Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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The Car Co-op

modo. the car co-op.And while I’m phoning in blog postings, I decided to tackle item #86 on my 101 list, which was to write a blog posting about the Car Co-op. Which, you know, made sense as something to do 995 days ago when I didn’t own a car and the Car Co-op was my ticket to ride. And if I hadn’t been so lazy, I could have written this posting back then, or shortly after I bought my car while my Car Co-op’ing experience was still fresh. But I didn’t. However, in the interest of knocking one more item off my list, and since Krista Lee’s recent comment reminded my that I can totally half-ass this blog posting, I’m writing it now.

For the uninitiated, the Car Co-op, officially known as Modo, is a car sharing organization. Basically, everyone who is a member is technically a part-owner of a few thousand cars, trucks, and vans that are parked all around Vancouver. When you want to use one of the vehicles, you book it, you use it and you return it to the place from whence you picked it up. You pay a usage fee – some combination of hours used and kilometres driven. The amounts have changed since I used it regularly, but you can go look at the rates on their website if you are interested1. It’s super convenient because someone else deals with insurance, maintenance, and all the other annoying things that go along with having a car. All you have to do is drive it and leave it in the condition you found it in.

Back when I lived just a quick bus ride from work (and didn’t have to drive all over hell’s half acre for my job), the Car Co-op was perfect for me. I really only need a car to get to hockey game and for the occasional hiking trip, so it was soooo much cheaper and more convenient to use a co-op car than to own a car. And even since I bought my car, which I needed for my job, I’ve kept my Car Co-op membership because it’s handy to have such ready access to a truck or a van if I need to move something big. Or even just to have access to a car with more than two seats in it! It only costs me $1 per year for my membership, which is totally worth it.

So there you have it – #86 on my 101 list, consider yourself checked off!

Image Credit: Posted by Christian Paul on Flickr.

  1. Also, since I last used it, they seem to have added a casual membership, where you don’t hold shares in the Co-op but you can use the cars under a different rate structure. []

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A Not So Brief History Of Cars I’ve Owned

ZOMG, I love my new Smart Car.  I still can’t believe it’s mine mine mine!  It has new car smell.  And it’s shiny!  I’ve never understood before why people do things like wash their car or vacuum their car or not leaving their car full of empty coffee cups1 and various other pieces of garbage. Until now. I’m seriously thinking of places to drive to, just to have an excuse to drive it!

Of course, this is the first new car I’ve ever owned. I’ve owned cars before, but they’ve been of the decades-old-rust-bucket variety.  The kind that are so cheap that a starving student can buy them with the meagre bit of money they have and insurance for it is dirt cheap because why would you insure a decades-old-rust-bucket for more than the bare minimum anyway?  I’m of the philosophy that if you are gong to own a car, it should be something awesome (like, say,  a Ferrari) that you totally, totally love or it should be a most ridiculous piece of trash that anyone in their right mind would be embarassed to own and you totally, totally love it.  Either way, you get good stories out of it.

The first car I drove was my parents’ Jeep.  A silver ’86 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer.  And it was probably the worst car ever made.  It went through something like 3 engines and 8 transmissions.  God, that thing was a piece of crap.  On the plus side, my sister and I got to drive it when we were in high school and not everyone has a car in high school, right?  My mom never got a driver’s license, so as soon as my sister got hers, my dad bought the pick-up truck he’d always wanted but could never justify having because we needed at least one vehicle that fit our family of four and really, how could he justify having two vehicles with only one driver in the family?  After high school, my sister went to the Ontario College of Art and so moved to Toronto, where the transit system is very, very good.  When I was done high school, I went to McMaster, so I moved to Hamilton, where the transit system is very, very not good.  And so I got the Jeep.  This would have been around 1996.  The thing somehow lasted a couple more years and finally gave up the ghost around 1998.

scan by you.

It’s not a very good photo, but it’s the only one of the Jeep
that I can find.
That’s my sister, showing off a shirt
that she painted a picture on, but in the background is the Jeep!

And that was when I bought my beloved ’89 Honda Civic. It was 10 years old, had a manual transmission and I believe cost $2,000.  I had her for a few years in Ontario and then brought her out to Vancouver when I moved here.  In all that time, I never once had any engine problems.  The brakes had to be fixed after towing her from Ontario to BC (it was never really clear what happened, but when we took her off the towing trailer when we got here, the brakes just didn’t work anymore), but that was really the only mechanical issue we had.   It was an amazing little car – by the end, it had a 402,798 km on it, was more rust than car (too many Ontario winters did it in), the passenger door didn’t open (so passengers had to get in through the driver’s side door) and trunk didn’t close fully.  Oh yeah, and the gas gauge didn’t work – it always said the tank was full, regardless of how much gas was in it, so you pretty much just had to fill it up all the time, just in case. But I didn’t care, I still loved that car.

