February 2007

By Alan Haskvitz, National Teachers Hall of Fame, Reader’s Digest Hero in Education, national inservice presenter 

For the complete article with intact links and other valuable connections to materials for the parents of the gifted go to



Educating the gifted student

What is giftedness?

Many parents believe their child is gifted. The problem is there are many areas of exceptionality, and sometimes overachievers or bright children may seem gifted to the inexperienced observer.

To further complicate matters for an inexperienced teacher or parent, Professor Howard Gardner gives us at least seven very encompassing categories in which a child may be gifted.

  • Linguistic. This means a child is very verbal and excels at reading and writing.
  • Logical-mathematical. This area involves the ability to see patterns and relationships; these children enjoy games of strategy and experiments.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic. These children are athletic, have good motor coordination and enjoy being active.
  • Spatial. This type of giftedness appears in those good at puzzles, drawing, building and thinking in images.
  • Musical. These children are discriminating listeners and enjoy singing, drumming and keeping rhythm.
  • Interpersonal. These learners become leaders. They communicate well, understand the way others feel and are not embarrassed to take charge.
  • Intrapersonal. These gifted traits are revealed in shy, but motivated children.

Helping the Gifted Child

So how do you help a potentially gifted child? After spending 30 years in the classroom teaching these students, I saw four factors emerge:

  1. Gifted children are a diverse and frequently stubborn group, who sometimes use their intelligence to avoid being seen as intelligent.
  2. They are competitive and enjoy being best in the fields they feel confident about. However, they are reluctant to try new things for fear of failure.
  3. They are manipulative and tell you what they think you want to hear. If they are doing poorly and believe parents will try getting them out of a tough class, they will make sure evidence they present parents is overwhelmingly in their favor.
  4. They may resent being in classrooms where gifted students have to do more work, rather than different work.

Indeed, many schools encourage skipping grades to help challenge gifted students. This is a mistake if the child cannot accept the social ramifications. In addition, and this is very important, it puts students at a real disadvantage when taking SAT tests. That extra year of preparation and maturity could be worth many points and make the difference between the school of choice and the others. Remember, with grade inflation, many students have straight-A averages. SAT scores and community and extracurricular work separate students from the pack. So, the best way to help a gifted child is to challenge them and expand their interests, while providing depth in their gifted areas.

However, there is a downside when challenging a gifted youngster. To provide the depth of knowledge needed to keep a truly gifted child interested requires a parent to make two decisions:

  • First, do you want to challenge the child in other areas and risk activating their stubbornness?
  • Second, are you willing to accept the fact your child may fail?

These are not easy decisions to make. Many parents delight in displaying honor-roll stickers and place a tremendous weight on grades, rather than learning. In addition, parents want to see happy children and tend to bulldoze anything that may jeopardize this.
Internet resources

Fortunately for parents and teachers who want to expand a child’s scope and challenge their abilities, the Internet has a vast array of excellent resources. However, because of the living nature of the Web, it is important to review these sites in case they have been purchased by those whose purpose may not match yours at http://www.reacheverychild.com

When working with a gifted child, you should have some knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which deals with levels of learning. A parent can use this link to prepare questions for their child to learn the quality of the child’s thinking. It is a must for any teacher of gifted children as it provides a focus for enrichment activities.

Being gifted is not always a wonderful situation. Gifted students have a high drop-out rate, are frequently bored and underachieving and sometimes prove to be a handful for an inexperienced teacher or uncaring administrator. About underachieving gifted students, who represent nearly 20 percent of the population. In addition, recent research has indicated that telling someone they are smart in reality discourages them from learning new things that require untired skil
Comparing bright and gifted learners (chart)

Bright child

Gifted child

Knows the answers

Asks the questions


Extremely curious

Pays attention

Gets involved physically and mentally

Works hard

Plays around; still gets good test scores

Answers questions

Questions the answers

Enjoys same-age children

Prefers adults or older peers

Good at memorization

Good at guessing

Learns easily

Bored — already knew the answers

Listens well

Shows strong feelings and opinions


Highly critical of self (perfectionistic)

Learns with ease

Is mentally/physically involved

6-8 repetitions for mastery

Has wild, silly ideas

Understands ideas

Discusses in detail; elaborates

Enjoys peers

Beyond the group

Grasps the meaning

1-2 repetitions for mastery

Completes assignments

Constructs abstractions

Is receptive

Initiates projects

Copies accurately

Is intense

Enjoys school

Creates a new design

Absorbs information

Enjoys learning


Manipulates information

Good memorizer


Enjoys straight-forward,

Good guesser

Sequential presentation

Thrives on complexity

Is alert

Is keenly observant

Janice Szabos, Challenge, 1989, Good Apple, Inc., Issue 34

Is it Time to Buy American Cars?

