The third Monday of the month is reserved to talk about Mental Riches. In my opinion, the best way to become mentally rich is to learn something. Past weeks, we have talked about reading and taking classes. Hopefully I will be able to teach you about something new: the Pittsburgh Left.
Pittsburgh is a very old city, so the streets and buildings were designed before cars were even thought about. Due to cars parked along the curb, many streets are only wide enough for a single lane of traffic in each direction.
If a car pulls up to an intersection and needs to turn left, it is often difficult to do so because of opposing traffic. Of course, the cars behind the turning car have no place to go, so they must also wait until that front car is able to turn and get out of their way. At a traffic signaled intersection, the vehicle turning left often has to wait through an entire cycle from green to amber before finally being able to turn as the opposing traffic comes to a stop for the red light. This means that all the cars behind that first car also had to wait through a cycle for the first car to turn, and then another cycle until they actually get to move. If there are several cars in a row that need to turn left and only one can turn at the end of each cycle, traffic can crawl to a standstill very quickly.
Enter the Pittsburgh Left. At a red light, the first two cars in each direction are facing each other. One of the cars wants to turn left and has used their turn signal to indicate their desire. The opposite car has no turn signal on and is intending to go straight. As the light turns green, the vehicle turning left does so first, then the opposite vehicle going straight proceeds through the intersection. By allowing the first vehicle to turn left first, the cars behind don’t have to wait through multiple cycles to go straight.
Lets look at this scenario through the eyes of both front drivers.
For the driver that needs to turn left, if he or she waits until the cycle almost finishes and finally gets to turn on the yellow, that driver gets delayed by the light and has a line of upset people behind them trying to go straight. Instead, they anticipate the light turning green and floor it in order to make the left before the opposing traffic starts into the intersection. This is very dangerous and illegal in Pennsylvania (turning traffic always has to yield to traffic going straight). I do not recommend initiating this at all for any reason. Wait it out. Upset the people behind you. They will survive, and so will you.
The other driver is first in line, has the intention of going straight, has the right of way when the light turns green, and sees the opposing driver’s turn signal indicating that they want to turn left. Although this driver has the right of way, he or she could certainly yield the right of way to the other driver (usually by flashing their headlights or using hand signals to the other driver). By yielding the right of way, they are delaying themselves and the people behind, but only by a few seconds. In addition, they are allowing the vehicles behind the left-hand turner to progress in a timely manner by not making them wait an additional cycle.
Although I do not live in Pittsburgh, I try to yield to the Pittsburgh Left as the situation arises. There are really only two cases where I won’t yield in that scenario. If I am going straight and the first opposing vehicle is turning left, I will not yield if there is more than one lane of traffic in my direction. If I yield, but the driver next to me does not, now I am really impeding traffic. The other case would be when there are no vehicles behind me, so the driver can easily turn left after I has passed through the intersection (although I still yield in this situation on occasion).
In my opinion, a two second delay for myself is a price I am willing to pay to help out a fellow human being. And the riches I receive from helping others are priceless.
Have you ever yielded (or considered yielding) to a Pittsburgh Left? What are other acts you do—random acts of kindness, so to speak—to help others? I look forward to hearing your ideas in the comments.
I am a huge fan of learning new things. When I graduated from college, I learned how to ride a motorcycle. Like last month’s post, not only have I learned how to ride, but now I am also teaching those skills to others.
Although there are many curriculums and places that will teach you to ride a motorcycle, The curriculum I use was developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Although the MSF is headquartered in California, they have training sites all over the United States. Specifically, I teach for the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP).
The MSF offers many different classes for may different kinds of people. Some classes are done in a classroom setting only. The class called Intersection was designed for people who have no intentions on riding a motorcycle, but want to be more aware of motorcyclists on the road.
The class they are probably best known for is the Basic RiderCourse (BRC). Currently, the BRC runs 15 hours, of which 5 are in a classroom setting and the other 10 are practicing on a motorcycle in a low-speed, controlled environment. (Note that the motorcycle and helmet can be provided, so you can take the class without fully committing to riding.)
The BRC is designed for beginners (people who have never been on a motorcycle before or have limited riding time), but I have taught people who have been riding for decades who told me after the class that they still learned a lot and were glad they took the course. Other people, after taking the class, decided that motorcycle riding was not for them, but they can use many of the skills they learned when driving a car.
In some states (including Pennsylvania), successful completion of the BRC will automatically earn you your motorcycle license if you don’t already have it. The cost varies from state to state and location to location. In Pennsylvania, there is no additional cost to residents (the cost is paid through obtaining your permit and renewing your license, so “free” when you sign up). Out-of-state residents currently pay $250 to take it in PA (and we cannot license out-of-state residents).
Pennsylvania and the MSF also offer more advanced courses. For example, the Basic RiderCourse 2 is a 6 hour training done on your own bike. Cost is free to PA residents, $150 for out-of-state residents, and successful completion can earn you your motorcycle license.
