Friday, May 20, 2016

Diving Into the Deep End of Popular Fiction

I have started to read the Game of Thrones series.

I’m on page 4.  So far it’s pretty good.  Nobody has died yet, but I am told that I can expect that to change shortly if for no other reason than statistical probability.  It’s one of those series.  I’ve seen the little meme where someone stuck post-it notes in the books every time someone was killed and it looked like a neon-colored fringed buckskin shirt.  There will be blood.  But so far, so good.

Reading these does represent somewhat of a change of heart for me. 

Not the fact that I’m reading the series at all – oh, no.  This is my genre, after all.  There was a period of my life where I read The Lord of the Rings annually and could write in two different modes of Tengwar.  I can still do one even now.  And when I’m not reading books that have footnotes and bibliographies, I’m generally reading SF/F.  Sometimes even the SF/F has footnotes, but that’s a whole other problem. 

I actually bought most of the series a long time ago with the intent of reading it.  It looked interesting on the shelf in the bookstore – the HBO series hadn’t come out yet, at that point - and Kim eventually picked up the most recent one when we were in Sweden back in 2012.  The European version (yes, in English) was printed on slightly nicer paper than the American version was, which meant that it was about half-again thicker.  Schlepping that wood pulp brick across the Atlantic was just one of those heroic feats that get lost in the general shuffle of one’s life, I suppose.

Those who know me already know why I haven’t read them before now.  I like to read complete series, and I read too many books to memorize them as I go. 

The last book came out four years ago.

The previous book came out six years before that.

The one before that one came out five years earlier.

The next book has been rumored since 2012 and may well come out sometime before Lauren graduates college, or may not.

Each of these books is roughly cubical and contains more words than all of the cumulative performances of Hamilton to date, including the announcement about turning off your cell phones.

So what we had here, in other words, was a linear foot of novels of notably complexity coming out roughly once every presidential term, with the concluding novel being continually pushed out at least two and possibly four novels into the uncertain future, the whole thing written by a man who is in his late 60s and who is, by all appearances, not a health fanatic.

I thought to myself, “Well, I’m just going to hold off until he is either finished or dead, whichever comes first, because there is no way I’m going to go back a decade from now and reread all of those novels so I can remember what happened when the last one finally crosses my doorstep.”

And I’d been doing pretty well with that resolve. 

It’s not like there is a shortage of good books to read in this world.  My to-read shelf is pleasantly full, in fact, and since I am extraordinarily easy to shop for (“Another Amazon gift card!  How thoughtful!”) it continues to grow no matter how much I chip away at it.  Life is good, in other words.

Also, I figured that by the time I read it, the HBO series would be long gone and over and I could buy the whole set for $19.99 at a discount store somewhere and watch it then.

But Kim has wanted me to watch the show with her for a while now.  “It’s a great show!” she says.  “It’s got great writing and lots of action and all that good stuff!  You’ll enjoy it!”

“It’s got boobs!”

I confess that every time I walk through the living room when the show is on I see only blood, not boobs, but she assures me that were I to take the time I would indeed see plenty of boobs.  This, Kim feels, is sufficient enticement for me to watch the show.

She knows me well.

But she feels you can’t really watch the show without reading the books, and I agree – the books are always better.  Well nearly always.  I read the first twenty pages of The Bridges of Madison County once, and I cannot imagine a movie that could be more painful than that.  But as a general rule, the books are the place to start.

So I have started.

This may take a while.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Problem With Pink

Where were you this afternoon? 

We were launching rockets from the stage at Home Campus.  You should have been there.

The 4H Drama Festival comes along once a year to consume whatever free time you might have thought you had, in a constructive and generally enjoyable sort of way.  This year Kim and I found ourselves entirely in charge of our club’s troupe, as our directorial colleague from previous years had moved on to other things such as having a life.  Kim focused on the directing side, and the tech side was mine.  But mostly it’s the 4Hers themselves.  The whole point of this exercise is to let them do as much of it as is practicably possible.  How else will they learn?

Our play this year – written entirely by Tabitha, Lauren, Hailey and Taryn (no pre-made plays for us, nosirree!) – was called The Problem With Pink.  They spent a couple of months writing it.  The local library has a few rooms you can reserve for projects like that, which is nice for the parents dropping them off since we could sit and read while all the creative action took place. 

