May all your journeys be mild

I’m generally a fairly mild mannered driver.  I drive defensively, keep an eye on what’s going on around me, and look ahead so as to avoid trouble.  I know what places are going to be congested so I get to the part of the road I need to be on before I reach those places.  That’s part of the reason why the only accident I’ve ever been in occurred at slow speed, at a stop actually, when I was rear ended by a sixteen year old driving her Daddy’s big pickup.  Her foot slipped off the brake.  I haven’t, to my knowledge, caused any wrecks either.

I’ve needed all those skills this holiday season.  I don’t know what it is but this is the most intense year for holiday driving that I’ve ever seen.  One night, I nearly met disaster no fewer than five times!  A neighbor nearly plowed into me as I was leaving my driveway (I had looked both ways before starting) because he felt the need to zoom through our unusually crowded neighborhood without looking, even though there were lots of holiday visitors walking back and forth looking at lights, then he had the temerity to blare his horn as if it had been my fault.  On the same trip, a couple of distracted drivers decided to stop suddenly without giving warning.  Another did a U-turn in the middle of the road through fairly heavy traffic.  A pedestrian ran across that same busy street, mid block (posted limit is 40 and there are five lanes plus a bike lane), apparently aiming for our car.  Luckily, the pedestrian missed and made it safely to the other side.  I’m pretty sure two new eyeballs had grown on the back of my head by that point.  I stayed relatively calm but didn’t come down off Alert Status till I’d pulled the car into my spot, locked it, and gotten safely inside.

Every time I have poked my head out of my domicile between maybe four PM and 10 PM, I have witnessed something that can only be called holiday insanity.  People are acting as if their brains have been scooped out by a melon baller and replaced by something resembling warm tapioca.  I’ve also seen a heartrending number of accidents, several each day, far more than I’ve ever seen before.  I think people are maddened by having to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, feeling pressed for time, frustrated and frazzled, and probably not used to the area because many of them seem to be new Snowbirds.

I’m happy to stay out of those accidents.  I’m staying most firmly INDOORS today and tomorrow.   I’ll be eating spice cookies and chicken, thank you very much, watching some good anime and spending time with the love of my life.

So here are a few tips to protect you, dear reader, at these frenetic times of year.

 

Tips For Holiday Driving

Stay calm.  If someone cuts you off or does something stupid, don’t let it get to you.  Honk only when needed for safety.

Look ahead and all around  you.  Keep your head on a swivel.  Somebody should be looking, after all, and they certainly won’t.

Keep in mind the distractions other drivers have.  Phones, lane change alerts, automated braking, in-dash navigation systems or other screens, screaming kids, meals grabbed on the go.  Be extra vigilant.

Don’t go unless you have to.  If you can, plan your trips for calmer times.

Know your alternates.  It’s nice to have another way to get somewhere if you see a wreck or an obstruction.

Don’t distract yourself.  Conversation with others in the car or MAYBE music on the radio.  No phones, for pity’s sake no texting.  Nothing is more important than keeping your car, and yourself, in one piece.

Think ahead.  Along with looking ahead, think ahead.  Watch other drivers, observe how they are reacting and acting.  Get away from ones who can’t hold their lane or are driving erratically.  I can’t tell you how many times this has saved my skin.

Allow a bit extra following distance.  This includes at stoplights.  Aim to be able to see the tires of the car ahead of you, at the least.  That way you won’t get stuck behind someone, and you’ll also have more time to react.

If you are too stressed out to travel or shop, find another way.  Shop online, plan the trip another time, ask for help, or find some way to reduce the stress burden.  A few extra deep breaths work wonders.

Stay safe out there, and may your holidays be merry and bright!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/mil

The unexpected safety features of Standard Transmissions

Life is art.  Time to talk a bit about the art of using a clutch.  When I first learned to drive, I was having such a hard time that I said frequently “I’ll always drive an automatic.”

It would have been possible to do that – however, I knew deep down that I needed to learn.  I admired the people who could work a clutch.  My own mother had, for most of her cars, and everybody I liked knew how.

I dreaded learning.  There was so much to do!   It seemed like I’d never get the rhythm right, especially starting up a hill.

Then came my pretty Dodge Dakota pickup.  It was perfect for my needs, but it was a standard.  I practiced and practiced – stalled out quite a few times – and eventually learned.  Then, when I was looking for a sedan, I found myself searching eagerly for a standard.  I found it – my battered Elantra has served me for over a decade.

Now, after quite a few years driving standards, I’m irritated if I have to drive an automatic.  There’s nothing to do!  I have so little control!  I can’t stand automatics anymore.  There are some very good reasons why standards are not only safer, but better cars to own.

Advantages of a Standard Transmission

Better speed control – when you stay in one particular gear, it naturally keeps you in a range of speeds.  This helps prevent you from driving too fast for the road.  It’s a bit like a cruise control only more flexible.

