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Stuck in a Car Wash! (Dealing with Inner Confusion) January 1, 2008

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy, Theology.
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1 comment so far

Oh this is a great story…

Last year, during a cold snap in February, the roads were covered with salt, which meant my car, Lucy, was also covered in salt.  So on my way home from a friend’s house late one night I was concerned for Lucy and the many layers of salt she had on her, and before acrewing a new layer, I figured I would give her a quick run through the car wash.

Now I understand the absurdity of the idea of washing my car in below freezing temperatures, with salt coating the roads, and having to avoid the army of salt trucks I saw on the way home, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea. So I went to one of those “touchless” car wash, put my credit card in, the door opened and I pulled in, business as usual. The car wash ended and I am sure Lucy looked nice and clean. When it came time to leave, the garage door in front of me wouldn’t open, and the one I came through was closed… so basically, I was trapped. I got out and pushed the emergency release button, and the door was still shut.   Frozen solid!


I was trapped…
I was trapped… there was no door to the outside for humans either, and since I have not experienced the resurrection, and I am not GOB or David Copperfield (the fictional character nor the magician) I could not walk through the walls, and I felt a certain sense of dread come over me… Plus, inside the touchless carwash there is always water shooting from all directions, so to get out of my car was like walking through an obstacle course of water. At one point I was standing there thinking about what to do for a minute, when I realized that one of the streams of water was hitting the upper part of my right leg which I didn’t feel for about 30 seconds, as the water was also warm… I don’t have to tell you what that looked like… or felt like, as the water was very warm. Plus there was steam everywhere which fogged up my glasses. I was in a bad position. I did begin to laugh at this point, and realized how funny the situation was. THEN I moved out of the way of the stream of water. HA!!!There was also no phone number posted to call, plus it was 10:30 at night. Anyway, I walked over to the other adjoining carwash chamber (great descriptive word there) (reminds me of the carbon freezing chamber from Star Wars), and I hit the release button for the garage door and that one opened. Instantly the steam increased 3 fold as it contacted the arctic air outside, and I must have looked like an alien emerging from the belly of the space ship.

Too bad nobody was there to see it. So it’s cold wet and steamy, and my pant leg was drenched but I had my sweet freedom. Except Lucy herself was still trapped. I called a number that I finally found and left a message for “Greg.” Greg never got back to me, so I went back into the car wash, backed Lucy up to the back door, went around and bought another car wash, which opened up the back door and I backed her out into the cold, again in the midst of all is steam, Lucy emerged. Great story huh?

There were moments while I was trapped in that steamy mixture of cold air and hot water that I just didn’t know what I was going to do.  I was terrified at moments that I was going to have to spend the night in the middle of the car wash.  Did I call 911?  If I did, was it enough of an emergency and would I get in trouble?  Worse yet, would the cops get there and just laugh at me?  Talk about inner confusion!  I was at my wits end!  There were seemingly a thousand options that I could have pursued in securing my freedom, and none of them seemed adequate.  Plus, once one door opened (literally!) all the other ones in front of me were still closed.


The cops would have laughed at me…

I think this is a great analogy to how a lot of people view life.  They are in situations which baffle them- really it isn’t the situation that baffles them, rather it is their own interior confusion that makes life-situations baffling to most people.

All of us deal to some extent with inner confusion.  A lot of us like to avoid it because it makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin.  We are sort of like that car wash in some ways- like the water that was squirting in all directions, clouding up the cold air with steam, so we are often a flurry of emotions, thoughts, fears, rationalizations, and any number of things that “fog up” our interior “lenses,” and prevent us from understanding who we really are, and what we need to do.


Inner confusion

Dealing with this confusion is a basic human need.  All of us get stuck in the car wash from time to time.  Maybe we can relate to my little foible in the car wash last year- we know we are stuck in the steam and the sprays of water, closed behind doors that won’t open due to our choices or circumstances, and we are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.  I was afraid to call the police to get help because I figured they would laugh at me.  Maybe some of us are ashamed about our own inner confusion and rather than seek help and be ridiculed or hurt, we prefer to spend the night in the chaos of our own “inner carwash.”

Eventually, I took the time that night to think my way out of the carwash, and if we take the time, calm down, and really begin to look at our inner confusion, both the causes and the effects, we may just figure out a way to free ourselves from the bondage of our own inner confusion.  That takes work- it also invariably requires another person, or people to help us.

