Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All quiet on the western front

During highschool I read a book called "All Quiet on the Western Front" about a german soldier in World War One. I found it to be very interesting because it told the story from the "enemy's" side and I realized that we're pretty much all the same. They had the same problems and worries that the allies had and I really liked getting to see the war from that perspective. Considering the winners write the history books it is hard to find out what happens on the other side of no mans land.

We have a similar problem with the current war in Iraq where we have to try to dig through the propaganda to find out what is really going on. Being in Canada we are sorta neutral in the Iraq war but most of the news we get comes though nations in the war and I don't think we get the whole story sometimes. Now I could go to aljazeera and hope that it is not biased in the other direction but I'd still be missing something. I think I found that something today, I stumbled across a blog called Baghdad Burning. It is the story of a woman in Baghdad and all the things that happen to her and her family. Sometimes it is nice to get a reminder of how many things we take for granted. They have 1 hour of power for every 6 without, they don't have phone service and most other services are hit and miss. There is a really troubling post about the Iraqi security forces doing raids on civilians houses and stealing from people. How strange it must be to not be able to trust any government, yours or the Americans, or anyone except for your family.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Car Etiquette

I know that most people don't really care about their cars. Infact if it starts that's good enough. Routine maintainance is just a pain in the ass and who wants to wash a car that's just going to get dirty tomorrow anyways. I am part of the group that cares for my car, I enjoy having a clean car and I like to know that putting the extra money in synthetic oil will help it last longer. I have noticed some disrespect for peoples cars lately so I thought I would give these helpful tips.

1. Its spring time and cars are dirty so don't set anything on the car. I know that the roof is a convienent place to put your bag or purse while you open the door but its not a good idea. Did you notice that your once white car is now brown? Yes that brown stuff is dirt and it basically just turned your purse into a giant sanding block. If your purse or bag slides along your car it has just sanded some of your paint off. This goes for sitting on the car as well. Not only is your butt giant sanding block but its got your body weight to help remove the paint off of the hood. This also applies to car keys. When unlocking a door hold the keys and keychain in your hand so that they don't scratch the side of the car. The sound of the remaining keys slapping against the side of the car is one that will make most car guys break down and cry. Please be careful putting the key in the lock. This isn't rape, take your time and aim so that you don't scratch the car while trying to put the key in the hole.

2. Speaking of dirt, go wash your car. Yes I know that it is melting out and that your car will get dirty in a matter of minutes but it is still a good idea. Do you notice that in with the dirt is some white residue? That is road salt and combined with water and oxygen it is doing its best to rust your car. Not only will our car look better when it is clean it will also last longer.

3. Slamming the door. This is very disrespectful to someone elses vehicle. Yes I realize your first car was a 1975 Mercury Grand Marquis that had doors that weighed 300 pounds each but my car isn't a land yaught. I realize that the first time you get out of someone's car that it is hard to judge how much force will be required to close the door but do your best. Try to use just the right amount of force so that the door will close but it won't blow all the windows out of the car when you close it. If you close your door and everyone who is still inside the car suddenly starts bleeding from the ears you may have used too much force. A secret is to leave your hand on the door as you close it. This way you can use less force and your hand will stop the door from bouncing off the seals and not latching. After a few times being in a certain car you should get a feel for how to close the doors. The owner will thank you.

4. Stop complaining about the car. Yes I know my car is 14 years old and it may not have power locks and windows but you know what? It is managing to get your fat ass from point A to point B so unless you want to walk, shut up. Unless the owner has set a precident by naming his car "Shit burger" or "Ford" you shouldn't start complaining about the car. Don't compare it to someone else's that is brand new or that has leather seats, just sit down, shut up and be thankful that you didn't have to walk accross town.

5. Food or garbage in the car. Just don't do it. I know that your own car is filled to the gills with old McDonalds wrappers and Tim Hortons cups but please don't lump me in with you. Yes I know my car doesn't have cup holders, that was a selling feature for me, please see point #4. So don't just show up with a double double and expect to get in the car. I know you are responsible and you won't spill but it will happen eventually. I've seen the aftermath and I know that a hot cup of coffee is a ticking time bomb in a car.

6. Backseat driving. This is a popular one and I know I do it too. As you may have noticed in previous posts that I think I'm a pretty good driver. With that I have a habit of trying to tell people how to drive. If you need to make yourself heard atleast know what you are talking about. I've almost thrown a few people from a speeding car becuase their backseat driving wasn't even right. If you are going to shout directions from the back or passenger seat make sure you know your way.