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My beloved Civic. Image credit: me! on Flickr

She died at Granville & W. 70th Avenue when my ex2 and I were driving back from the airport after dropping off my friend Kaede, who had been visiting.  She stalled at a couple of intersections, but we managed to get her started again, but when she stalled at Granville and W. 70th, there was no bringing her back.  My ex had been rear ended in it a few days before and I maintain that the car was being held together by rust and getting hit resulted in the rust getting knocked loose and so her insides fell apart.  A homeless person helped us push her off the road and into a parking lot3 and that was the end of my beloved Honda Civic.

Civic Odometer by you.

Image credit: me! on Flickr

After the Civic, we bought a little red Dodge Colt and it was OK, but I never loved it the way I loved my Civic.

Photo Not Available by you.

I know I have a picture of it somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.

Then my ex and I broke up and he took the car, but killed it shortly thereafter as it had an oil leak and he didn’t replace the oil and you know what’s not good for an engine? No oil, that’s what.

After the divorce, this became my main mode of transportation:

20070924-3 - Blurry cars, buses and trains by roland.

Image credit: roland on Flickr

As proof, here’s a photo of me and some friends on a bus.

IMG_0956 by you.

Image credit: me on Flickr

Oh, the good ole’ bus!

In 2007 I supplemented my bus pass with this:

car co-op by velkr0.

Image credit: velkr0 on Flickr

The bus served me well most of the time – I live one block from a bus stop and it’s only a 15 min bus ride to my current office and a 15 min bus ride in the other direction to UBC for teaching. But the one thing the bus couldn’t do was get me to hockey. In 2007, I joined a hockey team that plays in Coquitlam on Sundays and you can’t get there by bus. So the Car Co-op was the perfect solution – it allowed me access to a car for my once per week hockey games, but I didn’t have to pay for having a car the rest of the time, when I didn’t need it.  An average month of using the Car Co-op to get me to hockey once a week cost, all told4, about $130.  Which is less that you’d pay for insurance on a new car. And that has worked for me for the past two years.

Enter: the new job.  The new job, which I’m starting in just more than a week, requires me to use a car 5 days a week .  Well, unless I want to take the bus an hour and 40 minutes each way, which I most certainly do not. Plus, I’ll need to do some driving around for the job itself, which is difficult to do without a car.  And at that level of usage the Car Coop actually becomes more expensive than having your own car. And so, enter the Smart Car.  My first ever brand new car. And I love it so so so so much5.

IMG_4871 by you.

Look how cute it is! Cute cute cute!  And safe and fun to drive and ridiculously good on gas!  I have decided that I am, in fact, going to name her Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car6,7.

IMG_4797 by you.

Me and Zaphod.
Or “the Beeb” as I like to call her.

Anyone wanna go for a drive?

1As the last time I owned the car I wasn’t quite the travel-mug-using-hippie I am today and I used to get paper cups. *hangs head in shame* From Tim Horton’s. Which I now find to be very not good. Like undrinkably ungood. But I digress.
well, he wasn’t my “ex” at the time.
3A lot of people honked at us and yelled at us to get out of the intersection (as if we were just sitting in the intersection for fun!), but only the homeless guy offered to help us.
4That includes the use of the car, maintenance, gas, insurance, BCAA and tax.
5My friend Alicia used to work for a company that had Smart cars as their company cars and she *hated* them. We have agreed to disagree on this.
6“the Car” is to differentiate my Zaphod from Zaphod Beeblebrox the First, the Second, the Third, the Nothingth, etc.
7Kalev is loudly and vehemently protesting this name8, which he believes is horrid and, despite being on the brink of getting his British citizenship, he hates British humour. We have agreed to loudly and vehemently disagree about both of these issues.
8He is referring to Zaphod as “Dr. Car” instead.

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Grumpy Mood

To the man who blew past me at about 70 km/hr when I was stopped at the crosswalk on Main St. tonight,

You came within 3 ft of killing the pedestrian who was IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET!  Yes, I realize she was crossing the road at an unlit crosswalk on a dark and rainy night wearing all black, but she was IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!  You are driving a car and you should really be looking out for people who are IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!  Here’s a tip: when you see that the car in the next lane (i.e., me) is stopped at a crosswalk, you may want to consider that there may be a person IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET! Also, when I yelled at you at the next stoplight (because, despite your ridiculous speed and lack of consideration for the safety and life of a young pedestrian, you didn’t actually get any further ahead than the next stoplight!), your dismissive shrug, as if you cared not that you nearly killed a person, was not appreciated.


