Saturday, October 01, 2005


Have I mentioned how great it is to have a real, permanent job again? It’s made a huge difference in my attitude and I find that I get more done at home too, since I’m not moping around all the time. But there are still little things about corporate life that amuse, amaze and confound me.

Take my desk drawers, for example. They’re very nice – all 4 of them. They have a lovely locking mechanism that enables the key-holder to lock them all at once, should he or she wish to do so. The only problem here is no one seems to have a key, including me.

Once I got over the initial excitement of having my own, spacious cubicle, I was determined to locate a key for the drawers. The previous occupant of my cube said he never had a key and that hell would probably freeze over by the time I got one. I decided it was worth a shot, so I contacted “Facilities.” For those of you who don’t know, Facilities is the most important and all-powerful department in your building. If they like you or need something from you, facilities will provide you with comfortable, efficient surroundings. But DO NOT, under any circumstances, piss these people off! If you get on their bad side, you are guaranteed to be sitting in the squeaky, wobbly chair with one armrest for the remainder of your corporate existence!

Keeping this in mind, I contacted a very nice woman from facilities and requested that I be afforded a key to my desk drawer. She responded and told me that she would be happy to supply me with a key, but they would be replacing my cubicle walls in the very near future and would I please wait until this was done? “Of course”, I replied.

They did replace the cube walls in my area - with much shorter ones (so that now I wouldn't dare pick my nose for fear of being seen by passersby). And along with my new cubicle walls I received a new, locking overhead bin! With no lock – just a little tab thingy you can turn to latch the cover.

Forgetting how Facilities at my former places of employment operated, I came to expect too much: I further requested from the nice facilities lady a pair of matching tumblers and a key that would unlock both (drawers and overhead). She again responded that she would look into it and would I mind reading the microscopic numbers on the drawer tumbler and sending them to her? Since I didn’t have a microscope, Facilities Lady made a visit to my cube to check the numbers. Even she wasn’t 100% sure, but wrote down the number that seemed most likely and promised to see what she could do.

Weeks passed, then 2 months…

Until a couple weeks ago, when I decided to follow up. I sent a nice email to Facilities Lady, kindly asking if any progress had been made on the lock issue. She said she had ordered locks and tumblers, but was not sure if they had come in yet. Again, she promised to look into it.

2 more weeks…

Until last Thursday, when a man from facilities came by to install my new lock! “Woohoo, it’s finally happening!” I thought to myself. I needed to get out of the man’s way, so I excused my self to visit the restroom and fill up my water jug.

Upon my return, I found a key in the lock of my overhead bin with no facilities man in sight. Giddy with excitement, I tested the key in the overhead and was even more thrilled when it worked. Then I tried the key in the drawer lock.

And guess what? The key did not work in the drawer lock!! 3 months of waiting, asking kindly, trying not to be a nuisance – and I still have no key to my desk drawers!

So, I emailed Facilities Lady. I politely thanked her for getting me a lock and key for my overhead bin. I went on to ask if it might be possible to have 2 locks and one key that would open both of them.

Once again, I received a prompt response. She explained that she did not currently have any matching tumblers, but may be able to find a key for my drawers and would I mind reading the microscopic numbers on the tumbler and sending them to her?


Saturday, August 27, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Lottery!

Update: Yeah, yeah - those sneaky Democrats came back and voted in the lottery while one GOP senator was in the hospital and another was on his honeymoon, and days after Marc Basnight (senate majority leader) said (and I quote): "We're done, we're out of here." Get ready Tar Heels, you're about to be sucker-punched right in the wallet.

These lottery mavens are nuts. Really. They’re very concerned in a staged, frowny-faced sort of way that the hard-earned cash of low- to middle-income Tar Heels (and a few of the upper class who dabble) is flowing across our borders to (GASP!) Virginia and South Carolina. How DARE those other states outdo us in fleecing our own citizenry? We could keep those people right here, use that money for edjumacayshun and save gas, too!

