Tagged: vehicles

Bad Design Diary: E-Brake Pedal

This is an example of when bad design can actually be life-threateningly dangerous. When functionality and design aren’t tested properly through usability tests and just plain standing-back-and-looking-at-it, then this is what you end up with. This is from my van – a Honda Odyssey. And every single time I get into the van wearing jeans, I experience this issue. And it’s not only when I get into the van. It’s when I’m driving. I’ll move my foot, and my jeans leg slips right over the e-brake pedal. This keeps me from being able to move my left foot until I reach down and pull up the pant leg.

Of course it would be worse for something to catch your right leg, but I do use my left foot occasionally for braking. Sometimes it’s more practical and a lot less work – especially in traffic. This, friends, is dangerous. Let’s have a look at a collage. Here you’ll see a picture of my foot beside the pedal and then caught on the pedal.

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New York Diaries, Vol 1

I’m finally changing career paths. At almost forty years old. But they say it’s never too late to learn something new, right? I’m tired of fixing computers for a living. I’m pretty good at it, and I’m almost never stumped by a problem for too long anymore. I mean, there are perhaps an infinite number of things that can go wrong with a computer or a piece of software, or a printer… But a lot of them start to look alike – and certainly have the same solution. And I’ve been doing this a really long time. Yeah, it’s time for a change. So my company sent me to a three-day training course in New York City. So this is it, huh? I finally get to go to New York. Well let’s do it!

You see, all my friends have been. Well, most of my friends anyway. My red-haired wife has been. My dad has been. And everyone says you have to experience it firsthand to really get the full drift of what it’s like down on the street. Well, I’ve been here for four days now, and let me just say this about it: you have to experience it firsthand to really get the full drift of what it’s like down on the street.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 4

Part Four: The Tribal Village of the Embera

We’ve come a long way with technology. This to me is science. I like to stay at the forefront – the leading edge, and all the other buzzwords you can think of that have to do with technology. I sometimes buy devices and gadgets with the full intention of returning them within the fourteen-day window just so I can become familiar with them, learn all about them, and be able to speak intelligibly of them. I would never personally own a Windows phone, but I was quick to hop on my mother’s for an hour or two when she got it, just to check out what they’re all about. I have more gadgets and technology in my house than a Best Buy distribution warehouse. Well, one that’s very small and only has like five laptops and three tablets in it.

I never dreamed I could part with my tech so easily. And maybe I can’t. I brought my tablet and my D/SLR camera with me on this trip to Panama. And my cell phone. And my wife’s laptop, her cell phone, a pocket camera, a 3G wireless hotspot, a GRUB analyzer, a Trip Socket spectrometer, and a bag full of cords, cables, chargers and SD cards. I came fully prepared. Our phones, however, remained off the entire trip. It was nice to be disconnected. Sort of. Not sort of nice. Sort of disconnected. Of course we still fired up Lync and Google Talk to video chat with the kids in the evenings, and I checked my email on my tablet and sent my drawings to my game mates on Draw Something. But we were more off-the-grid than usual. Especially when we went to see the Indians.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 3

Part Three: The Heart of Panama City

Panama has three beers to offer us. There’s nothing special or fancy – they’re all golden beers, light in flavor and body, and all pretty similar. We tried them all, of course, and actually wanted to venture out into the city to pick some up to keep in our hotel room. Those Panama nights get long, and that balcony that overlooks the Diesel Beach just seems to call to us like the crickets of the jungle. We longed to sit out on that balcony and enjoy a few cold cans of Balboa. Alas, here now we sit in our comfortable leather couches back in Dallas, Texas, and can say we not once sat in those chairs on the balcony.