Safer braking – When you slow down while driving a standard, you use the brake as well as your engine to do it.  So if your brakes completely fail you have another option to get back under control.  You also tend brake more smoothly and safely.

Ticket avoidance – when you drive a standard, you can slow down without using the brake at all – just let off the gas and quietly shift into a lower gear.  That can help you avoid the notice of traffic cops who are looking for brake lights.

A back-up to your starter – with most standards, you can push start them without using your ignition at all.  So if it, your battery, or your alternator fail, you aren’t out of luck.  You can start up again with the help of either some strong friends or a gentle hill.

Cheaper to work on – a clutch replacement is usually less than a thousand dollars.  Mine are around six hundred.  With good driving you can get a clutch to last a long time.  An automatic transmission replacement will cost you a LOT more than that.

Cheaper to buy – with standards being less popular, many times you can get a better deal on them.  That’s a great advantage!

Better knowledge of your car – with a standard, you are more aware of what your engine is doing.  That helps you be easier on the car, and also be alert of any problems before they get bad.

Better gas mileage – some of the modern automatics claim to have better gas mileage than standards, but in general, you do get better gas mileage with a standard and good driving than older automatics can deliver.

If more of us learn to love and drive standards, they will continue to be available in new models of trucks and cars.   I’d hate to see the standard die out – they are just too useful!  Not only that, but they are a lot of fun to drive.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clutch/

Launching a new obsession

(and helping those who want more time for theirs)

For everybody who has kids, busy lives, jobs with long hours, long commutes, and no time, I feel you.  This post is all about doing something you always wanted to do, but don’t think you have time for.

I feel like I have almost no time.  That’s not really true, but it sure feels that way.  I’m not writing as much as usual, reading or doing art as much either.  That’s because my new job is taking more time and energy and I want to get my new career off to a good start.  Yet, time slips by as it will and I re-prioritize.

Now, with all that said, why is it that I’m buying an electric guitar so I can learn to play it?  Because I want to.  I really, really want to.  Hearing live guitar just gives me a thrill that little compares to, and it’s high time I do something about this interest.

But I have that little time problem.  Here’s what I’ve done, maybe it will help you.

Steps to making more time in your life

Tally up all the ways you spend your time.  Recreation, work, eating, commuting, resting, etc.  You don’t have to write this down, but maybe think it over during a commute, a morning shower, or a quiet meal.

Prioritize your activities.  Start with the non-negotiables and work your way down.  Don’t forget sleep and exercise.  Often, those are sacrificed for other things that really aren’t as important.

Reduce what’s least important.  Recreation is important.  Even so, maybe those two hours of TV could be reduced to one, or maybe there’s a website that is a total time-suck that could be eliminated.  Knowing yourself and your behaviors will really help here.  Remember, you aren’t really giving things up, you’re making room so you can enrich your life.

What you can’t reduce, combine.  Deep knee bends when brushing your teeth.  Meditation when falling asleep.  Reading books or drawing during lunch breaks.  Listening to music in the shower.  You could label everything in the house in a foreign language, so you practice as you go about your routine.  Get crazy with it!

What you can’t reduce or eliminate, make more efficient.  For example, if you spend twenty minutes going out to get lunch at work, spend an hour on the weekend packing up five lunches for yourself.  That way you can grab and go, and use that lunch period to do something else.  It saves money, too, and the lunches might be better for you.  Or lay out your clothes before bed so you don’t have to fumble in the morning.  Little things can really add up.

Staying a little more organized (having a place to put everything) has saved me a whole lot of time – I don’t waste it trying to find stuff.

Now that you’ve eked out a bit more time, figure out what you really want to do more of.  Then break it down into bite sized pieces.  If you’re learning a language, try for a word at a time.  If you’re reading a book, you could read a few pages here and there.  If writing, it’s a little harder but similar.  If you want to exercise, you could design mini work outs.

Finally, put it all together.  Fit your bits of progress in wherever you can – work out when watching TV, read audio books when driving, write during breakfast, or whatever works for you.  You can definitely find time to do things, but it takes drive and creativity!  The great feelings of accomplishment are more than worth the effort, and you’ll feel more fulfilled as a person.  As a bonus, lifelong learning helps keep the brain healthy and staves off depression.

My own example

I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t have the same problem!  I have a full time job, a half hour commute, time with the spouse, time doing housework, taking care of the ever demanding cat, shopping, doing errands, and internet time.

