Behind the Wheel


By Paul Wimsett (UK Desk: So read it with an accent.)

Is steering more complicated than it should be? It’s all right for complicated turns and for parking but it’s hard for a learner driver to keep on the straight and narrow using a steering wheel. It should be noted that what allows you to steer isn’t just the steering wheel but also the steering column, the axels and the front wheels of a car (and in the case of 4 by 4 cars in difficult terrain, the back wheels).

What exactly is the steering column? Well it attaches the wheel to the rest of the mechanism. It also provides the mounting for various functions such as the transmission gear selector. To help with safety this column can collapse in an emergency.

The piece that causes this to happen is known as the “tolerance ring.” This part is designed to become unmoored from its housing. There are several federal regulations which must be applied to any steering column in the US. In China the regulations are more strict and requires an additional anti-theft mechanism in the column.

steering-wheel-801994_1920.jpgSteering depends on getting the series of linkages absolutely right and although a driver behind a wheel seems blind to the rest to the car it is better to see the whole machine as guiding you to where you want to go. The axel part is divided into the pinion, which appears like a cog, a steer arm and a fusee. To be even more precise there is also the Worm and roller gearbox and the Pitman arm. Too much jargon can be annoying though, so it might be best to leave things there.

Why might a car become hard to steer?

Well, the one most drivers seem to refer to first is icy terrain or something like rainy conditions. But setting aside environmental factors, things like lack of air pressure in your tires, your fluid level and a faulty pulley on your power safety unit may also make a difference as can unlubricated axels. Maybe it’s just the steering wheel itself which is sticking, but even this can cause accidents.

If you find that the steering is harder than usual, it is definitely a good idea to take the car in for a service, as there might be more than one thing wrong. Should you be gearing up for a long journey it is recommended that you find out if there any potential steering problems.

Here’s a fact about holding a steering wheel which might just save your life, or at the very least save you from excess pain. A warning though it is rather distasteful. It seems that the old way of holding the wheel – in a ten to two position is incompatible with cars with air bags. To save your arms it is recommended that you hold the wheel in a quarter to three position, in order to be on the safe side.



The First Car Buying–Sage Advice Part 1


Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett and A.R. Bunch

Let us talk directly to some of you on those of you late teens for this blog, with the voice of a couple car experts instead of your over-protective parent…which I’m sure have already weighed in.

There comes a point in your life as a teenager where you have “come of age” and require your own mode of transport. Though you may be tempted to look for a sports car, or even something like an SUV these aren’t recommended. Just like your “rents” have been preaching, the best type of car is a simple, late model, mid-size passenger cars. Here’s why…

This is about more than just trying to break away from being ferried around by our parents. It’s bigger and more symbolic than that; it’s a machine which can take you (within reason) wherever YOU want to go. Instead of, stand here at this time and I’ll get you, it’s be home by a certain time. The subtle difference is huge because now you are responsible for everything it takes to hit the mark and all the free time that responsibility creates. Therefore, the fastest way to more freedom with your car is to impress your parents with your car buying decision.

Making a good choice in purchase:

What you might not immediately consider are airbags but if you are learning to drive, they are definitely a good idea. Go for side air-bags as well. You might also look for an anti-lock braking system, just to be on the safe side. When you voluntarily pick a safe car, it signals your parents to worry less about you.

The first car might be one that we stick with quite a few years. After all, how long will it take before we can afford a new one? That being the case you can’t just buy the cheapest car you see, chances are that it will only break down. No, it needs to be relatively inexpensive, but operable.

You can avoid a lot of haggling with pros (car dealerships) by shopping private sales online. To avoid scammers, robbers, and worse kinds of creeps, mention that you’re going to have the car inspected by a mobile service like Tire Kickers. Be ready to pay in cash to make the purchase a simple transaction and bring someone with you who has some life experience. (Aunt Sally the x-marine will do nicely).

Obviously, never digitally hand over a deposit for a car you haven’t seen, just because the guy says he’s had a lot of interest—there’re actually a lot of decent cars out there so don’t worry.