We did do plenty of sitting and drinking though. I met some really great people on this trip. Certain people with whom I’ve spoken and supported many times were there, and it was great to meet them. But they also brought with them their spouses, and that really rounded out the vacation for me. Tom and Jeremy and Sean – these guys were the perfect compliment to the Suzanne, Shana and Kacy I’ve already come to know and love. Though I’d not yet met Suzanne and Kacy, I was already very fond of them from my dealings with them on the phone. The nights we spent out by the pool crowded around a table drinking beer we had bribed a waiter into serving us were as memorable as the tours and experiences we were talking about around those tables.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 2

Part Two: Back in the Jungle

This was my second trip to Panama but it was so markedly different from the first in every aspect that I’m beginning to replace negative feelings and emotions about it with positive ones. Where my first trip was dark and unkind, frightening and unforgiving, this one was healing and rewarding. This was my opportunity to change some of my thoughts and feelings on a second-world country and turn an exotic vacation into a therapeutic session and personal growth. Being granted the opportunity to see the jungle again from a cable car, and the safety of a boat, I’ve been able to calm the sense of dread and anxiety that seems to boil up in my gut when I think of the darkness that dwells in that little strip between the Americas.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 1

Part One: Man Versus Murphy

As our tour guide for the Panama Canal said, “Murphy isn’t just a part of our daily lives here in Panama, but he was also born here.” He spoke of Edward Murphy, the Panamanian native who coined the phrase we all know today as Murphy’s Law. Well, we met Mr. Murphy before we even got to the airport.

State Highway 121, which is perpetually in a state of construction, almost caused us to miss our flight. They had blocked the exit to the airport. I don’t know who ‘they’ is, but I’d sure like to have a little chat with them. Yes, they blocked the exit. How can they do that when there are literally thousands of people every day who depend on that exit to get to the airport? Well, you’ll have to ask ‘them’.

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The Year in Pictures

Happy Friday, friends. Another year has almost come to an end. Well, maybe I’m a little precocious in saying that – seeing as we still have thirty-one days until it’s over. But it’s almost over. Eleven-twelfths of the way through. So that’s close enough in my book. So I figured I’d go ahead and close out the year with a special photos column, recapping some of the things that happened this year. Some of these pictures are relevant, some are not. All were taken this year. But not all of them actually have anything to do with anything. Some of them, in other words, are just cool pictures.

Another thing they all have in common is that they were all taken with my phone. So I didn’t go digging through my digital photo album looking for good pictures. Just my phone. Meaning these happened while I was out and about, or generally too busy to pick up my DSLR. Anyway, have fun, and enjoy walking back through the year with me. In no particular order, of course.

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Public Transit: A Gloryhole for People-Watching

I ride the train to and from work on most days. Well, I should say public transit. Because part of my trip sometimes involves a bus. In the past I would have thought that only poor and homeless people used the DART buses around here. Boy was I wrong. A couple of guys from my work ride with me, and this one really classy, foxy woman rides our bus too. She’s always reading on her phone. These aren’t the only non-homeless people on the bus. Just the ones I care about. But it has nothing to do with being poor. It’s actually to do with being smart, and wanting to free up your hands to use your time the way you want. I get to ride and read instead of drive and cuss. Anyhow, I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen a homeless person on the bus. Now the train, on the other hand…

But I do ride the bus for part of the trip because it gets me closer to my building. I have a nice little walk up the hill when I get off the bus. But taking the bus (and the train for that matter) every day makes for some interesting encounters with humanity. And since I’ve now been riding for about seven months, I’ve seen some very interesting people. Let me tell you about some of the most interesting encounters:

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Life Comes At You Fast (And So Do Cars)

It’s weird – I never thought it would happen to me. I am so defensive and cautious and alert, and even what one might call ‘super-ambulatory’. But none of that matters. I even saw it coming. He was turning left, but looking right as he pulled onto Lemmon heading Northwest. I noticed he was turning wide, into the center lane, obviously swerving wide to avoid me. But then at the last second, he changed course and started aiming for the inside lane, right where I was.

People have these theories that if ever a car bears down on them, they’ll jump in the air, do a fancy football juke, or a double-back-flip over the car. Well I just thought I’d be able to dash out of the way real fast. Well, as it turns out, time isn’t very elastic, and it just marches forward, second for second. And by the time I realized he wasn’t seeing me, I was out of options. So I turned and faced the truck. A Tahoe, it was. A white one with a black driver. And faster than lightning, he hit me.

