Monday, 22 December 2014

Sunday Morning Crash on the Gardiner Expressway

At 5 am on Sunday morning, I was driving home from Etobicoke-Queensway.  I had stopped for a tea at Park Lawn before hitting the road to get home when I decided to go south and take Lakeshore across the city then hop on the Gardiner at the Jarvis on-ramp.

Just past Humber Loop, I approached a purple car going about 35-40 kph in the passing lane.  It looked like a 90's Cavalier or Saturn - I wasn't paying close enough attention.  There were no other vehicles on the road. This is why it was so memorable.  I passed that purple vehicle going the limit while in the middle lane.  I think it was at this moment that I put a target on my head.

After passing, the driver decided to accelerate and pass me.  The car then settled directly in front of me, swerving in the lane.  I lowered my speed and stayed back so I could keep an eye on it.  I wanted to call the police to report that this driver was intoxicated, but my phone was turned off inside my purse in the back seat. I decided to follow with caution.

The driver alternated between slowing to below 30 kph to force me to pass, and speeding up and swerving in front of me.  I weighed my options, considering alternate routes as they approached but decided to stay the course to Jarvis.  Any streets north to the Gardiner would put me in a dangerous residential neighbourhood.  At least Lakeshore was wide, well-lit, and had few lights.

The car was tracking behind to my left when I caught a red light at Bathurst St.  It then crept forward and stopped directly to my right.  The southwest corner of Lakeshore and Bathurst is brightly lit with a gas station there, but I chose not to look over.  I did not want to make eye contact.  I did not know if this person was following me.  I let out an audible sigh of relief when the driver then signaled to turn right, and slowly rolled into the crossing, and held my breath at it stopped, cancelled the signal, and reversed until it was once again just to my right.  All this while stopped at the light was red.  All this while I plotted my next steps.

The Jarvis on-ramp would be from the right lane, the purple car's current lane.  I decided that when the light turned green, I would switch to the leftmost lane to avoid being near the intoxicated driver, accelerate quickly so I could gain distance, then switch back over to the right lane in time for the on-ramp. I was ready.

In moments, the light changed.  I crossed the intersection.  I switched into the leftmost lane. I caught green lights and gained a good distance ahead of the purple car.  I could not see it in my rearview.  I was almost home free, when I hit a red light at Jarvis St, right in front of the on-ramp.

Disappointed, I stopped and while stopped I could see the headlights of the purple car reappear in my rearview and approach from a distance. I sat at the red light and watched it pull right up to my rear bumper.  If I crept one inch forward, the purple car crept one inch forward. The driver was mocking me. Regretting the missed opportunity at Bathurst, I glared at my rearview mirror now desperately trying to get a good clear look at the face of this intoxicated driver who had been following me for the last 11 km, but all I could see was outline of a head through the accumulation of dirt on both of our vehicles windows and shadows cast by his headlights.

If the driver exited his/her vehicle, I decided that I would run the red light. Otherwise, I would wait. Either way, I'd soon be on the highway, where there were other cars, and mine was faster.

We waited.  The light turned green, and I gunned for that on-ramp.  The driver followed but couldn't keep pace. I gained a good distance and kept an eye on the purple car in my rearview mirror.  Without fail, there it was gaining speed, approaching me.

I began to plot my next move.  If I didn't lose the purple car on my way home, instead of leading the driver right to my place, I would circle the DVP-northbound, 401-westbound, 427-southbound, then Gardiner-eastbound until I did.  I was mid-thought, when the driver suddenly lost control and collided with the middle guardrail, sending sparks flying.  The vehicle was then propelled forward from the impact, and rolled backward across the expressway to the furthest right lane where it came to a stop.

In shock, I continued driving.  My first instinct was to turn back and help, but I was on the highway just ahead of the crash so I couldn't.  My next instinct was to report the collision, but I didn't want to risk diverting my attention from the road to get my phone, turn it on, and connect the Bluetooth.  My final instinct was to stay the course because that vehicle may have still been drivable, that driver may have still been conscious, and I had no reason to believe that the pursuit was over.

...but it was.  With focus, I completed my route and arrived home safely, uncomfortably recalling what I had just witnessed, and knowing what it was that I had just narrowly dodged.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Feeling Young

My birthday is tomorrow and I have to admit that I've been feeling a little older lately.  Just lately.  I usually make a concerted effort to feel young.  However, I haven't been going to the gym as often, or getting fresh air.  I haven't practiced guitar or done any singing.  I haven't even written anything. So...