Here are two pieces of advice that will serve you well in life–Don’t show your fear & haggle a little. There seller probable has more experience buying/selling cars that you do, but they don’t know that for sure until you open your mouth. Just nod and agree with what they say, and if the amount’s too high and they won’t haggle, the best thing to do is move on. Always haggle a little, because it actually reduces the remorse after the fact—wondering if you over paid. Just because they’re asking more than the car is worth doesn’t mean they need to come down in price, they might fail to sell it to several more people before coming to that conclusion. Sales fall through for dumb reasons all the time. Don’t let it get you down, just move on to the next car.

You’re probably noticing a theme to this section—don’t fall in love with the car before you buy it. That’s literally the job of a car salesman at a car lot—get you to fall in love with it before you talk money. So think logically about your car until you own it, then fall in love with it.

Is color important to a car? NO! go back and re-read the last paragraph! Holy cow, did you already forget the lesson. If you’re excited about the color you are not buying right. Look at the engine, the interior, the acceleration, the fuel economy, how suitable a car is for your needs. Then you can work out if it is the right color or not. (One exception: you can turn a car down if the color is too awful.)

What your Parents Aren’t Thinking:

Most teens assume that their Mom or Dad is primarily concerned with price. They don’t want you to overpay, but they don’t want you to drive an ancient gas guzzler either. Sometimes you might have to adjust your ambitions. Don’t worry about your parents; it’s probably you who will have to keep up with payments.

I know we just said to pay cash for the car, why are we talking about payments?

There is a way to finance a car and pay cash if you can pull it off. Some of the smartest teens we’ve interviewed were able to make an arrangement with their parents. They worked and saved up most of the down payment for their vehicle purchase. Then they looked around for the general type of vehicle they wanted and went to their parents with an offer. Match the down payment and co-sign a personal loan. This sort of loan isn’t tied to the vehicle. If you stop paying your parents will have to make the payments. Many banks won’t consider an unsecured loan because they want the title to the car as collateral, but with your parent’s signature and a sizable down payment some of them will. This allows you to take the amount of money you need out of the loan to buy the car in cash.

Paying cash gets you the best price on a car, usually, and by owning the title you can potentially reduce the cost of your insurance.

The key here is picking a car that your parents are impressed that you chose and try and keep to any agreed budget.

Good luck in buying your new car and here’s to safe driving out there.

PS if your parents don’t agree to help you buy a car you have only two recourses. 1) find ways to get better grades, a promotion at your job, and act more responsibly. 2) use your down payment money to buy a motorcycle…your parents will change there mind about the car…


Hands free while driving?


A massive 80% of the American public believe that hands free technology is safer than a normal cell phone and this is simply not true.

Using a cell phone, even a hands free one, is thought to be more distracting than listening to the radio or CD. A study in Queensland, Australia found that the reaction time was 40% longer if they were using hands free mobile, compared to just listening to the radio, the equivalent of 11 meters travelled before reaction, which could be difference between life and death.

The study negated the obvious distractions like holding your phone or looking at pictures, and measured actual conversation while not holding a phone against conversation with people in the car. The findings were shocking, leading to the conclusion that the “cognitive load” or the pressure of the brain having to focus on a conversation elsewhere is enough to cause a distraction. Conversing with people in your car is not so distracting to most people, as people in the car are aware that distracting a driver is equally dangerous to themselves.

A number of rear-end crashes seem to be linked to having a cell phone conversation. It’s possible that having a conversation with someone who’s not actually present activates the imagination more. It all comes down to whether or not you are using the mind to contemplate what is going on in front of you.

The problem is that many phones and devices have created hands-free modes. There is a hands-free Android for example. They have tried to get round this by reducing the “noise” or distraction caused having such conversations. Unfortunately it is still not safe enough. The difference in reaction times is somewhat comparable with alcohol.

road-44407_1280There have been efforts over recent years to create a “Do Not Disturb” period when driving. The difficulty is that the office (or gig work, or the family, or whatever) does tend to impose on quiet times. One idea is to program Siri to answer the phone for you and you simple create a verbal response to the content of the call. But since Siri isn’t a person physically present it’s not likely to be less distracting.

Maybe some research needs to be done in this area? After all both require the driving coming up with questions to phrase and then listening to a response. The plus point is that a Siri will tend to stay focused, rather than a colleague/friend/ relative who has no idea what is happening in the car. Can Alexa be trained in the same way? It’s certainly possible.

