November 30th, 2007

krazy koati

But the safety belt, it wouldn't budge

Heading out on a drive somewhere, then? Good idea. A comfortable drive is a good way to get away from it all, unless you're driving with the intent of getting to somewhere with it all except for what you had left behind. In the meanwhile you can be temporarily away from much of it except for what was directly behind and what is directly ahead, apart from whatever car troubles you may have along the way. Maybe it's better to not worry about it. That puff of an odd color of smoke coming from under your car probably didn't mean anything anyway.

First thing to do is to check your mirrors, which are your most valuable safety devices other than the passenger-cabin teleport beam whisking you away from an imminent accident. Verify the mirrors are reflective and are reflecting what is behind the car -- they'll be of less than forty percent their full usefulness if they're reflecting what's ahead or above -- and also that no mad genius has unleashed a ray which transforms ordinary mirrors into portals to a strange and symmetric parallel universe. You certainly don't want to go driving into the mirror-universe, as you'll never figure out what side of the road they drive on there. It is the bottom.

Pulling out safely -- SAFELY I said -- it's none too soon to test things like the brakes and second gear and whether you can still rest a soda bottle in the cup holder when it's got such a large pile of loose pennies in it. On the other hand, you can also do these things later. Besides, it's fun to distinctly drop quarters and dimes into the cup holder to store up change good for parking meters and let them change into pennies overnight.

At the first intersection there is the choice of which way to go. If you were better-organized you'd have decided which way ahead of time. But in merely trusting to fate you know that it doesn't actually make a difference because the paths come together again without any real difference between them. Taking one, and eating all you take, quickly reveals that you were going in the wrong direction anyway. It's good to have this out of the way, as surely nothing else can go wrong before reaching a service plaza.

That confident feeling came from before finding the traffic circle. It's a good question how you found the traffic circle, since there almost certainly hadn't been one before, but there it is now, with everyone except you looking on with a sense of steely determination and a strange ability to guess when there'll be enough of a gap in traffic to pull into it. Some cars even seem to be getting out of it in time. They can't be staying in the circle, or else the traffic density would grow infinitely large and the infrastructure would collapse into a black hole, and probably that would have been mentioned on the news this morning, which you didn't watch. Best then to simply stay where you are with a look of despair. Of course, it's possible that you're in a country where they don't call them traffic circles, and are instead faced with a traffic circus. In this case you should stay where you are with an elephant of despair. The elephant sympathizes.

It may be worth checking the traffic report on the radio after all; one report just finished on whatever channel you're listening to. They have reports every ten minutes, though, so there's exactly enough time for you to forget that you were listening for the traffic before you realize they're halfway through the next. On the report of ``normal delays'' on a series of abutting letters the natural question is, if a delay is normal has it become a delay anymore, or is it just the normal time it takes to get somewhere? This occupies the mind enough to miss the rest of the report, but at least you made the effort.

Oh, before I forget, make sure to do all the above while inside a vehicle you can drive. You'll get questions you can't easily answer otherwise.

Trivia: Rome had been scheduled to host the 1908 Olympic games but the Italian government was forced to give the games up to recover from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Edited by John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Viking Rocket Story, Milton W Rosen.