Wednesday, 21 February 2007

S-M-R-T, aka On Jaywalking in Ottawa

Let's just say that it happens, and often.

Ottawa's not like one of those friendly backwaters (eg. St. John's), where they actually stop their cars and wave you across the street with a smile (I sort of find that disturbing; after all, the car has the right of way, not the pedestrian, in this case), but it's also not like downtown Toronto, where you WAIT and CROSS AT THE LIGHT, because to do otherwise would be suicide. Generally, drivers in Ottawa, though they do get ticked when pedestrians slow them down, and sometimes honk, flip a bird, or utter a choice epithet, will not go out of their way to mow the offending jaywalker down.

But I digress.

So, I'm crossing the street, just by the War Monument. It's a one-way there, so it's usually fairly safe to trot across, barring crazy rushhour traffic. Nothing's coming, so I'm walking briskly (as I do). Suddenly (quand soudaine! tout à coup!) (the French have much better phrases for "suddenly" than we Anglos, I find), this Smart car comes around the corner, straight for me. So I pick it up into a trot.

After reaching the other side safely, I stop and think, "what the heck am I doing?"

I figure that being "run over" by a Smart car is the equivalent of getting hit in the achilles with a shopping cart, except in this case, more damage would be sustained to the Smart car than my ankles.

Actual, un-retouched photo of me and the Smart car, to scale.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

It's that time again

You know which time I mean. The semi-annual "Why the heck do I still live in this country?" time (also occurs in July). A time of deep, introspective thought, soul-searching, and of questioning how it can go from 35 degrees C (but it FEELS like 50) to -20 degrees (but it FEELS like -41), with really only about 6 pleasant days in between, and why we put up with it, instead of moving to a more reasonable climate.

Friends? Family? The ties that bind? Don't be silly. In weather like this, they don't venture out of their homes, either - I could email Meaghan just as frequently from Bora Bora.

What about the people I'd leave behind, though? Could I just up and leave them to their fate? Not with a good conscience, so here's what I propose:

Since everyone complains about the weather, and nobody does anything about it, then dammit, it's time for change.

I propose that every man, woman and child of voting age... ok, just the men and women, then... write to their MPP. Large corporations, departments, and associations should post open letters to Mr. Harper - calls to action to the Minister of the Environment (is it still Rona Ambrose? I haven't paid attention for a few weeks) - if somebody would only legislate some reasonable maximums and minimums, why, our problems could be solved!

Now, I'm not saying that we should go overboard and block out winter altogether. Our status and cachet as hardy Canadians (not to mention our tourism industry) depends on some snow and ice - the canal, Winterlude, etc. However, I think most of us would agree that it doesn't really need to be colder than -15. Ever.

And if it dares dip down to -25 plus windchill?

Retribution! Pitchforks and torches and all that... a stream of angry citizens chasing after weathermen... looting, chaos, and all that good stuff.

Who's with me?

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Don't mess with Bubba

Chris' arm...

sure, he might be telling the world that it's a touch football injury, but really, he just doesn't listen. ;)

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Line, line, everywhere a line

Passport season. Wow.

I joined almost all of my fellow Canadians (or so it seemed) this morning at the Passport Office. By 8:30 in the morning, there was a 3-hour wait. What else was there to do but make myself comfortable and meet the people in the line around me?

The girl in front of me was going to the states - probably the same reason for 95% of the line. The woman behind me, to Vegas and then to a vacation down south. They didn't ask where I was going, though they struck up some other conversations as we edged forward over the next hour and a half.

It's funny how strangers will talk to people they've never met before, and, in all likelihood, will never meet again. You have to wonder if these are things that they don't say to their own families, or what. The woman behind me asked if I had children (there was a baby further down the line), and I said "not yet" and mentioned I was getting married soon. She said, "Ah, new, young, love", then told me about her niece, who married her high school sweetheart, 10 years after high school, in May. In December... my brain kicked in and I heard that she found out she was expecting. I made the appropriate "oh, that's nice" sounds. Unfortunately, that's not what she said. In December, her daughter found out that her boyfriend of 10 years/husband of 7 months had always cheated on her, then he cleaned out her bank account and disappeared.

WHOA. Not just because she would tell that story to a stranger, but because she told it to a stranger who said she was about to get married. "You just never know." I guess that's true.

And I guess it takes all kinds.

Oh, and because I filled out my passport application online, I got bumped to the front of the line as soon as I got in the door; so I was out the door an hour (I'm guessing) faster than that terrible woman.

Karma? Probably not.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Winterlude 2007

I heard an expression once from a comedian, and I can't think of it in any other way, now. Winterlewd. Heh.

Here I am, skating on the Rideau canal. You can see me just about to go under the bridge
- I'm the one in the tocque.

Just made it through the first weekend of Winterlewd (hee hee) 2007. The weather was great for strolling through the Market (on my way home, or on the way to the gym), dodging tourists (with skates swinging from their shoulders), stopping for poutine (after too long at the Brig), and passing by a BeaverTails stand (again, 2 blocks from my house). The plans to go snowboarding on Saturday were quickly downgraded to plans to rent a movie and order pizza... because, at minus 6, it was pretty chilly, and probably chillier up on a ski hill.

Come to think of it, my usual efforts to Embrace Winter!TM have sucked pretty badly for the past two years. I used to bundle myself up and go for walks, go skating, and try to do as much outside stuff as possible, in order to step outside of my warm, hot-chocolate-filled cocoon (happy, happy, warm cocoon...). To Embrace Winter!TM, three years ago, I would walk 45 minutes to go meet a friend for tea. Two years ago, I took snowboarding lessons, which meant that, every Wednesday, come freezing rain, minus-20-degree weather, or... actually, it was only those two conditions, alternating without fail... where was I? Oh yes. I was inside with a book.

Last year, I went skating once. ONCE! No skiing, no snowboarding, no walks through beautiful Gatineau Park. What's changed?

10 guesses, and the first 9 don't count.

Ah, relationship comfort. If I may, let me look back at my past Embrace Winter!TM attempts, and see them a bit more clearly. In fact, instead of Embracing!TM, I think you could also label my
outside activities as ones designed to Impress Boys!TM.

The truth is hard to swallow. This mug of hot chocolate goes down much better... especially with a wee bit o' baileys...

Friday, 2 February 2007

Flossing? Check! What's next?

So, there's a neat tool out there called

It's an online, interactive site that lets you create a virtual image of yourself. From there, you can dress yourself up, see what clothes suit you, and also set body goals. Let's try this, shall we?

If you look closely, you'll see some major differences between the two images. Figure 1 (at left) is actually very close to what I look like, ponytail and all, on any given day.

If, however, my goal is to look like the infinitely more attractive Figure 2, I can use these images to inspire myself to blow-dry my hair more often (yes, it's in a ponytail today... again), and to wear a pushup bra.
Only time will tell if I stick to this strict styling and padding regime.

I'll start....tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

The winter of our dis(sed)content

I don't get it.

It now costs 52 cents to send a letter within Canada. Oh, actually, make that a STANDARD letter. Fancy square envelopes cost more. How much? $1.10. So, let's say you have a full roll of 52-cent stamps (or P for Permanent), and you want to mail out a batch of Fancy Square Wedding Invitations. You need to put two P stamps, and three, two-cent stamps on each.

Well, what about a square letter going to Australia? $1.55.

And a square letter going to the US? 93 cents.