To the man to drove by me very slowly and stared at me the entire time while I was loading my hockey gear into my co-op car,

Yes, I play hockey. Yes, I am a girl. Get over it.


To the girl who shoved me, hard, down to the ice, from behind, at the blue line, after the whistle and then said, “Sorry!”,

I did not believe that you were sorry.


To my brown shoes that appear to have disappeared from my apartment without a trace,

Was it something I said?


To the too hot french fry that burned the roof of my mouth when I bit into it,

You were supposed to be delicious, not injurious.

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Dr. Beth, Truck Driver Extraordinaire

I had to go pick up a desk from my friend Alicia’s place today.  The desk I had been using for the last 2 years actually belonged to my old roommate, Danielle.  She’d moved to a furnished place on the island, so I was babysitting the desk, and her dresser, until such time as she needed them back.  As she’s now moving to an unfurnished place, such time has arrived.  Fortunately for me, my friend Alicia was looking to get rid of a desk1 right around the same time, so said I could have it for free!  And you know how I feel about free stuff.

So tonight I booked myself a pick-up truck from the car co-op and bribed Kalev with a trip to the grocery store2 if would help me pick up the desk.  It’s one of the many great things about the car co-op – whenever you need a truck or a van to move big stuff, you can have your pick.  I chose a 2007 Mazda B3000, a pretty big truck for a wee-sized girl like myself.  I hate driving pick-up trucks because (a) they are a bitch to park and (b) I had a horrifying experience driving my dad’s pick-up truck when I was younger… a horrifying experience involving a very, very large spider.  *shudder*

Anyhoo, we managed to get the desk moved into my place all in one piece, as well as get a ridiculous amount of groceries – virtually all of which was on sale and/or came with bonus AirMiles.  And now I’m very, very tired!  So my desk setting up adventure will have to wait until tomorrow.  But I’ll post a picture once I have it set up all nice like.

Props to Alicia & Paul for letting me have their old desk/dresser thingamabob, and to Kalev for helping me move it!

1It’s actually a dresser with a spot for a chair – like where you’d have a chair and could sit and put on your makeup at your dresser – but I’m going to use it as a computer desk. ‘cuz that’s the way I roll.
2Kalev, like me, is carless, so an opportunity to be driven to a grocery store where he can buy any heavy items he wants, is an excellent bribe.

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Man, two days of no blogging! I blame The Man. And fiscal year end¹. Anyhoo, since I’m sure that you are all dying to hear the random thoughts in my brain², here they are:

  • I taught my last lesson to the grade 3-5 students that I was teaching Human Anatomy too. They are sooo damn cute. Especially the one that called me “Mrs. Dr. Snow.” And the one that drew a picture of a flower to give to me since it was my last day with them.
  • We won the first of our three hockey playoff games that we need to win this weekend to make it to the finals on Sunday. We were playing the last place team and, since players need to have played at least 8 regular season games to play in playoffs, teams can’t bring out ringers, so it wasn’t unexpected that we’d win last night’s game. But, anything can happen in playoffs…. last night the 5th place team beat the 2nd place team… so we can’t get too cocky! Keep your fingers crossed for us today at 4:30 p.m. Pacific as we take on the 4th place team!
  • Since I have to drive out to Coquitlam three, possibly four, times this weekend, I decided to rent a car rather than using a Car Co-op car. I got one of those cheap-o weekend deals, my credit card covers the insurance part and I get unlimited kilometers³, so it works out a lot cheaper to rent for this trip than to use the Co-op. The car I rented is a 2008 Toyota Yaris. It drives nicely enough, but I have three complaints: (a) the speedometer is located in the middle of the dashboard, rather than directly in front of the driver, so every time I glance up to see my speed, I have a mini-heart attack when all I see is a blank dashboard4, (b) my hockey sticks don’t fit in the trunk5 so I have to put them in the backseat, which just makes for an extra step when loading and unloading my gear into/out of the car, (c) the cupholder is weird. Based on my patented system of determining if a car is good6, this car ranks an “I wouldn’t buy it.”
  • Fun things I’ve got to talk about lately in the third-year university class I’m teaching: impotence, using semen as a biological testing sample, having the students touch each other.  Don’t you wish you were taking my class?

