Just Shelley

Experiences of a non-driver

Experiences of not having a driver’s license – II:

When I was 19 my boyfriend decided that I needed to learn how to drive. Bryan was a fanatic about cars as well as being an absolute whiz with anything that has an engine: cars, vans, boats, hydroplanes, you name it. We spent weekends either working on engines, going to Corvair car rallies, or taking the Class A stock outboard to hydroplane races in the Puget Sound. Fun times…except that I didn’t know how to drive. How can I not drive?

(Eternal questions: What is the meaning of life? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? What does SPAM really stand for? How can you not drive?)

One quiet afternoon we reached a moment of truth — Bryan had to see me drive. There was no other way to stop him harping about me driving. We grabbed his mint condition 1963 Corvair van and went for a little drive around the neighborhood.

Him: When you step on the gas, do it gradually. You don’t have to slam your foot down on the pedal.

Him: You still have to step on the pedal — we’re not going to go anywhere if you just rest your foot on the pedal.

Him: Shelley! You need to stop and look first before driving across the road! You almost creamed that car!

Him: No. No. You have the rightaway. You need to move!

Him: Don’t turn like that! You’re going to hit someone if you turn that wide!

Him: You can’t turn that sharp! This is a van, van’s don’t turn on a dime.

Him: Christ! Look out for that…! No, no, you’re okay.

Him: What are you doing? You’re too close to that …

Me: Thwap!

Him: You just hit that truck with my mirror! I can’t believe you just hit that truck! My side mirror’s gone!

End of lesson.

Just Shelley

Driving as a non-driver

Experiences of not having a driver’s license:

When I was 21, a friend left her Volkswagen Beetle at my place when a group of us went out partying. This wasn’t one of the new classy Beetles, this was an oldie — the kind where they’d paste fur on it and call it a mouse. The kind truckers used to play “spin the Beetle, see where it lands” with. The kind you could knock over if you breathed hard on it.

Anyway, back to the story. The next day, my friend came to my apartment to pick up her car. The problem was there was one of her, but two cars. Solution: Let’s get Shelley to drive the Beetle home! Unfortunately, I didn’t have a driver’s license. I didn’t really know how to drive. Still, you know people in their 20’s — all guts and glory. My friend just knew I could drive if I really wanted to.

After having me drive the car around for a few blocks she certified me as ready to fly on my own. She got in her parent’s car, I got into the Beetle, and we set out to drive from the south end of Seattle near SeaTac to the University district along I5 on a sunny, Saturday afternoon.

My first challenge was figuring out how to shift the car. I finally remembered that you had to push down the shift pedal with your left foot as you shifted. I did eventually manage to shift, but not in time to stop from driving a Metro bus into the next lane. Good thing he swerved– can you imagine what would be left of a Beetle after a Metro bus got through with it? I don’t think he was very happy about my driving, though.

Next challenge — getting onto the freeway. After driving along on the breakdown lane for a considerable distance, with my friend frantically signaling me that it’s okay, I can merge in traffic now, I finally negotiated my first entry on to a freeway. After a bit, I also increased my speed to the point where the other drivers weren’t passing me, staring into the car trying to see what the hell was driving it.

Okay, so we’re humming along, me following my friend, when I noticed how warm it was. The heater was on. Solution: turn it off.

Unfortunately it was at that point that I found out that drivers tend to drive where they’re looking. In the midst of trying to find the heating control, I did the loveliest ballet across I5 that I’m sure most drivers have ever seen. Is this the heater knob? Is this off? Is this how you turn it to cool air? My attention finally returned to the important aspect of “driving” by my friend’s frantic signaling with her horn that I had Better Start Paying Fucking Attention to What I’m Doing! Right Now!

Okay, ignore heater, roll down window, pay attention to driving.

At that point, the football game in the Kingdom finished, and half of Seattle’s driving population entered the freeway.

You know how deer and rabbits freeze on the freeway when your car lights hit them? Well, that day when I was 21, I learned what the deer and rabbit were experiencing. Sheer, raw, mind numbing terror. Luckily, my autonomous nervous system took over in my catatonic state; I was able to follow my friend to her house with no resulting deaths or injuries.

Excuse me, I must end this post — I’m heading to the car dealer to order my very first car. Doesn’t that make you feel comfortable driving in the San Francisco area, now?


Wired woman

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Wired Woman has now become one of my personal heroes. Of course, she already is, but she’s only reaffirmed it for 2002.

Iron my napkins and the paper catches on fire.

Legal, Laws, and Regs RDF

RDF patent dispute

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Over at the RDF interest online forum, at least two developers of implementations based on RDF have received a legal mailing from a firm representing Unified Data Technologies Ltd (UDTL), implying a possible patent infringement due to the use of RDF/RSS.

The RDF working group is consulting with the W3C about the legalities of the whole thing. You can read more at:
RDF Interest Group online forum

Patents in question are:

Patent 5,684,985 and 6,092,077 as well as others most likely under review for patent pending.

Hopefully the W3C will be able to resolve this, but I doubt this will go away quickly. At least one of the impacted projects, 4suite, is open source.

This is an effort to exploit open source as well as an open W3C specification, enabled by the extremely poor patent review methods of the US Patent and Trademark Office. A case of making money off of the goodwill efforts of others.

Happy New Year, Open Source. Happy New Year, RDF.