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Global Skywatch

ode to Valentine One

I road raced toy cars as a rug rat. I pushed brake-less wooden coasters to hilltops and drove them hard through corners on the way down. I was the same with my bicycles. Throughout my motorized years, superior cars or bikes disappear from from my mirrors every time curves are involved. I LOVE the art, science and skillset of driving. From two wheels to eighteen, I have always paid attention to driving machines and environment like nobody else I know.

I observe my ten-and-two hold on the steering wheel in maybe one out of a hundred drivers. I see lounge-chair seating positions, one-hand at the bottom of the wheel, double-arm hug, fast food in one hand, driver focused on back seat passengers, cell phones, text messaging, reading and sundry other insanities among average drivers.

My level of focus inspires a corresponding regard for the physics of man, machine and circumstances that far transcends legislated numbers posted on highway signs. A corner with a 30mph suggested speed is likely only 20mph if I’m driving a loaded cement truck or 60 if piloting a race car. My old Suburban feels comfy at 60-65 in our posted 70mph highways while my high-performance semi-retired-race-car Honda CRX prefers 80.

Fifty years ago highway patrol actually patrolled the highways, rather than parking in revenue traps radar traps. Motivated by public safety, they paid attention to vehicles and drivers who posed risk to other travelers. They pulled risky people over, talked with them and sometimes issued citations requiring future court appearances. I experienced an extraordinary number of those conversations sans citations.

There was an honor, a sort of professional courtesy patrolmen paid to drivers who were alert and ON the task of driving. I would see them about the same time they would see me. They would note my behavior adjustment before they even made their first move to arrest my behavior. “Okay. This guy may be running a bit fast, but he is very much aware of his surroundings and potential risks therein.”

We would chat. I would answer truthfully, “I wasn’t watching the speedometer real closely, but probably about nn”. They would confirm my number with their estimate (adding back the few mph I had taken off) and often radioed in my driver’s license number to find a spotless record, sending me off with the warning “Keep it down a bit.”

Then speed assessing radar came along and changed the rules. One generation of cops later (20 in human years) the easy money was in radar traps. A machine printout confirmed the driver was not synchronized with the arbitrary number posted on the road sign. No having the cops bring their tediously maintained notebook to court for argument against drivers or lawyers thereof. Police today hardly write tickets for anything other than radar-supported speed violations.

And for goodness sakes, do not get out of your car and talk eye-to-eye, man-to-man as my Dad taught me. That would scare the crap out of the one hiding behind the badge and bring a dozen more cop cars to the scene… possibly resulting in a case of SPEED KILLS as they are trained to shoot their guns to assure officer safety. No hard feelings, you see, just policy.

They changed The Rules, their priorities, attitude and culture. We are The Enemy; recalcitrant children to boss and punish. Public Safety??? Must be somebody else’s job, cuz it ain’t ours.

Rather than change myself into a puddin-head, inattentive, drowsy driver, I joined them in adoption of technology.

I frequently thank Mike Valentine for his antidote to staring at my CRX speedometer and holding that spirited pony back. The reliability, sensitivity, accuracy, threat counter, locater and differing sounds for different threats put the Valentine One in a league of its own.

Welcome to Full Coverage
Dear Owner:

When an interest lasts for a year to two, that’s a hobby. When it goes on non-stop for more than 25 years, I think it fairly can be called an obsession. My wife says I’m obsessed with traffic radar. She’s right.

Radar is out there, skulking around, hiding in the bushes. And I really get a kick out of finding it, finding it first, finding it every time. This is a civilian version of what the military calls Electronic Warfare Support Measures (ESM). I find it compelling; I can’t help it. I’m pretty good at it, too. That makes it more fun.

Back in the seventies, Jim Jaeger and I invented the original Escort® detector. It was the best radar finder on the market for a long time and I enjoyed running the company that made it, Cincinnati Microwave, Inc.

Since starting my own company, we’ve made other products and earned a reputation for innovation. But nothing is quite as much fun for me as finding radar…

As the enemy upgrades its weapon systems, Mike upgrades his counter-measures. Valentine One stands behind and offers upgrades for your unit whenever the innards change.

The power line to my unit is tucked away and goes directly into the ignition switch circuit. That makes it less conspicuous, attractive to theft, and I never forget to turn it on… something I did more often than was prudent while it was plugged into the lighter socket.

I also put a spot of yellow fingernail polish on the key points of the controls so I can see their status at a glance. I prefer my focus to be on the road ahead.

There you have it. My secret for paying attention to safety and health hazards rather than detainment and pocketbook hazards.