Let’s be realistic here. If we take people’s money and invest it in their education, eventually they’ll learn enough to understand their odds of winning. They may even realize that the State of North Carolina is banking on their gullibility to keep the lottery going. At that point, the lottery is doomed because these newly educated folk will stop throwing their money away on State-sponsored gambling!

This is why many states with lotteries have begun to use the proceeds for other purposes. The money-for-education scheme worked so well that their citizens were getting too smart to be suckered in! If we’re going to have a successful lottery here in NC, the money must NOT go to education or we'll end up in the same boat. Of course, this takes away the primary stated purpose for having the lottery in the first place.

This just in: State Democrats may hold one more vote on the lottery before they really, really adjourn for this session. The difference this time will be that 2 GOP congressmen won’t be there. That’s enough votes out of the ‘no’ column to pass the lottery. Sounds like dirty politics to me: “If we can’t win enough people over to our side, we’ll just wait ‘til some of those party-poopers are absent to hold our vote!” When the Republicans pull this type of stunt, the Democrats scream louder than a football fan when his cable goes out on Sunday! Now, they're the ones trying a stunt to pass a bill that would cause more harm than good.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Design an Intelligent Plan of Action and Get Back to Me

Disclaimer: NC Steve recognizes no specific religion (or absence thereof) as having more validity than any other. He would not presume to know what is best for anyone but himself, which is poking fun at religious posers. If you are a peaceful individual who truly strives to live your belief (whatever it may be) and it brings joy and comfort to your life, STICK TO IT! I have no beef with anyone who strives to better themselves and the world around them without harming others to get ahead or prove their point.

How many times do we have to revisit this ridiculous argument? Would knowing how mankind came to exist on Earth change our way of life? Whoever was proved right could say ‘I told you so’, but we’d still have doubters who would become even more annoyed. We’d still have the same struggles and the same triumphs. More than ever, as a race (human, that is) we STILL need to learn to live together without killing each other and keep the Earth viable for future generations. I doubt finding out that we grew from amoebas or that some intelligent being had a hand in it (or both) would dramatically alter these facts.

But what about this Intelligent Design theory? How does it differ from traditional Creationism? Would our creator (if one exists) have been able to create our world without intelligence? If not, then we’re accusing him/her/it of being stupid (this does explain George W. Bush). If intelligence was required to create everything, then there can be no fundamental difference between the two, other than the time it took for creation to reach its current state.

There are some holes in this ‘new’ theory. For example, why were diseases included in the design? “AHA!” you say – “it’s to keep the population size under control!” That worked really well, didn’t it? I guess Mr. Intelligent mistakenly gave us the ability to fight and cure diseases (other than al Qaeda) so we could go ahead and over-populate anyway! If this creator-being is so darn smart, why do we have psychopaths, murderers and rapists? Why do the innocent suffer for the deeds of criminals, corporations, governments and…and…RELIGIONS?!

I know, we weren’t created perfect – we were created in what’s-its-name’s image. Apparently, we're MEANT to struggle and cause physical and emotional harm to one another! That way, even a murderer can later say he’s sorry, repent and get lifted into the heavens to join the innocent victims he’s already dispatched there.

Live your life, people! Find something productive to do, like write sarcastic humor and insult everyone! Whatever event(s) spawned our creation, it’s the future that has me worried.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


I have a NEW job and I love it already! I ditched the State of NC and accepted an offer from a local healthcare IT company. This company and I have been dancing ever since I met them at a job fair early this year. I even wrote about the experience.

The amazing thing is that the recruiter I trashed for not giving my “functional resume” a chance is the same one who passed my name along to the hiring manager. That manager called me in for an interview and I didn’t get hired the first time around or the second, but I must have impressed him somewhere along the line because eventually he made something happen for me.

