27 July 2005

Technological Advances

Gotta get me one of these.

22 July 2005

Don't drink and...

I worked again this past weekend. I brought Andrew along for the ride. While I worked, he wandered and worked on his novel. Despite some logistical things, the weekend went well, but I won't bore anyone with the details of that.

The fun started after the work ended. On the drive home Sunday, Andrew asked if we could stop and he would show me the camp where his family went every summer while he was growing up. They went through their church, so I was a little nervous about going. He assured me that there would be no one there because the camp was only open a couple of times a year, and if anyone was there, he wouldn't know any of them. I'm not afraid of strangers. I can generally hold my own. My main concern was snap judgments about what kind of person I am because of my outfit. It was hot on Sunday and I dressed for the weather. I was wearing a low-cut tank top and some shorts.

You know where this is going. Not only were there many people at the camp, but a sizeable number of deadwriter's extended family was there, too. I met his grandmother, three cousins, and an in-law. All of whom took a pointed look at my breasts upon introduction. Lovely.

His grandmother was very nice, though. She offered us cookies and squares and water. She and Andrew talked for a little while and it was nice, but I felt uncomfortable. And family members kept coming in to say "hi" and to look at my boobs.

We didn't stay very long. I just wasn't comfortable so I asked if we could leave. And that's when things got scary.

We turned out of the driveway of the camp to head back to the highway. We only got a few feet around a curve when I saw something coming toward me. It was a guy on a dirt bike. In my lane. deadwriter says there was a van in the oncoming lane that the dirt bike guy must have been passing, I didn't see it.

I slowed down , and paused, waiting for him to shoot back into his own lane but it didn't happen. I slowed down some more and tried to decide whether I should swerve. I decided against it, and good thing, because we both would have swerved in the same direction.

He skidded off to my right, slid through gravel (on his arm), went nose first into the ditch and flipped off his bike, head first.

I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped to see if he was okay. As we approached, he got up (sans helmet) and walked back to his bike. He pulled it upright and started inspecting it. I called out to see if he was okay, but he didn't answer. He had his back to us, so I called out again. We stood there for a minute, then Andrew and I headed back toward the car.

Up the road a few feet, a woman and her daughter emerged from a driveway. She asked if he was okay and I said, "I guess so. He's up but he wouldn't answer when I asked.

The woman, obviously disgusted, said, "He's been doing this all weekend. Him and his friends, I guess." By "this" I figure she meant tearing up and down the road at dangerously high speeds, weaving in and out of cars.

We all turned back to look at the man. He was walking towards us unsteadily.

"Are you okay? Do you want me to call an ambulance or a friend?"

Apparently he apologized a couple of times, but I don't remember that part -- deadwriter told me.

"Can you give me a lift up the road?" he asked.

I hesitated, looking at his bloody arm and elbow, thinking about my car's upholstery, wondering if he would be able to get in and out without bleeding all over it. I know it's a completely selfish thought, but I was annoyed. He did something stupid and dangerous and I didn't want to take responsibility for him. Still, I agreed.

The woman gave me a surprised look and then walked back down her driveway with her daughter. The man, Andrew, and I all got in my car (I wouldn't have let him if I'd been alone) and he told me where he was going. The second he sat in the car, I could smell it: beer. He was loaded. I don't know if that's why he was doing stupid things like passing on a curve, but that's probably why it took him so long to react when he saw me.

It was only a two-minute ride up the road. I guess we dropped him off at a buddy's house. There was a guy standing out front who he went to talk to when he got out. I turned around and drove off, but stopped up the road at a school to see the damage to my back seat. There was blood all over the car door by the handle, and a spot on the back of the seat. I took a bottle of water that deadwriter had and used tissue to blot at the stains. As I was cleaning up the blood, the man's buddy went by on a four-wheeler with another guy. They probably went to find the dirt bike. Andrew said the fuel tank had ripped off completely, so they'd probably have to get something to tow it back.

I kept thinking (and still sort of do) that I should have called the police. I don't know what they would have said or done, or if they could even do anything. I think I would have had to call before I drove him home.

