Sunday, February 19, 2006

Thoughts on SuperBowl XL

SuperBowl XL happened two weeks ago. I have meant to blog my thoughts on that game since then.

The game was neither won nor lost by the teams on the field. This is another contest decided by the officials. I am particularly focusing on two plays: a touchdown denied to Seattle and one given to Pittsburgh. In neither case was the player's ability really a major factor. The officials broke one valid TD and made one happen.

Let me say that I am more a Steelers fan than a Seahawks fan -- I spent lots of time in Pittsburgh and love that city. I also have many friends from Pittsburgh that are life-long fans of the Steelers. But I completely disagree with the official calls that tipped the balance of the game so far in favor of one team. I may be wrong on this (I have been told I am) but that is the way it looked to me.

This SuperBowl reminded me of a question that popped into my head several years ago: are these games "fixed"? Sometimes it just seems that way. I hate thinking that this could be true. But then I look at professional wrestling and I realize that it is very possible indeed! Several people had mentioned to me in the last few days that the Olympics seem to favor some teams or athletes. Are these competitions fixed? Are other professional sports rigged to guarantee an outcome? I am certainly a cynic and skeptic of the authenticity of things I watch on TV.

A Win-Win Situation

We bought a new car today. I mention this because the experience was one of the most non-pressure car buying events my wife and I have ever been a part of. I think the car industry is finally getting it: high pressure sales not only hurt the individual business or sales person, they hurt the whole industry. The "no-pressure" approach is not new; I remember experiencing it as far back as 1983 when I bought my first new car. Every time I am faced with buying and I feel pressured into something I usually do not complete the transaction -- it just feels wrong. Today's transaction simply felt right from the very beginning. The salesman was objective, honest, and did not try to feed us any crap. The "behind the scenes" staff (General Manager, financing, etc.) were there to support the transaction, not to pressure us into getting more than what we wanted. What a great experience. We will definitely go back to that dealer for our next purchase and we will recommend them without hesitation. That is a win-win situation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Five Keys Of Defensive Driving

The company I work for uses the The Smith System™ to promote defensive driving. The Smith System includes five keys that have proven to lessen the likelihood of vehicle collisions:

Aim high in steering — Ths means you need to see beyond the bumper of the vehicle in the lane in front of you. Traffic farther head in the same lane, traffic from parallel lanes and traffic from other directions can all create a change in the safety of your intended travel path.

Get the big picture — It’s necessary to look around as you drive. Pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers merging onto the road from parking lots and driveways and other hazards must be part of your decision making process as you drive.

Keep your eyes moving — Make a continuous and repetitive cycle of your eyes to see both sides, in front and behind your vehicle. If you don’t know whether or not there is another driver in the lane on your right, or one approaching to pass you on the left, you’re not using your side view mirrors effectively.

Leave yourself an out - When driving in heavy traffic, there should be space you can use to stop and avoid hitting the vehicle ahead of you. This space is most likely in front of you, because Smith System advises a four second following distance. Think also about changing lanes into an opening on your right or left or using the median or shoulder to avoid collisions.

Make sure they see you — Use your headlights and horn appropriately. Signals are used when turning, as well as when changing lanes. Remember to use your flashers when stopping in a high traffic area.

The only person’s behavior you can change is your own. Make sure you and the riders in the vehicles you drive are safe by driving defensively.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Valentine's Day

Next Tuesday marks yet another Valentine's Day in many countries around the world. Looking at the celebration's history and roots, compared to its current customs, makes me wonder about the loss of the simpler traditions of life. Valentine's Day once brought a simple exchange of meaningful messages amongst people that love each other. There were no diamonds, chocolates, expensive flowers, or any of the other commercialized "stuff" we are bombarded with every year. In 2006 I will buy none of that for those I love. I will find a small poem, transcribe it by hand to a folded sheet of nice paper, and add a message of what that person means to me, not only on February 14, but everyday of the year. I will give one of these notes to my wife, my children, my mother, and to some of my dearest friends. I better get busy, then, so that I can have these messages done on time.