The AAA motor club recently released news informing drivers to stop holding the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position for three reasons:
- It causes fatigue.
- It isn’t relevant anymore because virtually all vehicles now have power steering (the 10 and 2 position was designed in large part to help people control their vehicles if they didn’t have power steering).
- When an airbag deploys from the steering wheel, the old 10 and 2 position can cause your arms to be blown into your face, possibly causing serious injury.
I actually find this commonsensical and to be honest, I have never driven in that classic position I learned through basic car driving lessons. I have a unique way of putting my hand position on the steering wheel on top which is apparently just as dangerous or even worse. I guess I better rethink about how I hold that steering wheel!
AAA has advised drivers to use a 3 and 9 position which slides your hands right to the middle of the opposite sides of the wheel, or even a little lower at 4 and 9. This appears to be a smart move as it’s easy to see how an airbag would deploy into your face and chest while your arms cradle it on the outside.
There are many other safety tips you can use while driving and here are the most important ones as a reminder:
1. Do not tailgate. Why is it that people get behind another vehicle about one car’s length away while they are driving 55 mph? You’re asking for trouble and if the person in front of you slams on the brakes to avoid road debris or an animal, you stand a good chance of being toast!
2. Take sleepiness seriously and pull over. I remember once on a long trip, I was so sleepy I stopped the car and forced myself to do two 50 yard wind sprints before getting back into my old Chevy Camaro. I was ok for about 5 minutes but moments later, I was worse off than before! Luckily, I pulled over about 10 miles down the road into a 7 Eleven parking space, turned the car off, rolled my seat back, and passed out. Two hours later, I came to! I wiped the drool off my cheek and made it home easily, three hours later. People crash and die all the time due to falling asleep at the wheel!
3. Slow down when it’s raining and increase your distance from other cars and brake gently when it is snowing. Do you really think it’s safe to travel 70 mph when it’s pouring rain? Apparently, many drivers do! These knuckleheads arenputting everyone else at risk, so don’t be one of them. I’m certain you have noticed how many more vehicles get involved in traffic crashes when the skies open up.
4. Don’t text and drive. Plain and simple.
5. Wear your seat belt. For goodness’ sake, while you’re at it, teach your kids to wear them, too. You wouldn’t believe how many parents let their kids get into a car without placing seat belts on them. About 5 years ago while at a family barbecue, my brother-in-law gave me the keys to his van and asked me to fetch a few bags of ice for him as a favor. I gladly took his 12 year old daughter with me and mistakenly assumed she had placed her safety belt on because I was used to my kids always doing it out of the habit I taught them.
On the way there, a German shepherd ran out in front of us and I slammed on the brakes and narrowly missed the dog. My niece flew to the front and it is a miracle she didn’t slam her head into the windshield! I then asked her why she wasn’t wearing her seat belt. She replied, “I hardly ever do.” Needless to say I quietly brought it to my brother-in-law’s attention and he admitted his kids were not in the habit of wearing seat belts. Unbelievable. Apparently it hasn’t crossed his mind how people fly out of windows during car crashes when they aren’t strapped in!
This past weekend I drove my family down to the Florida Keys and even though I hadn’t fished off the one of the many fishing piers in the Keys in a long while, I asked my family if they would like to go fishing and they said ‘yes.’ I was a little surprised; now I had to stick by my word and buy a few fishing rod and reel combos at the local Bass Pro Shops and I would have to buy sinkers, hooks, swivels, jigs, and bait, too!
I used to have a couple of rods but they had become old and worn a few years ago and I tossed them. Even though I knew this little excursion would set us back $150.00 or so, I felt it was so worth it! My kids hadn’t really experienced fishing in the Keys and I know they would get excited once those mangrove snapper started to bite their baits.
We visited Bass Pro Shops on mile marker 81 and came away with two Shakespeare Ugly Stick rod and reel combos for our kids and at $39.99 apiece, they were a steal. We bought a few little red and white bucktail jigs that mangrove snapper love; the way I like to fish for them is I don’t use any leader line for these type of fish because they can see that leader line and they get spooked easily. I simply tie the jig with a clinch know and hook a large live shrimp by the head before I cast my line, let it sink to the bottom, and start working it back to me in an up and down motion. This is definitely the most exciting way to fish for these delicious fish and the best way to catch the larger ones. The best mangrove snapper bait many people swear by today involve using live shrimp, live pilchards, live pinfish, or red and white bucktail jigs with either live bait the same size as the jig or strips of cut mullet.
