Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Take a look, but don't see it... (bitching, media) that a new category?

I received a flyer with my daily Ottawa Citizen. The flyer says "Take a look at the new Queensway Carleton Hospital."

What the flyer doesn't do is actually show you a picture of the new Queensway Carleton Hospital!

I mean, showing pictures of the poeple who work in the QCH is all good and all, but when you tell them that you're doubling the number of...well, everything, and you've built an addition on a hideously ugly facility, and you go so far as to ask for a donation, maybe you should actually show us what it is supposed to look like!

My experiences there were primarily with asthma attacks, and they'd make you wait for an hour before admitting you. Somehow, surprisingly, the asthma attack had subsided by then...I wonder why? FCOL! Curing people by waiting for the ailment to go away before treating this how they cure imminent death, too?

- RG

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Many cycling comments today (diary)

Before I start, I just want to say that there are some pretty neat G. K. Chesterton quotes at WikiQuote.

Back to cycling. A cycling advocate was remembered today at a ceremony to unveil a plaque in his honour. Darrell Richards' name will be immortalized in a plaque at the Greenboro transit station, where he stood a few years ago with his son Simon and friend Tim Lane, dreaming about bringing the O-Train to that station.

I took my bike on the O-Train back to Bayview, and then checked out a staircase on Empress Avenue (the street across from the Transitway at Scott/Albert/Wellington street). A friend of mine in the City said that they were planning on redoing it and they were considering adding a ramp for bicycles. I took a number of pictures, and forwarded my comments to that friend.

Prior to this, on my way to the Bayview station this morning, I counted the number of holes on Scott Street between Oakdale and Western. There are nine. These holes are water shut-off valve access holes that are about nine inches in diameter, only they don't have the metal covers they should have. If a cyclist were to hit it, they could fall and/or be directed into the way of traffic. I reported this to the City of Ottawa's traffic people, as well as to my friend mentioned above.

Anyways, after I visited the staircase, I took the pathway home, and found a number of trees that had fallen in one spot onto the Ottawa River Pathway (South side of the Ottawa River Parkway) about 500m East of the Transitway entrance. I took a number of pictures. Upon doing so, I noticed that the trees were cut, not broken (i.e. by wind). They were cut above the chain link fence. I also noticed that on the other side of the fence was an infamous and very controversial residence whose owner had had troubles with the NCC.

Given these facts, that the trees on NCC property were deliberately cut, and that they were cut above the fenceline but within reach of the other side of the fence, and that they were not cleared from the path after being cut, and that the owner of this property has had previous spats with the NCC, I am led to believe that these trees were likely cut from within that property by someone who did not come around to the other side.

Anyway, I reported it by phone to the NCC on the spot (and it took long enough to try to get the person to understand where exactly this was), and left a note attached with red reflective tape (which seems to be my trademark when I encounter fallen foliage on the pathway). I'll check on it tomorrow or sometime to see if they have cleared it.

In other cycling commentary...I mentioned the notepad that I installed on my handlebars, did I not? Well, I had neglected to fasten it securely to the mounting bracket (I had just made holes for the bracket's bits and shoved it in). I will have to somehow find a way to screw it in securely. Back to the drawing board, as they say...

- RG.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Feeling better

I'm feeling a bit better now.

I caught a bit of Star Trek IV: The Return Home. Does anyone know why the human race is doomed if they don't get two whales? I missed that part. Sounds pretty loopy to me.

Anyway, I got a bit of fresh air, and felt a bit better, but my eyes still hurt. Must be cabin fever.

I also made a little clipboard that attaches to the handlebars of my bike. I wanted to see if it was possible, and lo and behold, it is! I used a clip from a light that I never use, a piece of thin particle board that I cut to a small notepad size, and the clip from a very unusual binder that has been sitting unused in my room for a long time. A bit of advice to those of you setting out to make your own: position it on the handlebars before assembling it. You may have to offset it so it sits flush with the bars. Also, the rivets that hold a clip to a clipboard or to a binder are a real bitch to get out. Good luck.

I would have gone out to test it, but it was too close to sundown. I'll be going out tomorrow morning at 10:30 for the service at Greenboro transit station to unveil a plaque in honour of Darrell Richards, who was a longtime public transportation advocate.

I also plan to take detailed notes of the location of several holes on Scott St. (Eastbound), as well as a hill at the end of some small streets that turn off Scott. The former I will report to the City, as they are a hazard to cyclists, and the latter I will check out to see if the stairway there can be adapted to include a ramp for bicycles in an upcoming renovation.

Hopefully I won't encounter a stupid motorist at Island Park Drive again!

- RG.

Cant...get...sleep (diary)

Okay, life officially sucks.

That ceiling fan I told you about is about as noisy as a clothes dryer, which means I'll have to return it, because anything louder than 0dB will prevent me from getting sufficient sleep.

I will also have to replace my blinds. They are so cheap that my room is completely lit up in the few hours after dawn. I not being a morning person, and dawn being very early, this is a problem. In the past, it wasn't too bad, because there was a tree (although the birds that resided in the tree were noisy).

Leaving my door open is also not an option, because *somebody* and his dog get up very early every morning. At least he's gone for a week and I may be able to get some peace and quite sleeping on the sofabed in the basement.

