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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I am carfree again

    I have been 50 per cent owner and only driver of a Chevy Prizm that I inherited when my dad died about 2 months ago. Today I sold the car and I am free at last!

    I must admit that there were many things I enjoyed about the car. But after serious thought, I decided that on balance I'm happier without it.

    I do admire people who can sustain a car light existence. I just don't have much will power (or else I'm lazy), and I almost always drove places I easily could have ridden to.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  2. #2
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    I am car-light. My wife has a car, and I occasionally ask her to drive me places, but I very rarely drive the car myself. I often ask myself if we didn't have the car, how often I would be feeling the need for the car. This thought hit me today since today was one of those days where I bribed my wife to give me a ride - I bought her lunch in exchange for her chauffeuring me to/from a dr. appt. The Dr is 20 mins away by car, but almost 2 hours by public transit, or an hour and a half by bicycle. Since my appointment was in the middle of the day, and I didn't want to take too much time off work, the car seemed like a reasonable alternative. Had I not had access to the car what would I have done? - take a half day off work, rent a car, take a cab?

  3. #3
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Roody, your stint as a cager didn't last very long. Sounds like you really didn't need a car...

    Probably also the case for many car light folks. Our family car hasn't been driven by me in a while. My son mostly uses it.... but I somehow feel I am just supporting his addiction.

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    A month short of 6 years since the last car went bye-bye, and the only times I miss it are during the winter, when there's a school program for the kids. Sister's hubby has, in the past, come through on that, though.

    Deep snow and ice are the only things that make me pause about doing ANYthing on the bike; glad you've 'cut anchor', roody.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    My son mostly uses it.... but I somehow feel I am just supporting his addiction.
    Enabler!
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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    Once you have the car, it almost always gets used. The shopping and lifestyle that come with it are unavoidable in the end. It's an addiction that makes life easier, maybe too easy.

  8. #8
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    Good to hear you have your own personal monkey off of your back.

    Reading some of the posts in these forums it seems like we as a group have decided that humans simply do not have free will, not something I agree with by the way. Just because the car is there dosn't make the car the problem and more than just because someone down the street is willing to share their marijuna with you makes you have to smoke it. But ease of use does indicate why cars are so popular. It should also indicate that there never will be a time when a majority of people will give up self powered vehicles for walking or cycling it there is any possible alternative.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Good to hear you have your own personal monkey off of your back.

    Reading some of the posts in these forums it seems like we as a group have decided that humans simply do not have free will, not something I agree with by the way. Just because the car is there dosn't make the car the problem and more than just because someone down the street is willing to share their marijuna with you makes you have to smoke it. But ease of use does indicate why cars are so popular. It should also indicate that there never will be a time when a majority of people will give up self powered vehicles for walking or cycling it there is any possible alternative.
    Man ain't this the truth.
    I did notice than during the time when gas was hovering around 4.00 a gallon that people drove quite a bit less, and the scooter industry was in an unheard of boom in this country. But now that it's back to 2.60 cents a gallon its back to the same old thing, cars everywhere and rarely see a scooter anymore. The only people I see on bikes around here are recreational riders, there were a few commuters during the gas spike, one even on an electrically assisted bike, but not now.

    Allen

  10. #10
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Good to hear you have your own personal monkey off of your back.

    Reading some of the posts in these forums it seems like we as a group have decided that humans simply do not have free will, not something I agree with by the way. Just because the car is there dosn't make the car the problem and more than just because someone down the street is willing to share their marijuna with you makes you have to smoke it. But ease of use does indicate why cars are so popular. It should also indicate that there never will be a time when a majority of people will give up self powered vehicles for walking or cycling it there is any possible alternative.
    True, but this is also because our towns, and even our stores and offices, are designed to be convenient by car, and inconvenient by other means. For example, when I had the car I drove 10 miles to a suburban branch of the library because it had free parking close to the door, and it was reached by busy higher speed streets that are good for cars but bad for bikes. Without the car, I ride my bike 2 miles to the downtown library, which has parking at meters and is reached by narrow streets that are good for bikes but not so good for cars.

    It's similar with my credit union. When I had a car, I went to the fancy new branch near the freeway that has bad bike access and no bus service. (It also has a drive-thru window.) Without a car, I go to a downtown branch--further away, but bike- and bus-friendly, and no free parking or drive-thru.