So now, I offer this apology to Ms Recruiter:

Dear Recruiteratthecompanythatjusthiredme,

You don’t know me exactly, but I said some unflattering things about you in my blog. I apologize for this. You helped me in a way which I can only repay by helping our company succeed in any way I can, plus 20 push-ups. I plan on doing 3-a-day for a week (most likely one just before every meal), which gives you a bonus push-up. Why? Because doing that extra push-up demonstrates that I will exceed whatever goal is placed in front of me. Not by much, but what do you expect from a guy with a crappy resume? I'll get started on those push-ups right after the 4th of July.

Looking back, I realize how angry I was – not at you, but at my situation. I’d been out of work for almost 3 years and was tired of seeing the looks on people’s faces when I explained what I did during that time. I could’ve told them I had a sex-change operation or that I was a killer for hire and they wouldn’t have cared, but “stay-at-home Dad” raised all sorts of suspicion. I guess I was expecting the same rejection from you, so my account of our meeting turned into a tirade.

I want you to know that I’ve learned from my experience and from now on I’ll only pick on people who deserve it, like Tom Cruise. WTF is with that guy anyway? I suppose if I was divorced, independently wealthy and nailing a girl half my age I’d be jumping up and down on a couch, too! Of course, I’d do it at home so I wouldn’t look like an idiot in front of half the world.

See you at orientation!


NC Steve

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

No Safe Haven

One day last week, the network team informed me of a change they were making at one of their sites. I was called upon to assist by adjusting some network settings on a server (for you techies, I had to create a new DHCP scope, disable the old one and enable the new one at the time of the change, no big deal). I was told that the change would take place at around 11:00 AM and I should expect a phone call when it was time for me to do my part.

The call didn’t come at 11:00 and a few minutes later I had to go to the restroom, but I didn’t. I held on until 11:45, when Mother Nature finally got the best of me and I dashed down the hall to the Men’s room. While I’m sitting there, the door to the restroom opens and I hear Bill the network guy (name changed to protect the idiot) say “Great, I found you.”

I knew he was talking to me, but I was kinda busy and shocked that someone would address me while I’m sitting on the toilet at work, so I didn’t say anything. Pause. “Steve?” “Yeah.” “We’re ready to make the change now.” “Ummm, OK.” Then he heads over to the urinal as he explains the cause for the delay. I don’t know about you, but when I’m engaged in #2 I’m generally not in a conversational mood. Bill – that’s Mr. Tact to you – just kept going like it was no big deal. Thank god he didn’t come over to the stall door and try to make eye contact through the jamb (if he did, he’d be dead now).

I wasn’t sure what to do since this had never happened to me before. Did Bill expect me to do something from where I sat? I looked around to see if there was a network connection and a computer in the bathroom stall – no on both counts (though I’m sure some efficiency expert has thought of this). I resolved to finish my personal business while Bill prattled on through washing his hands and finally left – no doubt disappointed that I wouldn’t pinch one off for the team.

Eventually I finished my personal business, washed up, returned to my workstation and made the change. I wonder if I would have gotten the same treatment if I was a State employee. I’ve heard that consultants get treated like crap at the State level – now I know where the rumor came from!

Monday, March 21, 2005

A Busy Congress

Whew! Watching Congress in action these last few days has left me breathless. In order to show they care about America, they've placed 2 items at the top of their agenda. We might expect one of these items to be healthcare for all Americans or improving our educational system (sadly, educational improvements did not take place before some of these yahoos made it to Congress). These issues are important, sure, but Congress has set its sights even higher.

First on the past week's agenda was Congress' concern for steroid use among professional athletes. They just don't think MLB has done enough to curtail steriod use. They had to step in and do something about it, or our American way of life would be threatened! C'mon - if discovering and using an unfair advantage isn't the American way, what the hell is?

The second major threat to our way of life is a person's right to die with dignity. I want to applaud President Bush and our Congress for rushing back to Washington at taxpayer expense to restore a feeding tube to a woman who has been brain-dead for 15 years! Now, everyone's got an opinion on this, so let's get serious for a moment: How many of you would want to continue living in the state that Terri Schiavo is in? Not me! I'm on vacation at the moment, but you can bet I'll be working on that living will as soon as I get back home!

