December 05, 2011

Sidewalk pirate

So the other day, I was walking down past the local shops. On passing a woman walking in the opposite direction, I noticed that she had a live parrot on her shoulder. I had to turn around for a second look since she displayed no behaviour that this was unusual. She gave the  impression that walking around with a parrot on your shoulder outside (without it flying away!) is as common as wearing pants. While I concede that this is very cool, it's not something that is seen everyday. A real pirate! AAARR!..

See the original sketch for this illustration by clicking here.

November 10, 2011

Old fashioned keyboard

So I noticed that there is a key on my keyboard that never gets used. The Grave Accent and Tilde key. It's above the Tab key and beside the 1 key. Maybe you've only now noticed it yourself as you're reading this. It's probably been on keyboards for ages. It's useless to me and I question if we really need it to be the way that it is.
Firstly though, to be clear, I still think that there should be a key there. I understand that some video games require that key for various specific functions and hey, there's no need to mess that up. What I think would be good is that if I was typing something, this key should make a different symbol other than an accent that doesn't even go over top of any letter. Maybe a bullet, a smiley, or even those little scissors that suggest that you should cut something out, should replace the top corner. I'm just thinking something that gets used more commonly.
Sometimes characters just get old and obsolete. Take the index character, for example - It's awesome! It's a hand with the index finger pointing to important areas on a page. It's a bit more than a letter, it's a partial drawing. The only problem with it is that I think typewriters and early computers had a problem with its fine detail. It was dropped and the public forgot it, I suppose.
What I propose is that the world moves the grave accent and tilde characters to the Glyph category. People still need them. They are used in computer programming languages but I'm not sure how frequently. As I write this, I'm likely quite ignorant to just how often programmers are using this key. I still think that they can go in the same place as copyright symbols, trademark symbols and fractions. Still obtainable if you occasionally need them on a page, but not taking up prime real estate on everyone's keyboards.

October 31, 2011


So this happened a few years ago but since it's Halloween I'm going for a festive post. (True story though...)
We were renting a house that lived near a beach. Since it was a quite popular place, all the houses on the road were three properties deep on the beach side of the street. (Meaning three houses shared each driveway.) We were living in a 'middle' house at the time. On Halloween evening, the 'front' houses (that were next to the road) were the only houses that got trick-or-treaters. So that evening, as a result, we decided to go down to the beach as the sun was going down. That we could see, we were the only ones on the beach and we sat down on the sand dune. It seemed like it could be any fine evening, not just October 31st.
A few minutes later, a dog that was dressed up as Superman (Superdog?) appeared on the sand and sat down beside us. We've never seen this dog before and we had no sign of an owner. He just looked out to sea as we did, giving us a reminder that it still was Halloween out there.

October 16, 2011

Sticks and stones

So there was this kid who fell off his bike. (Not me for a change!) The whole neighbourhood was alerted by the vocal chord siren. Since I was already outside (and looking at him) I was nominated by my street to be the first responder. As I got closer, the cries turned into messages that he had 'a broken bone'. While not entirely coherent, he was repetitive and pretty sure about what seemed to be his knee. Crouching down, I asked him if he could move his foot. He could and did - quite easily too. I told him that because of this, that it probably wasn't broken. This is where the period of rapid healing started. I said I'd carry his bike home (two houses down) and that he could lean on me as he limped home. Although I didn't say anything, after about four steps he was pretty much 100% and I suspect it was the attention that I paid him mostly.
Kids are like that. Something hurts, often only until they are bored being hurt. And adults sometimes don't notice that they are hurt until they see blood or some other indication of injury. Maybe as you get older you start to cry in reverse order.

