It’s all about money … how you get it, what you do with it. It’s your choice … mostly.
Who hasn’t watched a game show on TV, where contestants try to win money and prizes? Spin a wheel, answer a question, choose a door, select the right item, match objects and you might win the big one.
Maybe you play the lottery, where you spend money trying to make money. It’s a game of chance, similar to what some businesses “play” every day.
But listening to the radio while driving recently, I heard some hosts talking about how things are viewed today versus how they were thought of years ago. Such as, “If you had the choice of taking $100,000 when you were 20 or $10 million when you were 60, which would it be?”
For the younger set, those who haven’t reached the milestones in their lives yet, it’s all a dream or a wish. For those of us who have achieved at least one of those times, there’s some reality mixed in, especially when we’ve seen prices soar through the years on everything from necessities to accessories.
Later, when I wasn’t behind the wheel, I thought about what I would have done with a spare $100,000 when I hit 20. Like those on the radio show I had been listening to, a new car and a nice home were two items I most likely would have purchased. But I’m not sure how much investing I would have done, or how many trips I would have taken.
Now, getting $10 million at age 60 would bring a lot of interesting possibilities, such as retiring all debt for my family and me, helping others who are struggling …
Then, another question came to mind. “Would someone who suddenly found themselves with $10 million at age 60 continue to work for someone else, or would they either retire or work solely for them?”
I’d have to think about it some more, but I probably wouldn’t think long. I’m sure I could decide that one … shortly after I got my $10 million.
Learn more about handling personal finances at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MONEY-OKLAHOMA and its list of resources.
It only takes a split second to change lives forever. In an instant, the action of (or lack of action by) a distracted driver can produce catastophic, tragic results. That’s only one of the reasons “Drive Aware Oklahoma Week” is so important.
During news conferences Monday in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, members of the various volunteer organizations concerned about traffic safety, unified as Drive Aware Oklahoma, spoke out about what has become one of the most dangerous situations in our state, in our country: distracted driving.
They noted that the number of accident injuries and traffic fatalities related to distracted driving have increased steadily the past several years while attempts to make laws to stop them have been defeated.
Drive Aware Oklahoma members hope that, through making the public more aware of the risks and results of distracted driving, they can spur people to act, such as working with lawmakers to enact new laws and promoting efforts to educate drivers young and old.
It’s badly needed. Drive anywhere and you’ll encounter motorists driving distracted in one or more ways. It may be talking on a cellphone, texting, grooming, looking at maps or other reading materials, adjusting a radio or other entertainment, talking with others in the vehicle, or eating or drinking, to name a few.
The numbers aren’t good. Drive Aware Oklahoma notes that research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others found distracted driving in fatal crashes rose from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009. It wasn’t unexpected that cell phone use was the major distraction in crashes, with nearly 1,000 people killed and other 24,000 injured nationwide.
A recent Virginia Tech study concluded that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than non-texting drivers.
Distracted driving is particularly dangerous to young drivers, coming in as the number one killer of American teenagers.
Drive Aware Oklahoma Week has a direct tie-in with “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks,” a texting and driving prevention campaign by the Ad Council, the office of the State Attorneys General and NHTSA.
The awareness group encourages all Oklahoma drivers to get off their cell phones while behind the wheel. If the call is so important that you need to use the phone, group members say, pull off the road and stop first.
The short time it takes to do that just might be the time that saves your life and/or those of others.
We all need to aware of that.
What was supposed to have been an enjoyable ride on the rail between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth became anything but, and answers are needed.
“Heartland Flyer passengers endured nearly eight hours of delays Saturday night in a series of weather difficulties caused by heavy rain, a downed tree on the track and a lightning strike, which disabled one of the engines,” Business Writer Jennifer Palmer reported Tuesday on the front page of The Oklahoman.
The ride from Fort Worth began on time (5:25 p.m., Jennifer reported) but was 16 miles behind schedule when it reached its first stop in Gainesville, Texas. Amtrak, which operates the flyer, said that was due to heavy rain and flash flooding.