And in case you're wondering, no, I don't have a hangover. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. It's just a simple case of constant sleep deprivation. There was an article in today's Citizen about sleep apnea.

I would scream, but I'm too tired....

- RG.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Perpetual Brain Fart (diary)

I've done a lot in the last couple of days, and now I'm today I was really, really tired.

Case in point, that last sentence.

I was out doing work-related stuff from 11:00 to 20:00 yesterday, part of which included hauling our booth in a trailer behind my bike.

Along with that booth, I also brought home a bike trainer with a generator attached, that has for years been sitting untouched in the office. I installed light bulbs (five) and re-did the wiring, and now I can light up a string of regular lights just with my bike!

Well, I thought it was cool...

We took advantage of a great big sale at Motionware by buying $350 worth of stuff, including a Sens jersey for $90, and new shoes for me (which I desperately needed) that were half price. My dad got a tankini. Go figure.

I also installed a ceiling fan in my room. It literally cost $20. You can tell they saved a lot of money on the instructions: not only was the darn machine made in China, but the instructions were probably written there, too!

Oops...I forgot to post's been sitting on my laptop for a few hours now. Daily Show's on.

I think I've said all that I need to.

- RG.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Ten Thousand Spam! (announcement)

Today marks the addition of the ten-thousandth unsolicited email to be put in my spam folder since I got my laptop in February.

Of course, this only counts the ones that were marked as unread. If you count ones that I either read or the computer thought I did because I clicked on it, then I have 10,243 junk messages.

If I'm not mistaken, that comes out to about 100 spam a day.

That's like,

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam,
spam, spam, spam, spam, spam!

Did you find all the hidden links?

- RG

Monday, June 21, 2004

Not voting on June 28th (diary)

It's official, and I have no way to change my mind...I won't be voting on Monday, June 28th.

Neither will my Dad. But he has a reason. You see, he'll be out in the sticks on that day and the days surrounding it. I'll likely be sitting at home, reading up on the monday website updates, drawing up more documents, and probably watching tv. I suppose I'll also spend a bit of time preparing for my job interview the next day, and anticipating an uneventful Canada day.

Of course, the reason I won't be voting on the 28th is that I voted today. Dad went to cast his ballot at the advance poll, so I figured I would too.

I still find it funny that we have both a Communist party and a Marxist-Leninist party, but hey, that's democracy for you.

Hopefully, no terribly ugly thing will happen between now and the election date.

- RG

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Three days?!?

Hmm... my last post was on the 17th. That means three days without a post.

I remember getting grouchy a few times, then thinking about blogging about the things I was grouchy about, then not.

I've noticed that some of my entries have been getting long. So I'll just focus on one thing that happened this weekend.

I got a call back from a police officer who was investigating the incident I talked about on the 11th.

He needed some clarifications about the incident, and also mentioned that he knows a friend of mine who is both a bicycle police officer and CAN-BIKE instructor. He said that given the gravity of the infraction, and given the detail of my report, he will not just give the gentleman a call, but actually go to the man's house!

I also took that opportunity to ask him some questions I had about traffic law. Some things my Driving instructor told me last year didn't quite jive. Here's what he told me:

  • When in a dedicated turning lane, you must signal. The only exception is if there is no other traffic at the intersection (in any direction). My driving instructor had told me that if there were two left turn lanes, and you were in the rightmost one, you should not signal to turn left because that could be interpreted as wanting to go to the leftmost turning lane. This officer told me that you should always signal, so that other drivers (especially those in other directions) know you will be crossing their paths.

  • If you come to an intersection where the street you're on jogs, you don't need to signal so long as your vehicle's direction stays within 45 degrees of 'straight'. This is because if you're signalling right, other drivers will think you're turning right, but then you signal left immediately after, and really confuse them. The officer said he knows of one instance in downtown Ottawa where the jog is at a one-way street, and actually makes you go a bit in the direction opposite of that one way; however, since you don't have to turn more than 45 degrees onto that street, you're still allowed to cross that intersection.

  • Lastly, and perhaps most important, the officer confirmed my belief that you enter the intersection after you pass the wide white stop line, not after crossing the crosswalk line closest to the middle of the intersection (as my driving instructor had told me). The officer said that some people draw an imaginary line from the edge of the cross street's sidewalk and think that's where the intersection starts. I know from reading the Highway Traffic Act that this is not correct, and the officer said so too.

I'll have to call my instructor. I tried on Friday or Saturday, but his cell phone number is no longer in service, so I'll have to call the school to contact him from there. Don't get me wrong, he was a great instructor, and knew most of his stuff, it's just that I, a traffic buff, had a lot of technical questions that he was not prepared to answer (actually, for many rides, he was the one asking me about situations he was unsure about!)

- RG.

PS: see what I mean about long posts... and this was only one topic!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fruit that isn't musical... (diary)

I've decided to quit hamburgers and hotdogs. It's the least I can do after seeing Super Size Me. The timing is interesting, too, because we still have a lot of hamburger buns left over from last weekend's party.

I made another fruit salad. This time I bought Red Delicious apples, and I fell that it gives it more colour variety. I also added grapes (although these were tiny!), and left out watermelon, because it made the other stuff soggy and icky.