September 26, 2011

Hotdog champ

So I've noticed that I've always been a pretty good eater. I also don't usually shy away from a friendly round of competitive eating. By saying this, I don't mean those contests where you have to eat berry pies with hands behind your back or something really body-punishing as several blocks of butter in a few minutes. I was thinking more along the lines of maybe at a pizza buffet with some friends and finding out who can eat the most slices. I've actually won that more than once. I've also had some pretty good success with hotdogs.
That probably started as a little kid when our school had 'hotdog days'. Our school didn't have a place where you could buy a lunch. The staff and parents organised these days every few months as a fundraiser and for something different than sandwiches. One year, my mom volunteered to compile the orders from the kids and make larger orders for the food and drinks from some suppliers. I would always look at the class lists on our kitchen table and compare how much everyone was ordering and order one more of everything for myself. For example, if, say, Bob was having 2 dogs and a doughnut, I would order three dogs and two doughnuts. I don't know why I wanted to and I didn't mention it to any of the other students in fear that they'd want to 'outbid me'. This habit did come in handy several years later in university when I was in classes with a bunch of competitive eaters.
These days, I'm in semiretirement from the sport but I still don't believe in leftover pizza. There's no such thing.

September 19, 2011

Quiet city

So have you ever been in a usually populated place where it seemed that you were the only one there? While walking my dog there was a period of about ten minutes where there was no wind, visible people or any noise. Usually a reasonably busy part of the area where I live, all and any industrial noise was missing, no vehicles of any kind were moving, and looking around, I couldn't see another person. In fairness, it was about to rain but the quietness of the setting gave me the feeling like it was just me left on Earth. Should prepare for zombies tonight?

September 11, 2011

Famous people

So I recently had the opportunity to meet someone reasonably famous. I'm not saying who this person was since that would maybe take away from what I'm trying to describe. I can say that the individual is very knowledgeable on particular subjects and there was a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session. The person's time is very in demand so the visit's duration was quite limited before their next arranged appointment or meeting. So a very brief window was available for people to ask some real questions and get some solid real answers.
Now what I noticed was that only a handful of people got to ask questions since everyone used a good portion of their period of time to say how much of a fan they were. Although I can see this as a form of showing respect, a lot of people just started celebrity worshipping.  The others in the audience, and myself, were hoping for an informative discussion but half of it was pretty much hearing stories about how everyone loved this person. Even the celebrity guest was fighting the eye-rolling urge and seemed a little bit uncomfortable.
Regardless of how many people know a particular person, in the end this is just another human and why do people do that?

August 29, 2011

Puppet show

So I was in a cafe the other day and some animated movement caught my eye. In the next booth, two restaurant-bored kids decided to stand up on the bench seating. They were waving their arms around and smiling to attract any morsel of adult attention. It was working, but that was the same instant that the kids mannerisms and the setting of the back of the booth made it all look like an improv puppet show.

August 21, 2011

Tennis balls

So who buys more tennis balls...
People with dogs or people that actually play tennis?

August 14, 2011

Right side of the tracks

So I was talking with some friends who have been living here longer than I have. They were amazed how some parts of town look completely different than, say, 10 years ago. I was reminded of this other person I met who was telling me about his brother's house. It faces a relatively new street at the top of a 'T' intersection. Apparently, that street, not that long ago, was a railway track  and his brother's house was a long building for storing cars and engines. When the city moved the tracks and converted the area to residential, he bought the building and remodelled it into a house. I've since had a look at the property and it does have a completely different architectural style to the rest of the adjacent houses. You can also see how it could be a place where a train could fit in the garage.

August 07, 2011

No gloves

So it's still pretty cold here in the mornings. A usual commuter cyclist that I see most days either forgot (or lost) her gloves and was biking to work (at least on the straight bits) without using her hands. They were tucked under her arms for warmth. As we passed I said hello, kind of laughed and felt really happy that I had my gloves on.
The next cyclist that I passed, if you can believe it, also wasn't wearing gloves and was engaged it the same hand-warming riding technique. I didn't laugh this time but was still was happy to be wearing gloves.
Just before I got to work, a third (!) ungloved cyclist was also doing this. Even though it was cold, I then started to feel a bit weird about being the only one wearing gloves.

