Monday, September 25, 2006

Gun Turret.

As you all know, I'm a genius. I mean -- after all -- I do have a patent.

With that fact established, I really think that I am entitled to create sovereign laws to protect me from the nuisances of others. I have two laws that I'm considering related to noise.

Law #1: If your car alarm goes off and your car is not being stolen, I am entitled to take a baseball bat to it without retribution.

Law #2: There are numerous "entrepreneurs" that enjoy pushing their shopping carts down my alley in search of recyclables in trash bins. The practice is so prevalent, that most trashcan bins have locks on them.

At 6:30am, an "entrepreneur" decided to move all of his collectables from his cart to an abandoned shopping cart located beneath my window. This transfer was done without finesse, and was unbelievably noisy. It woke me up.

So here is my law…. I would like to install an unmanned tranquilizer gun turret on my roof. It would operate between the hours of 10pm to 10am. If you were pushing a cart through my alley way, it would recognize you by either the visual silhouette of person pushing car or by smell, and you'd be shot with a dart that made you sleep until normal operating hours.

I know this sounds harsh, but how am I expected to save the world with these constant distractions? So let it be written. So let it be done.

I went to see Cold War Kids at the Casbah. Fantastic show. One of my musical highlights of the year was seeing Hospital Beds performed live.

Juliana and I drove over to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park to catch the last day of the Warhol exhibit. At the same time, an exhibit by the abstract artists, the Matta's (father and son), had opened up. I have developed a bad habit of simply skipping past abstract art or any piece whose visual aesthetics differ from my own. Juliana is a huge fan of abstract art and connects to it, so I had an engaging time dialoguing with her about different pieces, and seeing the artwork through her eyes. I learned a lot.

We had eaten very little all day, and as we were starving, we decided to stop by the taqueria to grab some food on the way home. I pulled up to the drive-through. The cashier gave me my total and I reached into my pocket to retrieve the money.

I'm not sure the reason. Maybe my foot just slipped. Maybe I was overly excited about the carne asada. Maybe I wasn't thinking. But whatever the cause, my foot fell off the clutch, causing the engine to stall. I haven't stalled a manual transmission since I was seventeen. I went to start the car and it wouldn't turn over. Damn. I tried three more times to no avail, with each time draining the battery further. The starter turned, but the engine wouldn't catch. I couldn't figure out what had happened. It had always been a reliable car.

I needed to get the car out of the way. There was a parking spot available off to the side, in a space approaching the exit onto El Cajon Blvd. I asked Juliana if she could drive while I pushed the car over to the space. I expected her to get out and walk over to the driver's side. Instead she effortlessly hopped over the daunting center console and gear shift, right into the driver's seat. It was like we were in a car chase and I needed her to drive so that I could shoot bad guys out of the car window. Needless to say, I was very impressed. (I was also embarrassed that I had stalled the engine in the first place, but Juliana couldn't have been sweeter or more understanding.)

With me pushing and her steering (without power steering no less), we were able to get the car out of the way. We positioned the car in a space where a five foot slight decline led to El Cajon Blvd.

Juliana and I were still starving. As I was worried that I may have flooded the car, I thought that we should just walk to my condo across the street and eat. Time may do my car some good.

After I ate, I accumulated some tools and returned across the street. I tried starting my car again and the engine still wouldn't catch. I made a few more attempts and my battery was barely alive. I figured I had one last chance.

Growing up, I feel fortunate that I was able to collect some practical experiences along the way. Being around my dad, I learned how to change a tire, gut an elk, and a little trick that would prove helpful now -- jumpstart a car.

To jumpstart a manual transmission car, you get it rolling while in neutral, throw it in second gear, and then drop the clutch. Hopefully it starts. I faced a few challenges in doing this. First, it was just me, so I would have to get the car moving and then quickly jump into it and do all of the fancy clutch work. Secondly, I only had a slight downward slope to work with and five feet until I would encounter oncoming traffic on busy El Cajon Blvd. And if I didn't get it started, I could possibly be sitting in said traffic.

I got out and pushed the car. Once I got it moving I jumped in… threw the car in second gear… dropped the clutch… it didn't work. I quickly hit the brake. I was almost on top of the street. I had one last shot. I repeated the process and dropped the clutch. The engine stuttered and sputtered and then started. I drove away triumphant. I took the car onto the highway so that the alternator could charge the battery.

Juliana was coming over one evening, so I decided to wait for her outside, on my small and quaint, yet busy street corner.

While standing there I saw a bicyclist cross the street as a car hovered at the stop sign. I saw the driver's face and yelled out as I knew what was about to unfold. But it was too late. The driver didn't see the bicyclist and at the worst possible time, the driver hit the gas, as the bicyclist was located squarely in front of the car. The bicyclist was thrown up onto the car's hood and the bicycle launched into the middle of the street. The car stopped and the bicyclist fell to the ground.

It's odd seeing something about to unfold and being helpless to stop it.

The bicyclist was upset but okay. The driver was apologetic but trying to deflect fault by saying that he didn't see the bicyclist (obviously) and that he had come to a complete stop. They both started to discuss who had come to a stop first. They went back and forth without either conceding or coming to a conclusion.

They both then turned to me and asked.

I had seen the entire thing happen in front of me. My engineering side wanted to say that the bicyclist had stopped first since he was in front of the car when struck. For that to happen he would have had to have started first which by association, meant that he had stopped first. But when I thought back, I simply couldn't remember. So I had to be honest.

"I don't know," I replied.

This made me think of eye witnesses in trials. How do they observe and remember stuff that happened so quickly or briefly? How do they recall it a year and a half after the fact when called to testify? After my experience, I'm skeptical to put much faith in the process.

I've never been accused of being the most astute person, but still.