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Dear Lord! Is It Already 2012?

Now that my baby girl is old enough to take care of herself (she’s almost three), I’ve been given back some of my evening time. It’s nice when they’re potty-trained. No more diapers. They tell you when they need to go potty. This means no diaper bags packed with pull-ups and wipes. This means you can do fun things like family bike-rides, visits to the basketball court to play some round ball, and little trips out into the channel in the boat.

I also have a lot more personal time as well. Not that I spend it locked up in an office or anything. In fact, I don’t even have an office. Hmm. I guess I need to remedy that. But my personal time is spent in my reading chair, or on the couch solving my cubes. Or sketching or writing. I actually resolved this year to read more books than I’ve ever read in a year. Now that I’m very rapidly approaching “the hill”, I have finally been able to slow down a little and start reading a lot more – just like I’ve always wanted to do.

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Hyper Space

I’ve lately begun to take offense to high gas prices. I’m not going to go into the politics of why I believe they are so high right now, or why I think the price hikes are completely unjustified, reactive and irrelevant to anything worldly at all. I’m just going to say that the price of gas has started to rise again, and I’m taking action against it.

Just like when I got my last traffic citation: I decided that I was no longer going to pay the state one more dime of my hardly earned money. The main highway just out of my neighborhood is a tollway. I have the American standard 2.4 vehicles per household, plus a camping trailer that I have to register plates for every year. Plus inspections, state-required insurance (instead of a check-box that reads “Opt out: Dude, seriously, I don’t need insurance because I’m not an idiot driver”) and all other types of ill fees I have to pay just to exist in this state. No way am I going to let them catch me speeding or something so I’ll have to pay more fines and fees! I decided right then and there that I was going to obey every traffic law to the K.

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Tales from a Repo Man

Thursday night when my phone rang and a friend asked me if I could do a favor, I said yes. But I had no idea it would make for such an interesting weekend, and with so many stories. Of course, some of those stories are better told in person than in writing, so they won’t be mentioned here, but overall, it made for a very entertaining and interesting weekend. Will you allow me to tell you about it? Good. And there’s your opening paragraph.

So the call I got from a friend, who shall remain nameless (and genderless) called to ask if I would run up and repossess a vehicle for him/her. Well, I’ve never been called the Repo Man. And the only experience I have with repossessing a vehicle is when my truck got stolen when I was in the service. I came back home for a weekend, discovered my pickup had been stolen out of my dad’s driveway, and went and got it back. I happened to know where it was, who was likely to have stolen it, and so I got it back. But I’m not really much of a repo man. Well, I wasn’t… until yesterday.

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You Can’t Trust the System

I’d like to tell you that this story is true, and that you need to believe it because I’m telling the truth here. This is not a work of fiction! But how do you say that at the beginning of a column, when the entire purpose of the site upon which you write is entertainment? A lot of what I write here is fiction. Heck, everything Haycomet writes is fiction. But this, my friends, is real. This is true. And it really happened. And I have witnesses.

So I’d like to tell you the ridiculous story of how my pals and I ran into a series of events governed by Murphy’s Law, and were unable to get out from under his oppresive thumb. If I ever meet Harvey Murphy, I have a few words for him, I assure you. And alls we were doing was trying to have a little lunch.

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Bacon Talk: Music

Good morning Bacon Talk fans, today is a beautiful day. I know this because Space and I are sitting on our new balcony. Wow, Space, Butch and Bruno did a great job! I’m not even concerned that we paid them with beer. I just hope they didn’t drink their pay while building it. I did see a few screws rolling around on the floor out here. They’re just extras… right? That’s what I’m going to tell myself at least. Anyway, let’s turn on some music to drown out the creaking. And since I’m too freaked out to really think of a complex topic, let’s talk about music too. Space, I know you can’t live without music, so it’s obvious that you love it.
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Phone Call Gets Area Man Laid

