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  1. #41
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Risk and riders

    The scenarios have painted some pretty common pictures, these are all events that have happened and with minor variations, will continue to happen.

    Why?

    Because we take risks.

    We take risks to live, risk is as much a part of our everyday life as breathing, getting out of bed in the morning, driving to work (huge risk!), and on and on. What matters is how we deal with risk. Most everyone simply looks at a given situation and their brain automatically assesses the risk and provides a solution. For example: You are painting the house and need to set up an extension ladder. The ground is uneven and the ladder slides to one side, so you look around for something to level up the ladder. You spy a couple of 2X4 ends and block them up under the lowest leg of the ladder, then you 'test' the stability by putting your weight on the lowest rung. Seems solid enough, so you proceed up the ladder, paint bucket in hand. The 2X4 blocks are cut pretty short and the ground is a bit soft so the ladder again leans to the side and by now, you are 7-8 steps up when you feel the ladder lean. You automatically reassess the risk. Your brain might tell you to continue on, you've experienced a similar situation before and never fell, so the mental model your brain referenced says, "no problem"....or, perhaps you have fallen off a ladder that shifted and your brain says, "DANGER, DANGER!".

    Depending on the mental model you have for the situation, your reaction could be totally different.

    We build mental models all of our lives, from when we first discovered that stoves can be hot to dogs can bite. Critical differences result in the mental model that your brain references in any given situation. Do you remember those kids in school that were always getting hurt? And the kids that almost never got hurt, even though all the kids were doing the same things? The formative years of childhood have huge impacts on how we think, how we react and the results.

    Ah, you think some kids simply have better hand/eye coordination or maybe quicker reaction times? I know people that have remarkably quicker reaction time than I do. Do you think reaction time alone will save their butts? Some people, especially 15-35 year old males believe they are invulnerable and push risk to the limits...and their strength and reaction time will get them out of trouble. Just for fun, see how fast your reaction time really is. Click on this link http://getyourwebsitehere.com/jswb/rttest01.html , take the reaction time test and post your averages along with your age/sex profile and we can do a comparison to see if we are quicker, slower or just average. Here's mine: 54YOM .25 avg RT Let's see how you do and then I'll post the differences in distance traveled at any given speed to see how far you go before you can react (remember this from driver's ed?) M

  2. #42

    Ladders

    AK Mike, right when I think its time to take a brief rest, someone writes something that spurs me to post.

    Last year one of my colleagues (in his 60s) decided to clean his gutters. He fell off the ladder, struck his head, and passed away the same day. He was cautious by nature but worked very hard every day and advocated striving for balance between work and play. His wife devoted many years of her life to public service. They had many plans to finally retire and enjoy their golden years. I went to his funeral and heard so many wonderful stories. I wondered how many times I had climbed ladders oblivious to the risk that might change my life.

    One equation that I find very useful is converting mph to feet per second. 60mph is 90ft per second. 2 skis at 60mph close on each other at 180ft per sec. Its been a while since I read the data but I think that a full 1sec+ reaction time is common for untrained drivers in real world conditions. Throw in fatigue, distraction or "divided attention" and that number can go way up real quick. Your reaction time is very good and must be due in part to training and genetics.

    Ive seen those little machines that drag racers use to improve reaction to the "Christmas lights." The best top fuel drivers have very consistent reaction times but even then they can vary significantly on any given day.

  3. #43

    Rescue Sticks & Frisbees

    Shawn & AK Mike, do you guys ever use or carry one of these PFD throw sticks or frisbees? I'm curious how well they work in real conditions. Ive had a throw stick in my garage for over a year, but the thing recently fell off its hook and inflated on the garage floor! Almost tripped over it in dark garage tonight! I use to be a pretty good frisbee thrower but dont know if this new product is more gimmick than go.
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  4. #44
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Type IV throwables

