Saturday, November 28, 2009
by Fred Hansen, General Manager — last modified Nov 12, 2009 03:59 PM
The new law impacts all TriMet employees who use cell phones
There have been numerous stories in the media about the dangers of distracted driving and accidents caused by drivers texting or on a cell phone. In response, the Oregon Legislature recently passed a bill to outlaw the use of handheld cell phones while operating a vehicle. The new law allows the police to cite a driver using a handheld cell phone beginning January 1, 2010. The new law does not prohibit hands free use. However, TriMet’s policy goes further than the law, since we do not allow either handheld or hands free cell phone usage. TriMet policy prohibits personal cell phone use (handheld or hands free) while operating a bus, train, LIFT or non-revenue vehicle (including a privately-owned vehicle) on TriMet business. For TriMet staff not operating a bus, LIFT or train but driving while on TriMet business, you must pull over and stop the vehicle before answering or dialing a cell phone. Discipline procedures for violating the policy will also change: If there is proof that non-business cell phone use occurred while operating a revenue vehicle on TriMet business, we consider this a violation of District policy, as well as the Working and Wage Agreement, and can be cause for immediate termination.
There is solid research as to why driving while distracted is a serious issue. Research has found that a motorist talking on a cell phone is "four times as likely to crash as other drivers" and as likely to cause an accident as someone with a .08 blood alcohol content."
In addition to restricting all personal cell phone use while operating a TriMet vehicle, it also restricts use of a personal cell phone while operating a personal vehicle in the course and scope of carrying out job duties.
No audio or video device of any kind including headsets, wireless earpieces, and cellular phones, shall ever be used or visible while you are in the driver’s seat unless you are parked at a layover.
Operators shall not use cellular telephones or other communications devices in an operating cab while the train is away from a terminal station, except to contact Control during a radio system failure.
Driving even with a hands free device is still distracting and can put our employees, riders and others at risk. I have a zero tolerance for violating our policies or the law. Compromising safety and distracted driving is not worth the risk.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
· Several restaurant chains are offering free meals to
· Was ABC News' 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel fired for trying to air a piece critical of health care reform?
· What happened to the FOX News documentary on Barack Obama?
· Noah Biorkman, a 5-year-old boy battling cancer, wants to receive Christmas cards.
· Would a House bill require members of Congress to participate in a publichealth care plan?
· Photograph shows representatives playing solitaire on their laptop computers during a legislative session.
· Do influenza outbreaks of recent years correspond to Chinese astrologicalsymbols?
· Photographs capture images of white-coated moose.
· E-mailed list offers tips for avoiding contracting the swine flu.
· Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!
Worth a Second Look
· Does a photograph show a tearful veteran embracing a wounded Marine?
Still Haunting the Inbox
· Message promises consumers can receive free laptop computers from Ericsson for forwarding an e-mail to their friends.
· Postcard / Greeting Card virus.
· E-warning cautions that cell phone numbers are being sold to telemarketers.
· Claim that peeled onions placed about the home will fight off the flu virus.
· Does a government program provide free cell phones to welfare recipients?
· E-mail advises contacting police by calling #77 (or *677) on a cell phone.
· First Lady Michelle Obama has an unprecedented number of staffersworking for her.
· Warning about cash back charges being surreptitiously placed on WalMart customers' credit cards.
· Message lists criticisms of Barack Obama noticed by the public.
· Warning about a password-stealing Facebook virus.
· Mail Server Report virus.
· E-mail petition #2493 from Dr. James Dobson protests proposed ban on religious broadcasting.
· Actor/writer Ben Stein's commentary on the observance of Christmas.
· Warning about thieves armed with "code grabbers" breaking into cars by recording signals sent from remote keyless entry devices.
· Warning about 'Osama Captured/Hanged' computer virus.
· Account of Irena Sendler's saving 2,500 Polish Jews from the Holocaust.
· Promotion promises free cash or merchandise for forwarding an e-mail message.
· Message from
· Claim that Rep. Nancy Pelosi regularly travels to
· Claim that the ACLU is seeking to have cross-shaped headstones removedfrom federal cemeteries.
· Plea to help find missing girl Ashley Flores.
· Comedian Bill Cosby's purported platform as a write-in candidate.
· Seems like everyone has become the recipient of mysterious e-mails promising untold wealth if only one helps a wealthy foreigner quietly move millions of dollars out of his country. The venerable 419 Scam has discovered the goldmine that is the Internet. Beware: There's still no such thing as "something for nothing," and the contents of your bank account will end up with these wily foreigners if you fall in with this.
· Likewise, look out for mailings announcing you've won a foreign lottery you don't recall entering or claiming that because you share the surname of a wealthy person who died without leaving a will you're in line for a windfallinheritance.
