Monday, April 29, 2019

Cooperation not competition

Recently I was having a checkup with my GP.  Nice guy, pretty young, but has a basketball team for kids.  Yep, 5 Boys.  While I was working, I kinda kept an eye out for them to say hi to them in the halls, advise him on which teachers to request and which, if assigned to his kids, to dis-enroll them from school and send them to a private school.  Heck, he's a Doctor, he can afford it, right?  Well...Maybe not with 5 boys.

Anyhow, we're chatting a bit in between poking and prodding and all the other pleasantries we, older folks, enjoy with our friends in the medicinal community.  He happened to mention that his oldest had just signed up for Driver's Ed.

I don't know where this thought erupted from, but before it went through the cranial "speak or not" filter, I heard myself say.

"Please teach him the proper sequence for turning an automobile."

Puzzlement on his face.

"1. Take your foot off the gas."

"2.  Turn on your turn signal."

"3.  Gently apply the breaks."

"4.  Turn the car."

"Not... Stomp on the brakes, turn the car, then...if you feel like it, turn on the turn signal."

He chuckled and agreed that, indeed, that was the proper, if rarely performed sequence.  More importantly, agreed to emphasize that with his son.

Mission accomplished and shortly later after a coughing episode, I left the building.

Then I entered that state that Mrs J always worries about (because of the danger).

I started thinking.

Wouldn't life be better if folks drove like getting somewhere was a cooperative endeavor rather than a competition?

I mean, I don't get any brownie points (BPs) for getting to my destination 15 seconds earlier.  I certainly don't get any BPs if I cause you to arrive at your destination 5 minutes later.

So...Since I live in the state named for being friendly, and we're getting so many new friends, I thought I'd rant spend a moment talking about how my new friends might want to modify their former driving habits to accommodate the wide open roads of their new state.

We recognize that you've probably moved here from a state with extremely large cities names after Saint Francis, Saint James, Saint Joseph or The Angels, and that traffic is horrible there.  We also realize that because of that, you haven't had much practice driving at much above 30 (OK 20) MPH.  While, our large cities also have traffic issues, our rural roads didn't use to have any problems.

However, recently, there seems to be an uptick in people who wish to drive significantly below the speed limit on rural highways.  This can cause traffic to back up.  We certainly don't want you to drive faster than you feel comfortable, however there are a couple of things you can do to cooperate with other drivers in your immediate vicinity (vs. compete with them).

1. Passing Lane. Many of our rural highways are two lane, and passing lanes are few, far between, and short. When you get to one of those passing lanes, either slow down further, or at a minimum, maintain your speed and let cars pass (cooperation see?).  Do not use that opportunity to see how fast your car can accelerate to 100MPH (competition see?).  If you do accelerate, do not under any circumstance when exiting the passing zone, decelerate back down to your previous snail's pace speed.  Doing so might cause comments as to your mother's species, the marital status of your parents when you were born and/or your feelings for your maternal parent.

2. Shoulders. There is another thing you can do if a passing lane doesn't seem readily available.  Most Texas rural roads have a very wide shoulder.  If that is the case, when you can see a safe distance ahead, pull onto the shoulder and allow the other cars to pass.  When you do this, you are driving friendly (e.g. cooperatively).  Should someone ahead of you pull over for you, now is the time to use that accelerator and pass them expeditiously.  Once you are safely ahead of them, return to your normal speed and either give them a friendly wave or click on your flashers for a couple of blinks to say "Thanks, Friend!".
That shoulder can also be, legally, used as an acceleration or deceleration lane.  So, if turning off the road, pull on to the shoulder whist simultaneously using the aforementioned 4 step sequence for performing a turn and allow people behind you to proceed uninterrupted (cooperative) instead of the stomp, turn, signal (competitive) method, which results, at best, in some tread wear as well as commentary about your parents.
Similarly, if turning onto the road, use the shoulder to get to the speed of traffic then pull into the traffic lane (cooperative) vs pulling directly into traffic so as to cause all the cars coming up behind you to apply brakes at such a rate as to, at best, cause tread wear and avoid hitting you.  This does not gain you any BPs and again, commentary about your parents will ensue.