    I'm not sure what my point is, or how it relates to your interesting comment about free will. (Maybe somebody else can make the point better than I can.) But I'm thinking something along the lines that facilities are designed to be more convenient for cars, because it's assumed that's what people want. After a while, it gets to the point that everything is convenient for cars, and people no longer have a free choice about whether or not they should have a car.


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  11. #11
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    A month short of 6 years since the last car went bye-bye, and the only times I miss it are during the winter, when there's a school program for the kids. Sister's hubby has, in the past, come through on that, though.

    Deep snow and ice are the only things that make me pause about doing ANYthing on the bike; glad you've 'cut anchor', roody.
    I'm mostly glad too. One thing of "real value" that the car enabled was more frequent visits with my son and his family. They live about 30 miles away and are car-light themselves. I loved being able to jump in the car and see them 2 or 3 times a week, instead of waiting until they were able to come into the city to visit me.

    I really got to enjoy taking my 11 year old grandson on rides in the car to get ice cream in their quaint little town. But they're coming to town this wekend, bringing the kid's bike in the van. We'll try our first bike ride together--probably out to get some ice cream.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  12. #12
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    Well, I'm not car free--yet (I hope).
    But congratulations, Roody.
    I do think the previous post about the convenient or inconvenient layout of cities had an interesting point: While we do have free will, our physical surroundings have a big influence on how easy it is to use the free will in one way or another. A better set up city can encourage us to do better things which we would otherwise not do or find very difficult.
    Of course, our character has a great effect as well. For the alcoholic, the only way to avoid abusing alcohol is to not have it in reach (just like I removed all the strategy games that I was wasting time with when I re-installed Slackware recently). For many other people, having these things around is less of a temptation. And the more you bicycle, the easier it becomes to bicycle more and drive less.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by storckm View Post
    Well, I'm not car free--yet (I hope).
    But congratulations, Roody.
    I do think the previous post about the convenient or inconvenient layout of cities had an interesting point: While we do have free will, our physical surroundings have a big influence on how easy it is to use the free will in one way or another. A better set up city can encourage us to do better things which we would otherwise not do or find very difficult.
    Of course, our character has a great effect as well. For the alcoholic, the only way to avoid abusing alcohol is to not have it in reach (just like I removed all the strategy games that I was wasting time with when I re-installed Slackware recently). For many other people, having these things around is less of a temptation. And the more you bicycle, the easier it becomes to bicycle more and drive less.
    Thanks, I think you're coming close to what I'm trying to say about how our environment shapes us, often in ways that are hard to wee or understand. I still want to understand this better than I do.

    Your comment on addiction also makes sense. I am an alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in almost 30 years, I also had addiction issues with drugs, food, and especially cigarettes. So I guess it isn't that surprising that I could get addicted to driving also.

    If you think about the environment shaping what we do, and being controlled by our addictions, it makes you wonder how big a deal Free Will really is!


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  14. #14
    Senior Member Sundance89's Avatar
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    Congrats on making a bold decision to ensure your commitment to a cycling lifestyle. Personally, I have been extremely car light... actually Jeep light. When a vehicle only gets 13 mpg, I don't need discipline to stay away from it, I'm happy to.

    The Jeep is heavily modified for camping expeditions and I have a little teardrop trailer that I tow with it to go camping. If it didn't serve this purpose and wasn't long ago paid for, I would sell it. As it is, I haven't been on a real camping outing since last winter and struggle with owning it sometimes. I've thought of renting a vehicle whenever I wanted to tow, but do you know rental companies don't allow towing or have hitches with their vehicles? So in the garage the Jeep remains.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Thanks, I think you're coming close to what I'm trying to say about how our environment shapes us, often in ways that are hard to wee or understand. I still want to understand this better than I do.

    Your comment on addiction also makes sense. I am an alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in almost 30 years, I also had addiction issues with drugs, food, and especially cigarettes. So I guess it isn't that surprising that I could get addicted to driving also.

    If you think about the environment shaping what we do, and being controlled by our addictions, it makes you wonder how big a deal Free Will really is!
    But how did your enviromant change from having a car and not having one? Did you move, did the library move? Did the Credit Union move? No you could still have gone to the old ones but you and you alone decided to use the car. You had to make a personal choice and you decided to take the car. It didn't call to you any more than a TV show makes you watch it.