Some things are non negotiable, like work, sleeping, spouse, eating, errands, commute.  But I realized I could cut the net time down a bit.  I’ve wanted to learn to play guitar for a really long time, it’s on my “bucket list,” and I want to get to it while my fingers are still limber.  Besides, I found a beginner’s guitar kit for under a hundred bucks, which is way less than I thought I’d find one for.  So I can cut back online gaming by a half hour and slide the guitar right in that spot.  I can also use odd moments to watch YouTube lessons and read up on music theory.  I can do this without sacrificing (much) on blogging and the other things I need to do.  Mine is a simple case because I don’t have kids, but this system will work for almost anyone.  Still, I already feel more at peace because I know I’m doing one more thing I always wanted to try, instead of waiting till the right time comes.

Instead of waiting for the right time, I’m making the right time.

Happy living!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/launch/

A Glorious way to dispel darkness – and muggers.

The days are getting shorter again.

Do you sometimes feel unsafe at night, or have to go through dangerous areas in the dark?  Do you want something to help protect you, but don’t want to have to deal with pepper spray, mace, or a weapon?  Would you like more options if you are ever attacked?

There’s a simple tool that is not only good for all those things, but is just handy to have for other reasons.  Best of all, you can take them anywhere, even into banks and office buildings!

I’m talking about a tactical flashlight.

You’re walking to your car after a hard day at work.  Your eyes are a bit bleary, your back hurts, and all you can think about is your favorite Netflix show that’s waiting for you at home.

You hear a sound from between a couple of cars.  Someone is there!

The light in the parking lot is bad – maintenance still hasn’t gotten to it.  But you know you aren’t alone.

Is Brad, the creep who kept texting his undying love even after you told him “not jus tno, but hell no” and blocked him?  Or is it the robber you’ve heard about at break, the one who’s been trying to get into cars?  Or is it just a buddy, trying to freak you out?

You don’t know.

Something jumped out of the dark at you.  You turn, bring your hand up.  Your thumb flicks the button at the base of your tiny flashlight, its intense beam pierces the night…

…revealing a stranger’s face, who is now bringing his hands up to shield his eyes from the blinding light.  You hear the clank as something heavy, maybe a tire iron?  hits the ground.  Taking advantage of the sudden distraction, you run back to the building, to call the police or maybe that tough chick who’s always well armed.

Tactical flashlights come in small versions, pocket sized, often with specially reinforced bezels so you can use them to make strikes if the bright flash of light isn’t enough to help you escape.

Look for one with 400 lumens or better Mine has different settings so you don’t use up the battery very fast if you don’t need the ultra-bright setting.  I like it a lot, it’s made by Fenixfire.  I bought it on sale of course but have been very pleased.  It looks kind of cool and lightsaber-y.

Whatever your choice in flashlight brands, look for a flashlight that is either rechargeable or uses rechargable batteries.  Immediately reject anything that uses AA or AAA batteries.  It won’t be powerful enough.  The kind that these flashlights use can be expensive, better to be able to recharge them.

Look for a flashlight that has a button on the tail cap rather than on the side.  If you are going to use it as a striking tool, this will come in handy.  Also avoid glass lenses unless they are tempered.  Also, if you ant something small, do your internet searching with the keyword “EDC.”  EDC, or EveryDay Carry flashlights have to be tiny and robust.

Here is an article all about tactical flashlights.  The most important thing is to note that you need to be prepared to move quickly.  Even the brightest light won’t hinder an attacker for long, you need to get out of the situation or fight back as quickly as possible.  However, a small, powerful flashlight can get you out of more than one sticky situation without permanently harming anyone…

… and they can be great to find things in the dark, too.

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/glorious

Easy Tips to Prepare for Disaster

“When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, don’t forget your kitty…”

As if I ever would.  This fluffy girl is my best four footed friend, just as my wife is my two footed best friend.

However, by making a bed of an empty box, she’s also reminding me I need to restock!  When maintaining a good supply of food, whether for daily use or long term storage, it’s good to rotate your stocks periodically and also check for old or spoiled food.  I just had to get rid of about fifteen pounds of rice because there were weevils all through it.

Easy tips for long term food storage:

Plastic Buckets are your friends.  Sometimes grocery stores and fast food restaurants give them away, or you can buy them at the hardware store.  They are great for wheat, rice, beans, and smaller bags with other items.  They are stackable for storage in small closets and usually quite sturdy.

Dry Ice works well with your buckets for storing food.  Fill the bucket with dry goods, then place a piece of dry ice on top and tamp the lid shut.  The carbon dioxide will help repel bugs and keep things from spoiling.

Powdered cinnamon repels some insects.  I sprinkle some around the floor of the pantry to help keep bugs away from the cat food and other dry goods.  Diatomaceous Earth is also nontoxic and can be used for the same purpose.

Gallon water bottles are a fairly economical way to buy emergency water.  I buy the Glacier Springs bottles for a dollar or less apiece and then just never open them.  That way the water won’t go bad very quickly because it’s factory sealed in a sanitized bottle.

Don’t forget the spices.  If you have to live off your stockpiles of beans and rice, spices will be your best friend.  Get those pound and half pound giant containers when you see them on sale then store them unopened.

