I fear I am Canada's Worst Fan

by Mark Zaugg 17. December 2012 21:07

Okay, maybe I'm not the worst.  I'm just waiting to graduate.

Actually, if you've been around here before you know that I am, in fact, a huge fan of both Canada's Worst Driver and Canada's Worst Handyman.

It took me a while to catch on, but the first time I watch Canada's Worst Handyman I laughed a lot, learned an awful lot, and realized that I well and truly belonged on the show.  I keep hoping that I'll smarten up a lot by watching the show, taking a deep breath, reading the directions and then tackling the project methodically with planning every step of the way.  Quite frankly, I'm not there.  Take my curling rink - I couldn't level the area well enough.  I didn't staple the liner securely enough which may have helped, but it sprung a leak, I've had to break up the ice and once I get a 2x12" to mitigate the slope I'll get to try it again.

I have a couple of points.  The first is the episode "Concrete Ideas" from Canada's Worst Handyman 5 was shown today.  It's unquestionably my favourite episode of the entire program for so many reasons, mostly to teach me to be more supportive and to teach me when things get overwhelming I need to do Simon's breathing exercises and help my blood pressure down.

The other point is that after 6 seasons of Canada's Worst Handyman, I still haven't got it right and I still have a more to learn.

Last season I blogged on Sly's understanding of the number one rule of driving, "Look where you want to go."  I believe it truly is a mantra and it's a critical aspect to having a successful life.  Set your goals and work to accomplish them.

We set goals, we don't have destinies.  It takes work, it takes practice, it sometimes takes lessons and directions.  Canada's Worst Driver is not about making fun of bad drivers, it's about teaching drivers good driving habits and reminding us, the viewers, about the skills and abilities that we must dedicate ourselves to mastering in order to become better drivers, better handymen or just plain better people.

Now that I've buttered up the folks at Proper Television, I'm still going to emphasize that after eight years of TV, I still don't have all the lessons learned.  Last week, the experts decided to send Margherita home as a graduated (and presumably rehabilitated) driver.  I know they're the experts, not me, and I understand there's a whole lot that happens during filming of the show that we don't see.

My argument is that if I, after eight years of watching and learning, have yet to piece it all together and have a grasp of a perfect life by it's tail, I simply cannot believe that Margherita could piece it together in the day or two it takes to put together an episode.  Improvement takes time, hard work and applying those lessons learned on a daily basis.  One or two days won't cut it.

Which reminds me of why I'm writing this right now.  Simon's breathing exercises?  Yeah, I'm remembering to do that right now.  They're helping me keep calm and stay productive.  I needed to be reminded again tonight instead of it just coming to me naturally, so I've got a bit to go.

Finally, you bet your bumper, you chance your carburetor, you gamble your gas pedal I'll be watching the final for Canada's Worst Driver in half an hour.  May this show never end until every Canadian driver is a safe Canadian driver.

Practice the skills to get you there..

by Mark Zaugg 10. December 2011 14:40

Look where you want to go.  We've established it as a good idea for driving and a good idea for life.

For all the looking you do, it will not be helpful unless you have the skills to take you where you're looking.

Canada's Worst Drivers regularly smash into obstacles in front, behind, and to the left and right of themselves.  Sometimes the show gets criticized for putting the drivers into an impossible situation that is far and beyond the capabilities of a typical driver.

How often do you think of yourself in a situation you feel you can't get out of?  How often do you worry about being stuck in an impossible scenario with no solutions in sight?

During the show, we occasionally hear the bad drivers say that the lane is too narrow, there's just not enough space to drive safely, it's too tight to turn around.  The beauty of the show is that Andrew Younghusband drives each challenge first to prove that it can be done, but also that it's just a condition that any driver may find themselves in while driving.  When you're driving in the real world, you don't always have the choice of just pulling over and quitting.  You're going to have to drive and adapt to the circumstances on the road at any particular moment.

During the show, I just wish that some of the drivers would stop the car, walk around it and look at the obstacles, think about the best way to escape the allegedly impossible scenario.  Rather than sit in the car and frustratingly struggle for an hour, if they'd think about it for an hour and perhaps come up with a way out it may happen safely and smoothly when they succeed.

Oh, but don't I just know what it's like to sit behind the wheel and feel there is no way out at all.  The frustration and desperation of being willing to try anything to escape masks the better solution of analysis and figuring out what gives the best chance of success.