7. Nervous passengers. This is a no win situation for anyone. I am an aggressive driver and you should know this. Please stop flinching, wimpering and clutching at stuff. I don't need nail marks in my dashboard. If you know in advance that you will be riding with an aggressive/crazy driver then either learn to shut up and keep it under control or drive yourself.

8. Muddy/snowy shoes. Yes I know sometimes it is inevitable that you will have large amounts of snow or mud on your shoes but please try to minimize it. I personally don't care that much as long as the snow or mud says on the floor mats but pay attention to the owner of the car. If someone is a bit more anal about this then I have a suggestion for you. Sit down on the seat and with both feet still out the door bang them together to knock the dirt off and then swing your feet into the car. Hitting them on the sill or rocker panel is not acceptable. You might as well get out and start kicking the car.

9. Smoking. This is usually a bipolar topic. People either don't care at all that you want to smoke in their car or they would rather rip their own skin off and roll in salt before letting you light up in the car. I'm in the latter group on that one. My car smells like a car, it doesn't have that new car smell but atleast it doesn't smell like an old ashtray. The heat of summer will usually bring out the smells in a car interior and there is almost nothing worse than hot stale ciggerette smoke. So please ask first or else you may be walking, but hey atleast you can smoke on your walk.

10. Touching the radio or hvac controls. This is a no-no unless you know that you can. Most people work by the rule that the driver gets to choose what to listen to and I aggree with that. If you don't like the radio station or you are too hot/cold then ask the driver. Don't go fiddling with the controls because you might get your hand slapped.

There you go, I've given you ten tips to keep you on the drivers good side. Not everyone is going to care that you just slammed their car door into next week but some people do.

Monday, March 20, 2006

First day of spring

Ah winter is finally starting to release its icy grip on us. March 20th is the vernal equinox this year. That means the day and night are equal length, well not exactly but its close. Being from the great white north it will be a while before it really starts to feel like spring but at least it is getting warm enough to wear spring jackets instead of winter parkas. The daytime temperature is about -5C lately, positivly balmy.

All this warm weather has got me thinking of camping. Yeah its a little early but I can't help it. I haven't had any extra days off since new years and its starting to get to me a bit. I found a new tool I want for camping. Its the Woodmans Pal, I was thinking of getting a knife but I saw this in Popular Mechanics. I'm still going to look around for a knife but this is only $80US and if a good knife is going to cost me close to that I might as well get the woodmans pal. Now the only problem is finding the money. Damn money.

I finally found out why people don't use their turn signals! 7 percent say it adds to the excitement. And all along I thought they were just fat useless twits. Shows me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gillette Fusion

Wow its been a week since I posted last. How the time flies.

Anyways I thought I'd try out the new Gillette Fusion razor since I was running low on blades for my Mach 3. I am not impressed by this latest razor and I almost crapped my pants when I saw the price of new blades. I tried the non-powered version and I can't say it shaves any better than my Mach 3 does, if anything it pulls at my face more. For anyone who doesn't know what the Fusion is, it is Gillette's new 5+1 blade razor. Yes that is 5+1 not 6 because it has 5 blades on the front and 1 on the back to help you trim side burns. It comes in powered and non-powered versions, the powered version having a motor in it that causes it to vibrate. I didn't really think that would do anything so I bought the regular one but I should have done some reading first. This review I found says that the vibration didn't make for a better shave but made the razor glide over his face easier.

The price of blades for these things are atrocious. I was at London Drugs and 8 blades are $32! The powered version has its own blades and they were $35, thats more than $4 a pop and I doubt there is a difference. Hopefully this will mean the blades on my Mach 3 will come down in price, I doubt it but a guy can hope. On the other hand the older blades are getting really cheap. 10 blades for the sensor excel two blade razor are $12 and the old double edge razor blades are 10 for $10.

While looking at reviews and info on the Fusion I noticed there was a lot of talk about going back to the old ways of shaving. Here is an article I found about wet shaving. This is the old way of using shaving soap with a brush and a DE safety razor. So I looked around some more and found a great site full of information about wet shaving and the tools you need. There is a good How to guide about shaving. They even talk about straight razors and how to use them and maintain them. That would be the ultimate to be able to use a straight razor. I've always wanted to find an old barber and get shaved. An added bonus of the DE safety razor is the blades a much cheaper and it is much more environmentally friendly. No plastic is getting thrown out and the blades will just rust away.