¹Yes, I realize I’m not in finance and I pawn anything financial that I need to do off on the finance people. But I’m blaming fiscal year end anyway. It’s my blog and I’ll prevaricate if I want to.
²And aren’t just saying “oh, you didn’t blog for a couple of days? I didn’t even notice! Get over yourself already!”
³Random question: Since we measure distance in kilometers here in Canada, why don’t we say “kilometerage” instead of “mileage”?
4I’m not sure why I have a little freak out when I look up and don’t see what speed I’m traveling. The thought going through my mind is something like, “Oh my god, I can’t see the speed, I must be going too fast!”
5My sticks are really short and they fit in the trunk of the Honda CivicToyota Corolla that I usually drive from the Car Co-op, and the Yaris feels like a bigger car than the Civic Corolla, so I have no idea what’s up with that.
6My system for determining if a car is good consists of (a) can I fit my hockey gear in there?, (b) does it have good cupholders, (c) can I get it in standard, and (d) is it not a Ford? Cars must meet all four criteria to be considered appropriate for me to want to buy it.

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Dear Every Other Driver on Highway 1 in the Pouring Rain Last Night,

That space between me and the car in front of me is there for a reason. And the reason is not that you can zoom into said space at a high rate of speed and then slam on your brakes because, lo and behold, there is a car in front, you asshat.

Sincerely,

Someone Who Actually Knows How Drive a Car

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Behind the Visor

For years, I’ve been using a visor on my hockey helmet that doesn’t fit properly1. In fact, I’ve been using it since I started playing hockey almost 5 years ago. It was a handy-me-down from my ex – he didn’t like playing with a full face shield, so got himself a half visor and I acquired the ill-fitting full one2. After 4 years of hockey, this visor is now scratched all to hell and it’s always fogged up something terrible. And, really, when you think about it, it’s probably not the best idea to have your safety equipment jury-rigged together. So I finally broke down and bought my own properly fitting visor.

Attaching said visor to my helmet, however, was no small feat. I mean, look at these directions:

instructions

Aside from the fact the chart that tells you if this visor will actually fit your particular helmet is *inside* the packaging (meaning you don’t know for sure until you buy it if it’s going to fit), you seem to need an engineering degree to assemble this damn thing. They appear to have one set of instructors for like 5 different types of visors, so it’s all “For concept II protectors (type 1 and 2), thread the chin strap through the chin cup and face protector as shown in figures 2 and 4.” And I’m all “mine is what concept? what type? whose figure? My cat’s breath smells like cat food.” I mean, for crying out loud, you need a 3 part picture, with multiple arrows, just to loop the chinstrap through the side of the visor:

instructions2

… and that’s before you even start attaching screws and clips and suchlike. Speaking of which, does anyone have any idea what these screws are for?

screws

Because they were left over when I was done and I don’t see anything in the instructions saying what I was supposed to have done with them.

Anyway, although it did take much longer that I expected, by some miracle I seem to have attached the new visor to the helmet in enough time to actually blog this before I have to go pick up my co-op car for tonight’s game.

Also, I’m fighting off a cold, so I’ve affixed some warning signs to my water bottle:

IMG_2756

IMG_2760

Hockey players tend to drink out of any bottle on the bench and, since I’d hate to get any more people sick than I’ve already infected, I figured a couple of bright purple signs will help.

1It’s an adult-sized visor and all my equipment is junior boys.
2I’m of the opinion that this face is far too pretty not to have full protection.

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Blog Action Day

Although my previous post was, at least in part, about the environment it was not actually intended as part of Blog Action Day. I actually didn’t know about Blog Action Day until Darren mentioned it in the comments on that post.

In his post, Darren asked “what is your big eco-sin?” Like most of his commenters, I try to be good to the environment:

  • I don’t own a car – I take the bus to work and for most of my transportation around the city, and I joined the car co-op for getting to hockey games
  • even when I do take a co-op car, I usually try to do multiple things on a given trip (such as go to the grocery store after my hockey game) in order to minimize the number of car trips I take
  • I’m a vegetarian and I don’t wear leather
  • I use a travel mug1 to avoid using paper cups and I bring my own Tupperwear container to the cafeteria to avoid using Styrofoam containers
  • I bring my own bag to the grocery store so I don’t have to take plastic ones
  • I recycle anything that can be recycled2
  • I turn the lights out in the bathroom, the kitchen and the photocopy room at work when I leave them3
  • I use the back of old printouts as note paper before I recycle them
  • I don’t buy anything new if I can get it used instead and buy almost all of my clothes in consignment & thrift stores
  • I rarely fly anywhere4

