Sunday, 30 March 2008

Off to a shaky drivy start

I recently had my very first driving lesson. It lasted half an hour because I don't think my mother's heart would have taken a lot longer.

I thought I was very good to begin with. I remembered all the good stuff. I remembered to take my Learner License with me, and the L Plates. And I wore comfortable shoes.

Mum drove the car up to a nice flat road that is known in our area for having pretty much no houses or traffic in it, and it would be a good, safe place to learn to drive.

Unfortunately the word must have got around about it being a nice quiet safe place because when we got up there there must've been two cyclists, about three joggers, a power walker, a lady with a pram, and two young kids out for a walk, one with two dogs, all wanting to go in different directions.

There were no cars though, except me.

I wanted to growl a lot at them all except those dogs looked pretty scary, so Mum decided to drive me down the road to this Oval, where there are two parking lots, which should be nice to drive around in. The Oval is barely used. The top parking lot is for people who use the grass area (soccer, rugby) and the bottom for the tennis courts.

We got there and the top park area was packed. Hmmm. Why oh why do people choose to have soccer matches on days Learner's wish to learn to drive?

So Mum carefully drove down the laneway to the bottom lot, where the tennis courts were. Luckily this was a bit emptier, and there were some people leaving (maybe because they saw me).

Soon the lot was empty except for two other cars (both Red P-platers)

So I had my first lesson.

I hurried out and put the Ls on, and then tried to look very professional as I adjusted the rear view mirror and the side vision mirrors, though the truth was, I couldn't tell much what I was supposed to be seeing out of them. It was rather cool to squint at them and saying "Hmmm yes I think that's better" though.

Then I turned on the ignition (Whoa!)

One thing they don't tell you much is that the car starts moving even before you hit the accelerator. It just starts rolling, silly thing.

Also, when you touch the brake or the accelerator, you just touch it a bit and you feel like you are being thrown around like an earthquake hit you. This machine had attitude!

And what is it about driving that you think you're quite parallel to the side of something but actually you're about 35 degrees out? It seems a very easy thing to do.

However, soon I felt I had got the hang of the jolting thing. I think I learned lots.

I had twisted, turned, reversed and driven all over the parking lot, until Mum made some excuse to go home.

She looked rather green.

I bet it was envy.

Two (Short) Weeks on the Job

It's amazing, I've actually managed to stay for two weeks on the job. It's unfortunately a no-blogging workplace - a bit of the I-can-read-occasionally-but-not-touch, but other than that, it's a very amenable environament.

I started two weeks ago, which was a very good time to start, not least of all because it meant my first two weeks were both four day weeks, owing to the Easter weekend. I've never thought I had instinctively good timing, but this disproves me, once and for all.

I've done some very useful things at work, for instance, I've changed my on-screen computer account icon to a yellow duck - much deliberation taken over which was most suitable - and rearranged my desk so the stamps sit nicely next to the pens. I've also located where the "Peter Rabbit" coffee mug sits in the kitchen, for maximum amusement during drink breaks.

I've also timed how long it takes to walk to the library from work and back, so I can coordinate book borrowing and reading times, and sneak in a bit of sandwich chomping outside the library while I'm at it.

On top of that, there's been a bit of work to do, but that's by the by.

Must say, work is a commitment, but I think I'm getting the hang of the essentials.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

You are now blogging with a Learner. Please allow plenty of room.

I got it!

Today, ladies and gentlemen, you are now reading, the blog of a learner driver.

I am proud to say I have passed the driver's knowledge test with 100%, though I did have trouble with them blinkin' amber lights.

The girl next to me was doing the computer test for the full driver's license and didn't pass.

I can say I was mainly spurred on by the knowledge that the RTA would dock me for another $35 should I not pass this go, and such similar incentives shall spur me on further to greater things, I hope.

I am soon to schedule some driver's instruction. I've decided that figuring out how to turn on the ignition would be handy, but it would be also good to figure out which key on my mother's ring is the one to her car. Next, distinguishing brake from accelerator would be a handy lesson.

After that, anything goes.