July 24, 2011

Fort Building

So the kid down the street is building a tree fort. I think that a lot of kids find fort building instinctual. They naturally know how and they 'just want to'. It reminded me of the time I met one of my best friends...
It was back in Grade One, the year after kindergarten, and nobody knew anybody yet. We were in the library for the scheduled class visit. Ancient Mrs Hudson was teaching us how to check out books using slips of paper and rubber stamps. While I've always liked books and enjoyed reading, I was eyeing up the multi-coloured vinyl foam cubes that were underneath all the book shelves. Actually meant to be used as stools for story-time or whatever, I got the idea that they would stack pretty well. At the exact same time, this other kid in my class had the same compulsion. We started to amass a huge reserve of these blocks and started to build a considerable sized fort in the corner. It was just starting to take shape (which was vaguely igloo-like) and quite a few other kids decided that this was pretty cool. They started to supply us with steady shipments of blocks while we could concentrate on the architecture. It was pretty awesome really but no matter how old your librarian is, eventually someone in authority is going to see a large building project in a place that is supposed to be quiet.
I ended up getting in trouble but I also made a good friend with someone that I still know today.

July 17, 2011

Tornado Battleship

So about 4 years ago, when I was at work, there was a tornado that came off the sea and went through the CBD. Pieces of destroyed buildings flew everywhere and some large chunks even came through our roof. The path of the tornado hit the building next door on its path into the city.
I'm still working at the same place and quite recently, another tornado came to town. This one damaged buildings about two addresses away on the other side of us. As I look around right now at the scaffolding up and repairmen making things normal again, it makes me think that this feels like a giant game of Battleship. My workplace is a ship, the white pegs are near-misses and maybe that there is a red peg getting warmed up.

If, after reading this, you feel like a game of Battleship, here is a place where you can play it online.

July 10, 2011

Stuffed animals in car windows

So maybe I'm missing the point, but I don't seem to understand the reasoning behind the concept of putting herds of stuffed animals in the rear window of a car.
(Is a group of stuffed animals a herd? or flock? or pack? Does it depend on what type of animals they are? But what if they are more than one type, all mixed up? A portable easy-care zoo. Or an ark! Maybe there should be two of each type in case of heavy rain.)

June 28, 2011

Cop shows

So I've noticed a change in cop shows in the last few decades. Obviously, some of the change would be expected since it is now a quarter of a century into the future. Rapid advances in real life police technology would filter through to the fictional TV world. One thing I miss is when an undercover cop used to go into action. One arm would be driving in hot pursuit and the other would be reaching around through the window, placing that magnetic blue police light on the top of the (usually enormous) vehicle. The viewer would then know at that time that this cop is 'all business' right now.
Another previously common behaviour of the TV-cop was to commandeer a vehicle. "Excuse me, sir?... I need to commandeer this vehicle!" And then, in what was borderline theft/vandalism, the hero would chase after the bad-guy in a variety of modes of transportation, and often resulting in destroying the citizens property. I mildly looked it up on the internet and at least in some parts of the USA, it is actually something that cops are allowed to do, even today. I could imagine that it is very rarely used these days since the courtroom aftermath that would inevitably follow would deter most boys in blue. This real life deterrent is probably acknowledged by the writers and now we hardly ever see it.
A third thing involves terrorists. Why are police shows needing to be fighting them all the time? Maybe it's more sensationalistic to be fighting terror than crime these days. Maybe the people that make shows think that's what people want. Since I'm a person myself, I can say that we just want the odd cop show with decent writing with characters that we actually care about.

June 19, 2011

Free gym membership

So it was a cold, dark and rainy night. I was waiting for my fish and chips amongst my very-casually dressed, hungry neighbours. Being inside the warm and dry shop, listening to the battered and starchy food sizzle in hot oil, we all were there for the same thing.
I noticed a clear plastic box to one side of the counter. I could fill out a form and win a prize - a six-month membership at a local fitness club. Being transparent, I could see that this box was empty. I've entered this raffle before at a video store and although I didn't win, I was offered a week's free pass. I took them up on the offer, enjoyed my week and decided not to sign up after that time. But this box... I could see that this one was going to be abandoned for some time. We all were imagining our greasy seafood and potatoes. Wearing any old clothes to brave the elements on a rainy night like this, we were on a mission. We were reading old magazines, watching re-runs on a mounted TV screen in the corner and mildly paying attention to a large tank of goldfish. No one was filling out any entry forms.
I can see that how putting a box in a place like this seems like a good idea. Target the people who feel guilty about their poor diet choices while they wait. Even with the logic, there was a missing factor that they didn't consider. When I entered the draw at the video store there were plenty of other entries. Maybe that is more the type of place where you could be overweight, feel self-conscious and want to enter the draw. However, tonight I was in a place where you could gain weight, safely not care about your appearance and go home.

