Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's the small things in Life...

I love the smell of the bread and coffee aisle.

I love the sound of the rain on the roof. I always sleep better during a thunderstorm.

I love writing about the stories of my life.

When it's cool out, I love bicycling during the day and driving with the windows down and the heater on at night.

I love canoeing and stopping on a sand bar for a picnic.

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McDriving Adventures...

In case I don't make it, I thought I should share something with you that's taken me over 20 years to perfect: Getting through the McDriveThru without hitting anything.

The first thing that happens to us all is that when we pull into the drive-thru lane, we expect people to look before leaping out into traffic at about the same time that we hit a kid who didn't. So watch for idiots when pulling into the drive-thru lane.

If you're lucky, you make it to the speaker to order something - otherwise an idiot with a clipboard is standing in the middle of the drive-thru in an effort to "speed up the line" It's not like the drive thru comes with instructions. Threats like "Have your money ready or else," and "No multiple orders," are abundant, but I suppose that we can't all be smart enough to speak directly into the clown's mouth.

Next: The speaker stage. I started out like everyone else - pull up to the speaker, wait an interminable time to order, order, repeat, get distracted, pull forward - and hit a curb. It's happened to all of us at one point or another. Those freaking curbs are just too close together to make it safely - until now. The secret is ordering from as far away as possible. The lane is really wide at the point where the speaker is located. It seems obvious to get as close as possible to the speaker as possible so they can hear you - but that's the trap. If you pull up close to the speaker in the left side of the lane, you have a much sharper corner to negotiate before you get to Window #1. On the other hand, if you set up on the right side of the lane when ordering, you have a much wider radius ahead. Pay attention to the right side wheels, and the left (inside) wheels take care of themselves. It's as simple as that.

Not hitting those freaking yellow poles filled with concrete is a bit more difficult and requires a bit more faith to execute. At some point during one of your visits to Window #1, you're going to drop money. It happens to all of us. Here's the secret to not rolling back down the hill and taking off a door on the yellow pole I'm talking about: Just leave it there. This is a situation not unlike riding on a tram or Mr Toads Wild Ride - remain seated until the ride comes to a full and complete stop. In this case, the ride ends when you get your food and throw any trash you have in the car out the window in the general proximity of the trash can at the drive-thru exit. If the person at the window asks you to get out and hand them the money, don't do it - it's a trap. Once again, you have no doubt pulled up really close to the window (so you don't drop your money), and it will be impossible to get out of the car. So you roll back a few feet and open the door, get out - and the car rolls back down the hill and rips the door off on that freaking yellow pole. Seriously - just sit there. Eventually they'll get the point that the line isn't going to move and they'll say something like "That's alright - I'll get it later." Bonus points are awarded for bravery - ask for your change for the money laying on the ground. If you don't get it, just sit there. They can't stand the line not moving, and they'll do anything they have to to get you out of the way and onto dealing with the next idiot.

And who hasn't hit one of those pesky rock-encrusted trash cans scattered around the parking lot at some point in our lives? I had the misfortune of being in the car (the 1978 Trans Am) with mom when she pulled a little bit too far into a parking space and over the sucker went. "Get out and pick it up." WTF? You hit it! "Just do it because you're the kid and I said so. " So we're apparently about to hit-and-run the trash can, and my job is to pick it up so it looks like nothing happened. Except they weigh on the order of 400lbs. Because they're all covered in rocks and concrete. Know why they're not all dented up like the plastic (or metal) cans you have at home? Because they are all covered in rocks and concrete and weigh like 400lbs, that's why. So I leapt back into the car (through a window, I think) screaming "Leave it! Just go!" and we sped off into the night, leaving the can for dead.

When exiting Window #2, remember the idiots are coming out both sides of the building, and someone calling the cops is only going to cause the double cheeseburger to be even colder than it already is.

Next you go for Mr Toads Wild Ride for real - the canal that serves for a drainage ditch will rip the spoiler off the front of your new Trans Am if you're not careful. This time it isn't someone else's baby you're destroying, it's your own - so be careful! Try to hit it at an angle regardless of the direction you're wanting to turn. Yes, this requires taking up both lanes, but you'll be glad you did. Next, for freaks sake, don't pull into the middle lane and then expect to merge. A) It's illegal. 2) Traffic is never so bad in Rolla that this is necessary, and C) I hate people who do this.

I hope these lessons help you avoid learning the hard way like I had to.
Bryan

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Cool days and cooler nights...

The hurricaine helped to make last night the first cool night of the fall, and that always sleep better. Today it stayed cool, and that was cool. But the best part is that driving at night is back.

What's cool about that, you ask? Try it the next time it's cool outside. Roll all the windows down, turn the heater on, crank the radio up and drive really fast. There's nothing better in the world...

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

There's nothing so beautiful...

Before she died, Debra told me that the best part of her days was sitting on the porch and watching the puppies play in the back yard or watch the rain. Yesterday the remnants of Hurricaine Gustav blew through Rolla I sat on the back porch and watched it rain, and I have to say - it was wonderful.

This evening I took a walk around Maramec Spring. The water was quite high and a few portions below the spring were flooded and the leaves were just starting to fall. I saw maybe 100 deer grazing the fields and I sat and watched and listened to the water flow for an hour. I took a hundred photos that no one including me will ever see.

I wish I lived somewhere that would let me have a dog...

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