My Superpower August 28, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
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For this special blog post where I reveal my superpower, I thought I’d make an audio recording — sort of a mini-podcast. Enjoy!
Duration: 4:00 minutes
*If you are on a slow connection, you may also choose to read the post instead, here.*
Twittering July 30, 2013Posted by Teresa in poetry.
Tags: bird-watching, birds, poetry, twitter, twittering
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A poem and a photo for you to enjoy today.
strung out on a line
like musical sixteenth notes
in the sun.
Tags: brakes, driving, forest fire, safety, transportation, vapour lock
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Following in the tradition of blogs everywhere, I have a classic* three-point post today with some interesting and helpful things I learned about my car recently. The first one nearly stopped me in my tracks.
1. Vapour lock: don’t be a victim!
I was part-way through a road trip on a hot day. I had been driving for a few hours when I stopped to get gas. Much to my surprise, after I was all fuelled up, my car wouldn’t start! It tried really hard, turning over and over, coughing and making sounds I’d never heard it make before (of a sputtering sort). But, try as it might, it just wouldn’t start. So, a lady who had come to fill up her truck drove over to the cardlock owner to get some help. I had to wait a while, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t want to be a pest and go bug the guy who was going to help me, so I just putzed around, checking my oil, picking dead bugs out of the front and whatnot.
After about 15 minutes, Mike (not a mechanic, just a regular guy) drove up and we discussed the problem. He suggested that my fuel injectors might be clogged, and that’s why it wouldn’t start. I decided to turn it over so he could have a listen and see if that sounded like the problem. Right before turning the key, I joked, “maybe it will start, just because you’re here!”
Mechanics across the nation know what’s going to happen next — my car started. It wasn’t pretty, but it coughed to life. And the fuel injectors weren’t to blame. A mechanically-minded friend explained it to me later that night — on a hot day, the gasoline in your engine and fuel line becomes vapour and then when you stop, the liquid gas can’t get to the engine. The fuel pump tries to move it, but it can’t, so it just coughs. It is vapour locked. The only solution is to let the engine cool down a bit (which happened as I waited for Mike) so the vapour condenses, and then it will start.
The rest of the story? After my car started, I went to the local mechanic shop, explained things to the mechanic, and got some fuel injector cleaner (I left the car running the whole time, just in case it decided to die again). After driving another 4 hours or so, I stopped to get gas again. I left the car running (which I NEVER do, not even in winter, so it felt very strange), and as I poured the first litre in, the engine coughed and very nearly died again! I was mystified! I added a little more and again, it nearly stopped. So, I said to myself, forget this! I still have half a tank — enough to get home. Once I heard the explanation, it made sense — the cold gas wasn’t mixing well with the hot, vapourous gas, and the car wasn’t able to compensate for the change. Your vehicle has to mix air and gas at a certain ratio for combustion to occur, otherwise, nada. Or should I say “no va?”
2. Don’t brake over bumps.
I helped my friend Michelle move at the beginning of July, and as we were driving out for a second load, I learned something new about brakes. Two of the other people helping Michelle worked at a mechanic shop, and I was yammering on about how I’m getting pretty good at driving on all sorts of gravel roads — loose gravel, packed gravel, washboardy, pot-holey, whatever. I can just tap the brakes and then cruise over most spots easily.
All of a sudden, Karen said “At least you’re doing it right! You’d think people would know that you shouldn’t brake when you’re going over a bump! It wears your brakes unevenly and causes them to wear quicker overall.”
Well, I quietly sat there nodding, but truth be told, I didn’t know that. It was just instinct to me to brake before a bump and then cruise over it, and luckily for me, I had been doing it right. When you brake, it causes your suspension to compress, which makes the brakes wear much worse.
So, now you know: if you are coming up to a bump in the road you need to slow down for — be it a pot-hole, uneven bridge deck, construction, or whatever — slow down first, but when you get to the bump, let off the brakes.
3. Don’t Pass the Pilot Truck.
It happened last year on Hwy 35 near Steen River, and last week on Hwy 1, well, in the middle of nowhere: pilot trucks were put into effect to guide drivers through areas where forest fires were burning near the road. I thought it was just to make sure no one decided to go joy-riding on a quad trail — someone in danger of being charged and convicted under Darwin’s Law — or to make sure people didn’t speed when passing wildland fire fighters. Well, I was wrong.