June 12, 2011


So I missed a week. When I started this blog, I didn't set out to make this a weekly thing but it evolved and settled into a punctual once-a-week illustration.
I've never done a blog or anything like this so it's a bit of an experiment for me. I'm deciding how to make the drawings the best that I can and still meet a regular production deadline. I feel that if I miss another week, it will make it easier to miss another after that. I can see how it could spiral out of control and then I'd stop doing it. There's the instinct to keep on working on illustrations and ideas until they are good enough and then post. There's also a 'I could post something when I get inspired' approach. I'm starting to notice that it's probably not going to happen if I wait for each post to be perfect or just the 'right moment'.
It's about discipline. Although I am enjoying doing this (and getting faster as I go), I feel like some sort of 'Blogomatic' - pumping out ideas. (Which is a good thing!)

May 29, 2011

Prom night

So I was shown some photos the other day. They were of someone's niece at home on the evening of a formal school dance (ball, prom ,etc). Now there were a handful of different poses and various family member combinations, but two of the photos sort of stuck out to me.
One was of the niece and her sister. They were happy and full of energy and smiles. The other pic that I took notice of was of her and her dad. While the older man seemed happy to be in the photo, the girl had the opposite reaction. It looked as though she just didn't like him much at all. It's nearly impossible for me to know of course. This is all speculation. Best-case scenario for her would be that it was really awkward to be dressed-up beside dad. Maybe she felt confident to be smart, formal, and elegant with her peers (and sister) but it was weird to pose with parents. She seems to be at that age that where she too old to be a kid and too young to be an adult. It can be the most trying time of anyone's life. Maybe that photo just managed to capture it.

See the original quick sketch

May 22, 2011

Smart or chicken?

So there's a dirt path shortcut through the park. Over the school holidays, I passed some kids digging it up and making a set of jumps. These are hardly the regulation construction that the pros get. This is the kind that is done by 10-year olds with some spare pieces of building materials. I recognized that right away since I remember the danger from the 80's. I've built jumps myself as a kid. Several of them collapsed under the weight of the bike making them instant deathtraps.
What we have now is that the kids are back at school and the jump is still there. I pass it every day. Should I take it? There's enough foliage cover around to conceal any below average attempts and preserve dignity. (But there will be no one around to help stop the bleeding if it gets ugly.) Is it smart to not take the jump since I know that it is not well constructed? I have plenty of experiences and scars that reinforce those points. Or is it that being older has made me chicken since I remember the possible consequences and decide that it's not worth the risk anymore?
Maybe I'll try it tomorrow...

May 15, 2011

The home team

So my neighbour was waiting outside the Lawnbowling Club with a bag as I was walking my dog. I stopped to say hello and found out that she was waiting for a ride. Her bowling partner was picking her up and then they were going to the championships in the next town.
Last year they made it to the finals and lost. They were scheduled to play the pair that they had lost the finals to in this year's first round. While she was very sportsmanlike, polite and generally just plain all-round nice, you could tell that there was a side to her that wanted to really go out there and get revenge. It was pay-back time for her.
I wished her well in hopes that she would bring the trophy back to our locality. Although I'm not much of a lawnbowling fan, it made me realize that you really can't go wrong cheering for the home team.

May 08, 2011

Kite Skills

So we just had a major windstorm with wind gusts up to 130kms. I saw these guys starting to fly a kite at the local school field just as the winds were picking up. Shaking my head, I put it out of my mind.
The next day, it was wrapped around the power lines in front of our house. You could follow the string from the kite up in the air and it was still attached to one of those plastic spools that you wrap the string around. It was also tangled around a different set of power lines about 5 houses away. The school yard is another block past that on the other side of a stream.