The first rule for cell phone use was in 2012 called the MAP-21 Act which prevented the general use of cell phones while driving. As time of writing, there is a growing effort to make rules more effective. This comes in part from the widespread use of rideshare. Drivers have little use other than to use their phones while driving—it’s the method of dispatching them to the next rider they need to pick up. And anyone who’s been a driver for Uber or Lyft can tell you that your rider will text you continuously to ask where you are. Is there a single federal law in the US? Not yet.

New York State law forbids talking on a hands-free completely. (It had already banned such activities as texting and sending an e-mail). Other states may still allow hands free so it is best to check when traveling between states on the laws of distracted driving.

The rule seems to be at the moment when in doubt, don’t answer the cell phone; wait until there’s a safe time to do so. Safety may seem boring but…okay, it is. And it’s useful.

Can We Live Without Vehicle Insights?


Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett

First what are Insights?

Your car’s computer gathers and transmits information about how your car performs under various conditions—like when you’re stomping on the gas.

According to IBM

“IBM® IoT Connected Vehicle Insights extends the power of cognitive computing to connected cars, acquiring data from sensors and systems to improve the in-car experience. Today’s cars are moving data centers with onboard sensors and computers that can capture information about the vehicle and access it in near real time. IBM IoT Connected Vehicle Insights is an IBM Cloud service that you can use to retrieve, manage and analyze big data from connected vehicles.”

It’s all designed to improve your business, or so says

It’s about optimizing your fleet. Instead of drivers checking in via CB radio, dispatchers know everything about where you are, what speed and direction you’re traveling. They know when you’ll need to refuel.

Does it sound a little invasive? Yes! But it also allows logistics companies to optimize everything they do.

It is meant to go hand-in-hand with monitoring inventory and warehousing. For example, Walmart is pretty famous for their distribution model. While the specifics are a proprietary secret, in general it involves using the content of trucks as part of their warehouse system.

In an old logistics scenario, trucks would pick up an entire order from a factory when it’s completed and taking it to a distribution center to be stored until loads are dispatched to stores. Now trucks pick up smaller batches of product daily as they are produced. These trucks can swing by several factories or warehouses in a day so their load contains a mix of products. Then when a store orders a case of inventory the nearest truck can drop it off on the fly.


When it comes to day-to-day operations, the number one cost for logistics business would be fuel costs, hands down.

A logistic business is one which organizes movement of materials.

The key with vehicle insights is that all the information is fed live to the company.

It produces graphs which might mean nothing to you unless you have a degree in statistics, but it all amounts to time and motion–saving time and reducing the amount of motion (that is movement of traffic) involved. It’s about knowing where all your vehicles are at any one time, and what’s on them, so that you can reroute them on at a moment’s notice.

It is hard to think of cars or trucks as “moving data centers” but this is how IBM puts it. Nor is it easy to imagine what they call “big data” coming from such a business, but that’s another way of saying that there is a huge output of data available to analyse.

What about unsafe practices:

How do you know that a specific driver is keeping to the best rules of the road?

Car insights are used to monitor driving performance and decision-making. Only a few years ago this was accomplished via putting the company phone number on it’s trucks so virtuous members of the public could report bad the behaviour of drivers. Many companies also employed a “governor” which limited the maximum speed of it’s fleet vehicle.

But times have changed. Nowadays the driving patterns can be investigated at a distance. The idea is that drivers will take fewer risks if they know someone is watching. Whether that’s true or not, hasn’t been statistically proven. Clearly it’s not a popular feature for drivers who don’t enjoy being micromanaged. Most drivers who are forced to be conscious of how they are driving are more stressed and perform more poorly than drivers that are simply paying attention to the road and not to how they’re driving.

Weather and Traffic—the real benefit:

Perhaps the biggest blessing to drivers themselves is aiding them with unfamiliar weather conditions and constantly changing traffic. When one vehicle hits a traffic slow down it will notify other vehicles to try an alternate route. It will also let a destination know that their shipment is delayed.

In summary, car insights allow companies to see problems for themselves and do more with the information, which can translate to money. However, this could also mean less and less freedom for drivers in such enterprises. Safety and money is one thing, but what is the real toll on the health of drivers who feel like they’re under a microscope all day at work?

How Hot Was It?


