Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Go ahead, take a picture.

Things I've said in the past year:

"When are you actually going to watch that video of the fireworks?"
"Can you put your phone away when we hang out?"
"But first, lemme watch you take a selfie."

I was talking with a friend at a tailgate the other day and we were exchanging travel stories. She admitted that she is the type of person who tries to schedule as much as possible when shes on vacation. You know the type: do as much as humanly possible, take tons of photos during the process, and feens for the WIFI in order to upload the pictures before anyone else.

In the past I would typically get on my high horse about living in the moment or talk about how our generation is obsessed with social media and 1-upping each other... but instead I said, "Hey, whatever helps you enjoy it." My response was due to thinking a lot about the topic recently.

I saw this photo on reddit the other day with the title "The Difference Between Generations." It's a photo that illustrates the younger generation trying to get a picture of something (I think it's the pope?) and an elderly lady sitting with a soft smile just enjoying what shes seeing. It's a great picture and plenty of great little nuggets like the man from the baby-boomer generation who appears to be struggling with technology.

If you have more time here's a great read about Millennials and why they're so obsessed with food. Anthony Bourdain has a great quote within about why he posts pictures of food: “to share the experience with friends, to develop my brand as a food writer and maybe, if I’m being honest with myself, to show off.” The article goes into the psychology of food as a resource and what it means to show off to people that you're eating well. I think it's interesting that we feel the need to show others that we're having a good time via club-selfies, pictures of sunsets, pictures of food, etc.. Digging deeper, it's the desire to develop social currency and creating "our brand" among our friends. I never really thought about why I take pictures of food and told myself "so I can remember if what I ate was good or not." but I do think there is truth to what the article and what Anthony Bourdain said.

While I feel that it's important to be present to the moment and that documenting your life can distract you from actually living it... I now understand that people enjoy things in different ways. I recently had an awesome adventure that wouldn't be possible if my friend didn't care about taking photos of stuff. An entire night was spent "trying to get a good picture of the Super Blood Moon." It turns out weather didn't permit, the photo was awful, and there were some really great photos online afterwards taken by professionals... but that doesn't change the fact that we hung out and got lost together while having a great time. The next time I'm hanging out with a friend and they want to whip out their camera/phone... instead of rolling my eyes I'll try and remember how I'm feeling in this moment and just say, "Go ahead, take a picture."

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Experience with Speeding Tickets

By request - one of my coworkers was curious about my previous speeding ways, when I stopped speeding, and the time in between.

I guess you can say I'm an experienced speeder. My license got suspended after getting 9 tickets in 18 months. I was a pretty dumb kid to say the least. I viewed speeding tickets as a "tax to go fast." I boasted how I was a safe driver that went fast and was a "better driver" than most of the people going the speed limit. "Rules are made to be broken." Looking back, I kind of hated that Andrew. Rules aren't made to be broken... they are actually made for the exact opposite reason. Anyways that's a rant for another time.

I sped. I sped a lot. I fought a lot of tickets. If you've never got a ticket what happens is that you're given a ticket and on it will be the court location and date to show up. At the day of your court date you can either attend yourself or have a lawyer represent you. This first court date is actually just entering your guilty or not-guilty plea. Save your sob story and reasoning because this court date isn't about that. If you plead guilty you can take care of your fine right there. If you plead not guilty a future court date will be set up for you to do a trial for your traffic ticket. It's in that trial that you appear before a judge and submit your side of the case. Up until the moment you enter your plea you will hear a whole host of reasons to plead guilty. This is the preferred option for the court system. This is how they make money. The good reasons to plead guilty and pay your fine that day:

1) It's over. You won't have to show up again.
2) You'll most likely receive a reduced fine. This is to incentivize you to plead guilty.
3) They will offer you traffic school so it doesn't "show up on your record." This hides your ticket from your insurance company and you are eligible to do traffic school once every 18 months.

Your other option is to plead not guilty. This is the best option if you have the time to fight it and you're looking for a complete dismissal of the traffic violation. Winning in court is easier than you think. You can even submit a written trial or "Trial by Declaration" in which you and the cop submit your side of the story via letter. It's here where you can try and explain that maybe the officer misunderstood the situation, maybe it was dark, maybe they pulled over the wrong car, or maybe the speedometer wasn't calibrated properly or recently enough. What's nice about this approach is that it's convenient for you in the sense you don't have to go to court again. The other option (the default option) is to appear in court where you will verbally plead your case. In either case, if the officer doesn't show up or write his testimony then you automatically win.

When it comes to lawyer services I think it's actually worth it if your time is valuable to you. They'll show up for both hearings for you. If you don't want to pay someone $100 to show up a couple times for you I would still recommend pleading not-guilty and fighting it on the chance the officer doesn't show up. If he does show up, you can try and fight it with some of the reasons I mentioned above but if you are found guilty you can still try and get a reduced fine or traffic school. The moral of the story is don't be persuaded into the court-preferred option of pleading guilty. It costs the court more for you to fight it and it costs you more time to fight it... but it's worth it if the ticket is completely dismissed.