Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to Traffic School

(Cross-posted to my other blog at

This past Saturday, Kellie and I went to take "Defensive Driving School" -- referred to lovingly in Texas as "Traffic School." I took it to get out of my photo-radar ticket in Arizona. Kellie took it with me because we will get an 8% insurance discount. For $39.95 each, it's a pretty good deal. The outfit that teaches the class is called "Comedy Guys Defensive Driving" and--just like the name implies--the classes are taught by professional comedians. They have classes all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Ours was held at the Spaghetti Warehouse up on US-75 in Plano, and Comedy Guys even bought lunch (and the menu choices presented a good variety too!). We plan on someday visiting the restaurant just for the food!

Texas has this racket where you can get out of one traffic violation per year by sitting through this class. And, Arizona has the same racket where you can get out of one ticket every two years. I was able to work it out where I could take the Texas class, transfer the certificate to Arizona (you need to do this in coordination with an Arizona traffic school) and I would still be able to take the class again next week if I get a ticket in Texas. Not that I plan to, mind you, but I was able to reserve that right. My total cost was about $1 less than had I actually paid the fine to Arizona (the fine would have been $171, the defensive driving class was $37 {I had a coupon} and the fee that I needed to pay the Arizona driving school to transfer the certificate {I'm sure the state of Arizona gets their cut of this as well} was $133, bringing my total out-of-pocket to $170). But I got out of the two points that would have appeared on my Texas driving record. I don't think those two points would have hurt me much (I haven't had a ticket in 13 years, knock-on-wood) but it was easy enough to make it go away. I wish they had had this plan in Michigan because my wife has had a couple of tickets over the years up there.

So, as far as rackets go, this is one I just can't complain about! Of course, the whole purpose of all of this is to give people an option where the state can still take a little bit of a fee, but the people who want to fight it won't clog up the court system, and the people who otherwise wouldn't do anything about it (or, those people in Arizona who get a photo ticket in the mail and try to wait out the process server) have a palatable option to pay it and get it over with. The defendants are happy, the driving schools are happy, and the state is happy. Everybody's happy!

Anyway, here is my review of the class:

We saw a number of safety videos that were produced by the Michigan State Police for the AAA foundation in the 70s and 80s. The first video was called "The Final Factor" and it outlines the fifteen or twenty factors that can lead to accidents. Being as it was filmed in the mid-70s, they go over important safety guidelines as avoiding changing out your 8-track cassette (factor 1) whilst driving while drowsy (factor 2) in the snow with your baby fussing in her car-seat (factor 3) mounted in the front passenger seat while some dumbass kid rides out into the middle of the street on a bicycle (The Final Factor). Can you imagine if they had cellphones back then?

There was another video about organ donation. Don't get me wrong, organ donation is important, and when I kick the bucket, any of you can have anything that still works. But the only real connection to a driving class is that there may be an organ donation sticker on your drivers license.

The teacher spent about 20 minutes detailing the speed traps in the DFW area. My wife was furiously writing these down as she drives all over the area for work.

Then came a very easy 25 question test at the end. All in all, the whole experience was not too painful, except for my bladder, I managed to drink about a gallon of iced tea that day.

So, although I am happy that the state of Arizona has let me drop this whole thing from my record, I am still less than pleased with their methods of enforcement (Robo-Cop cameras, and portable speed-radar Talivans). One question now remains: Since my ticket has gone away, does it count? Can I keep adding to my 13 year record of no tickets (or, at least no convictions)?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let's not be sore losers today.

I woke up this morning exhausted.

It's the day after the November election and it seems that the past two years of campaigning has taken it's toll on me. I'm not so tired from staying up late last night watching the returns. I'm tired of the division in this country that sometimes takes on an edge of hatred. I'm tired of watching the infighting in the Democratic party. I am sick and tired of the attacks back and forth -- including the unfounded rumours about Obama's faith. And it's over. We true Conservatives lost the battle. And it seems like it was a very bloody one.

53 percent of American votors disagreed with my choice for president. And I'm strangely OK with that. Even though we face at least another two years of a Democrat party agenda. We lost. We punted the ball and now it's our opponent's turn to run it back. The Republican party really hasn't done much to impress me for the last 8 years. So now it's time to sit back, and instead of judging the opponent, it's now time to judge the issues. The opponent is now our leader. We must allow him to lead. He is our president and he must successful at being our president. That does not mean that he must be successful at introducing socialism, or gun control, or advancing a liberal agenda. He must simply be successful at holding this country together. We may not like his methods, and we will need to be on him every time he does something that goes against the fiber of how this country was designed.

This morning, on the way to work, I felt a strange sense of pride. I was proud for America that we were able to elect a black man as our leader without having race riots. And I pray for his safety for the next four years. I pray that his policies don't ruin our country. I pray that, until the next congressional election in two years, that the damage is minimal. And I pray that Obama wasn't elected simply as a novelty, because novelty will soon wear off. We elected a man -- not a black man. But more important, we elected an American, not an African-American.

So tonight, I will raise my glass to Obama. I will wish him well. He will be my President. I will not be a sore loser like many on the other side were four and eight years ago, and I hope and pray that most conservatives will take the loss in stride, look to our new President, support him as a leader, and speak up when he does something that we don't agree with. If the Democrats try to put in a too-liberal Supreme Court justice, we need to speak up. If Obama and Pelosi try to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, we need to shout from the mountain tops and derail that abomination just like we derailed the amnesty bill and the way we derailed (at least the first time) the big bailout. And when their policies affect our livelihood, our success as a nation, or border on tyranny (like trying to take our guns), we need to respond with torches and pitchforks. True conservatives are the minority now. The marches on Washington worked for minorities in the past, and now it's our turn. But now is NOT the time to be a sore loser. I guarantee you, if we act the way that our opponents did when George W. Bush beat Al Gore, our credibility will be shot. And we will need that credibility later.

So for now, Obama says that he plans on trying to help us heal our wounds. Frankly, I hope that he finds a way -- I am tired of being a divided nation. We need to come together again -- but at the same time, we cannot abandon our conservative principles. I don't know the best way to do that, and I bet that you don't either. That's what God is for. So don't panic -- just pray daily for America and our leaders, and ourselves.

The past two elections, we got lucky -- very lucky. Just think, we could have had a President Gore, or a President Kerry. Just think where we would be today. But our luck ran out yesterday. Even more so, the Republicans have just failed to deliver. Common sense could have prevented what happened yesterday. Americans are mostly conservative -- socially anyway. But many of those Americans are so used to be spoon-fed that they have forgotten that they need to vote based on. And many of our Republican leaders have forgotten how to talk to us. I sure hope that campaigning for 2012 doesn't start next week. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves the way that the Democrats did, lets take some time and figure out how to get back to our conservative roots. Then, when the time comes, lets provide simple answers to our problems. Like immigration. Didn't we learn our lesson about "comprehensive" immigration reform? Lets just cut the red tape and build a fence. Large government? Lets just say that we will start cutting large chunks of that out. Quit dancing around the issues, just make some promises and then DO them.

So tonight I will offer this toast to our new President Elect: "Congratulations, Barack. I'll be praying for you. Don't screw this up!"