By Chuck Mai, AAA
All the world may be a stage, but Shakespeare never had to share the road with the jesters and clowns you and I encounter every day.
Maybe we should give awards to these characters: “Worst Performance by a Driver on an Urban Highway,” “Most Blatant Display of Distracted Driving,” “Dubious Achievement in Visually Terrifying Effects” – that sort of thing.
My list of actors and actresses is a who’s who of road-worthless evil-doers:
• Lane-jumping Johnny. This is the guy who is determined to get there seven seconds before you do. To him, driving is a game to be won at all costs. Or, to be fair, maybe he’s a doctor rushing to an emergency at the hospital. At any rate, give Johnny a wide berth.
• Tail-gating Terry. What’s scary is that sometimes Terry’s not even aware he’s doing it. He just wants to get there so bad, he gobbles up every available square foot of real estate between you and him and constantly wants more. Pull over, let him have it.
• Left-lane Louie. This guy lays claim to the left lane (the “passing lane”) of a divided highway, whether he’s passing anybody or not. Sometimes I think Louie’s just asleep.
• Blind Spot Doggers. Here’s an interesting personality. There’s tons of unoccupied divided roadway in front of this joker yet he persists in driving a car length behind me, one lane over, right in my blind spot. I figure he has a fear of passing (doesn’t want to appear to be speeding) or perhaps driving in synchronicity with me affords him a certain degree of security. Or maybe, like Left-lane Louie, he’s just asleep.
• Cruise Control Connie. This driver seems loathe to switch off her cruise control on the highway, so it takes her seven minutes to overtake a vehicle going in the same direction. It’s like she has found that perfect cruise control setting – within the speed limit – and she’ll be darned if a lawbreaking speeder is going to make her have to reset it.
• Cell Phone Charlie. It’s as if Mr. Multi-tasker is so important, he has to yak on the phone while driving. Many women do this, too. And the teenagers who text-message while driving? Well, I am at a loss. Where are the parents? Who’s coaching these kids on the dangers of risky driving? Text-messaging requires that you look at the phone a lot. Glance up at traffic for a second, look down at your phone for three seconds. Glance up at traffic for a second, look down at your phone for three seconds. Glance up at traffic for a second, look down at your ph . . . crash! No wonder teens pay more than anybody else for car insurance.
Happy Holidays to all of our loyal readers. With Christmas just around the corner, I am sure there is a lot of anticipation from the children and some adults to regarding what outstanding gifts they will receive this year.
I must admit, me and my family love all the Christmas movies and programs that are on surrounding Santa Claus and his suspected trip delivering everyone’s gifts. These programs have raised a HUGE argument as to whether Santa is real or not.
I do a lot of charity work so I am able to speak to a variety of people in all age ranges. I decided to start taking a poll, especially from children, on their thoughts about Santa.
There were an amazing amount of children over the age of 10 that still believe in Santa Claus. I’ll be honest, I was a little shocked. I was under the assumption that not as many parents fed their children the whole Santa story around holiday season.
I was too scared to give my opinion because these children were so passionate about their thoughts and feelings towards the whole topic. They were at each other’s throats if their fellow mate didn’t agree with them; it was the cutest thing ever.
At the end of it all, after I calmed them down, it opened up room for us to share stories about what we wanted, what we were thankful for, and even things that we wanted “Santa” to help us with. It was a beautiful experience; but now I am eager to know, what do you tell your children about Santa Claus and the Christmas holiday?
Comments would be nice, but even if you just ponder on it, that would be awesome as well. Children have these enormous imaginations, and they hear and learn a lot from outside sources that are not their parents, so what conversations is everyone having with their children nowadays regarding Santa and the Christmas holiday?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year again to all of our loyal readers; have a Blessed one.
A recently released analysis found a 1.9 percent decrease in total fatalities since 2010, officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.
Any decrease is good new. Any drop is progress.
But the same analysis found some bad news. There was an 8.7 percent increase in cyclist fatalities and a 3 percent rise in pedestrian deaths in 2011. That is substantial.
“We are still concerned about the numbers of cyclists and pedestrians at risk on our roadways,” said Paul Oberhauser, Traffic Safety Coalition co-chairman. “As the holiday season approaches, we must obey basic traffic safety laws to ensure the safety of those inside and outside of a vehicle.”