By The Car Family

For more car reviews and free educational links go to


http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.htmlJust in time for the holidays are some remarkably good vehicles made by what used to be called the Big Three of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. To that end The Car Family tested some of the more traditional models and came up with two distinct findings. First, you get a lot of value with “American” automobiles. Secondly, American vehicles are improving in quality. For example, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2006 Vehicle Dependability Study American brands finished second (Ford), third (Buick), and fourth (Cadillac). In addition, in most cases American cars are cheaper to buy when similarly equipped and are kept longer. As for customer satisfaction, The American Consumer Satisfaction Index showed that owners ranked their newly purchased vehicles in a essentially the same order with Buick finishing second, Cadillac fourth, Lincoln/Mercury fifth, and Chevrolet seventh, with Chrysler and Saturn next.

If you are considering a the gift of a car this season here are some that would make excellent American stocking stuffers:

For those who like a lot of car for the money try the Buick Lucerne that ranges in price from $25,515 to $34,545. This high quality large sedan is loaded with extras such as alloy wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, OnStar, lots of airbags, a CD player and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls even in base trim. Of note are the remote vehicle starting system and heated and cooled seats, a V-8 producing 275-horsepower and a heated windshield washer system that’s perfect for those North Pole winters.

For the fast Santas on your list the Cadillac’s CTS-V has 400 earth pounding horsepower and a manual transmission for those who want sporty luxury. But, for most Santas the DTS is the model of choice with up to 290 horsepower and every electronic doodad known to man. If you really want to make a jolly entrance try the STS-V with a supercharged 469-hp, 4.4-liter V-8 backed by a new six-speed automatic. You can even get the STS in all wheel drive in the six-cylinder model. There’s also an XLR-V, which has a 443-hp supercharged engine for those who like its sports car appearance and sharp looks. And a much sharper looking CTS is coming shortly.

Thrifty on fuel and operating costs, the Chevrolet Cobalt is a hoot to drive and even comes with an optional supercharger for those who want to feel the force. Priced from $13,050 to $20,850 this is a handy vehicle that doesn’t take up much out of your garage or payment book. For twice as much you get twice as much as the Corvette can be under your roof for $44,000. As good as any sports car twice this price, the Vette is perfect for those who enjoy driving the best American sports car value. On the other hand the retro looking HHR sells for about $16,000 and is incredibly handy and easy to customize. It has enough power and room and has an option list the enables it to be individualized at the dealers. If you want practicality with a little poke the Chevrolet Impala starts at $21,000 and is relaxing to drive, comfortably, roomy, and is very easy to maintain. The Impala is a great back to college car with a low theft rate, insurance rate, and repair rate.

Chrysler has its bargain priced 300s ready for surprise giving and with their snowplow front grills fits the December season perfectly. Starting at $23,880 the 300 comes in a variety of styles and even as a wagon for impulsive mall sprees. There is also a new styled Chrysler Sebring for $18,320 that has enough options to make that letter to Santa need additional postage. Can you say Bluetooth, heated and cooled front cupholders, GPS, real time traffic updates via satellite radio and, hold on to your babushkas, a 20GB hard drive that enables drivers to rip their own CDs or download MP3 files from a jump drive using a USB connection. See if you can get that in your foreign made sedan for under $20,000.

It would take a book the size of the old Sears catalog to go through the fun options on the Dodge Caliber. This sort of station wagon, sort of small SUV, sort of cool looking what ever it is goes for just under $14,000. There is even a high performance engine should you feel the need to give chase to the owner of the reindeer tramping down your favorite Poinsettias. The rear seats can be reclined or folded flat and don’t forget the Music Gate speaker package.