We began rehearsing in late March with some read-throughs, and eventually progressed to running the play live.  Add in a couple of Saturdays (and at least one Tuesday) of tech work – painting backdrop canvases (kids, it turns out, love spray paint - who knew?) and hanging them from the rigging, building a portable car, and fitting the world’s heaviest door box with outriggers so it wouldn’t fall over and create a black hole there on stage, that sort of thing – and we were set.

I also built some stomp-rockets.  If you’ve never tried stomp-rockets, you’re missing out.  They’re incredibly easy to make – just PVC pipe, empty soda bottles, and some scrap-wood bracing to keep the whole thing upright – and they are seriously rewarding in terms of spectacle for unit work expended.  It doesn’t take much to get the little paper rockets to zip off into the stratosphere, really.  One of them ended up on top of the ductwork in the Home Campus theater during Friday’s rehearsal.  They also make a pleasing thunk when you stomp on them, and this cannot be overlooked. 

Plus for those of us of a certain age they call to mind obscure Tom Lehrer references, and that’s all to the good.

The play tells the story of a trio of 4H kids, lost on the way to the County Fair.


The trio has achieved what many people in the modern US would regard as impossible – they have found a place where there is no wifi or cell service, much to the dismay of the one who lives her life as an extended Snapchat story.  After some entertaining bickering (which the judges singled out as particularly well done), they decide to knock on the door of the nearby creepy house, because isn’t that what always happens?


I think there are not enough creepy houses in my life, to be honest.  I live in places where creepy houses tend to be rezoned, torn down, or rehabbed, which means my ability to get into scrapes like these is pretty limited.  It is a sad, sad thing to be so gentrified.

This house is not only creepy, it is deservedly creepy.  It has earned its creepiness, and can wear it with pride.  There is an old lady living there with her flock of ghosts (the most adorable ghosts, really, which cuts down on the creepy a bit but so it goes), and when she finds out that there are 4Hers at her door, well, as one ghost says, “Yep, she’s gonna mess with them.”




Not that our intrepid 4Hers are too bothered.  There seems to be enough wifi for Snapchat, anyway, and that makes up for a world of creepy.



The old lady has other plans, though, and the action switches to flashback mode as she goes into the long story behind her bitterness toward 4H.

At this point Tabitha – our rigger – lowers the backdrop for the flashback scene, and Liam – our spotlight operator – shifts the audience’s attention over to that side of the stage while the scene changes and new actors appear.


Can you tell I am the tech guy?  Because that’s what I end up looking at, after all.  When I was in high school my parents got tickets for me and my girlfriend to go see Richard Harris in a touring production of Camelot as a graduation present.  When I got home they asked me how it was and I raved on and on about the sets and lighting until my mom finally interrupted and asked if there had been any, say, actors on the stage?  Oh, I said.  Yes there were, as I recall.  Several of them, in fact.  They had sung quite a bit.  Nice work, really.

So there’s that.

Apparently the old lady had been in the Rocketry part of the 4H Fair way back when.  She had been proud of her rocket, and figured she’d be the easy winner, but rockets are kind of like computers in the sense that sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t and who knows why one happens and not the other is what I want to know.



She ends up with a pink ribbon – the 4H equivalent of “nice try, kid” – and swears off the 4H forever.

The ghosts are not amused by this.  They have been trapped here in this house with this grumpy old lady because of a malfunctioning rocket?  Seriously?  “For 50 years we’ve missed the Fair for that?” one asks.


It’s a valid question, when you look at it that way.

The 4H kids and the ghosts then convince the old lady that it was probably just one of those things, that a pink ribbon is not the end of the world and nobody was out to get her, and she should give the 4H another chance.  There is also a cream puff in there, which is as good a clinching argument as you’ll ever find. 

She is, indeed, convinced, and vows to accept the 4H back into her heart.


At this point the ghosts demand to go to the Fair to show things there, and it turns out there isn’t really any rule specifying that exhibitors must actually be living.   It is through such loopholes that good times are had.



And there is much rejoicing.  Cream puffs for everybody!


There followed an extended period of milling about in the hallway outside of the theater, general relief that it had gone so well and was now over, and – eventually – judges’ critiques.  At the award ceremony later that afternoon our troupers were all given blue ribbons as well as a number of technical awards such as Best Teamwork, Best Use of Props, and Best Use of Stage Crew.




Congratulations, Players!