The issue is personal to Oberhauser. His daughter, Sarah, was killed in 2002 when a driver ran a red light and crashed into her car.
The numbers in the report show a need for increased education relating to the shift in the types of transportation the public is now using, highway safety officials said. They say it is important to continue to keep overall traffic fatalities down and educate the public on driver distraction, red light running and speed in our intersections.
“The latest numbers show how the tireless work of our safety agencies and partners, coupled with significant advances in technology and continued public education, can really make a difference on our roadways,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a release from NHTSA.
“As we look to the future, it will be more important than ever to build on this progress by continuing to tackle head-on issues like seat belt use, drunk driving, and driver distraction.”
So, to keep roads safer for those traveling this season, the Traffic Safety Coalition is encouraging drivers to take its holiday pledge (http://www.trafficsafetycoalition.com/holidaypledge) to commit to safe driving behavior. The pledge reads:
“During this holiday season and every day throughout the year,
• I pledge to buckle up when driving and as a passenger.
• I pledge to obey traffic signals and always stop on red.
• I pledge to obey the speed limit.
• I pledge to never text and drive.
• I pledge to never drink and drive.”
The TSC works with more than 250 partners nationwide, including local chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Safe Kids USA and other local community organizations throughout the country.
It’s an effort we all can join.
I’ve always loved a good ghost story.
When I was a boy growing up, we would go on Scout camp outs, or have friends over and sleep out in the back yard under the summer stars. When I was older, we sometimes would have a camp out on vacation. And when I became a parent, we would do Scout camp outs (you’re never too old to be a Scout), or fishing trips.
But ghost stories always “livened” things up. Occasionally, what was supposed to be downright scary became downright funny.
On one Scout camp out (earlier version), a few of my fellow minicampers, armed with pocket knives for protection, sat around a fire at night and tried to outdo each other with the scariest story.
There were tales of headless spooks roaming the woods, bloody warriors looking for body parts lost in combat, drowning victims, hanged criminals and many others, whose mutilated forms were so aptly described by the storyteller that they best not be here.
Usually, the narrator would toss in a groan or moan for good measure. Sometimes, two or more would work together to add an element of surprise, such as tossing a stick or rock off in the distance when no one was looking to make a startling sound.
All in good scare; sometimes with funny results, especially if someone actually did react in terror.
I don’t scare easily these days. But I do still like a good story. That’s why reading what paranormal Tonya Hacker comes up with in her adventures catches my attention. As author of Paranormal Eyes, she details events and examines what has been reported to have occurred in and around Oklahoma, as well as elsewhere.
If you know of such an item, location, or sighting, she would love to know about it. Just give her a heads-up.
Read her Paranormal Eyes at KNOWIT/NEWSOK.COM/UNUSUAL-WEIRD-OKLAHOMA. And while you’re there, check out odd-but-true stories elsewhere in the country and around the world by clicking on the buttons directly below the title of the page.
There are parental controls and a number of settings that allow parents to monitor and/or prevent certain programs on TV from being accessible by their children, but does that really do the job?
Being a mom myself, and knowing the effect that society has on people in general, I am extra careful with what I allow my son to watch on TV. I actually just buy him DVDs now but even then, some of these cartoons are saying the craziest things.
Cartoon Network for instance; when I was growing up, staying up late watching Cartoon Network consisted of reruns of Scooby Doo or when it got too late, boring infomercials were on. Now they have Adult Swim, which totally takes away from the “cartoon kid friendly” network that this channel used to represent.
And then … The new millennium of “kid stars”. It almost seems as if one year this new very adorable kid is a new, hot character on your child’s favorite television show, and then the next year, they are in the tabloids for doing not so kiddy things. These shows are so popular however, that they still run on air which then gives children yet another wonderful role model to look up to.
Now, Family Guy is hilarious I get it, but it is obviously an adult cartoon but yet they sell the Family Guy merchandise in children’s clothes, toys, etc. Why would a child need to be affiliated with a cartoon like Family Guy?
As adults, we sit back and wonder why all the violence, why do we have so many kids disrespecting themselves, elders, property, life … The list goes on and on.