The first requirement is a relationship with a Higher Power.  God made us, he can help us to figure out what is going on inside of us.  He can calm us and give us a new perspective on our own inner confusion.  Really we are wonderfully designed, and what seems like chaos to us is actually working properly.  Going back to our carwash, the streams of water, the steam, and all the other elements of the confusion car wash told me that everything was working properly!  It just seemed confusing to me!  Once I figured out the glitch, I was free in a matter of minutes.  Often what seems confusion to us is confusing because of a matter of perspective.  God has the ultimate perspective on how we are supposed to work.  Unlike “Greg” at the car wash, when we call on him he will come and help us fix the problem.  We have to call Him first though.

Second, we need a community of support.  Maybe that is family, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it is friends or a support group.  The first step to managing the seemingly unmanageable inner confusion we all face is admitting that we might have a problem, or a glitch in the mechanism.  Once we do that we can go to people that can help us.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, you can’t see your own face without a mirror.  We need someone outside of ourselves to be vulnerable to- both human and divine, that can help us sort out our inner confusion.  This is an ongoing process if we want to be happy and free.

Of course, there are inappropriate ways to deal with inner confusion as well- avoidance behaviors that try and suppress the inner confusion we all face- Drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, or any number of things.  These things not only are ineffective against suppressing our inner confusion, they make it worse.

In the end of the day, we simply need to make sure that we are rigorously honest with ourselves, our friends who we trust, and with God.  We need to be humble enough to make that call when we need to when we are stuck in some situation, even when fear is telling us not to, or we are afraid of being hurt or made fun of.  Only then can we begin to sort out that inner confusion which at one point or another, plagues us all.

Thermostat in my Car December 21, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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2 comments

A wise man once said- “Walk right side of road, squished like grape.  Walk left side of road, squished like grape.  Walk middle of road, you safe.”  That wise man:  Mr. Myiagi from the Karate Kid series.  He could also beat up guys half his age and twice his size- AND catch flies with chopsticks.  Which go great, by the way, with a little soy sauce and Cantonese rice.


He could render a man, or a fly, unconscious in 10 seconds with those chopsticks.

 It is funny- I have never been the kind of guy to walk down the middle, although I am certainly learning.  I am a guy that if I do something, I want to do it all the way and absolutely- giving everything I am and have to a particular pursuit.  Sometimes that has worked out for me- like in school or in work, and other times it hasn’t worked out so well for me like eating that has plagued me in my past.


He even makes standing in the street look cool.

A great analogy for who I am, and I suspect who a lot of people are is the thermostat in my car.  If it is hot outside, I always put the air-conditioner on full blast, fan all the way up, knob turned all the way to the cold side of the dial.  I love getting it so cold in my car that you can see your breathe and draw things on the frosted glass of the car.  Personally, I don’t think there is anything better than getting out of a cold car into a hot day. 

 
Ahhh… summertime.

Once it does get too cold for the yeti (or bigfoot as he is commonly known in West Virgina, according to my friend Doug Ondeck) I don’t merely turn the thermostat down- nope, I turn the fan all the way off.  Then when it gets hot again, I turn the fan all the way on full blast.  There isn’t a lot of middle ground with me.


What the dashboard of my car looks like- it is red like Knight Rider (3rd reference)

 

 The same thing happens when it is cold outside.  My car, the coolest car ever in the world, has a remote starter on it.  So what I do is I start the car, making sure that the heat is all the way in the red part of the dial, and the fan is on 4.  Then I set a lump of dough on the seat, and by the time I get out there, the car is so hot it can cook the lump of dough into bread.  Who doesn’t like fresh bread on their way to work?  I know I do.  Then I usually turn the heat all the way off.  Not much middle ground there either.


OK I don’t turn up the thermostat quite this high.

 

I guess Mr. Myagi is right though.  I notice that I have done a lot of things like that in my life.  Some have said that it is an all or none proposition with me.  I suspect that there is a little area in everyone’s life where it is all or none, or there is a lot of excess. 

The greeks defined virtue as the golden mean- walking down the middle of the road, not too much one way, or too much to the other but virtue is found in the middle- in moderation.  That is something I am actually learning about in my life right now.  You can in fact have too much of a good thing.

I think we should take the European view of life.  If you ever eat in France you know that their portions are never big- it is just enough to get a taste, and not enough of anything to fill you up (except for that one Christmas dinner I ate there.  That is another blog).  Here in the States when you go to a restaurant the portions are so big, you usually need to get carried out on a stretcher!  Thanks a lot Cheesecake Factory!


Typical meal at the Cheesecake Factory

 

That is how life should be I guess.  We should try and set the dial to something that is consistent- not too hot, not too cold.

I am actually trying to do that in my life right now.  I notice that when I am in the car, the fan is on about 2 or 3 (out of 4) and the knob is set at a comfortable quarter point, never too hot or cold.  I am trying to learn how to walk down the middle of the road so I don’t get squashed like a grape.