May 01, 2011

Moon for sale

So on the back of each of my grocery receipts are coupons for things that I usually have no interest in. This week was the same even though I'm blogging about it! 
Apparently for $20, I can own an acre on the moon. Sadly, I didn't buy enough groceries to get the whole ad. I only have a half of the first line of fine print which, on something like this, is where you can usually find the hilarity. It was possible to determine though that you would actually need $30 per acre. But this is totally legit! It says that this scam is "filed with the United Nations". Even if it was, if the United Nations can't keep the US out of Iraq, how will it in the future, enforce where on the moon a nation-state (or corporation) can build a suburban lunar colony? "Yeah we know you spent billions on your moon programme, but 64 years ago, some guy spent $20 (actually $30) and owns that crater. You're going to have to shift over to the next one."
It says that this is a "Great Gift for someone with everything!" I think that's true since this is kinda nothing.

[After finishing this illustration of the moon but before actually blogging it, the local newspaper put this story as a front page story. I couldn't believe it; I was scooped! Either I actually have some journalistic skills or (more likely) this city needs more scandals and crime to write about.]

April 24, 2011

Alternative Fuel Sources

So I'm someone who bikes to work pretty much everyday. I take the money that I save at the pump and invest it in alternative energy sources. In a way, my mountain bike is powered by chocolate cake.

April 17, 2011


So I was near the end of walking my dog when I came across a man talking to another man in a wheelchair. At the time we were walking on a walkway not near traffic, but they were holding up people with strollers that wanted to get by. When it was my turn to pass them, I noticed that they probably didn't know each other and that the motorized wheelchair was unresponsive. The older man was trying to help re-set the electric system on the wheelchair with the users help. I must admit that my first reaction was, 'how am I going to get by with this dog?'
Thankfully, common sense kicked in, and made me stay and study the situation more closely - he might really need some help. It still wasn't working so the guy from the wheelchair got up slowly and carefully. He could stand up and take a few steps despite whatever disability that was hindering his walking and speech. He seemed to be of sound mind and knew what he was doing with the battery. It's just that it wasn't really fixing the problem. I thought that I would wait around and see what happens in case they weren't able to revive the unit. It turns out that something on the control pad brought it back to life. Wriggling back to the seat he tried it out and he was away. You could see the relief in his expression as he thanked us.
As he wheeled away under his own power, I started to really think about the actual situation. Even though I had company coming over in a couple hours, I would have probably offered to push him back to wherever he was going. I figure that I could have physically been able to push this motorized chair as far as the range on the battery could take him, regardless of any hills. My dog would have made it too. When it comes down to it, if there was no one around and he lost battery power, it would have been like being stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean. He would have been at the mercy of the elements. He couldn't have walked anywhere and even a mobile phone would have been difficult for him to use.
It's time for a big shout-out to the people who have to deal this this kind of stuff in their lives on a daily basis. If I had hindered mobility or sight, I wonder if I'd be brave enough to try walking to the local shops and back.

April 10, 2011

OCD Choices - Favourites or Needs?

So nearly everyday that I bike to work, I also see this guy walking into town. At first I didn't notice anything worth writing home about, (so to speak). After a while I started to notice that he seemed to be wearing the same striped shirt all the time. Thinking it was maybe a uniform or work-shirt, I wondered where he worked since it looks a bit casual to be corporate branded attire. I didn't see any visible logos the next day. Actually, it was a different stripey shirt altogether. And next week, a striped hooded sweatshirt! It was turning out that all the stripes are maybe just a personal preference and not just some guy from an old movie who escapes from prison each day.
Writing this now, I'm wondering if he is showing signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I also am thinking about my own wardrobe and realize that I wear a lot of brown. (This blog is brown!) Am I noticing the stripes since I am of the same mindset? I'm certainly spending enough time in my life debating it.
I think that even after this post I will likely continue to purchase brown articles because I choose to wear brown often. Regardless, I will convince myself that it is merely personal taste, much in the way some people tend to wear a lot of black. I still couldn't say that the majority of my clothes were mostly of one particular colour. So can a fondness and natural inclination trigger OCD or is it vice versa? I must remember to contemplate this everyday.