A little past Gene Autry, in southern Oklahoma, the train had to stop because there was a tree on the track. It was apparently at that stop that lightning struck the track or the locomotive, disabling it. This required freight locomotives to be summoned to remove the stricken power source.
The train was able to make its stop in Purcell nearly seven hours late. Passengers were warned at the next stop, in Norman, that there was a possibility of more delays. Several people took the opportunity to get off.
Those factors alone made this trip much less than pleasurable. But there was more. After the Flyer was able to move on, and just past Norman it shut down again.
It seems the crew had completed 12 hours, “the maximum time allowed, Amtrak said.” So “two miles from the station, crossing a live track on foot and navigating a ditch in the dark to find another way home, … ” the passengers were allowed to exit the train.
Eventually, a backup crew arrived to finish the journey. The train arrived in Oklahoma City at 5:34 a.m.
“We want people to know this wasn’t a satisfactory trip for us either,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Jennifer. “We’re looking at ways we could have handled this differently.”
Here’s a suggestion: look hard. Look very, very hard. This is where contingency plans should come into play.
Unexpected problems, such as weather or mechanical failures, can make things rough. Having an idea of how to handle them avoids an inconvenience to paying customers and an embarrassment. It can help you avoid what, in many circles, is known as a “public relations nightmare.”
How this incident affects future ridership will show how the public feels about it. Here’s hoping the Flyer can get back on track.
There was a day when you couldn’t get me to say the word “retire.” I had too much going to even give it a thought. From the time I shut off the alarm and got out of bed until the time I turned out the lights at night, my life was set on “go.”
Through the years, there have been a few changes. Actually, there have been many. Some days, it feels like my get-up-and-go just got-up-and-went, as they say. Other days, I”m still going strong. Or at least, I really want it to be that way.
I recently took a class on retirement, just to see how I stood and what I might out to do to prepare for that day when I would be able to leave the fulltime job and shift at least some of my efforts from things I HAVE TO do to things I WANT TO do. Well, at least that’s’ the intention.
It was during that class that I realized I’m certainly not at that point yet. In fact, I’m not certain when I will be there. But at least now I have an idea as to what it will take to get me there. I also know there are many things to consider before I can make it happen.
I have to look at such things as …
* Finance — Where will it come from and how much will we have? Will my retirement account and our investments sustain us?
* Health — Will we able to get around well enough to remain independent?
* Insurance — What can we afford and what will it cover? Health, home and vehicle insurance are only part of that picture.
* Home — Can we maintain our home? There are always areas that need attention, from cleaning to repairs.
* Transportation — What are our options? Will we still be able to drive ourselves, or will we need assistance?
* Activity — A key point for most any retiree. It’s not just keeping the body active. You need to keep the mind sharp as long as possible.
These were just some of the key concerns. There are many more. Each individual’s situation is different.
Take a look at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/RETIREMENT-OKLAHOMA to see areas a person looking ahead should be aware of before taking that plunge. Don’t forget also to look at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MONEY-OKLAHOMA for more ideas on what you can do to prepare.
These and other topics in our “know it” library might be just what you need.
It’s a great time to get out, get some exercise and help support groups and organizations that are making a difference in the lives of those who need assistance.
Fall’s generally cooler temperatures and fresh air can be ideal to walk, jog, ride, run, or row. There are many opportunities to do so while helping raise money for local charities.
* Saturday, Oct. 6, you can join in the Oklahoma Walk Now for Autism Speaks, set for the East Wharf Children’s Park at Lake Hefner.
* Saturday, Oct. 6, the Heels for Hope 5k Race/1 Mile Walk/25-Yard High Heel and Feather Boa Dash for the Heels for Hope Foundation. This event raises money for ovarian cancer research, treatment and education.
* Sunday, Oct. 7, the BooBoo Dash 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run at Regatta Park to benefit programs of Children’s Hospital volunteers.
* The Team Hope Walk/5k for HD at Lake Hefner’s Stars & Stripes Park to help raise money for research of Huntington’s Disease. This event is Oct. 14.
* The Susan G. Komen Oklahoma City Race for the Cure at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, raising money for breast cancer research and assistance.