I also made egg salad for sandwiches (instructions: boil some eggs, chop them up, add mayonnaise and maybe some salt. Makes about one sandwich per egg). This time, I added chopped lettuce ('cause there was some) and terragon and savory for something different. Not half bad if I say so myself! (Note: don't hard boil Omega 3 eggs. They're a pain in the patootin' to peel.)

I had a meeting last night, and I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow (in the morning, IIRC). I've been busy getting stuff ready for that, and overall being very tired. I took a multivitamin.

I went to MEC today to spend the gift certificate that a friend gave me for lending him my bike while T&L kept his hostage for repairs.

It took me a while to find something that I could convince myself I wanted to buy. I eventually got a PlanetBike red rear light and a Topeak Alien II to replace my PlanetBike multitool that I had gotten at a ride.

I still have to replace my VistaLite Headlight, whose light has melted and broken in too many ways for me to fix any more (don't leave it plugged in, even with the switch off - it will burn out!). I plan to buy the same thing, as my battery still works, the light is bright, and the battery fits with my mini pump's tube bracket. (LED headlights make you visible, but can't light the way very well).

I said I was going to link to someone else's blog. I'll have to figure out how to do that sometime. I'm sure I can figure it out by seeing how it's done at CrAzy/BeAutiFuL. I also added my name to the queue for the listing at Listed on Blogwise (Blogwise). It said there are 934 blogs in queue to be added by human volunteers, and I should expect to get listed in 12 days. Whoa.

I think I got enough links in there. TTFN

- RG

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The last line... (diary)

I spoke with Greg Furlong, an associate of mine, and told him about my poem (see the previous entry).

He said that if a melody were attached, it would be good for his choir. I mentioned the last line, but he suggests that his choir does not take any particular stance. Nevertheless, I think I will change the last line to "Would you like meat on your plate?" (The original last line was "Shut up and put meat on my plate!")

The advantages of the new last line are that it is balanced and does not take a position (much like the other lines), and that it is a question (like the other lines). However, having an exclamation can make for a good conclusion.

I've come up with a simple melody (it is a fairly simple song), although it may be better if it were talk-sung. In any case, it can't be sung as written, in question form, because that just sounds stupid (try even just saying it, and you get tired of it).

This reminds me about the song my friend and I wrote in our High School band trip to Austria. The song was called "Get Out of My Face". Remind me to write about it sometime. Everyone else in the group was so kind as to not tell us how sick they were of singing it, even when we sang it over the P.A. system on the plane coming back. I met that frend yesterday before we saw Super Size Me, and we reminisced. Primarily about our Russian friend Fedor. Heh, heh...that Fedor...

[Insert something like "Cheers" or "Sincerely" or "TTYL" here]

- RG

Meat Is... (wanderful)

For the first time in a while, I used the bus without my bike. This meant that for the first time in a while, I had to wait at the transit station to transfer.

I noticed a few things had changed. I noticed on the wall someone had spray painted in large letters, "MEAT IS" (I would have posted a link, but Geocities won't let me link from outside their site...grumble)

Obviously someone was interrupted somehow before he or she finished his or her message.

That got me wondering (hence the entry category)...what was the vandal's intended message?

Meat Is,
A poem by RealGrouchy:

Meat Is.
Meat is What?

Meat is Good? Meat is Bad?
Meat is Happy? Meat is Sad?
Meat is Big? Meat is Small?
Meat isn't really meat at all?

Meat is Dirty? Meat is Clean?
Meat is Fat? Meat is Lean?
Meat is Dark? Meat is White?
Meat digests well overnight?

*Meat is Cheap? Meat is Dear?
Meat is Far? Meat is Near?
Meat is Hot? Meat is Cold?
Meat is rotten when it's old?

Meat is Cooked? Meat is Raw?
Meat is Cool? Meat is Blah?
Meat is Evil? Meat is Great?
**Do you want meat on your plate?

Hmmm. Not a bad poem, if I say so myself. A surprise ending, no?

I suppose twenty years from now, when I've long been a vegetarian, I'll look at this and think...

man, I miss meat.

- RG

*Third stanza added 16/06/04
** Last line changed 16/06/04 from "Shut up and put meat on my plate!"

Two icky things, and other things (diary)

A couple of things happened tonight.

I saw Super Size Me, the documentary about the hazards of fast food. A lot of it is just plain sick. I think everyone should see it; it gives many reasons for voting Green (though it doens't mention the party). The Green party would shift the focus from treating health problems to preventing them by enouraging a healthier lifestyle. Hopefully, they'll do something about all those ads.

An interesting analogy was made in the movie: A typical child sees 10,000 (entertaining) advertisements a year for junk food alone. This means that if a concerned parent were to give an entertaining, amusing message to their child about the benefits of eating healthily at every meal, that child would only receive 1000 such messages, 1/10 of what the corporate junkmakers show. If you've got a kid, get a TiVo (or other PVR) now, or get them to stop watching TV (and Disney movies).

After the movie, as I came home from the bus stop around midnight, there were these two kids who were on their bikes and were wearing dark clothing. I was a bit afraid, but I had my mini keychain flashlight to keep visible. Then, as they passed me and turned up my street, I saw that they were not threatening teenagers, but a boy and girl, about 15. As they were unhelmeted and not lit, I was tempted to shout out "do you know how many laws you are breaking?" Little did I know... (read on)

As I walked up my street, I saw them stop at the end of the block. The girl had gotten off her bike and laid it on a lawn, and it looked like they were talking. Then they got a bit more personal than talking. Then he put down his bike and they both got down on the grass (okay, 'got down' probably isn't the best choice of words). Not knowing what to make of it, I watched from behind my dad's evil SUV, and they didn't seem to see me.

