14 January 2008

what a feeling (flashdance)

What a feeling (flash!dance!)

Post title comes because we will shortly be talking about Toyotas.

Before then, though, a quick update. We’re back safely ensconced in pied a terre VVB (although being on the fifth floor it’s not really a terre I suppose). For a while the ‘safely’ aspect was in a little doubt as we came back into Rocky through a storm including a quite severe storm cell. Because the plane’s relatively small - a Dash 8 400 series, twin turboprop) - you tend to get thrown about quite a bit.

There was an awful lot of the sound of breaths being sucked in and a few screams trying to get out – it really was quite a savage little ride as you try to estimate how many metres the plane is being bucked up and thrown down in a short space of time. And while you wonder what stresses the plane is capable of withstanding, there’s not much you can do about it. I’ve seen what remains of passengers after a plane has had an unscheduled encounter with terra firma: you’re not going to walk away so you may as well close your eyes and trust in pilot training and technology. It does concentrate the mind wonderfully, though.

It took a day to get back into the swing of work: still being relatively new in the job, I’d forgotten what I was meant to be doing. Ha ha, sort of. But by week’s end we were right back in the swing and the high quality suburban infrastructure of the lovely southern highlands was but a distant memory.

The new job brings a few new management challenges with it which have been a character-building exercise to overcome, or perhaps duck around, much the way the pilot ducked around the rest of the worst of the storm after we’d been through the savage cell.

And this week for some unfathomable reason the new job also brought a new car, I’ve somehow swapped the Falcon, which was uniformly awful, for a Toyota Camry Grande. Yes folks, that’s Grande with an ‘e,’ which makes it grander than grand.

It’s a bloody barge to drive, you can’t see where the bonnet and boot end and although it has every bell and whistle known to man and car designer, it doesn’t have the one thing I’d really like, which is park assist, which in a proper English-speaking world would have been known as parking assistance, in other words the machine that goes beep beep beep when you’re about to reverse into something.

But was it does have – along with a sunroof (yeah! got one again at last!) rain-sensitive wipers and sat nav – is an extremely comfortable seat and excellent seating position. And that to my mind is something that Toyota has done very well for quite a while. Even my old AE86 (ie 1988 model) Corolla had a comfy seat, albeit without electric positioning, lumbar support and (oh yes) leather.

But the Camry has a steering column adjustable for both height and reach which means you can get the seating position exactly right for legs and arms. I like the steering wheel to be down low and I’ve gradually grown out of the straight-arm steering position, which is tiring on the arms and physically unsound because you can’t get maximum leverage, so it’s great to be able to get the wheel close enough while still being able to stretch the legs. But I have to say that the Grande is quite a nice place to be provided you’re not too particular about knowing which direction the front wheels are pointed. Good lord, what am I saying? A Toyota? I must be going soft in the head. Please ignore this post.

I wasn’t going to write about the US elections and then, as if by some sort of telepathy, a friend sent me a very funny, rather obvious but savagely cruel joke about Republicans. Which I won’t reproduce here ‘cos I said I wasn’t going to write about it.

So, what else? I was reading Kathleen Noonan in Saturday’s Courier Mail; it’s a kind of general reflections on life column which, probably more often than not, provokes a little useful thought. But today’s column got me thinking mainly about the posts and comments from a week or so ago about why (and how) I keep VVB going when it doesn’t usually have anything of any immense import to say.

I think it’s partly that blogging itself is still very much in an evolutionary stage. I’ve certainly found through the two years (aaargh! really?) of VVB that my relation to the blog has not only waxed and waned but also matured (well I think so). And it’d be reasonable to expect that experience replicated across the blogosphere, particularly with the small, more personal blogs like VVB. Maybe the bigger, more ‘sophisticated’ blogs have been able to set out a rationale and stick to it – certainly in the case of group blogs with a predetermined raison d’etre or philosophical/ideological position – but for all of us who simply caught the wave and are still precariously hanging on, it’s a day by day existence as we continually wrestle with the whole point of it all, not to mention the effort of churning something out.

Deep, eh? And yet, I don’t feel at all ashamed of stating the bleedin’ obvious in this case because I can’t recall having the read the bleedin’ obvious anywhere else.

More to the point, the additional comments that the conversation provoked indicated to me that this is an issue (oh yes, we all got ‘issues’) that many of those who frequent the little circle of VVB are probably wrestling with either personally or by virtue of searching for some value in small, independent blogs.

I’d kind of also like to rant a bit about Australian sporting prowess, the win-at-all-costs mentality, the impact of commercialism on sport, and the decline of civility not to mention everyday manners. So now you can guess where I stand. I’ve had the Hewitts and the Pontings and Brett bloody Lees up to here. I think all competitive sportspeople should first have to play competitive bowls, darts or snooker to learn a bit of self bloody restraint. Then they can get on with their chosen profession. Oh, golf too. Self bloody restraint is an admirable thing. Hmm, all individual sports, although you do get team bowls (up to 4). I think there’s a lesson in that. Isn’t individualism and self-reliance meant to be a good thing?



Anonymous said...

interesting, Phil. i had a camry for a while and hated it. it was reasonably comfortable, though, at least it was until it was airborne one too many times at the farm and the shocks were stuffed ;-)

i'd love to own an ae86 one day. a friend is doing one up with the supercharged 1.6 engine, huge brakes, LSD, etc, and i'm hoping that when he's finished he'll sell...

phil said...

I last drove a work-owned Camry about 18 months ago, had to go up the Sunshine Coast for a meeting. Got straight in and took off, everything was utterly intuitive and you could find things even with your eyes shut. This upmarket one though takes some research, it I had to skim through the handbook, and of course the satnav has a whole handbook (the same size as for the rest of the car) to itself.

Ann ODyne said...

tonight I saw a girl awarded the Toyota Tamworth newcomer prize, and I thought that if she had had the presence of mind to jump and yell "Oh what a feeling!" they would have given her a vehicle bonus.
but she didn't.

I drove a Corolla Seca CSX for a while. triffic little car.
room for a saddle and a bale of hay in the hatchback part.
I love Jeremy TopGear.

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