I was really freaked out and grossed out. I am not a fan of other people's blood. Especially strangers. After I got my car cleaned up, we headed back to the highway and I stopped at a Tim Horton's. I went in to the washroom and washed my hands twice.

I kept thinking about all the things that could have happened. He could have snapped his neck and died; he could have hit my car and flipped off; he could have hit my car and come through the windshield; he could have slid under my car; I could have swerved and hit the van; there could have been a pedestrian walking down the road (as deadwriter says is entirely possible with the camp right behind us, and a store just down the road). I think we were all really lucky. But I'm afraid that he didn't learn his lesson, that he thinks he'll just have to be "more careful" next time. I just hope it takes him a long time to get his bike fixed.

14 July 2005

It's not the city, it's the weather

I've heard a lot of complaints about the weather lately, and sometimes I don't get it. Yes, sometimes I'd like a hot sunny day. But it's not 35 below, and that's good enough for me.

I try to make a point of not complaining about the weather (unless I have hypothermia/heat stroke). I can't control it. No one can. What I do on Tuesday has nothing to do with what's going to come out of the sky on Friday. You can't make the sunshine by thinking happy thoughts (or as is often the case complaining fiercely and without cessation).

People are so used to being able to control every aspect of their lives that we just can't accept that such a huge factor is entirely out of our hands. We can plan a camping trip or a day at the beach, pack food, sunscreen, bug spray, related gear (tents, towels, etc.), load it in the car the night before; but no amount of intricate planning can change the fact that a low pressure system has been circulating for days and it's going to rain. Or the day that you plan to spend indoors sorting your over-stuffed closet or reorganizing your cupboards is the day that the thermometer tops out at 38 degrees including all that disgusting humidity that makes movement painful and sticky.

I watch The Weather Network a lot. It's quite possibly my favourite channel. Reality TV in its purest form, if you will. If it weren't for the physics, I might have enjoyed being a meteorologist (psst! not everyone on TV who talks about the weather is a meteorologist -- increasingly there are more weather reporters). I like knowing how the weather works. I like knowing how storms are formed, that hail is generally a summer weather phenomenon, how the environment is affected by the weather and vice versa. Stupid as it may sound, I think this understanding has make me a lot less hostile toward the elements. Maybe in part because it doesn't surprise me. The only thing I want to hear more in the morning than the news is the weather.

I live in a temperate climate. Basically it means that we don't have huge swings in temperature. 15 might feel cold compared to 20 when the temperature drops at night, but it's nothing compared to life in the desert. "The southwest coast around Cape Sable is frost free for over half the year, longer than any other place in Atlantic Canada ... Winter temperatures are moderate along the coast ... The most significant aspect of winter is the marked day-to-day variation caused by the alternation of Arctic and maritime air ... Summers are relatively cool ..." (courtesy Environment Canada). All that moisture that makes it foggy and misty so much of the year is the same moisture that makes it bearable to live without air conditioning and makes it possible to actually have an outdoor life in the winter.

Sure, I hate shovelling heavy, wet snow as much as the neighbour, but I also like my 50% chance of a white Christmas. And occasionally we may get a hurricane, but we're generally free of the disastrous weather systems that result in multiple deaths and billions of dollars in rebuilding costs. Our floods don't kill dozens, we don't have high enough mountains to cause deadly mudslides, we're too close to water to experience massive drought, we don't have enough flat, open land to nurture tornados.... See where I 'm going with this?

I should mention that I'm almost positive that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For the past few years, by the time February rolls around, I'm pretty much in a constant bad mood. So it's not that the weather doesn't affect me at all. It's just that I'm starting to chose how much.

It 22 degrees and sunny now. I'm inside, but my office has a window.

12 July 2005

Cherish your enemies

People seem to enjoy vilifying others, especially those trying to be helpful.

My most vivid experience with this was in grade 12. I had a group of girlfriends and we hung out all the time. We had "Girls Night In" (GNI) where we'd rent movies, eat candy and order garlic fingers. Sometimes it was a chance to reconnect after spending too much time with our adolescent boyfriends; usually it was just a chance to be silly and girly.

