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Are you a Courteous Driver???

I have a very dim memory of taking the behind the wheel driving test and then it was for a different state. Only by moving to North Carolina and being required to take a dreaded updated written test did I realize that our cautiousness as early drivers has led to complacency and bad habits after many years of driving.  So I thought I would talk about some of those more discourteous driving behaviors I have seen lately and see if anyone agrees with me.

One bad behavior I notice on a daily basis is drivers’ unwillingness to move over or change lanes to let merging traffic on the freeway.  Not moving over not only causes people to take chances by “squeezing” in but some will come to a complete stop at the end of the on ramp which endangers and irritates the poor souls stuck behind them.  Both actions can be extremely dangerous. Having learned how to drive on the freeways of Southern California, I can tell you that if you stop at the end of an on ramp without there being a light, you are definitely going to find yourself the object of “road rage”  Not, a pleasant thing in any state.

Next up is the all too common complete disregard for using turn signals. This gets to me because it makes me realize that there are way too many drivers not paying attention and ignoring the traffic behind them.  Use of a turn signal helps those behind you stay back when you are turning or changing lanes, which means less chance of a rear end collision.  There is a reason why our turn signals are inspected each year.

Finally the last point and perhaps the most dangerous one, is the use of headlights during the sunset/sunrise hours as well as during inclement weather.  It is a law here in North Carolina that if you are using your windshield wipers then your headlights must be on.  As to the sunset to sunrise hours it is not so much you being able to see, it’s so that others can see you.  It is posted in the NC Driver’s handbook that you must use your lights as well during the sunrise-sunset hours.

I drive on Hwy 52 every night after 5pm and it is amazing the number of cars that I see without their headlights on.  I know that some people are in such a hurry to get home, but you shouldn’t be in too big a hurry to set aside safety precautions while operating your motor vehicle.

I just want to say thank you to all of the courteous drivers out there and to those who are not, well you know who you are and you know that the rest of us will be keeping our eyes out for you.

Happy Driving



A Sign of a Bad Economy?

Holiday shoppers are everywhere right now but who would even guess that the person next to you in the meat department could be part of the 1 in 11 using the 5 finger discount.  Yes, I said meat department.

Believe it or not Filet Mignon tops the list of this years most shoplifted item as stated by  How to stuff a nice piece of filet mignon where it won’t be seen is not a picture I really want in my head. According to the list, luxury meat theft is up 21 percent. That takes the old saying “Champagne taste on a beer budget” to a whole new level.  Some of the other items on this list surprised me but as a former employee of a large retail store, some items I knew about.

Let’s run down the list –                                                                                                                                                                                                      

  1. Filet Mignon – can you put security tags on meat?
  2. Expensive liquor – Here in North Carolina it would be more difficult as you purchase alcohol in a state run store, but in states like Nevada (where I come from) you can buy alcohol in your standard grocery store. After working Loss Prevention I could tell you stories about empty Vodka bottles and empty gallon jugs for water.
  3. Electric Tools – Is this caused by the uprising of DIY shows? Included in this category are also electric toothbrushes.
  4. Iphone4 – According to the AJ Novick Group 100,000 phones, laptops and other various “gadgets” will be stolen this year from big box retailers.  This is also known as the ISteal phenomenon.
  5. Gillette razor replacement blades – with the cost of these upwards of $25 they are always a quick grab. Have you noticed that a lot more stores are putting these and similar items behind glass or under lock & key.
  6. Axe products – Now this one surprised me. I guess the ingenious commercials have triggered its popularity. According to the one article I read, these personal hygiene products are big sellers at swap meets, flea markets and other open air markets. So the next time you are at Cook’s and see Axe products think twice about where they might have come from.
  7. Designer clothes – Always a favorite among thieves. Again, these items are found at open air markets. Tommy Hilfiger & Polo Ralph Lauren seem to be the favored lines for theft. Clothing theft has increased 31% since 2009
  8. Let’s Rock Elmo – where would this list be without one of the most hyped toys on the market today. I’m sure past lists have included other “Elmo” products.  Each year, these toys make the Toys R Us hot list both for sales and thefts.
  9. Expensive perfumes – these smell good products actually make up about 4% of stolen merchandise.
  10. Nikes – Again we have an item found at multiple re-sell sites including some of your online resellers.  These are easy targets especially at crowded do it your-self shoe stores

Here are some figures I ran across while researching this blog. $119 billion of merchandise will be stolen this year.  This figure is up 6% since last year. As mentioned earlier 1 in 11 people will steal, 75% of those are adults and the apprehension rate is a dismal 1 in 48 times.  As the title suggests is this a sign of a down economy, high unemployment rate or simply the result of a generation of people who feel that they deserve more than what they have in life. I'll let you be the judge.

 No matter what is behind it, the numbers are staggering and I for one will be watching a little more carefully at the person standing next to me in the store.


Christmas Traditions from around the Globe

 Have you ever wondered if people in other countries celebrate Christmas the same as we do?  After much research, I have discovered that though the spirit of the holiday is the same, how it is celebrated varies widely. While I could have repeated the same old traditions we share (i.e. Santa Claus and his many titles), it was suggested that I cover the more odd or weird customs and traditions. So here we go. 

First off are some of our European nations.  Surprisingly both Italy and Russia share the tale of a female figure (called by different names for each country) that had refused to go with the Three Wise Men to see the Christ child because she was busy. When she did go, she could not find the North Star and the tale says that she now walks around handing gifts to children while looking for the Christ Child.   In Norway all the brooms in the house are hidden on Christmas Eve. This is done so that the witches and mischievous spirits can’t get to them to be able to ride the skies at night.  Portugal finds the tradition of putting place settings around the table for the dead in hopes it will bring blessing to the family the following year. 