Have I ever told you about how I lost my virginity? Well, it’s not the actual misplacement of my chastity that makes for an interesting story. Obviously, I could go into details about what happened in my pickup that night down by the lake, but really – you’ve probably heard very similar stories already. And heck, you may even have one of your own! Suffice it to say that it happened, and certain parts went certain places just like you imagine, certain motions were made (as were certain faces), then I very kindly told her she needed to get out of the vehicle and find a way home. I also explained to her that if I did indeed find her undergarments somewhere in the vehicle, I would mail them to her at a later date. See, you’ve all heard the story, and I’m not really interested in trying to prove to you that I actually did, in fact, get laid. Trust me. I’ve got two kids. I’ve done it a couple of times. :haw:

Anyway, the interesting story here is the events that led up to the main event, so to speak. How did you meet your first lover? (cheap date, one-night stander, whatever you want to call him/her) Well here’s how I met mine.

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Life Lessons From Space: Driving

Well I didn’t finish the video I promised you yet. I got a little busy last evening with some other issues. Oh and get this: I found out that the back door on the pickup rebroke itself. I guess the nuclear putty didn’t hold after all. I’ll have to try some SolaGlue. Meh. Anyway, I’ll put some work into it this weekend amidst all the pool time and beer drinking we have planned. I hope to get it done soon though because it’s gonna be good.

So I realized the other day that when Moonshine did her columns about Life Lessons from a Good Girl (here, here, and here), I started my own series here. But I never finished them. And what’s more, the only topic I wrote about, fighting, is not something with which I am even well versed. I mean, I’ve been in a ton of fights in my life, and I’ve faired pretty well, but I’m not really what anyone would call a fighter. I’m more of a “writer”. You like that? And today there’s sort of a new age of fighters. Dudes have gotten really big and really mean. So I just avoid it at all costs and let my friend Mr Browning handle my confrontations for me.

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Space’s Shuttle Repair and Bacon Shop

I had to open two car doors yesterday. It’s unusual to have to open even just one in a given day. But two? Yes, friends, I’m as serious as a bowl full of mustard-covered lion feces. The crazy thing about opening car doors is that they all open differently. So you have to find the right way to do it. And yesterday, I actually had to get inside the pickup to be able to figure out how to open the back door. Well how about I just tell you what the hell I’m talking about?

My red-haired wife, Two-Step, Protector of the Grapefruits, somehow managed to break the back door of the pickup a few days ago. She said she broke a nail on the handle, because it just snapped back and wouldn’t open. I tried explaining to her, “Honey, the door handles aren’t held on by nails. It’s usually a torx screw or some very small bolts. But never nails.” I know. Isn’t it adorable when women talk about cars and shit? I patted her on the bottom and went outside to figure out what the problem was. I grabbed my toolbox, my iPod (yes I still have the damn iPhone), and one of those big ass 24-ounce cans of Schlitz and climbed into the truck.

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Malt Liquor for my Truckers

I never told you about the time I was coming back from Abilene and a truck driver road my ass, did I? It was late at night, I was heading to Dallas and it was dark. Mainly because it was late at night. But it was also raining. And I was driving a shitty little four-cylinder Chevy Cavalier. And I had a truck driver riding my ass. So I will tell you all about it now.

He was riding my ass, kind of like someone would ‘ride your ass’ if you were giving them a piggy-back ride. Basically, this big ass semi was drafting off me. I don’t remember what had set him off, if anything, but something made him decide he was too cool for school, and he owned the road. And for some reason, he got on my ass. I think he was just screwing with the small car on the highway, because there was no other traffic that late at night. Maybe he was looking for something to do to keep him awake between jerking off in his sleeper at truck stops.

