By Chuck Mai, AAA
There’s a real art to traveling smart – not only in knowing where the best vacation spots are but also in buying travel at the cheapest price, leaving the house well-protected when you go … and in packing. Yes, packing.
Ellen Paderson is the founder of Smiles and Miles Travel based near Boston, Mass., and has more than 20 years in the travel business, In addition to ‘where to stay,’ clients often ask Ellen for packing tips, tricks and secrets. Here is her “Top 10”:
1. Roll your clothes. Tightly roll most items into compact pieces. Fold stiffer and dressy ones.
2. Use soft-side travel bags (such as Packing Cubes from Eagle Creek). They use every square inch of your travel bag. Plus, they compress when zipped, minimizing wrinkles and maximizing space.
3. Invest in inflatable hangers for hand laundry. Pack with individual packets of Woolite. The vinyl hangers fold small and inflate with a few breaths so you can drip-dry creaselessly.
4. Plane sheets. Aircraft seat covers make your seat more comfortable and germ free.
5. Silk travel blanket. They’re as warm as a regular blanket, yet take up much less space. The pocket at the bottom keeps feet toasty; the blanket rolls up and tucks into a 12” x 4″ pouch you can toss in your carry-on.
6. Carry wet wipes. To sanitize seats and trays on the plane, and for a million other uses in your travels.
7. Pack sealable plastic bags. Use different sizes to handily store snacks and small electronics and to keep them safe from the sand and sea.
8. Pack light. Take along as few clothes as possible. Pack a pair of black, beige or white pants and shirts or tops that will go with all three colors.
9. Collapsible cooler. Pack snacks when out on excursions (this one idea can pay for itself in one day).
10 Comfortable shoes. Try to limit each person to two really comfy pairs.
Patty Gail Patten was guest speaker at our last Parents Helping Parents meeting (Edmond Chapter). Her topic of “Grieving the Loss of the Child of Your Dreams” was one that was well received by her audience.
Parents of a child who is addicted to alcohol or other drugs must deal with their loss in much the same way as parents whose child physically has been lost.
Unfortunately, with parents of an addicted child, the grieving is repeated over and over with every relapse the child has on his/her path to long-term recovery.
There are three stages of grief for parents:
The first is shock and denial. You just can’t believe something like this can happen to you or your child. This forces you into denial and you go on with your daily activities as if nothing as actually happened.
The next stage is anger, or depression. You may find yourself turning inward away from your usual activities and/or people.
The third stage is understanding and acceptance. You will sense a feeling of peace and serenity. In addition, you will regain your ability to find a new meaning in your life.
Patty Gail indicated that these stages can overlap one another and they may not be experienced in a specific order. Everyone heals in his/her own way and time.
There was one last critical, vital statement from Patty Gail. She said addiction is now accepted as a mental illness.
I feel one of the most critical issues parents face is understanding that addiction is a disease, a primary disease, a brain disease.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
Summer officially begins June 20 and with it: more heat and the not-so-infrequent stories of kids and animals being left alone in hot cars with sometimes deadly consequences.
Heat related fatalities were the second highest cause of death among all weather-related deaths, second only to tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. And according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14. NHTSA reports at least 27 documented deaths per year.
It’s important to remember that temperatures inside a car on a day with outside temperatures in the mid-to-high 90’s can quickly soar to nearly 200 degrees, which is hot enough to cook many foods and to kill most living things. Never leave children or pets in a parked car. If you do see a child or pet locked in a car and cannot find the owner of the vehicle, call 911 immediately.
Child passenger summer safety tips:
• Never leave a child alone in a car – even with the windows partially opened– as a vehicle’s interior can still heat up quickly to deadly temperatures.
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away. Children have died because they fell asleep in their car seats and their parents didn’t realize they were still in the car.
• If your spouse or a guardian is taking your children to day care, ask him or her to call you to make sure the drop-off went according to plan.
• Do things to remind you that a child is in the vehicle:
• Leave a written note in your vehicle where you will see it
• Place your purse, briefcase or something else in the back seat to remind you to check that area when you leave the vehicle.
• Keep an object in your child’s car seat, such as a stuffed toy, as a reminder that a child is in the back seat.
• Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle – teach them that a car is not a play area; always lock your car doors and keep car keys out of children’s reach.