    Your enviromant didn't make you change a habit of riding that you have been advocating for so long. The very human trait of things being easier are the things we do made you do it. Think about it, if you would rather drive than ride a bike and you are a car free advocate what chance is there that the car buying public will ever rather ride a bike than ride in some form of self propelled vehicle? The majority will never see the need to make thigs harder on themselves so that the minority won't be tempted to make their traveling life easier.

    The only thing that changed in your life was you had access to a tool that you decided to use. In reality as long as mankind has an inventive mind they will invent an easier way to get around than riding a bike. As long as there is an easier way the majority will pick that way.

  16. #16
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Interesting thoughts and experiences.

    I just got home from a short week in Boston visiting my son. AFAIAC driving in Boston SUCKS. We were staying out on the North Shore. Which is roughly 8-9 miles by roadway from the center of Boston. We drove in once the whole time we were there, the rest of the time we used the mass transit system and/or walked. I also visited friends that lived in Brookline which is roughly 15 miles from where we were staying. In all cases the car would normally be the faster method of getting where we were going, however once you got there you have to find and pay for parking. In many cases parking is $35 for a day, I did see some as high as $14 an hour. Most of the things in the city proper are set up for pedestrian rather than automotive access, as you get further out it becomes more car centric.

    My son has lived up there up there for couple of years and still remains car free. He doesn't really need a bike, but wants one for exercise and for covering the longer distances from mass transit on days it runs slow.

    My observations: You can get there by walking and mass transit, but it takes planning and a bit of schedule flexibility. Mass transit is not as quick as a car in many cases, but if there is an accident or traffic jam, mass transit quite often becomes faster. Mass transit is inconsistent on access to all areas of the city. Bicycle infrastructure is poor, but improving daily. The MBTA is working towards getting people to use the transit, especially from the outlying area. The Northshore area is their current focus area, they are building a parking garage at their northernmost T line station that will offer free parking to monthly pass holders.

    One major advantage to me on using mass transit was the ability to get on and off at will to see the things that I wanted to see, without having to return to a central location and retrieve a car. As example: I rode out to visit my friend in Brookline, then rode part way back in, switched lines, rode out and met my son so we could tour the Sam Adams brewery. We completed that tour, then rode back out to meet my wife on the Northshore for dinner. Again, took a bit of planning and knowing what trains to use but we never had to wait more than a few minutes for the next train to come in.

    It would have been impossible to do any of the above in the area I currently live due to lack of mass transit. The longest distance I covered in Boston by mass transit was probably about 20 miles. Where I currently live that would be a trip from the north side near where I live to the center of the town.

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  17. #17
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    Interesting thoughts, Roody, Robert Foster, and wahoonc.

    I do think that free choice has a role to play, and often, recognizing how influenced we are by our surroundings and our habits, it plays its role by shaping the environment to make things easier--hopefully to make it easier to do better things and harder to do worse things: With television, for example, I could, I think, have one around and watch it only occasionally, but I don't have one, because I don't think my children would be able to resist the temptation of constant television. (And besides, since I don't want to watch one, what's the point of having one?) It's not that I want them never to watch television--they have friends, after all. I want them to get to the point where they are reasonable enough to think about television, without having the bad habit of watching it all the time, since this sort of habit would make it hard for them ever to get to the point where they could really understand and freely and intelligently choose.

    (Habit isn't the perfect word, but I don't want to get too technical here.)

    But the whole thing about the influence of environment means that what is easier depends on where you are, at least to some extent. If you need to go a quarter mile, walking is by far the easiest way. For a trip of ten miles, driving is easier, if there's a paved road. Over rough country, I would guess that a horse is easier than driving or bicycling. If there are cliffs and large rocks involved, climbing might be the easiest way. So the thing to do, it seems to me, is to arrange our surroundings so that what is better, at least as far as we can determine, is also easier. And when you do things that are better--this is really general, but anyway--then doing these things becomes easier, and we're better able to judge what actually is the best way to do a thing. The more I bike, the easier it is to go long distances, and the better I become at judging how to ride safely, pick a good route, etc.

    Not that it ever becomes really easy to hop on your bike when you're tired, and it's really hot or cold, and you have to carry a bunch of weight. A hard choice, but less hard, the more often you make it.