3. Speed Limit reduction.  So...for whatever reason, you've been driving at 53 MPH in a 70MPH zone and there are now 15 cars stacked up behind you.  You are about to enter a town and the speed limit has just dropped from 70 to 55.  My Friend, let me be the first to tell you.  Driving 53 in a 70 does not excuse driving 60 in a 55.  Many small town law enforcement agencies frown on that activity and will position one of their fine greeters near the city limits to stop you and thank you for contributing to their town's coffers. However, I am sure that you can talk them out of that opportunity, as long as you start by stating "When I lived in..." and mention that state with all the Spanish names for Saints.  That carries an almost unbelievable amount of weight around here.

Source

On a side note, please also make sure that you keep your license plate from that state on your vehicle.  Bonus points if the little sticker in the corner says 2017 or older.  It makes those of us who actually pay taxes feel all privileged that we can be paying your share in addition to ours.

4.  Passing.  Our 4 lane (+) highways have signs on them that say "Left Lane for passing only."  This means that if you're in the left lane one of three things should be happening.  You're beginning to pass someone.  You're passing someone.  Or, you're getting a safe distance from the person you just passed before returning to the right lane.  The one exception occurs at night on a rural road in Deer Season.  That extra second could mean saving a $500 deductible.  However, even then, if someone is coming up behind, pull back into the right lane, let them pass and then move back.

5. Passing part II. Did you know that virtually all cars now have this magic device, somewhere on the steering wheel, that will keep a constant speed?  This is a wonderful thing for helping to minimize traffic flow problems caused by fluctuating speeds.  On rural highways, click the button, magically your car will maintain a consistent speed, which in clear, dry, daylight conditions should be very close to the posted speed limit.  However, there seems to be a hesitation to use said device.  This hesitation is usually indicated by the following characteristics.  Car goes racing past you in the left lane, you glance at the driver, his head is down looking at something.  Shortly thereafter, you catch up to him, still in the left lane, but well under the speed limit and nothing in front of him.  You pass him.  Shortly thereafter, he's racing past you again.  That magic button will stop that from happening.  Use it.  Oh...Put your phone in your pocket!  Bluetooth if you must talk.

6.  Passing Part III. If you do use that magic button,  when  passing, press on the gas a bit.  The car will accelerate a bit and you will be past the car on your right in a minimum time.  At that point, ease off the gas and let the magic return.  This is especially important when passing an 18 wheeler.  Trust me, going 4 wheeling down the median at 70MPH, because the truck driver decided to change lanes without looking is not fun.  BTDT....twice.

7. Illumination. Did you know that the primary function of headlights is not to see, but to be seen?  According to this article

"At first there was no lighting on a vehicle and no nighttime driving.Although the electric light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison in 1879, the first lighting on automobiles was not electric headlamps. When people started driving at night, the first vehiclelighting devices were oil (kerosene) burning lanterns. Photographs of several early European vehicles and their kerosene lamps are shown by Drach (1993). These lighting devices provided a signal to drivers of other vehicles and carriages, and also to pedestrians."
Source

So, two things.  Turn ON your headlights especially if visibility is poor (e.g. Fog, Rain) or it's dawn or dusk.  It doesn't matter if you can see without them.  I darn near got smacked recently by a White Prius (like pictured above) driving in fog without his lights on.  I was turning left onto the highway, he was coming from the right and completely invisible in the fog. Fortunately, I spotted him before crossing the center line.  Yes, my fault, but it's still possible to be both right....and Dead!

Second thing,  If headlights are primarily for seeing, how come driverless cars have them?
Source

All righty then...Got that off my chest and feel significantly better for it.  And it's now on the internet, so rather than have to rattle off to my wife why I  think the parents of the person ahead of me were unmarried, I can now just say "Honey, #6".

To which she'll reply, sighing.

"Yes Dear!"

Ain't life grand?

54 comments:

  1. Turn signals are considered treason in Massachusetts, and punished accordingly. Why? Giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

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    1. Apparently they are getting to be the same around here also. Especially the closer you get to Moscow on the Colorado.

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  2. It is amazing how many light colored cars drive in rain, snow and fog without their lights on. But yellow cars always turn theirs on

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    1. That was a bad fog day. I'd even rolled the window down. My truck automatically shuts off the engine when stopped, so I listened for any traffic noise. Scared the snot out of me, it did.