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Keep On The Grass

Well for the last two months I’ve been away from Geek Squad, settling into my new job, and loving it. No more people approaching the counter demanding refunds for the laptop that just “stopped working” with the promise that there’s “no way in hell” they dropped it, and oh, what’s this crack in the LCD? Well that stuff just happens. Or it came like that. Or software did that. :rolleyes:

Anyway, it’s nice not to have to deal with the brunt of society’s idiots on a daily basis. Now I provide desktop and server support to all the clinics for the company for which I work, but really there are no stupid people here. There are those who have no idea what’s what in the world of techmology, but they’re sensible people. This is, after all, the medical industry. And I love it. So why am I writing? Ah, you know me. I don’t write about things when I’m happy about them.

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I’m changing my career path.

Yes, my fearless readers, I have decided to go into insurance. And let me tell you why. We all know it’s legal crime, and who doesn’t want a little crime under their fingernails? Aha, two puns in one paragraph. So let me tell you why it would be so wonderful to work in insurance. Well, actually, let me back up and rephrase that because I think it probably wouldn’t be all that cool to work in insurance. The money, and therefore, the fun, would be in owning an insurance company. That’s where it’s at.

First of all, you charge people money every month. Let’s talk auto insurance, just for the sake of conversation. Okay, so let’s say you pay me around $150 a month for your Jeep Grand Cherokee to be insured. Ooh, let’s even say that it’s bright orange with a brown racing stripe down the middle! And it’s got twenty-inch wheels that are painted brown. And one of those chain license plate frames. Okay. So I insure that for you. You pay me $1800 a year. So if I have say twenty clients, I’m making a pretty good bit of coin. Now we get to where it would kick ass to own the insurance company.

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BMW vs. Jeep Wrangler

I was walking through one of my favorite stores yesterday when I was assaulted (not really, but come on) by a kiosk sales guy. He didn’t sell kiosks. He had a kiosk setup inside my store for his own company. It’s like he pays a lease fee for that floor space for the afternoon or whatever. Anyway, he asks if I’d be interested in hearing about the brand new bmw model – whatever the hell it was. I’m sure it had an X or an L in there somewhere. You know, something fast.

“Sir, are you interested in hearing about the new bee em double you ex el ex seven el ex ex seven el?” he says eloquently.

To which I reply, “No.”

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The Amazing Squirrel Incident

Gah, what a weird night. I left my Pop’s house the other night just before dark, and as I was crossing the railroad tracks, I saw a car parked in the gravel by the road with two women standing outside of it. One was on a cell phone, and they looked distressed. I made the ‘ok’ motion with my hand and the one not attached to the phone shrugged and pointed down to the ditch. She didn’t wave me on, so I pulled in to check up on them.

I get out and say, “Can I help you ladies?” The other hung up and turned to me. “There’s a squirrel laying over there in the grass. I think he’s injured real bad.” Oh. I see. Good thing I pulled over for you. Sigh.

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Is there a woman who can drive?

I had to miss work yesterday because of an injury. Let me tell you what happened. I (once again) was the victim of a CWDOCP – a Careless Woman Driver On a Cell Phone. Not a big deal, but it did render my vehicle undrivable this time. I was sitting at the intersection of my street and the main street, waiting patiently to get out of my neighborhood when a woman comes barrelling into the entrance, aiming for the wrong side of the median! It was obvious she had been going too fast, and since she didn’t want to set the phone down, she couldn’t stop fast enough, and rather than keep going and u-turn to come back to the entrance of the neighborhood, she decided to turn into the wrong side of the median. While I was there.

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And Justice for Dog

Wow, I’m sitting here trembling with adrenaline and excitement.

The guy I initially thought did this turned out to be out of town at the time it happened. Bummer. But that also restores some of my faith in humanity and – more specifically – my neighborhood. I’m glad to know I don’t have to worry about my neighbors like that.

The story takes a turn though. I got home from work a little early today and let my dogs out. While they were in the back yard and I was doing some dishes, I heard Hunter barking his ass off. Then I heard the whine of a dirt bike, tearing across the green belt. This is pretty common. Then it got louder and louder, and then slowed until it was right behind my fence. Hunter had stopped barking for some reason, and was just standing there growling at this kid as he sat there looking into my back yard. (I have a fence made of dog-wire.)

