for directions, please don’t use words like ‘east.’

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