SDC & Me: The writer’s cut (long version)

 

5/6/18

“Self-Driving Vehicle Operator / Operations Associate

Responsible for operating and evaluating a self-driving vehicle in autonomous mode for six to eight hours per day, including collecting data and providing feedback…

Apply online!”

I apply online.

5/17/18

I get an email from a temp agency that is doing the hiring. The email congratulates me on getting an interview/driving test,

“During this interview they will be testing on your ability to be behind the wheel and multi-task.

“Please reply to confirm receipt of this email.”

I reply. Continue reading

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SDC & Me excerpt

Excerpt:

I drive/don’t drive/hover for another 20 minutes. I make a few hesitant notes about the car’s slightly odd behavior, slowing, jabbing, jerky, nudging, etc – no big deal.

Then, on another 45 mph street, we catch a green light at an intersection and zip through it – then WHAM the brakes slam on, with the car almost coming to a complete stop, throwing me forward.

I respond fairly quickly, hitting the gas pedal to take it out of autonomous mode and correct the dumb braking.

“Nice!,” Alejandro says, laughing slightly.

SDC & Me

“Fully autonomous cars and trucks that drive us instead of us driving them will become a reality. These self-driving vehicles ultimately will integrate onto U.S. roadways by progressing through six levels of driver assistance technology advancements in the coming years. This includes everything from no automation (where a fully engaged driver is required at all times), to full autonomy (where an automated vehicle operates independently, without a human driver)…”

-National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website

It this was a self-writing story, we would be zipping along, commas in all the right places, spelling and grammar obeyed with precision, nothing abnormal AND

What.

Wa-it.

?Blupr;

And then we would resume, as if nothing untoward had happened. Continue reading

the phoenician

“Something something something.”

A dark-complected man at the corner of Scottsdale and Indian School made an utterance more or less to me; I smiled tensely, assuming he was a street person asking for spare change. He took a step toward me, and I prepared myself to say, “Sorry, no.” Or maybe I would give him a buck? Probably not; probably just some half-hearted rejection, a lie about not having any money (not that I had much, but I did have some). I tried to look at him but not directly; I’m not sure why, but I think that’s the proper social form. Of course, I could be wildly wrong; I often am.

“It’s too hot,” he said. Surprised, I looked toward him, and noticed he had a rough beard and was wearing a short-sleeve, button-down polyester shirt. “It never cools down,” he said, somewhere between a matter-of-fact statement and a complaint. “It just stays hot all the time!” I’m not sure if the exclamation point is correct, here. It usually implies a leap in volume, which really wasn’t the case. It was more of a sharply deepening emotion that I’m trying to relay. Or, maybe better put, portray. Continue reading

LaMonster: A (free) baseball novel

Beckett to McGwire to Bukowski. A slap-hitting minor league shortstop goes on the juice and starts belting Ruthian homers, jolting a hack reporter and mooching manager out of their boozy baseball philosophizing. When a lady who looks like Rita Moreno and smells like waffles enters their clubhouse, the slugger, the scribbler and the sad sack are all chasing the babe.

free download http://www.lulu.com/shop/tom-scanlon/lamonster-a-steroid-romance/ebook/product-16132828.html

la monster cover

“Signs Something Is Wrong in the Cockpit”

In general, aviation travel in the U.S. is extremely safe. Studies have proven that flying is statistically safer than walking on the freeway, or even driving down a sidewalk.

Even so, it can’t hurt to be “on your guard,” whilst soaring through the air at (when you think about it) alarming speeds. Fight the temptation to doze, read a book or magazine (unless it’s this one, obviously), chat or daydream of the days of train travel. Remain alert at all times, as the senses can be a type of internal radar.

Here are a few warning signals that something is “a little off” in the cockpit:

 

“Good evening, this is your pilot speaking. We’re climbing steadily to our cruising altitude, so please don’t look at the engines. Call me superstitious, but just please don’t.” Continue reading

Facebed and other new technology . . .

For well over a half a century, telephones just sat around, stupidly. Then came remedial cellphones, and the current batch of smartphones.

Similarly, engineers are currently working to “smart up” some of the other daft items laying about the house.

Smartoilet: All those accumulated hours you waste, just sitting there . . .  No more. The smartoilet has a keyboard/monitor that pops up when you sit down, so you can Tweet, FB, surf the Net or do some business while you do your business. “Hands free” button allows you to keep emailing or texting, during automated cleanup. Add on apps include a variety of personalized, musical flushes and a “silencer” mode so as not to disrupt phone calls.

iShower: No more frustrating wait for the water to heat up and frantic search for the right setting . . .  Using “browser close” Continue reading

Work-in-Progress: “Stranded in the Desert at Night (Twice)”

I recently found a tattered little notebook just off the Lost Dog Wash hiking trail in north Scottsdale. The writing was a bit faded, though it was hard to tell how long the notebook had been there; I do frequent this trail about twice a week, and hadn’t seen it before – so it may have been left there recently. But it has been exceptionally windy, lately, so it may have been blown from another part of the series of rolling hills (some call it “the mountain,” but I find that to be quite an exaggeration, as the elevation is barely 3,000 feet, at the peaks). The writing ranged from clumsy to almost indecipherable, with much of the writing in what seemed to be a furiously hurried style; it actually looked similar to the journals I used to keep to record dreams, when I would write frantically by flashlight at 3 and 4 a.m. As such, I think I was able to make out more of the words (though not all) than the average person would have, although this is just a mild conjecture.

Adding to the challenge of deciphering this, several pages on the journal I found seemed to have streaks of blood – although it could have been red paint, or even beet juice.

I’m sharing this in the hope that some light might be shed upon the rather abrupt ending. Perhaps if a family member or friend recognizes the unnamed author by style and circumstance, and if that person has been missing for some time, would it warrant the authorities searching the area thoroughly?

Better yet, my hope is that the actual author will come forth and say, “Yes, that’s mine. I must have dropped the notebook, I’m fine.”

 In any case, here is the best I could set down:

This has been the most amazing, horrible, beautiful, sensationally ridiculous night of my life. Yesterday was pretty stupid, too, beginning with a trip to the drycleaners – not, that was this morning, it was yesterday morning that my boss told me “you’re looking a little wrinkly.” This was on a Friday, end of my second week at the Salvation Army; though I was so Continue reading

The Great Max McGee and Football Bars of Cave Creek

From ImagesAZ magazine, October 2013 edition:

Many of us from places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Illinois pretty much came here as a mad scramble away from the weather. Once that fall snap comes, it’s a misery of snow and slush and that icy wind that slaps you in the face, sacks you and drives you into the cold, hard ground. Oh, and let’s not forget the “audible at the line”: When you look out the window at 7 a.m. and realize you have to shovel a foot of white off the driveway. Once the weather blitz begins, it’s one personal foul after another, for months.

No, there’s not much good about winter.

Except football.max mcgee super bowl Continue reading