Thursday 01/01/2015

Happy New Year everyone. I hope last night was fun and you didn't greet the New Year with a serious hangover.

Everyone knows our roads are busy and more congested than they've ever been. Our cars are getting bigger, but the lanes on our roads and the parking spots have remained the same width. Our hectic lifestyles are also adding to the problem; we are far busier now than we were twenty years ago. Stress on the road and stress in our lives is a volatile mixture leading to short tempers behind the wheel; especially during the holiday season.

As a result, people speed on our roads and aren't as courteous as they should be. Car-parks have become racetracks; too often people are willing to clash bumpers to secure a parking spot. Both of these situations can lead to a road rage incident. Road rage incidents are a no-win situation for everyone involved. If either of you resorts to violence, your immediate future probably involves injuries, legal hassles, fines and possible jail time.

If you feel your temper rising while you are in the car, or think the situation could turn nasty with the driver of another car; take a deep breath and let it go. Remember, the people in the cars around you are only in your life for a few minutes; only as long as you are travelling in the same direction, at the same speed. If they are being obnoxious, driving erratically or doing something that makes you uneasy, remove yourself from the situation. Allow your car to drop back in the traffic flow; then maintain a safe distance from the problem.

If another driver does something stupid or dangerous, don't take it personally. It's highly unlikely their actions were aimed at you. It's just as unlikely they even know who you are. Don't let your temper get the better of you. Don't turn a brief, random encounter into a long-term legal hassle. Your hurt feelings aren't worth getting into legal trouble over.

Even if their stupidity is deliberate, don't take matters into your own hands. Let it go. If there is an incident and your vehicle is damaged, do not become aggressive or emotional. Just get the information you need from the other driver, then get on with your life. No amount of damage to your car is worth getting into a fight over.

Before you act, ask yourself "Is this worth going to jail for?".

Wednesday 24/12/14

Merry Christmas everyone. I'm going to take it easy this week, and so should you.

Television is a great form of entertainment, but its perfect TV families have distorted our perception of Christmas Day. Let's face it; nobody's family is perfect. We all have relatives that are rude, obnoxious, or just plain annoying (some of them have all the class and sophistication of a donkey). As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, you can guarantee these relatives are going to be there on Christmas Day; and you can guarantee they're going to be as weird, drunk or annoying as ever.

The good news is that you only have to put up with them for a few hours. You are in control of your emotions, not them. Don't let their behaviour get to you. Remember, it's only for a few hours; then you don't have to see them again for another twelve months. Smile, be polite and don't add fuel to the fire.

So take it easy and enjoy Christmas.

Thursday 17/12/14

In several blog entries I have touched on the topic of protecting yourself from the sun, but this week I'm going to provide specific advice on the subject. There's no denying it, summer is here. The days are long and hot, and the nights are only a little cooler than the days. Currently in Australia, we are regularly experiencing temperatures well in excess of 30 degrees Celsius. Despite the constant warnings in the media since the "Slip, Slop, Slap" campaign began in 1981, I still see a lot of sunburnt people walking around shirtless in the midday sun. Australia has the one of the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and the number of new cases continues to rise.

Anyone can develop skin cancer, but you can drastically reduce your chances of getting it by following the simple steps:

  • Wear sunscreen with at least a 30+ SPF (Sun Protection Factor). The higher the SPF, the better protection from UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim. If getting sunburt doesn't bother you, I'll appeal to your vanity. Repeated sunburn damages your skin and gives you wrinkles.
  • Wear a long sleeved shirt. There are plenty of lightweight shirts available that will let a breeze through. Remember, dark coloured materials absorb more heat than light colours.
  • Wear sunglasses. Not only will they will protect your eyes from the sun, you won't squint as much, delaying the appearance of crows-feet.
  • Avoid the midday sun. The sun is at its hottest, and the UV rays are at their strongest when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Drink plenty of water. This won't prevent you from getting sunburnt, but it will keep you hydrated and help minimize the effects of heatstroke.

Do you regularly carry a backpack? If so, you should consider carrying a small tube of sunscreen (you can purchase tiny tubes of 30mL – that's half the size of a chocolate bar) and a floppy hat. I have a wide brimmed bucket hat that folds down very small and easily fits in my backpack. The hat isn't exactly stylish, but I've been grateful for it when I've been unexpectedly caught in the sun.

There's no avoiding it, we all have to venture out in the sun. But, we have the knowledge to reduce the amount of damage caused by long term exposure to the sun; thereby minimizing the risk of skin cancer.

For further information regarding sun protection I have included the link to the Cancer Council of Australia below.