Archive for the 'Driving' Category


Not Spam, Exactly….

An actual email I just got:

from Ski Safe <>
to Trevor Rans <>
date May 24, 2007 6:15 PM
subject Thank you for using SkiSafeWeb (2819240821)

Thank you for your interest in insuring your craft with Ski-Safe. We have assigned a password so that you can access your records later, either for this quote (if we have been able to provide it), or for another one that you might want. If your quote required approval, it will be accessible after we have reviewed it.

Your password is [removed] and you can change it any time.
We also have representatives standing by to help you and are happy to take your
call at 1-800-225-6560.

My actual response:

from Ilan <>
to Ski Safe <>
date May 25, 2007 12:10 AM PM
subject Re:Thank you for using SkiSafeWeb (2819240821)

Dear SkiSafe and SkiSafe affiliates/loved ones,

    I do not recall expressing an interest in insuring a craft with you, nor is my name Trevor. However, as I do not, to my knowledge, own a craft of any sort currently, I would be very interested to see the craft you speak of. I would even go by the name Trevor if you would prefer. What sort of craft is it? Does it have skis, as the name of your company would imply? If so, how does it navigate on non-slippery terrain (e.g. the road outside my friend Bobby’s house, where there are several large, intimidating potholes)? Or perhaps it is a craft of an as-yet unspecified type. If so, can I choose? I believe I would choose a hovercraft (that, or a jetpack, but I hear that jetpacks tend to chafe). Yes, I think a hovercraft would be a fine choice. (They had one in that film, Back to the Future – I highly recommend it. It stars Michael J. Fox and an older fellow, whose name I cannot recall. He’s the one with white poofy hair like Einstein.)

In sum, please let me know where and when I can pick up my hovercraft and how much the insurance you are offering will cost.

Thank You,


I will keep you updated with whether they write me back.

Update: They responded. Proof that some organizations have a sense of humor:

from Onlinequote <>
to Ilan <>
date May 25, 2007 12:31 AM
subject RE: Thank you for using SkiSafeWeb (2819240821)

Thank you for injecting some levity into what might have been an arduous day.

Had you requested a more ordinary yacht or jet ski we might have been able to accommodate you, but alas, none of our programs cover hovercrafts (or submarines) so we must regretfully decline.

However, I appreciate your lending credence to the statement of Galileo Galilei who said:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Have a great weekend!

[name removed]

Driving to Distraction

You know what’s worse than a fatal automobile collision?
A fatal automobile collision with a clown car.
I can see the headline now:


But the thing is, despite the tragedy, it’s kinda funny, ’cause, well, they’re clowns.

Wheelin’ and Dealin’

I don’t have too much particularly interesting material from recent weeks due to being somewhat distracted and/or communicating with a superintelligent piece of lint and/or being locked in the trunk of a 1978 Chevy somewhere outside of Poughkeepsie (long story. Don’t ask.) But not to worry, as things are calming down / I’m sober / I got out and hitched a ride with this nice (though somewhat…aromatic) trucker. His name is Francis, and we are now fast friends.

In any case, I do have an as-yet-unpublished tale of my first traffic ticket. Yes, I have a car. She is called Charlene, and she has served me well. But this is not her story, as she was not the steed upon which I rode. Nay, I rode a lesser beast, known in most circles as a “bicycle.” That’s right. I got a ticket while riding my bike. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Bicycles and I have a love-destroy relationship. I brought a bicycle up to hilly Ithaca in the beginning of my Freshman year. It was a 13-year-old artifact, but it was in good condition and fairly functional. By the end of the year, having ridden it about a mile a day, straight through the frigid, snow-laden winter, it was, shall we say, in less than perfect repair. Had I been asked to testify before a court of law on the nature of the construction materials of the bike, I’d have to answer “Rust and duct tape. And maybe a tire.” More specifically, the seat was mostly covered in/made of duct tape, one pedal had come off, leaving only a metal rod, and the back brakes were no longer functional, making my preferred method of stopping some combination of using my front brakes, slamming my feet into the ground, and driving into snowbanks. But the bell I’d installed still worked, so thank God for small favors. (This way, I could warn people before I ran them over – note the aforementioned lack of back brakes.) Yes, I realized that it was somewhat dangerous. I’d been warned; I believe the phrase that the guy at the bike shop used was “death trap.”