Mangrove snapper fishing the conventional way is simple and here is how I set up the lines for my kids is; I use a sinker just heavy enough to sink the bait depending on the amount of current, a swivel, a two-foot leader using the same 10 pound test line the rod and reel combo comes with, and a standard 1/0 hook.
Then, I hook the live shrimp through the tail end and out through the bottom of the middle of their bodies and they’re ready to go. When the shrimp run out, I use fresh squid cut in 1 1/4 inch squares.
We arrived at the Channel #5 bridge in the Keys at 12:00 P.M. and I rushed to tie and place the live bucket of six dozen shrimp in the water about 50 yards away from the fishing bridge entrance to keep them alive while my family stayed put inside the car. I came back to my family and helped them carry our stuff to the spot.
Even though I prefer fishing early in the morning or about an hour before dusk because fish are more active at these times, I figured it didn’t matter because we would be out here for only a couple of hours or so just so our kids could fish for a little while.
I really wasn’t expecting much but from the moment my 12 year old daughter cast her line she already had a bite. To my amazement, she reeled in an 11 inch mangrove snapper. Things were looking good. My little girl was grinning from ear to ear for the next four hours and she couldn’t put the rod down while my eight-year old boy tired out after 45 minutes. He caught a little french grunt and didn’t really seem interested in fishing any more after that.
My daughter ended up catching eight mangrove snapper with three of them being large enough to keep (minimum size for them is 10″ and the bag limit is each person can catch and keep 5 a day). She also caught a 15″ spanish mackerel and two french grunts. We threw all the fish back as she caught them and realized we could have easily had enough fish that night to feed a family of four!
After all this time, I have re-connected with a huge part of my childhood remembering how my older brother and I were avid fishermen in the70’s and 80’s. Back then, there was no limit on mangrove snapper and it was so common for us to bring home over 40 of these babies on a good night of fishing in the Florida Keys! My life back then revolved around playing baseball and hooks, swivels, and sinkers. Without a doubt, these were the greatest times of my life until I got married and my wife had our children. Looks like it’s time for me to pass the torch on to my kids!
I firmly believe parents should never underestimate the importance of family time for their own good as well as for the immense benefit gained by their children and other family members. You only get one life to live and for your little ones, they only get to see one “go-round” when it comes to the type of childhood you as a parent, allow them to have.
What in the heck is quality family time, anyway? We hear it all the time as if it were something everybody does and is easily accomplished even in the busiest of households. However, we know that’s not true. I’m certain no two people will ever come up with the same definition but I am sure it has to do with some of the most important activities family members can share with each other to define their time spent together as ‘quality time.’
Due to my busy schedule, I find myself constantly trying and fighting to spend more time with the family and I try to focus on a few basic things. As with many of you, it’s not always easy ti make the time. When I do, no matter where we are together, I interact with them in a respectful and loving manner and I try to get them to share their thoughts and feelings with me. This seems to come natural to me, probably because I am such a happy jokester and I am easily approachable. It has also taken a lot of practice to get to this point. A long time ago, I made it a point as an adult to do my best to spend quality time with my family members knowing it was one of the keys to a fulfilling life.
I connect well with my children and without a doubt, we all learn something new about each other or about life in general when we spend quality family time with each other. That’s what it’s all about. Focusing on each other, enjoying fun activities together, and trying our best to live a happy life by including one another in our own lives!
One of my greatest goals in life is for my children to grow up and be able to say they had a wonderful childhood. I know I did. My parents were the best human beings this planet has ever known, in my opinion. I learned everything I know about bonding with my family from them and this gives me the confidence to carry the torch high above my head knowing my family is in good hands. I want them to know that a family who plays together will always stay together and I want them to pass on that same torch to their kids when they become parents.
What does spending quality family time mean to you? I would love to know.