While the pictures tell the tale of just how hot it’s been, there is a serious side to this. Animals and children who get locked in a car are at serious risk of permanent brain damage or even death.


picture found Fun Cage

According to when the outside temperature is 90 the air inside your car can climb to 119 degrees in as little as 20 minutes. If it’s 95 it could climb to 140 degrees after an hour. Please make sure your children and animals are not left unattended in this summer heat wave we’re having.

Signs-Its-Too-Hot-Outside-009.jpgThis message is brought to you by Tire Kickers. Make sure the car you buy has working power locks.


How Tricky Are Car Seats?


(Special Note: you can get a free Slurpee today at most 7/11 stores!!!)

When it comes to safety features there are three standards or different ways to think about it:

  • The basic steps to avoid danger.
  • What the law requires or bans.
  • The best practices.

In the end, most of us use a mishmash of all three depending on the specific situation and based highly on our perception of what’s dangerous.

When it comes to car seats, most of us would agree that a best practice standard is in order, but what’s available for sale, state by state, is based instead on local law. Most of us don’t take the time to vet our state laws, instead assuming that if you can buy it in a reputable store it’s probably, “safe.” However, you’d be surprised by how many states have laws that fall far short of a best-practice standard, while others actually wastefully exceed it.

South Dakota is an example of falling short of best practice by not even having a booster seat law at all. But not to pick on them too much, Missouri, Connecticut, and New York don’t have laws requiring “proper use.” This means that if an adult puts a child in a seat not designed for their weight or height the adult can’t be held responsible.

But to be fair, sometimes draconian laws can be counterproductive. The absolute best practice can be expensive, and impractical to a point that officers are handing out tickets to loving parents who find it too burdensome to fully comply. It’s actually impossible to make a car safe at all times for all occupants and therefor some laws are impractical.

A good example of this is a Kentucky law that passed in 2015, that’s so poorly written it makes it technically illegal for a child over 40 inches tall to use a five-point harness. The issue, as you’ll notice when you read on, is that 40 inches is an average height for a four-year-old who should be transitioning into a booster, but most boosters start when a child is 43 inches tall. This creates a potential year gap when your child can’t legally use either device. As a stop gap, Kentucky has circulated a pamphlet explaining that they won’t be enforcing the broken parts of the law.

Best Practices:

The following advice stems from the best practice recommended by experts at the NHTSA and at The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP). It starts even before the baby is born. A pregnant woman should have her lap top belt under her baby bump. Some ingenious folks have invented a devise called a tummy shield which may prevent a woman from injuring herself using the seatbelt. (

Between birth and about age four a child must be in a rear-facing carrier which attaches to the seat belt. This is based upon the age at which a child’s neck bones will be strong enough to handle a crash the way an adult’s neck can. Now this is where we need to get practical. A child of average height for age four doesn’t fit backwards in most vehicles. A law requiring this would ban parents from buying almost every vehicle currently made. So a common sense compromise is made in most states requiring backward facing car seats from birth to age two.

Clearly the only answer to the rear facing issue is to leave your child rear facing as long as you can after age two.

The front facing seat begins with a harness which attaches at 5 points. The harness is best until they reach 50 lbs. However, in the most recent recommendations (Aug. 2018) AAP gives a lot of credence to the car seat manufacturers, since they are required to test the performance of their seats. We’ve found a bit of variety from one manufacturer to another. For example, if your child is born early, it can be difficult to find a car seat that rates itself for under 5 pounds.

When a child outgrows a 5-point restraint seat, a booster seat is recommended. Children should remain in a booster until 4’ 9” and 8 to 12 years of age.

5steptest-280x460Is it ridiculous to put your 12 year old in a booster? Well, yes! Here’s the actual reasoning behind it. If the seat belt restraint doesn’t land on a passenger’s body where it was designed to it can cause damage. It’s important that it doesn’t land across a child’s neck for obvious reasons. Isn’t there a better option than a booster seat? Sure, but it depends on your definition of the word, ‘better.’ A company called RideSafer makes a vest that a child wears, not unlike a life jacket, which positions the seat-belt correctly. There are other belt-positioning devises—none of which are really well known, and therefore largely ignored by agencies which write safety laws and recommendations.

The image to the left shows a “test” you can perform to graduate your child from a booster devise.


Of course it’s all out the window (bad pun intended) if you don’t correctly install a car seat. Many towns have classes on correctly installing a car seat, often put on by the fire department. These happened when NHSA published data about the number of injuries that occurred when a seat wasn’t installed properly.