We live in scary times, folks! Congress is feeling its oats. Who knows what they'll tackle next? Government ownership of the NHL? A rutabaga's right to live? Better keep an eye on your congresspeople. You've heard the motto "If it ain't broke, don't fix it?" Well, the new Congressional motto is: "We may not be able to fix it, but we can sure as hell screw it up better than you!"

Monday, March 14, 2005

Athletes Have All the Luck

I’ve been thinking about this whole steroid scandal and it pisses me off. Professional athletes have millions of dollars and fans all over the world. They get to play games for a living on national TV. Some of them even have women waiting for them everywhere they go (shhh, that’s supposed to be a secret, no thanks to Kobe). But is all of this enough? NO!

These athletes have another perk: Real scientists working in laboratories to provide them with the safest, finest, undetectable performance-enhancing substances in the world. Well, America, it’s time we stood up and demanded equal treatment from these labs! Where are the performance-enhancing drugs for the Average Joe? I’m talking about homework drugs, housework drugs, construction drugs, lawyering drugs (OK, maybe we could do without those), soldier drugs, secretary drugs, CEO drugs, creativity drugs!

Imagine the possibilities! Sure, there are street drugs which can temporarily help, but they can be dangerous – and they’re detectable. As Americans, we deserve equal consideration when it comes to artificial, untraceable means of performance enhancement! (Wiener drugs are a start, but they’re only for men, and by the time you need them you likely have a health condition which prevents you from using them.)

America needs help! Everyone needs to improve their performance! I urge all of you to write to the scientists at BALCO, your congress(wo)men and even the owners of sports franchises. It’s about time they gave something back to the fans who can barely afford a seat at a sporting event. Stand up and demand your right to high-quality, undetectable substances!

Yes, this is cheating, but let’s face it: We can’t all be the best in our professions. That’s why we should legalize performance-enhancing drugs! Why work to improve ourselves when there’s always going to be someone who’s better? I say take a pill, kick that person’s ass and be home for dinner, with a promotion and a pay raise!

No doubt, some of you will object. But how many of you buy tickets to professional sporting events and watch them on TV, knowing that some of the players are great only because they’re on steroids? You’ve already bought into the system and helped finance their habit! It’s time to stop enjoying these drugs vicariously and buy from the source!

I’m calling BALCO right now…damn, the number’s been disconnected. Maybe they should have created some scientist-enhancing drugs first!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What's Up with Sponge Bob?

Jeez, I don’t know how I missed this. After seeing references in Entertainment Weekly and on the Academy Awards, I had to track this story down. Apparently some conservative groups, such as Focus on Family and the American Family Association, have determined that Sponge Bob Square Pants is a homosexual – or at least, he promotes homosexuality. Several news agencies picked up the story.

I swear, some people have waaayyy too much time on their hands (like bloggers). But, in some ways I can see how folks might come to the conclusion that Sponge Bob is gay. All it takes is a little digging. Here are some of the indicators of Sponge Bob’s gayness:

  • He views his world as a place of wonder and excitement – GAY!
  • He has no desire to hurt anyone – GAY!
  • He’s been known to hold hands with his best male friend – GAY! (I’m waiting for the AFA’s stance on football players holding hands in a ‘huddle.’)
  • He’s kind, even to people who hate him – GAY!
  • He’s being used in a video to promote tolerance of people with different backgrounds and lifestyles – SUPER GAY!
The gay community should be proud that national conservative groups have done their research and discovered these fine qualities in homosexuals. If it weren’t for the work of such organizations, we never would have known the truth!