April 03, 2011

Samurai gardener

So this actually happened last year, but since it was just down the street from where I live, I thought it would be okay.
On my way home, I was at the end of a stairway shortcut at the end of the local road. I was a bit tired from shouldering my bike up the steps as I became face-to-face with an older guy with a sword. While he wasn't challenging me to a duel or anything, he was in the process of going seriously crazy with it... but instead of gutting me he was using it for gardening.
It looked like a Japanese katana, (or 'Samurai Sword') and I'm not sure if you are legally allowed to regularly swing one around (even on weeds) in semi-public as it was. Also, I could imagine that any (real but long dead) samurai who would ever hear of such usage of a fine and sacred blade (especially by a gaijin, or 'white-guy'), would be deeply offended.
Regardless of what the laws, protocol and etiquette is, I though a sword of that calibre is overkill on lightweight leafy things; yet something awesome and hardcore that you don't see everyday.

March 28, 2011

Morning people

So if it's still dark in the morning, does that stop you from getting a newspaper from a mailbox? How about jogging, dog-walking or going to the gym? Of course not; if you're awake (and want to be), you just go. Naturally there are people who need to vainly look their best before getting all sweaty and gross at the gym but that would be another post. Most morning people pretty much dive straight into activity with little fuss. I suppose though, there are some people that could really use a bit more fuss. That's right. I'm talking to you, Mr. No-Pants!

March 22, 2011

A pizza less ordinary

So now and then I like to eat a pretty ordinary pizza. (By ordinary, I mean minimal toppings and maybe a passable base.) I figure that if every pizza I've eaten was brilliant, that would raise the bar too high. A pizza diet that is made up of 100% perfect pizzas would make every pizza thereafter a 5 out of 10 and then you could never be really amazed. By having a slice of 4 out 10, now and then, a helping of 9 out of 10 becomes magic.

March 14, 2011

Party all night

So I met some of the classiest partygoers that can really be seen at a time like 8am Sunday morning. Instead of the raucous, incoherent drunks that stagger home, I approached the epitome of style and grace. Okay sure, it was obvious that they were very intoxicated and their body language told me that right away. Still, instead of the usual irritating, slurred speech that seemingly only other drunk people can understand, I listened to a charismatic couple engage me in some friendly witty banter. So after a round of pleasant small talk, we went our separate ways but I didn't think that they were quite done either. Although we weren't near any bars or pubs, somehow he walked down the road with a freshly poured glass of beer and she could have had what looked like a martini - shaken, I suppose.

March 05, 2011

Sleeping on a plane is like...

So I had the opportunity to sleep near the sea with the waves continually crashing along the beach. I noticed that it is very similar, although not quite as loud, as the white noise drone of an international flight.

Next time I'm on a plane, I'll imagine that I'm at the beach.

February 28, 2011

Bike Helmets... A How-Not-To Guide

So I've noticed a decline in bicycle safety standards. It's not that the manufacture quality is lacking. It has more to do with the over-casual use of the riders. In this country it is a law to wear a helmet while cycling. I don't think that it is very enforced, but still, a law is a law. If you would be the type to decide not to wear a helmet for whatever reason, fine. It's your head and it's you that may be one of the first to get a ticket for risking it. Go for it. Have the wind blow through your gorgeous locks!
But then there's people who, in my opinion, don't get it:

  • the people who ride around with a helmet dangling from the handlebars by its straps. In their defence, this group is mostly kids who probably wore their helmet leaving the house and took it off just around the first corner that they were out of parent sight range.
  • the people who are wearing a helmet, properly I might add, but don't buckle it up. To generalize, this group could be mostly male and possible afraid of looking dorky. Apparently this helps to alleviate this.
  • the people I really feel sorry for. These cyclists want to be safe but really have no idea how to wear a helmet. Usually this involves wearing the helmet too far to the back of the head offering no protection to the front half of the head, including the face. In extreme cases, and I've seen this more that once, the helmet is worn backwards. This always results in the helmet being positioned to the rear of the head. The strap, that is designed to fit in the nape of the neck, is plastered across the forehead like a plastic headband and pushes the whole thing behind the head. This produces a system of little protection but mild hilarity.
  • and then one guy who's a one-man-group. He regularly commutes with a construction hardhat. (No strap, of course.) I wonder if that is a statement that he is making or if he really does not know how that won't help.