These are but a few of the many events related to health issues. But there are others relating to benefits such as pet adoptions.
Pick your favorites, as few or as many as you would like.
For a list of possibilities, check KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/CHARITY-OKLAHOMA, or go to WWW.WIMGO.COM and see what’s there.
You can help yourself and others at the same time.
A story I read recently on the news wire about a young man helping a family that had become stranded along a highway brought back memory of a similar incident from years ago.
It was late one Sunday night in October that my family and I were returning from a visit to another city. About 60 miles from our home, we experienced a major engine problem and we found ourselves stranded in the dark.
The preceding week had been an emotional one anyway. Now, we were facing another challenge, one without a quick solution. This was before cell phones were as popular as they are today, and shortly after I had given up having a CB radio in the vehicle. So, there we were … stuck.
This was one time my belief in the theory of STR (Stop … Think … React …) wasn’t producing much in the way of results. The only things in our favor were that we could use the flashers and we had blankets, water and a few treats.
But about a half-hour later, a modern-day good Samaritan and his wife happened to pass our disabled vehicle as they headed back to college from a visit to see their parents.
They found a turn-around and drove back to check on us after seeing my son and I outside with the hood up.
They drove us to the next exit where we were able to call for help, then took us back to the car to wait for assistance to arrive. When I tried to give them money for their inconvenience, they refused. The husband told us that something similar had happened to his wife not long before that and a motorist came to her rescue.
“Just remember this if you see someone stranded and get them help,” he said. “Maybe we can keep the string going and make things better and safer for everyone.”
I know that’s asking a lot, trying to turn around an attitude of distrust that has built through the years because of instances along our roadways where people have been hurt or even killed. But it did give us hope. And it was wonderful to know that there were people who are willing to help.
It was a few years later when I had a chance to repay that favor, one snowy December day. An elderly gentleman had become stuck and had no coat or gloves to combat the cold. I helped free his car, then, when he tried to pay me, told him about my experience on the road.
He said he would tell everyone how the act of kindness was repaid and encourage them to assist, through a phone call or whatever means possible.
The string of kindness continues.
Money isn’t always the most important need, though it certainly can help in many instances. Those wanting to help people who aren’t as well off, or who are facing challenges in their lives have numerous possibilities available.
A recent caller said she had survived a major situation and wanted to do something for someone less fortunate as a way of repaying her good fortune. We talked briefly, discussing options she might be interested in that could afford her an opportunity. We looked through the various topics in the “know it” library on NewsOK (HTTP:..KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/) and she was surprised by the number of areas she found quickly.
It wasn’t matter of trying to find something, it was more narrowing down the possibilities she could participate in immediately, from working with homeless people (HTTP://KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/HOMELESS-OKLAHOMA) to doing charitable work (HTTP://KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/CHARITY-OKLAHOMA).
But the search didn’t end there. She found several others as she scanned the various topics in the “know it” list.
By the time she had gone through such areas as HTTP://KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/RELIGION-FAITH-OKLAHOMA and HTTP://KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MILITARY-OKLAHOMA, she said she had found at least 10 areas she thought she would be able to work in.
Of course, there are areas where money IS needed. She said she would donate money as she could, but certainly time and work regularly.
It will all be worthwhile, to her and to those she works with, as well as those she helps in other ways … a real “feel good” and positive situation.
The Secret Service ultimately is responsible for protecting the president. But the police officers and sheriff’s deputies riding in a motorcade, directing traffic and assisting as a prominent individual moves from one location to another is a large responsibility.
It’s everything from security to hospitality, requiring lots of attention. It’s timing, and much more.
It’s not as glamorous as one might think. In fact, it can be a very difficult, very dangerous job.
This was evidenced Sunday in Florida when a veteran police officer was preparing to shut down a stretch of highway ahead of the motorcade of President Barack Obama as it headed for a campaign rally.
Officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, was killed in West Palm Beach after his motorcycle was struck by a pickup.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund counts 16 officers before Sunday’s tragedy who were killed while escorting a dignitary.