------------------------

Once again, we were fortunate enough to have someone record the play for us, and for those of you who missed it the first time, here it is:


Thursday, May 12, 2016

News and Updates

1. I aten’t dead.  I know it seems that way - and sometimes it feels that way - but the fact of the matter is that my world has gotten into another of its periodic blurry phases where I find myself rushing about from task to task without any intervening time for reflection or energy to do much beyond those tasks.  The sad thing about modern American life, however, is that no matter how busy you are you can’t really complain to anyone because they listen patiently and then say, “Well, let me tell you about MY life” and then there is a Great Sad Among The People there is no winning that.  Plus, it has been a long spring for many reasons, and to be honest writing has been fairly low on the priority list.  Here's hoping for change.

2. Track meet season has started in earnest here in Our Little Town, as the athletes from Mighty Clever Guy Middle School have been whirling around the oval or hurling themselves across long vertical or horizontal distances.  So far I’ve made it to two and a half of these meets – 1.5 in the town south of us, and one here.  The first one was held in gale force winds on a grey day that felt more like March than May.  The second, held a week later in the same exact place, was early summer.  Today’s was more spring-like.  Lauren has been doing very well – she has very good form in the high jump (she came in first place in today’s meet among the girls, and didn’t lose out to the top boy by much), enjoys the triple jump, and seems okay with the 4x200 relay team.  Her relay team came in third today because they were one of the few teams who know how to pass a baton.  I sympathize with this, having been single-handedly responsible for a week’s worth of baton practice during my ill-fated track career back in high school, so yay Lauren!  My role in today’s meet was to be one of the timers.  Nothing good happens on its own, and this way I got to see the end of every race.


3. Theater season has also started in earnest.  Way back when, I taught Tabitha how to run a spotlight for 4H Drama.  She will never be unemployed because of that.  She has run the spotlight on the last two plays down at Local Businessman High, including the recent production of West Side Story.  It was a fun production – more than worthy of the high school’s efforts, I think – and it left me humming random snippets of the musical for weeks.  So, win.

4. I can now chew on the right side of my mouth again, which is a bit of a victory.  Of course it involved going to the dentist and having an old, cracked filling removed and a new, theoretically uncracked one put in, so there was that.  But it is nice not to have to think carefully about the logistics of things every time I try to eat something.  I learned how to eat when I was very young and it’s been mostly autopilot ever since.  Autopilot is a good thing.

5. The turkeys are getting bigger, which is perhaps the one thing that turkeys really excel at aside from being the most ridiculous creatures on earth.  We still have six of them, which boggles our collective minds – domestic turkeys are not known for their robust natures.  I’m the one who usually lets them out in the mornings, which they just love, and I find it soothing to hang out with them in an odd sort of way.  I’ll sit there with them for a few minutes and they’ll wander on over and hang out with me and there we are.  I think to them I’m just another turkey, and perhaps they are right.


6.  If anyone can explain to me why the police officer insists on parking in the Stop & Go lane of LBHS precisely during the peak drop-off time in the mornings when there are invariably multiple open parking spots mere paces away, I’d be glad to hear it.

7. Tabitha was once again honored by LBHS for keeping her grades high, which is a nice thing.  They have these Academic Award ceremonies where they gather everyone in the auditorium and hand out various prizes depending on how many years the student has achieved the required levels of success.  They’re the great ceremonies – you show up, there is a brief welcome, they read the name of every student who has won the award this year (maybe a hundred names, arranged by class, out of a total population of about 1400) while the students walk across the stage and get their award (so you can photograph your child), they say nice things about the valedictorian, and they send you back out into the night, the whole event lasting precisely twenty minutes.  Perfect!  This was Tabitha’s second award, so this year she got a letter for her as yet unpurchased school jacket.  It fit with her t-shirt.


8.  Yes, somehow I have become a fan of Panic! At the Disco too.  You would as well, if you listened.  Sometimes it pays to have kids who are hipper than you are.  You find out good stuff.