• If a child has spent a prolonged amount of time in a hot vehicle and appears to be showing signs of heat distress, call 911 immediately for medical assistance. Cool the child as quickly as possible by applying cool water to the skin and/or ice packs under the armpits and groin area while waiting for help.
It always has been my favorite color, but blue seems to be the most popular color in Oklahoma these days. Apparently, it’s a favorite outside our state boundaries as well.
You can attribute that to the success of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The local NBA team has become THE TEAM for a rising number of fans. Throughout the Oklahoma City metro, as you would expect, Thunder players’ likenesses or connections are everywhere.
It seems you can’t visit a shopping mall or any other location without encountering someone with a jersey that has a favorite player’s number and/or name, a Thunder cap, or shirt, or some other merchandise that has the team name, including the little flags on vehicles, bumper stickers, or license tags.
During recent trips to northern Oklahoma, I heard several praises for the Thunder and fielded questions about what it was like around Oklahoma City during this season, or was it exciting inside Chesapeake Arena when the team played at home?
But that support definitely has crossed into other states. They’re turning true blue.
A reader relayed to me recently that on a recent trip to Kansas, he counted an easy dozen Thunder stickers, tags or flags on vehicles he passed.
“Funny thing was, not one of those cars had an Oklahoma tag,” he said.
A friend who frequently makes trips to Texas, where you would expect to see a heavy concentration of Dallas Mavericks or San Antonio Spurs references, says he has seen more and more Thunder items on vehicles — and people — south of the Red River.
My mother told me that, while talking to friends and family in northwest Arkansas, she heard several compliments directed toward the Oklahoma City team, as well as comments from those who regularly watch Thunder games on TV and read about it in the newspapers.
Some of those who seem so interested in the Thunder actually live closer to Memphis, home of the Grizzlies.
Thunder support seems to be growing in Missouri, I hear, particularly in the Kansas City area, which had an NBA franchise of its own years ago.
The Thunder’s success since it first played here has brought an incredible excitement to the city, the state, the region and apparently to other areas. It’s been a boost to the economy as well. You can’t be disappointed with that.
Read more about the Thunder, its players, coaches and fans, in The Oklahoman and by going to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/KEVIN-DURANT.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new regulation telling automakers to put rear-view cameras in all passenger vehicles by 2014. It’s probably a good idea. Such cameras can help prevent injuries and deaths because they’re useful in detecting people and objects behind the vehicle. However, this technology is limited in its ability to identify objects approaching the path of the backing vehicle. That’s something to keep in mind.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety was interested in finding out more about how average motorists are reacting to these new onboard cameras and the implications for safety. So, the Foundation launched a study.
Here are some key findings:
o Many drivers are not aware of the limitations of their sensor-based backing aids. There were several scenarios in which respondents reported that their backing aid system would help them to avoid a collision “fairly well” or “perfectly,” when in reality it would be likely to work poorly or not work at all. These included:
Backing up to a narrow sign post (87%).
Backing out of a parking space and there is a pedestrian standing ten feet behind the rear bumper (78%).
Backing quickly down a long driveway, going about ten mph, and there is a bicycle behind the vehicle (68%).
Backing out of a garage when there is a child immediately under the bumper (53%).
Backing out of a driveway onto a street and into the path of an oncoming car (53%).
o Some respondents reported using their backing aid (12%) or rear-view camera (17%) without checking their mirrors or turning to look out the rear window.
o Some respondents with backing aids (23%) claimed to look over their shoulders less often with the system than without the system.
o Some respondents claimed that they would back much more slowly if they did not have a backing aid (40%) or a rear-view camera (27%).
o Nearly one in five respondents who owned a vehicle with a backing aid system reported having experienced a backing collision or “close call” while they were driving another vehicle—without a backing aid system—because they expected to receive a warning (18%).
o Compared to younger respondents, older respondents with rear-view cameras were less likely to say that having a rear-view camera makes them safer.
o The majority (93%) of those with rear-view cameras would want one on their next vehicle.
A word of caution: motorists who have vehicles equipped with this technology would be wise to use it to supplement—not replace—traditional efforts to turn and check blind spots (both rear and lateral) while backing up.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
Well, the Oklahoma Legislature has done it again. Or rather, I should say they failed to do it again. For the third straight year, Oklahoma legislators managed to not pass a texting while driving ban bill. Forty states have but in Oklahoma, key committee chairs have thwarted our best efforts – despite my belief that the vast majority of legislators would like to see a bill passed that safeguards the lives of everyone on the road. While walking the halls at the state Capitol pushing these texting bills, I heard story-after-story of crashes and near-crashes involving texting drivers.