But I do have one big eco-sin. I leave my computer on. All the time. 24/7. Even when I’m at work all day, my computer at home is on. And the main reason I do this is a rather ridiculous one – when I come home, I like there to be messages waiting for me. Even though I haven’t had my landline and it’s accompanying answering machine for months now, my natural inclination when I walk in the door is to look for the little flashing red light telling me that someone cared enough to call me! And since I don’t have that anymore, my msn serves that purpose. With my computer on, people can msn me all day long and when I get home, I have messages waiting for me. OK, now that I write that down, I see it’s silly. Starting tomorrow, I’m shutting my computers off when I leave.

On a related note: why, since the librarians have been on strike for four months, were all the lights on in the local library branch when I walked by there tonight?

1A friend of mine said that he feels if he can’t have his act together enough to bring his travel mug with him, then he feels that he doesn’t deserve a coffee. I think this is a good philosophy
2and in light of the 4 month garbage strike that has, mercifully, just ended, this is a real sacrifice as I can barely fit in my kitchen because I have so much recycling piled up in there!
3and have noticed that some of my co-workers have started following my example
4Although, truth be told, this has more to do with my lack of money (thanks, $70,000 of student loans!) than with a conscience choice to fly less

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Al Gore Would Be Ashamed of Me

I have a confession to make. I like driving cars. I want to be good to the environment and I don’t even own a car, but I really like driving! As you know, I joined the car co-op so that I can get to my hockey games out in Coquitlam. Well, for today’s hockey game, I booked a 2007 Mazda 5. When I booked it, I had in my head a Mazda 3. I like the Mazda 3. The Mazda 5, however, is pretty much a station wagon1. Boo! But the cool thing about the Mazda 5 is that it has a feature where you can drive the car as a clutch-less manual. Like with the Tiptronic™ transmission of my beloved Smart Car, you can drive this car like a manual, but without having to step on a clutch. I like to call it “idiot-proof manual,” because if you don’t shift correctly, the car will eventually shift for you. The system for shifting is a little wack – you put the gear selector2 into “M” for “manual”, a position from which you can then shift up and down by pushing the stick down or up. Ya, you read that correctly – to shift up, you push the stick down and vice versa. Shifting up shifts down, shifting down shifts up, people wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people3. Driving idiot-proof manual really reminded me how much I love driving a car with a manual transmission. The first car I ever owned, a 1989 Honda Civic, was manual and I loved that car. Interestingly4, I learned how to drive manual on that car and it didn’t have a tachometer. Fortunately, it also didn’t have its muffler properly attached most of the time, so I learned to shift gears based on the sound of the engine. Driving this 5 today was trickly as the engine is so quiet, you can barely hear it and I’m not used to looking at a tach to know when to shift.

Another point of note from my trip in the Mazda 5 is that the car has way too many cup holders. And if I, the woman whose only concerns when car shopping are “will my hockey gear fit into it” and “does it have a cup holder?”, am saying that, well, you just know it must be true. Seriously, there are no fewer than FIVE cup holders accessible from the front seats. FIVE!! Granted, hockey and various other weekend activities may leave one somewhat dehydrated, but how many beverages am I expected to consume in a 45 minute car ride?

Oh ya, and in case you don’t believe that I love to drive, here’s the odometer reading on my old Honda Civic the day she died, some 7 years after I bought her for $2000. When I bought her, I believe she had about 150,000 km on her.

Civic Odometer

RIP, little buddy. I miss you.

1on Wikipedia they refer to it as a “minimini van” because it’s not as big as a minivan, but it has sliding doors and seats 6. But it felt like a station wagon to me! Ick!
2For the record, I had to look that term up. I usually just call it the “stick,” but that feels like it’s more for a manual than an automatic.
310 points to the first person who correctly identifies where I stole that line from.
4If you don’t think this is interesting, try learning to drive stick without a tachometer!

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Sunday night, 11 pm seems to be the time when hot Vancouver boys do their grocery shopping. Safeway was positively crawling with them. It’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while, because I rarely see hot boys in the grocery store, yet I know they must acquire their sustenance at some point – you can’t build those muscles without protein!

Unfortunately, Sunday at 11 pm was also the time that I, being on the way home from my hockey game, decided to take advantage of the fact that I had a co-op car by stopping in at Safeway for some groceries.

On the way home from my hockey game. As in my hair is in pigtails, tied back with a bandana, no makeup, sweaty and disgusting.

Sigh. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break.