Around October of that year, I remember becoming concerned about one of the girls. She ate like a bird, and exercised obsessively. I thought, "There's no way that's healthy." She would sometimes disappear to the bathroom immediately after eating.

What really struck me though, was in February when she participated in a Fashion Show/Modeling competition. I went with two other girls and the first this I noticed when she came out on stage was her knees. They were huge knobs in the middle of her legs. It looked abnormal.

I talked to some of the other girls about it. Some were skeptical, others suspicious. We all agreed to keep a weather eye.

By June, the signs (2 pages) were everywhere. The one I remember most clearly is standing at the bus stop one morning in early June. It was sunny; no one was wearing a jacket; we were all getting excited about summer and freedom. This girl, though, was wearing a wool sweater, earmuffs, and knit gloves. I also remember her mentioning how much hair would come out when she brushed it in the mornings.

After that day, a bunch of us gathered in my car after school and discussed what (if anything) we should do. Should we confront her? How? When? High school was going to be over in days. Was it worth the fuss to talk to her now?

In the end we decided to wait and talk to her after prom. There was no point in creating an uncomfortable situation for the sake of a few days.

Long story short: The day after prom, one of the girls went to the supposed-anorexic's parents and told her our suspicions. Then she left them to deal with the aftermath.

The story I heard was that the girl's parents confronted her with the information when she got home from a run. Only one of us have spoken to her since.

Now, I certainly don't approve of the snitch's method of dealing with the problem, but this is a common story.

People who express concern for other's well-being are often turned into the enemy. I'm sure I've done it, though I can't come up with a specific example (feel free to enlighten me, but be fair and just). Still, I see it all the time.

It's easy to forget that we're fallible; that we're often blind to our faults and mistakes. And then someone points them out to us. Conversely, we're sometimes hyper-aware and turn resentful when someone points them out.

So when someone says to you, "I'm concerned because..." it's so easy to turn on them and call him/her an asshole/bitch; to accuse them of not understanding or being judgmental. I've seen friendships end, my own friendships included, because of misguided pride and lack of insight. I say this a lot, it's not that people know better than you, it's that they have a different perspective because they're not you. In the long run, they may not be right, but that doesn't make their concern/advice/perspective any less valid. And I don't think that it's a good reason to treat them like shit. Exceptions do occur when the critic is callous and rude, or inconsiderate of feelings, but your own sensitivity can contribute to viewing it that way.

If all your friends are Yes-men, then they aren't real friends because they're not being honest with you.

Looking back, I don't know that our friendship with the anorexic (she later sought counseling for the disease) would have survived if we had staged a many-on-one intervention. It might have made her feel even more hostile towards us. If she got better, I wonder if she does appreciate that "telling on her" might have been the turning point -- more because I wonder what made her admit to her illness, not because I'm looking for credit.

Lani said something in a comment to a post Robyn wrote: "I want to be the "change" that a particular student needs in their life." When I first read it, I thought it sounded a little selfish, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. She wants to help students become better people -- to see their potential, to make choices that are good for them, instead of because it's what everyone else is doing. She's like that in her life outside work too. And that's how I want to be.

It sucks to think that there will always be people who turn me into the bad-guy because of that.

08 July 2005

This makes me more sad

Not everyone has a direct link to what happened in London, so posts like this really make me pause.

In all the years I went to church, I don't ever remember someone telling me to launch violent attacks on others to "spread the word". In the same vein, I don't like hearing the media refer to terrorists as "Islamic militants/extremists". I think it sends the wrong message about the religion -- even with the caveat adjectives. "Not all Muslims, just the crazy ones." Shut up.

I don't remember anyone calling the IRA "Catholic extremists". I think it creates psychological divisions that keep the general public from seeing the humanity in others.

Whenever a London/British official talked of the "innocent public lives lost", I felt sad. The I realized the irony and felt even more sad for civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Don't people realize the links. I'm not saying that any attack is justified; it's not. But let's not pretend we exist in a vacuum, either.

My heart goes out to everyone who suffers from the aftermath of violence.

06 July 2005

That makes me sad

I just heard that London won the 2012 Summer Olympics. I am saddened. I wanted Paris to win. I'd like to go to the Olympics some time, and I thought that a combined vacation to Paris would be a nice treat. Time to reschedule my plans.