So, why is this row so hard to plow?
1) The “we already have a law banning reckless driving” argument. It’s true. Oklahoma does have such a law. But reckless driving laws only come into play when the driver is driving erratically or crashes. Traffic safety advocates want law enforcement to have a tool to use which can prevent that crash from happening.
2) The “violation of liberties, freedoms and rights” argument. First of all, driving is not a right. It’s a privilege you must earn and do certain things to keep – like not driving drunk or hitting too many other cars. Plus, the state has a long history of telling us what we can and can’t do behind the wheel. We have to buckle up, we have to stop at stop signs, we can’t go 60 mph through a school zone and the list goes on. Your liberties behind the wheel of your car end when you smack into me.
3) The “but we can’t enforce it” argument. Enforcement of a texting law will present special challenges but the tell-tale bobbing of the head as the driver texts and drives is a dead giveaway. Some texters, especially teenagers, say they are so good at texting, they can do it blindfolded. In these cases, the texting law would be enforced just as DUI laws and mandatory insurance laws are now, at the time the driver is stopped for another offense or in the event of a crash.
AAA supports a texting-while-driving ban in Oklahoma for three reasons: 1) our members tell us they rate text messaging and emailing while driving as a very serious threat to their safety on the road; 2) drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to crash or get into a near-crash situation than drivers who are not texting, according to a 2009 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study; and 3) the state needs to send a clear message to motorists that texting while driving is so dangerous, it’s against the law. Citizens typically look to the law to tell them what to do. If there’s no law against it, they’ll assume it is okay to do.
Frankly, I can’t think of a more dangerous activity one can engage in behind the wheel. Texting drivers take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel and their minds off of what they should be doing: driving.
President Obama signed an order forbidding federal employees from texting behind the wheel, Gov. Fallin has extended the state executive order first instituted by Gov. Henry telling state employees they can’t engage in this dangerous practice while on the job. Interstate truckers are similarly banned from texting while driving. What do all these people know that certain members of the Oklahoma Legislature don’t?
With reports of texting while driving on the rise, it’s clear education and enforcing existing laws aren’t working. But until the Oklahoma Legislature acts, education is all we have. Please help spread the word. That text can wait.
I have spent the past five years with a parent support group.
I rarely miss a meeting. There is this special feeling of connectivity that only parents of an addicted child can relate to.
I have cried there. Yes, it’s true, a grown man in tears. It is hard to explain the emotion and pain a parent feels but that is what is so priceless about the group, I don’t have to explain because my fellow travelers already know.
There is something else very special about the group. There are many other men in attendance and, over the years, I have seen many break down when sharing their pain. I have found that I am not seen as less than a man but a human being who needs, at times, understanding.
It’s interesting that the tears are not near as common as the laughter. I would have never dreamed that there would be laughter in such a setting but it is true.
I remember a time when I was under siege by the enemy of addiction. I was on my way to the meeting and almost turned around and headed home several times. I resisted the urge until I arrived at my destination.
I was walking down the hall to the meeting room and finally gave up the fight and decided to go back home. But as I turned toward the exit, I heard the room down the hallway explode in laughter. I felt God instructing me to turn around and enter the room.
That night was one of the best evenings of my life.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
With transportation options ranging from rooftop helipads to rare vintage cars and bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantoms, the AAA Five Diamond-rated Peninsula hotels have long been the exclusive enclave of tycoons, movie stars, royalty and glamorous multi-hyphenates of all kinds. Innovative and luxurious transportation has long been part of the Peninsula signature experience.
But lately, even the ultra-rich have been struggling. Now they may have to choose between a private submarine and a space hotel. Yes, they still light their cigars with twenty dollars bills, only now they’re using Canadian money.
And even if you’re still living large, it may no longer be socially responsible to look quite so flush. So what is your average out-of-town oligarch supposed to do when they require more austere transportation?
The Peninsula New York and the Peninsula Chicago hotels recently unveiled two customized Mini Cooper S Clubman vehicles. Offered as a complimentary amenity to suite guests, the chauffeur-driven Minis are a rare opportunity for well-heeled guests to feel almost like the rest of us.