After a couple of minutes, I went inside because I couldn't see much, and I couldn't think of any laws that they were breaking. I went up to my room, fetched my binoculars, and tried to see more, but there was a tree in the way. I collected various electronic devices to try to view and record this, but my view was obstructed, and I didn't want to go back outside, because that would be just weird.

A vehicle went by, and I thought it might be one of their parents, but how could I know. I think that the driver would have definitely seen the two as he/she passed by.

About fifteen minutes after this all started, I heard the whirring sound of a bicycle, and looked to see the boy riding away. I tried to take a picture (no flash, of course), but the exposure was too long and he was moving. I wonder what they did, and quite frankly, it's probably better that I don't know. I also what would have happened if I had said "do you realize how many laws you are breaking?"

- RG.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Bloggers in a dangerous time... (diary)

The title is irrelevant; I just thought of the song "Lovers in a dangerous time" (I think that's what it is...I haven't heard it in many years), while also thinking about blogging.

So anyway, I've finished two of the three documents (resume and portfolio are finished, have yet to do the cover letter), and I downloaded copies of all eight letters to the editor (of the Ottawa Citizen) that were published. (Unfortunately, there two letters that had photos in the paper did not have them in the online archives). I found the articles via the Ottawa Public Library's website and online directories that are linked from it.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I got up and I think I had a cold. My ears were (and are still) hurting a bit, and my nose broke the ten-minute-mile it was running so fast. Nevertheless, I had made a commitment to host a booth at a local community event, and since I was doing it by myself until the afternoon, I decided to go anyway. Despite bringing a full packet of facial tissues, and some backup, and an old roll of toilet paper that I keep in my bicycle's pannier bags (which was actually at the very end at that time), I still had to resort to using napkins from the barbecue. However, when I spoke with a friend, he said his allergies were terrible this weekend, too, so maybe it's the weather.

I trudged through today waiting for it to end, because I'm so eager to see my friends and watch Super Size Me tomorrow. Oh well. If you're going to waste your time, you might as well do what comes naturally: nothing.

The Daily Show is on in about 10 minutes, and I can't think of much more to write about. Oh, yeah. There's a couple of things that were in the news.

In today's MacLean's magazine (it's confirmed--those lousy fuckers are only sending it to me every other week!) there is an article on Carbon Dioxide emissions (p.54). Titled the other low-carb diet, it talks about people who apply a value to the amount of carbon dioxide they produce, then donate that much time or money to charitable organizations, to get out of 'CO2 debt'.

Also, I'm planning on writing a new letter to the Citizen complaining about how the media asks everybody if the actions of the Ontario (Provincial) Liberals will affect their vote in the upcoming federal election. Why the fuck is everybody ignoring the devastation left by the Ontario Tories? Eh?!? Now that affects my vote.

Oh, yeah. You might have noticed I'm saying the F-word a bit more often. I guess I'm getting comfortable here. I'm also getting angry at all the lousy jerks out there who piss me off. Heh, heh. That reminds me of an amusing parody of the mickey mouse theme song that doesn't go well over text. I guess that's why I've got this name.

Anyway, it's 23:00, time for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (pardon the absence of a link).

- RG

Saturday, June 12, 2004

So very tired...applying for a job (diary)

(Sidenote: I tried posting this once - make that twice -, but there was an error. Good thing I ctrl+c'd the entry! Then, when I tried google to see if my connection was down, or if it was the blog server, I typed in dfsdf or something unintelligible like that, and it returned ten pages of results!)

I couldn't get to sleep tonight.

I got an email earlier today about a job opportunity with a local branch of a large non-profit network. The position is "Media Development Project Coordinator". I have a lot of experience working on the kind of stuff that for this position I would actually get paid for.

I had figured I'd work on the application next week, but as I lay in bed trying to sleep, I was mentally designing a web page that would link to all of the things I have made, in order to demonstrate my organizational and design abilities.

Unfortunately, I can't post a link or a copy of that web page because it contains personal information, and I'm trying to keep my identity separate from this blog at this point (not for any particular reason, but if I eventually find a reason that I may want to conceal my identity, I cannot do so if I have already revealed it. Understand? Good).

- RG.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Dumbass car driver, how to report a (Bitching, diary, advice)

Before I start, I just wanted to say that I remember writing an entry yesterday, but it said there was an error. I don't remember what that entry was about; it's possible that the one that was published yesterday was that one.

Anyways, yesterday I had a small pizza at Gabriel's Pizza, but couldn't finish it, so I tied it to my bike's rear rack with a couple of bungee cables that I always keep on me. Pretty cool, eh?

Anyways, this dumbass driver did the stupidest thing was I was coming home. It's a bit long to explain, but I'll try. Because I spoke with so many people, the story is re-told, but it gets more concise each time I tell it:

I was on my bicycle, approaching a red light at an intersection where many cars going in my direction tend to turn right. Traffic was very light; there was only one car, and he was behind me. As I neared the intersection, I saw in my rear-view mirror that he wasn't signalling, but figured he might still be turning, so I moved to the centre of the right lane (there were two lanes going straight in my direction, among others).

