Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I had recently moved back to Texas and was enjoying the financial freedom that came with my new professional career as an electronic engineer. Maybe it was the influence of all the testosterone that came from working in a primarily male environment. Maybe it was the effect of the California lifestyle. Or maybe it was just that I needed a flash car to go with my sexy status of single female professional. Whatever the influence, I decided I needed a new car, and by "new" I meant brand new. You see up to this point there was no one in my immediate family who had ever purchased a "brand new" vehicle. Yes we had bought cars that were new to us, but usually they were "gently used". And all the vehicles I had owned and driven were "less-than-gently used". I wanted something new. I wanted something fast. I wanted something hot. And I finally could actually afford it!
So I did my research (this was prior to the Internet). I poured over Consumer Reports. I searched through car magazines. I visited the new car exhibits at the Texas State Fair. And I fell in love. She was a Camero Berlinetta
And of course I had to go for the full sports package with spoiler, etc. Now you need to realise that a sports car does not count as a sports car if it is an automatic. Plus the automatics were not rated very highly in the consumer tests. I visited several different car lots and did not find the one I wanted or in the color I preferred. So I calculated what price I should have to pay, and went to the larger dealership in the area and ordered exactly what I wanted. A 5-speed, V-8, 5-liter, sports package in metallic beige with dark brown interior. I probably paid several hundred more than I should have, but it was a reasonable price and I did this all by myself. It would be about +6 weeks before I could pick up my new car, but I knew it would be worth the wait.
I enjoyed the build up by "talking shop" with the guys at work. When I described what I had ordered and pulled out the brochure, they were all impressed. Various options were compared and discussed, the merits of the Berlinetta vs. the Z-28, 4-liter vs. 5-liter, etc. In the end I received the grudging admiration and some little bit of envy from my colleagues. Finally the day came to pick up my car.
Up to this point I had been driving a loaner from my Dad. An automatic Ford station wagon that had seen better days. But it got me where I needed to be, if I remembered to keep adding a can of oil every 2 weeks. It had been about 8 years since I had driven a standard transmission, but I figured I would pick it up again quickly. I had even taken a test drive in a similar model and had done fine. So after receiving the call that my car was ready, I went by and picked up my brother and we drove to pick up my car. The plan was to pick up the Camero and both of us drive over to my Dad's to show off my new baby!
My brother accompanied me on the inspection of the car, pointing out a missing screw and a few minor details that were noted on the record for the first servicing. After signing the final papers, I was handed the keys and I drove my lovely new toy very carefully off the parking lot. The take-off was a little rough initially, but I got it in gear, though in truth it helped that the parking lot exit was an incline that allowed me to coast into first gear. My brother followed behind and we managed to make it through the downtown without even having to stop. I barely even got it out of third gear.
Just outside the city limit, I caught the first red light. It was long and therefore the car was at a complete stop before the light turned green. And as is to be expected, as I tried to engage the gear, the car stalled. I was not flustered and started the car and tried again. And again. And again. And again. And then the light changed. So we waited through the next red light and I tried very carefully again. The car jerked forward, and stalled. By this time the guy in the car behind my brother hit his horn and changed lanes and sped on by with various colorful descriptions of my driving style being uttered at the top of his voice. I tried again. And the light changed again. Once again it turned green and I very carefully got the car in gear and it moved about 3 feet before it died.
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my brother in the car behind me, resting his forehead on the steering wheel and shaking his head. I got out of the car and handed him the keys...
Needless to say he left me in the dust as he worked the kinks out of my little speedwagon. My Dad never failed, whenever he was around someone who admired my car, to tell the story of the first ride home. Of course the fact that my legs were barely long enough to push the stupid clutch petal all the way to the floor to disengage the transmission before they got it corrected, and that it took three service visits requiring clutch adjustments before the gear engagement was considered optimal, are conveniently left out of the "typical woman driver" story!
Nonetheless, I did love that car. And she does feature in future SOS stories...!