Maybe you have something that is a little extreme in your life.  The way that we move back into the center is to do it slowly and consistently.  It is funny how when you work on one virtue, they are all connected and when you find the golden mean in one area of your life, you find it in others.

Changin’ My Oil… November 28, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation.
3 comments

I was driving around the other day minding my own business, trying to fight the dreary dank of central Ohio, when I glanced up at my windshield and saw that pesky little sticker that tells me it was time to change my oil.  I looked at the date, and according to that, I have plenty of time before I need to take ol Lucy (that is what I named my car) in for an oil change.  A sign of relief escaped my lips, and I turned up the stereo.  Then I looked back at that little sticker in my windshield, and saw the mileage part of the sticker: it read 31,268 miles.  I looked at my odometer.  32,535 miles.


Lucy

Thanks to my dad, I am one of those really scrupulous drivers that the oil companies love: I always try to change my oil every 3500 miles or so.  I love my car (as you may know from previous posts) and I think it is worth 30 bucks every couple of months to give Lucy a transfusion.  Maybe it is in my head, but I think she runs better when I do that. 

I recalled one of my brothers that had troubles with cars in the past.  He shall remain nameless (although I only have three brothers, so I guess it wouldn’t be hard to narrow it down.)  Many years ago, when he was a less responsible young man, he had a very nice Audi.  Rarely, if ever, did he change the oil in that car. You know maybe this is the reason I change my oil so often- this traumatic experience has changed my life forever.

That car never ever ran right- it always sputtered or jerked or sounded funny.  Are care supposed to make a crunching sound when they go past 30 MPH?  This one did.  One day, as I recall, I was in the car with my brother when the car just completely stopped and locked up.  It started smoking.  It smelled of old burned oil.  Something wasn’t right.


Oil change needed… well… overdue

I don’t remember the Audi too long after that.  Moment of silence for the car.

Still being silent…

And we’re done.

 I think that people are a lot like cars- there are a lot of different parts that have to work together for our lives to go smoothly.  If we begin to neglect even one of those important parts, it is going to wear on the other parts of the car- if the engine doesn’t work right, the wheels aren’t going to be going anywhere.  If you have bad tires, the engine is going to have to work overtime to move the car etc. 


Also in need of an oil change

 To really maintain a car in road worthy condition you have to make sure all the parts of the car are in working order.  The same with us.  If our spiritual life is out of whack, then our health might also be out of whack.  If our social life is in the dumps, it may affect our working life.  Life is really about finding out what the little thumps and knocks are in our lives, and fixing the problem.  Sometimes that is simple as “changing our oil.”

There are lots of ways to do that- sometimes it is as simple as scheduling some time out for ourselves (and yes, sometimes you do have to schedule it).  Maybe it is going on a retreat, or a long drive.  Maybe even hitting a few golf balls or calling a friend.  Taking care of yourself in these most important areas of your life is not selfish.  In fact, it is the very opposite!  How can you take care of the people you love in your life if you are yourself a wreck?

I think a lot of people try and change their oil on their own, and if they know what they are doing, that is OK.  I don’t know what I am doing- if I were to change my own oil, I would probably mess up the car.  Likewise, I need to find people and supports outside of myself- spiritually, socially, and even physically that can help me to change the oil in my life.  Again, there are a variety of “garages” out there that can help us to change our oil so that our lives run smoothly.

You know, if would be nice to have an “engine light” or a mileage sticker for our lives to let us know when we need to change oil, but it unfortunately doesn’t work that way.  It is really easy to let one part of our life slip away and deteriorate, and before we know it, we are sitting stalled out in the intersection of life, smoking and burning oil.


Oil change in progress… you quiero Taco Bell!

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Gas! October 31, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, life, philosophy.
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4 comments

Now with a title like “Gas!” and knowing me, this blog could just about go anywhere.  Little do you readers know that I actually come up with the title first, and then the rest of the blog just writes itself.  This could be a blog about my car… or Taco Bell, or even the planet Jupiter. (It is a gas giant you know).  The possibilities for such a blog are endless… ENDLESS!!


I miss this little guy…

 OK I am going to write about gasoline. 

I am not an economist by any means, but like most people, I understand that money makes the world go ’round.  The economy is a difficult thing to understand sometimes- as difficult as understanding how to withhold taxes from a paycheck!  I had one economics class in High School (where I did win the fake stock market game we played by the way) where the height of the semester was touring the HQ of Bob Evans, which is apparently located (or was) here in Columbus.