I as I stopped, I saw that he was now signalling, so I moved forward and to the left, so that I was on the line between the two rightmost lanes (so there's a full lane to my right), and a bit past the stop line. This way, there was more than enough room for him to move into and through that lane at the red light.

The stupid dumbass moves to my left, stops, looks all ways, and starts to turn. Needless to say, I shouted at him (I think my exact words were, "DUMBASS...FUCKING DUMBASS!"), and then indicated to him in a similar tone that he should turn right from the rightmost part of the road. He sort of stared at me, then got back to turning right. I looked at the car driver behind me as if to say, "Is this guy stupid or what?"

By this point, the light turned green, so I stopped on the other side to get my pen out to write his plate number on my arm so I wouldn't forget. Then, I remembered I had instructions in my wallet for reportin aggressive driving (although I realize his driving was not aggressive, but it was a pretty extravagant case of being illagal.) I pulled out my cell phone, and then thought, hey, how about instead of just writing down the info, I call him in right now?

I decided not to do that until I got my information straight. I then considered chasing him, but by that point it was too late. So I decided to finish the ride home and report it when I get there. I looked at my watch to get the time and looked at my arm to remember the plate number. D'oh! I had decided not to write it! Luckily, I had said it to myself v-e-r-y c-l-e-a-r-l-y and I was able to recover it.

When I got home, I called Ottawa Police. I made a recording of my side of the phone conversation on my PDA (so it's tough trying to figure out what they said; I should have used a speakerphone). I'll say now that I've put instructions for reporting stupid behaviour like this at the end of this blog entry. When I got to the "press this or that", it said there was a list of frequently called numbers in the red pages of the phone book. I got that, then phoned again and pressed the button that got me to an operator, because the red pages didn't show anything that jumped out at me.

So I spoke with the operator, who was very friendly (all the attendants I spoke to were very friendly and helpful). I explained the situation, and she put me through to collision investigators...

I explained the situation to that person (I think it was a man), and asked that person if this was a significant enough offence to report. There was a bit of confusion as to the lanes. Eventually, I conveyed to him that I was to the left of the right lane, which was completely empty, and the driver passed me and turned from the left lane. The guy (I think he was a constable or detective) said that it is illegal to turn right from the left turn lane. I said, "yes, I'm quite aware of that, and, uh, I made him aware of it too!" So I asked if he'd like me to report it. He asked if I saw the driver. I said, I did. He asked if he pulled over and we talked, and I said very casually (think Bob Newhart), "well, no, he drove off. But he stopped as he was passing, and then as I was yelling at him, uh, he looked at me."

He made sure I had the plate number and car description, and said I could file a formal traffic complaint and it will be assigned to a district traffic officer in that area, and they will follow up with me. It would depend on how much evidence there is, if there were any witnesses, etc.

He passed me on to extention 7300 (it's listed in the red pages).

A lady came on the phone, and I explained the situation very briefly at first, to get the general idea (she apparently was scribbling this all down). I gave her this information:
- I was on my bicycle, stopped at an intersection
- I was on the dotted line, so there was a full lane (perhaps I should have said empty lane) to my left, and full lane to my right
- The driver, instead of going to my right and turning right on the light, went to my left and turned right

I then gave the more detailed version, which you already know (with street names, and other stuff).

She must have made some comment as to the stupidity of the driver's move, because I said "yeah, there's all kinds".

I gave her the time of the incident, and she asked if it was still light outside at the time. I then gave her my particulars (including my name, birthdate, home and cellphone numbers), and description of the vehicle (licence plate number ARLD 683, white recent model station-wagon-type vehicle), described the driver (male, around 50, geying hair, white), and there were no passengers in the car.

She asked what I would like the police to do. I tought this was very quaint. I asked "what are my options?" Apparently, some people only want to report it, but don't want the police to do anything about it. How unproductive and stupid. Upon her suggestion, I asked her to have the driver contacted to let him know what the rule is in that situation.

I told her I'm a member of Citizens for Safe Cycling, so any opportunity to educate a motorist, I try to take. She gave me the case number, and I thanked her.

