Driving Fallacies and Traffic

January 10, 2013 1 comment

Many of us commute to work via highways or freeways–supposedly uninterrupted channels of traffic flowing smoothly to their destination.  The reality, however, is a often a nauseatingly congested, stop-go-stop sweaty barnyard of honking maniacs trying to make time on their morning commute.

There seem to be a couple of presuppositions that contribute in a big way to these flutserclucks.

FALLACIES:
1.  You are in direct competition with other drivers. Don’t pad your wilting ego with the disillusioned idea that you have ‘beaten’ someone who wasn’t racing you.  It’s not a race. There are no winners.
2.  Preventing 1 car, 2 cars or 15 cars from merging in front of you will get you to your end destination faster.  Once moving at proper highway speeds, the distance of 20 cars (let’s say 400 feet) will take only seconds.  Keeping one or two people from merging ahead of you can only save you tenths of a second.

TRUTHS:
1.  Slow downs (accidents aside) happen most often at points where two streams of traffic are forced to merge. 
2.  Your actions can affect the column of traffic behind you.  Slamming on your breaks or coming to a stop will cause the driver behind you to act accordingly.  This reaction can echo back through the column indefinitely (unless there is a gap large enough to buffer the following cars).  This is reason YOU have found yourself in an infuriating gas-beak-honk scenario for the last 15 minutes.

RETHINKING OUR GOALS WHILE DRIVING:
The goal of driving is to propel the vehicle forward.  Instead of measuring the distance to the traffic ahead, think about keeping the vehicle rolling forward.  Isn’t that what we pay those high fuel costs for?  Preserve that forward movement instead of rushing ahead to stop.  (Laws of Physics and Inertia teach us that starting the motion of an object is most difficult–maintaining motion, comparatively easy)  Maintaining a steady flow can be achieved by creating space between you and the traffic ahead.  This space will ‘soak up’ the erratic starts and stops of other drivers and allow you to travel at a constant speed.
These gaps in traffic will inevitably be filled by others, which is not upsetting once you realize that their action doesn’t impact you arrival time by more than a couple of seconds.

BENEFITS:
1.  Wear and tear on your car:  Stopping and starting is hard on your brakes and your vehicle, not to mention the fuel savings of maintaining momentum. 
2.  Wear and tear on your patience:  Changing your focus will do wonders for your mood and level of stress and road rage, making the quality of your experience that much better.  If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.
3.  Space to accelerate:  When you have space ahead of you it makes changing lanes much easier; you have room to accelerate so you can catch those gaps in traffic. 
Drive with an understanding of the fact that we are all connected. Our actions impact those around us.
Not convinced?  Consider the impact on traffic if you were just to stop in your lane, get out and walk away.

The importance of books and the complete experience

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Being a purist in many ways, I have resisted the convenience of e-readers and tablets as the medium I prefer to consume books.  Certainly toting around Ken Follett’s latest tome Winter of the World around has its downsides–falling asleep being crushed beneath a massive hard cover is not a pleasurable experience.  However, reading an a book and the whole tactile experience that goes along with it is something not matched in screen form.

While reading a recent post on Mindful Stew, I was reminded of a The Globe and Mail article I read which recounted Margaret Atwood having defended the internet and social media as “a great driver of literacy” as it caused people to read and thereby stimulate their brain in a variety of ways.  The point of the article, however, was that the brain of screen readers develops in a vastly different way; the neurological networks of an “expert reader” are vastly different and more developed than those of an over stimulated screen reader.  The article went on to say that the kind of reading done in a hyper linked, hyper stimulating environment fosters a brain that is unable to focus in a deep and meaningful way, something that they termed “Twitter brain”, causing the mind to work in an infantilized mode.

Likewise, a recent article in The Toronto Star points out that old fashioned text books are more effective at conveying information than e-books.  It points out that the physical cues that trigger links to memories and information simply aren’t the same in the e-reader, and thus the pathway to those memories is less likely to be located.  Also the ability to fan through pages of a textbook to find the information you’re looking for is no longer possible.  Now one must laboriously scroll to find their spot.

There are lots of students who would gladly not lug their back breaking Science and Math textbooks home at the end of the day, but it seems that replacing books with virtual copies has its drawbacks too.

Certainly a book has never run out of batteries in the middle of a canoe trip, and for that I will gladly haul them over many portages on my back.

Celloboxed

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

This video caught me off gaurd. I absolutely did not expect this dapper young cellist (Kevin Olusola) to go where he did with this song.

Yet another example of my preconceived notions of classical instruments being challenged.

Aloe Blacc blurs lines of conventions

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

This is a great version of Aloe Blacc’s “I need a dollar” that incorporates a number of beautiful elements. The sonorous classical arrangement further complimented by the artwork prominantly backgrounded.

Another example of classical instruments beautifully thrust into contemporary.

Bored Man in a Hotel

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

 

This guy (Greg Pattillo) makes flute about the coolest instrument ever….beat boxing meets classical instruments.

There is a whole Youtube channel filled with his work: PROJECT Trio

Comfortable in your arms

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

There is something about the standing bass, double bass, bass viol or whatever else you might call it. Irreplicable.

Tom Freund opened for Ben Harper in Toronto many years ago where I wrapped my ears around this catchy little tune.

Have a listen:

Food System

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

For those of you who have not seen the documentary on the industrial food system FOOD INC, see it.  It does not try to shock the audience into an emotional response against meat. In fact, it is not anti-meat at all.  It does however shed some light on an industry that does not want light shed upon it.

This clip from the film is a wonderful overview of some of the issues and the ideas.  The farmer being interviewed, from Polyface Farms, is Joel Salatin.  I think he challenges the red neck stereotypes to which we might be prone, and certainly proves himself a very intelligent, well spoken expert in his craft.

Notable highlight from the Video:
-” A culture that just views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic, inanimate structure to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter will probably view individuals within its community, and other cultures within the community of nations, with the same type of disdain, and disrespect, and controlling type mentality”  (Joel Salatin)

Pay particular note to the events at 3:15 of the video. (Point to follow)

Q: How did you react to the slaughtering of the chickens?

Having shown this to many, and witnessed hundreds of reactions, it seems that we tend to be horrified by the act of slitting the chicken’s throat.  Yes, it is a brutal act.  How many of us are more than willing to order wings at a restaurant, but don’t want to be shown the consequences of such a decision?  How disconnected have we become from the effects of our food eating habits?

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