9. I have to put something in here about politics, otherwise Lauren will feel cheated.  She finds the political stuff to be boring but has come to expect it.  But politics has taken a rather dark and dangerous turn of late, now that Donald Trump has actually become the nominee of one of the only two major parties we have.  Trump is by far the most dangerously unqualified grifter ever to have been nominated for higher office by a major party in this country’s once-proud history – a bloviating bullshit artist, trust-fund baby and serial bankrupt, a man who has led the Republican nomination process for nearly a year now without ever once having put forward a single coherent idea or policy (which speaks volumes of the GOP base) and who can only be excused from being called a Fascist because he hasn’t got the intellectual heft or consistency to pull it off.  The thought that this nation has sunk so low that him winning the presidency is even remotely within the realm of possibility is a damning indictment of American culture and intelligence, and this is especially true given the collection of blank-stared empty suits, theocrats, meat puppets, half-wits and has-beens he steamrolled over to get that nomination.  Yes I will vote for Hillary.  Or Bernie.  Both of them have actual brains, both of them understand the American constitutional process, neither of them has recently promised to destroy the global financial system, crash the dollar, eliminate the Separation of Powers, or subvert the US military, and that puts them miles ahead of the Republican nominee.  Who wants to write about this?  It will just scare the horses.  And anyone who cares about the future of the American republic as well.

10.  I built a gas grill on Sunday.  We used it that evening for Mother’s Day dinner.  There was no fireball and I still have both of my eyebrows.  I consider that a win.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Inquiries From a Tired Mind

Asking questions is the only way you can get answers.

1. Is there any way we can have 2016 rescinded?

This has been a long, long year.  Some of it I have written about here and some of it I have not, and that's just how the blog rolls.  This week the general trend continued, as my friend Dr. Phil (the original, not Oprah’s friend) passed away.  Dr. Phil was one of the UCF, an online circle of friends who took me in a few years ago and made me welcome, and I will miss his comments and conversation.  Fair seas and following winds, my friend.

2. Do British people even own coats in light colors?


I watch a lot of Premier League soccer these days, since I enjoy it and it’s a sport where concussions and ligament damage are considered unusual rather than inevitable.  Whenever the camera pans up into the crowd I always look for coats in any color other than black or navy blue and so far I haven’t found any.  And yes, everyone’s wearing heavy coats even in April.  I spent a couple of weeks in England in July once and the temperature never saw the north side of 64F, which is precisely where I like it to stay but not conducive to going without a coat.

3. Who thought it was a good idea to invent a car that turns itself off every time you stop at a red light?

Having just gotten my car back from the body shop after last month’s fender bender, I decided that it would be a good idea to take it back in for some recall work.  Apparently the passenger-side airbag on these models is defective and needed to be replaced, and since this would be free and also theoretically stop the annoying buzz that the airbag cover makes at any speed over 25mph I figured it was a deal.  So I stopped in on Thursday to have that done, except that one of the bolts on the new unit snapped during installation and you can’t drive a car with a half-anchored airbag.  So they’re fronting me a rental car until Tuesday or so when they can get another airbag, which is fine.  Except that, as noted, every time I come to a complete stop in this car for more than 3 seconds, it turns off.  At first I thought this was a mechanical problem, but it seems to be a feature and I can't figure out how to turn it off.  It’s probably designed that way for fuel efficiency or something like that.  The designer probably won an award.  But it is the most aggravating design feature I’ve ever had on a car, and I used to drive a 1986 K-car.

4. Is there a company in America today whose advertisements are more irritating than Progressive Insurance?

Seriously, it’s time to retire that character.

5. Why is it that rental car companies give you two keys chained together on a single unopenable cable?

Am I supposed to be glad to have two keys even though I can only use one at a time and can’t give the other one to another driver such as, say, my wife?  Will I score more points if I lock both of them in the trunk at the same time rather than having a spare in a separate place?  Why not just give me one and keep the other one in the office for when you need it?  Or just throw the second one into the sea, for all the good it does?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bird on a Wire

So the turkeys are out.

We’ve had poultry in our house pretty much nonstop since January, which is just another of those sentences I never in my life thought I’d say.  There was a brief period in March when we were poultry-free, and then the turkeys arrived.  They stayed in the living room until they grew up enough to start smelling like turkeys, and then we moved them into bigger bins and put them in the basement.

Yesterday was one of those glorious spring days that make you think you should spend it doing something relaxing and photogenic, as if you were in your own beer commercial drinking something that tastes far better than beer – pretty much anything, really, with the possible exception of those smoothies made from leaves and twigs – except that you know you’re just going to spend most of it chipping away at the mountain of outdoor projects that have been waiting for you ever since the temperature dropped below freezing in November.  Those projects are sorted by size and color, arranged by shape, and prioritized by how badly they will make your world smell if you don’t get to them before the others.