For people who ride motorcycles, I recommend taking the BRC at least once in your lifetime, and to take the BRC2 at least once a year and whenever you get a new motorcycle. Research has shown that we tend to use the knowledge from safety courses for about 6 months after the course. Taking the BRC2 once a year keeps that information fresh in our mind. Also, since the BRC2 is taken on your own motorcycle, taking it when you get a new motorcycle will help you learn its control and operation is a low-speed, controlled environment. If you ride with a passenger, or if you are a passenger, the two of you can take the BRC2 together so the rider can feel and learn the differences of riding with a passenger and the passenger can better learn what they can do to maintain safety on the motorcycle.
Do you ride? If so, what do you ride? Have you taken any safety course for riding?Do you want to learn how to ride? Tell me in the comments.
Dan Miller Said that to become an expert in any topic, we just need to read three books on the topic. Personally, I love reading. When I have some down time, I usually grab a book.
But I know that some don’t like reading. Other people cannot motivate themselves to read. Yet others may need help to understand what they are reading.
One option is to take a class through your local college.
The option of taking a class can help to alleviate some of these issues. The structure of the class would require a certain number of pages to be read each week. The professor usually assigns additional work outside of class to help aid the learning, and then is also available during office hours, before class, during class, and after class to help explain the content.
And the fact that you have to pay for the class gives additional motivation to successfully learn the material instead of wasting your money.
Many college will offer classes that run an entire semester (usually 16 weeks) in addition to shorter classes for enrichment.
Locally, our Penn State extension, the Williamsport Center is offering several classes, including STAT 100 (which is being taught by me). STAT 100 is a full semester class (one 3 hour class each week on Wednesday night for 16 weeks). The Pennsylvania College of Technology is offering an introductory blog class (which is being taught by my wife). The class, Get Your Blog On, is 3 hours a day for two consecutive Saturdays.
As a side note, it has also been said, “the best way to learn is to teach” (Frank Oppenheimer). Once you are an “expert,” then you can teach others…
What are you learning about right now? I look forward to hearing about it in the comments.
Reading 3 books will make us an expert in a topic. Once we pick a topic that interests us, or decide on a topic that we want to become an expert, how do we choose those three books?
I would strongly encourage you to get a membership at your local library. While there, look in their book catalog for the topic you are interested in.
It is possible they will only have three books on that topic.
Or they might have more. Many more.
When you include books they can get from sister libraries and InterLibrary Loan, the number jumps by leaps-and-bounds.
Fortunately, there is help. An organization called The Browser has asked experts in their field what Five Books they would recommend others to read. After each recommendation, the site also allows others to comment on books not on the list that they would recommend as well.
You may not find your topic there, but at least it is a start.
What topic are you researching? Have you found any good books you can recommend to others?
In the scheme of things, 10 minutes out of our day isn’t much at all.
Wake up 10 minutes earlier (or hit the snooze button one less time).
Go to bed 10 minutes later.
Read over your lunch. (I remember when I would get an hour break for lunch. I would be done eating in about 20 minutes and be bored for the other 40).
A blog author I read, Michael Hyatt, recently had a guest blogger, Robert Bruce, who wrote about his quest for reading more books. He writes, “My goal is to read 101 novels. Usually, I would’ve given myself a deadline, but I didn’t want to speed read through the books, so I just chose to read them as they come.”
Maybe 101 books is a bit too big of a goal for you, especially if you are just starting out. But 3 certainly seems doable, and averaging a book a month, will take a mere 3 months.
What topics interest you? What would you like to become an expert in?
I love to read and was excited to start reading Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich. I had heard mention of the book in my travels, but recently received a recommendation from a friend that I should read this book.
I went to my local library and checked out a copy. I was disappointed with the content of the book. The book was a quick read and I didn’t find my mind wandering while I read it. However, after finishing the last page, I really couldn’t find the point he was trying to make. (Of note, he does mention in the preface that the book discusses a secret and writes, “Somewhere, as you read, the secret to which I refer will jump from the page and stand boldly before you, IF YOU ARE READY FOR IT.” (sic) Perhaps I am just not ready.)
I cannot say that I got absolutely nothing from the book, but from a 200+ page book, I can say that only about 4 pages stood out to me. Specifically, one quote caused the current headline for this blog.
The word “riches” is here used in its broadest sense, meaning financial, spiritual, mental, and material estates.
I have already tackled the first two meanings he mentioned, financial and spiritual;I do want to address his last two meanings as well. I don’t know how long I will keep that quote as my headline, but for the time being, having four meanings leads nicely for me to submit 4 posts a month — one on each meaning. On months (like this one) with 5 Mondays, I will use the 5th week for another topic.
So on to mental riches. I think if the general population were polled on the word rich and what came to mind, I think money would be first. Perhaps desserts would be second, but I think some people would also consider spiritual riches. I’m not sure how many people would come up with these last two meanings on their own without having read the book first.
In fact, doing a web search today on the phrase “mental riches” yielded 2 of the top three results as a parked domain of the same title and 4 of the top eight were from Google books. (None of the books were Think and Grow Rich.)
But even though Mental Riches is, ironically, not thought about, I think its meaning can be easily deduced from the sum of its parts. I believe that Mental Riches is thinking about the right things. Learning. Being optimistic. Doing your best. Embracing those around you. Putting others’ needs before yours. Looking for the good in people.
As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Filling your mind with filth will not enrich your mind. What have you been filling your mind with lately?