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Houston is my home.  We are the fourth largest city in the good ol’ USA.  That means that there are a lot of people here.

New York leads the nation as the largest city with 8 million people buzzing around the Big Apple.  Los Angeles is second with a 4 million population.  Chicago is third with 3 million.  Houston takes the fourth largest census with 2.1 million people.

While our city is large in numbers it is also large in square miles.  Our numerous Houstonians are spread out over 8,774 square miles. That is a lot of real estate for a single metropolitan area.

My life is severely impacted by this massive concentration of humanity.  It is called traffic.  Cars crowd our roadways in huge numbers, people busily trying to get to their destination.

The night before I am mentally plotting my moves.  If I can avoid the rush hour I will do so.  That congestion danger zone starts just after 6 AM and continues until 9 AM.

Isn’t the solution simple? Go early.  Why not?

It’s not really too tough.  I shower in the dark, dress in the dark and then leave the house sleepy and visually limited.  Sure, I stumble here and there and mismatch my clothes however, people who know me assume that is normal not because I got to work early.

An early arrival gives me a chance to strategize my commute home.  This is a larger challenge than coming to work.  For some reason there are more cars going home than those who came to work on that same day.

Whining only makes the problem deepen.  Instead, I choose to accept the reality of the situation.  Several options are at my disposal.  Each one has come in handy.

First, there is my radio.  It has six presets on my satellite radio.  Each of those presets have several options on them as well.  Thirty-one choice of listening genre are at my fingertips.

Second, one of my favorite choices is the Bible on CD’s.  For as long as 45 minutes I listen to Scripture and meditate on its meaning in my life.  It’s tough to get grumpy with other drivers when you are listening to God’s Word.

Third, I have my cellphone.  Don’t worry, my vehicle is set up with Blue Tooth so I can talk hands free.  Everything can be done by voice command.  I am a mobile office taking advantage of the long commute.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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Fog has a way of diluting smiles.  Cheer is always challenged by the heavy humidity that fills the air.  Like a mind that is bewildered by a metaphorical cloud, the real thing is just as disorienting.

Massive clouds roll in off the Pacific Ocean and sit here over our part of the city.  From our house to the highway it is a steep climb that only thrusts us deeper into the limited visibility.  I can feel the delight of my heart beginning to drain away.

The good thing is that this inclement weather is not immediately dangerous, unless of course you have to drive through it.  Yes, Yvonne and I have to drive through it.  My truck can handle the fog fine, but it’s the other drivers that give me great concern.

My normal commute route climbs hundreds of feet in a short one mile to the highway intersection.  I’ve driven it enough times to feel confident that I know where I’m going.  But, I can’t see who’s coming from behind or what lies ahead.  That uncertainty is nerve-wracking.

I drop my speed from my normal good weather drive.  Now, I am straining to look through the cloud.  All of my senses are keenly dulled from years of over-use. 

My fog lights are on but I can’t tell except that the dashboard light indicates that they are.  They do not help in this thick atmospheric soup.  My speed is deliberately reduced.

Suddenly dim lights appear in my rearview mirror.  Whoever that nut case is they are driving too fast for the conditions.  In a matter of seconds she is tailgating me.

I slow down even more as I wade through the brackish cloud bank that has me firmly in its grip.  My tailgater is still hanging tight.  Again  I slow down for the signal light that is coming up on the highway.

Caution pays off.  The signal lights don’t come into view until you are right on them.  They are red and traffic is pouring through the intersection.

Once through the signal light our descent into the valley is rapid.  Almost instantly the visibility is restored.  We have dropped below the low hanging clouds.

My tailgater who used me as a personal guide is now free.  She picks up speed and passes me quickly.  I catch up with her at the next light.

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