Here’s a video by the Virginia MDV showing how to install a front facing child car seat.

Flying with Children

For those traveling in rented cars, items such as boosters and carriers can also be rented, which saves you the trouble of carrying them through airports. If you do need to fly with a car seat they now make car seat bags that make it much safer and easier to carry them. They’re easier because they have shoulder straps and safer because corralling all those straps and hooks inside a bag keep them from snagging on other passengers or worse, the escalator.

Although there is nothing wrong in buying a used car seat, most of the industry seems to be against it, maybe for obvious reasons!

The reality is that plastic degrades and after as little as six months many child seats are no longer considered by the manufacturer to be in the condition that safety tested. Most manufacturers consider the seats safe for up to two years, but that doesn’t stop them from lobbying state governments to outlaw buying/selling used car seats on the grounds that they might be expired. If you get a used car seat from say, your cousin, Craig, just be sure to check the expiration date which should be stamped somewhere in the plastic.

Buying a Car Seat

The biggest key to choosing a seat is actually if fits in your car. Another is if it’s easy to transfer from car to car, because you’re going to be doing that more often than you think. Some car seats even come with indicators which tell you if they are fitted incorrectly. Others come with additional padding to provide further peace of mind while a baby is newly born, which is removed as a child grows. Graco makes a 4 in 1 car seat which transitions from rear facing to front facing to booster. This one is a car seat that snaps onto a stroller so you don’t have to wake your baby up to transition out of a car. If you have ever had to sit in a running car because you don’t want to wake your baby up this could be a handy feature BUT by far the most important feature in seat is that it fits in your car.

Additional parts of the infant car seat include the canopy which is designed to protect the baby further as well as allowing them to sleep. How do you navigate the world of car seats? In the end, you do what you do with ever other aspect of raising a child—you ask people you trust. If you don’t know any other parents read reviews on line. Google at leisure and shop with ease, skip google in haste and regret at leisure or something like that.

I hope that you find the right car seat for you and that you don’t find it too much of a problem to install. As you can see it’s a complex subject.


What’s News: Ford knew about transmission issues


Ford Motor Co. knowingly launched two low-priced, fuel-efficient cars with defective transmissions and continued selling the troubled Focus and Fiesta despite thousands of complaints and an avalanche of repairs, a Free Press investigation found.

Link to story
The cars, many of which randomly lose power on freeways and have unexpectedly bolted into intersections, were put on sale in 2010-11 as the nation emerged from the Great Recession. At least 1.5 million remain on the road and continue to torment their owners — and Ford.

The Future of Cars – Steel Or Silicon? (Part 1)

Steel or Silicon

Donald Trump seems to think the future of car production in this country is all about controlling the price of steel and aluminium, but it might come down to silicon instead. This first article will cover what’s happening in the US. Part 2 will go into the changes in Asia and elsewhere.

How long has computer technology been linked to cars? Amazingly, an automated navigation device was first placed in a car in the 1930s, but it mainly consisted of a map on a roll. As you journeyed along the road, you could adjust the dial and travel along the map. Presumably if you traveled the other way along the road, you could adjust the dial the other way. (The real problem was if you went on a road that wasn’t important enough to have one of these maps.)

The first SatNav as we would understand it happened in 1985 with the Etak Navigator. Like most tech at the time the drive was stored on a cassette tape. It still didn’t give you directions; it showed you what the road should be like according to the records. The city of LA could only be stored in four cassettes. The first SatNav with a voice to guide you was created by Mazda in 1990.

Surprisingly, a radios wasn’t even stock in most cars during the 1960 but it didn’t take long to go from radio to 8-track, to cassette. The first Compact Disc device installed in a car was the CD-X in 1984. We can’t find a record of which manufacturer first to install a mobile download system, but it was sometime around the beginnings of 2010.

look-out-of-the-window-2121134_1920We are so used to opening our windows electronically that we rarely think of it as technology at all. The power window seems to go back all the way to 1947 to the Cadillac Fleetwood. However the system was not (still is not) fool-proof. Power windows have produced injuries and even fatalities when obstacles got caught up in the window.

The early concern was that a power window wouldn’t go down if a car became submerged, thereby preventing occupants from being able to equalize pressure and open the door. But think about trying to crank down a manual window while your car sinks slowly into the murky darkness and water pours in on you…truth be told you are best off to keep a device nearby that can smash your window out.