I am a bit concerned, however, that other cartoon and children’s characters have been missed. Sure, they nailed Tinky Winky, but what about:

  • Bugs Bunny: Wears women’s clothing, serenades and kisses Elmer Fudd.
  • Foghorn Leghorn: A bachelor who never hooks up with any chickens.
  • Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh: Lives alone and is obsessively tidy.
  • The Pink Panther: He’s pink, for god’s sake!
  • Baloo Bear: Hangs around with a half-naked boy in the jungle, also dresses as a female.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I guess we tend to see what we want in cartoon characters. Good thing it doesn’t apply to people, right?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Sleepover

Oh. My. Gawd. I thought girls were supposed to be the quiet ones. I thought they were far better-behaved than boys. I’ve got news for you, folks!

My 10-year-old daughter is having her first-ever slumber party tonight in celebration of her birthday. While the girls are in the other room with my wife, arguing over which friggin’ episode of Gilligan’s Island Season 2 to watch (I think they just decided on the chicken people from Mars episode – a classic), I’m hanging out here in the ol’ home office.

I have to tell you – I grew up with 2 younger sisters who had slumber parties many times. But even having 2 sisters didn’t prepare me for the non-stop screaming, wrestling and mayhem that took place in my home tonight.

A couple of the girls, I knew were trouble. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from most of the others since I didn’t know them as well. It turned out that the 2 girls I expected to be shrinking violets were the loudest, most obnoxious ones of the bunch (more like shrieking violets). At their homes, screaming at the top of their lungs must be encouraged because there’s no way you develop pipes like those in a single day.

The 2 shriekers were also the ones jumping on the other girls and punching them. Not in a mean way, you understand. I figured out why they did it – they both have older brothers, so they’ve learned that a little rasslin’ is de rigueur. What they didn’t learn is that not all girls have older brothers and don’t enjoy being jumped on until later in life, and then they pretend to like it more often than not. But I digress.

I think that in general the girls are enjoying themselves. I know their parents are! Almost all the parents who came by to drop off their kid were headed out for an evening on the town. Heck, I don’t blame ‘em. The last time our daughter went to someone else's slumber party, we did the same thing! I told each parent when they arrived that I expected their daughters to have sleepovers and invite Allison, whether it was their birthday or not!

So, tonight I learned a few things:

  1. Only serve caffeine-free beverages at slumber parties.
  2. Check to see if the guests have older brothers before inviting them.
  3. Demand quid pro quo from the other parents and teach your daughter how to scream and wrestle ahead of time.
Thank goodness most of this challenge is behind me now. My wife will get the little to sleep, and then I get to make pancakes in the morning. But I will no longer tolerate any screaming. The first adorable little girl that lets loose a piercing scream at breakfast is getting a face full of Aunt Jemima!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Job Fair Woes

Aaaaaaaugh! Sorry, I’m a little frustrated. You see, I’ve been working with a career counselor to make my job search more efficient and appealing to prospective employers. Because of the ever-widening gap (not working seems to be the reason for this) in my employment history, my counselor suggested that I go with a “functional” resume. For the uninitiated, a functional resume should always begin with the heading “I’m Desperate,” because the fact that you went functional is generally interpreted by hiring managers as “This Person Has Something to Hide.”

In theory, a functional resume is a good thing. Rather than list the jobs you’ve held with employment dates and responsibilities under each job (the usual), you spice things up by focusing on your skills and background up front and leave the employment history for last. The idea is that recruiters and managers will take a look at all the wonderful things you’ve done over the years and focus less on issues like gaps the size of Leon Spinks’.

So, today I walked in to the ballroom full of recruiters looking for talent and made my way over to the booth of a company I would like to work for. I smiled, turned on the charm and proceeded to explain to the woman who greeted me why I thought I would be a good fit for her company. So far, so good, until…

Her first question to me was “Have you gone to our website and posted your resume there?” I responded that I had not and was then told that creating a profile and posting my resume online was the first step. I wanted to ask why her company was participating in a career fair if they’re just going to smile, shake hands and refer people to their website, but I held my tongue. She barely scanned the first page, which contained all of my accomplishments, certifications and education.