Getting the turkeys out of the house ranked pretty highly, when put in those terms.

Lauren and I spent most of the day over at the barn.  I’d gotten the outside turkey run fencing shored up earlier, so Lauren spent her time clear-cutting the brambly weeds that had sprouted up since last summer and then sweeping out the inside pens where the turkeys would be staying.  I got the big boards moved over one cow stall to the left so our six turkeys (compared with last year’s four at the start and two at the end) could have some room to roam, and then cleared out the second stall.

And then I spent more time than a reasonable human being should have to devote to the issue of chicken wire.

For those of you who have never had to put up chicken wire in any quantity, the thing you have to remember is that chicken wire comes in rolls.  They’re about four feet high, weigh far more than you’d think, and are as tightly wound as a North Carolina legislator at a Pride Festival.  They each contain enough chicken wire to cover Wales, and if you have two of them you can build a decent sized hut to live in.  You’d die of exposure and blood loss, of course, since chicken wire is mostly holes surrounded by bits of sharp metal, but affordable housing always has its drawbacks.  The key thing about these rolls for my purposes, however, is that they’re made of metal wire, which is a substance that has the rather annoying quality of retaining whatever shape you bend it into.  Such as a tightly wound roll.  This can be a problem when you are trying to fasten one end of a tubular piece of chicken wire onto a flat surface and the other end onto another flat surface some distance away.  The wire stubbornly insists on remaining – or snapping back to – tubular, and this is of no help to anybody.

My life would be so much easier if chicken wire came in sheets rather than rolls, which is yet another of those sentences I never in my life thought I’d say.  It is a continual source of amazement to me just how many of those sentences are poultry-related.

The trick to dealing with rolls of chicken wire is to staple it into the walls as you go, which at least anchors one end down.  Eventually you staple the other end to another portion of the wall.  And if you do it right, the end result will be a nice safe spot where the predators won’t eat your birds – a chicken-wire cocoon for your poultry.

Of course, stapling anything into a barn that is quite literally older than sliced bread is a dusty, flake-filled experience, one that leaves you covered with all sorts of debris and swimming in an atmosphere that is equal parts lead paint chips, aerosolized chicken poop, and a faint blue mist of obscenity.

But it’s done, or at least done enough to get the turkeys situated.  I’ve still got some further chicken wire work to go, but the birds are no longer in my basement.  I don’t think I’ll actually do any of that wire work anytime soon, as today my back and hands are reminding me precisely how old I am and why I am not a contractor, but there you have it.

Lauren and I took them over just before dinner last night and set them down in their new stalls, with their shiny chicken wire walls and their fresh pine shaving floors.  These are birds whose entire lives have been spent in Rubbermaid bins, so this was more room than they’ve ever experienced.

It freaked them out, really.

When I was in graduate school, two of my friends – a married couple with a small boy and a baby on the way – spent a year doing research in Germany, where their baby was born.  European apartments are generally small and on a graduate student stipend they’re even smaller, and when my friends came back to their house in Pittsburgh – a small house by American standards, but an empire compared to what they’d been used to for the previous year – it took them months to adjust.  “We all had to be in the same room,” one of them later told me.  “If somebody got up and went to another room, we’d all follow.  It took a long time to be comfortable having an entire room to yourself.”

That’s how the turkeys reacted.

The first thing they did was huddle up in a pile of feathers and beaks, occupying maybe 3% of their total allotted space.  They’d shuffle around as a group, like Keystone Kops re-enactors, exploring things.  Occasionally one – the droopy-eyed hen we named Popeye because that’s just how we roll – would get brave and hare off on her own, but the rest would quickly catch up.

Also, the toms started puffing up to try to claim the space as the dominant male, because guys.  This is adorable when they weigh maybe 4lb, but will bear watching as they expand to nearly ten times that weight over the summer.

Eventually they found their food and water – no small victory for turkeys – and we left them to their new home.


This morning we were over there fairly early (well, early for a Sunday) and opened up the little door to the outside and let them explore their enclosed run.  The process was much the same, right down to finding their outside water bucket (you have to give them water both inside and outside in case the door shuts on you while you’re not there to open it again), and eventually we left them to their devices.

It’s a good day for turkeys.