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Women Drivers – An Oxymoron?

I know, I know, you’re all getting sick of hearing about how bad women drivers are. But they keep staying bad. And I had to laugh this morning on my way to work when I saw an overturned SUV in the middle of an intersection.

Now I would never laugh at someone’s misfortune or injury. But I gladly laugh at their stupidity. Because I am of the opinion that 100% of accidents can be avoided with defensive driving. You might not be able to prevent someone REAR-ENDING YOU, but the person behind you COULD HAVE PAID ATTENTION (what a novel idea) and prevented it themselves. So when some pompous SUV driving idiot tries to make a light when it’s yellow – and they’re still a hundred yards out – they end up running through an intersection, phone glued to head, on a red light. They deserve to be plowed into. Teach their ass a lesson.

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Everyone is out to get me!

No joke, every six months, someone wants to mess my shit up. Someone comes out of nowhere, not PAYING ATTENTION, and SLAM. Three days after I got my Durango, someone decided it was time to sandwich me in it. So I was without it for two weeks while it got repaired. Then some stupid little uninsured bitch decided it was time to slam into my wife’s car. And now, the Durango again.

Yesterday, sitting at a red light, the woman in front of me was the first in line. The light greened and she stalled out. I obviously didn’t move because I WAS PAYING ATTENTION so I just waited patiently. Well the guy behind me decided it was time to go, since he saw the other lane moving. He obviously wasn’t PAYING ATTENTION to what was going on in his lane. You know, the shit that mattered. So he slammed into my bumper. Now I have to take the damn truck in for another week or two to get it repaired. All new rear end. The place I always take my vehicles is overbooked right now, so it will be a while. You know, I’m on a first name basis with them guys since so many people like to drive without PAYING ATTENTION. People need to get they heads out of they asses and start taking driving a little more seriously. It ain’t a damn game where you wreck and game over you lose your quarter. Put your damn phone away and watch what the hell you’re doing.

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Selective Astrobiology

Scientists recently began to believe there may be life on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. They’ve been digging in Barrow Alaska through the ice, and they’ve found life there, despite its -4º temperature. Lake Vostok, which is in the heart of Antarctica, may be their test ground for building a probe that would drill through the ten-mile ice layer on Europa. Lake Vostok is covered by a two-mile thick plate (sheet? layer?) – yeah layer of ice. If they can build a probe that will drill through the ice and sample the water beneath, we may have a shot at discovering whether or not there’s life in the waters of Europa. An alien lake.

You know what fascinates me though? I love Astrophysics and Cosmology and the study of other planets and their surfaces. But not for biology. Who the heck cares if there’s microbes living at the bottom of a Jovian lake? What good is it going to do us? For one thing, we have no way to kill all the microbes that live on our probes, so we may be populating the waters with our own trash. Unless we can keep our shit at absolute zero for a couple of years, then have a way to ensure that killed everything permanently, then furthermore have a way to knock all the dead things off once our probe is en route to Europa… It’s all useless.

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Some People Should Not Drive

I was riding with a friend of mine yesterday, on the way home from Home Depot, and we had a kind of odd experience. Well, actually – I should clarify – I had the odd experience. It wasn’t odd to her at all. But it tripped my shit right out. She drives a convertible Mustang, but the top was up and the windows were up.

oh no holy shit we're gonna dieWe were driving – actually (again) she was driving [had I been driving (being a more competent driver altogether) we probably wouldn’t have had the experience in the first place] and she cut some lady off in a Buick. My friend drives like a blind, retarded lemur with no legs in the first place, so riding with her is a real treat. You can see in the passenger floorboard, the carpet is kind of worn out from her passengers slamming on imaginary brakes. I’m a pretty laid-back passenger and not much scares me, but when I’m riding with her, I can’t watch the road. Frankly, she scares the great green shit out of me. You are guaranteed an ulcer in twenty minutes if she drives you through downtown Dallas traffic. Not that I would ever actually ride with her through downtown Dallas during traffic.

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