    Blue:
    We carry the small inflatable Type IV's on our PWC's...they don't require much space and work fine although they are not approved by the USCG (they don't replace an approved Type IV for boats that are required to carry a Type IV). We use the throw sticks, frisbee-type and the more typical type IV in our training all the time. Last summer, we went out to a Forest Service day camp (for kids 8-14YO) and did PFD training. I swam out in the lake and the kids got to throw me a type IV. We used the inflatables, rings, seat cushions, frisbees and sticks. The kids (with a few minutes training) could throw the sticks the farthest and most accurately. Next were the seat cushions. The rings were too heavy and clumsy for most kids to be of much help. The frisbee's worked best when the kids had adequate practice, but for someone to just pick up a type IV and get it out in the water (distance and accuracy) the throw sticks would be my pick. A regular line throw bag worked pretty well, but doesn't have enough inherent floatation by itself. The best combination was the throw stick with a line attached although it did limit the distance a bit. I can throw a line 50' consistently and with the stick attached, probably just as far. We recommend a 'swinging underhand/sidearm toss' rather than the more conventional overhand 'baseball' throw as being more effective for most people to use. The key here is to practice and we do...every season. My advice; keep the stick, it's a good piece of equipment. It might be of more use on a conventional boat rather than a PWC simply because the PWC are so quick and shallow draft that I could get to a PIW (person in the water) quicker than I could get the stick out and toss it to them. We practice that also! Mike
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  5. #45
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Reaction time

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue 182 View Post
    One equation that I find very useful is converting mph to feet per second. 60mph is 90ft per second. 2 skis at 60mph close on each other at 180ft per sec. Its been a while since I read the data but I think that a full 1sec+ reaction time is common for untrained drivers in real world conditions. Throw in fatigue, distraction or "divided attention" and that number can go way up real quick. Your reaction time is very good and must be due in part to training and genetics.
    Blue: The link I posted will test your reaction time. This is pure reaction; not the time it takes you to decide to react. If any given situation presents itself, the time it takes for your brain to decide what to do can take much longer as you mentioned. One of my favorite was a situation that I experienced years ago, in the Boundary Waters Canoe area in northern Minnesota. Our entire family (inlaws and outlaws) canoed and portaged in several lakes and set up camp. My brother and I were hiking on a little rocky outcrop and we could see the camp, the trail and the lake from our vantage point. We sat down to enjoy the view and spotted my brother's wife and our Mom on the trail. Just ahead of them (apparently out of their sight) was a black bear. The bear was ambling along in their direction. They came around a corner on the trail and both of them froze when they saw the bear and Mom very quickly turned and ran. My sister-in-law took a little more time, then backed up farther before she turned and ran. We had a ringside seat and it was quite apparent that Mom simply reacted; her brain told her to run; DANGER! Sister-in-law actually did the right thing and assessed the bear's apparent intent before she decided to run. Mom's brain processed (sensory relay)the environmental cue (bear=DANGER) and took the short route through the amygdala to an unconsious reponse. Sis processed the cue through the cortex, then to the amygdala and made a conscious response (long route). It was quite interesting to watch the entire process unfold and the difference in time between reactions was very apparent. Mom's reaction time and Sis's reaction times were likely very close (avg. .25 seconds)...the huge difference in total time was how they each processed the situation. I think that we often judge reaction times ("He's really slow to react") by including the processing events....and, in reality, the entire processing event could be considered reaction time. The link that 'tests' your reaction time utilizes the short route; from cue to unconsious response and most people are very close timewise. The big differences occur when the long route is taken and the cortex/hippocampus get involved. I've included a rough diagram to outline the basic processes. Mike
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  6. #46
    AK Mike, thanks for the info. I never practiced with the throw stick because the one I have is a one shot deal, unit hits the water and automatically inflates. You then have to replace cartridge. Thats why I wasnt real thrilled to see unit inflated on garage floor. I guess it could be penny wise but pound foolish.

    It must have been disturbing watching the bear incident unfold from afar, knowing there was nothing you could do to help or change the situation. The problem I see with these bears is, if they dont like you or what you are doing for some reason, youre done. Cant outrun, outswim, outclimb. The outcome of any confrontation is entirely up to the bear. Unless you have a pretty big sidearm.

    I liked the discussion of brain circuitry. The cutting edge in this area is the use of MRI or PET scans to see exactly whats happening in brain when person is confronted with different stimuli. The functional MRI and PET actually provide a "real time" picture of changes in brain electrical activity in response to specific stimuli. Studies have been published that claim to identify typical MRI or PET brain profiles of extreme risk takers, problem gamblers etc. I dont think anyone knows yet though whether the behavior causes the brain profile or the brain profile causes the behavior. You might see the possible sinister implications if its the latter, ie governmental sorting of people based on "scientific" probability of future conduct.

    I'm sorry if I got carried away with this but the door seemed slightly ajar. I just wish my Kawi Ultra circuitry made as much sense to me as this other stuff!

    Please carry on AK Mike, wherever you want to go next!