Keeping with the current makeover trend Saturn has updated its line-up and the result are a two-seater sports car, the Sky, and the stylish Aura sedan. The Sky is the best-looking sports car to be produced anywhere in eons and can be ordered with both a high performance engine and sporty suspension. Try a ride in the hotted-up Red Line to see what it must feel like to fly for about $26,000. Meanwhile the Aura is no slouch in the attractive department as this midsized four-door has plenty of performance options and such unique available features as power adjustable pedals and a four panel panoramic sunroof. Besides how can you ignore an American company that has given its newest entries such astronomical titles just in time for the reopening of the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles?

Ford has its Mustang in several degrees of excitement from Egg Nog to a Cosmopolitan, but the big news is the Fusion with its starting price of $18,000. It does everything asked of it and isn’t bad looking either. Of course, if you really care the Lincoln Zephyr rides on the same chassis and has a much more extensive list of features. The Lincoln comes with alloy rims, dual zone climate control, an array of audio features, and a split folding back seat. The THX-II audio system must be heard with its 600-watt amplifier and 14 vibrating speakers. Very lady friendly, the Lincoln is easy to park and has a spiffy interior.

Pontiac shows its American side with the Solstice roadster for about $20,000. This two seater is similar to the Saturn Sky and merits a test drive on a sunny day. Pontiac’s Grand Prix GXP is now powered by a 303-hp V-8, something that hasn’t happened since the winter of 1987. They also have the G6 sales leader and it comes as a coupe and hardtop convertible and is very well priced. You aren’t going to find a less expensive hardtop convertible anywhere.

So this season looking for an American car as a gift might be the easiest ever with convertibles, hot roadsters, powerful sedans, optional onboard CD rippers, and gas sipping compact cars catering to most every taste. Besides it would also make Santa happy to know that he doesn’t’ have to use his currency converter so often.

For a list of vehicle manufacture websites click on business at


How my Car Choose my Wife


Alan Haskvitz

For more car reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/


It’s not unusual for a car to be considered almost a family member. They are given their own names, have unique personalities, and sometimes people spend more time and money on them then their own families. But how many people let their car help select their future spouse?

It happened 35-years-ago. I was just out of college and working as a junior executive for a large financial corporation. It was very stuffy and conservative and so I asked my parents if I could have their Ford LTD until I got my six-month evaluation and a permanent position. The Ford did the trick. No one suspected my hidden agenda.

When my boss called me in to tell me my apprenticeship had been successful I thanked him, walked out the door, threw my tie in the backseat of the Ford, and drove down to the Los Angeles Airport, home of Shelby Motors. There, clustered in the showroom and the garages behind it were Cobras, Cobra Coupes, and Shelby Mustangs. I was a pushover for the salesman. One hot ride in the cool morning mist and I was sold. Realizing my fantasy only took my signature was a wonder to me. The Ford LTD, noble vehicle that it was, gladly sacrificed its residual value for the down payment. I owed $5200, a small price to fulfill a dream. But the best was yet to come. I had a used 1965 289 Cobra in my apartment parking lot

The Cobra was British racing Green with red–yes red-leather seats. It had a Racer Brown cam that made the engine shake the ground. There was nothing better than getting out of work and seeing it sitting there ready to play. Of course, I pampered it and the Cobra soon repaid me by changing my life.

Driving it daily in the bumper-to-bumper traffic or the rain was a chore, as the car had a heavy clutch and wide tries that refused to grip in even the lightest dampness. The top was a joke made with iron rods and a thin piece of canvas. There were no roll-up windows, only plastic inserts for side curtains, and they leaked badly. The side exhaust was so loud I could not hear the radio. The foot wells got so scorching my sneakers melted to the firewall. The car ran so hot that I had to remove the grill and add a scoop for cooling. The Cobra’s Koni suspension was so firm that the car would not sway and I simply skidded it around corners. The aluminum body was so thin people had to be warned not to lean on it because they could dent it with their weight. The wire-wheels would get out of round almost weekly trying to hold the 300 horsepower in check. The glove compartment opened whenever it felt the need. The heater was excellent in summer and nowhere in winter. The cowl shook so much I couldn’t use the rear view mirror. In other words, it was perfect.

