Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ring around the rosie

The busiest intersection in my suburb is under construction.  It's easily the craziest shit-show you've ever seen.

All because somebody decided to build a giant godforsaken roundabout – a friggin traffic circle.  The City was apparently awarded 2.5 million bucks to build this beast, which apparently marks “the beginning of a series of tangible measures to improve the four-kilometre stretch” of the busiest street near my house. 

Well that’s just great.

When I heard there was a roundabout website, I just had to take a look.  I learned a few interesting tidbits.

First, a roundabout is apparently different than a traffic circle.  Who knew?  Apparently a modern roundabout (I like that they call it “modern”) is an un-signalized (is “un-signalized” a word?) circular intersection engineered to maximize safety and minimize traffic delay. Unlike a traffic circle, traffic entering the roundabout must yield to traffic already within the roundabout. (I’m pretty sure traffic in any intersection must yield – otherwise the consequences are pretty drastic).

And I especially like the “maximize safety and minimize delay” part. The below list of pedestrian instructions seems to contradict that claim.

  • Use the sidewalks and crosswalks around the outside of the roundabout. Do not cut across the middle of the roundabout. (i.e., avoid running through the constant stream of moving vehicles)
  • Point your finger across the crosswalk to say to drivers you intend to cross. (kidding, right?) Look and listen for a safe gap in traffic. (oh my god)
  • Step up to the curb. (don’t run or jump) Look at the drivers. (OH MY GOD) You decide when to step out and go. (translation: it’s your fault if you get hit)
  • Start to cross as soon as you are sure the driver intends to slow or stop to yield the crosswalk to you. (how do you suppose I make “sure” of that, Mr website?)
  • Watch for a driver coming in the next lane. (yeah, ok, I’ll just watch ALL the lanes) Make sure that the driver sees you. (hold a sign that says “honk if you see me”)
  • Keep watching all the way across. (make sure you don’t blink)
  • Wait on the splitter island for a safe (“safe” is a relative term) gap in traffic before crossing to the other side of the road. (so, what you really mean is: do it all again)
  • Step up to the curb. (no running or jumping, I said!) Keep pointing your finger across the crosswalk (I guess they’re not kidding, after all) to say to drivers that you intend to cross. (or wave your sign)

So, let’s summarize:  As a pedestrian crossing a roundabout, you have to walk like a zombie with your arms out-stretched and your eyes wide - just cross your fingers (while pointing, of course) that you don’t get run over.

This sounds like a splendid idea.

You should check out the little demo on the website. It’s pretty hilarious.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

My 14-year-old self

Someone recently asked me what I would, if given the opportunity, tell my 14-year-old self.  My first thought was that my 14-year-old-self would never listen to what I had to say - my 14-year-old self would have absolutely no interest in any advice herself from the future would have to offer. 

But here goes.   

Don't date the same person more than once.  If it didn't work out the first time, it is unlikely to work out the second, third, or fourth time.  

Date whomever you have a connection with, if that person treats you well.  Make the decision to date a person based on what you think, not what others might think (or what you think others might think).   

Believe in yourself.  Have confidence.  But don't be surprised if you fake it more than you mean it.  Don't worry about what others are thinking or saying about you.  If you knew how seldom they thought about you (or how little it mattered), you wouldn't care. 

Try to avoid doing anything that you will truly regret in hindsight.  Not necessarily getting into mischief (you should get into some mild mischief), but more to do with being less than kind to someone.  Maybe you made fun of them behind their back, or worse, to their face.  Or maybe you simply ignored them or judged them in some way.  Avoid that stuff.  You won't like yourself later - and neither will other people.

Don't eat cafeteria crap.  It's bad for you, and you have no idea how many gross hairs or skin cells have found their way into your fries.

Make memories.  Take pictures and cause a minor ruckus.  Skip class occasionally and have brunch with your friends.  Go to dances.  Participate.  Come up with new ideas and implement them.  Play cards in the hallway during your spare period.  Memorize at least 20 lines of your favourite Shakespearean play.  Go on a ski trip.  Try everything at least once.

Study.  Even if you can still get 90s without it.  Someday you'll wish you had studied more.  Do your best, but do it on your terms.  Don't push yourself too hard, and don't let others push you.  Achieve things, but achieve them at a pace that works for you.  Set your own goals and be your own reward. 

Buy a yearbook every year and get everyone in school to sign it.

Trust your teachers.  Most of them.  Some won't be perfect, but some will be there to help you.  Remind them what it was like to be a student.  Be reliable and hard-working, and when you need a break they'll be happy to provide it.

Finally, at my university graduation ceremony I heard something that made a lot of sense.  It's a famous quote by Winston Churchill, that has since been misquoted so many times that it's probably been taken totally out of context.  ...But the story goes that Churchill went to a school to give a speech.  He stood up, looked at the students and said: "Never, never, never, give up.  Never give up."  and then sat down.  It doesn't matter if the story isn't quite true, the sentiment remains the same. 


