Monday, June 25, 2007

Let me tell you a tale #3: Man vs. Metabolic Rate

Let me tell you a tale is a series of stories told by Mike Minutillo about the various antics from his life. Some of the characters will have been changed in order to protect the innocent or to make me appear more colorful as a human being. Some of the events will have been changed to increase their comedic value.

If you're one of those people whom I have been ignoring on MSN Messenger over the last two months then you'll no doubt be aware from reading my personal messages that I have gone into the ring for a few rounds against none other than heavyweight champion, The Universe. The universe had a bit of a weight advantage (just a bit) and had a few heavy hitters in his camp such as Number Theory and Newtons little known Thirteenth Law of Thermodynamics which states quite clearly, Mike is not as hot as he thinks he is.

I was essentially updating my personal message every hour or so to show my score versus that of the universe in a virtual battle for supremacy. Something along the lines of "Universe 1364, Mike 21". You can see that I was doing okay here considering that I was extremely outclassed by my opponent.

In hindsight this rather fun distraction from what was otherwise a soul-crushingly debilitating period of my life would have been better on Twitter. After all, this is exactly the kind of insanity that it is for. But alas, while I have a twitter account, it just isn't as convenient yet (unless I am missing some awesome twitter tools).

Anywho, while the ragged wounds from this story haven't yet healed, it does bring to mind at least one other occasion when I have behaved like an idiot and somehow survived (there have been so many). So without further ado, I give you Let me tell you a tale #3: Man vs. Metabolic Rate

It must have been in '97 or '98. I stalked down the corridor with my shotgun out, ready for anything. Just then McKenna comes screaming around the corner with his Chaingun rattling rounds off faster than my GPU can render them. This is unfortunate as it meant that my poor 486 DX4 100 pretty much locked up while McKenna hammered me into a mushy collection of Red Pixels.

I quit out of doom 2 and headed back into Windows 95. It seemed as if I had finished copying all of the stuff that I wanted from the vast network of 5 computers that we had organized at the LAN, or at the very least this crazy wicked cool looking OS had failed silently and I would curse it for hours afterwards. I hit Start->Shutdown in a move which was becoming increasingly familiar and began packing up cables in the incredibly intricate LAN-leaving ritual.

My neighbour was there also packing up. He wasn't actually my neighbour but he lived within walking distance of my house. For the purposes of the story he can be my neighbour because it will make the narrative flow easier. Also, his name isn't Bob but I'm going to use it anyway.

"Hey", said Bob. "Are you heading back up the hill now?". It is worth mentioning that the hill was Greenmount and it was also where we both lived. At that particular moment, we were somewhere down in the 'burbs about an hour away.

What followed was a lengthy conversation about whether or not this was a good idea given the activities we had previously engaged in followed by an agreement whereby I entered into Bob's service to take his computer home to his parents house as they needed it for work.

Bob had decided to stay at the party. Not because it was a really lively and happening party, but because he was in dire need of sleep. You see, this particular LAN party had been going on a while and this was day three. None of us had slept since it started but we had ensured that Pepsi would never beat Coke in the Cola market.

I got both machines packed neatly away into my 1982 Toyota Celica Liftback. I loved that car. It's a funny thing but no matter what I forget as life moves inevitably along I always remember the good times I had with each car I've owned. With six cans of cold Coca-Cola on the seat next to me and two cups of coffee warming my stomach, I revved the mighty 2 litre engine and headed off.

I knew it would be okay. Coffee flowed through my veins like molten lead. I had the heater on keeping my windscreen from fogging up but my window was down and my head was poking out a little to keep the fresh air in my face (and to avoid the rapidly fogging windscreen). Besides, I was 18 and therefore invulnerable. Nothing could stop me.

Around 38 minutes and 4 cans of Coke later I was at the bottom of Greenmount hill. The last leg to go. I was going to make it. All those who doubted me were fools. I would sleep in my own bed while they suffered on uncomfortable couches. Yes, I would sleep. Sleep.......

I woke up to an odd sound. A sort of rough sound that normally accompanies a car driving on gravel. This was of course ridiculous because I was in bed wasn't I? I remember getting into bed. If only I could open my eyes I would see that I was in bed. Of course I was in bed. What was in my hands? Was that my steering wheel? Oh my god I'm not in bed am I? I am, in actual fact, in somewhat dubious control of a 1982 Celica doing 90 kilometres an hour and flying off the highway.

My eyes flew open and I reacted with catlike reflexes. Whipping the steering wheel around to right lock I hammered down on the accelerator to push myself back to the road. This is I believe the right thing to do as slamming on the brakes whilst coasting over gravel is a serious no-no. Unfortunately my experience in such situations is pretty limited and I overcompensated. Now I have a few new problems.

Firstly, and highest in my attention, I am now sliding towards the road facing the oncoming traffic which currently consists of a light-blue Holden Camira and a very large white truck. The truck had a few dents already in the grille and I was about to make a much bigger one. Kudos to adrenaline on this one because about 20 seconds ago I would have been too tired to pay any attention.

The second issue which I had yet to think about, is what happens when a vehicle which is travelling in one direction with it's wheel travelling in the other across gravel slides two of it's wheels gently onto a hard surface, like say, asphalt.

The car performed a neat reverse 180 trick which left a dangerous amount of caffeine in the back of my throat. At least I am now facing the right way and my view of the damaged grille is now reduced down to the tiny rectangle of my rear-vision mirror. I vaguely hear the truck horn blow somewhere (what did he think I was going to suddenly realize, Hey I shouldn't do that just now and then calmly straighten up and drive off) which is probably what distracted me from the fact that I was still right locked.

Now I'm headed for the other side of the road and I don't like my chances over there any better than right here. I quickly hard-left and again overcompensate shooting for the gravel again. I do another 180 degree turn and slide gently off the road and slam into a street sign. The horn changes tone as the truck storms passed.

I climbed out of the passenger door as the drivers side door opened into a sharp drop. In fact, the only thing that stopped me going over was the street sign I had hammered into. A few minutes later the light blue Camira showed up. They had done a U-Turn as quickly as they could. Possibly because they had never seen a dead body before and they wanted to get a look at one before it started to smell.

They offered me a lift home which I graciously accepted once they helped me put mine and Bob's computers into the boot. They might be door stops or boat anchors now but back then a DX4 wasn't to be left lying about in a car. I got home and set up the two machines. Once I had them both up and running the adrenaline finally wore out and I fell asleep at the kitchen table.

And that is my Tale. If anyone has any comments on content or style please leave them here. If anyone else has had an experience regarding vehicular sleep, you can also leave your comments here. If you have a tale you'd like to share, or if you'd like me to stop writing them, please email me at michael DOT minutillo AT gmail DOT com