What I didn’t realize is that my reputation changed the day I drove it to work. My image as the golden boy of the company ended as the Cobra’s exhaust noise bounced off the underground parking lot’s walls. I owned a sports car. And, worse it was an American sports car. I didn’t have the good sense to buy a Mercedes SL, MG, or Porsche, which at least would have shown some class. No, wonder the Cobra forever lumped me with the Vette crowd–only the Corvettes had air conditioning, windows and power steering. The Cobra was literally driving me out of a job.

On the good side of Cobra ownership was the fact that this car helped me meet girls. It even helped me judge them. If a young lady was more interested in the car –that was a no-no. The car’s rough ride enabled me to judge their ability to endure the pain of childbirth, or worse, my jokes. The Cobra even enabled me to see how generous they were as the Cobra required frequent trips to the gas station where I would see if they were willing to help with expenses. (Actually, I am still waiting)

In the end, the Cobra even helped me find the perfect wife. A hot number from New Jersey moved into my apartment complex. Blonde, blue-eyed, working, and with absolutely no interest in me at all, I knew she was worthy of the Cobra test. I asked her out. She was new to California so I didn’t have any competition. Perfect.

I knocked on her door and she looked right through me. This was going to be tougher than I expected. She agreed to the date because she was looking forward to a good meal. I walked her to the Cobra and waited for her reaction. There was none. I started to perspire. Didn’t they have Cobras in New Jersey?

Now, there are no exterior door handles on a Cobra so I had two choices. I could tell her to climb over the door, which was always interesting to watch, or reach in and open the door from the inside. Her stance indicated that the latter action was required. One turn of the key and the 289 engine barked to life. The side pipes startled her. She wasn’t so confident now. The Cobra was playing its part. She held her short skirt tightly as we drove off. Apparently, she had sat in sports cars before. Damn. I drove to the local drive-in and watched the masses part as the Cobra waddled into the prime parking sport. The carhop brought us the burgers with the usual complaint-there’s no place to put the tray. I made the usual joke, “just hold it for us.” My date looked out into space. Perhaps a hamburger at a drive-in wasn’t her idea of a good meal. Go figure. Maybe I should let the Cobra do the talking. When we left I let the Cobra idle a little so that my date could hear the power and I waited for her reaction. Nothing.

I decided to test her ability to handle life’s fast pace. I took her for a hot ride. Suddenly a stalled truck appeared before us and I was trapped in traffic. This was no way to treat a lady. I saw an opening in the next lane and the zero to 60 in five seconds Cobra leaped ahead. Oops. There was a car stuck in the new lane. I hit the four-wheel disc brakes hard. The Cobra did its stuff. I missed the stalled car by inches. I was embarrassed. Why had the Cobra done this to me? I looked over at my date. She wasn’t there. I looked again. Yes, she was. She had just slid down the footwell tunnel. There was no seat belt on the passenger side and the red leather seat did little to hold her.

All I could see was the top of her head. She crawled up and repositioned herself in the seat. I waited for the verbal attack. She never said a word. No complaining about the idiot driver. Not a word about the brutal ride. She was perfect. We’re still married. The Cobra had done its job and helped me select the perfect wife.

The Cobra taught me everything that it could before I let it go. It taught me not to prejudge people by what they look like or drive as others had done to me. It taught me to appreciate evenhandedness when racing and in life. It taught me the joy of driving and the wonders of the open road. Finally, its sale gave me the funds to travel the world and awake my senses to a planet full of wonder and discovery. And, it helped me find my wife, and a joy she is every (week) day.

Helping Your Slow Learning Child

By National Hall of Fame educator Alan Haskvitz


For more car reviews and free educational links go to


Perhaps the greatest challenge to an educator is a child who is a slow learner. These children do not fall into the category of special education, do well outside the classroom, and show no evidence of having a medical problem. They simply do not do well in school or a particular subject. In the days before formal schooling these students would carry on productive lives working and doing tasks that did not require extensive reading, writing, or math operations. However, today the emphasis is less on occupational learning and more on academic preparation. Thus there is a growing need for help to remediate these children to provide them the best possible opportunities in a changing world.

Having successfully taught for nearly 30 years in several states and countries two commonalities emerge when dealing with slow learners. The first is that they need extra time to complete tasks. This means that the parents must be willing to augment what happens at school regardless of how fruitless it might appear at times. Secondly, the child must be offered incentives that are appropriate. Depending on the child the best incentives are those where the family works together on a project such as building a model or attending a concert or game. The incentives should require delayed gratification so that the child learns patience and the importance of waiting to be rewarded.