I walked to work today.  I strode on by past the stalled traffic, the tense drivers and their impatient passengers.  I smiled as the wind air-dried my freshly washed hair.  I felt alive as I walked over the bridge that crosses over the 404 and looked down at the parking lot below.

In 2009 (I think I could be rewriting history), I vowed to drive my car to work every day for a year.  I improved my driving in leaps and bounds but the process changed me.  I became a chronic driver.  I began to drive everywhere.  But I grew up as a pedestrian.  I used to carry a backpack, rely heavily on my Metropass and felt carefree without the baggage of a parked car anchoring me down.  It was freedom.  I need to manufacture some freedom.  Maybe this is the form that it will take for now.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Falsificationism vs. Verificationism

Falsificationism was first introduced by Sir Karl Popper. It is a methodology of science. In particular, he introduced it as a criterion to demarcate science from non-science. It is also one response to “The
Problem of Induction”, where induction is another means of obtaining knowledge. Falsifiability states that the truths of science are arrived at through a series of conjectures and refutations. Because of the
problem of induction, we cannot consider truths that were arrived at inductively as “justified”. However, we can be “justified” in showing the falsity of a statement.

An example of a falsfiable conjecture: All orbits are circular. The way to falsify: find one that is not.

An example of an unfalsifiable conjecture: Scorpios are secretive. There is no clear test to disprove this.

//

Verificationism is the view that a statement only has meaning if there exists an empirical test to prove it (regardless of the practicability of such a test). “Meaning” is defined as having truth-value (that is, it can be true or false).

An example of a verifiable statement: Mercury’s orbit is circular. Why? Because we can observe that this is true or false.

An example of an unverifiable statement: Scorpios are secretive. Why? Because there is no empirical
test that would show this to be either true or false. Actually, I’d say that saying that it could be true or false is a false dichotomy.

Interestingly, NP-complete problems are technically verifiable, but not practically so.

//

Popper was a critic of verificationism. To Popper, scientific truth could not be arrived at by “verifying” a conjecture. Since induction was not "justified”, “truth” could only be arrived at through “conjectures and refutations”.

But Popper’s criterion of demarcation (i.e. his falsificationism) was a methodological norm, and not a theory of meaning, as verificationism is.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Search for the Marble

In December 2012, I ventured to Havana, Cuba on a last-minute solo excursion.  Before departing, I asked each of my friends what they wanted from Cuba.  Most asked for cigars and rum, but one asked for a single, Cuban marble.  I thought it was a joke, given the embargo in place since the 60's.  They wouldn't manufacture marbles in Cuba, so where and why would I find one?

After arriving in Cuba, I met a gentleman named Habib.  Habib was a friendly, seasoned solo traveler from Montreal, also there on a last-minute solo excursion.  Minutes into meeting him, I knew that he'd be the perfect travel companion.  (It also didn't hurt that he spoke several many different languages fluently, including English, French and Spanish.)  I advised Habib of my need to purchase local cigars, rum and a Cuban marble.  He laughed, and agreed to help me with my quest.

And 'quest', it  sure was.  Every day, after sleeping in, having lunch, and sunning on the beach, Habib and I would catch up at the taxi/bus stop then head into the city.  From there, we would go for a walk through the streets, visit an attraction/museum.  Every evening, we would have dinner at a different recommended restaurant, then end each night with a live show and dancing.  So, we spent every afternoon wandering the city streets.

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of street vendors at/near each tourist attraction. Everything on the list was easily found ... except the marble.  Inquiring about a marble with each vendor led us down some unexpected paths.  It didn't take a lot of prodding to convince each one to take us back to his/her place to show us their full inventory.  We weaved in and out of back streets and housing; were shown private collections of decades-old goods carefully preserved for resale.  And why?  Because no Cuban vendor - even with a fluent translator in Habib - could understand the concept of a marble.  We were shown collections of marble-made products, some of which I purchased for their rarity and beauty.  However, not only no sign of a Cuban marble, no understanding of it.  We used hand gestures and drew pictures.  We described their use.  Nada.

I have since lost touch with the person who requested the marble.  I'm sure it was a joke, but it turned into a fun adventure that took me through the backstreets of Havana, uncovering a variety of treasures I stood no chance of otherwise stumbling upon.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

Perfectionism and Accomplishment

My elementary school French teacher went above and beyond the curriculum to teach those who wanted to learn.  I really appreciated the extra effort she put into challenging me.  When I was in grade 7, this French teacher decided to give us a half-day diagnostic French exam that touched on everything she'd taught us over the years.  There was a total possible 200 points.  I scored 198. Every other student scored under 100.   I remember this exam because I cried when I got it back because I lost 2 points.  I couldn't have cared less how the rest of the class did.

