The first time I… saw a car stuck on a raised bridge

It was unbelievable. Queuing up by the Maple-Oregon Bridge at Sturgeon Bay, near the Great Lakes in the US state of Wisconsin, I could see the drawbridge opening.

It took a while to realise - but sitting high up on a lift part of the bridge as it was slowly rising in the air I could see a car.

Ever so slowly the drawbridge continued to edge into the air - but the car stayed rooted to its precarious, terrifying perch.

Apparently the woman had stalled and could not re-start her engine. Defying gravity, her vehicle hung onto the road surface - presumably with the handbrake on!

Her scary plight was spotted by bridge staff and, thankfully, the huge road transport structure was lowered. Back on 'flat earth', the woman was soon able to get underway and carry on her journey.

Amazing. The stuck car's antics have made news across the world and a video has been put on YouTube. You can watch it here:

A media hunt is now underway to find the driver after officials announced they wanted to find her to discover how the worrying incident happened.



Typo howlers and footballer's sewage

In these days of textspeak (txtspk) and spellcheck, is it any wonder that some members of the work force are losing the ability to realise their spelling mistakes. And a mere cursory glance through some of the online copy produced by what used to be the broad sheet quality press will reveal typos and bad grammar galore.

So, it was with not much surprise that I read of some American signage that was erected in Wisconsin misspelling three of the four words that the sign contained – Rothschild became Rothschield, Schofield became Schofeild and Business 51 became Buisness 51.

The only word the sign writers managed to get right was ‘exit' – hmm!

Local residents apparently took the sign with a pinch of salt, but there was some collective astonishment that it could have been painted, delivered and installed without someone noticing the errors.

Having said that, I do make some typing howlers myself on occasion and it was probably less than an hour ago that I was writing about affluent premier league footballers, when I mistakenly typed an ‘e' instead of the ‘a'. Still, if I hadn't seen that one I'm sure not too many readers would have realised the mistake.




The first time I … had a flat tyre

I didn't take to wheel changes like a duck2water - or a flamingo for that matter.

Yes, it was raining. Yes, I was wearing a dress. Yes, my shoes had three inch heels and yes, I'm a girl.

I took the lining out of the boot, looked at the spare wheel and (I'm sorry fellow feminists) I burst into tears. It just seemed hopeless and I was late for an interview.

I did start to try to get the wheel out, but I must have looked really pathetic because a man came out from a nearby shop and in a flash the wheel was changed and I was on my way.

I had watched attentively and when I got home later that day – with a brand new tyre on my Punto courtesy of my local garage – I sat down and wrote out a wheel changing check list to put in the boot.

It went something like this:
  1. Don't panic – you can do this

  2. Face it - you are going to get dirty

  3. Put the handbrake on firmly

  4. Loosen the wheel nuts with the wheel wrench – if necessary stand on the wrench and bounce

  5. Put the jack under the jack point nearest to the flat tyre…

And so on and so forth.

I even put in an old pair of DMs so that I wouldn't be caught out in girly and totally impractical foot wear.

And after I got the job, I phoned a recovery service, took out breakdown cover and never worried about flat tyres ever again.

Image © Michael Lehet via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence



The first time I took my car for its MOT

My car took to its MOT like a duck to a vacuum cleaner.

My first car was the stereotypical student rust bucket. Bits would fall off as I drove along, funny smells would be emitted when I braked and steam would pour out if I was in a jam for too long.

Not surprisingly it didn't pass its MOT the first time round. About the only thing that managed to pass the dreaded test was the horn, which despite its overuse, still worked perfectly.

Almost everything from the exhaust to the windscreen wipers had some fault or need of repair leaving me with a whopping bill of £300. Especially frustrating when the car was only worth about £500.

Not wanting to depart with my beloved 'Kitty' (yes, it had a name), I dutifully handed over the cash and she was back on the road again (for about six months until the cam belt went on the M1).



The first time I… played fantasy football

I took to football management like a duck2water.

Oh yes, I had a £100 million to spend and had to choose a squad of Premier League football players consisting of two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three strikers.

The guys in the office take it all very seriously and regularly spend their evenings and weekends poring over the scores and statistics to make their teams of superhuman proportions.