The next area is proper nutrition. A child needs to have a breakfast. Period. Every study done points out that a quality breakfast and proper sleep are the two best ways to improve student performance. http://www.nassp.org/advocacy/views/healthy_better.cfm

With those two factors in mind, the next step for a teacher or parent is to search for lessons and other resources that make it easier to differentiate the curriculum and make learning more vital and relevant. To this end the special education sites on the Internet have some great ideas. It must be noted that this column is not dealing with those students that qualify for special education classes. However, the concepts that teachers use when dealing with these students are ideal for helping a slow learner once the student’s weaknesses have been diagnosed. In any one of my classes I have about ten percent who are slow learners so having a slow learning child is not unusual.

One of the best places to start looking for help is at http://www.reacheverychild.com/specialed/index.html where you can find a wide range of helpful sites. Also http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/special_needs.html


Here are some general characteristics of slow learners. Students may display some or all of these depending on their age and degree of problems acquiring knowledge at school. First, they are frequently immature in their relations with others and do poorly in school. Secondly, they cannot do complex problems and work very slowly. They lose track of time and cannot transfer what they have learned from one task to another well. They do not easily master skills that are academic in nature such as the times tables or spelling rules. Perhaps the most frustrating trait is their inability to have long-term goals. They live in the present and so have significant problems with time management probably due to a short attention span and poor concentration skills capabilities.

It should be pointed out that just because a child is not doing well in one class does not make that student a slow learner. Very few children excel in all subject areas unless there is great deal of grade inflation at that school. That is why it is essential that standardized tests scores be examined in depth by the parent or teacher to look for trends. Also there is a difference between a slow learner and a reluctant learner. A slow learner initially wants to learn, but just has a problem with the process. A reluctant learner is not motivated and can also be passive aggressive creating even more of a problem for teachers and parents through a ploy that involves non-cooperation. There is seldom anything wrong with the learning ability of reluctant learners.

To help slow learners here are some proven ideas for educators

Have a quiet place to work where the child can be easily observed and motivated.

Keep the homework sessions short

Provide activity times before and during the homework

Add a variety of tasks to the learning even if it is not assigned such as painting a picture of a reading assignment.

Allow for success

Ask questions of the child while they are working about the assignment

Go over the homework before they go to bed and before they go to school

Teach them how to use a calendar to keep track of assignments

Read to the child

Use my “Three Transfer” form of learning in which the student must take information and do three things with it besides reading. For example, read it, explain it to someone else, draw a picture of it, and take notes on it.

Be patient but consistent.

Do not reward unfinished tasks

Challenge the child

Have the child do the assignments that are the most difficult first and leave the easier ones to later. Call it the dessert principle.

Don’t be overprotective. Students who have parents that frequently intercede in their child’s education are teaching that student that the parent does not respect their abilitites. If you do call a teacher make sure you are seeking a positive outcome. Remember that most teachers have dealt with numerous slow learners and have a vast amount of experience. However, sharing your child’s strengths and weaknesses could make the school year more beneficial for all concerned.

Contact the teacher if there is a concern. Calling an administrator solves nothing as the teacher is the sole legal judge of academic success.

Take you child to exciting places where they can see where academic success

is important. A trip to a local university or community college, a walking tour

of city hall, a visit to the fire station or a behind the scenes tour of a zoo are

highly motivating.

Examples of interventions for slow learners

Environment: Reduce distractions, change seating to promote attentiveness, have a peer student teacher, and allow more breaks.

Assignments: Shorter and with more variation, repeat work in various forms, have a contract, give more hands on work, have assignments copied by student, have students use three transfer method where they have to show the work three different ways.

Assessment: Shorter tests, oral testing, redoing tests, short feedback times, don’t make students compete

What to avoid: Cooperative learning that isolates the student and places him or her in a no win situation. Using a standardized test. Ignoring the problem.

