Sunday, November 8, 2009

Long weekend

For fun I took an evasive driving class. The lessons/driving course included: emergency turning, emergency braking, driving in a figure 8, j-turning, and the slalom.

The class took place on an abandon airport runway with several hundred cones.

Most of the exercises boiled down to the importance of holding the wheel at 10 and 2, ocular driving, and that you should accelerate, not brake, when making a tight turn at a high speed. What's ocular driving? The idea of looking where you want to go instead of focusing on an object(s). Driving in the figure 8 was used to demonstrate this. The course they laid out was very tight -- the angle of the curve looked too tight to fit the car. If you focused on the avoiding the cones, you'd end up hitting every one of them. If you focused on the space in front of the car, you could make it through. The first time I did it I was watching the cones, and sure enough, I took about half of them down. The next time out I just focused on where I wanted the car to go, and it worked.

The j-turning was thrown in for fun. Step 1: gun the engine in reverse. Step 2: as soon as you hit 35 mph, take your foot of the accelerator, grab the bottom of the wheel and swing it around. Step 3: once the car has rotated 180 degrees quickly shift into drive and slam the accelerator. At no time do you use the brake. After each turn you could smell rubber in the air. It was obviously the highlight of the day.

The slalom was by far the hardest thing to do. To make the turns you have to accelerate, which is counter intuitive.

Yesterday I went to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art. I wasn't expecting the Louvre; my expectations were a notch above a collection of hotel art. The bulk of the collection was modern art. This must be where the MoMA left overs go to die. The Museum sits in a large park, which I found is a decent place to go running or biking -- I returned the next day with my bike. So it wasn't a total wasted opportunity.
I also took a tour of the Alabama State Capitol. The building itself is pretty unremarkable, but so are most state capitol buildings I suppose (apparently PA's building is one of the two or three nicest). The tour guide made this big deal about how tens of millions of dollars were recently spent to restore the building to how it looked in the 1850s; it must have looked really awful before the restoration. The building is just really bland -- it looks like the ran out of money when building it.

The building is much more noteworthy for all the important Civil War and Civil Rights events that took place in or around it, such as the founding of the Confederacy and the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Today, the General Assembly no longer uses the building, and the Governor only keeps his office there so that the building can legitimately be called the state capitol building.

Outside the building is a memorial to Civil War veterans with this offensive inscription:

Pictures of the State Capitol Building:

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