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small white square Listening to Garrison Keillor's opening monologue on tonight's "Prairie Home Companion" - he's waxing poetic about dancing with his daughter, who's less than a year old. The show was taped earlier today in Atlanta, the town of the hour, due to the new Tom Wolfe, A Man In Full, who's main characters live there. Also C, my old chum who lives there too, is threatening the Bay Area with rumors of another visit via business trip, so T and I may be entertaining him the weekend after Thanksgiving.

small red square This morning I walked across downtown Mountain View to that rounded flesh-colored building next to the Noodle restaurant, where I attended traffic school. Like my previous experience <1> with this class, something dreaded turned out to be worthwhile and almost fun. My former instructor was a California Highway Patrolman; this one could also issue citations but under differing circumstances: he was a health inspector, so when things got too technical he'd through up his hands and say "Roaches! That's what I really know about. Ask a cop." Major class participants included a caustic, spry old woman who sold real estate <2>; a young guy up front with ugly chin hair; and eventually, me. Unlike the first time the tedium of this all-day class was interrupted by the showing of several short videos - perhaps the most interesting was one which demonstrated the efficacy of seat belts, with cameras mounted inside crashing cars. Its narration began "...recently in Germany..." and the instructor elaborated by describing the drivers and passengers as convicts who participated in order to reduce their sentences. Another video began with a message from President Bill - the uninhibited public disrespect shown by the class surpassed that I recall Nixon receiving in the early 1970's. He said that Americans drive more than the rest of the world combined, an interesting (but perhaps obvious) factoid. Three other things I learned:

  • Often people who call the cops about unsafe & illegal driving practices in their neighborhoods turn out to be the very ones ticketed when the cops finally show up
  • All of the children killed by air bags either had their seatbelts on incorrectly (the shoulder strap in the armpit deal), or we're wearing no safety belts
  • There's all kinds of "action" at the rest area out on I-280
I was disappointed that the time spent deconstructing actual driving situations was reduced in this class; turning left over double yellow lines and the legalities of where U-turns could be made was covered, but nothing about how to turn left at lights <3>.

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small cyan square Since its Sunday, here's seven other European cathedrals I was recently inside, but didn't mention in my on-site journal entries:

  1. Frankfurter Dom
  2. Killiansdom, Würzburg
  3. Neumünster, Würzburg
  4. Franciscan Church, Ljubljana
  5. Dom St. Jakobs, Innsbruck
  6. Fraumünster, Zürich
  7. Grossmünster, Zürich

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<1> In 1991 - my violation then was running a red light (on my bicycle). This time my crime was making an unlawful U-turn.

<2> She got on my nerves immediately, not just due to her voice but because she used the expression "sidebar" like she was a pundit: "I'd just like to sidebar that last comment with ..." - oh, shut up!

<3> Yes, you can enter the intersection, wait for opposing traffic to stop, then execute your turn after the light's turned red - how else are we all ever supposed to get through the light? It's this sort of training which is of such enormous benefit to the driving public, and so obviously needed in traffic inside the Beltway.