Turning to the second page, Ms Recruiter noted (here’s the shocker) that I didn’t list any duties underneath the positions I’d held (this being a functional resume and all). Then, she suggested that when I visit the web site, I put something under each job to explain what I did! Well, all that information was right there on page one (again, I held my tongue), but I guess the format didn't convey the message I'd hoped for. So much for going “functional.”

I did find a bright spot, however. There were two people there from Dell: a woman who was sharing information about Dell’s new plant in NC and a man from Corporate who discussed Dell jobs on a national level. Both took their time with each candidate (which made for a long line, the only downside), whether they seemed like a fit or not. I remarked on this and thanked them both for treating us all like people, rather than cattle. Oh yeah, and I got a free Dell T-Shirt, woo-hoo!

Today was a good learning experience. The next time I see Ms Recruiter Lady at a career fair, she’ll be forced to continue the conversation when I affirm that my standard resume is online and fully accessible to her and her staff. I learned a few other things too, but if I share them with you, you might steal my technique, you filthy moocher (don't worry, it ain't workin' so good). Good luck to all you other job hunters out there, and to the companies with openings: Just gimme a chance - you won't be sorry and there's a free Dell T-Shirt in it for ya!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


If you were in the Raleigh area yesterday, you witnessed the devastation that can occur when winter weather strikes. Businesses and schools closed early, creating an early rush hour in the midst of an unexpected snowfall. During the 3 mile, 45 minute trip to pick up my daughter from school I was glad to have 4WD and skill on my side.

Those less fortunate found themselves unable to pilot their SUVs, minivans, Mercedes and BMWs through the deluge. They slid every way imaginable, making it virtually impossible to get through (except for Mr. Winter Driving Pro here). Hundreds of elementary students spent the night at their schools because the buses couldn’t get through and neither could their parents (big kudos to the dedicated teachers who stayed with their kids!). Every major road and many of the lesser ones were choked off.

What caused all this chaos? The Weather Service described it as ‘almost a full inch of snow.’ Well, hell – now I understand! Not really, but it was fun to watch folks in their big ol’ SUVs and expensive cars staring wistfully at me as I wove around and through them to my destination. I would have stopped, honest, but there were too many to help and I knew the longer I hung around the worse it would get.

You’d think with snow in the forecast (flurries), the DOT would have at least put their salt truck fleet on alert. By the time they finally got out, it had stopped snowing and the damage was done. I guess they believed the weather forecast and didn’t feel any preparation was necessary. The other people to blame are the drivers. I’m sorry, but if you can’t drive in 1 inch of snow, you need to go back to driving school. We get that much at least 2-3 times every year!

I know all you Northerners are cracking up over this. One inch of snow up there is like a fly landing on your car.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

My New Cover Letter

Dear Clueless,

I’ve spent the last year and a half sending my resume out and contacting people like you at companies with job openings in my field. During that time, I came to realize that you have no interest in my background or the fact that I was promoted to higher positions in every company at which I’ve worked. You’re more concerned that I haven’t worked in some time, so when you see the gap in my employment history you assume I’m useless.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I possess a quality which places me heads above the majority of people in the world: I’m tall. I call this quality “Altitudinal Supremacy.” According to the Bureau of Vertical Statistics, my height of 6’5” (as measured on the Stanley Powerlock Scale) places me far above average in terms of height worldwide.

My height offers numerous advantages:

  • Ability to store items out of reach of most people and retrieve said items.
  • Spying on cubicle neighbors.
  • Huge presence on your company volleyball and basketball teams.
  • Intimidation of enemies and underlings.
  • Easy to pick out in a crowd.

Now that I’ve brought this to your attention, you may wish to retrieve my resume from the trash bin and un-crumple it. It took you three tries to get it in there in the first place. Please contact me to arrange an interview. I believe my chances will be ‘heightened’ when you see how I tower above the others!

Vertically yours,

N.C. Steve

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reggie's Cleats

In your mind, picture the worst football player you’ve ever seen. Now, think about the guy who was 3rd on the depth chart behind the worst football player you’ve ever seen. That was me. You didn’t picture me in the first place because you never saw me in a real game.