The US government is trying to make these windows safer with items like a lockout switch but safety campaigners warn that injuries can still occur. See the Wikipedia article on Power Windows. As regards automatic sunroofs, well there are so many different types that they deserve an article on their own.

Of course self-driving (AVs) might seem an obvious thing to talk about next, but at this time they’re only for display purposes. The Aptiv for instance although operating in Las Vegas has a real human behind the wheel and the same thing with the Chevy Bolt.


Power assisted steering comes from 1951 from a Chrysler model, this however used hydraulics. The first electrical power steering was created for the Porsche 911 in 1963. The great advantage for electrics over hydraulics in the lack of wires making it much more efficient and less likely to overheat.

So “The Donald’s” efforts to promote jobs in the legacy American Auto Industry with heavy metal will have some impact on frame-and-body but there’s already a lot more going on inside the automotive brain, which could be a better source of jobs.


Do you check your car?


Auto ChecksIn checking your car I’m not referring to whether it is locked and the windows are down, I mean all sorts of checks

Right Insurer Checks

You can look up a vehicle’s history on several sites on the internet, using either the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) or the US license plate and the state. After you have found your car’s history (which may involve a small fee depending on who you chose) you can generally choose which plan you wish to subscribe to.

There is a choice between an easy scan and in-depth analysis, including finding out if the car has been involved in an accident, been reported lost or stolen and so on.

These types of organization use government offices and law enforcement agencies (not just state police but also national police etc.) as well as service and repair garage registries. Many of the American check websites will also work for Canadian cars.

Pre-purchase Checks

When buying a car you want to run the same checks as above plus check the price against the average for that specific vehicle in your state. Websites like will compare your car against the same make, model, year that have sold in your area recently.

You can also obtain reviews of what it feels like to drive that car, though nothing replaces a personal test drive. After all, you need to think about leg room, head room, visibility, and comfort. Only checking it yourself will determine if the vehicle is right for you. (If you have a child make sure that “back seat” actually fits your child’s car seat.)

It seems ludicrous to look at new cars in the dark but if you work during the day you may have been left with little choice. The only solution to this would be to bring a flashlight with you and make your inspection as thorough as it can be. Bringing someone else with you who can also check (or getting them to see the car in the daytime, though not necessarily buying the car for you) may also be recommended, though it could be a way to fall out with friends, LOL.

What’s easier and better than doing all this yourself? Buying a pre-purchase inspection from an independent source like our sponsor, They will use a trained mechanic to inspect the car mechanically, test drive it, and run the history for you, then provide a report that interprets all this and establishes an evidence-based value using Kelly Blue Book. Without that can you really know that you’re paying the right price or buying a safe vehicle?

Glove Box Checks

Items you should keep in your glove box (or somewhere easy to find in your car) include; proof of insurance and your vehicle registration. It’s also a good idea to keep emergency medication such as a backup inhaler or EpiPen. Bandaids, sunglasses or sunscreen, tire pressure gauge, a bandanna, small emergency kit, small grooming kit, gum or mints, and if you’re really in our tribe…ninja throwing stars!

Pre-trip Checks

Another reason to check your car is when you are going on a long journey in which case phrases like “anti-freeze and coolants,” “dipstick and locking wheel nut” are referred to, which may be difficult for the driver who isn’t that aware of equipment or technology to know what items are being talked about.beautiful-1845572_1920

Here’s a link to pre-trip check page on our site, but read on below for some basics:

Coolant is designed to keep your car from over-heating while anti-freeze stops the window washing fluid and other liquids from freezing in cold weather.

No, a locking wheel nut isn’t a slam against your ability to drive (that’s a loose nut behind the wheel), it’s actually on the tire, more specifically it is used to lock and unlock the hubs.

A dip stick (also not an insult) is used to check oil quality in the vehicle and is one of the many things that need to be examined before going on long journeys, as indeed are having coolant (depending on the temperature) and having a locking wheel nut.

Though being paranoid is not a good as a lifestyle, making sure that you are covered and you aren’t being ripped off is a good thing. Really, is making every precaution against breaking down paranoid or just best practice? Even if you resist being overly regimented in life this is one of those areas where a little extra effort can save you from saying, “If only…”