· And be especially wary if, while trying to sell or rent anything online (car, boat, horse, motorcycle, painting, apartment, you name it) you're approached by a prospective buyer/renter who wants to pay with a cashier check made out for an amount in excess of the agreed-upon price and who asks the balance be sent to a third party.
· Aspiring work-at-homers promised big bucks for acting as intermediaries for international transactions wherein they cash checks for other parties or reship goods to them have been defrauded by con artists. Don't you be next.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
In re Afghanistan, why, you might ask, is the world’s hugest, expensivest, most begadgeted military unable to defeat a few thousand angry tribesmen armed with AKs and RPGs?
Easy: Character. The men running the war are mentally the wrong ones to do it.
Think about this for a moment. Suppose that your boss at the lab or law firm or newsroom demanded that, when he entered the room, you leapt spasmodically to your feet, stood rigidly erect with your feet at a forty-five degree angle like a congenitally deformed duck, and stared straight ahead until he gave you permission to relax. You would think, correctly, that he was crazy as a bedbug. If he then required reporters to stand in a square so he could inspect their belt buckles, you would either figure he was a gay blade or call for a struggle buggy and some big orderlies. This weird posturing is not normal, nor are those it appeals to.
Suppose you showed up for freshman orientation at Princeton and your professors bellowed at the tops of their voices, three inches from your face, “Your shoes ain’t shined good, puke. Get down and give me fifty.” (Pushups, that is, which in the military doesn’t mean the better sort of bra.) You would decide that the loon had lost whatever mind he had ever had, and call Domino’s for a cheese pizza, double Haldol.
Should you be so unwary as to suggest the foregoing in print, the response will usually be that militaries need discipline. True, and so do newspapers. However, there is a distinction between discipline and ritualized lunacy. At every publication for which I have worked, the editor was clearly and absolutely in charge. Yet I, seldom senior, could say, “Yeah, Wes, but if we do that, won’t thus-and-so bad thing happen?” His decision was law, but he was happy to hear from subordinates, who might know something he didn’t. Editors do not require vaguely sadomasochistic submissiveness.
This hoopla is not of use in combat. The Taliban seem to be doing rather well. Do you suppose their commanders check their beds to be sure that a quarter will bounce from their blankets?
Now, what kind of kid wants to go for robot training at West Point or boat school at Annapolis? Statistically these kids are bright, gregarious, “motivated” (a favorite military word), athletic, perhaps Eagle Scouts. Psychologically they want (need?) to live under a regime of rigid conformity and obedience that would appear as absurd as it is if we were not accustomed seeing it among soldiers. That is, they are autoselected not to think for themselves or question decisions from above. They are exactly what universities exist not to produce.
The service academies reinforce these unfortunate characteristics. Their schooling consists of four years of learning what to think, not how to think. There are hours of running in formation (“If I die on the Russian front….”), close-order drill, manual of arms (“Hen-spection…harms!”). Why? There is no military value in being able to shift your rifle from shoulder to shoulder crisply. Like the endless inspections of everything, all of this participation in the hive inculcates groupishness and a curious sense of safety in conformity.
The effects are remarkable and, from a standpoint of civilization, undesirable. Large authoritarian organizations make easier the compartmentalization of morality. A colonel typically will be a good neighbor, civic-minded, responsible, unlikely to steal your silverware or kick your dog. If the Pentagon tells him to bomb a city he has never heard of and has no reason to bomb, killing people who pose no threat to him, he will. He feels no individual responsibility for atrocious behavior ordered from above. “I vas only followink orders,” the Nuremberg defense, is the bedrock of military ethics, if any.
Men trained in conformist obedience can work marvels. They just don’t care whether the marvel is good or evil. If you need to handle some vast natural disaster, call on the military. They have the manpower, the aircraft, the medics, the co-operation to get things done now. They will stay on their feet for forty-eight hours without sleep. They take the “mission” (another favorite military word) seriously.
What they do not do particularly well is wage war. Why? Because they have in their minds a view of war that is partly that of offensive linemen—you close with the enemy and destroy him—and partly martial romanticism. They speak of duty, honor, country, bravery, fallen comrades, proving oneself. Military history is rife with silly pageantry, nobility of spirit, glorious charges, and impracticality. Having been trained to think rigidly, they do.
Before Agincourt, there were things the French might profitably have learned about long bows, but didn’t bother because chivalry didn’t concern itself with peasants. It was the glory of the thing, not whether they were committing suicide. English generals killed 20,000 young Brits in one day at the Somme; they hadn’t compared the ideas in their heads with then-current military reality (such as that infantry charges over long distances against massed machine guns, artillery, and barbed wire are not especially productive, unless you manufacture embalming fluid.) Authoritarian group-think, love of ritual, romanticism, inattention: not a happy brew.
Further, military service encourages an often-catastrophic sense of masculine potency. Running in formation with fifty other men (“lef-rye-lef-rye-lef-rye-layeff….”) or watching a fighter cat-shot from a carrier deck—the thrill is gonadal, appealing to something deep in the male psyche, a challenge flung at life. It is wonderful, but not a sound basis for judgement.