What to encourage: Grouping with a patient partner. Learning about the child’s interests. Placing the student in charge. Mapping, graphic organizers, and hands-on work. Using Bloom’s taxonomy of tasks to make the assignments more appropriate. http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/researchskills/dalton.htm

History, lessons, recipes, study abroad, crafts, and New Years celebrations and education ideas are posted here.



car reviews


Vehicles that Appeal to the Feminine Side

The Car Family

For more car reviews and free educational links go to



With over 60 percent of new cars being purchased by women and females influencing the decision of 85 percent of all vehicles sold it is disappointing that the manufacturers have so few women designers and engineers because there are only a handful of vehicles that are truly female friendly. And, by that I mean they have a touch of style, an interior that is functional and easy to operate, an engine that does what it is told without untowardly jerking and sudden bursts of unexpected acceleration, plenty of cargo space and places to store odds and ends, comfortable seats, and a trunk lid that is easy to lift. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not against some sporty cars or those that shout look at me, but in the main I’ll take reliability over flash, but why not have a little of both

 So with those criteria in mind, which are the best cars, I have tested for the distaff side?

I love the Audi 4,6, and 8. The interiors are the best and they are relaxing to drive and live with under a variety of conditions, including inclement weather. The Audi A4 is a pleasure to drive and gets exceptional fuel mileage and the Audi A8 is a living room on wheels. The new S4 convertible is fast, has true sports car handling, and its top is simple to lower. If you have the wherewithal the Audi dealership is worth a visit. My grade is a 9 and a ten for the Audi cabriolet S4 with its 340 horsepower and handsome exterior. My favorite.

Subaru has some safe and very comfortable all wheel vehicles, too. I found the Tribeca SUV’s interior wonderful and the handling above average. The less expensive Forester is also well mannered and even sportier with the turbocharged engine. If you haven’t tried one of these you missed a real treat. My grade is an 8.

Lexus has a GS hybrid that is fairly expensive, but is quite fast and has a tidy exterior and interior. I like the youthful look of this sedan, but the hybrid seldom gets better than 25 mpg and so I would recommend the regular GS model and still enjoy luxury and performance. The flip side of the marque is the IS 250. Small, nimble, and fun to drive this Lexus is a nice alternative to the Accord, Camry, and Altima. Order your interior carefully and you can build one smart sedan. If you want more power get the larger engine, but unless you are a serious threat to your insurance rates the base model has plenty of spunk. Of course, my favorite is the Lexus RX in any form. It has a magnificent interior, is easy to park, and makes you feel good. Excellent resale and the ability to be order with a great rear view camera to aid in backing up make the purchase of this Lexus a good investment. My grade is a 9 for the RX and IS 250 and an 8 for the others.

Toyota’s Solara is nice looking, gets 26 plus miles to the gallon, and has room for five adults despite being a coupe. The trunk is large and useful, but the interior could be spruced up. I would like a bit more chassis refinement, but for most the soft ride and relaxed handling make it an enjoyable ride. What makes this such a female friendly ride is the way it does everything admirably and looks good doing it. Of course, as all coupes, the long doors make it difficult for short-armed people to reach the handle to close them. My grade is a 7.

Chevrolet’s Impala isn’t a bad ride, but the exterior and interior are bland. However, you get a lot for your money and it is extremely accommodating with plenty of storage and being inexpensive to own and insure. The Impala can be ordered with a variety of options, but the base model was fine with me. It didn’t draw unwanted attention and housed my collection of personal and family belongings in an unobtrusive fashion. This car may not be exciting, but it provides good usability. My grade a 6.

Cadillac’s CTS isn’t as roomy as I like, but the sharp edged design, keen handling, and a pleasingly integrated interior make it a joy to drive. Stick with the base model and you are going to have an American made sporty ride that rivals much more expensive competitors. If you like a little more glamour and wait the new model CTS is due soon making the possibility of some great deals on the 2007 possible. Check out the interior options because they are quite elaborate and, with the right designer touch, elegant. My grade a 7 and if you like a car that handles make that an 8.