Last week, driving back to Fort Simpson, I decided to drive through an area where the Department of Transportation had been using pilot trucks the day before. There were no piloting vehicles or road workers around — it was too early in the morning — and as far as I knew, the road was open. As I went by a small fire burning about five feet into the bushes on one side of the road, I noticed a wide, pink stripe across the highway — the mark left by a tanker aircraft who’d dropped his load of fire-retardant on the fire! Now, that made sense — you wouldn’t want to accidentally drive by when that happened! You’d get red, frothy gunk all over your vehicle! But then again, why not just close the road altogether? Why do we need pilot trucks to drive through areas with forest fires burning?
I was telling my story of driving by the fire to a friend, Mickey, who works for the DoT. He “tusk-tusk-tusked” at me, waggled his finger, and explained. The real reason for pilot trucks, he said, is because if your car ingests an ember from a flame into the air filter and catches on fire, you would be stranded with a burning car in an active fire zone! Aaah… now, that would be bad. The pilot truck is there to make sure everyone gets through okay.
So, if you are tempted to pass a pilot truck, or drive through an area with a lot of ash where a pilot truck hasn’t been established yet, just be aware that besides risking a hefty fine, you’re betting that your vehicle won’t catch on fire! Not sure what the odds are on that bet, but I’m not willing to take the chance!
*Ain’t it concise, informative and story-oriented?
Like a Game of Bejewelled July 9, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: games, life, philosophy of life, play, strategy
We can learn so much about ourselves by how we live, work and play. Since I got my new phone, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Bejewelled, and it makes me wonder if how I play indicates something about how I live.
**Oddly Specific Alert!** If you’ve never played Bejewelled, this post is not going to make much sense. Try it free online here first and then you’ll be able to follow me. (another link)
I like to play in the bottom half of the board, and allow the top jewels to fall down as I play, making lots of extra combinations. I love it when the Deep Voice says “excellent, awesome” and “spectacular,” even though all those extra combinations are pure luck. I particularly love how he says “spectacular” as if he really means it! I enjoy benefitting from the bonuses I don’t have to work for. Does this make me lazy? Maybe.
I really don’t like playing in the top half, or playing for specific combinations with a detailed strategy. I find there are too many random things — or jewel-actions I don’t understand — that when I try to line up certain combinations, it doesn’t usually work out very well anyway. I think this just confirms for me that I’m not a major control freak; if you try to plan every move, to get the most combinations of the best special jewels, it is a lot of effort and not always successful, just like in life.
There is one strategy I enjoy using, however. When the jewels are set up so that I have a choice between making a horizontal set of 3 or a vertical set, I prefer to make a horizontal set. Making vertical sets causes a lot of new jewels to fall in from above in such a way that I can’t wrap my brain around. Horizontal sets are nice because the jewels just fall down one space, and I can easily set up a few combination moves, or just enjoy the jewels falling and see what new possibilities arise.
Although the new jewels that appear are random, there is no question that how I move the jewels around to make combinations affects the position of the remaining jewels. What I do greatly affects the board, just as it is in life — what I do greatly affects my surroundings, although in life, what I think about and my overall attitude affect my environment greatly as well, which I haven’t seen to be the case, exactly, in Bejewelled.
I am definitely not one to plan a whole bunch of moves ahead. This is true in life, too. I feel best when I have a short-term plan, for a day or two in advance, but I don’t need or want to have a lot of plans for years from now. In fact, my honey and I have never had any sort of long term plan until this year, and wouldn’t you know it, a couple of months after hatching the plan, it changed anyway! So, we’re back to taking life as it comes — playing the jewels we have, making the best combinations we can without obsessing about the score or the level we achieve.
Of all the variations of Bejewelled, my favourite is the “Zen” mode. I like having no time limit to the levels, and although I could play slowly, I find I usually make combinations quite quickly. I don’t mind Blitz or the Original, but the timelessness of Zen is the best for me. I tried “Diamond Mine” and found it fun, but I had to change my strategy a lot to keep the combinations working along the bottom. There’s considerably more planning and watching what colour of combo is needed.
So, do you play with a similar strategy? Can you learn something about yourself by how you play whatever game you like to play? It’s fun to think about, isn’t it?
Big Time Activism July 7, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: activism, change, changing the world, society
There have always been people who stand out on their own, who buck “the man,” who stand up to authority. Well, perhaps that isn’t entirely true — there may have been a time in the distant past when people were so focused on mere survival, they didn’t have the luxury to protest, or when “the authority” was so much more powerful than the common man, it was too dangerous or difficult to stand up to it.