Of course these are not your run-of-the-mill Minis. The Peninsula collaborated with BMW to create a custom-made bespoke Mini Cooper S Clubman, with the personalization process taking more than two years to perfect. Bespoke, for those of you without your own personal shopper, is a fancy British term for hand-tailored men’s wear, somewhat analogous to women’s haute couture. A made-to-measure suit from London’s Savile Row for example, requires multiple fittings, up to 50 hours of labor, and can set you back as much as $18,000.
Lately, the meaning has been expanded to include hand-crafted timepieces, furniture and even fragrances. Who wouldn’t gladly fork over $80,000 for a custom-made scent that “recalls the smells of your childhood”?
Devotees of the $150,000 Brough Superior motorcycle have included such luminaries as Lawrence of Arabia. Each one is custom-built to suit the weight, size and riding style of the buyer.
You can even order a bespoke automobile, the Bristol Type 603, a vehicle so exclusive you can only buy one by invitation. It should be pointed out that the Bristol’s Chrysler engine and transmission are decidedly not “bespoken.”
The Mini’s dedicated features include a custom-illuminated Peninsula logo on door entry sills, leather finishing to match the existing Rolls-Royce interiors, and the signature Peninsula Green color that adorns every vehicle in the hotel’s transportation fleet. Each car is also specially fitted with a tailor-made rooftop box providing extra cargo space with a mini-fridge offering complimentary refreshments.
The Peninsula hotels have a long history of providing stylish rides for their guests, including the Hong Kong property’s legendary fleet of 14 Rolls-Royce Phantoms and four 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II’s belonging to the Peninsula hotels in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris, all finished in signature Peninsula green.
In case you’re interested, AAA’s Diamond ratings are the only ratings system that covers all of North America and one of only two that conducts physical, on-site evaluations. Full-time, professionally-trained evaluators inspect each property on an annual basis using a set of guidelines that are made available to all establishments. Five Diamond Award winners are a very select group. This year, just 124 lodgings and 55 restaurants (0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated lodgings and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) received this prestigious designation.
Oklahoma has no AAA rated Five Diamond hotels but the state has five Four Diamond rated hotels and two Four Diamond rated restaurants. You may access detailed listings of all of AAA’s Diamond rated hotels and restaurants by visiting AAA.com. This information is available to AAA members and nonmembers alike.
I never really understood what Memorial Day was all about as a kid, other than spending the long weekend at the lake with my parents or in someone’s swimming pool.
I just kind of figured it was a fun weekend and my dad didn’t have to work on Monday, which meant that I was out in the yard with him doing things I really didn’t want to do: mowing the grass, edging the lawn, pulling weeds, you know, the things that he didn’t want to do.
My dad passed away last year, and for the first time, I didn’t have him around for Memorial Day weekend. I caught myself out in my yard, doing the things that he made me do as a child, hands in the soil, thinking about some of the funny things he used to say to me.
I think maybe as you get older, these holidays mean more to you, because the older I get, the more people I know have passed away. Sad at first thinking about them, then chuckles when the sadness turns to good memories of days gone by, funny things they used to say and do.
I miss my dad, he was a little crazy, but a good crazy. He could always make me laugh when I didn’t want to.
Midwest City does not have a movie theater. That’s right, we do not have a theater of our own.
At one time, we had three, count them, three theaters.
There was the Apollo Twin at the corner of SE 15 and Air Depot. It’s now a furniture store.
There was the Heritage Park 3 in the now-defunct Heritage Park Mall. That’s a whole other story.
There was the Heritage Plaza Cinemas 5 behind the mall, which is a church now.
Why can’t Midwest City support a theater? Tinker people go to movies. I know this because I run into them all of the time at Crossroads movies, Tinseltown, Bricktown and Warren theaters.
I know for a fact that Midwest City teenagers go to movies. I frequently hear and see them — especially hear them — at all of the theaters mentioned.
So why doesn’t someone invest in the community and put in a nice theater here?
I, for one, would frequent the establishment, and I know my three teenage daughters would as well, and I would feel much safer knowing that they would be staying in Midwest City limits instead of driving to the other theaters out of town.
So, my request is simple.
Someone with a lot of money and a sound business mind, please build us a nice, safe movie theater here in Midwest City and keep it running for years to come.
I will even volunteer to pop some popcorn for you free of charge. Well, maybe free other than a bag or two for private consumption.
Thanks in advance for investing in your community and filling a large gap in our local entertainment.