WoB Talk

December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 – January 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 7:07 am

Here begins the second week of the Fourth Great WoB Extravaganza.  What will happen next?  Will Marie be assaulted by any more bad Underworld-related puns?  Stay tuned to find out.

(Incidentally, I tried to write a Rant tonight.  I tried three times.  Each attempt was suffused with self-pity.  Perhaps I’ll be in a better space next week.)

December 25, 2012

December 24 – 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 2:56 am

Merry Christmas, everyone.  Thus begins the Fourth Great WoB Extravaganza.  Why is Marie wandering the streets of Toronto in the wee hours of Christmas morning, following random clues that seem to make little or no sense?  Only time will tell, unless it doesn’t.

December 10, 2012

December 10 – 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 2:52 am

We shall now leave the Debs & Errol crossover, which was a bit of silly fun, and return to the weirdness of the “A” plot.  What wacky Christmas adventure has poor Marie got herself into this time?  What caustic things is Evil Marie going to say about it?  Will Marie get home in time for the Doctor Who Christmas special?  Only time will tell.*

*Inspector Spacetime would here interject:  “No…only space will tell!”

Fear of Bicycle Repair: A Morality Tale

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 2:45 am

I took a bike-repair course once.  It was kind of fun and gave me a sense of accomplishment; I was, it seemed, capable of doing mild bicycle maintenance without physically hurting myself.  I had gained knowledge that was actually useful.

Then the course ended, at which point I learned a hard truth:  no matter how many things you learn in the repair shop, you will eventually not have access to said repair shop any more.  Deprived of the tools, the expertise of your teachers, and even those thingies you stick bikes on to lift them off the ground and make their bits easier to get at, you will be almost back to where you started:  incapable of anything more complex than tire inflation.  I had the added problem of entirely lacking in upper-body strength.  Even after I acquired a multi-tool, I was frequently incapable of using it.  No amount of knowledge will allow you to loosen a bolt when you have the muscle tone of an undernourished eight-year-old.*

But I do like the idea of being able to look after my own bike.  I always feel a creeping sense of shame when I have to take my bike to the shop to get a tire changed because I’m not strong enough to take off the wheel.  And yes, I have done this more than once.

I recently ended up in one of those incredibly stupid situations that affect only people who are fantastic procrastinators.  My brake pads were worn down to the point that they were hardly working any more.  When I say “hardly working,” I mean that I was having to drag my left foot along the ground every time I wanted to stop.  Stopping on a hill involved me jamming on the brakes as hard as I could half a block before the intersection, then dragging my foot for at least thirty feet.  Calling this situation “insanely dangerous” would be putting it lightly.  It was not smart of me to continue riding a bike that was incapable of, you know, stopping.

I made all the usual excuses.  I was too busy to fix the brakes.  I didn’t remember how.  I was going to screw something up, and I would get the bike into such a bad condition that I would be forced to take it to the shop, and then the people at the shop would laugh at me.  It wasn’t that bad.  If I pumped up my tires, the brakes would almost work again.**  It was nearly December; I wouldn’t need the bike for much longer anyway.

None of these excuses obscured the fact that I was putting my life in danger every time I got on the bike.  Finally, I stopped procrastinating and fixed the damn brakes.

It turned out that I did remember how to do it.  I didn’t have all the tools that would have made it a painless operation, but I had enough to get by, and as far as I know, I didn’t destroy anything.  My brakes soon worked again.  Once more, I felt that sense of accomplishment.  Small victories can be very satisfying.

The day after I fixed my brakes, I was cycling along Bloor when an absolute idiot in a huge white van made an illegal left turn in front of me, nearly killing another cyclist and forcing me to jam on the brakes.  It wasn’t the kind of illegal left turn you could excuse with, “He must not have seen the sign”; this was someone swerving across three lanes of traffic onto an off-ramp usually only accessible to people driving in the opposite direction.  You don’t explicitly watch out for that sort of thing because ninety percent of drivers just aren’t that freaking insane.  All I can say is that I’m really glad I stopped procrastinating and fixed my brakes.  I’m not sure the foot-dragging manoeuvre would have helped much in that situation.

The next time my brakes stop working, of course, I am probably going to do exactly the same thing.  But for now, it’s nice to know that I can fix my brakes if I need to.

*I don’t enjoy being this wimpy.  A lot of my problems do seem to be bike-related, too.  The university at which I work has recently got rid of several banks of bike racks and replaced them with these horrible plastic things that are meant to hold bikes placed almost vertically.  In principle, they save a lot of space.  In practice, all they mean is that people with no muscles in their arms are forced to take their bikes elsewhere.  I cannot for the life of me get my bike into one of those racks.  At one point, I was flailing around in a futile attempt to make the damn thing stay, and a couple of students were standing nearby, laughing at me.  I don’t even try any more.

**This was actually true.  Full tires are fatter than soft ones, and the brakes are thus marginally tighter.  In this case, “marginally tighter” means:  “For the first day after I pumped up my tires, I had to drag my foot for only the last ten feet, not the last thirty.”

 

December 3, 2012

Twenty Days of Horror

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 1:43 am

I do actually like teaching.  I don’t actually like marking.  I know I’m not exactly alone in this, but sometimes, the obvious just needs to be restated.  Marking is the devil.  Because of marking, I haven’t written a Rant in a month.  I’ve finally got a small amount of time for Ranting, and what am I Ranting about?  Why, marking, of course.

Starting on December 1st, I had about 300 assignments–180 essays and 120 exams, not to mention 160 discussion responses–to get through by December 20th.  I’m now finished 25 of the essays.  At this rate, I’ll be almost done by next March.  I also have to write, memorise, rehearse, and perform two songs, rehearse and perform two other songs, do something about this whole album thing, draw eleven comics and a Christmas header, and not go mad.  And that isn’t even considering the Christmas shopping.

Next term, I’m teaching four classes instead of five, but they’ll have more students in them.  The course I’ll be teaching (four times over) is one of the university’s most popular, mostly because it can be used as an elective by students in a wide variety of disciplines.  Also, it’s got comics in it.  My classes will start out full, though I’ll doubtless terrify many students into dropping out a few weeks into the term.  To begin with, however, I’ll likely be teaching between 220 and 240 people, in contrast to the 145 or so I have at the moment.  Crying is going to be happening quite, quite soon.  The fun bit?  The university considers my job “part time.”

At any rate, the next eighteen days are sure to be filled with joy.  If I run into many more apostrophe faults, I may try to swallow my own tongue, but that’s par for the course.

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