I think that if I was one of these above, I would just choose to not bother with a helmet at all instead of looking stupid. If I wasn't wearing one and got messed up, well that's the way it goes. But... if I was wearing a helmet, but it came off at the only time I really ever needed it, I suppose that would make me look even stupider.

February 06, 2011

electronic cigarettes?

So I was reading the newspaper. While I am usually pretty good at getting through a whole one avoiding the ads, I got mentally weak and studied the content of one. It was an ad for a pharmacy advertising electronic cigarettes.
Regardless of how popular this product is able to be in the future, as I write this (in 2011), I have never even tried smoking the real thing so know pretty much nothing about electronic ones. As to how popular this product is today and what the general population's knowledge about it is, I have no idea. To all the clued-up people I'm sorry for wasting your time. To anyone else like me, obvious questions popped into my mind. Do they need batteries? Are they addictive? What do they look like? Is there smoke? How exactly do they work?
Deciding to read on, the ad exclaimed inside a fact-packed starburst that there was, "No Smoke - Only Vapour!" Isn't that sort of the same thing? I know that the word vapour usually refers to liquid particles suspended in a gas (like steam in air) while smoke is commonly ash from something burning floating mixed inside the air. This was still pretty vague and that didn't really tell me much at all. Being a newspaper, the picture wasn't very good. It kind of looked like an arrangement of some small little cigarette butts. Actually they looked more like bullets. It was getting pretty weird.
After looking it up on the internet, it turns out that they come in different sizes. Some look somewhat like cigarettes or pipes while others look more like ball-point pens. They need batteries and I wonder if they are rechargeable. (This sort of seems like an obvious and practical use for a car's cigarette lighter.) They require cartridges of a liquid that is heated. What a user would do is breathe in this steam which may or may not contain nicotine. (Would it still smell as bad a normal cigarette?)
I decided to ask my panel of experts. Expert. Okay, I asked a guy who smokes quite a bit and loves smoking. He hadn't tried them and had barely heard of them himself. I asked, "they certainly aren't the same but what do you think that the biggest difference would be?"
He replied, "the only difference I can see is that one is stupid and the other one is actually real cigarettes! The thing about people that smoke is that they like smoking!"
I would have to agree. If I needed to be addicted to nicotine, there's no way I'd try this. The newspaper ad didn't have any prices which I took to be, 'these are probably way more than real ones'. On the other hand though, I wouldn't be smoking real tobacco either. I'd probably start wearing a patch regularly. Or several.

January 23, 2011

Well, howdy stranger!

So I was walking around the downtown shops at lunch. As I was looking in the windows, I was finishing one of the best doughnuts that I'd had in some time. I was admiring how much icing this last bite had when I heard a woman enthusiastically say (quite loudly I might add), "Well, howdy stranger!" I looked up. A vividly dressed woman was looking in my direction, had her arms open wide and was coming in for a big bear hug.
I decided to put this situation on pause. I only had a split-second to think. Who was this person? She seems to know me but I have no idea. This is what telephones were like before caller display was invented. I'm usually pretty good with remembering faces but I'm running out of time here. I have a brain hard drive failure... I'm going to have to press play again on this situation and just fake it. Maybe I can ask how things are going and hope that something is said that gives me a clue who this person is before I give my blankness away.
Time starts moving again. I've given up and can't recall anything. She's not familiar at all. Oh please make this be a short bear hug. Here she comes!
Somehow she misses. There was another woman right behind me all along. The actual target of the aggressive greeting. A feeling of entire relief overcomes me. I dodged the bear hug bullet and avoided the quiz show of missing identity. Confusion, Mystery, Fear... all gone. I still have some doughnut left though.