  7. #47
    AlaskaMike's Avatar
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    Risk Perception vs. Risk Tolerance

    Risk Perception vs. Risk Tolerance; these are two totally different concepts. Risk perception is how you think about risk. In other words, if you have very little real-world experience with bears and your entire knowlege base on bears is from fairy book tales and Discovery Channel documentaries thrown in with a couple of zoo visits, you might have very little ideas about bear behavior (mental models) that apply to reality. Such was exactly the case with my mom....and also, my sister-in-law. They shared a common reaction (Bear=DANGER!)...yet, they reacted differently. Their perceptions were essentially the same.

    Risk tolerance is how you accept risk. A gambler has risk tolerance. Gamblers know the risk; yet they accept it. Same a an experienced PWC rider, race car driver, skydiver or housewife/hubby. Older people tolerate risk differently than young people. Why? Getting on a trampoline for a 14YO is not too rare, but you don't see many grandparents bouncing around.

    Driving a car is something all of us probably do on a daily basis. We tolerate the risk; it's part of our society and a necessary way of life. We own cars and are familiar with them and driving becomes 'automatic'...our tolerance for the risk of driving becomes easier with the more experience(s) we have. Unfortunately, the perception changes along with the experience. Remember when you first learned to drive? You were probably pretty tense. You didn't slow down soon enough for turns, parallel parking was a huge challenge and those four-way stop intersections always left you scratching your head as to who goes first. Your perception was that the risk was pretty high in driving and your tolerance was fairly low. Then, as you gained experience, your perception for the risk dropped; after all, you haven't had any wrecks yet and the car seems pretty safe! At the same time, your tolerance rises along with your confidence. Then, a car runs a stop sign and you get t-boned. Car is now wrecked. You get a replacement and your tolerance changes (along with your perceptions)....but as time goes on without a wreck, the memories fade and the tolerance/perception balance changes again.

    Experienced PWC riders have a fairly well balanced tolerance/perception. High life jacket wear rates in this boating user group bear that up. They know the risk (perception) and actually mitigate the risk by wearing the jacket.

    Unexperienced PWC riders automatically accept the risks inherent with PWC's even if they aren't aware of all of the risks. Putting a first-timer on a PWC during the busiest times on the lake isn't much different than me getting in a stock car and racing with Jeff Gordon at Daytona...except that's almost exactly what happens. (Newbie PWC'er, not me racing!) The 'mismatch' of experiences can create havoc.

    The Coast Guard suffered a high level of boat mishaps several years back. They developed a program called Team Coordination Training (TCT) to help the boat crews learn to work effectively together to mitigate the risks. This training includes seven critical skills; Leadership, Situational Awareness, Mission Analysis, Adaptability and Flexibility, Decision Making, Communications and Assertiveness. These skills were sometimes counterintuitive to the way boat crews were working and the resultant mishaps were becoming intolerable.

    Even though the training was developed for a military situation, the skills themselves are a critical component of how we think. Applying the lessons learned in each skill set would be akin to a master's degree in boating as the operator/crew would be able to work together as a team and risk mitigation would be at maximum.

    I'd like to start off with one skill module at a time and see if I can adapt them to PWC riding (considering that usually there's only one on a boat and the interaction between riders is one of the highest risk factor considerations).

    I'll start with Communications in the next day or so...LATER! AK Mike

  8. #48
    Hydrotoys's Avatar
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    Shawn and group in action!
    http://www.ridepwc.com/

  9. #49

    Brain MRIs

    I know I must be careful digressing on such an important thread but I just read this article "Keeping Love Alive" in 2/08/08 issue of Wall Street Journal and it illustrates perfectly my comments regarding implications of cutting edge brain MRI technology. I am deeply skeptical that MRIs reliably diagnose human emotion or character but I also know the Wall Street Journal is no pop psychology rag. Can you imagine the implications? No reason to ask your spouse or mate if he/she still loves you. You can just ask for a functional brain MRI to prove it! In the coming decade, in addition to your other family advisers, may be good to have your own neuroradiologist on retainer!
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  10. #50
    Moderator shawn alladio's Avatar
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    46 Year Old Female:
    My first hit was 0.421
    second 0.328
    third 0.328
    fourth 0.328
    fifth 0.313
    My final reaction time was: 0.3436
    http://getyourwebsitehere.com/jswb/rttest01.html


    Blue-The Save-a-Life-Disc I think it was orginally called, I have one, but have never used it, a retired USCoastie I believe created it years back. Mustang Survival sells a bang stick (LOL) that is an inflatble, really good. Anything can work if you have a purpose and have trialed/trained with it, sometimes there are better products, sometimes even a spare tire can be used from a trunk..just depends upon location, location, location, (situation, knowledge and quick thinking on the spot)...

    I love this thread.

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