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Episode Two: Driving Me Crazy
by Marc S.A. Glasgow, aka The CyberPoet®
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Easy Method Driving School - Accident Picture
  Years ago, I decided that I really had a special talent when it came to driving. Others excelled in football, or baseball. Driving was my forte and my passion. In the intervening years, I haven't changed that outlook, but have gone through some rather elaborate training and certification courses to reaffirm that notion, including be licensed to drive in every country in the world and holding various special instructor's licenses (German: Driving Instructor's Licenses, KFz & Motorrad; US Army: Driving Instructor for various on- & off-road combat & transport vehicles up to 10 drive-wheels). On top of that, I used be the team leader & lead driver for a Euro-Rally team. If that wasn't good enough, I haven't had an accident that was my fault since I was 17...
  So, today, I hark on American driving and give tips to radically improve your driving skills.
Voyeurism at it's Best
One of the first things I teach my driving students is to learn to watch through the windows of the car ahead of you to see the cars ahead of him. By doing so, you can react to forward traffic's braking and maneuvering at the same time (or even before) the car ahead of you does. 
Riding My Ass
Judging safe distance from the vehicles in front of you can be difficult at varying speeds. Simple Trick: select an object the person in front of you is passing, then start counting seconds until you reach that same object (one-one thousand, two-one thousand...). On clear days, two seconds is the distance that you need. In rain, at night, in inclement weather, increase that time to three seconds. 
If there's one thing German's in general can't do (and many Americans either), it's merging onto the highway. The incorrect way: get onto the on-ramp and slow down, looking for a gap, then come to stop at the end of the on-ramp. The correct method: accelerate your car to the speed of the cars on the highway as you come onto the on-ramp, then by the time you get to the merge, you will be traveling the same speed and as the traffic and be able to merge easily without disrupting traffic. 
By the way, make sure the on-ramp is clear before you do this, even if you have to wait at the bottom before you start.
I Just Peed My Pants
One of the things that Americans don't practice (and aren't tested on) is what do in crises situations, such as during equipment failure (the typical reaction is to stand on the brakes, whether they are working or not). Although in an ideal world, brakes, tires and so forth never fail, the reality is they do even on well-maintained cars. Like all good driving, reacting to a crises properly is mostly a matter of repetitive training so that your muscles know what to do without consciously thinking about it. You should practice at least the three rudimentary techniques: stopping without using the brake pedal (use the parking brake and shift-downward in automatics or manual shift cars to shed speed), collision avoidance (going around into the grass/median/etc and then braking instead of braking in insufficient distance), recovering from the three kinds of skids (acceleration skid, loss of direction skid, braking skid -- too long to go into here; follow this link for instructions). 
You're Doing It Too Fast, Baby
Posted speed limits are set by a combination of civil engineers and federal mandate, but a general rule of thumb is that if your car is in perfect condition (clear day, empty dry & clean road surface) and you are in perfect driving condition (i.e. - alert, wide awake, etc.), the calculated maximum safe speed (because of safety margins civil engineers use) is usually about 1.5 times higher than the posted speed limit. 
Watch This, Baby
Although most people think that yellow or orange are the most visible colors for cars, a scientific study commissioned by Mercedes concluded that at times of minimal visibility (dusk, inclement weather), white cars are the most visible vehicles, which red, black/gray and dark blue cars being the least visible.
I Don't Want the Cops to Notice
Speed regularly, but want fewer tickets? Here are four things you can do to help (statistically): drive a white car; do not tint you windows; place no decals/beads/expensive wheels/other personal touches other than company logo's on the car; get a custom tag that implies a technology or legal-profession company affiliation.

Now for the other bits of WizDom

Make It Last Twice As Long
Want your clothes to last twice as long? Reduce the amount of detergent you use to half the recommended amount for a full load (unless your clothes are exceptionally dirty) and run them through the wash again without any detergent before throwing them in the dyer or hanging them up. According to the owner of a large chain of laundries, most clothing wears out not from use or washing, but because the detergents used don't rinse out completely and cause fabric damage afterward, while hanging in your closet. He also added that the churning of the clothes in the washer is what gets out most of the dirt and that the detergent only helps a little with body oils and fragrance.
Suck It Hard
When you go looking for vacuum cleaners, here is what you should know:
  • canister vacuums generally produce more vacuum power than uprights;
  • beater attachments are important if you have pets, because they untangle the hair from the carpets so it can be sucked up;
  • vacuums that use disposable bags are less likely to recirculate dirt than ones that have permanent containers;
  • disposable bags normally come in two varieties: regular bag and micron bags (sometimes called micro-filter bags). Micron bags trap more of the dirt because they filter to a smaller particle size, and if you have someone with asthma or other breathing problems in the house, get them instead.
Personal preference: Eureka Canister vacs with 10 or more Amps and a beater attachment.
Tune in next time for more Infinite WizDom from The CyberPoet®
Copyrighted Material.
© 2000,  Marc S.A. Glasgow, aka The CyberPoet® 
All rights reserved under U.S. and international law.

Marc Glasgow is a Macintosh Consultant serving the Tampa Bay area since 1990.
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