January 17, 2011

Air guitar crosswalk

So I was waiting to turn at a red light. Since I was in the lane nearest the curb, I could see forward down the sidewalk a fair amount and noticed a pedestrian walking towards me. He seemed to be grooving to some sounds coming from some rather large headphones. Of course that's when I noticed that he was actually grasping some invisible drumsticks and was playing a set of air drums. While I said that he was just grooving, I'm going to have to take that part back. He was really going for it. And it was slowly evolving into an air guitar solo. By the time he got to the crosswalk, he was the Axe-Man, ripping into his invisible guitar. Being that animated and alive in his own virtual concert, he pushed the walked signal and it changed right away. Somehow I just knew it would. It also seemed that pushing that button rotated band members too. He walked strutted across the road as the lead vocalist, complete with several textbook roll and roll poses (including 'the Point').
I heard the people in the car next to me laughing but I pretty much sat there in quiet amazement. In our society, why is it not okay to really (and I mean REALLY) enjoy music? I'll admit it was a little unusual and I hope that a car wasn't going to hit him later since he was hardly paying attention to traffic. Still, the fact that I am entirely unmusical prevents me from ever singing, especially in public. Backing up my insecurities and lack of talent with pretend instruments would be way out of the question... yet for this guy, it's totally okay. I think the world needs more people that aren't afraid to enjoy their lives in the way that they want to.

January 09, 2011

Such a wonderful morning

So I was out walking my dog and rounding a bend on a park path, I came across a man who also had a dog. Since his dog was much smaller, I was paying attention to my dog and being careful that he wouldn’t be squashed (or eaten).  I said, “Hello”, and heard him say, “Isn’t this such a wonderful morning?” Weather-wise, it WAS a perfect no-wind, lots-of-sun-but-not-too-hot, how-could-you-ask-for-more type of day. Both of our dogs start acting up and it gets a bit chaotic. I have control of mine and he's got his, but I’m using two hands and we start to keep walking away in the directions that we were going into. Just as we pass, I look up and recognise him as the older bald man who I’ve seen living just around the corner. Except today, here he is with actually a bit of a head wound. If I was guessing as to what happened, it seemed that probably had fragile old-man’s-skin and walked into a branch or something. It looked like it might have happened minutes before as it had time to start dripping to the side and front of his head. I decide to say nothing about it and walk on. He’s not walking home, has made no visible attempt to stop the bleeding and the tone in his voice seemed to indicate that he was unaware that it had even happened. Why ruin such a wonderful morning?

January 08, 2011

Made a guy feel awkward

So I walked to work this morning (since my bike’s in the shop). Upon passing a non-descript 2-floor trademan-type premises, I was looking at these circles painted on a wall. As my eye went up to the second floor I noticed someone looking at me out of the window. From my perspective he was just a head in a window. Although he seemed to be some ‘get to work early for a coffee’ type of guy, he was just staring at everyone going by. Our eyes met and I gave him ‘the man nod’. Noticing me notice him made him flinch slightly. I got the impression that he was fighting the urge to duck and hide. Instead, with a stone-scared, deer-in-the-headlights expression, he tilted his head and seemed to fall over backwards, just really slow. It was like getting shot in the head except at about one quarter speed, and no blood, exiting the frame.

Music Tastes?

So there’s this older guy that I pass on the walkway when I go to work in the mornings. I see him reasonably regularly. He seems to be walking for exercise - faster than normal pace but not quite hardcore racewalking speed. Everyday he seems to be totally not enjoying being out there and perhaps a bit grumpy.
Lately, I noticed that he has been wearing those bud headphones like the ones that come with an iPod. Hey, for all I know they could actually be plugged INTO an iPod. I try to imagine what kind of music that he would listen to. I just can’t and really have no idea. While I’m certainly no expert on whether any piece of music is good or bad, does this guy even ENJOY any music?
So I’m left to wonder... classical? a really sad opera? or (my gut-feeling that it’s) just talk radio? It’s entirely possible that when not walking he’s a pretty fun guy and that his music tastes are quite of good and modern taste.
But I’ll probably never know and it’s something that I’ll continue to reflect on.