To get to the weekend’s wine harvest I tried to catch a ride with someone using some site on the internet. And that worked rather well with me finding a ride going all the way from Göttingen to just across the Rhine of where I wanted to go. It turned out that the guy driving the car was with the army somewhere up north and goes home for the weekends.
To be honest, I have neither a big idea about nor a big interest in the army. And I am a bit sceptical about a few things of the whole system they represent, so I had mixed feelings when getting into the car with two uniformed guys. But things were quite relaxed and I managed to ask numerous stupid questions about the whole defense thing. For example I learned that soldiers have to wear their hat when they are outdoors wearing their uniforms. Which may explain why you’d always picture soldiers with hats. (Thinking about this, it seems strange that consultants haven’t made entire other companies wear hats or similar things yet – quite a corporate identity!)
Other factoids: Having a license to drive a tank, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to drive even a small truck; people can actually be looking forward to going to places like Afghanistan; and, yes, loads and loads of military vehicles have animal names (a subject about which I have had a post waiting for a while), but even people with more experience using those names couldn’t point me to some systematic way in which these names are used (à la: tanks are furry animals, boats are cuddly pets and planes are predators or something).
A bonus factoid was that when driving at its top speed of 70km/h, a 60 ton tank needs just twenty metres to come to a complete stand. A sports car, whose weight is a tiny fraction of the tank’s (and which admittedly has less friction on the road), needs just a metre of two less. Actually I had seen a similarly ridiculously comparison on Top Gear a while ago where they figured that for the first few seconds a sports car has better acceleration than a jet fighter…
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