That having been said, I like to gauge how the economy is doing by looking at the price of gas.  Instantly you can tell if things are good or bad by how much the gasoline prices jump or not.  When I lived in Dublin, Ohio, the gas prices were about 10 cents higher than they are in my new neck of the woods, so I guess the economy is better in Dublin.

The price of gas affects everything.  One of the things I miss about Europe is that I could walk everywhere, and the places that I couldn’t walk, public transportation would take me cheaply and efficiently. (You did have to watch out for the gypsy children). (They got a palm pilot of mine once.) (And some french fries at McDonald’s in Rome).

I think probably the price of gas affected things a lot less in Europe than they do here, since if you want to work or get anything done, you have to have a car.  So the commerce that gasoline produces is really an important thing for the economics around here.  I would guess that in some ways it forms the basis and the backbone of our economy, since you need gas and oil to run machines, in addition to fueling the planes, trains, and automobiles that get products to the shelves of Wal-Mart.  That money in turn is put back into the economy by the people who make the gas, the gas companies, and eventually trickles back to us as they spend it.

I realize this is a rather elementary view of how gasoline affects the economy, but I suspect it is a correct one in many ways.

We often complain here about the price of gas by the way.  I would like to point out that last time I was in Europe, which was May, they payed 1 Euro 20 Cents for a LITER of gas.  My friend Emanuela and I figured it out to be about 6 to 8 dollars a gallon!  They have a lot more road taxes and their cars are more efficient and smaller too.

Smartuki - GSXR1000 powered Smart Car

This morning I read an article through www.fark.com(possibly the greatest website ever) about a guy who created a diesel engine in his Hummer H2 that would run efficiently on vegitable oil, without reducing the horsepower.  Here is a link to that article: LINK

Now, of course, we have to take everything on the internet with a grain of salt, but this guy had modified an Impala to run on his new engine, and it smoked a Lamborghini.  Below is the video from an MTV episode of Pimp My Ride.

I am all for cheap, clean, and efficient gas that will bring a Gremlin up to 50000 horse power, and so is the rest of the world, but I think before we jump on this bandwagon, we should understand the economic effects of such a switch, and why the government is looking toward hybrids, and gas alternatives like Ethanol.  I think it would be detrimental to the economy to make a huge switch like that, at least in the short term, simply because gas and oil is so important to the world economy in many ways- and not just economically.  It really drives things politically and socially as well.

I am not saying that a change isn’t coming or shouldn’t come, but in our instant gratification society, we would like to see vegetable Hummers appear tomorrow without understanding the consequences.  I think it would be interesting though to study the effects on politics and economics theoretically, if such a vehicle was mass produced.

I know I can’t make those projections, and I may be way off in my economic theory (remember, one class in economics here folks) but it would be an interesting thing to talk about sometime with someone who is in the know.

The Thermostat in my car October 23, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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2 comments


A wise man once said- “Walk right side of road, squished like grape.  Walk left side of road, squished like grape.  Walk middle of road, you safe.”  That wise man:  Mr. Myiagi from the Karate Kid series.  He could also beat up guys half his age and twice his size- AND catch flies with chopsticks.  Which go great, by the way, with a little soy sauce and Cantonese rice.


He could render a man, or a fly, unconscious in 10 seconds with those chopsticks.

 It is funny- I have never been the kind of guy to walk down the middle, although I am certainly learning.  I am a guy that if I do something, I want to do it all the way and absolutely- giving everything I am and have to a particular pursuit.  Sometimes that has worked out for me- like in school or in work, and other times it hasn’t worked out so well for me like eating that has plagued me in my past.


He even makes standing in the street look cool.

A great analogy for who I am, and I suspect who a lot of people are is the thermostat in my car.  If it is hot outside, I always put the air-conditioner on full blast, fan all the way up, knob turned all the way to the cold side of the dial.  I love getting it so cold in my car that you can see your breathe and draw things on the frosted glass of the car.  Personally, I don’t think there is anything better than getting out of a cold car into a hot day. 

 
Ahhh… summertime.

Once it does get too cold for the yeti (or bigfoot as he is commonly known in West Virgina, according to my friend Doug Ondeck) I don’t merely turn the thermostat down- nope, I turn the fan all the way off.  Then when it gets hot again, I turn the fan all the way on full blast.  There isn’t a lot of middle ground with me.


What the dashboard of my car looks like- it is red like Knight Rider (3rd reference)

 

 The same thing happens when it is cold outside.  My car, the coolest car ever in the world, has a remote starter on it.  So what I do is I start the car, making sure that the heat is all the way in the red part of the dial, and the fan is on 4.  Then I set a lump of dough on the seat, and by the time I get out there, the car is so hot it can cook the lump of dough into bread.  Who doesn’t like fresh bread on their way to work?  I know I do.  Then I usually turn the heat all the way off.  Not much middle ground there either.