Please grant me the full extent of your courtesy by edging warily away from me when you see me careering down a road near you. Thank you.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The Lady and The Chocolate

I recently read a book called The Lady and The Chocolate by Edward Monkton, of which there is an excerpt written on this mug .

I am chocolate's reaon for existing.

I have been fulfilling chocolate each time I have bitten into it. By eationg chocolate, I have performed a service of goodness words cannot fully describe. I, as a chocoholic, ought to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

This book made me feel validated.

Oh I feel sooooo gooood.

I went out and browsed the chocolate Easter egg and bunny section.


I was getting all revved up for my Driver's Knowledge Test. I've booked a Test for tomorrow - 11am if anyone happens to read this post sometime between now and then, and happens to feel like praying for me - and I put down $35. An outrageous sum of money for a 45 question computer touch screen test I think. What on earth does broadband cost these people?

Then on Sunday night, Mr Coffee and I watched a movie called Crash, directed by David Cronenberg and starring James Spader.

If anyone's aware of what I'm talking about, you'll know I'm not talking about the Academy Award winning Crash. This is a controversial film about car crashes. Why oh why did I pick this film?

I found the movie really disturbing and pretty sick, although people who love the film would call me a moral flag-waver who believes that every Hollywood film has to have a moral message to it, and only one set of values (mine) and that's why I find it sick. If I didn't I'd find it brilliant.

Actually, I don't believe that, but it still was pretty disturbing! I am happy to admit it didn't suit my own set of moral values and I don't think it would suit a wide audience's set of moral values. I don't think every Hollywood film has to. However, if a Hollywood film wants a better chance of being picked up off the shelf again and again, conformity to certain values does give it a higher chance of that.

Also, the characters seemed kind of empty.

The film is about car crashes, but it also plays out like a crash, or series of them , in that so many rather disturbing and challenging and rather sick things happen over and over that you feel like you're in some kind of turbulent crash situation and you can't get out.

Spader plays the main character. We open to a sex scene. Then his character is involved in a car crash. He is badly injured, he injures a woman, and kills her husband. Soon after, she and he are at it like rabbits in his car.

Then they are introduced to a man, Vaughan, who is obsessed with car crashes, and whose club composes of crash survivors, each who gets turned on by crashes. They are sexually aroused by crashes, and crash over and over, and have sex. It's rather disturbing to watch them stop off at scenes of violent crashes and exclaim "Oh, it's a work of art!" and take pictures of the steaming metal, the mangled bloody bodies, rather than offer assistance. And then jump in a car, ride off, and begin to have sex.

The sex involves all sorts of deviant types of preferences and fantasies, and is antierotic rather than erotic, especially when these people aren't exactly ones you care a whole heap about.

This wasn't the kind of movie I would recommend to anyone else before a driver's test!

Directly afterwards Mr Coffee and myself watched a silly, inane and over the top comedy to cancel out the weird-outedness of Crash. We watched Dodgeball!

Dodgeball is crazy, non-thinking, lowbrow fun - but lots of it. Ben Stiller is good, but my favourite character was the second Dodgeball commentator, Pepper Brooks.

With classic lines as:

Cotton McKnight: I'm being told that Average Joe's does not have enough players and will be forfeiting the championship match.
Pepper Brooks: It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.

Cotton McKnight: It looks like the clock is about to strike midnight on this Cinderella story, turning Average Joe's into the proverbial pumpkin.
Pepper Brooks: I sure do like pumpkins, Cotton.

Cotton McKnight: In 23 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has actually blindfolded himself.
Pepper Brooks:He will not be able to see very well, Cotton.

I had my most laughs.

And I needed them after ... Crash!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Pardon my Park

I read this disheartening piece today where it seems where a parking zone begins and ends in kind of arbitrary.

I don't really care where a parking zone begins or ends (though I hope they don't make the whole world one big parking zone) so long as it's clearly marked.

It seems kind of dumb that it's arbitrary and they say "Generally, the idea of where a parking zone is, is ..."

What's the point of trying to get people to stick by rules if they haven't figured out properly what their rules are yet, and let us know?

I'm finding it hard enough to digest all this stuff about getting behind the wheel as it is. And they go on about being a responsible driver. Please - responsible info would be nice, too!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Only killed some cattle and hogged a bus lane, ready for my Learner's!

