Monday, December 31, 2012

Adventures in Driving on the Other Side of the Road

So, we bought a car a couple of weeks ago. Actually it is a green Ford Territory -- an SUV that can seat up to seven, but realistically can hold five people comfortably (so when guests come we can transport everyone to interesting sites outside of Perth).

The other day the three of us all got in the car and Jeff and I practiced driving it around the neighborhood. There are three challenges we are trying to overcome. The simplest is the fact that this is a new vehicle and very large as well so we have to get our bearings on the dimensions of it. The second somewhat difficult concept is the roundabout. Yes, there are occasional roundabouts in the US, and I have driven in Europe where they are pervasive, but the etiquette for them is a little different here. For one thing, you use your turn signal to indicate your ultimate destination: if I enter with the intention to go left, I turn on my left indicator; right, my right indicator; and straight, no indicator at all.

But the most difficult thing is of course the fact that we have to drive on the left side of the road. This can really make your brain hurt. Even though we have been passengers on the left side of the road since July, our brains are not fully wrapped around this concept. And there are a lot of automatic behaviors that you have to change.

For example, the driver is in the seat on the right side of the car. So the rear-view mirror is to your left, not your right. When you are backing out of the driveway, you have to look left for the traffic in the nearest lane. Right turns are the long, lane-crossing turns. (I practiced a lot of right turns in our driving practice session.)

Another thing is that the turn signal is on the right side of the steering wheel, and we keep hitting the wipers instead. At least this just makes me giggle.

Finally, Australian roads are weird. Although they are generally wide like American roads, they tend to have obstacles to slow traffic (or perhaps just to terrorize novice American drivers, I'm not sure). There tend to be jogs in the otherwise straight roads, and curbs jutting out for no reason. I hit one of the errant curbs on a major traffic artery, but luckily nothing bad happened (other than scaring the driver and passengers).

Getting Back into Writing

Hello, my vast fan base!

I took a very long break from blogging, mostly inadvertantly. One day just led to another, and then another, and then a week, and then a month, and then a couple of months...

I have mixed feelings about the whole blogging thing. It requires a lot of time and effort to do, but I really enjoy reading my old entries and recalling what I was up to, and what I was thinking about. But when I am feeling stressed, I tend to just retreat inside myself and not have anything to say to the rest of the world. And there is a domino effect, where the less I write, the less I can think of to say. Also, when I go too long without writing, I feel obligated to catch the blog up on what I haven't said, and then I end up feeling overwhelmed and putting it off even more.

It is a new year, and I am thinking I will use that excuse to just start anew and pretend like there is nothing to make up. Hopefully I will write more, although I am not making any promises.