OK I don’t turn up the thermostat quite this high.

 

I guess Mr. Myagi is right though.  I notice that I have done a lot of things like that in my life.  Some have said that it is an all or none proposition with me.  I suspect that there is a little area in everyone’s life where it is all or none, or there is a lot of excess. 

The greeks defined virtue as the golden mean- walking down the middle of the road, not too much one way, or too much to the other but virtue is found in the middle- in moderation.  That is something I am actually learning about in my life right now.  You can in fact have too much of a good thing.

I think we should take the European view of life.  If you ever eat in France you know that their portions are never big- it is just enough to get a taste, and not enough of anything to fill you up (except for that one Christmas dinner I ate there.  That is another blog).  Here in the States when you go to a restaurant the portions are so big, you usually need to get carried out on a stretcher!  Thanks a lot Cheesecake Factory!


Typical meal at the Cheesecake Factory

 

That is how life should be I guess.  We should try and set the dial to something that is consistent- not too hot, not too cold.

I am actually trying to do that in my life right now.  I notice that when I am in the car, the fan is on about 2 or 3 (out of 4) and the knob is set at a comfortable quarter point, never too hot or cold.  I am trying to learn how to walk down the middle of the road so I don’t get squashed like a grape.

Maybe you have something that is a little extreme in your life.  The way that we move back into the center is to do it slowly and consistently.  It is funny how when you work on one virtue, they are all connected and when you find the golden mean in one area of your life, you find it in others.

My First Love… October 16, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, humor.
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1 comment so far

You know there is something that happens to every young boy during his life.  It is something that he never forgets, and something that changes his life forever.  It is that first time he feels his heart palpitate in his chest- is breathe gets a little shorter- and his hands have the slightest, uncontrollable, tremble.  It is the first time that he realizes that he is in love.  The chemicals shoot off in his brain, and he hears music every time he sees her.  It may take awhile to realize these feelings for some, and for others it is instantaneous.  But a boy never forgets his first love- it characterizes everything after that.

I remember my first love.  It certainly wasn’t instantaneous by any means.  I even knew her years before I fell in love with her- she was with my brother before she was with me.  She wasn’t even the first that I took out on the town.  I really didn’t think anything of it.  I liked her and all, but until she was mine, and I got to know her and spend some time with her, I didn’t realize how great she was.

I didn’t even really know her name.  Maybe she never had one.

She was my grey 1987 Honda Accord sedan.


Sleek and Stylish

I’m sorry… I am getting all teary eyed… it is getting hard to type.

Oh the 87 Accord was in the family long before I got to call her my own.  My brother drove it for years before I was even able to drive.  It only had a four cylinder engine with 89 horse power, but for some reason she could get up and go- or so it seemed.  It wasn’t my first car- my first car was a 1982 sky blue Pontiac Phoenix- a K car.  It was my grandmother’s before it was mine.  I tell you what- sky blue grandmother cars- Chick magnet.


Yowza!

Actually, I did all my driver’s ed in the Honda as my brother had sold it to my parents before we had the blue phoenix- so I was already well aquainted.  I even took my driver’s test in the Honda.  It was meant to be. 

 I ended up with the Honda when the blue car went to my other brother.  Like I said, it was meant to be.

It had to cool pop-up headlights and sleek designed hood- sometimes it felt like I was in KITT from Knight Rider.  It was a great car- zippy. You could just hop in and zip around town in it.


I realize this is my second Knight Rider reference since I started the Blog… It is the ringtone on my phone too.

That car and I were inseparable- and she was indestructible.  While my brother Mark had her, she was in several accidents, one which almost tore the car in two!  She always came back from the dead though- even I had a couple of wrecks in her.  She always came back.

I drove that car for 6 years before I got rid of her just before moving to Rome.  I never really realized how much I loved her until she was gone… that is how it is though I guess.  You never really know what you have until it is gone.  Sometimes I still see 87 Accords out on the road, which is a testament to their durability.  She had grace for a late 80’s sedan.  Sometimes I check ebay to see if any are on sale- they are becoming rarer and rarer.

I have a couple of great stories about her that I will relay here- she was like Herbie from the Herbie movies- except not as corny.  Don Knotts wasn’t around either.


Herbie being towed- because he went Bananas

Certainly the car I have now is a much better vehicle.  229 horse power, red, fast- but she will never replace that 87 Honda in my heart. 

You never forget your first love.