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  3. The Passing Shoulder. It was a revelation in college, having come from driving in Pittsburgh and Michigan.

    /
    L.J.

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    1. I call it "That Texas Thing". Never really seen it done elsewhere and it seems to be dying out here also. More's the Pity.

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  4. You gave good advice for the new Texans, and that doc.

    Growing up in Lubbock county was amazing. We had all these dirt roads to practice driving on. The little town of Rooster Poot had no police, so rat racing in the abandoned part of town in the AM before school was normal for about 5 of us. I learned a TON about driving out there. I read my dad's "offensive" driving training he got as a Lubbock PD sergeant. It had some great pointers, too.

    One of the most useful maneuvers is to drive through the turn. Most folks coast, but you can actually drive through it. Takes a bit of concentration, but it even FEELS better than coasting through a turn. I use it to get off access roads onto side streets quickly and efficiently.

    But the newer cars seem designed to remove feedback from the car. And I really miss that. I remember the feeling in my foot when I got into the four barrels, the rhythm of the motor throbbing on my feet.... "Is that missing, or just a rough patch".... "Whoa! washboard.... watch for drift..." I got into a washboard on a curve last week, and the truck just decelerated, which I DID NOT NEED at that time....

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    1. Yeah, I'm not sure automation is the answer to everything (maybe anything), but it does impart an awful lot of unjustified confidence in otherwise low qualified drivers.

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    2. StxAR, to expand on your turn info, actual Physics (as in what is taught in Physics class, or used to be taught in Physics class) proves slowing slightly before the turn, then slightly accelerating into the turn will give better control and handling. This is for sharpish to medium turns. Broad sweeping turns as on an interstate on flat land, well, nevermind.

      It has something to do with the striction and friction and such of the tires.

      As to washboards, that's a frequency thing. Go really slow and you're just up and down, go at the wrong speed and you'll beat yourself and your car up, but there's a magic speed, where your vehicle is skimming the tops of the washboards and not falling into the dips, that is magic. Crap for handling in turns, but on a straight-away? Smooth sailing, so to speak.

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    3. “Broad sweeping turns as on an interstate on flat land, well, nevermind.”

      The same physics apply as in tighter turns, you just have to be at the correct speed to observe the effect. =]

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    4. Physics is physics. You can beat the laws of Man, but you can't beat the laws of physics.

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    5. Out north of Maljamar NM, there is a road that I ran to get to our tower site. (Side note: used to be a really good burger joint there) I had a rental car out there once, and tried the skim the washboard. I had to go about 90 mph to get that effect, but at that speed, I wasn't putting very many miles on the tires. I must've been in the air for 75% of the time.... It would beat you senseless otherwise....

      The maintainers that ran our dirt roads out in Lubbock would take too light a cut with the grader, and washboard was the result. If you screwed up, you'd wind up in the ditch...

      Worst washboard I ever got into was on US 87 just north of Big Spring. Little down hill section, I was in an 86 Suburban with a 65 F250 in tow. I woke my wife up and said, "We heading off into that cotton field, don't scream, just hang on." The truck was starting to whip, and heading out into the soft was gonna happen no matter what... We were about 100 feet off the road before I could get it started back to pavement.... Maybe that's why UHaul won't rent bumper pulls anymore....

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    6. STxAR: Rental cars are the fastest cars... in the world.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ucQKNkvzQ3g&feature=youtu.be

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    7. I went TDY a lot when I was flying. One of my Squadrons had an unofficial TDY motto, "No ditch too wide, no curb too high. It's a rental!" I mentioned that to MBD when she was looking at a rental for her first car. She chose WISELY after that advice.

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    8. Well played Herbert. Very well done... I road with a coworker in a rental Mustang once. He locked the parking brake at 60, and when it finally locked the rear wheels, he pulled a J turn. "Hey, it's a rental." I expected a beating after that. But it helped me realize they were tools, just like the service monitor or spare radio....

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    9. Hmmmmm...SPARE Radio, so the third one you're carrying?

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  5. Your points are all valid but too complicated for anyone not a trained fighter pilot.