That really is the best approach, though.  Take the time to figure out your situation.  Make a plan.  Follow through with your plan.  Analyze your results, think about what happened and how to apply it the next time around.

So those impossible courses and scenarios the Canada's Worst Driver team sets up:  Remember that they're done in a safe environment with trained professionals to both teach the drivers and keep them safe.  You and me on the real roads, we don't have that luxury.  We don't want to get in over our heads and have to struggle to get out of a bad situation.  Instead, we need to learn early and often.  Every moment you get behind the wheel of a car, you should be thinking about what you're learning about how to control a vehicle better.

Your driving today is teaching you more skills that will serve you tomorrow.

We know this, it's obvious!  As we get more experienced, our insurance goes down.  Teen aged drivers have a terrible record that we expect to improve over the years.  The best drivers tend to be the people who are driving the most.

We know we can't stop.  As we get older our reaction times increase while our vision and strength decrease.  We need those better driving skills for when our bodies start to let us down.

Move it from the background of your driving to the foreground.  We don't have a Canada's Worst Driver Wonderland where we get to practise our skills.  But we do get a chance to improve our driving each and every time we get behind the wheel.  Put that into the forefront of your driving and intentionally think about how your driving can improve when you're behind the wheel.

And if "Look where you want to go" is an analogy for life, isn't this entire entry an analogy about how we ought to live?

Where are you looking?

by Mark Zaugg 7. December 2011 20:33

When you are driving safely, you are looking to where you want to go.

You should not look just in front of your vehicle.  Surely you want to go farther than the 20 or 30 feet ahead of you.  The faster you travel, the further you have to look ahead.  You need more time to accumulate data and you require time to process that data into good decision making.

Nor should you be fixating on your final destination.  It may not even be in sight.  You can't even focus entirely on a spot a full kilometre down the road - that's foolhardy when a hazard could be just ahead of you.

You cannot be locked into tunnel vision, staring solely ahead.  Hazards may exist in the ditches or coming out of alleys at the side of the road.  Nor can you neglect your mirrors for hazards racing up behind you.

"Look where you want to go" still holds as the primary rule of safe driving.  But it's not an absolute rule.  You need to take in data such as your speed, your direction, road signs, other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists -- the sum of your environment.

"Look where you want to go" as a life's lesson is much the same.  Recently I got all hell bent for leather on a course of action, however lunch with a friend suddenly snapped into place that I haven't finished driving my current road yet and there is much for me to do before I'm ready to switch life's highways.

When you're driving, it should be somewhat obvious where you are heading.  More or less in front of you, far enough ahead to spot obstacles and hazards, not so far ahead that you are oblivious to things that are near you.  Setting your goals and choosing one's path through life is less clear cut.  There are many directions you can choose and many goals you can set for yourself.

The choice made should, in my mind, still be somewhat obvious.  Your destination as a person needs to begin from your values.  Everyone's core values are serious, personal and valuable beyond counting.  You need to consider what your values are and how they impact you as a person.  Although I have a good standing on what my personal cornerstones are, it's clear that I can lose my focus and forget the things I most want to accomplish.  Lose that focus and it becomes much harder to achieve your goals.

Let me tie my thoughts into a circle.  If you truly value all life on earth, you must do what you can to care for life and ensure life is not taken without good cause.  Unless you are a plant or a bacterium, we must continue our existence by sacrificing life for our own sustenance, but life is not to be taken carelessly.  When that's your primary value, you ought to be driving carefully, applying what you know about safe driving each and every time you get behind the wheel.  Look where you want to go.  Travel with confidence.  Stay calm when things don't smoothly go your way.  Tenaciously practice and improve your skills and abilities.  Never stop learning.

I wouldn't consider telling you what your core values ought to be, but I highly encourage you to think about your core values and your goals and how you intend to achieve your goals while staying true to your values.

I can't help someone else until I've prepared myself.  My drive right now has to be to improve myself, but also value a bigger role which awaits me and need to simultaneously prepare myself.  I have to remain true to my cornerstones or risk losing my values.  I have to care for my health, my teeth and my jaw -- the choices over how I get there are fast becoming interesting and compelling.

In the end, you need to ultimately decide for yourself which route you shall take.  We all face the choice of Robert Frost, and regardless of the road taken our choice shall make all the difference.

Welcome

Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.

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