Hyundai Azera is a fairly large sedan that has a great looking interior, comfy ride, and room for five. It is priced very right even when loaded with every option. If you were blindfolded and riding in the Azera you would think Toyota Avalon or Mercedes E Class. It is just one of the many Hyundai vehicles that are making this a fast rising car company. I quite liked the Azera, but the gas mileage wasn’t as good as I like. If you are into minivans, the twin sister Kia Sedona and the Hyundai Entourage are two winners. They are the best minivans for the price and are highly usable and fun to drive with their potent engines and abundance of safety features. They are safer than the large SUVs with lower roll over rates and a lower center of gravity. My grade is an 8.
Devil may care for your hair. A touch of rebellion in your soul. Tired of hitting the glass ceiling and/or the monotony of dishes, ironing, and housework. Ready to shake the cobwebs out of those monitored blurred eyes. Ladies just step this way and enter into the dreamish realm of the Mercedes CLK convertible. Available with three different engine options, this is a great ride to stimulate those creative juices and to just feel good about life. The interior treatment is ultra conservative, the sound system doesn’t earn its place in the dash of something this nice, and the pricing is, well, if you have to ask. Given my druthers, I would buy the AMGized 6.3 liter model and have one sassy ride thanks to 475 at your command, madam, horsepower. Life is good. My grade is a 9.

Volkswagen’s Passat is the best wagon, especially with the 2.0 engine. It has a very low rear hatch liftover, an interior that is much better than the price would indicate, and handles and rides quite elegantly. Although not as handy as a minivan, it is much safer and easier to live with than a large SUV. My grade is a 7.

Ford’s Fusion is the best new Ford in a decade. There are acres of options, but stick with the basics and use it as a workhorse with just enough bling to make it fun. I like the Mercury Milan better, but it costs more. Ford has finally made an interior that has a little sizzle and the engine is peppier than you would suspect in a sedan in this price range. I much prefer it to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and I think that working women who give it a chance will, too. As for the new Mustang, even with its good looks and fair pricing the large blind spots and insurance rates limit its attractive. My grade is an 8 and if you like more opulence go for the Lincoln Zephyr.

Although I don’t recommend large SUVs, the smaller ones are handy. I have not tested the Honda CR-V yet, but the Toyota RAV 4 is excellent. Except for the spare tire hanging off the rear hatch that makes opening and closing the door a chore on hills, it has a terrific ride and engine. The turning radius could be reduced for easier parking and that spare tire does hinder backing up visibility, but the RAV is so light on its feet it makes you feel like dancing all the way to the mall. My grade is a 9.

Suzuki has two new products that caught my eye at their recent introduction. The reasonably priced XL7 SUV with its third row seating, excellent warranty and nice road manners was female friendly, but it felt too much like a General Motors retread in many regards. I would give it a 6 despite the sharp looking interior, $24,200 base price and 19 mpg fuel economy. The smaller and handier SX4. This all wheel drive compact stationwagonish Suzuki is perfect for the younger lady looking for a bit more style than the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, or Toyota’s Yaris. It is priced nearly the same, but is snappy looking and gets great fuel mileage at over 25 mpg with the five speed manual transmission. The SX4 is an eight and with more power would be a nine.

There you have it. A look at the most intriguing models that I found to be female friendly in terms of ride, handling, room, and uniqueness. They are all fun to drive and I have bested each of them for at least a week doing daily chores, commuting, and shopping. I won’t mind owning any of them. However, one fact is starting to emerge. The manufactures are starting to look at providing female friendly vehicles. For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.

Route 66 Sites to See Links
by The Car Family...voted best research automobile review column on the web.

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If you are planning a trip on Route 66 here are the best links
From the Department of Transportation.
Huge link sites with everything for the traveller. 
General Highway History Site
From the data on time periods and highways. 
United States Forest Service in Arizona has this short story about the highway and how it got its number.
Updated government study of Route 66
Route 66 Magazine
Mostly commercial, but some handy event guides.
Route 66 Associations:
California Historic Route 66 Association
Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona
National Historic Route 66 Federation
New Mexico Route 66 Association
Oklahoma Route 66 Association
Route 66 Association of Illinois
Route 66 Association of Missouri
Route 66 Weather and City Sites
Texas Old Route 66 Association
Preservation Organizations:
California Route 66 Preservation Foundation
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program
Virtual tour of Route 66
Route 66: The Television series 
Route 66 Dust Bowl
Mainly about the exodus rather than about Route 66.
The Great American Footrace Along Route 66
The most famous race ever. From Los Angeles to New York.

An interesting site. Look at the differences between the Lincoln Highway, Roue 40, and Route 66.


What else, the words to the famous Route 66 theme song.


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