Sunday, November 19, 2006

Spirituality with Shades On

Your nature is a hard thing to change; it takes time. One of the extraordinary transferences that happen in your spiritual life is not that your character flaws go away but they start to work for you. A negative becomes a positive: you've got a big mouth: you end up a singer. You're insecure: you end up a performer who needs applause. I have heard of people having life-changing, miraculous turn-arounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties 'let go, and let God'. But it was not like that for me. For all that 'I was lost, I am found', it is probably more accurate to say, 'I was really lost, I'm a little less so at the moment'. And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life. The slow reworking and rebooting of a computer at regular intervals, reading the small print of the service manual. It has slowly rebuilt me in a better image. It has taken years, though, and it is not over yet.

Bono from 'U2 by U2' (with Neil McCormick)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Right Where It Belongs
Nine Inch Nails

See the animal in it's cage that you built
Are you sure what side you're on?
Better not look him too closely in the eye
Are you sure what side of the glass you are on?
See the safety of the life you have built
Everything where it belongs
Feel the hollowness inside of your heart
And it's all
Right where it belongs

What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you wanted to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks?
Would you find yourself
Find yourself afraid to see?

What if all the world's inside of your head
Just creations of your own?
Your devils and your gods
All the living and the dead
And you really are alone
You can live in this illusion
You can choose to believe
You keep looking but you can't find the woods
While you're hiding in the trees

What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you used to know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you wanted to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks
Would you find yourself
Find yourself afraid to see?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Extreme Bumper Cars

Ok, so I got into an accident three weeks ago in which my car got totalled, and I went and bought a new car right after that. I've finally gotten all my photos and semi-facts together, so here's everything that happened (as far as I can tell).

It was on a Tuesday, and nothing was going on at the workplace, so I decided to go home and get some work done for one of David Pope's other projects. That was about 2:30pm, and I wound up driving West on Sutherland Avenue, which is the road I usually take to go home. The day before, a Cadillac that had been brought in by D (I'm just gonna use initals for eveyone else who was involved in the accident) to Budget Transmissions at the intersection of Liberty and Sutherland. They left the car in the lot with the door unlocked and the keys in the ignition, since they figured the transmission was busted and nobody in their right mind would steal the car.

Of course, the car gets stolen, and on Tuesday, D goes to Budget Transmissions, calls the cops, and a police officer shows up. They are standing right by Budget Transmissions making a police report when D spots his Cadillac at the very stoplight they are standing right next to. He says "Officer that's my car". The driver of the car notices he's being eyeballed by the police, and makes a left turn without checking oncoming traffic. He runs into me, hitting my front driver-side tire.

The first thing I tried to do after realizing I'd been hit was try to get my car off the road, but after a couple of tries, I realized it wasn't going to move. The wheel that got hit was completely bent out of shape. I get out of the car, looked around, and saw that a cop had someone pinned to the ground by the driveway of a house near the intersection. I'm completely confused, since I figure the car had tried to make a run for it, so I walk over and gather that this guy was the driver of the car (we'll call him J).

There was a gal sitting nearby looking very distraught, and I asked her what the heck is going on, and from her weepy babbling I gathered she was J's girlfriend, that she had been in the car when it hit me, that J didn't know the car had been stolen, that his 13-year-old nephew had stolen it, that his nephew had been in the car too, and that he had ran after the accident. I also figured out that the car that was parked in the house's driveway was the car that hit me... I didn't realize that was the car that hit, since I guess I was expecting it to be sitting on the road somewhere in a more haphazard fashion.

Cut a long story short, a million cops show up, they go looking for the 13-year-old kid, find him, bring him back, and carts everyone off to jail. The wrecker service shows up and takes my car, I call my friend Michael who'd just graduated and hadn't found a job yet, so I knew he wouldn't be doing anything (lol), and we go to Carmax where I buy my brand new (ok, used) 2001 Toyota Prius. Yup, that same day. Why wait, I figure, since Carmax has no-haggle prices, and there's no point playing the wait-and-see game. I also had it in the back of my mind that my next car would be a Toyota or a Honda and it would be a hybrid. I also had a bunch of cash reserved for exactly this sort of thing, so that I wouldn't have to think twice about it in case of an emergency. Everything worked out pretty well, all things considered.

Here's a page from the police report I got a few days later, with some stuff I added to make it clearer what happened (you can click on the image to see a larger version):

V1 was the stolen Cadillac, V2 was my car. If you read the narrative, you'll see that it says "Vehicle 1 struck Vehicle 2 and then all passengers of Vehicle 1 attempted to flee on foot". Oddly enough, when I came out of my car to look around, I saw the cop had J pinned down a few yards south of the stolen car, and J's girlfriend sitting close by weeping. Apparently when they "attempted to flee", J fled in the direction of the cop, and his gal come back and sat down after realizing J wasn't fleeing with her.

Just sayin'. Something ain't right there.

Anyway, the next Friday I was subpoenaed to show up at the sessions court, where the court folks just wanted to talk to me and D to get our stories. There was a lot of time in-between when they wanted to speak to us so I was allowed to walk around the county building and stretch my feet. After grabbing a coffee I spotted J having a cigarette outside on the patio (I guess he was out on bail or something), and I asked him to tell me his side of the story. He insisted he was innocent, and that his nephew had shown up with the car and told him the car hadn't been stolen. His nephew wanted to drive the car over "to a friend's house", and J and his girlfriend decided to drive it for him. They were going along in the car when they got spotted by the D and the police officer, at which point his nephew panicked and said "This car's stolen!", and that's when they freaked out and ran into me.

I thought certain aspects of his behavior was consistent with the story he was telling. Why else would he drive by the exact spot where the car had been stolen, if he knew it had been stolen there? And why would he park the car, get out, and go in the direction of the police officer? He said he was trying to explain himself to the cop, but the cop pinned him to the ground immediately. I still wasn't 100% convinced (he might've been trying to act innocent), but I did tell him if the case went to court that that would be an argument in his favor.

Two hours later, though, when I was speaking to the witness assistant, she told me J was going to plead guilty to stealing the car. I didn't get to talk to J again, so I'm not sure what changed his mind. Brent thought that he might've been advised that pleading guilty would've been a much easier way out than going through a trial that he might lose. That might be true, but if so, that really sucks. Oh well.

Now on to the old car. Here are the pics of the old Geo Prizm that the Geico insurance adjuster took when he went to assess the damage at the wrecker's:

I got 2500 bucks for it. Schweet.

And here's my new car, the 2001 Toyota Prius:

I just washed it a couple days ago, so it's whiter than usual.

I've still got the Carmax plate on it. Hey, that temp tag is good for 30 days. The actual tags are still laying in the truck =p. I'll change the tag today. Or something.

A view of the dashboard. You can see the LCD display, which tells you what the car is doing while it's running.

A closer view of the LCD display. When the car is running, you'll see animated arrows telling you when the gas engine and the electric motor are driving the wheels, when the batteries are being charged, etc. Pretty distracting, really. Staring at it is gonna get me into another accident one day.

The front seats. It's roomier than it looks. Then again, I'm a small fella.

Under the hood! You can see the gas engine on the left and the electric motor on the right.

A closer view of the electric motor. I wonder if they cleaned it up at Carmax... everything's awfully shiny under the hood.