My review: Packard Bell PB-OP4 personal CD/MP3 player

My review: Takara RM-01 ''Robot Masters'' G1 Convoy

2004-08-07Rambling interlude about driving. Fit the first. [/HHGTTG]

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Words of the moment: "Bugger." | "Oops." | "Ayyy. [/Fonz]" | "Kewl."

Lesson 01: [b] Theory + clutch. (1½hrs)
Lesson 02: [a] Braking. Attempts at gear changing. (1½hrs)
Lesson 03: [b] Gears, steering with right hand. (1½hrs)
Lesson 04: [b] Right turns. (1hr)
Lesson 05: [a] Maneuvering. Priorities. More right turns. (1½hrs)

Lesson six will involve the A449, so you may want to avoid it on Friday 16th. [Or avoided it, since it's now well past the 16th and I still haven't posted this.] It'll be the first time I've been near an appreciable amount of other traffic or doing 40mph. [a]s involved a small estate or two which I couldn't find if you gave me a map. [b]s involved the left trading estate as you pass Brierley Hill and Merry Hill. On the whole the trading estate was a far easier environment to practise signalling, gear changes and turns—even though there are quite a few speeders and fuck-off big trucks, there are long stretches of road with minimal obstructions in an evening.

I think my ideal initial learning environment would involve a field or huge expanse of tarmac with lines drawn on it. Building revs and changing gears is something which is easier to do than to think about—indeed, it got a whole lot easier once it became a single movement; wait for revs, hit clutch and wiggle stick. Rather like I can't follow dance steps, I can't translate instructions into actions that require the use of more than one limb to do something if I lack prior experience of it. Actions with a mechanical rhythm, on the other hand, I find quite straightforward even if I'm inwardly panicking. For this reason, it's essential I don't get into bad habits as I'm initially getting to grips with things. So far so good, I think—I've pretty much stopped flailing for an indicator when I want the gearstick, and commands are starting to be inserted as mnemonics into my physical memory in the correct order. (Physical memory: patterns of movement and tactile sensation.)

Do need to work on finishing up closer to junctions I'll be turning left or right at, though.

Lesson 06: National speed limit and traffic lights.
Lesson 07: Driving around Kingswinford, etc.

Have learnt something very reassuring—the brake operates without the clutch. Feel free to laugh. Definitely feel more in control of speed now, since deploying the clutch without actually slamming on the brake tends to coast and increase speed. Still not very keen on going anywhere near 60mph, although gear changes are now starting to become just a case of listening to the engine. Averaging 30mph isn't as hard as it seems, either—as long as you don't pay attention to the people in front of you exceeding the speed limit by about a third of that.

Stalled a few times in lesson six (needed more bite on the clutch and for the handbrake to actually release. In fairness, it wasn't until the last lesson I'd really grasped that it's a three-action control: pull back, press button, hand toward ground.) Also discovered that I tend to veer at high speeds.

Anyway, next lesson I've asked to have a crack at three-point-turns, since it'll mean I know how to reverse if necessary and will give me some practise at judging the distance of the car from things. I suspect it may involve quite a lot cursing at first, but it'll definitely be useful. Then we can get onto joining roundabouts after that. (The reason I'm keen to have some experience of reversing is—well, have you ever been up our road? It's a hill. With a blind bend and a lot of parked traffic. [The Friday in question] was the first time I'd driven either up or down it, and it's quite intimidating.)


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