    For me, having my parents fifteen miles away makes it harder. I did ride there with my daughter on the tandem once, but I don't see the whole family making the trip for a long time. They'd come and see us, so maybe it doesn't really matter.

  18. #18
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    The only thing that changed in your life was you had access to a tool that you decided to use. In reality as long as mankind has an inventive mind they will invent an easier way to get around than riding a bike. As long as there is an easier way the majority will pick that way.
    I'm sure some of it was novelty factor rather than easier factor. After not having access to a personal car for many years it becomes something new and different to try out. Wondering if you are missing on out something by not going to these bike-unfriendly locations. I wonder if Roody had the car longer how his schedule would have settled in - would he have gone back to picking the car-inconvenient locations?

    When I lived in Toronto the bike IMO was the easiest way of getting around! No parking hassles, getting stuck in traffic jams, getting to park right by the door, for 5-10 km trips usually faster than driving, and no waiting around for public transit on mysterious schedules. Still it seemed the majority of the populace was picking the harder way, either transit or driving.

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    But how did your enviromant change from having a car and not having one? Did you move, did the library move? Did the Credit Union move? No you could still have gone to the old ones but you and you alone decided to use the car. You had to make a personal choice and you decided to take the car. It didn't call to you any more than a TV show makes you watch it.

    Your enviromant didn't make you change a habit of riding that you have been advocating for so long. The very human trait of things being easier are the things we do made you do it. Think about it, if you would rather drive than ride a bike and you are a car free advocate what chance is there that the car buying public will ever rather ride a bike than ride in some form of self propelled vehicle? The majority will never see the need to make thigs harder on themselves so that the minority won't be tempted to make their traveling life easier.

    The only thing that changed in your life was you had access to a tool that you decided to use. In reality as long as mankind has an inventive mind they will invent an easier way to get around than riding a bike. As long as there is an easier way the majority will pick that way.
    But it isn't only having access to the tool (car) that changes your life. It's also having access to an entire system, of which the car is only one part.

    That system includes the high speed roads, free parking, parking spaces close to the destination, drive-thru commercial establishments, traffic signals that favor motor traffic, a whole separate set of laws and regulations governing them, roadside assistance plans, comprehensive auto insurance--and probably a hundred other components. Together, these components create a cheap, convenient and comfortable transportation system for the individual motorist.

    Very few of those components are in place to create a comparably cheap, convenient and comfortable transportation system for non-motorists.


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  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by storckm View Post
    Interesting thoughts, Roody, Robert Foster, and wahoonc.

    I do think that free choice has a role to play, and often, recognizing how influenced we are by our surroundings and our habits, it plays its role by shaping the environment to make things easier--hopefully to make it easier to do better things and harder to do worse things: With television, for example, I could, I think, have one around and watch it only occasionally, but I don't have one, because I don't think my children would be able to resist the temptation of constant television. (And besides, since I don't want to watch one, what's the point of having one?) It's not that I want them never to watch television--they have friends, after all. I want them to get to the point where they are reasonable enough to think about television, without having the bad habit of watching it all the time, since this sort of habit would make it hard for them ever to get to the point where they could really understand and freely and intelligently choose.

    (Habit isn't the perfect word, but I don't want to get too technical here.)

    But the whole thing about the influence of environment means that what is easier depends on where you are, at least to some extent. If you need to go a quarter mile, walking is by far the easiest way. For a trip of ten miles, driving is easier, if there's a paved road. Over rough country, I would guess that a horse is easier than driving or bicycling. If there are cliffs and large rocks involved, climbing might be the easiest way. So the thing to do, it seems to me, is to arrange our surroundings so that what is better, at least as far as we can determine, is also easier. And when you do things that are better--this is really general, but anyway--then doing these things becomes easier, and we're better able to judge what actually is the best way to do a thing. The more I bike, the easier it is to go long distances, and the better I become at judging how to ride safely, pick a good route, etc.

    Not that it ever becomes really easy to hop on your bike when you're tired, and it's really hot or cold, and you have to carry a bunch of weight. A hard choice, but less hard, the more often you make it.

