On using the horn

As a small vehicle that is especially vulnerable to other people not looking when they change lanes and other forms of lacklustre driving, I find myself frequently covering the horn like we all cover our brakes in situations that call for it.  If I’m coming up on a vehicle that gives any impression of being a jerk or reveals small defects in driving judgement I’ve got those escape routes planned and am using my space margins.

The horn has saved me from having to do any creative split-second maneuvering thus far. One blast at someone who nearly changes lanes into me can send the offender swerving back into their original lane, hugging the side, and driving 20km/hr less than they were.  Pretty sweet result out of that Wolo horn.  (Mua ha ha ha!)

Today someone peeled out in from of me from their entrance onto the highway.  I am actually shocked that it has taken so long for this to happen to me (I’ve been commuting since July now).  I was able to brake alright but had to break hard, so I laid on the horn for a short blast just so they were aware.  The car kind of freaked out.  Like swerved, almost pulled over (on the highway!), drove super-slow, and then finally changed lanes to take a left to wherever they were going.

I actually felt a little bad for them.  Then I had a moment of panic that they would find me at work and spaz at me.  (One never knows when one drives something distinctive.)

I mentioned this to a coworker and she immediately said, “It’s probably because you look like a cop.  They thought they were in trouble and had to pull over.”

I’ve been watching Happy Valley on Netflix lately (sooooooo… good) and am totally digging Sergent Catherine Cawood’s florescent tinged authority.  She puts on her bright yellow police vest with utility pockets and gets it done.  The idea that I might look anything like her makes me very glad, though I’m not bent on being in mortal danger to the extent that she is in the series.

Sarah_Lancashire_2927204b 'Gloriously mouthy': Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley.

(Swoon.)

Saw myself all kitted out for rain in the reflection of a doorway and instantly believed the police theory.  Huh.  I think I like it.

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(I promise that I look tougher when I’m not laughing and petting my dog who is very happy I’m home. For real.)

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“Invigorating” or soggy?

It seems like wet coast winters are getting colder the last few years.  That crisp, clear, and dry kind of day with brilliant sunshine.  Not the October to April uninterrupted drudgery of rain and soggy everything that has people in a mood where the only thing they can manage is to complain that IT HASN’T STOPPED RAINING.

I spent two winters in Edmonton, AB while I was going to the U of A for my Master’s in Library and Information Studies.  Unused to the brightness, I sometimes wore sunglasses inside my apartment.  Still, I liked how the snow was dry and roads generally were not slippery (except for that one year that there was a frozen ice sheet and all of the snow landed on top of it all winter with no chance of melting until April or May, of course).  Invigorating!

This relatively new properly cold weather gets me excited about snowshoeing and sunny days and not being sopping wet whenever I try go anywhere.  Dog people walk no matter how horrific the rain.

We are into our second stretch of cold and clear.  Your clothing strategy for getting to work warm is certainly different.  I got quite used to the cold, dry weather and started scheming about hand muffs and ninja turtle gloves to combat the tips of my fingers going numb.  I also schemed about adding more fake fur into the inside of my Tucano Urbano Termoscud around where it meets my lap and the sides of my legs.  (I am seldom too warm in the winter.)

Crunchy leaves are a big thing to me:

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Something in glorious full bloom in early November with a perfect blue sky:

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When the rain started it was all about being florescent in the mist, rain pants and rain jackets meeting seamlessly, and hydrophobic coatings on my windshield and face shield.

A change is as good as a rest, but if i had to choose I would choose the cold, clear weather.

I had sole custody of the car last week (a rainy one), and only managed to psych myself up to ride by Wednesday.  On Wednesday I promptly dropped my helmet on the ground and broke my poor face shield, which destroyed the rest of my riding week as driving rain in the eyes is a safety concern.  Face shield is now replaced and has a better hinge so no annoying semi-flapping now.

Are you a wet or cold weather commuter?

An aspiring all-season scooter commuter

I moved to Nanaimo almost 2 years ago.  While I loved many things about growing up in North Vancouver, I am definitely appreciating some of the features of (Vancouver) Island Life.  Like the ability to use roadways without people trying to kill you.

Every time I talk to my parents they talk about something craptastic that happened to them on the way home from work in Metro Van or (my dad) how much the traffic has increased in volume. Though this gets tiring to listen to and genuinely stresses me out, I believe that the traffic has worsened in the last 2 years since I’ve moved.  I don’t know that I would have survived learning to ride over there.

My commute is a fairly pleasant 20-25 minute affair, entirely composed of Old Island Highway traffic lights with some faster travel of up to 80-90 km/hr (wheeeee…!).  It was relatively unintimidating to build my skills on and is predictable and steady.  In 4 months I’ve only sounded my very loud after-market horn once and boy, did it work!  (Wolo, installed by previous owner.)

Since I’m not as worried about being mowed down I have been focusing my energies on getting warm and dry gear.  I am generally a cold person and cling to the Persian saying of “cold hands, warm heart” to feel less reptilian.  My wife wears a polar fleece with the underarm vents open, and I wear a merino wool shirt under a polar fleece with a down jacket on top to not freeze my butt off.New Termoscud

Items purchased this Fall:

  • Highlighter yellow rain jacket that fits over my armoured jacket, Scott’s, 3 way stretch from Tuff City Powersports here in town (about $95)
  • Black rain pants that fit over my armoured pants, same as jacket (about $85)
  • Tucano Urbano Termoscud lap blanket/”pensioner blanket” from SIP Scootershop online (97 Euros + shipping and duty)
  • Prima Windscreen (Tall, Clear) for Vespa LX/GT from ScooterworksUSA online ($114 + shipping and duty)

Service and install done this Fall:

  • Oil and filter
  • Installed windscreen
  • Installed heated grips (from Tuff City, a Christmas gift from the year before that never quite got installed)
  • Tire pressure adjustment

It felt awesome to have the cash to actually get some good gear.  I was previously precariously employed for 4.5 years (on-call casual hours, contracts with no benefits -don’t get me started…).  Now I can invest in my comfort and safety to have a lighter environmental footprint and save a bunch of money by not having another car in our family.