So here's How to report bad or aggressive driving: (modified from the instructions I had in my wallet)
These instructions and tips are only if you are not hit or injured. Disclaimer: these are my tips based on this one incident; I am not a police officer and this advice is not official.
1. Stop.
2. Take note of the vehicle make, model, colour, licence plate number, the location and time and the driver's description, as well as the descriptions of any passengers. See if there are any witnesses who can corroborate (important if you want charges laid).
      - make sure you get the exact licence plate number; often plates are distributed in bulk to the same dealership, so simliar models can have very similar plate numbers.
      - note driver's skin colour, approximate age, hair colour, whether he/she wears glasses, and any other distinguishing features (facial hair, etc.). The colour of their shirt is not as useful.
      - if you have a camera, try to take photos of the car as it zooms off, as well as of the area. This will save your memory. Take many photos in case some don't turn out well. If the camera is digital, don't turn it off until it is finished writing the picture. If you have a device that will record audio, take note of everything mentioned here.
      - also check the little things, like the light sequence if at an intersection, where you and they were in the lane, whether the other driver's lights were on, and the lighting/weater conditions at the time.
3. If you think the driver is impaired and/or could hurt someone, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, call the local police (613-236-1222 in Ottawa). Try to be friendly. If it's not an emergency, you should go to a place where you can fulfil as many of these criteria:
      - you can use a landline (cell phone reception is often poor, and wind may obsctruct sound)
      - you can make an audio recording of the call (perhaps more for your own use than anything else)
      - if making an audio recording, try using a speakerphone so the other side of the conversation is also recorded
      - take notes, and take audio notes of things the recorder may not have picked up from the other side, like where you're being forwarded.
      - you have a listing of police phone numbers and extentions (the red pages)
4. Dial the extention for reporting incidents (7300 in Ottawa) or tell the operator you would like to make a formal traffic complaint, or make a report of road rage (depending on the case).
5. Give a brief description of the incident to give them the gist of what happened. Say that you want a report taken, and ask for the report number (if they don't give it to you). Give them all the details of the incident (they will probably prompt you) and let them know if you took pictures. They will also prompt you for your name, date of birth, home and cell/business number, address, etc.
      - if they say they will not take a report, ask for their name and ID, and their supervisor's name, and ask to speak to the supervisor, then again ask for the report to be taken. If they refuse, write a complaint letter to the Chief of Police.
      - take note of anything that you have not already noted, including time of the phone call.
6. If you have not heard back from the police in 2-3 weeks, call them and ask to speak to the investigator of your incident.

Hopefully, you'll never have to go through this. Ottawa drivers on the whole are fairly obedient, stupid as some are.

- RG.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Nothing's working (diary, bitching, advice)

Man, everything I try to do today has something go wrong. Hopefully everyone can learn a lesson from it:

- Those stupid new fridge pack boxes of 12 cokes aren't tilted so that they roll to the front. This makes you believe that there are some when there are not. I found out after I put the hamburgers on the barbecue that I was out, so I had to go to the mall to get some more coke (in the past, I'd put a flat of them in the cupboard, and I could see easily how many I had left). Solution: take the part you rip off of the front and tape it to the bottom back, sot that it tilts forward.

- I went to the mall to get more coke. The grocery store didn't have any, so I had to go to the pharmacy. Then, as I was in line at the pharmacy, my dad called to say we were out of hamburger buns. I then had to go all the way to the grocery store to buy the buns, then back to the pharmacy to buy the drinks (I didn't want to take outside drinks into a grocery store). Solution: make sure you have hamburger buns when you cook hamburgers.

- I cam home and found that Dad had "kept an eye on" the hamburgers as I had asked him to. He watched they burnt to a crisp. Solution: instead of counting on someone else to cook, turn it off and cook it later.

- As I'm trying to copy some once-in-a-year photos I got from Doors Open Ottawa that I wanted to post to Wikipedia, I found that the batteries on my camera had been low, and therefore it took a long time for it to copy the photos to the card. As a result, I had turned off the camera before the photo was fully copied, and now the file is corrupt. Stupid Minolta should design cameras that only turn off when not in use. I lost photos of old buses (and one brand-spaking new hybrid one) at OC Transpo, a photo of a cross-cut fire hydrant that would have been great for Wikipedia, and some of the old Union Station. Now am I going to go to these same places next year just to get the photos?!? Stupid Minolta. Solution: send a complaint to Minolta, and let camera turn itself off (done).

- Wikipedia said it was going down for a while. Now I have to do something until it's back up.

- RG.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Blah (diary)

Nothing much happened today. It was very hot and very humid.

I had a meeting where a project I've been working on for almost a year is getting very close to implementation.

Other than that, there's not much interesting that happened. I think I'll post some more of my images to Wikipedia.

I only yelled at the TV once or twice today, so there's nothing to talk about here. No point wasting our time by writing a lot of empty drivel.

Except, I forgot to mention that the person I was going to meet to see Super Size Me forgot about a class they had yesterday, and had to cancel (with reasonable notice). We'll be seeing it next Tuesday.

As I was reading someone's user page on Wikipedia, I came across a very entertaining thing on mnemonic devices, which reminded me of an old friend. I called him, and we chatted and got up to speed, and I invited him to come with us to meet before the movie (and then go see it). He has to get back to me. Hmm... haven't heard from him yet, maybe soon.

- RG

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Queen's Park and the race for 24 Sussex (Politics, bitching)

Daily show was on commercial, so I flipped and got to the Ontario Parliament channel, and here was this PC party guy complaining about a constituent of his who had a sports injury and couldn't get an MRI scan until late 2005, and this guy blames the Liberal government! The nerve!

This isn't 1984. It's not like the Liberals have always been in power; prior to last Fall, the Conservative party had been in power for eight years. How the hell could a year-and-a-half backlog accumulate in a matter of months?!? And then they go around and complain about the taxes raised to put desperately-needed money into the health-care system.

Now, I don't like how the Premier had promised not to raise taxes, but let's be serious: eight years of tax freezes and cuts... I mean inflation people! You take in less money, but pay each employee more? Obviously, every single service will go to the shits in that kind of situation. McGuinty shouldn't have promised not to raise taxes, but had he not, he probably wouldn't have gotten elected, and then the Conservatives would continue to take our money and give it to auto manufacturers. I'd rather have McGuinty lie to me to do something necessary than to have him lose and let these problems get worse.

