Moments of Permanence

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Better living through video games Nov. 10th, 2013 @ 07:24 am
So I'm pretty sure Gran Turismo has made me a better driver.

Two incidents spring to mind on our recent trip: the first, when two tyres blew out on a narrow bridge at 50mph, and I stayed entirely in my lane and didn't so much as scratch the paintwork on the car as I drove it off the bridge and pulled over further along, where there was shoulder to pull over on.

The second was when I came around a curve at about 90km/hr (we were in Canada) to find a deer sproinging cheerfully across the road.

Braking sharply *while cornering* is fairly high on the list of things I was taught Not To Do when I was learning to drive, because it is, in fact, a spectacular exercise in the Applied Physics Of Wrecking Your Car.

Nonetheless, I braked sharply, and reflexively compensated to keep control of the car, successfully.

The thing is, I don't think I used to be quite as good at dealing with cars bobbling like that, and add to that I've barely driven a car at all in the last few years. (I've never owned a car, though when my mother was ill I drove my parents' car constantly, but riding a motorcycle is a *rather* different experience.)

However, I have played a fair amount of Gran Turismo, and one of the things that I *definitely* had to learn in that game is how to cope with cars going slightly out of control. Gran Turismo is a good simulation of that stuff, and I had to learn how to correct for a lot. Now, in GT generally the reason the car is at frequent risk of bobbling is that I am driving at speeds that, in the real world, would qualify as "suicidally insane", but, you know... racing video game. Nonetheless, the general principles are the same.

Arguably, this probably helps for the translation of the skills into a real car. The conditions I've learned to handle in Gran Turismo are far more extreme, because it's coping with a control issue when I'm already driving at the limit of the car's control to begin with; since I do not, in the real world, in a real car, drive with the accelerator buried in the floor except for those moments when I stop accelerating to brake as hard as I can for a corner nonetheless taken as fast as I can wrestle the car around the curve before flooring it again, kinda thing, I have more margin for error.

Having said that, I did take a couple of corners in North America marginally faster than I was quite comfortable with, but that was not intentional. Certain sections of road - generally when going through mountains - are really extremely twisty, and there's a section of the Trans-Canada Highway where the signposted recommended speed is 40km/hr, and all I can say to that is ha ha, you crazy Canadian optimists, because I slowed to 40km/hr, and then the only reason I did not actually yell holy shit the fuck is this AHHHH is that my jaw was clenched and the brain processing power usually assigned to "language, production and recognition" was reassigned to "decreasing radius curve, navigation" and also "terror, not screaming in".

Admittedly there were roadworks, but still. I think I went through the rest of that section at about 25km/hr, slower to go past the mans. I vaguely recall [personal profile] velithya making word-like noises during that first curve but I honestly did not process what they were.

"Too fast" is so very, very much a relative concept.

Current Location: Perth, Western Australia

Cricket House, Cricket St Thomas: The building and actor... Oct. 12th, 2009 @ 09:45 am
So, on both Friday and Saturday I went to Cricket House in Cricket St Thomas, in Somerset. On Friday it was on purpose, on Saturday it was to pick up my backpack, which I'd left outside the doors on Friday.

It will be familiar to anyone who has watched the TV series To The Manor Born.

Me at the front gates:

I went inside to collect my backpack, and discovered the memorable staircase where Audrey and Richard married, among other scenes:

Notes for fans of the show: The Old Lodge is also in Cricket St Thomas, but is much further from the Manor than I'd imagined.

The countryside around is utterly lovely, and they seem to keep many, many sheep in the area, but this isn't unusual in rural England, so far as I've seen - there's sheep everywhere. And cows, too, but there's a lot of sheep. (Bear in mind that I've spent most of my time so far in the Cotswolds.)

As for driving to Scotland: It's hard to make a call on whether Cumbria or Lancashire is more utterly lovely, as far as the view from the M6 goes. Scotland is beautiful, and in many respects superior to England as far as driving goes, because while the roads are still narrow and twisty and in places quite bumpy, they have actual signposts - even speed signs.

Having said that, Scotland also has warning signs about ice, which are faintly ominous as winter approaches.

This morning I need to repack my car a bit, to free up the passenger seat, and to arrange so I can actually use my cabin bag as an overnight bag as I intended. I've just offloaded and backed up all my photos so far.

Hello from Edinburgh Oct. 11th, 2009 @ 07:21 pm
(Another picture post will probably be soon.)

So, I made it to Edinburgh. As it turns out, my cousin thought I'd be arriving tomorrow, so plans have shuffled slightly again. I'm staying in Edinburgh until Thursday, then I'm going up to Aberdeenshire and my kinfolk there.

Why is it that Scotland has fewer TV channels than England does, and the channels themselves are different and crappier? At the moment I'm reduced to watching "The Genius of Charles Darwin" - i.e. a Richard Dawkins TV show. Richard Dawkins is a gigantic douchenozzle who, in those areas in which I agree with him, makes me really wish I didn't.

Meanwhile, happily, my room at the Edinburgh Lodge, which is a place that seems to be utterly lovely, from the charming staff, extremely nice room, excellent price, and proximity to the centre of Edinburgh and the Royal Mile to the response, in answer to my query regarding gluten-free food, that they have eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and gluten-free bread, also has enough power points for me to recharge the camera battery that went flat this evening, *and* plug in my laptop (which is low on battery after I used it to show my cousin Mary my photos I've taken so far) *and* plug in my video camera, to recharge its battery and offload video taken.

The high-capacity battery I bought my video camera was totally worth it - it sticks out of the back of the camera a little inelegantly due to the extra cells, but it means my camera can run on battery for hours.

The original battery is still somewhere in one of my bags as a backup, too.

... I just found the radiator control for my room. Excellent. In preparation for one's arrival, the staff here turn it on, and I suspect turned it on a touch higher than usual in deference to my Australian accent.

Speaking of accents, the woman at the desk has one that's utterly delightful - pure Edinburgh, with just a hint of Indian that gives it a richness beyond even that common to the Scots. (She's been here about thirty years, she said.)

I'm still tiring early, but I suspect that in the past couple of days that's fairly normal - yesterday I spent about eight hours driving, today I've spent about four and a half. I stopped at Gretna Green to stretch my legs - and found an Outlet Centre, where I bought two jackets and a jumper from the Edinburgh Wool Mill for 39 pounds, because I had a feeling that I needed more options for warm.

I appear to be losing weight with all my travelling (although my really crappy eating habits today may arrest that somewhat). In general terms this is fine, but it does mean I'm going to need to find a leatherworker soon, because I'm on the last notch of my belt and it's getting a bit loose, so I'll need to find someone who can punch me a new one.

Current Location: Edinburgh, Midlothian, United Kingdom
Current Mood: tired

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