Rotate your stock.  If the cans or bags are getting too old, start using them and buy new ones to replace them.  That way everything is relatively fresh and you don’t have to buy a bunch of things at once.

Grab energy bars when they are on mark down.  They make great emergency food – highly portable, and usually with added vitamins.  I just found a bunch of Atkins bars for a cheap price so I put some in storage and others I’m using for my work lunches.

Watch for Sales.  When you see something that is being sold cheaply, such as cans of tuna, canned chicken, sardines, beans, or rice, buy a little extra and store it.  Even a few dollars spent here and there can really add up over time.

Check your medical supplies.  Make sure tape isn’t getting gummed together, there are no rips in gauze packages, and swap out your antibiotic ointment and other perishables every year or so.  Aspirin can easily last for five or ten years, and things like betadyne and rubbing alcohol will be fine too, but creams, lotions, gel caps, and other such things need to be replaced periodically.

Nezumi Prepper 1000.JPG

Everybody should be prepared for an emergency, whether it’s a kid getting a nasty bruise, a mis-routed pay check, or a natural disaster.  Having a pantry full of food and supplies will give you some much needed peace of mind.

via Daily Prompt: Casual

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/casual/

Job Interview Revelations

As I go higher into the corporate ranks, I learn that the interview process becomes both longer and less certain.

No longer do I see the exact pay they are offering, they are vague about it till the actual job offer comes.  I have to go through more interviews.  Sometimes I don’t even know where the job is until I get fairly far into the interview process.  Also, I don’t even know if they are passing me farther into the process, except by subtle cues!  However, this is the best way to be paid more, especially if you are currently working in entry level customer service and want to get a better job.

Tips and Revelations to get you through Corporate Interviews:

The people hiring you often want to hire you as much as you want to be hired by them.  Your job is to make them see you’ll be a good person to work with.  So be personable and try to relax as much you can while staying professional.

If you get to the interview and they are already talking about dress code, corporate culture, travel requirements, and where the company is going in the next year or so, that’s a very good sign.  They are interested in you.

It’s especially good if you can get them laughing a bit!  Smiles are good to see.  Keep a gently cheerful expression on your face.  A good thing to do during the wait before the interview is a little deep breathing.  Think about cheerful things that always make you smile.

It’s a bit stressful for the interviewer too, they are just as human as you are.  That’s the number one reason not to be too nervous.

Do a little research on the company – glassdoor.com is pretty good for this – so you know how much salary to ask for in your area.

Wear a conversation piece with your interview clothes.  For instance, I wore a black skirt, black blouse, royal purple jacket, and a simple pendant.  However, the pendant was a piece of opal that grew inside quartz and is captured in a silver setting.  So even though it was understated, it was interesting, and has helped people remember me.  Simple and classic clothes are best whether you’re a man or a woman.

Stand up straight, look people in the eye, and act like you are comfortable there.  Don’t be informal but at the same time tell yourself “I belong here.  I will work here.”  It helps.

I am writing these tips because I have just gotten through several successful interviews and have gotten myself a $3.50 an hour raise with at least three companies wanting me to work for them.  If you have other tips for potential interviews, post them here!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/revelation/

It’s Prudent to prepare

Disaster preparedness is not something to be ashamed of. It’s just good thinking.

When I read comments about being prepared for a natural disaster, I often see traces of embarrassment or defensiveness inherent in the message. I think this happens because it is so easy to be labeled an “extremist” or a “radical fringe element” or a “prepper” or a “survivalist.”

Shouldn’t we all be “survivalists?” That is, shouldn’t we all be focused on survival? Independent of rogue government elements, market collapse, alien invasion, rogue six legged GMO cows from the secret Monsanto corn mazes, or whatever, there are still the age old concerns of famine, fire, and flood. It’s only smart to have some stored food, some medical supplies, some survival skills, and some tools. It’s really, really naive to just assume that the mechanism of modern society will keep ticking on, despite all ravages of earthquake, blackout, tornado, ice storm, blocked road, or vicissitude of human stupidity.

It doesn’t have to take much. Some sealed gallons of water. Some cans of tuna or the ever popular beans. An extra month of medications.  Pet food.  Rechargeable LED flashlights. A few extra blankets.  A sturdy knife.  A first aid kit and a little basic training. You can work up from there, but even a little bit of preparation could mean the difference between life and death, comfort and hardship. It pays to know how to build a fire, clean a wound, cook over an open flame, where it is safe to use fire and where it is not, how to purify water, how to keep warm without heat, how to change a tire, how to light your way at night.

Training such as this has quite literally saved my life and it wasn’t hard to acquire. You never know when you may have to boil a pot of beans or know how to keep your water clean!

via Daily Prompt: Prudent

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/prudent/