When they asked me to join the league I initially said no, but after thinking about it, I decided it was nothing more than a shopping trip for male sportsmen and this sounded right up my street.

I am now the proud manager of the "We're So Pretty" 15 man supersquad, consisting of Green and Guzan in Goal – Bosingwa, Bramble, Baines, Boyce and Bridge in defence – Murphy, Modric, Milner, Mikel and Malouda in the midfield – with Tevez, Torres and Jones up front in the hot seats.

Can you see a pattern in my choices – well it all seemed like a good idea at the time and if you come across any of my colleagues don't tell them my team – it's all supposed to be very secretive and serious. There's a lot of office kudos at stake.

And if you have any managerial hints – please don't let me know.

Image © ewiemann via Flickr, under Creative Commons licence



The first time I… tried the new Ford Iosis Max

It creates an exciting impression - bright yellow paint work, futuristic seats and an interior and dashboard straight out of a science fiction movie.

The Ford Iosis Max is a family car prototype for the C-Max that will be built on the same base as the Focus range. Side on, the Max's aerodynamic shape is clearly similar to an aircraft wing.

I got to try it out at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It was part of an exhibition about greener, more eco-friendly driving. This 180bhp Max comes with Ford's latest four-cylinder 1.6l Ecoboost engine, reaching 135 mph (0-60 in about nine seconds).

A remarkable boot allows access to the luggage area in three different ways - via the lower part of the tailgate like a more conventional saloon, via the rear window that lifts up or combining both of these via a hatchback boot opening.

Sliding rear doors complete the modern-looking design. To my mind, it's not unlike something out of one of the Transformers movies. The new C-Max is forecast to be out in late 2010 priced at around £16,000. See you at the dealer showroom!



The first time I… was made redundant

Try to look on the bright side, lift yourself to better things

In the current economic downturn, more and more of us have to take to losing our jobs like ducks to water. If we don't, it may hamper our ability to move on to new work, perhaps better things - maybe a whole improved new life.

Losing my first job was a most chaotic and stressful time. Searching for a new role in the 1990s recession - not as bad, it seems, as this one in the 21st century - was a major challenge.

Various thoughts went through my mind - from denial, shock and anger to guilt and depression. What was important was that I decided to move quickly to job searching.

I managed to secure temporary work initially and then it took several months to secure a new full-time role, working self-employed. It was a contract I found through networking with friends.

It is important to neither get discouraged by rejection nor lose motivation. Thinking on my experiences, you might want to read about dealing with job search desperation. This four-point plan isn't bad either. Hope this post is of some help to anyone affected.

If you have any questions about redundancy and all that such a change brings, or you have work searching tips to share, feel free to drop a comment onto this blog. I will respond and/or publish all your remarks and observations.

Come on, let's help each other in these tough times…

Image © h.koppdelaney via Flickr, under Creative Commons License



The first time I … sang in front of my partner

When I first sang in front of my partner ducks dove for cover.

Up until I met my partner I had been convinced I could sing rather well. I had taken part in many high school productions and had been part of a church gospel choir that toured extensively and even made a record (yes, it was the days of vinyl).

My children had always let me join in with their bath time sing-songs, and rousing renditions of "Row, row, row your boat" had always been seemingly well received at parent and toddler mornings.

But then, one fateful evening, as I was cooking a rather complicated meal in a bid to impress my dinner guest, I launched enthusiastically into a rendition of "YMCA" only to have my prospective new boyfriend throw his hands to his ears in horror and scream, "Leave the cat alone. What did it ever do to you?

I was mortified.

Several decades of self-belief that I was a supremely tuneful vocalist were smashed to smithereens and my darling kids nodded their agreement and inadequately suppressed long-time-coming giggles at the thought that someone had finally told me I had the voice of a strangled moggy.

Still, the revelation did not harm our burgeoning relationship and the kids sighed a collective breath of relief at not having to keep up the pretence anymore. And me, well, I continue to sing, only now I make sure all the doors and windows are locked and there are no vulnerable small animals nearby.

Image © maessive vis Flickr, under Creative Commons licence

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