Monthly Archives: January 2011

Women Drivers

Ever since the first women was handed a driver’s license, we’ve never stopped hearing  about the common stereotype of the “typical” women driver. The one who obliviously hits parked cars, shamelessly flirts her way out of speeding tickets and unknowingly drives for miles past the scheduled oil change. As a woman myself, I am thoroughly irritated when men try to classify all women as being poor drivers. While women might get into their fair share of fender-benders and silly mishaps, it’s men who notoriously pay more in car insurance due to their reckless driving. It’s time that women gain some credit for their skills behind the wheel.

With Danica Patrick racing her way through checkered flags, it’s time that men get over their beef with female drivers and embrace the fact that women are just as competent and qualified when put behind the wheel. During snow storms, it’s usually women who stay home for fear of venturing out in the blizzard-like conditions and men who take to the roads in their big, burly 4-wheel drive trucks anyway.

While driving in one of the more recent snowstorms, I was appalled at a man I passed on the Orono roadways. Waving to me from a perch atop his massive pick-up truck, he tipped his open beer can at me, tearing out onto the slick streets and causing me excessive worry for my fellow motorists. Surrounded by drivers who were crawling at the slowest rate of speed possible this guy looked anything but cool. To me, this is far worse than any sort of parking lot mishap that women might find themselves getting into. With the safety of others at risk, I feel that this man should be apprehended before any women gets discredited from bumping a few measly parked cars.

With the knowledge that men are twice as likely to die in vehicular accidents, it makes little sense as to why women would be wrongfully accused of being poor drivers. As men happen to be behind the wheel in more deadly crashes, it seems that our primary concern should be the health and well-being of other motorists and their passengers; not the petty argument over minor scrapes and dents that caused little if any body injury to others. Even men themselves should be concerned about this alarmingly high rate of death among their gender bracket – knowing that they are at high risk of death from driving should be enough knowledge to stop the snarky stabs at women.

I can only imagine that men wish to not be labeled for their driving mishaps, and it’s only fair that they do the same for women, however lighthearted the remark might be. Instead of making women feel inferior about their driving skills and questioning every move they make on the road, it would be interesting to see if any significant difference would be observed were women to be encouraged and accepted for driving.

Men, before you make a snide remark about a woman’s driving, think of the driving of your own gender. While it is unfair to judge a large group of people based on a few bad apples, the proof is in the pudding. Rarely do you see women pointing to the statistics that show that men are involved in more crashes, yet they take the brunt of so many unnecessary jokes about their lack of vehicular skills.

Admittedly I am not the best driver around, but I am proud to say that I have never caused serious bodily injury to any of my passengers or fellow motorists. While my driving record shows a fair amount of minor bumps and bruises, it’s nothing anything that could live up to the legendary title that men use to label female drivers. Let us all seek to be better drivers and make wise decisions before we had out on the highway, despite our gender perspectives on driving. The life you save could be your own.


Radon Awareness Month

Here in Maine, there are many ways various toxins can seep into homes, including radon. Nondiscriminatory in its detrimental health effects, radon is the number two cause of lung cancer in the United States and its detection is important in saving lives of both the young and old alike. As part of Radon Awareness Month this January, we encourage you to get your well water tested for this colorless, odorless gas before it gets the better of you.

A naturally occurring element, radon is found all over the United States in varying levels. Out of all homes in the country, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately 8 million homes show elevated levels of the toxic element. With higher levels shown in eastern and western parts of Maine, it is certainly an issue that affects our state as well. A simple way to test for radon is by collecting a small water sample and sending it to one of ten testing facilities throughout the state. With this information, you can protect you and your loved ones from the ingestion and intake of radon, usually by installing a water filter in your home. With both low and high cost options available, taking steps to prevent radon consumption is a valuable investment in your health and well-being.

Regardless of the age of your home or the type of foundation of your structure, it is important to test for radon. Pockets of radon are everywhere and without a test to determine the levels in your home, an incredible risk to your health is taken. An inexpensive water test could be what separates you from death. Please, test your water.

Water testing laboratories include A&L Laboratory in Auburn; ClearWater Laboratory in Newport; Aqua Maine, Inc. in West Rockport; Nelson Analytical Testing Laboratory in Springvale; Katahdin Analytical Services in Scarborough; Maine Environmental Laboratory in Yarmouth; Micmac Environmental Laboratory in Presque Isle; Northeast Laboratory Services in Waterville; Wright-Pierce Engineers in Topsham and the State of Maine Health and Environmental Testing Lab in Augusta.


Making the Best of the Worst

Living in Maine, it is absolutely necessary to make the best out of every situation if you plan on having any type of fun during the extended winter season. With limited outdoor activities available and a stack of brand new textbooks staring you down, a means of procrastination and an escape from schoolwork must be sought. Making the best out of every situation, however minimal, is the solution to this problem. Instead of planning some ridiculously exorbitant extravaganza, seek amusement in the things you do on a daily basis.

An old friend of mine used to hate whenever I would plan anything, refusing to partake in any premeditated events. Always irritated with his lack of enthusiasm for anything planned within 5 minutes of actually going out and doing something, it took me a long time to understand the reasoning behind this somewhat eccentric point of view. However, there is a unique sense of satisfaction that comes from engaging in random events. Letting go of the need to over plan everything, I slowly became able to see the amusement and hilarity in everyday situations.