Most days are.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You've Got Mail!

And so, as if on cue, here come the lawyers.

I was involved in that little fender-bender two weeks ago now, precisely to the day.  Two vehicles traveling a grand combined total of maybe 12 miles per hour collided, causing minor (if expensive) damage to my car and minor (though of unknown expense) damage to the other vehicle, and from all appearances exactly zero other consequences aside from making Tabitha late for school and confirming my general feeling that 2016 can bite my shiny metal ass.

On the plus side, I got my car back from the shop today.  It's lovely!  And cleaner than it has been in years, or at least it was until Lauren and I took it to the barn to feed the chickens not an hour later.  The shop even fixed the third brake light that I almost got ticketed for a month ago, and at no charge.  I am good to go.

On the down side, today I got my second solicitation from attorneys unknown to me, offering to sue whomever I wished to sue in order to profit from this adventure.  I’m sure there are more coming.  Seriously – this is the United States, the country that invented the frivolous lawsuit and turned it into an art form.  Our entire political system is now based on that model.  Of course there are more solicitations coming.

I’m sure they got my name and address by scouring accident reports, since there is one of those on file with the local police.  It’s public information.

I’m just impressed with the cold-blooded efficiency of it all, I guess.

I could take them up on their generous offer to file legal claims against anyone and everyone who might conceivably have their wallets tapped in connection with this, from the other driver to the manufacturers of both vehicles to the public school district for requiring me to be on the road at that particular moment to Big Tobacco because by now they’re probably used to being sued and would probably settle out of court for what to me would be a substantial amount but would be pocket change to them, just to make the whole thing go away.

But then I would be part of the problem.

I’m part of many problems already.  Adding to that seems gratuitous.

So the solicitations go into the recycling bin where they will eventually turn into something more beneficial to society, such as mulch, and I go on with my life hoping to do the same at some point.  Maybe not as mulch, though as a matter of last resort I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad legacy.  We’ll see.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Look up!

I now have a car with a sunroof.

It’s actually designed to have a sunroof, even.  It’s not as if I went down to my local firehouse and borrowed a Hurst tool and carved one myself – it’s an actual, intentionally placed sunroof.  Lauren thinks this is the coolest thing she’s run into today, and she may well be right considering that she spent half the day at middle school and much of the rest hanging around with me.  That’s not much competition, to be honest.

Of course, next week I will have to give the car back to the repair shop, and that is fine by me.  It’s only been twelve hours but I miss my own car.

I’ve been riding around Wisconsin with the remains of my left tail light hanging out, essentially useless, since last week’s fender-bender, waiting for some patrolman to pull me over for it.  But apparently they have better things to do, which is a good sign as far as I am concerned, and they let me slide.  That and the fact that it is apparently uncool to use turn signals in 21st-century America so nobody even noticed that mine was not working.  It's just sort of assumed these days.  Sometimes I use my turn signals just to make people wonder if I really mean it.  And then - surprise! - I actually turn.  They always look perplexed, like I've broken some kind of code.  I am a rebel.  Hear me roar. 

But today I finally turned the car in for repairs, because seriously not having a turn signal gets kind of old.

I'm going to have this car for a while.  Considering the fact that neither vehicle involved in last week’s accident was traveling more than 10 miles per hour – and both were quite possibly traveling significantly slower – it is astonishing to me how much repair work is needed.  “Oh, yeah,” the guy said.  “At least six days.  Maybe seven.”

They did give me the loaner car for the interval, which was nice of them.  It is the most stripped down Ford Taurus ever sold.  Manual locks!  Manual everything (except transmission)!  It’s like being back in the 90s!  I’m actually enjoying it, in an old-school sort of way.

Plus it has the sunroof, which I did not know about until Lauren figured it out on the way home from school.

The real problem with the car is that it rides about four inches above the asphalt.  This might have been cool at some point in my life but a) this is a Ford Taurus, which instantly negates any motion toward cool that might be made, b) I’m driving it, which only further negates any such motion, and c) I’m old and having to climb up out of a vehicle is no longer charming.  It should have a step ladder, is what I’m saying.  Or an ejector seat.

Maybe that's what the sunroof is for?

Tabitha and I are going to take it out driving sometime later this week, because it will be good for her to get practice on something other than our own cars – that driving test is coming up at some point, after all. 

I’ll be glad to get my little red car back, though.