In sum, though I try to ride safely, and I wear a helmet, I don’t always treat my bicycles with the respect necessary to keep them out of the “death trap” category. Which is why, when I was pulled over by a cop on a Spring evening last year, my bike’s front-mounted light was broken. Though this bicycle was a new one, it also had broken back brakes, a fact which the cop (let’s call him “Officer Fancy Pants”) failed to notice. But he did not fail to notice the fact that I had no working light, or that I (courteously, I thought) pulled into the left lane to allow his car to pass, or that it (presumably) had been a slow crime day.

He interrogated me as if I were a gun-wielding, baby-orphan-killing, jaywalking cocaine seller, accusing me of, among other things, a lack of respect for the law. Well, yeah; I don’t respect it. Not if it’s going to cause me to get a ticket for bike-riding, which it turns out it did. I mean, doesn’t he have frat parties to shut down, and parking tickets to issue or something?

I gave my information to Officer F. Pants in a daze, as he wrote up the ticket, not pausing to think that he had no way to verify any information I was giving him. After all, you don’t need to have any form of ID on your person while practicing the seedy crime-filled art of bikery. So I took the ticket bewilderedly, ready to go to court, when Officer Pants offered me one glimmer of hope, in a world bereft of justice and free ice cream for all. With the type of felony I had committed, if the owner gets the bike fixed, and then gets to a cop to sign a form verifying this, before sundown on the next day, he is exonerated. (I was a bit confused about that time limit. It sounded a bit too, um, magic-spellish: “If thou doth get the Signature of Power by the setting of the sun in one day’s time, you can lift the Curse of the Ridiculous Ticket….” You know, something like that.) I decided, what the heck, replaced the light, and brought the improved bicycle (still sans back brakes, mind you) to the police station on campus. And – guess what? – I got the signature I needed. (“And lo, it came to pass that the Curse of the Oppressive Fancy Pants was lifted and the younglings pranced and frolicked once again, except for little Johnny, ’cause he’s not really into the whole prancing/frolicking scene, not that there doth be anything wrong with that….”) Later, I would go on to deliver the form to the judge who was handling the ticket, wrapping up this case nicely.

As I left the police station that day, the world looked just a little brighter. Riding my bike away, I broke at least two traffic laws.

It felt good.

Driving, Part Deux

The way I figure, if one is supposed to drive “defensively,” and the best defense is a good offense, I acted appropriately.

Unfortunately, the cat’s owner did not agree with me.


So I’m back here in Ithaca. Yay, Ithaca.
The process of getting back here was a bit more interesting than usual. You see, I drove all the way from Connecticut to Ithaca by myself, the longest trip I’ve driven by a longshot.
In any case, I learned a few important lessons, which I will soon impart to you, dear readers. But first, let me issue this cautionary message:

If you are now, or ever intend to be my father or mother, please do not read further. That’s right. Just click somewhere else. Or go find a shiny thing to play with. Everyone likes shiny things.

No, I’m serious. Please don’t go on. I beg of you.

When driving…

1. Do not attempt to keep pace with the car with whom you are merging. Neither waving at the other car nor looking guilty helps the situation. Not much, at least.
2. If you stray too far to the right, you’ll hear this noise, like “krrrrrggg.” That’s bad. Don’t do that.
3. Don’t ever mix up the two pedals, as they do opposite things. This goes doubly for when you’re on an onramp to a highway.
4. Note that the blind spot, unlike Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Pope, is not imaginary. It is very, very real.