Random thoughts from the weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is almost over.  Unfortunately the turkey will continue.

1 – Two for one.  In Toronto, and probably other jurisdictions as well, over the past year there has been an outcry by cycling groups for trucks to have some form of anti-underride bars on the trailers.  This really became an issue  when a young pregnant lady was hit and killed by a truck – I don’t recall if it was a tractor-trailer or not – making a right turn, when she somehow came in contact with the truck and fell under the rear wheels.  Perhaps you’ve noticed, while on the highway or perhaps just watching traffic flow by, that many tractor-trailers now have what appear to be sails hanging from the bottom of the trailer.  These are slightly curved at the front, fitting under the trailer, and then extend, even with the side of the trailer, to the rear wheels.  The main purpose is to reduce the amount of air that gets under the trailer.  Air under the trailer at highway speeds significantly increases drag, which increases fuel consumption.  These “sails” are a way to combat that added air resistance.

There is this hue and cry for some form of protection for cyclists to be mounted on trucks,  but governments are reluctant to legislate such protection. My thought on this is that since many companies are now using these wind reduction panels anyway, why not just make them mandatory? That way, the transport companies get the reduced fuel consumption they want and the cyclists get the anti-underride protection they want.  Makes sense to me.

2 – It’s supposed to be used.  There was an item in one of the Saturday papers, which of course I didn’t bookmark, about some Honda models that have rolled away, even after the driver has turned the engine off and removed the key.  Apparently the problem is that something in the ignition switch breaks or wears with use that will allow the key to be removed without the transmission being placed in “Park”. And, since the key could be removed, the drivers never checked to make sure the transmission was indeed in “Park”. As I said, I didn’t bookmark the item, so have to rely on my memory, but one man broke his leg when his vehicle ran over him.  He tried to chase it and the open door knocked him down.  There is a lever between the seats, or a small pedal at the left side of the driver’s footwell.  That controls what is variously called an emergency brake; parking brake, or in the case of the lever, a hand brake.  Note that second name – “parking brake”.  Activating this feature, either by pulling the lever, or stepping on the pedal, causes a cable to apply the rear brakes.

One benefit I can think of off-hand is that if you’re parked on an incline,  using this takes a lot of stress off the pawls in the “Park” position of the transmission. No more fighting to get the transmission into gear when you want to leave wherever you’ve been.  I usually drove vehicles with manual transmissions, so to me use of the “parking brake” became second nature.  Even when I drove taxi (all automatic transmissions) I’d use that brake whenever I parked the cab at the end of my shift. In the US the feds are looking at issuing a recall for these particular vehicles, but a bit of common sense and making use of the equipment in cars as standard equipment would prevent this happening.  That brake isn’t for decoration – it’s meant to be used.

3 – That isn’t correct.  I freely admit I’m something of a fanatic when it comes to grammar, composition and spelling.  I’ll also admit that there may be times when I don’t get it right either – I’m only human and prone to error.  One place I do expect to see proper usage though is in advertising or other signage in stores.  I’ve previously ranted about the sign in a coffee shop in a mall that asks patrons not to remove trays from the premise, so I’ll just leave that one alone.

I spent yesterday in Toronto with friends and came home today on the commuter train.  These trains have some advertising – where isn’t there advertising today? – and just before I left the train, I noticed an advertising placard.  I couldn’t see who the company was, but they need to have a talk with their ad agency.  The largest lettering on this placard was the following: Be your boss’ boss.

Notice anything wrong with that statement?  What about that incorrect possessive – “boss’”?  It should have read “boss’s”.  People just don’t seem to understand how to use possessives any longer.  Much like algebra, that seems to be one of the first things forgotten once they leave school  But then again, people seem to have forgotten the proper use of an apostrophe in general. They seem to have forgotten, or never learned, that it is used for contractions and to indicate possession.  Instead they sprinkle it everywhere and yes, on occasion they do get it right.  But the handwritten sign on a door admonishing people to “mind you’re step” certainly isn’t one of those occasions.

Ah well.  I’ve resigned myself to the idea that when it comes to proper English usage, as my tagline reads, I’m a lone voice calling in the wilderness.  Still, it would be nice if one person listened.

Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Read the damn signs!

People should really learn how to read signs – other than signs offering something for 50% off that is.

On the main thoroughfare near my home run three bus routes.  One of these is the local bus, run by Durham Regional Transit (DRT).  The other two are intercity routes, run by GO Transit (Government of Ontario Transit, hence “GO” and one of the few things the government of Ontario hasn’t screwed up too badly).   The two intercity routes are the route 94, which runs from Oshawa to Yorkdale Plaza in northwest Toronto, making all regular GO stops along the way.  The other is route 95, which also begins (or ends, depending upon direction of travel) in Oshawa, but ends at a different terminal and only makes certain stops.  At some stops, there are signs showing both the DRT and GO logos, indicating that the local coach and the route 94 will stop there.  There is an additional note “Express” for the 95 at its designated stops.  At all stops are also signs, in English and French, that instruct passengers to flag down the bus they want.  With three distinct routes, this makes sense rather than have each coach stop because someone is waiting when they might not want the bus that stopped.

If you’re familiar with buses, either because you take them or you see them in your rearview mirror (intimidating, aren’t they?), you know that on the front is a destination sign.  With the electronic signs now in use, the GO buses display the destination on the top half of the sign, such as OSHAWA GO, and the bottom of the sign displays places they stop, such as Pickering, Ajax GO, Whitby, so that people will know both where the bus is going and what cities it stops in along the way.

What prompts this is that today I travelled into Toronto.  You may recall in my posting of yesterday, “Now they’re using Benin”, at the end of that post I mention  I had a better use for the $100 they wanted, that use being a pair of red stilettos.  Went and bought them today – they look fabulous ☺ .  Okay, now back to my story.  Despite all the signage, people still won’t flag down the coach they want.  They’ll just stand there and expect the bus to stop.  The drivers are aware that passengers have to indicate, usually by waving, that the customer wants them and not one of the other routes, so don’t stop unless signalled.  On at least three occasions today (I was sitting in the front seat on the right side) I noticed people at a bus stop who just stood there. Every single one of those people appeared to get most upset when the bus kept on going.  One person got lucky because the light just past the stop was red and the bus had to stop and that person managed to board the bus.  What she said to the driver I won’t repeat, but the driver simply pointed out the sign says to hail the coach and that since she hadn’t done so, he didn’t know he needed to stop. Lady, read the damn sign.

As I wrote above, the front of the bus displays the destination and various towns and cities it stops in.  With all this information available, can you see any reason why someone would have to ask the driver if he’s going to Oshawa?  Read the damn sign – it shows the destination as OSHAWA GO in capital letters no less.

Is the problem, and it isn’t just restricted to public transit but anywhere there are signs, that people can’t read anything when the words contain more characters than a word in a typical text message?  Is it perhaps that  they just can’t read; or are too lazy to exercise their brains for the length of time to read the words “Hail GO bus” in green against a white background?  Could it be they feel they are too important and those instructions are for other people of lesser importance?  They would rather ask the bus driver foolish questions.  These questions could be answered before the bus even stopped if they would just read the damn sign.  And,  answering these unnecessary questions can, and often does, put the bus behind schedule, thereby inconveniencing the other passengers – those who did read the sign.

Okay, I’ve ranted and I feel better. Now to go and see if those shoes really do look as good with the outfit I had I mind as I think they will.

Since it’s Friday, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.
And remember to read the damn signs!

Cat.

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