04 July 2005

Temporary relief

A real weekend.

I had three whole days off, and it was bliss. I'd like some more, please.

I worked every weekend in June (as anyone who talked to me heard repeatedly), so it was nice to be relatively obligation-free.

Thursday night I was supposed to go to see Mir in a tent on the waterfront. I tried to get a bunch of people together to go, but either they weren't available, or didn't want to pay the $12 cover. Defeated, I just went home. deadwriter got season 1 of Smallville on DVD from the library, so we watched a couple of episodes of that instead.

Friday was a gloomy day. I was hoping to get more people together for Canada Day fireworks, but by mid-afternoon, they were postponed due to the weather. deadwriter and I watched more Smallville, had supper and walked to the video store to rent some movies. It really turned into a movie weekend. First we watched Kinsey, a bio-pic about the man who brought sex out of the bedroom and into the scientific realm. It was entertaining. Living after the "sexual revolution", I guess it's easy to forget that sex used to be off limits as a topic of conversation, let alone a recreational activity (see the double entendre?). Some parts of the movie did annoy me, and the reivews I read when the movie came out in theatres had me searching for a plot line that just wasn't really a factor, which frustrated me, but it was much better than our 2nd choice for the weekend....

Saturday, I went to a wedding with Lani. It was of a girl we were in Ed. with. Lani was invited as the flute player in a flute & violin duet. They played before and during the ceremony and it sounded lovely. They also played at the reception for an hour or so. We had dinner and listened to all the speeches, but we didn't stay much longer after that. We didn't really know many people there, and were mainly just there so Lani could play. The groom's brother spent a few minutes flirting with Lani and trying to get her to go on the post-reception pub crawl, even offering the use of his hotel room if she needed a place to crash. How sweet. I was pretty glad to get out of there, though. I met a couple of people who were very nice and inclusive, but I mostly felt out of place.

After the wedding, Andrew and I watched our second rented movie, Ocean's Twelve. Oh, my poor brain. It was terrible. The first movie was so... cool. It oozed cool. The characters were cool, the plot was cool, the action was cool. This movie was so... dumb. It practically vomited dumb at every turn. The characters were dumb (and totally lacking in depth or motivation), the plot was dumb (and didn't really appear until mid-way through), the action was dumb (and cheesy -- the graphics were so bad in one scene, I thought they might have been trying to make it suck). We had been hoping that it would be an exciting movie that would liven up the evening. Instead I begged to turn it off at about midnight because it was making me sleepy.

For some reason, it wasn't painful enough, so we actually finished it off Sunday morning. I'm not sure what we were thinking. I kept hoping it would redeem itself, but it just never happened.

I went swimming with Foo in the afternoon. We went out to Tea Bag Lake, so called because of the colour of the water. It was lovely. The sun finally came out, the air was warm and the water refreshing. We (plus deadwriter) had a lovely, healthy supper of salad and samosas chez Foo, then we all met up with Rick to see Batman Begins on Imax. It was large. Entertaining, but not perfect, i.e., if you build a machine that vapourizes water instantly, then wouldn't humans vapourize too, since we're 50-70% water? Major plot flaw. Oh, and what about all those puddles on the street? Aren't they water? I certainly hope so....

Still, it certainly made me forget about Ocean's Twelve and gave me some faith that sequels can be good, not just studio sludge churned out to capitalize on consumers' continuous vulnerability in believing that as much effort is put into the follow-up as in the original. A sad misconception.

That was a long sentence. Microsoft Word's grammar assistant would have made me chop it up.

That was pretty much my weekend. I'm off this coming weekend, too, which is an extension of fantasticness. Also, new summer work hours have me off at noon on Fridays!! It will be a pay cut (until they determine my salary), but I think it will be worth the bit of extra sanity I'll glean as a result. Robyn can expect a visit very soon.

I guess that's it for the weekend. I'd like to do Martini Monday tonight, and I guess there are some fireworks in the Basin, too. It'll depend on who's available, willing and able. But it's summer and I want to have fun!