    A modest suggestion for our LEOs. Most states have a provision for requiring a driver to retake the driving test. This is usually applied to seniors. Perhaps it should be expanded to driving while stupid?

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    1. Heck, I'd be happy if they just reinstated Driver Education Classes in the School System, and made them mandatory. But Noooooo, that would be discriminatory. Or some such nonsense.

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    2. Most states do have a diversion problem for not getting points on one's license, or multi-pass. But the classes are stupid and easy to skip. Toughen them up a bit and driving will improve in a reasonable segment of test-takers.

      But... well... if you watch 'Cops' or 'Live PD' you realize there's a huge segment of the population that drive without a valid license, whether suspended temporarily, permanently or just never bothered to get one. Jerks!

      And, Drivers' Ed. One of the best classes I took, teacher was a physics teacher slumming during summer school so we got the 'how cars actually work' feature, along with the impressively horrible 'Ohio State Safety Films' that I am sure are too bloody and realistic for today's coddled youths who listen to explicit rap and watch porn in classrooms...

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    3. Number one son just had to pay $$ to drivers' education, as mandated by the State of California, to get number one grandson ready for various and sundry testing. Now the young man (16 years of age) is on the road in our '95 Toyota truck. Kids today are not as excited as we were to get licensed. I was at the DMV in Redwood City (the closest office to San Mateo) on my 16th birthday (1954). Kept the same number 'til I surrendered it for my "Florida exemption from all consciousness while driving certificate." Good until 2023. I wonder if I'm good 'til then. When we traveled from home to Corsicana and Marshall Texas during these years, my dad would let me start driving just after we left Electra. I started doing that at age twelve or so. We had a beautiful 1950 Ford convertible (chartreuse with a tan top). See here for details,

      https://davesdailys.blogspot.com/2008/11/how-to-make-grown-man-cry.html

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    4. D4, That's a good story, and yes things have changed a bit. I truly loathe buying a car nowadays. Which is probably why I had my last pickup for 15 years and almost 300K miles.

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    5. Beans, yeah, my Driver's ed teacher was a football coach. He pretty much drilled the basics in to us and I still have those habits. But I do remember him taking the three of us, in his personal car, out on TX 350, the state highway between Big Spring and Snyder. Very straight, very flat and not well traveled. He told us that he KNEW we'd speed, he just wanted us to do it "Safely". Each one of us took that car up well above 100. Man was that fun.

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    6. I re-read those posts from 2008 and realized that I never finished the story. I'll have to work on that, because he DID buy the car spoken of in episode three.

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    7. There is an art to driving over 90mph, requiring anticipating road conditions way way ahead of you.

      Now that I can't read street signs from 8 blocks away anymore, I would be apprehensive to hit over 85mph. (Back in the day, the Navy wanted me for my eyes. Not my brain, my eyes. They didn't care that I was allergic to the mattresses or cigarette smoke or had an issue with heights or had IBS, nosiree. They wanted me up high with a set of spyglasses. And an alternate job as a Nuke tech. Wonder what it would have been like, no, it would have sucked. I appreciate the military, the military would not have appreciated me...)

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    8. Driving at 90MPH, yeah that takes some anticipation. Flying at 700K at 100'? Piece o' Cake! Seriously, if you hit something, you'll never know it. But it does focus the senses.

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    9. D4,
      I thought there might have been a next chapter, but the dryer chimed as I finished it and well...Duty Calls!

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  6. Very good rant sir!! As someone who drives a lot on a daily basis, I would agree with ALL of your points. Especially the use of the turn signal!! My most frequent comment is "Hmm, turn signals must have been an option on that model of car!" And, yes, lights ON so I can see your stupid a$$!!!" Gray and white cars in rain and snow!!! Duh!!!

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    1. One of my sotto voce comments while sitting behind someone at a T intersection and no blinker is "Are you continuing straight then I assume."

      That having been said...This is a small town.

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  7. I figured that the folks who don’t use their turn signals are the ones who’ve had to replace the bulbs.
    If they don’t use them they won’t have to replace them.

    I’m gonna forego telling what thought goes through my head when those @$$weasels don’t signal.