If you want to try out the Fusion razor I would suggest giving the powered one a shot but I don't think I'll be buying any blades for this one. I'm happy with the Mach3 Turbo blades and I'm going to seriously consider trying a double edged safety razor.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

V for Very Slow

Around here the veterans can get special license plates to celebrate what they did for our country and I agree with that. Unfortunately most veterans are old and that means they drive like they are piloting their model "T" around bumfuck nowhere in their small town driving style. These license plates have the ability to let you know when you won't be going anywhere fast. I'm glad that you are retired and fought in WWII so now you have all the time in the world, too bad I don't. I'm not retired, I have places to go, people to see and things to do and I would like to get their some time this week. Why would I say these things?

Well tonight I think all the stupid useless drivers in Saskatoon saved it all up and unleashed the fury on me in one night. Yes I am an aggressive driver but you know what? I follow the f*#$ing rules. I am not a left lane hog, I've mastered the art of signaling to lane change and I can even shoulder check. I know these are all very difficult ideas and they are even harder to implement but they are important. I don't understand how people can drive without knowing simple things like "slower traffic keep right" and that the person on your right has the right of way at a stop sign. You did learn these at one time and you have been driving ever since you learned them but for some reason most people chose to forget these simple rules.

It all started with a van that was lane challenged. I realize in winter it can be hard to find the lanes but when there are four defined tracks it should be easy to figure out. The solution is NOT to just pick two tracks and drive in them. It just happens to work out that the left track of the right lane and the right track of the left lane line up to your van but that does not mean you are in a lane. Did you fail to notice the two people side by side in your mirror? Why does it not click that something is wrong? Kramer did not create extra wide lanes just for you. You are a moron.

Ok the van is gone and I want to go home but OH NO! There are some puddles. I agree it is a rather large puddle but it doesn't come into your lane and its a freakin puddle not a fjord. You don't have to idle through it at 30 in a 70 zone. Speed the hell up. Alright past that guy lets roll.... o wait I can't. There is a left lane hog ahead. What do you think "slower traffic keep right" means? I think it means unless you are going the speed limit get in the right lane. Do you? Nope, you shadow the slow ass in the right lane so no one can do the speed limit. Why do you do this? I have no clue, maybe its the puddles but it sure as hell isn't slippery out anymore, all the ice melted. Breath, count to 10, you're almost home.

Is that Santa Fe driver outside his SUV at a green light? Yep he sure is and who knows what he is doing. Perhaps he had to rub a quick one out before he could continue. Maybe he is broken down, oops maybe not. He found the right shade of green and decided to go just in time to hold me out of the lane so I would miss my turn. No problem I can turn at the next street. Sweet merciful crap, a veteran plate! Well now I'm stuck doing 15 below the speed limit for the next couple of blocks. Here comes my turn and oh no he is turning to, well I'll go to the next turn and still get home faster. Second last turn before home and.... some jackass decides to do a U-turn right infront of me. It looked like he was parallel parking but nope he was just waiting for me to get there so he can block the whole effing street and make me stop. I swear if I had my truck he would have got 5000 pounds of Dodge in his drivers side door. So while swearing and flipping the guy off, he is yelling at me. Yep I'm in the wrong with my dreams of driving in a straight line on a straight road. Obviously he had the right of way with his illegal U-turn. Yay I got home. What an adventure.

I wish we had better driver training, or even cops that gave a shit about traffic rules. I realize that a murder will get your name in the paper but did you think that car crashes kill four and a half times as many people as murder?

Statistics show that 2,730 Canadians died in traffic accidents in 2004, compared to 622 who were the victims of homicides, The Globe and Mail reports.

Who cares about the 16 year old girl who kills a whole family because she is inexperienced, homicides are exciting. They get your name in the paper and advance your career. Forget that a blind one armed retarded monkey could get his license in this province. There is no driver training here. You get 4 in car sessions with an instructor, totaling 4 hours, and you have to do a 15 minute road test. 5 rights, 5 lefts, a couple lane changes and a parallel park and your a driver! That's it, no real show of skill, just $22 and some of that elusive common sense and you can pilot a 3000 lbs weapon of mass destruction around with no fear of any further testing or reinforcing of your skills.

They wonder why road rage is becoming a problem