Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weird weekend

Friday I was committed to spending the weekend at the track in London working as a timekeeper. I was doing a favour for someone that had to back out. I swear, this bike referee shit is wearing on me. I agreed when thought I could use the money, but $75 for the weekend, as it turned out, sure wasn't worth it. The work can be stressful as hell. Racing went 'til 10pm Sunday, and started back up Sat. 9 am. When you're in the infield you can't even go to the washroom while racing is on. Even if there is a break in the action, as an official you still have to be doing something.

Normally I would never take a job that far away but I figured I could weasel I ride from someone going to the race. After all my potential rides fell through, I had to take matters into my own hands and I decided to take the bus.

Bus stations are one of the most depressing places around, maybe because only real losers ever take the bus. Some dude even sat around with all his crap and strummed an acoustic guitar:

It was quaint as shit.

Bus rides itself are pretty good. I never have any trouble stewing, even without music or reading material. But, I had a good 2.5 hrs to look over my notes and think about my (school) work without the pressure of being compelled to whip up some irrelevant plots or beat into submisson some stupid code -- on the bus I have no choice but to stew. I did find a list of "Things To Do" I had written in my notebook, and the first item was:

1. get away from the computer.

When I got to London, I had to cab it to the velodrome, and the cabbie (some ethnic type, even in small cities in Ontario the cabbies are ethnics) was on a huge rant about London is shit and everyone here is trash and actually retarded with short arms and weird faces and how I should never come back, or at least never enter the city itself, and how all small cities are crap.

There a bit of truth in that. London, Cambridge, Guelph, Peterborough, Waterloo, Burlington, Hamilton, all these places are exactly the same. There's the Tim Hortons by the 401. Big box stores, like Home Depot and Costco on the outskirts and tattoo parlours and head shops downtown. Amazing thing is almost all these places have a university. But London looked okay to me, and the place seemed to be booming. Traffic was bad as anywhere in Ontario.

Friday night I got to stay with a great family that had just moved to London from Toronto, they fed me and I played with their super-smart little dog. I told 'em the cabbie story and they laughed their asses off, then they told me the same thing. There are some real wackos in London.

I finally got to experience it for myself when I found myself 1.5 hrs early for the bus back to tha T-dot, so I had some time to kill.

Usually I like to slum it up in the diviest shitholes -- with Wildcat on tap and Ragdoll on the jukebox, and there was just such a place by the bus depot, but the blocks around there were filled with some dicey looking freaks. These weren't your Britney Spears/"I wear yoga pants to Spago" white trash, I'm in downtown London; these are the real deal, and frankly I was nervous. So I opted for the gentrified brew pub in the Galleria.

On the ride back the dude next to me decided to strike up a conversation. I've had these kind of encounters before, where a stranger starts telling you an elaborate story about his life and family. A common element is that he's from a rich or influential family. This is the precursor to the Nigerian money scams. It always boils down to this: someone who apparently has ties to money befriends you out of the blue and then when you're sufficiently charmed, hits you up for a favour (ref. Six Degrees of Separation).

Sure, it's plausible the dude really was from a family of wealthy Japanese industrialists, and a Zen Buddhist who was going to be forced into an arranged marriage back in Japan next month, a marriage he is totally against, to a girl he had never met and who was also his second cousin's daughter, and he just happened to be travelling from London by friggen bus with the likes of me and worse, with zero luggage, but who really knows ? Weird.

So it was good when I was finally back in DT Toronto, even with the Pitchfork reading nerds and well dressed Asians that mock people that drive American cars.

The Plant Project:

Last year I potted some basil plants, and they gave me pretty good basil long after the winter had killed all the basil in my yard. But inevitably I neglected them until they turned into dried basil, but I don't think they're dead. Today I took 'em outside and watered them. Hopefully this will be a regular feature, where we can follow the jeuvenation of my basil plants over the next few weeks.

Day 1:



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