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    1. Don't even get me started on Safety Inspections. Do they actually check turn signals any more? I know, for a fact, that they don't check headlight (especially high beam) alignment anymore. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

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  8. Rules should be simple.

    1. Don't be a Richard, Ricardo, or any other male unit name.

    2. Slow traffic to the right.

    3. Speed limit, follow in town, keep reasonable in country.

    4. Bigger things stop slower than smaller things. Especially important for Trains, Semis and big bubba pickup trucks.

    5. If you can't follow these rules, go back to the miserable state or nation you came from.

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    1. You used different words, Beans, but your rules are just about the same as mine. In intent, anyway.

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    2. First rule is always don't be a Richard. First rule of gun safety. First rule of driving. First rule of marriage.
      We all heyah in the great State of Florida do not appreciate our northern (Yankee or Canuck) brethren coming down here and messing up our roads.

      We know how to drive in sugar sand. We know how to drive when the wind is blowing 60mph and it's near White Squall weather. We also know how to avoid turtles, tortoises, cougars, bears, pigs, gators, damned yankees (cleverly disguised as Florida Man,) Tegu lizards, iguana, various slithering snakes foreign and domestic, and even our baby sized deer (in comparison to Northern and Western deer.)

      We also know that little towns are speed traps and slow down before being trapped, and know when to speed on major roads (5 over on normal conditions, 10 over max on I-75 but not on I-95...) And we know to say "Yes, Sir/Maam" and No, Sir/Maam" and most importantly "Sorry I was an idiot, Sir/Maam."

      These are all things that those temporary imports or tax evaders from the north do not understand.

      (Think I'm kidding about turtles/tortoises? I have, since being in Florida since 1973, seen at least 100 tires/oilpans taken out by turtle/tortoise. I've personally had a big turtle/tortoise hockey-pucked into one of my brand new tires, thus blowing the tire, spattering the van with blood and chunks of turtle/tortoise and have a wildlife officer threaten me with $10K of fines and prison time for hitting said armored beasty. Fortunately someone else saw the beast get slap-shot into me else, well, you think Florida Highway Patrol officers have their humor surgically removed? Just wait until you cross a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer. No thank you. Just shoot me now...)

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    3. Yeah, I'm not a fan of driving either of the N/S Florida Interstates. Demolition Derby is kindergarten for those drivers. It's been about 5 years since I drove I-10 over to your neck of the woods. Not TOO bad, except for the Atchafalaya Bridge that is. I had to make some regular trips over to Baton Rouge and found that my blood pressure was improved immensely if I took I-45 north to US190 and took it into Baton Rouge. Something about going from 70-0 on a 2 lane Bridge with no shoulder in the middle of a swamp while looking in the mirror at the oncoming, apparently not decelerating front bumper of 18 wheeler, putting a damper on the drive.

      Good to know about FFW officers.

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    4. I like the Basin Bridge. You get to see a real navy ship on one end of it, and on the other, well, Florida....

      I miss driving that bridge. It always meant going to or coming from Gulf Wars (SCA war) and thus way too much fun in one week.

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  9. Especially love (NOT!) the shut-off of the engine in order for the vehicle manufacturers to meet the CAFE standards. This will do wonders for the life of the equipment involved with the starting system. The folks that hit their turn signal ONE second before they turn are the ones that raise my blood pressure.....aaarrrgh!

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    1. Yeah, probably will wear out the starter. It was convenient in that particular situation as I heard the car immediately prior to the Prius, just not the Prius.

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  10. I rode to High School with a friend who had a rather new VW Bug. The turn signals "flipped out" from the vertical body at the rear quarter panel window, on either side. I can't remember if they were illuminated at night with headlights on.

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    1. D4, In my best Arte Johnson voice, "Interesting, very Interesting". I did not know that.

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  11. What's with the people who drive at dusk with only their PARKING lights on?

    Was recently driving downtown with my top down - it was a beautiful day - I looked back and seeing nobody - turned - and a CHP on a motorcycle came up and said to use your turn signals.

    Now most of the time on the freeway CHP don't even use their turn signals but it is a bad idea arguing with a cop who only wants to give a verbal warning ---but I thought about it and it isn't a bad habit to have.

