Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stopping at the Top of the Escalator/Just Inside a Door

Escalators are nice. They are especially great when you're carrying a suitcase or are just too dang lazy for the stairs. They're also funny because they can never really break, they just become stairs. Escalators are fairly ubiquitous, from train stations to airports to malls to hotels. Since they are so common, you might assume that people would have a general comprehension of how they function. But you'd be wrong. So very very wrong.

There is something about the top of an escalator that makes people want to stop. Maybe it's the transition from being moved to having to propel yourself again, or potentially the change in altitude causes some people to become disorientated, or the change in scenery becomes overwhelming. I don't know what it is, but people (especially those traveling in groups) tend to stop right at the top of the escalator and just form a clump of people. Do they not realize that other people also use escalators and are also being carried to the top and are also going to want to get off the moving staircase and that by standing right at the top of the escalator they are impeding progress and potentially endangering the lives of all other escalator users!??!?!? Okay, perhaps I'm being a touch dramatic, but serious injuries do happen on escalators including amputation of digits.  In fact there is a whole foundation dedicated to educating people on how to ride escalators safely and I'm pretty sure moving clear upon exiting is an essential part of the experience.

A similar phenomenon occurs in doorways. For example, after a movie ends people will congregate immediately outside the door to the theater, obstructing the main exit. Although not as dangerous as blocking an escalator, I suppose there is still an opportunity to be trampled. Mainly I hate it because it's just plain inefficient and I really really hate inefficiency (see here and here and here, and many others). The movie is over, my bladder is full, and you are in my way having a conversation with your friend about how you can't believe you ate the whole box of Jujubes. Instead of blocking the door, why don't you start working off those candy calories and move out of the way. And while you're on your way out, consider taking the stairs. I don't want to get stuck behind you on the escalator. I know your type.

Monday, July 23, 2012

People who Want to Move to Canada Because of "ObamaCare"

For Wes. Happy now???

My friend lives in New York City, and overheard two people recently discussing how the US has taken a turn for the worse, chiefly because of "ObamaCare" (aka PPACA or the ACA).  They finally concluded that the only solution is to move to Canada.  Actually, these two gentlemen are not the only ones hoping to move to Canada because the United States is going to guarantee access to healthcare for everyone. There are indeed plenty of great reasons to move to Canada: hockey, low crime rate, Tim Horton's, a fantastically singable national anthem, and more hockey, just to name a few.  However, moving in order to "avoid socialized healthcare" is not one of them because--I'm sorry to break it to you--Canada has that, too.  In fact, Canada has provided its citizens with healthcare since 1966.  If you would like to continue to live in a country without universal access to healthcare might I suggest moving to Haiti or any country in Africa, or perhaps Mexico if you want to stay close to home. Just don't bother moving to any developed nations because the vast majority of them also offer their citizens access to medicine. 

I'm not here to say that PPACA is (or isn't) the answer to all of our healthcare problems, or that the Canadian system is perfect (or not).  However, at least learn the facts before you criticize something, and definitely don't threaten to move to a country that has the issue you're trying to avoid. That's like me talking about how much I hate the winter and snow and then moving to Alaska (or Canada, I suppose). 

(As a side note here are some fantastic tweets in response to people wanting to move north. My two favorites are: "obama passes law replacing american football with hockey, citizens threaten to move to canada." and "Saying you're moving to Canada cause you're upset about Obamacare is like saying you're moving to Hogwarts cause you're upset about magic.")

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sudden Bad Realizations

Like, for example, when you're halfway through your commute, and you see yourself in the window of the subway car, and you simultaneously realize that you 1) forgot your lunch, and 2) wore the same outfit two days earlier.  Sigh.... Please don't judge me.

There are other bad realizations to have, like remembering something that's been on the stove for too long and is now burned onto the pot. Or that you forgot to call your grandmother on her birthday, or that you accidentally sent an email to someone you should not have, or that you have a dentist appointment in 30 minutes.  All of these things have happened to me, and it's usually a random moment of sudden clarity instantly followed by horror, shame and/or panic.  Why is it that I can remember lyrics to a song I haven't heard in 8 years, but I can't remember to take the rice pilaf off the stove?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Office Kitchen

What is it about the office kitchen that makes people behave like 15-year old boys? On a regular basis, people leave dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter, fail to put trash in the garbage, abandon spills on the counter, and leave leftovers in the fridge for weeks on end. I know this is not specific to where I work.  There is something special about the office kitchen that seems to give permission for people to not clean up after themselves.  Is it the "someone else will do it" mentality? Is it the "I do this at home so why should I do it here" thought process?  Or maybe people assume the cleaning staff will wash the dishes at the end of the day.  I understand that once in a while you might put a dish in the sink to soak and then forget about it, or accidentally forget about an apple, but this happens all the time!  It makes me so angry to arrive at work and be unable to fit my lunch in the fridge because there is a 3-week old pizza box that someone is too lazy to toss.  I work in a small office (~10 people) so I can't imagine what it's like at larger places.  If you use the office kitchen, do all your colleagues a favor.  Wash your own dishes, check the fridge at the end of the week to make sure you didn't leave anything there, clean up any messes you make, volunteer every-so-often to scrub the fridge or microwave, and never ever ever steal someone else's food.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting Stung By a Wasp, On the Face, On Your Bike, Far from Home

Yes this happened to me this weekend.  I was almost exactly halfway through a 54-mile ride when I felt a bug crash into the side of my head between my helmet at sunglasses.  I quickly tried to brush it away since it seemed to be stuck and making a lot of stressful-sounding bzzzing noises. I felt two sharp pinches, freaked out a bit more, started swerving my bike all over the luckily empty road, and finally freed the trespasser all while cursing intensely. I pulled into a driveway, and tried to assess the damage using the camera on my phone.  Although painful, I luckily experienced no swelling of the area, and while ready to call for an emergency pick-up, I was totally okay.  It was still a terrible experience, and of course as these things go, it happened when I was at the point in my ride that is farthest from home.  I couldn't even take a short-cut since my route was nearly out-and-back.  The salt in my sweat rolling over the stings served as a painful reminder that I had been viciously attacked by some sort of wasp.
Conversations with other cyclists revealed that this is actually a somewhat common phenomenon, but I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.  Better because I'm not alone in this experience, but worse because it's likely to happen again.