Monday, 20 September 2010

Tuxedo is awesome too

Hubby and I have never thought of Tuxedo as the smart cat.  Cute, absolutely.  Lively, sure.  Clever, not so much.  

Patches is older, more seasoned.  She understands the world and doesn't really care about it.  She's not easily confused, or easily scared, and she understands the patterns of day-to-day life.  She comes when you call her, doesn't try to escape into the yard, and gets off the coffee table when you say "Paaatch" in a slow, deep tone of voice.  She might swing her paw at a string if you dangle it near her resting spot, but she'll never go out of her way to catch an inanimate object.   Patch generally takes care of herself.  She gets it.

Tuxedo, by contrast, has a lot to learn.  He's young and inexperienced.  He rarely knows what's going on, and he's always in a panic about it.  He's easily baffled, always timid/terrified, and seems to fly by the seat of his pants.  He knows his name and sometimes responds to it (when you say it a certain "Tux-EEE-doe" way), but he doesn't really know the rules, let alone follow them.  He will chase a string or a reflection or his own damn shadow, and he carries his "rope baby" around the house every evening while chirping and crying like a dying parrot.  He needs Patch to take care of him.  He's lost.  

When Patch caught the mouse (crunch, crunch, crunch), he sat in the corner and watched her mangle it, face first.  When he stands still, he holds up his front left paw - never the right one.  When people come over, he cowers.  When he manages to escape to the outdoors, he runs to the nearest shrub and hides beneath it.  When you wiggle your toe under the covers, he takes off like the wind.   

And today, when he and Patch came home from the vet, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt why he belongs to me... he proved that he, too, is totally awesome.  

Today after returning from the vet clinic, Tuxedo spent the entire day and evening following Patch around and smelling her ass.  Yep, sniffing her and presumabley trying to determine why she looks and acts the same, but smells quite different.  He kept walking over to her and smelling her carefully, and then following that up with a quick and irritable hiss directed her way.  


Patches just ignores him.  She simply wanders away without even really noticing how ridiculous he is.  He's an idiot and she knows it, and she just goes about her business without paying him any mind.  Clever kitty.          


Friday, 10 September 2010

Commuter Chronicles - Tickets vs Triskets

I usually buy a monthly bus pass.  It’s 91 freaking dollars.

I don’t have to buy a monthly pass - I can buy individual bus tickets instead.  The tickets don’t expire, but they'd end up being more expensive than a pass if I ride the bus every day.

Since I took vacation last month, I bought tickets instead of an August pass.

At the beginning of September I had some tickets left over, so decided that I’d just use tickets for September too.  Whatever.  No big deal.  The cost difference wouldn’t interfere with my retirement savings or anything.

There is a problem with tickets though: you have to get on at the front of the bus, which is less convenient than just hopping on through the back doors.

And when Labour Day hit, and all of a sudden there are 1000 extra people on the goddam bus every day (students, and people no longer on vacation), by the time I had submitted my ticket, there were no friggin seats left.

Pain in the ass.

So yesterday I decided I would get a September pass.  Which sucks, because now I’ve spent a bunch of money on tickets and will just re-spend that money for a pass that dates back to the beginning of September.

Whatever, it’s more convenient. 

I just “ran in” to Pharma Plus on my way home to buy my pass. 

Well, I end up in line behind a lady who, for whatever effing reason, is buying all her goddam groceries at the freaking pharmacy.  Not just a few items – but a whole cart filled to the brim with boxes of crap.

What is that about, anyway?  Who does all their household shopping at Pharma-friggin-Plus?  Ridiculous.

Whatever.  I’ll just wait and get it over with, I thought.

Well, then she starts pulling out her coupons.

Are you kidding me?

She has coupons for all her crap… which is probably why she’s buying it all in the first place.  Idiot.

And THEN, the cashier has to ring in two or three separate purchases in order to get the coupon deal on all her friggin Trisket crackers.

Oh my god.

So I’m standing there for, like, 10 minutes while she stacks a bunch of shit on the little counter and the ugly little cashier rings in her junk.  And the whole time, I’m thinking: “If I leave now, will it be faster to go to the grocery store instead…?"

The lady finally leaves - with her cart of Triskets - and I ask for a regular adult buss pass.

“We don’t have any.  Sold out.”

You are effing JOKING.

So I end up going to the grocery store smoke shop and standing behind three guys buying tobacco and one guy checking 50 lottery tickets with that damn machine singing the little “you win” song every 10 seconds.

I don’t even know what else to say.  I think the commuter gods are punishing me for chronicling my commuter hell on this blog.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

I'm as awesome as it gets.

Sure, there are times each day when we say to ourselves "Wow, I'm pretty awesome... I'm so clever that I amaze myself."  We all say that.