However monotonous and lackluster each day might be, there is always something that can be gleaned from the daily interactions we have with our peers. Whether it be a story about a roommate who defecated all over a friend’s bedroom or the coworker from hell, humor can be found in even the most boring of days. In some occasions, it takes a bit of time to understand that even the most terrible things that happen in our lives can be slightly entertaining.

In a rush to get to class last week, I was frantically trying to make my way across campus to avoid the critical stare of my professor for being late. Having just come off of work, I was dressed in my best professional wear, dodging both ice patches and meandering students. Out of nowhere, a car came hurdling out of seemingly nowhere, only to drive right into the puddle in the street near where I was walking. At the perfect angle, grimy street water splashed at an extraordinary height into my face and hair, drenching my white tights in brown slush. Seething with anger, I was furious at not only the driver of the car, but the people behind me laughing at the incident. After I had changed into drier clothes and was comfortably stationed on my couch with a warm cup of coffee though, I was able to see the humor in the situation.

However awful I thought it was at the time, it certainly made my day more eventful. With a good story to tell my friends and family, my day appeared to be less boring than it really was. Despite going to class with muddy water splashed on my face and my feet drenched in icy slush, there was really no long-term effects that came from this encounter. It was miserable at the time that it occurred, but was nothing that I could not quickly overcome – therefore an occasion where I made the best out of the situation.

What it all comes down to is this – almost everything that brings us down is of relatively low significance in the whole scheme of things. Everyone might be grumpy about being poor college students and not having the money to go on tropical vacations or buy the most pimped out of rides, its only fair that we make the best out of the situation. While we all grumble about being financially depraved, a lot of good comes out of the situation too. Searching for entertainment in the cheapest of ways, it’s not rare to hear about friends seeking out free food at promotional events or going skinny dipping in the Stillwater to pass the time.

Although winter might seem to drag on for a long time, try making the best out of every situation and before you know it, summer will be upon us, bringing warm weather and sunny skies!


Snooki: Anything But a Role Model

With the increasing popularity of shows like MTV’s hit Jersey Shore culminating in the January 4th release of cast member Nicole “Snooki” Pollizzi’s novel A Shore Thing, it can be questioned what we, as Americans, truly find entertaining. By no means does the literary content of Snooki’s first book compare to anything ever composed by Fitzgerald or Steinbeck, yet people are lining up in droves to pick up their copy of what can be described at best as literary trash. As an avid reader, I fear that the state of media consumption in the United States is at an all time low. No longer do we seek to challenge our minds with meaningful and educational content, instead filling our brains with pointless fluff to pass the time.

Perusing a few chapters of the book myself over break, I was horrified to think that there might be a whole generation who turn to people like Polizzi and view them as role models. Shows produced by MTV usually attract an audience from varying maturity levels, and these days it’s not abnormal to hear a 12 year-old enthusiastically talking about Jersey Shore as being their favorite program. Rarely an episode without a fist fight and the majority of the filming taking place in darkened night clubs while the whole cast is completely inebriated, the cast members of the show are really no one anyone should model their lives after. Almost every negative behavior parents have been trying for years to get their children to avoid is portrayed on the show, whether it be the abusive relationship between Ronnie and Sam or the heavy drinking and partying which landed all the cast members a spot on the show. Hardly anything you would want your young teenager watching, yet this audience is amazed and somehow finds the life of Snooki and her Jersey Shore posse as glamorous. While entertaining to those who can identify the actions of the cast as immature and silly, it could easily be deemed detrimental to those who aspire to have a poof higher than that of Snooki’s.

With chapter titles like “Karma’s a b***h, b***h” and “Make me beg”, I wonder who made the decision to ever let Snooki write a book. In the front cover though, there is a disclaimer revealing that in fact Polizzi had a bit of help throughout her adventure in the world of literature. What is described as a novel is really a biography of Pollizzi’s life and the ideal, “juiced gorilla meathead” that she is looking for at the shore. Reading the text is like a conversation with the self-proclaimed princess of Poughskeepie, and none of the language is worth quoting for anything other than a good laugh. With so many struggling writers in this world, it’s shameful to think that hundreds were overlooked and Snooki’s useless story of her experiences as a privileged party girl at the shore was published first, while stories of genuine human interest were shuffled to the bottom of an editors pile.

Since the damage has already been done, the best we can hope for is that there will be no further stories fabricated and published by the infamous Snooki. Let’s keep the trashy content behind the curtain of MTV, containing the dregs of humanity in one cable channel and not let it leak out into the literary realm. Books are meant to stimulate the mind and provoke deeper thought; the reader question the cleverly devised plot line so skillfully crafted by the author. As Snooki can now add the title of author to her resume, it seems that it is more of an accomplishment to be checked off a list, not something that she pursued because of a genuine interest in the world of books.

For those people out there who do have a genuine interest in reading, I encourage you to stray far away from the shelves that hold Pollizzi’s book, unless of course you might be looking for some comic relief, although it might just be cheaper and more entertaining to go to an elementary school and ask a second grader to write you a story!