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I love my parents, but I think when it came to teaching me how to drive a stick, they failed me. Between watching them over the years and some brief instructions I had the basic idea down, but the finer points were never quite communicated. To wit:

February 16th, 1995, my 16th birthday. Being February in Wisconsin, there was about a foot of snow on the ground, which meant there were several feet around the driveway (this comes into play later). I didn't have my license yet (I was still in driver's ed, actually), but I had been driving with my temps in our automatic Camry. This day my mom thought it would be a good idea to have me pull the Civic (a stick) into the driveway from the street. I don't recall having strong feelings about it either way, but I agreed nevertheless. After a few quick tips I got the car started. So far so good. "Ok, let the clutch out while giving it some gas." Stall. "Give it a little more gas." Stall. "More gas!" Give it more gas I did. Not only did the car not stall, it went directly into the snow bank at the end of the driveway (I told you the snow came into play). While neither one of us was shaken, we both agreed it would be best if she finished the job. My dad was not exactly happy about the busted lenses on the lights...

Summer, 1995. By this time I had my license, but had not gotten behind the wheel of the Civic since that fateful February day. Once again, it was decided that it would probably be a good idea for me to learn to drive a stick, and once again, I obliged. It was my dad's turn this time, and he drove us out to the Case HS parking lot. I never quite got the hang of getting going (think really jumpy), but shifting seemed easy enough. After about an hour or so we packed it in, and within a few months the Civic was sold in favor of a mini-van with an automatic transmission.

Which brings us to modern times. Till about a year ago, these had been my only experiences with manual transmissions. It just worked out that all of our cars were automatics, including Amy's truck. Well, we had to loan out George for the weekend, which left us with a manual Kia. I decided it was high time I figure this stick thing out, and Amy was happy enough to help. I ran into some problems with making the car shake, to which Amy would yell "GIVE IT MORE GAS!", but Amy subsequently found out while driving on her own that the car was to blame, not me. Nevertheless, I think the singular piece of advice given to me that changed my outlook on things was the notion that the clutch can (and must) be eased out - that it isn't simply "on" or "off". With that knowledge in hand (along with a bit of trial and error) things went much more smoothly.

I mention this all as we are now the owners of Amy's grandpa's (RIP) car (which had previously been Amy's car), which is a stick. We had it for a long weekend last fall, and both then and the past few days have been enjoyable. Certain instances can be a little rough, but for the most part driving it seems like second nature.

Of course, I mention this dear parents so that if you ever have another child and need to teach them to drive stick, you now know what to do. I'm sure you'll get right on that.

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This past weekend seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. We did take a little excursion on Saturday, going to Ikea and then going to see some trains [photos], but other than that it wasn't too exciting. Unless you count replacing a toilet seat exciting.

Nice weather...where are you?

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The Simpsons Archive

Vital stats:
DOB 2/16/79. I'm a web developer at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. I like lots of old music, including The Who. I spend a lot of time working with computers. And my favorite TV show (when I actually decide to watch TV, that is), obviously, is The Simpsons.

In May 2002 I officially graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in computer science. In 1997 (man that seems like a long time ago) I graduated from Washington Park HS. Yes, I know, that site isn't very impressive, and no, I haven't touched it for several years.

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One of the best experiences I have ever had was on a trip called Western Field Studies. This is a 33 day adventure throughout the western United States. Students travel on a school bus to national parks, monuments, forests, and places of historical interest and camp out (in tents or under the stars). I was a part of trip 25, which took place in the summer of 1996. A first for WFS was we took along a laptop computer and kept up a web site. That link will take you to the 1996 site, where there is a link to the current site.