Like, one might need to turn the sprinkler on.  But one might also know that one can't yet walk on the newly-stained deck.  So one might complain to one's husband about having to go around to the backyard through the front door, and back again.  But one would still manage.  The problem emerges when, even after all that trouble, one forgets that the sprinkler should NOT be turned on so high that a shower of water falls over said newly-stained deck, despite one's careful efforts to avoid stepping on the damn thing.  If something like that were to happen, in theory, one might think of oneself as pretty awesome.

Or, one might think one was awesome if one used the new kettle for months and months - and, at every single friggin use, complained about how short the goddam cord was - before having it pointed out that the cord is simply tucked up underneath the base of the godforsaken thing.  That'd be pretty awesome, if something like that were, hypothetically, to occur.

Now, we all know that I am one of these awesome people.  I don't need to explain it any further.  It's already quite clear.  I know it.  You know it.  It's not some new revelation.

But I have new evidence, and I just couldn't resit sharing it, because there are some things that make me, in particular, especially awesomeThere are some things that no one else can top.

Exhibit A:

It's possible that I recently bought new underwear.  Nothing too awesome there - a normal, average thing for a person to do.

The awesomeness comes in when I squirm all day in my new underwear, thinking something is wrong with my pants, until I realize that I'm wearing my new underwear backwards.  Yes, backwards.  Wrong-side-front.  Right-side-wrong.  Tight and tiny in some places.  Loose and baggy in others.

Oh, and it gets better.

This has happened twice.

That's right.  Twice.

I made this mistake once, with new underwear that I was not yet fully familiar with.  That's fair.  Anyone could do that.  But then, not a week later, I made the same damn mistake, with the same damn pair of new damn underwear.

So, there's really no disputing it.  I am as awesome as it gets.  There is no way around it.  I bring awesome to a whole new level that none of you amateurs can even dream of competing with.  I am the ultimate, most spectacular, greatest form of awesome that there ever was.  I am the Guinness Book of World Records record-holder for awesome.  There are few rivals in my realm of awesome.  George Dub-yah Bush, maybe, but he's been disqualified for doping.  I am the awesome heavy-weight champion.  I dare you to try and beat me.  I double-dog dare you.  I triple-nipple dare you. to. beat. me.   You can't top that.  It cannot be done.  ...But I wish you all the world's luck in trying. 

Monday, 6 September 2010

Crunch, crunch, crunch

Hubby and I were awakened out of a blissful sleep at 5:00 this morning.  We could hear Patches making loud crying noises.  

Nothing too out of the ordinary, really.  She often makes that angry drowning cat sound when she's about to throw up.  (She sometimes inhales her food too quickly and then runs away to throw up her un-chewed pellets.  Don't worry... she eats them right back up again.)

Anyway, her sounds melded into my dream until my subconscious was trying to rescue a cat from the back of some random kitchen cabinet.  Hubby pulled me out of my half-dream when he said "sounds like Patchy's throwing up."  "Mm hmm" I answered, trying to ignore it. 

But he was awake, and when Hubby wakes up, he has to go to the bathroom - he can't just go back to sleep... that would be silly.  So he climbed out of bed, walked by Patches at the top of the stairs ("You ok, Patchy?") and went into his bathroom.   

I was trying to go back to sleep, but I could hear something else.

 Crunch, crunch, crunch. 

I thought, hmm, she must be eating regurgitated pellets.  But then it started to sink in.

Hubby came out of the bathroom and I mumbled "She's crunching on something."

He went back to the bathroom to turn on the light , and then back to look at the cat.   

"It's a mouse!" he confirmed. 

Yep.  I friggin KNEW it.  I knew it.  "I knew it!"

That's why I didn't get up and check for myself.  I had a sneaking suspicion.  And in our house, all mouse-related hi-jinks are Hubby's department.  I want nothing to do with them.  (In fact, once, at our former house, I ran out of our kitchen into the living room, perched myself on top of the arm of the couch, leaned across the door frame to the phone, and called my mother in a panic when I thought I saw one under the stove.  True story.  I just can't deal with rodents.)

When I finally sat up to look at Patch, Hubby was slouched over, arms out-stretched, in his 15-year-old and barely-there (but apparently very comfortable) "sleeping underwear", chasing our fat cat down the stairs.

When he retrieved Patches it was apparent that she had very effectively eaten most of the mouse's face.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.

"Good job Patchy"  he said.  Congratulating her on her catch.  Nice.

"Ew!  Wash her!"  I said.

Yes, I wanted him to wash all the mouse guts out of her mouth.  Not an unreasonable request, I don't think.

"Are you kidding me?!"

"No, she's probably got bones and blood and diseases all over her!"

"Oh my God..."

"Just do it!"

So, Hubby went and got one of his facecloths and held down a very squirmy and unhappy Patches while he scrubbed her face.

This morning we weren't sure whether to praise or punish her.  In any case, her new nickname is Mouse Mouth.  Yummy. 

This post also appears at Cheesy Bloggers