But in the 70′s large scale activism really got going! Rallies and protests became common and they have been going on in one form or another ever since. Most of the time, their goal is to gain awareness of the problem by getting lots of media attention.
There is a slight problem with these type of protests, however.
We will do things in large groups we would never do individually, because, as everybody knows, there is strength in numbers. But that strength is artificial; it is bolstering our egos; it is the courage of the masses. To be truly courageous, stand on your own. Take action when no one else is. Do something in complete privacy or anonymity to make a difference.
Let’s take the Occupy movement as an example. Why not do something personally to take some power away from Wall Street? Stop investing in the money system. Stop giving it power. Stop treating rich people differently. Don’t do things just for the money.
Whatever cause you believe in, can you figure out a way to single-handedly make a real difference? Not just get lots of media attention. Not just meet a whole bunch of like-minded people — those things are fine, but they often, unfortunately, do not actually make a difference. Could you instead work towards becoming an elected official, or upper management in a corporation, and get into a position where you really can make changes in laws and policies? People in those positions sometimes do not even use the power they have, and they probably didn’t get into those positions to be activists… but what if some did? What if you stood up as a leader?
What sorts of changes could you make privately or anonymously? Could you just silently stop buying products you don’t agree with? What about treating people differently — personally being the change you want to see in the world.
Or, what if you made a personal change but perhaps mentioned it on Facebook? Doing so could call others to take their own, personal action. It isn’t private or anonymous, but it could very well be an individual thing. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying rallies are demonstrations are bad. I’m just saying they are not the only way, or the best way, not by a long shot.
The New Activism
This winter, my awesome roommate and I discovered the new way of activism.
A friend of ours was driving back from Yellowknife when he came across a family having truck trouble. He piled them all in his pick-up and drove them to Fort Simpson where he gave them his second truck to drive back to Yellowknife, a distance of over 600 km. He had to go back to Yellowknife in a few weeks, so he would get the truck back then. That made a difference. That kind of thing changes the world. Giving cinnamon buns away to hungry, tired truckers changes the world. Driving a co-worker 400 km so she can pick up the new vehicle she bought changes the world. The man who drove his vac-truck from Saskatoon to Calgary after the flood and pumped out basements for free is changing the world!
It makes no sense to get people angry for peace. Using fear to fight fear is backwards. Rallying just for show is pointless.
The new way of activism is this: frequent and surprising random acts of kindness that are big, individual, and life-changing.
It’s a bit like paying it forward (remember the movie?). It’s an explosion of caring, a flurry of friendship, offered freely and fully, to strangers and family alike. If it gets some media attention because it is so big, then fine, but that’s not the purpose.
Want to join me? : )
Life is Not a Movie June 28, 2013Posted by Teresa in Ponder This.
Tags: life, media, modern life, movies, TV, zombies
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The other day, while walking on a beautiful forest trail, I suddenly thought “this would make a nice scene in a movie.” The thought was so out-of-the-blue, it really struck me. I had been thinking about what the North was like before pharmaceuticals, how people truly lived off the land. They used the plants that grow naturally to cure things that bothered them. They learned what plants helped what problems by trial and error, and by following their intuition, and the knowledge was passed down verbally from one person to another. I was completely focused on nature, which is why the thought about movies was so surprising, and, of course, it got me thinking about media.
I wonder how much of the time we relate our real lives to things we see on film and on TV. How often do we compare our lives to the glamour we see on screen, and feel unsatisfied or inadequate? How often do we think about what we look like from the outside, or how our situation must look? I think we do it all the time, sub-consciously. We are all like Abed from the show Community, we just don’t say it out loud. And I just did it again.
Go back in time (like Michael J. Fox), in your mind (it’s such a beautiful one) and imagine a time before there were movies, TV or the internet. Think of Little House on the Prairie. See how it goes? By just mentioning shows or actors you know, I can very quickly get us all on the same page and go from there. Starting with the obvious things, before there was TV, people never thought about getting home in time for a show, or recording it, or when the next episode will be or what might happen. They never shopped for a new TV or a flatscreen. They never thought about bandwidth or usage. There was no Hollywood and they never thought about what the stars were doing. They just went about living their lives — okay, they might have listened to the radio! — and they never talked about something they’d watched with their family or friends. They must have talked about other things.
Think of how much we refer to media in conversation. We do it to make analogies so that we understand each other. A friend recommended I watch Warm Bodies. It’s a love story about a young-man-zombie who falls in love with a normal twenty-something girl. He saves her life and cares for her, and she gradually starts to like him, too. As a result, he comes back to life and starts a biological/spiritual movement that sweeps through the zombie world, causing lots of others to remember their humanity and come back to life. It’s a great story, and because my friend and I shared the experience (even though we didn’t watch it together, we can talk about it now), we have all sorts of great zombie jokes and references.
