This morning as I drove along the motorway I fell in love with cruise control. You'd think that at the ripe old age of almost fifty one I would be completely familiar with this functionality. But the truth is my new ute is the first vehicle I have ever owned that has cruise control.
For years I was quite satisfied with my late model Toyota Hiace vans until I decided on a changes and bought a ute two years ago.And cruise control? An effete option and besides why would you have it on a vehicle in this country anyway as we don't have the long straight highways that would make it worthwhile to have?
There was nothing wrong with the ute, it was a major improvement on the van in terms of ride comfort and safety, but it was really a bit rough around the edges in comparison to a car.
Enter the new model utes now on the market from all the main manufacturers over the last year or so and the the change in the ute market and the change in the expectations of many of the people that buy them. Just as many people buy them as their daily transport or to transport their toys around (like me) as do the businesses, farmers and tradesmen.
Ok they are still small trucks and they drive like trucks but they have a lot more of the standard options that you would expect in a decent car and the new one is simply a quantum leap ahead over the old ute.
Roll forward to a month or so ago. I had been debating for ages whether to upgrade. I really agonise over this kind of decision. It's not about whether I have the money but whether I should spend it. You know the arguments. Sinking money into a new vehicle is a waste and yeah I could have paid the cash I put into a new vehicle off my mortgage but....... For me being able to buy new vehicles is a sign of success in my day job and I enjoy the new vehicle smell. No doubt my attitude would be a bit different if I wasn't lucky enough to qualify for a fleet discount which takes some of the pain away.
Fast forward to rolling down the motorway this fine Saturday morning in light traffic. One click and flick of a switch and there I am cruising along at 102 kilometres an hour. Assuming that my speedo is accurate I suddenly realised how slow the traffic flow really generally is even when there are very few cars on the road.
Make cruise control mandatory I say and maybe we wouldn't have so many bottle necks caused by people meandering along at low speeds on our motorways.
To easy right?
Friday, 15 March 2013
Saturday, 9 March 2013
Excerpt form the The Skid Chronicles part 2
Bruce wondered why he had never thought of hijacking one of the patrol ships before as piloting one was just like playing on a virtual flight trainer game on the internet. He blissfully ignored the fact that he would never have got even close to one of them previously. He also ignored the probability that even if he had got aboard he would just as likely have blown the space port and himself to bits rather than getting off the ground, let alone managing to get back to earth.
Myfair had shown him what most of the controls did, showed him how to set a course to anywhere on Skid and back to earth, but nowhere else. Myfair had also suggested that he not fiddle with various knobs and buttons on one side of the console in a most un-Skidlike manner. This was like a red rag to a bull to Bruce who suspected they must control the ships weapons systems and he itched for a suitable target and an opportunity to test them.
Bruce enjoyed piloting the space craft, though he was looking forward to seeing what had become of his farm even more. The farm that he had hewn from the landscape just like his ancestors had hacked their’s out of the bush. He conveniently forgot about the huge trees that his pioneering ancestors had had to deal with, with nothing more than an axe and a pit saw and the years of superhuman struggle they’d had to break in the farm. Bruce felt as if he was coming home after a long trip away, which after he thought about it for a moment was quite odd.
Odd because not so long ago he hated the place, hated the planet and the people that inhabited it and yearned for the real home that he thought he would never see again. Now he felt some sort of proprietary interest in what was happening there as if it was his and not the property of those that lived there. He wondered if he would feel the same way if he ever got back to his real home again. He thought about that possibility for a moment and found to his surprise that going home or not going home didn't seem to mean as much to him as he believed it once had. All he had always wanted was embodied in the baby that Sue held, and well maybe in Sue herself although he wasn’t all that sure about that yet.
Bruce shook his head in disbelief. It was as if whatever emotional bonds he had developed for the place he had grown up and bound him there had been shattered. If he did ever go back home to earth his homecoming would certainly be different. While his absence had not been missed before, this time his departure had been far more public and would be hard to hide. He was also determined that if he did return to earth it would be in full control over his memories.
It wasn't hard to conjure up a vision of Trev being grilled by the thought police, or of Mrs Pratt who must be having a hard time explaining the disappearance of little Bruce to the cops and the gun she toted.
As the space ship sped over the vast empty Skidian plain Bruce caught sight of the meandering line of trees that marked the river beside which he had built his home on Skid, more correctly the house that had been built for him. He thought he recognized the line of low hills close to the farm and looked around nervously for Myfair because despite his new found confidence in piloting the craft he wasn’t actually sure of the procedure for landing the spaceship.
How did you land these things? He wondered. He needn't have worried. As the patrol craft skimmed over the trees the farm came into view and after making a circuit of the farm it descended, slowed and landed gently beside the barn without any input from Bruce who was left wondering whether he had actually been in control at all.
During the circuit Bruce had seen people running towards the house from various points about the farm and wondered why they would do that. None of them had turned up where the craft had landed, though as he walked down the ramp behind Myfair he could see some Skidians looking down the hill at them. That struck him as a little strange. But he was more interested in the farm which from the air looked much as he'd left it.
Looking around Bruce wasn't so sure as he looked closer. The garden they had so carefully planted and tended now looked like a wilderness and the fence around it sagged as if something had tried to jump over it and landed on top of it instead.
Bruce wrinkled his nose distastefully, the place had an air of sad neglect, like a rental house, where nobody really cared about the place because it wasn't their's and it showed in the rank grass, the sagging gates and the tools and chairs left discarded about the yard.
The dogs ran out of the space ship behind them and reacquainted themselves with their old stamping ground as Sue carry the baby and Bruce followed Myfair up the hill towards the house.
Mitch stood indecisively at the door of the space ship and looked out. Nobody had told him to do anything so he wasn’t sure what he should be doing and he was not used to alighting from an aircraft without a military salute to acknowledge and a red carpet to stride purposefully down. Should he follow the others or stay put? He asked himself. He could see some people peering down the hill at them and wasn't sure whether they were friendly or not. They didn't look too happy. Some looked as if they were brandishing objects that looked very much like weapons. His old fear of open spaces made him feel giddy and he teetered on the threshold wondering if he was going to faint. He reached out a hand to support himself in the doorway and told himself to pull together.
The real fear of being left behind overrode the other conflicting emotions in Mitch’s mind and he made a move to follow the other three. The door closing behind him as he stepped out of the spaceship made the decision final. He trotted off after the others as fast as his out of condition body would allow him and came abreast of them puffing and coughing wondering if he had the energy to make the climb the rest of the way up the hill.
Myfair recognized most of the people standing on the hill and saw them relax as soon as they realized who it was alighting from the patrol ship. Perhaps they’ve had other less welcome visitors he decided, wandering bands of desperate Skidians looking for food and shelter or maybe more formidable, more demanding visitors from the better appointed industrial complexes. Maybe the likes of Mischief had learnt of his absence and decided to test the limits of their power.