This year one of my aims is to learn how to drive. It's a tedious process, with stage 1 being L's, then a stage 2 of red P's, then stage 3 of green P's, and only after that a proper license, if I'm still alive.

And all the while I'll be in the group of what's considered the most dangerous and worst driver on the road. Despised by others, horns honked at, letters of complaint written to media outlets about, and people declaring there ought to be special restrictions against us driving.

No, not a P-plater - an Asian. If you listen to John Laws, anyhow.

So I've taken my first step towards learning to drive. I downloaded the entire Road User's Manual (NSW) and I skimmed it, in the spare moment I had. I must say that I was interrupted by some more fascinating/distracting reads, so in between reading it I've read the following novels/books:

Keep it Simple, Stupid (Peter Goldsworthy); French Cats Don't Get Fat (Henri Le Barbe); The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera); The Spire (William Golding); The Pain and The Great One (Judy Blume); What Angels Fear (C.S. Harris); The House on The Strand (Daphne Du Maurier); Youth (J.M. Coetzee)

as well as rereading some old faves too.

However I finally got to the end of the Road User's Manual, all 120 pages of it.

It's amazing how the distractions of other books and novels can somehow colour your study of it though. I was thinking French Cats and Spires and love affairs and time travel while reading about car crashes and stop signs and intersections. Hmmm.

I decided today to test how a once through reading of the manual plus the use of some common sense would get me through a practice online test, which you can do on the RTA website.

There are three sections, 45 questions altogether.

The first is called General Knowledge. There are 15 questions, and you must get at least 12/15.

The second section is called Road Safety, and there are 20 questions. The next is Traffic Signs, 10 questions. You are allowed to get one question wrong in EITHER Road Safety or Traffic Signs.

Well, the first time I did the test I got 12/15 for general knowledge, but I missed 2 questions in the next section - damn!

I think my driving proces I would have killed some cattle and hogged a bus lane, but it wasn't that dangerous. At least I know what stop signs are!

There are lovely questions where I'm not sure if the RTA is joking or not, for instance, one of the options for "The reason you should not brake hard on a wet road is -"

"Because you may wet pedestrians"

Well, sure, that's a concern, but since there is the other option of skidding and losing control .... on answer C ... - can't I select two possibilities?

Then there are questions like "In the picture can you drive in the right lane?"

I feel like saying, "Sure I can. But is the question you're asking, is it against NSW Road and Traffic Law for me to do so?"

Or this one:

Questions like "Drinking alcohol may -"

a) Interfere with your capacity to judge speed and distance
b) Improve your driving ability
c) Have no effect on you

(or some similar wording)

I feel like saying "Depends on the person, really, doesn't it? It's just that statistically we've found that alcohol is likely to interfere with driving and decrease the ability of a person to make sound driving judgements, but it's possible that for certain people alcohol could improve or have no effect on them."

Until I stop thinking like this I'm going to keep failing online tests ...

I must say I'm very good with Traffic Signs though. I haven't got one wrong yet! If the whole test were a Traffic Sign test I'd blitz it for sure! If anyone needs someone to tell them a stop sign from a roundabout sign from a kangaroos for the next 35km sign, I'm your gal!

Red Again

Ardent readers of this blog, of which I think there may be about one (me), and those who have the ability to work a link, of which I hope there's more, may note that in 2006 and most of 2007, I was the unhappy victim of lobsterisation. I was red and itching, especially face and shoulders.

It taught me the sunscreen lesson.

But if I'd made a New Year's Resolution not to let me go lobster again, I'd have broken it by now, and I'm only 2 months into the year.

Yes, last weekend I was red - not my face - but arms, legs, tummy, and back.

This time I suspect allergy, probably some squid or octopus I ate (I didn't eat any lobster, but if I had I would have suspected lobster vengeance).

It was the most annoying thing - wriggling about, itching like crazy, scratching like crazy, knowing I was making it worse - but absolutely unable to NOT scratch - AAAAAAAARRRRRGH!

I don't know what it is, is there some rule I must go red each year? Next year I'll probably fall into a vat of red paint.