The only reason I made the 9th-grade team was so all the other guys, no matter how horrible they were could point to me and say “Hey Steve, you suck!” I even earned the nickname “Killer.” I think it’s because the whole team almost died laughing whenever I took the practice field.

But it wasn’t entirely my lack of speed and coordination that kept me down. It was cleats. Reggie’s cleats. Reggie was a great kid, blessed with mammoth size and coordination. I was about the same height as Reggie, but only half the width, which put me at a huge disadvantage whenever I went up against him in practice.

One day, the coaches decided to pit Reggie and me against each other in a little drill called “Root-Hog.” This drill involved 2 players taking their stance facing each other in a mud pit, the object being to move the other guy out of the pit (kinda like Sumo in pads). It required a fair amount of leg strength, which thankfully I had. Everyone figured Reggie was a lock, so this was my big chance to prove myself. The coach blew the whistle and we both dug in, locked shoulder pads and proceeded to push with all our might.

I surprised the coaches by hanging in there as long as I did, but couldn’t get enough traction to avoid the inevitable. As Reggie pushed, I slid backwards on my feet and eventually lost the match. From then on “Killer” kept the bench warm, never to realize his dream of becoming the next Willie Lanier.

I knew I deserved better. You see, it was only the 2nd or 3rd practice of the season and I hadn’t harassed my father enough for him to buy me a pair of football cleats! Tennis shoes are worthless in the mud, especially when you’re trying to move a 220-pound 9th-grader out of the way. It’s even worse when he’s got cleats and you don’t.

9th grade was my first, last and only time playing organized football, but I have no regrets. At the time I was in the marching band, so I knew I’d be on the field one way or another (cool uniform, no cleats required). Besides, band caused fewer injuries! But to this day I wonder if my football dreams would have been realized if it weren’t for Reggie’s cleats!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Winter Driving Tips

It’s time for everyone to work on their cursing and middle-finger deployment. Yes, you’re going to need these skills now that the winter driving season has started! But that’s not all. Being a capable winter driver requires actual driving skills, which ol’ Steve here is going to help y’all out with. Because cursing and gesturing alone won’t get you out of that snow bank.

I learned everything I know about winter driving from my father. He prided himself on being able to drive his car through a wintry hell (commonly known as “Missouri”) and passed his secrets on to me. Here are the basics:

  1. Always have candles, blankets and rock salt in your car (for the people who don’t know how to drive and get stuck).
  2. Never park your car on an icy slope, unless your car sucks and you need the insurance money (ok, that was mine).
  3. Once you start spinning your wheels, you’re not going anywhere.
  4. If conditions are dangerously slippery, begin applying the brakes about 6 blocks ahead of where you plan to stop.
  5. Everyone else on the road in these conditions is a moron (see #1).

4-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and traction control were nonexistent on the old ’64 Chevy I learned to drive. That car had a special rear differential known as a ‘floating axle’ (at least that’s what my Dad called it), which allowed only one rear wheel to drive the car at a time. In this configuration, power was applied to whichever wheel was getting the least traction! Driving on ice was an adventure, to say the least.

Fortunately, the driving skills passed on to me by my father sunk in. There were many other lessons that didn’t stick with me, including how to get girls (or maybe he left that one out). Left to my own devices there, I watched most of my friends score while I dreamed of a certain cheerleader. Now, if I could go back in time, I think I’d prefer it the other way around. After all, being stuck with a cheerleader in a cold, desolate spot with candles and a blanket would’ve been a whole lot more fun!

In case you really care, the key to this whole winter driving thing is simple: Get a car with traction control! If you’re stuck with an older car, never, ever start spinning your wheels (see #3). When you need to go up a hill, make sure no other “morons” are in the vicinity and get a running start. And if you get stuck, hang in there – I’ll be by with the candles, blankets and salt in a bit…