Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My brain is mushy - it's late and I just finished watching True Blood. I tried to have a normal summer day today but I couldn't deal with it. Biked to Kits Pool and swam and read for a couple of hours but I was too damn tired to enjoy it. It must be a West Coast thing, thinking how much you love the heat and when we finally get some just not understanding what hot actually is. And every ex-Ontario-an is assuring me it's not even hot. Well, I'm still running a slight fever - that's a good enough excuse for me.

One thing I like about biking, when I can get my ego out of it, is observing how people organize themselves when bikes and pedestrians have to mingle on the same stretch of pavement. I had my usual thoughts in the usual places - that there should be a bike lane, people need to keep right, the usual. I wonder what it says about different types of people how they respond to bikes in this situations. Some people are alert and move in and out of traffic as bikes come by, some people resolutely stick to the line they've chosen to walk, some people are not paying any attention at all weaving around unpredictably, kids do their thing, old people in scooters use the bike path and glare around like they're waiting for somebody to challenge them, and snotty teenage girls walk three or four abreast cultivating a look of boredom that doesn't change when you have to almost brush past them to get by. When I am in a good humour I find this all amusing. Today a lot of it irritated me. My de-raging mantra this year has been "Share the Pavement!" When people are wandering all over the place, letting their dogs run lose right in my path and looking surprised that other people are in their general area and roller-bladers are flailing all over the place I fantasize about a giant admonishing patch on my backpack or a decal on a t-shirt: Share. The. Pavement. SHARE IT! Look around, be present, understand you're only participating in one of four or five or six different modes of transportation on the same path.

I remember being fascinated with that bit of sociological lore that has become a truism. You know the one, it's how people arrange themselves in an elevator to keep a precise distance from one another. I never actually read the study - I'm sure it was done in a post-industrial Western society - but I've always liked that idea, that people will unconsciously strive to keep equidistant from each other. On some stretches of some bike paths on some days I can see it work. Bikes passing on the left, pedestrians keeping right and relaxed in the knowledge that everyone is moving to the same beat, it resembles an improvised but orderly parade. Then a tourist or a child or a confused or rebellious pedestrian will step all over the place and the rhythm gets broken. It's fun to watch.

Bits of news from the Haitian election campaigns are making it into the U.S. news cycle. It's unbelievable how things are presented - one of the candidates, Charles Henry Baker, is a sweatshop owner in Haiti, notorious for the dreadful conditions of his manufacturing plants and the pitiful wages he pays his workers, as well as being one of the shadow figures behind the coup d'etat that deposed Aristide. The lack of context around the reporting is astounding - he is mostly just referred to as a businessman. Is it too political or something to actually mention some of the pertinent details around his bid? His skin colour is among the lightest in Haiti, along with the other 5% of the political and economic elite in Haiti. This is, of course, never mentioned on any commentary around the election. If Wyclef Jean wasn't running for president none of this would even penetrate the dim consciousness of the American media machine.

I read Going Home at the pool today and i bought one of the third or fourth books of Simone de Beauvoir's autobiography Hard Times so I am reading two at once. I frequently do this, I prefer to have three or four good reading options available at any time so I can pick and choose according to my mood. It strikes me that I am fuzzy-headed and tired so instead I shall finish the last chapter of P.D. James' Cover her Face and see if that takes me to sleep.

I wonder how long I can do this every day before I simply write "Sentence". At least a month, I hope.

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