A consequence is a tendency for militaries of the First World to gravely overestimate themselves, and thus underestimate their enemies. This is why they usually expect wars to be far shorter and cheaper than they turn out to be. As recent examples, the French did not expect those slanty-eyed little zipperheads (les jaunes) to win in Viet Nam, nor did the Pentagon have any idea they the US could possibly lose 60,000 dead and the war in that country, Iraq would be a cakewalk, and those louse-infested towel-heads in Afghanistan had no hope against American swoosh-kerpows. The US military in particular has a compulsory can-do attitude, with slogans like “The difficult we can do today, the impossible takes a bit longer.” This substitution of morale for comprehension is regularly disastrous.
Having no idea what they are getting into is almost doctrine among professional officers. A major does not become a colonel by saying, “General, the French didn’t do all that well at Dien Bien Phu. Maybe we ought to, you know, do something else. We could invade Vanuatu.”
America’s problem is not that its generals prepare for the last war, but that they don’t prepare for it, and then fight it again the same way.
Secret #1: Your dentist may not be as educated as you think.
Dentistry has changed a lot since your dentist graduated from dental school. There have been major advances in most materials used in fillings, bonding and root canals. If your dentist is not actively engaged in continuing education, it is unlikely that he or she is keeping up with these developments.
Secret #2: Your dentist may not have the latest technology.
Digital x-ray: Dentists who do not have digital x-ray equipment are practicing in the dark ages. Digital x-rays use less radiation than film. They are easier to read and the ability to manipulate contrast makes diagnosis more accurate.
Ultrasonic Cleaning: Ultrasonic instruments vibrate plaque and calculus off your teeth, even in areas below your gums. It is much more comfortable than old-fashioned hand scraping.
CEREC: The CEREC system lets your dentist provide a ceramic crown or veneer in only one visit. CEREC means fewer injections, less drilling and no annoying temporaries.
Diagnodent: This is a laser that the dentist shines on the tooth and it tells whether there is a cavity and how deep it is. With the use of this technology, the dentist can detect cavities, and find them at an earlier stage, than traditional poking around the tooth.
Secret #3: Your dentist may be using mercury.
Mercury is toxic. Norway and Sweden have banned the use of mercury fillings.. But mercury fillings are less expensive and easier for the dentist to use. If your dentist does not use composite fillings, don't go to that dentist any more. In the US, the FDA is way behind the ball and not actively warning patients about this like they have been mandated by the courts to do.
Secret #4: The lab may be more important than your dentist.
Dental labs create dentures, crowns, bridges, orthodontic appliances, and other dental restorations like implant crowns. There is a huge difference in the quality of these labs. You should be particularly wary if your dentist is using a lab in China or Mexico. Some of the top labs in the U.S. are Aurum Ceramics, MicroDental Laboratories, da Vinci Dental Studio, and Williams Dental Lab.
Secret #5: There's more to good dentistry than filling cavities.
A competent dentist screens for more than tooth decay. He or she should be concerned about sleep apnea, jaw-related pain known as TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder, periodontal disease, oral cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
Secret #6: You are probably using the wrong specialist for dental implants.
Since dental implants involve the removal of a tooth and replacing it with an artificial tooth, many patients assume that an oral surgeon is best qualified to do it. This can be a flawed assumption. Periodontists, who specialize in gum disease, may be a better option. Periodontists have special training in gum tissue and underlying bone in the mouth, which are significant issues in dental implants.
Secret #7: Bad dental advice about dentures can be fatal!
Dentures are no joke. Your dentist should examine your dentures for evidence of wear. Wearing down the teeth on your dentures can result in distorted facial characteristics, collapse of the bite and closure of the airway.
Secret #8: Your dentist may not know enough about sleep apnea.
The most common form of sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway during sleep. It is a pretty scary condition. The patient can stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. A common treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which involves blowing pressurized room air through the airway at high enough pressure to keep the airway open.
As an alternative, your dentist, working with your physician, can custom make a device that guides the lower jaw forward, called a mandibular advancement device or MAD. MAD devices are more comfortable to wear and the compliance rates are much higher than using CPAP.
Secret #9: Not all cosmetic dentists have the skills to really improve your smile.
Any dentist can call herself a "cosmetic dentist." Your dentist should be able to show you ten or more before and after photographs or videos, and be willing to give you the names of patients who have consented to be used as references.
Secret #10: How to avoid the root canal your dentist says you need.
Ask about the "ferrule effect." Technically, this means that a root canal is unlikely to be successful if there is not enough tooth structure above the gum line to protect the tooth from coming loose or fracturing after it has been prepared for a crown. If your tooth fails the "ferrule effect" test, you might be better off with an extraction and an implant.