It has been three months … more than three months since I last wrote anything for this blog. I have both been busy and not busy, depending on the week so I really have no excuse.
What inspired me to log in? Well, to rant of course (what nil percentage of blog posts are not some form of ranting or another, anyhow?) and a facebook status update just didn’t seem adequate. In an attempt to make this more interesting than just another boring rant (or perhaps this makes it less interesting?) I’ll through in some general updates along the way.
Lately, I have been working on rebuilding my road bike. Toronto, it turns out, is really bloody hilly and not so much fun on a rickety, old cruiser bike that weighs as much as I do. As much as I love the cruiser style, I sold my bike in favour of using a road bike for all those times I need to head north in Toronto – which is basically every day. For those who bike in this city, you undoubtedly know what I mean.
So, after more than two months of love labour and forced patience I was able to bring my bike home from the Bike Works shop (a community DIY shop at run by Evergreen) where I volunteer – check them out because it is a great program and space with the goal of increasing accessibility, awareness, and knowledge of how to commute and recreate on a bike in this often crazy city. It wasn’t completely finished, but it was close enough to happily ride. As I was installing some fenders, after riding it for only TWO days, the mounting bolt for the front break SNAPPED!!! How this happened I do not know. Perhaps I absorbed some ambient gamma radiation and now my strength is immeasurable; that, or it is just an old bike and an old bolt. I was nonplussed and unimpressed, to say the least. Fast forward a week to today: I scrounged up enough parts and gumption to finish installing the fenders (achievement unlocked) and took it for a test ride this evening. I was biking down a small side street and was about 10m away from a stop sign, for which I was slowing down. Let’s say about 9m from the same stop sign, there was this pedestrian walking his tiny little dog in the same direction. He made a move to cross the street without looking and the dog ran out in front of me, necessitating an abrupt skid stop to avoid a good squashing. Note, this is a pup who probably wouldn’t have fared well in a face-off with a bike, much less a car. This man then has the audacity to tell me “a bell would be nice.”
Let me tell you something. I have a bell. I have a NEW bell. Oh, and I use it, I use it for everything. I am an obnoxious bell user. So I tell him ‘I do have a bell, but it’s your responsibility as a pedestrian to look before you and your dog walk out into the street.’ Or something substantially equivalent to that. And he says ‘tell that to him’ meaning the dog. Hmmm, right. Let me just have a sit down with this dog and try to stress the importance of not going out into the street until he is sure it is safe for him to do so. OR, seeing as how dogs don’t speak a language and are basically just following the lead of their guardians, it is pretty much the human’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their pets. I am not going to ring my bell while biking on the road when ever I pass a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk because they may or may not suddenly cross the street illegally. That would be a lot of unneeded bell ringing that likely would just surprise, frighten and/or irritate people unnecessarily rather than save any dogs from brushes with cyclists. I explained this to him as much as possible while he walked away, still trying to blame me for my lack of bell ringing prior to his dog suddenly hopping out on to the road just I was approaching. I have a dog too, and when Frankie walks off the sidewalk onto the road and gets in someone’s way I apologize because it was my mistake.
In summation: pedestrians ALWAYS look to make sure the road is clear before you cross it particularly if you are jaywalking. Pedestrians with dogs, this goes double – no – triple for you. And please note that your dogs are experts at reading your behaviour. When you start making those very early and barely conscious motions towards doing something, like crossing the road (or say, getting ready for a walk, or putting out food) your dog is reading you and can make a good guess on what is coming next – often they will start moving in that direction themselves.
That’s my rant. and Frankie is now staring at me – it is like he can tell when I am even just typing about going out for a walk, or feeding him.
In other updates – I have started working with the professor who will be supervising my masters research. I am currently working on one of her projects, but soon will be starting my own research. For this I am rather excited. My topic has evolved into looking at the current and likely future diversity and composition of tree species in Toronto, particularly in regards to pest vulnerability and what that means for the sustainability of Toronto’s urban forest. Did your eyes just glaze over? Most people’s do when I start talking about my thesis. Personally, I think it is neat; my feelings about it will likely alternate between ‘interesting’, ‘super cool’, ‘fascinating’, ‘this sucks’, and ‘oh-my-god-i-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-and-scream-this-is-so-boring-and-monotonous-and-why-did-i-do-this-to-my-self-fucking-fuck-fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck.’
Working with my professor means working on the UTM campus. While this makes for a long commute, there are some pretty great things about the campus. Food is most definitely not one of them, but these following photos are.