Same argument goes for municipalities.

Federal government needs to cut spending, so they download to the provinces. Provinces need to cut spending, so they tell municipalities where to spend their money. The result: we get higher municipal taxes, the absolute worst type of taxes we have.

I don't see why people think that just because McGuinty broke his promises that Paul Martin will, too. I mean, Paul Martin has been finance minister for the last long time, and we know (and he certainly does) that we have a federal surplus. If anyone knows how much money the federal government has, it's Paul Martin. Steven Harper, on the other hand, wants to increase spending significantly in the fields of 'defence' and health care, and decrease taxes. Then, when Paul Martin says that this would require cutting spending on other social programs, Harper says that Paul Martin is lying. What a jackass! How stupid does he think Canadians are? (I guess we'll find out come election day).

But we can't forget that Paul Martin has the sponsorship scandal on his shoulders. Whereas I believe McGuinty had a reason to break his promises ('lie', if you will), the federal liberals just plain stole from Canadians.

And another thing, this morning's paper Steven Harper said that we couldn't trust the Liberals. I dislike the overuse of this word. Many people's excuse for choosing only between the Grits and the Tories is that they (in some incarnation) have been the only two parties to ever be in power. And yet, whenever they are elected, they break their promises. Come next election time, the one who hasn't been in power says we can't "trust" that party. And so the disenchanted people vote for the other party, which, people can't "trust". I say give a third party a chance, and see how they can run the country.

This morning's Ottawa Citizen had a thing about how candidates aren't supposed to eat while there are cameras present, because it is bad for their image. Stupid fucking media: I'm not voting for the most graceful glutton, I'm voting for someone to run my country. The media feeds us this shit then complains about voter apathy. Youth vote my ass. Stop spending all your time talking about why people aren't getting involved, and give them the information to get them involved.

I think I'll write a letter to the Citizen about that one.

- RG

The other other white meat (Wanderful)

As my mind was wandering, I was thinking about that quote from Austin Powers 2, where Fat Bastard said, "Baby: The other, other white meat!"

That got me thinking: would baby meat be white? Well, of course, baby meat would be the same as any other human meat, and skin colour wouldn't matter.

(side note: I'm watching the Practise...because it was there, not by my choosing. The prosecution called a sidebar, and as it was finishing, she pointed her finger at the judge and said, "okay, but before I sit down, I'm going to shake my finger at you like this so that it doesn't look like you're just brushing me off, and so that I look authoritative." I think that was just hilarious.)

So I was thinking, okay, so what are the current white meats? I would assume poultry and fish. But what's an animal that is often used to simulate human flesh? Pig. But isn't pig meat essentially white? Or is it considered 'dark'? Wouldn't it make that the other, other white meat?

Of course, this is assuming that human meat and pig meat are very similar. So if that is the case, than 'baby' meat would either not be considered white meat, or would be the "other, other, other" white meat, after poultry, fish, and pig.

What do you think?

- RG

The ride home (diary)


Cycling home on the pathways, I came across a man on a handcycle (I can't find a good link for it; it's like a tricycle wheelchair crossed with a bicycle). He was going slower than I was, so I rang my bell, called out "passing!" and passed. As I passed, he mentioned that he could see me in his rear view mirror.

What started out as me passing him ended up with us talking for a good part of the way home. He said he had just gotten the handcycle about a month ago, and it cost about $10,000. It cost that much because he had opted for carbon-fibre components and other expensive stuff. He said that less expensive versions cost as little as $3000 (you can't get compensated for them because they are 'recreational').

He told me that some lady had whacked him with her tennis racket earlier, claiming that the paths were 'for people only' (as opposed to bicyclists, pedestrians, inline skaters, and the like).

I told him that I was a Pathway Patroller, and he said I was the first he had met, although this is understandable, since he has only been out a month, and Pathway Patrol was launched only this morning (and won't start until next week).

He asked if I had seen any other handcycles on the pathways, and I said that I didn't, but I did say that the Canadian Kilometer Achievement Program (C-KAP) has a handcycle program.

He told me of his aspirations to go to Germany with his hancycle, and also to ride it down to Kingston over three days with his wheelchair in tow, stay there a week, then go to some other town where he grew up.

I had to turn off to another path to go home, so we said goodbye, and he said his name was Randy. I gave him my name, and we said maybe we'll see each other again.

As I rode off, I thought to myself how wonderful it was that I could meet someone, just by calling out "passing!"

- RG.

Tuesday Morning (diary)

I got up early this morning for the Pathway Patrol launch. I met the mayor of Ottawa, Bob Chiarelli (who, incidentally, lives in my neighbourhood). I spoke with him about his office, which I had visited during Doors Open Ottawa, and he asked me how I enjoyed the weekend. I told him the places I visited, and said that I enjoyed them very much. I also suggested that they should include the O-Train in next year's event, and he said it was a good idea. I feel flattered.

Anyway, the event went well and I got to meet a bunch of patrollers I haven't seen in a while. There was a good complement of bike police and bike paramedics there, too (two of whom I know). Because I got up so early, I didn't get a chance to read the paper. Maybe when I get home.