    Juvat - your state is the friendly state - have you been on the LBJ freeway? :-)

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    1. Yes, I have. There ARE exceptions. I have a currency requirement to drive at least 1 time per month in either Austin or San Antonio to refresh me on why I don't live in either city. If it weren't for MBD living in Austin in relative proximity to the WoodCraft store there, I probably would bump that requirement to 6 months.

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  12. "However, even then, if someone is coming up behind, pull back into the right lane, let them pass and then move back."

    Ahem. That would entail the driver actually looking at his rearview mirror and noticing a vehicle behind him. I once saw a passenger vehicle in the middle lane on a crowded-but-moving-along city interstate drive for approx. 3/4 of a mile before he noticed the cop sitting on his back bumper wanting to GET SOMEWHERE. I wondered why the cop didn't give him a toot from the siren, but maybe he thought he'd surprise the driver into a precipitous & perilous reaction. Dunno.

    Also, I turn on my blinker in advance of slowing down, so that the guy behind me is alerted that SOMETHING is going to happen & he ought to pay attention. Just my way, I guess.

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    1. Yes, well, call me eternally optimistic about my fellow man (and nearly universally disappointed), but hope springs eternal.

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  13. Ah, driving. There is only one group of people on this planet who are consistently competent drivers, the Germans. Most other Europeans suck at driving. Americans in general are better than either the Belgians or the Dutch. Way better than the French and the Italians.

    New England drivers range from the completely incompetent (Connecticut) to the supremely arrogant (Massachusetts). Little Rhody lies somewhere between the two extremes, though leaning towards incompetent. My two experiences driving Texas led me to believe that nobody in this country is even reasonably good at driving. On average, we're not the worst (Italians and Iranians) nor are we anywhere close to the best, the Germans.

    Maybe it's just me.

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    1. Drive as if your Mother was in the other car. Assuming your Mother is not some horror from a Hollywood movie. Yhat would solve a bit of this.

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  14. I don't think it's poor training that leads to people driving poorly, but just a lack of courtesy and a lot of them being lazy. It's so easy to use turn signals, but I think the majority don't- at least here in Sandog. I don't know anything about those rules about passing or speeding up as you mrege. The freeways are usually packed so we're going slow anyway.

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    1. San Dog.? That would be Saint James, my Friend. It’s easy to forget procedures when they’re not practiced. Not specifically, or in any way you Tuna, but Society. And turn signals are a microscopic portion of the things Society is forgetting as a whole.

      And that scares me.

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  15. I remember reading that Marines called loose pack straps Irish pendants.... And they'd work you hard if you didn't have them all tended too. Like the old Army and spit polishing boots, tight bed sheets, etc. If you learned to mind the details, then you minded the details. ALL OF THEM. We have a world now that is sloppy and lazy. Those traits will get you maimed or killed in an unpleasant situation. I firmly believe if things ever go sideways, those will be laying all over the place, stinking up the world, and feeding the carrion eaters..... It pays to stay sharp... Even if no one else notices...

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    1. Yep...attention to details was drilled in to me very early in my existence. Then honed to a sharp edge when learning to fly. I may be older now, but that trait still ranks high on my to do list.

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  16. Juvat, Tuna et al., I remember in primary flight training in the Tweet, they taught us something that they thought was new. Something about 30% inside the cockpit and 70% looking out. They had a name for it, but I don't remember. Common sense, perhaps. Anyway, maybe that has stuck. I know that it has with me. Scan, scan, scan, scan. Inside, outside. Situational awareness. Know where everybody is. It seemed to work back then in NVN and today on I-95.

    No just cruisin' man, with the left arm out the window.

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    1. Well D4, you're still here, so it must still be working. I don't remember the name either, just the procedure.

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  17. You left out matching speeds exactly with the car in the other lane for MILES!!! e.g. don't do it, unless you want an 18 wheeler to push you off the road... sigh

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    1. Yeah, that gets my goat also. I kinda mentioned it in the passing III section. I have been known when that happens to first clear my six, then assertively step on the brakes, not hard enough to cycle anti-skid, but enough to dip the nose and spit them out of my blind spot and out front. I always get a chuckle from the wild swinging of their head around to see what was happening. But that's just me...being me. Mrs J just says "Blind Spot?" "Yep"

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)