    For me, having my parents fifteen miles away makes it harder. I did ride there with my daughter on the tandem once, but I don't see the whole family making the trip for a long time. They'd come and see us, so maybe it doesn't really matter.
    Thanks, in many ways this is what I was trying to say in my last post--wish I had read this first before responding to Robert!

    • Cliffs and boulders form a system that makes climbing the best mode of travel.
    • Two docks with water between them form a system that calls for boat travel.
    • Paved roads, cheap gas, and long distances are a system that make cars the best mode.
    • Paved roads (with not too many cars), expensive gas, and medium distances are a system that make bikes best for travel.

    Change the system, and people will freely choose a different mode of travel.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  21. #21
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Change the system, and people will freely choose a different mode of travel.
    Quote Originally Posted by crazybikerchick View Post
    Still it seemed the majority of the populace was picking the harder way, either transit or driving.
    Roody, you are too optimistic here. There is absolutely no indication that people will freely choose the most appropriate mode of travel. As crazybikerchick points out, often the quickest mode of travel is the bicycle; at other times, it may be transit... however people voluntarily decide to sit in their cars and wait.

    I've use this analogy here before -- because it is such a stark reminder. In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond, we are reminded how the Vikings of Greenland were unable to adapt to changing conditions in climate and food supply. Their neighbors the Inuit were using more lightweight, but appropriate, technology to catch and eat fish and whales. The Viking population did not eat fish; there is also no evidence from their garbage that they even tried. (Note: the did die out too...)

    Before you can adopt a new technology, you need to be alert enough to see it as a better thing.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Roody, you are too optimistic here. There is absolutely no indication that people will freely choose the most appropriate mode of travel. As crazybikerchick points out, often the quickest mode of travel is the bicycle; at other times, it may be transit... however people voluntarily decide to sit in their cars and wait.
    Understand I am in no way degrading Roody for his choices. But I think we often misuse the term "appropiate" mode of travel. That is a different subject however. Cars were developed to meet a need and they were accepted because they filled that need more appropiatly than any other form of transportation at the time. Mass transit was developed and worked for a while but it also took away from the individual's ability to make their own time. It restricted people and tried to funnel people into a system that was more approaite for the mass transit services not for the consumer. But it was the need to be free from the restrictions of someone elses time schedual that made the private vehicle so popular. People had the choice of taking public transportation but freely decided to get their own car, for whatever reason. It was only "after" cars became the main form of transportation for the masses. It wasn't the car it was the need that motivated the development of the car. Bicycles had their chance and were not able to fill the need for the majority.

    Roody's experiment should prove a point. He is a advocate for LCF and has access to a library and credit union well within biking or walking distance and yet decided that driving was easier or something that caused him to go to a different credit union or a differnt library. They car had nothing to do with it free will had everything to do with it. If it is easier for the individual it is the most approate mode of transportation for that individual. We might not think so but to 90 percent of our population ease is the key factor.

  23. #23
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    Robert Foster, do you think it is as simple as the car fulfilling a need better than mass transit or other means? For one thing, auto companies bought and then destroyed the mass transit systems in more than one metropolis. This is the automobile industry destroying other options, rather than filling a need better. For another, interstates, extensive asphalt (although it can be efficient for bicycles as well), and some parking lots are payed for by governments. This is a subsidy for the automobile industry. If motorists didn't have that, the car wouldn't be terribly useful. And if they paid the true cost of motoring (especially if that included the environmental cost), the car wouldn't be so cheap to operate. And it seems to me that one of the often unnoticed costs of such subsidies and systems is the weakening of local communities, neighborliness, trust, etc. (although the car is hardly the only cause of these things' loss).

  24. #24
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Another factor opposed to free will is advertising/propaganda/brainwashing. More money is spent on advertisisng worldwide for cars than any any other product. There is also an overwhelming amount of free advertising that shows cars as glamorous and indispensable on movies, TV, and other media. It's no exxageration to say that people are bombarded in almost every waking hour with ads and features about automobiles.

    In comparison, almost no money is spent to persuade people that bikes or buses are glamorous or important. Most car people never make a conscious decision to base their transportation on cars. The idea that you can live without a car never even occurs to most people. Unless people have a clear picture of the options, you cannot say that they're making a free choice.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    After wasting nearly 3 hours of my life stuck in traffic due to accidents I am ready to quit driving and become a hermit! Is it a full moon or just Friday?

    Aaron
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