Now I'm at the office, writing this while cooling down (I'm not on the clock, don't worry!) It's really hot and humid out there.

Well, I've found some work to do. So I've got to wrap things up here.

- RG

Monday, June 07, 2004

Monday, Monday (Diary)


I've given a category to today's post, because I don't know of any internal categorization available in this blog software, so at least people can either see the list of entries and what type they are, or search them. I'll add different categories as they come up.

Wikipedia was down today! The recent update to their software must have screwed everything up, and it was down for the whole day. A notice on the page says that it is close to coming back online. An interesting thing about Wikipedia is that it is about the only thing I have donated money to. Well, I mean, I'm not talking about dropping your change in the box at Tim Horton's, but like actally giving money. I had about seven bucks in my Paypal account, and when I first learnt of Wikipedia and saw how amazingly cool it was, I gave them all my money. I wasn't going to use it for anything else.

Anyways, today I went to the grocery store and got some more fruit to make a fruit salad. Last week was my first try, and this time I got some old family wisdome to help. Last time, I had trouble with the orange, because I didn't know how I should cut it. I eventually peeled it and cut it like you would a pear or apple. But this left all the pulpy stuff, and it quickly lost its flavour, and so they orange bits tasted pretty bad. This time, with the advice of the family matriarch, I cut it in half and scooped out the insides with a graprefruit spoon, leaving the pulpy stuff on the outside. Also on said advice, I added some orange juice to the salad to give it more...juice. I also added watermelon for the juiciness. Mmm, mmm. It's very good, cheap, and lasts in the fridge for about a dozen servings.

Today I went with my Dad as he walked his dog. We went to a nearby store and tied her up (the dog, that is) to a small tree. By the time we got out, she had chewed the lead in two, but was still sitting by the tree (this is very unusual for our dog, as she usually gets distracted by a squirrel and chases it as soon as she can escape. Go figure.

At the store I mentioned above, I got a replacement swiss army knife for the one that broke yesterday (see Sunday/Monday, below). Nothing special about it; it's the same kind as the last one so I can put my engraved plate from the old one on the new one. When I looked at the documentation inside the package, however, I noticed that Victorinox (the maker of the knife) puts a lifetime warrantee on their knives. I shall have to see if I can take advantage of it...

Well, I got to go; I have an early morning tomorrow for the launch of the Pathway Patrol on the other end of town (although I'll probably end up Rack & Rolling most of the way there.

Hmm. I don't think I said much about transportation. I'll have to do an op-ed post sometime soon....

- RG


So yesterday I went to some more Doors Open Ottawa places:

  • the Lemieux Island water treatment facility, where I actually got to see the tanks where they filter the water;

  • the Bytowne Museum, where, admittedly, I didn't see anything on the tour that I didn't already know or couldn't figure out on my own;

  • the former Union Station, made in Beaux-Arts style (which means it looks classical, but everything is fake);

  • the Cartier Square Drill Hall, where there were many interesting exhibits and I got a really neat tour by one of the officers who told us about the new Canadian Forces fatigues; and

  • the former Teacher's College where there really wasn't that much to see, other than the Mayor's Office (boy, does he have a lot of promotional pens and hats).

On my way home by the pathways, it was really windy (the wind blows lightly from the West in the mornings, and strongly from the West in the afternoons, meaning that I pretty much get the worst of both worlds). There was a guy who was stopped on the side of the path; the chain on his son's bike had fallen off, but was stuck inside the chain cover, so he had difficulty in getting it back on. I stopped to help him, as I am a pathway patroller. With my multi-tool and my latex gloves, we eventually got the chain back on, only for it to fall right back off when he tried turnin the pedals. He said that he got the bike at the Great Glebe Garage sale, and thinks that he can fix the problem by cleaning the chain...good luck.

I've made tentative plans to see Super Size Me with some friends at the Bytowne Cinema on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, and my swiss army knife broke. I was using the scissors, and the little metal springy thing in the scissors broke in two. It's just as well, because the scissors were wearing down a bit, and I wanted to replace it anyway. I plan to get the same kind, and use the engraved faceplates on my current one.

I started reading No Logo: Taking aim at the Brand Bullies by Naomi Klein (I would link to the official page if I could find it). It's a pretty hefty book, but I'll get through it.

That's all I can think of today. There wasn't anything in the paper this morning that made me feel like bitching about it. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

- RG.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Hello, world!


My name is RealGrouchy. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and have long wanted to have a blog where I could respond to stuff in the media, like in my local paper(s), and on TV.

Don't get me wrong, I have had a number of letters to the editor posted (twice with photos!), and have phoned in to cable talk shows, but there is just so much to comment on, and when I send a letter to a paper, it is well researched and has a good, sound argument. This is where I will be posting everything that does not meet this criteria.

I like to contribute to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I encourage you to do so, as everybody knows something about something. Even if you don't, you can do something easy like adding to the list of songs or something. My username there is also RealGrouchy, so drop me a line sometime.

Anyways, this weekend, there's a city-wide event going on called Doors Open Ottawa where lots of places that are not normally accessible to the public let people in to see what's inside. Yesterday I visited OC Transpo, our local bus service, to see what kind of stuff was in in their control centre. Really cool stuff! But what I'm getting at is that I don't want to waste more time writing this when I can go out and visit some more places today.


- RG.