It all seems harmless until we think about the deeper consequences. Watching a lot of media makes us think of our lives as if they were movies. We want to be entertained, informed, or get caught up in the drama, like when we watch media. We subconsciously expect everything we do to fall into one of those categories. We think of our life as it if had a plot. We hope there’s a happy ending. We want our love lives to be full of romance, and we want our vacations to be glamourous. We love hanging out with that funny friend of ours because he makes us laugh. If one day he goes through a tragedy and isn’t funny any more, we don’t know how to relate.
I wonder if too much media might make us seem less vibrant, more shallow. Comparing our lives with movies or TV can lead to discontentment. Of course, it’s not all bad if it gives us jokes and helps us relate. But if we need media to relate to one another we’re in trouble. I have an acquaintance that watches very different things than I do (I’m almost completely off-TV as it is), so it can be a challenge to find something to talk about. When we do find something, however, we have great, meaningful conversations — much deeper than which shows are good and which aren’t worth the time.
Another thing to consider is this: how would you cope without any media? Would you be able to have conversations with others? How would you keep yourself entertained or spend your time in general? Would it be so bad if you didn’t watch the news? You know I love making you think, and that’s really all I am doing in this post.
My Parents’ Visit June 23, 2013Posted by Teresa in Family, Friends, and Cat!, Ponder This.
Tags: family, genetics, love, loved ones, parents, relationships
My parents came to visit me a little while ago. They have always been great about coming to see me wherever I live. First, it was Sudbury, then High Level, and now Fort Simpson. They enjoy seeing the place I live and I think they enjoy hearing me ramble on as I give them the tour, sharing whatever local info I know, and telling them about the people I have met and the attitudes I have noticed. My parents are some pretty adventurous people! Don’t let the fact that they’ve lived in the same place for over 40 years fool you!
The instant I said hello to them and gave them each hugs, I felt like I was home. It was an interesting feeling — I felt at ease, like I could finally be myself. I had not noticed not being myself, but I guess I had pretenses and masks I was using. I guess we all do, and I realize how lucky I am to have such an awesome relationship with my parents.
I love them, of course, but it’s more than that. They are neat people. I like hanging around them. They have interests and hobbies, quirks and neat personalities. My mom likes to collect rocks from places she goes. My dad jokes about drinking Coke or Pepsi, calling it “the hard stuff,” and now his favourite is Dr. Pepper. Both like to read, albeit in totally different genres. Like me, my dad likes true stories, especially stories of pioneers, explorers and wildlife. My mom, surprisingly, likes crime fiction — the more suspense, the better! Mom is doing pretty well with technology, but like me, isn’t overly keen on it just for the sake of new technology. My dad pretty much stays away from the computer, which I understand. When they arrived, they were pretty tired from the crazy week leading up to their holiday, so we all had a nice, long nap in the afternoon. Man, I love napping! And so do they. Both of them have great senses of humour, and they even listen to my opinion on things and sometimes ask for my advice. They aren’t afraid to turn things on their side and look at them in a new way.
In so many ways, I am like them! I am unquestionably their daughter — like a hybrid between the two of them. I love a lot of the same things they love. I do all sorts of things the same way they do — from how I keep my recycling, to organizing my kitchen cupboards, to how I think about money. I suspect a lot of the similarities are genetic, but of course we have a lifetime of shared experiences, too. Perhaps it was our religion when I was growing up that taught us not to believe everything we hear or conform to the crowd. We can talk farm stuff, because we all “get it.” Try agricultural analogies with city people, and it’s like making Jesus references in a room full of tribal Africans. Even though my personal development has taken me down a different path, we still relate amazingly well.
I think what it boils down to is that everyone expects people to act like they do. One friend of mine brings me newspapers, not because I love newspapers, but because he does. Some people are rude because they expect rude behaviour (it’s great fun to be polite to them and throw them off their game). My parents expect me to be like them and I am, so there’s an amazing synergy. When we communicate, we intuitively understand each other. We can also spend time together without words. It’s incredibly special, something that only happens with friends after a lot of time together.
I am so amazingly lucky to have this relationship of respect, love and friendship with my parents. If I could show them how I feel, I would… and I guess I do. Mom, if you’re reading this, I know you’ll “get it.” And then you can print it out for Dad so he can read it, too.