Category Archives: Life Journal

Rethinking Retirement

I find it interesting how society creates arbitrary rules that become the expected norm over time. Retiring at age 65 is one such example.

I’m not 100% certain, but I strongly suspect that the original Social Security Act, which was passed in 1935, had a lot to do with setting this expectation. It set an age of 65 to receive full retirement benefits. While the age requirement for receiving full benefits has been slowly increasing to 67, the “retirement age” in most people’s mind is still 65.

I believe it’s time we need to rethink retirement. We need to re-evaluate what it means to retire, and the age at which retirement starts. Here’s why.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Final Thoughts

Over the last two months, I’ve documented the drives around Southern California that I used to teach my kids how to drive. There were a total of nine long drives, an overview and an introduction.

I didn’t have a teaching process when my first child was ready to drive. I stumbled upon one, somewhat by accident, while teaching her. The process worked so well for her that I continued using it with my other kids. Each time I revisited it, I refined and adjusted it to the final versions which I’ve shared here.

So with the drives documented, here are some parting thoughts and final words of wisdom to consider as you start the process of teaching your teenager how to drive.

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Supporting the Fourth Estate

I recently renewed my subscription to The Guardian. Given our expectation that news on the internet should be free, the $69 fee seems excessive. On the other hand, if you compare it to the role that an effective fourth estate fills in a democracy, the subscription rate is a bargain.

If news content on the internet is available for free, why did I decide to pay for it?

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Open Road, The Final Exam

Google Map for The Open Road, Final Exam

For the ninth, and final drive of my Teaching a Teen to Drive series, we’re going to hit the open road. We’ll be taking a long drive that tests all the skills of the prospective driver. There will be lengthy stretches of the three skills that are important for a new driver to master (in my opinion) – freeway driving, canyon driving, and urban driving.

This is also one of my favorite drives in all of Southern California. It hugs the coastline through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The inland portion that takes you over the San Marco Pass has stunning vistas on both the way up and on the way down. It’s a long drive that covers nearly 175 miles and will take 3-4 hours (or longer) to complete depending on stops.

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Turning Off the Media Noise

A couple of years ago, I made a conscience decision to cut my media consumption. I stopped watching morning television to start my day. I quit watching evening television shows. I even changed my engagement with sports. Instead of letting it run (and sometimes ruin) my life, I started treating it for what it is – entertainment. Even though I never had a big social media presence, I totally disconnected from it. I significantly cut the number of blogs I follow. You get the picture, I turned down the media noise in my life.

You would think that I would have missed out on important events, that I would have lost touch with family and friends, that I would have been left behind, disconnected from the world, out of touch with reality.

Turns out, none of that came to pass. In fact, I’ve found that my mental state of mind and attitude towards life has never been better.

Coincidence, I don’t think so. And here’s why.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Urban Driving, The Final Exam

Map for Urban Drive - Final ExamCanyon and urban driving are the two primary themes of my long drives when I teach a teen to drive. I find that I can mix-in other important driving concepts, such as freeway driving, within these themes.

We’ve already completed two other urban drives in my teaching a teen to drive series. For drive #8, we’re going to do our Urban Driving Final Exam. It will be a mix of congested city streets and freeways. We’ll be navigating the busiest and most challenging freeways around Los Angeles – the CA-110 from Pasadena through downtown LA, the Santa Monica Freeway through the Westside, the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, and the US-101 through the San Fernando Valley.

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Going Off the Strip in Las Vegas

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada SignBetween business and pleasure, I usually go to Las Vegas 3-4 times per year. I spend most of my time on the Strip, primarily out of convenience. What I’ve learned is that you pay for that convenience. Prices for everything on the Strip are easily double, triple, or more than what you’ll pay off the strip. If you like to gamble, the table stakes are 2-3x what you can get at the “local” places. What’s even more disappointing are your options for coffee. Unless the ‘Big Green Machine’ is your favorite place, you’re pretty much out of luck.

In recent years, I’ve spent time trying to get to know Las Vegas outside of the Strip. I’ve discovered the area has a lot of character and, outside of the many casinos sprinkled throughout town, is not much different than any other ‘normal’ city. I’ve even managed to find a few great places to get coffee (and breakfast) as well as some fun things to do that won’t cost you a fortune.

The next time you’re in Las Vegas and have access to a car, or don’t mind taking a longer taxi ride, here are some place you should consider adding to your list of things to do.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Urban Driving, Part 2

Map for Urban Driving, Part 2After a teen driver has mastered canyon driving and is confident handling a car, I like to spend more instruction time in urban driving situations. Urban driving can be just as challenging as canyon driving, but in a different way. Whereas canyon driving focuses on handling and cornering, urban driving teaches a new driver how to deal with distractions, how to handle obstacles of all sorts (pedestrians, cyclists, kites in the road), and how to navigate congested city streets and stop-and-go freeway traffic.

For drive number 7, we’re going to head down to one of my favorite areas of Southern California, Santa Monica. We’re going to get there using Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), drive around 3rd Street Promenade, and head back to Camarillo using the I-10, I-405, and US-101 – 3 of the busiest freeways you’ll find anywhere in the United States.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Canyon Driving, The Final Exam

Google map for Canyon Driving - The Final ExamA recurring theme in my teaching a teen to drive series is canyon driving. Navigating narrow roads and tight turns teaches invaluable handling skills. The skills are so fundamental that I focus on them early and often.

For drive number six, we’re going to take one more long drive dedicated to the canyons of Southern California. I consider this drive my final exam for canyon driving. In addition to navigating through three separate canyons, we’re going to go through what I consider one of the most challenging canyon roads in Southern California – Decker Canyon.

Decker Canyon is officially known as CA-23 South starting at the intersection of Westlake Boulevard and Potrero Road. Decker Canyon is narrow. The turns are tight. It has a challenging uphill drive and an even more challenging downhill drive from the center of the canyon to the ocean. It’s one of the few roads I’ve been on that when the sign says take a turn at 25mph, it means 25mph. In some cases, the sign suggests a more aggressive speed than even I’m comfortable taking the turns at, which says a lot.

Bottom line, I’ve found that if the teen driver can confidently navigate through Decker Canyon, there are few canyon roads, if any, that will make them feel uncomfortable.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Freeway and Canyon Driving, Part 3

Drive 5 for the series Teaching a Teen to DriveIf you’ve been following along, you know that I like to use the canyons to teach a teen how to drive. There’s so much one can learn in the canyons about handling a car and how it responds to braking and accelerating. These skills come in handy and can be applied in a variety of driving conditions.

In addition to canyon driving, freeway driving is also an essential skill to teach a teen driver, especially if you live in Southern California. Freeways are integral of getting around the area.

So for this drive, which is the halfway point in my series on Teaching a Teen to Drive, we’re going to combine the two into one drive.

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