For example, The Associated Press reported:
1902 — A Secret Service agent was struck and killed by trolley car in Lenox, Mass., while in President Theodore Roosevelt’s escort detail.
1928 — A police officer on motorcycle escort for a presidential candidate was struck and killed in Kearny, N.J.
1929 — A Virginia State Police officer was involves in a motorcycle crash while escorting President Calvin Coolidge. The officer died about six weeks later of his injuries.
1992 — A Palm Beach County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy was killed in a motorcycle accident while escorting Sen. Paul Tsongas, a presidential candidate.
2006 — A Honolulu police officer died after his motorcycle slid on a rain-slicked roadway, where he was escorting President George W. Bush.
2007 — In Rio Rancho, N.M., a police officer was killed in a motorcycle crash while escorting Bush’s motorcade.
2008 — A Dallas police officer died when his motorcycle slammed into a guardrail as he was escorting then-Sen. Hilary Clinton’s motorcade.
2012 — The Jupiter, Fla., police officer died while riding in the Obama motorcade.
The danger is always there.
You’ve most likely read or seen the plea, but unless you or anyone you know ever has needed blood, you may not understand the significance.
As someone who has been in that situation, I can tell you it’s extremely significant. It easily can be a matter of life or death.
“Someone needs blood every two seconds,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Blood Institute. “This constant need is why we are asking … residents to donate blood.”
Because there is no substitute for blood, the supply must constantly be renewed. There always is a need.
Maybe it’s because I have experience firsthand the need. Maybe it’s because I’ve known many others who have been through it. Or maybe it’s because I have worked closely with the institute and its staff for many years to see and hear about those times when a quantity of donated blood allowed someone to continue to live.
Whatever the reason, I do know, and I encourage everyone who can to consider donating. You can find information in news releases in any of the five “know it” communities about how and where you can do so. There are many opportunities through the year. Just check KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/EDMOND, KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MIDWEST-CITY, KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/NORMAN, KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/OKLAHOMA-CITY, or KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/YUKON for local drives.
You also can find information by contacting the institute or any of its donor centers.
Although all blood types are needed, those with O-negative type blood are especially encouraged to donate. According to the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), those with O-negative blood type make up only 9 percent of the national population. However, O-negative blood can be used in any emergency situation when a patient’s blood type has not yet been identified.
Oklahoma Blood Institute exclusively provides every drop of blood needed by patients at all hospitals in the metro-OKC area. Some 140 other medical facilities across the state also rely solely on OBI to provide life-saving blood for their patients.
Anyone, 16 years or older, can typically donate blood. Blood can be given every 56 days. To find out more or make an appointment to donate, call 877-340-8777, or visit WWW.OBI.ORG.
All 16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 and provide signed parental permission. All 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds, All 18-year-olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.
As a columnist who writes about traffic issues, I often get emails, phone calls, or letters from someone criticizing Oklahoma drivers — primarily those in Oklahoma City.
The most common complaint is that our drivers don’t have any regard for safety. They don’t obey the law, they run red lights, they drive too fast, they don’t yield, they never use turn signals and they are just plain rude.
The result of these actions? Oklahomans, again pointing at mostly Oklahoma Citians, are more likely to have an accident.
It’s interesting that many of those complaining moved here from another state, where drivers were more courteous and more careful, the complaining parties say.
There are times, I would have to agree with some of what I read or hear. I’ve seen examples of most everything they gripe about. And now, there’s even more ammunition for them.
My longtime colleague Don Mecoy wrote a story for The Oklahoman today that says, “The average Oklahoma City driver will be involved in an auto collision every 10 years, which ranks the metro behind 79 other U.S. cities in Allstate Insurance Co.’s annual ‘Best Drivers Report.’ ”
In his story, Don notes that Allstate, using claims data for the basis of its report, says Oklahoma City “ranks as one of the least safe driving cities.”
There’s a lot of good information in Don’s story — good from the point of things that can help us do better; bad if you’re keeping score on which cities need the most work.
So I encourage you to read it and take it to heart. We can all benefit if we do better. It might even cut down on the complaining.