In the Ukraine, I found out about a delightful tradition created by a folk tale.  The tale is that there once was a woman so poor that she could not afford decorations for her family. So one Christmas she woke to find that spiders had trimmed her kids’ tree with their webs. Now many decorate their trees with an artificial spider and web in the hopes that whoever finds it will have good luck. (Me, I try to keep the spiders out of my tree). Let’s travel to Latvia where it is a custom to walk around the streets wearing the masks of bears, horses, goats, gypsies and sometimes living corpses.  Should you decide to participate, you will be called a mummer. For our last stop, we are going to visit Yugoslavia. Here they have a custom that starts 2 weeks before Christmas. On that day, children rush into their mothers bedroom, tie her feet and chant “Mother’s day, Mother’s day what will you pay to get away”.  The mother will hand over presents to her children in order to be untied. A week after this, the children do the same with their father. (Parents, I’m not sure if I would share this with your children for fear they get the same idea). 

If you are planning on travelling to Caracas Venezuela for Christmas Eve mass, be prepared to bring your roller skates as this is the only way you will be able to get through town. All streets are shut down to any motorized vehicles. 

The last two traditions I am going to cover are about a favorite holiday topic. FOOD.  I discovered that the Colonel and his secret spices are a must have on Christmas in Japan. Yes, folks I am talking about Kentucky Fried chicken. This is where they have their Christmas dinner.  Lastly we are going to visit Greenland for a feast of kiviak. This is a dish of auk(small flightless bird) prepared by having the raw flesh wrapped in seal skin and placed under a rock and not eaten until it is well into decomposition.  Some describe it tasting like old bleu cheese with a strong odor and taste. Those from Greenland say it is delicious but I think I will pass. 

So, in closing, as we gather with our family and friends this holiday season, give a thought to those in other countries that are their traditions with family and friends. 

Happy Holidays



After the License

Now that I have explained the process of getting your license andthe steps to becoming a full-fledged no restrictions driver, I wanted to follow up with some tips and tricks that will help you as you become a more seasoned driver.

When I first started this series, I mentioned the excitement I felt about getting my license and the freedom I just knew it would allow me. Never once did I think about insurance and how much it would cost my single mom nor did I consider any of the common sense rules that you don’t learn in the handbook.  All I knew was that I could drive my friends down to Main Street and cruise around with all the other teenage drivers. 

Outside of the gradual licensing process, one of the biggest changes I have noticed is that if you are under 18 and considering dropping out of school, you can have your license revoked.   You can also lose your license if you receive a suspension for more than 10 consecutive days or are assigned to an alternative education setting due to disciplinary action for more than 10 consecutive days.  This loss will last for 12 months or until a Driving Eligibility Certificate is obtained.

Here are some tips about your actual driving.

  • When stopped at an intersection and after looking both ways, make your last look in the direction with the least amount of visibility. This allows you to see anything that might come around a blind curve at the last minute.
  • Know how to change a tire
  • If you are caught driving under the influence (over .08) and are convicted, you face losing your license for one year and you will have 12 points added to your insurance. To break it down monetarily, that means that your insurance premiums will increase by 340% once you get your license back
  • Drive with your lights on in any inclement weather or during dawn and dusk hours. Just because you can see does not mean that others can see you
  • Pay attention to not block an intersection. Trying to make that green or yellow light by blocking an intersection just causes a traffic jam where no direction of traffic gets to move forward.

You have been given a great privilege by having a drivers’ license and this is something that can take you on many great adventures throughout your life.  You worked hard to get it, now remember to work hard to keep it.  Be safe and courteous and you will have better driving experiences.

Good luck and happy travels




This is a reprint from an article Wake wrote last year for our ezine.  With Thanksgiving two days away I thought it appropriate to remind everyone about safety in the kitchen.  While this blog does not mention the dangers of turkey fryers, there are several web sites available that will show you the proper and safe way to deep fry a turkey.  We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Holiday weekend.


The most common type of kitchen fire that we see in this business is the fire that is started by grease catching on fire in a pan on the stove.  The danger of this kind of fire is often exacerbated by the way people attempt to put out this type of fire.  If you throw water onto a grease fire, the water, which is heavier than the oil, will sink to the bottom, then become superheated and the steam will push its way up and out of the pan.  The force of this kind of explosion can be quite stunning and worst of all, this explosion will smear burning oil all over the kitchen from the ceiling to the walls.  After this has happened, the best course of action would be to get out of the house and call the fire department.

Other inaccurate wisdoms that are handed down about grease fires include throwing flour or sugar on a grease fire in a pan.  These are also very dangerous strategies, in fact it is estimated that throwing one cup of flour or sugar on a burning grease fire in a pan can create an explosion with the force of up to two sticks of dynamite.

Fortunately, there is a simple and low tech solution to this type of fire.

Step 1 – Turn off the heat on the burner.

Step 2 – Rinse a dish towel fully in water and then wring it out.

Step 3 – Carefully place the wet dishtowel over the burning pan of grease and wait for it to cool down.

I have found a short video on youtube that you can watch to see a demonstration of this technique.  Please take 30 seconds to watch this short video and then teach this to your children and those you love.  This knowledge could save the life of someone you love.  To see this 30 second video, please click here.