Friday, March 6, 2015

Resolutions, End of February Update

1.     Leave the country by myself 

Last month I went on a cruise, probably the easiest way of leaving the country by myself. After finding Princess Cruises Representative at the airport, I basically wasn’t responsible for getting myself anywhere for the next 7 days.

There were three ports of call: Cozumel, Roatan, Belize City. I only left the port in Belize, so that is my official check-off-the-resolution country, but even then I was with an excursion that took care of timing and transportation. I’m not sure it took as much bravery as I expected, and I certainly don’t feel any more confident in my traveling skills after this, but I enjoyed myself. Also, I will have a few blog posts about some new experiences…but I took almost zero pictures.

2.     Go to Canada- No plans yet.

3.     Workout three times a week.

I am on track to complete this. I had too few workouts for January, but balanced it out with more in February. My favorite workouts are yoga and pilates videos from YouTube (especially these videos), which is totally different to the Zumba and Wii Fit plan I made at the beginning of the year.

4.     Apply for jobs in South Korea. – I’ve researched and collected documents, but I have no real progress yet.

  1. Travel where I live
 I went to the North American International Auto Show, and I have the Detroit Institute of Art on my radar for this month. Even though I could be more intentional about finding ways to explore metro-Detroit, I also know that this will get easier as the weather warms up.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to Drive in Snow

This winter I’ve driven to work on a sheet of ice, and both during and after the fastest accumulation of snow metro-Detroit has seen in decades. Here in Michigan, we don’t call snow days easily. If it snows 6 inches, you still drive to work on Monday morning. And if it snows 12 inches? You might get away with showing up late.

Between many of my Brazilian students’ impressions of driving and this post about an Icelandic road trip, I’m starting to realize that not everyone views snow the same way I do. If you think snow is beautiful, here is some advice* for taking it on in a motor vehicle.

Be Careful

Drive slowly. If the speed limit is 50, but you can only control your car at 25 miles per hour…. the speed limit is 25. Leave space between vehicles, and leave time between commitments. You want as much time to stop as possible, and you do not want to be stressed on the road. These things are common sense, so make sure to do them.

You use more gas in stop and go traffic, moving slowly, and braking often. Running on fumes is not a choice you can make; especially on a road trip, walking to the nearest gas station could be life-threatening. Top your tank off before you are at one quarter full.

Think about the worst case scenario. Who will you call? Put those numbers on your fully charged cell phone. What if you are stranded? Know if you can safely walk to shelter, pack food in case you can’t, and pack all the warm clothes and flashlights you will need. Keep your winter boots in the car: you will need them no matter what the emergency situation.

Know How to Move

Losing control of your vehicle is normal, especially without four wheel drive. Slipping out is like when your body falls on the ice and your legs “slip out” from the rest of you, except this body is a ton of metal. When you feel it for the first time, you will know and you will probably panic. Don’t Panic. Find a deserted parking lot that hasn’t been plowed and practice.

Start out trying to stop. Figure out how long it takes to stop, and get familiar with the grinding feeling under your foot as you brake without enough traction. Assuming your car has an anti-lock brake system (ABS); the car will release and reapply the brake as long as you keep your foot down. If you don’t already know how, don’t drive in snow without ABS.

Now try to start on snowy and icy ground. If nothing happens,** gently and slowly push the gas and release the gas until you have traction and start moving. You will do this often at intersections. If you hold the gas down, you’ll move too quickly when your car finds traction and go shooting off too fast.

Know Where to Steer

Next, drive doughnuts in the parking lot. Make little circles or figure eight patterns until you slip out. When most people give you advice, they’re all using different words to tell you how to handle this situation. Try all of it: turn the direction you’re slipping, keep the wheel pointed where you’re going, turn towards where the rear of your car is going. Slip out until you panic less, and until you can regain control.

On the road you have basically three choices for where to steer: your lane, oncoming traffic, off of the road. Pay attention; know if there is a brick wall or an empty field off of the road. If you lose control moving too fast, especially if you’re driving on what you consider the “wrong” side of the road, make sure you Do Not steer into oncoming traffic.

Good Luck. 

Have you ever driven in snow? Is my advice helpful? What other advice have you heard?

*Advice. Not a guarantee. You are an adult (or responsible young adult) who makes your own choices. Make your own driving decisions at your own risk, et cetera.

**Some cars have a little light to tell you that there’s no traction. It will appear on the dashboard and look like a car with little squiggle lines coming off of the wheels. Try to feel for the moment anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Survivor: State of the Union

President Obama made many notable statements during the State of the Union Address, and Boehner’s facial expressions (or lack of facial expressions) were notable too. Unfortunately, I was distracted from both by the idea of the Designated Survivor.

The State of the Union Address is pretty much an assassin’s dream; he could take out dozens of officials with one weapon. So the Secret Service picks a person in the line of succession, usually the Secretary of Something-whose-department-won’t-make-headlines, to survive any possible attack. The only requirements are that they are eligible: they must be a natural born citizen and over 35 years old. For one night, this person receives presidential level security in an undisclosed location and, despite being maybe a dozen deaths away from the role, mentally prepares to become the next POTUS.

Like most things of the Cold War Era, I’m skeptical about the logic behind this plan. It seems like having an Apocalypse Plan: compelling to think about but not likely to be needed. Even if it is needed, I’m not convinced that the 15th next person in line to the Oval Office is ready to maintain a cohesive control of the government. Designated Survivors aren't even given special briefings or instructions. Still, the “what if” possibilities are fascinating.

If the worst had happened during the State of the Union Address in 1984, we would have had our first black president, Samuel Pierce. Black men have been designated three times since. There have also been one Lebanese, two Japanese, one Chinese, and three Hispanic Designated Survivors.

During the Presidential Inauguration in 1985, a mass assassination would have led to our first female president, Margaret Heckler. There have been two other female Designated Survivors, one of whom was designated twice. The only Designated Survivor who would have rocked the boat in both race and gender is Lebanese female Donna Shalala.

What do you think? Is this over preparedness, or completely necessary? Would the US have accepted a female president or a president of color 30 years ago?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Official New Year's Resolutions

Once upon a time, I started this blog with the best of intentions. Pretend this post is dated January first.

My official new year's resolutions are:
  1. Leave the country by myself before August, at least one time. Canada is only 1 hour from my house, it does not count for this experience. 
  2. Go to Canada. I've never been as an adult, and it is the least scary border to get myself across. Also, Audrey and Sam make it look like fun. 
  3. Workout three times a week. I want to be stronger, and I need to do something to make this happen. 
  4. Apply for jobs in South Korea. I've been interested in Korea for awhile, and interested in living abroad even longer. 
  5. Travel where I live. Detroit has some awesome museums, and there are so many things to do within one day's drive. Especially with gas prices the way they are, there is no excuse for me not to check some of them out.