The moral is, look at what the new generation(s) are exposed to, have been exposed to, and will continue to be exposed to. We no longer have to worry about Internet, or friends of our kids, or what they will be exposed to outside of the home, because sometimes right on television in all of these cartoons, children learn everything that most parents would not want them to learn.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
Wake up to the facts about drowsy driving.
If you think its okay to keep driving after you start to feel sleepy, consider this: If you dozed off for just a few seconds on a highway, you could travel the length of a football field in an unconscious state at a speed above 60 mph – which could all combine to cause a fatal collision.
Despite the obvious dangers, 41 percent of American drivers surveyed in 2010 admitted to having fallen asleep or nodded off behind the wheel at some point in their lives. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Sleep Foundation are raising awareness about these dangers, especially with the holidays coming up and families tempted to drive way too many miles per day. Sleep experts say motorists should drive no more than 400 to 500 miles per day. After that, fatigue sets in, despite what you may think at the time, and you’re rolling the dice.
Follow these tips to stay alert and keep everyone safe:
—Get a good night’s sleep before you set out.
—Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination; instead of making good time, concentrate on making your time behind the wheel good.
—It’s much better to allow time to rest before you drive – or stop for rest along the way.
—Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
—Avoid alcohol. It impairs your driving ability, and even “just one” can cause drowsiness.
—Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh. Before leaving home, plan your stops to include interesting things to do, both for you and your passengers.
—If all else fails, find a safe place to pull over and take a 15-to 20-minute nap. Even that short a time to sleep can work wonders to refresh you. However, be cautious about excessive drowsiness after you wake up.
Bottom line: opening car windows, pinching yourself, turning up the car radio, stopping for a stretch – none of those things do any good. There is just no substitute for good old-fashioned sleep.
It almost makes a fellow feel cheap, but I’m sure it certainly is something to look at.
A longtime colleague called the other day to chit-chat for a bit. As we have done for years, we wanted to get caught up on what’s been happening in each other’s life, and with our families.
We also wanted to send each other best wishes for the holiday season.
He was telling me about his family and mentioned that his daughter, another veteran journalist, had been working on a feature story about people who make a living putting up Christmas lights for others.
In particular, she told him, she had interviewed a guy who handled the decorative lights for a man who owned a major entertainment company in California. She told her dad the job paid well. Very well. Putting the lights on that one house brought a $50,000 contract.
I haven’t seen pictures, but I know without looking that’s a little more than I spent on my lights this year. OK, more than a little.
I’ve seen some pretty nice displays in my day. Big ones. Expensive ones. Just about anything Christmas-related you can think of, I’ve seen it.
My family likes to view the displays, those at individual homes, as well as the big municipal presentations, such as those in cities and towns throughout Oklahoma. Some of them are nothing short of incredible, from those you tune in to a spot on your radio dial to hear accompanying music, to those with live characters.
You can check on NewsOK and on wimgo.com for community displays to visit. They’re well worth visiting, in my opinion.
And there are even those who piggyback on a nearby display. I saw one recently where a house was awash in lights, from the rooftop all the way to the curb. Lots of blinking, twinkling lights, moving characters and music.
Next door, the house had a smaller display, but a sign in the front yard that caught my eye and added a little humor.
The sign, of good size and circled in bright lights, pointed to the big display and said: “Ditto.”
Technology is on the rise; the holidays are coming and going. The scammers are out and pulling out some of what they think are their best tricks.
We are all very aware of the calls, texts, and e mails, promising vacations and free luxury items if you just call this number and give some “minor” information.
Some consumers are more aware of things like this than others so as good citizens, if you know someone that believes every good thing that they hear … WARN THEM.
Here is what is new or it can be old and just new to me and a few comrades that I have spoken with.
There are marketers calling and saying that you are late on certain utility bills and in order to prevent automatic termination of service you have to pay a certain amount, they are demanding credit/debit card information on the spot.
There are websites with some amazing deals on them, telling you don’t waste time in lines at the stores when you can just order your items on their site and receive them before the Christmas holiday.
The catch on that is, you pay for the items and then you find out days later that those items had to be back ordered and then were never available so they cancel the order as a whole … BUT they have your information and do as they please with it.
Of course text and e mail marketing is booming around this time so BE CAREFUL what you believe and what sites you give sensitive information to because believe it or not, it can happen to you, me, or a loved one.
Let’s look out for one another and SHOP SAFELY.