And although I think my ability to not compare myself to others was laudable, the degree of self-criticism was not.  It was symptomatic of a level of perfectionism that has haunted me since.  I will never be "perfect".  I know there is no such thing.  However, it has taken me a long time to find comfort with that.  I miss major milestones, and downplay my accomplishments.  It is a difficult exercise for me to brainstorm my contributions ... to anything.  I tend to focus on everything I aimed to do but did not.

Anyway, this is all to say that I had a wonderful last couple of years.  And before I downplay to the point of forgetting, here is a list of things that I did (or didn't do):
  1. I bought a Jag. I call her Kitty.
  2. I took golfing lessons and discovered I can drive well past 200 yards consistently.
  3. I bought a new Fender guitar and started guitar lessons.
  4. I took some lessons in boxing and did some TRX training.
  5. I fell in love with Vibrams.  I now own 2 pairs.
  6. I started cycling or walking to run errands.  To help with this, I bought an amazing Detours Freemonster Flap Pannier.  I save gas and get fresh air and exercise.
  7. I went rollerblading for the first time in 7 years.
  8. I went to a Jack Johnson concert at the Molson Amphitheatre.
  9. I visited Wasaga beach for the first time in years.
  10. I went for a hike at the Cheltenham Badlands twice this summer.
  11. I got a Canada's Wonderland Season's Pass this summer and for the first time in my life I went on all the biggest roller coasters, and spent time in a bikini at the water park.
  12. I've watched every blockbuster that has come out, but only blockbusters.  If there aren't good movies out, I don't go to the movies.
  13. I cut my hair, manicure, and facial budget.  They are frivolous treatments.
  14. I cut my restaurant budget and started cooking again.
  15. I didn't move! I did find a new apartment and am planning a move in the imminent future, but I managed to stay put for a few years.
  16. I stopped drinking, clubbing and going to bars.  I just enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner.  I don't have time for the other stuff.
  17. Although I cut my spending on clothing, I've picked up some pricey staples: a black Hilary Radley wool winter coat, a grey Helly Hansen raincoat, a champagne Rudsak winter coat, and a Nooka Zem Zot Mirror in Steel.
  18. I and my sister got through a draining year for caregiving through my mom's a hip fracture and hip surgery, starting dialysis early, and a sepsis infection.  (My mom is doing exceptionally well and is in good spirits, I should add.)
It's been a great couple of years.  I only expect it to get even better.

Wishing everyone the same,
Carolyn

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Eminem vs. Macklemore

Eminem's writing is introspective; Macklemore's work is socially conscious.  They're different.  They can't be compared.

It's on my mind because I'm tired of 'angry Eminem' and I don't want to see Eminem evolve into a socially conscious rapper.  His ability to delve into human psyche is unparalleled in rap, imho.  So these forays he's made into American politics have just been disappointing. I think we need to hear from a happy and balanced Em.  I want to hear about the successful Em who never succumbed to industry pressure. I think he'd elicit emotions of happiness no rapper could express because of his lyrical content and vocal style.

Fans need their stars to grow with them. Else they outgrow them.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Problems, Changes and Growth

You can learn a lot about a person from (1) the list of things they complain about and (2) how often that list changes.

The former will tell you how much that person challenges him/herself.  The latter tells you how successful they were at overcoming the challenges.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

So Long, Frederick

I traded Gus in just before the big 'Ice Storm of 2013'.   Good thing, too.  I don't know how well he would have held up in that storm.

The thing was, in my haste to complete the trade, I wound up leaving several many personal effects in the vehicle.  One such item was my toy Plants vs. Zombies conehead zombie, whom we (I and the Boyfriend) affectionately named Frederick.  I noticed Frederick was missing only days later when I thought of him.  I kept him in Gus' trunk as he was part of our driving amusement and nothing more.  Given my generally unpleasant dealings with the car dealer, I elected not to go back to rescue him.  It was sad, but I decided that a $10 toy from HMV was hardly worth the effort.

Today, over a month later, I thought I'd check in on the sale of my old car.  I popped open that dealer's website, found the ad for Gus, began to scroll through the pictures and was very amused to see this one:


Frederick!  Laying prettily to the left of the steering column.  So close, yet so far.  

I'm not sure why the dealer would let Frederick remain in the vehicle while photographing it for sale.  I am happy to know he wasn't just thoughtlessly discarded.  I feel a bit of disappointment knowing that he's there, and that I'm unwilling to go back for him.  But mostly, I'm inspired by the prospect that the little guy is fated for more adventures, beyond what he experienced with me.  

So long, Frederick.


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