Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Cat-in-a-tree story

Actually it's a cat in the subway story. A cat on the subway tracks, to be specific.

So there I am, Dupont subway station, 12.30 in the afternoon. On my way to Bloor Street to pick up some sickbed essentials (i.e. reading material, Perrier, and oranges) and be with the other humans for awhile, because it's lonely down here in the cellar with only the Brand Power lady for company.

There's workmen on both the northbound and the southbound platforms, dusting the light fixtures. I'm serious - that's what they were doing. They were wiping each light fixture down - they might have been checking each lightbulb too but I wasn't really paying attention. I was just standing there, waiting for the train, deliberating if I should go to Book City first or eat first . Here's a weird fact about me: illness causes most people to lose their appetites. Not me. For some reason, whenever I have a virus, I am constantly, ravenously hungry. In fact, I woke up at 2 o'clock this morning because I was hungry and because my throat hurt. I compromised and ate yogurt.

Anyway. So I'm standing there, planning my o-so-thrilling afternoon, and I hear this funny sound coming from somewhere on the southbound platform.

Mew! Mew!

Eh? Is that a cat? Nah. It must be that infant in the sling over there - babies sound like cats sometimes, right? And cats sound like babies sometimes. Like Siamese cats - they are often mistaken for crying babies.

Mew! Mew! Mew!

One of the workmen is standing on the edge of the northbound platform, staring intently at the tracks on the southbound side, where I'm standing. "I see the cat now!" he calls across to the workers on my side.


Mew! Mew!

So there is a cat on the tracks. Not in the middle of the tracks - nothing as dramatic as that. But that's definitely a cat just underneath the platform, meowing piteously.

Nobody else on either platform seems to notice the plight of this feisty, foolish feline. Either that or they're just from Toronto. The average Torontonian is so anal-retentive and repressed that they wouldn't yell if they were on fire. And if the person sitting next to them was on fire, they'd just change seats, or else complain bitterly about the smoke.

Anyway. My train entered the station, and I could not look away. Would the cat run out in front of it and get hit? Would the driver see the cat and stop? Would somebody come and rescue the poor animal? It was more excitement than I've had in three days - I thought I would swoon. Or at least puke.

I know the subway system teems with rats and mice who survive platforms full of people and trains rushing along the tracks every few minutes. Last August, a snake was found in the Spadina subway station, one stop south of Dupont. But this cat was obviously not happy about being on the tracks.

None of the above happened. The cat stayed put and train slowed down to a crawl as it approached the end of the platform where the cat was.

I reported the incident to the ticket-seller when I got off at Spadina. The exchange went something like this:

Me (speaking into the microphone in the glass of the booth):"Hi, I'd like to report a cat on the tracks at Dupont station."

TTC employee: "What?"

"There's a cat on the tracks at Dupont."

"There's a CAT on the tracks?"

"Yes, a cat." I almost meowed to get my point across but thought better of it.

"Is it ALIVE?"

"Well, it's MEOWING," I bawled back through the microphone.

"Did you see it?"

"No, it's under the platform."

"Southbound or northbound?"


"OK," he said, picking up the phone.

I hope the cat's OK. I'm in the market to adopt a cat (only 31 more days till I move into a cat-friendly apartment!), and I think I'd like that one. Do you think Subway is a good cat name?

February 28, 2005 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

I have spent pretty much the whole weekend in bed and that sounds a lot more exciting than it really is, let me tell you. And - horrors - I have nothing new to read in the house! I finished my last new book on Friday night (The Country Girls Trilogy). Everything else is reruns around here. So I've been forced to reread it and also to watch un-opened videos that were given to me years ago and that I never got around to watching. Like To Sir With Love (those cheeky English teens! Mouthing off at authority figures, talking in class - shocking!) and Krippendorf's Tribe (holy racist sexist crap Batman!) to keep from dying from boredom.

Some things I've learned from my sickbed:
My laptop doesn't like my goose-down duvet. The duvet smothers it, causing it to overheat and then crash.
On the dot of 3.30 PM, the sun actually shines through the bedroom window.
Campbell's Healthy Choice chicken noodle soup tastes too bland. It needs more salt. But then, it wouldn't be a Healthy Choice.
That Brand Power lady shilling for Schneider's Oh Naturel! meatless meat-flavoured products is scary. Like, I know she's not for real (she's not, right? Right?), that it's just a commercial (right?), but she's just so enthusiastic about brand names that she frightens me. Look, I discriminate between brands as much as the next person, but you don't see me on TV raving about Nature Clean dishwashing liquid and Pacific Foods Roasted Red Pepper soup now, do you?
When I'm sick, I get crabby and irrational.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

He'll grow into it, OK?

I didn't get Jack the bear outfit, but I did buy him the sweetest little cardigan in London, as well as a jacket for when he's older.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Sunny Saturday morning, and where am I? At home, at my desk, working on an assignment (two more weeks!) and doing laundry. I need something to motivate me. A session on a patio with the papers and a big, frothy, frosty pint of Stella might spur me on, and bloating be damned.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Long Walk

I hereby announce my intention to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2008.

I've got the time, I've got the money, and it's something I have always wanted to do.

Man, I've got so much to do. All of the camping equipment I own isn't wildly inappropriate for this type of endeavor. I have a 4 person tent, and an army surplus sleeping bag. Those two things together weigh more than what I want my entire load to weigh, not counting food and water.

I have to figure out logistics. What is going to be available at grocery stores on the way. How much should I focus on freeze-dried rather than fresh food? How many pairs of shoes will I need for 2170 miles of trail? What will I need to have people send to me on the way, versus what should be in the bounce box, and how much?

I have 11 months to try out lightweight shelters sleep systems bags, water purifiers, etc.

Can I get a book out of this? How light is a good camera? Can I learn how to take decent pics before I go, while i am doing all this other stuff.

If I'm going to be gone for 10 months, should I sell or rent my house, or should I just leave it vacant?

Am I worrying about this too much, or should I just guess and deal with the issues on the way?

ARGH! How can I sleep when I spend all night pacing around thinking about this stuff?

Is that weird?

I spent 5 minutes trying to rescue a jumping spider from my bathtub today. The poor guy couldn't climb the porcelain. I spent a few minutes trying to catch it, but he was too fast, so I ended up using a length of toilet paper to give it something to climb up.

After going through all this, I realized I had spent all this time helping a spider that most people would have just killed.


Yeah, so Friday was nice. Really nice. 76 degrees, clear blue skies, and a gentle breeze nice. Nothing much was going on with work, and I had just mounted a scope on the ol' Anschutz 1411.

So I called the boss, and said, "I'm taking the afternoon off. It's really nice out." He said he was sitting on his deck drinking beer, and as far as he was concerned, I should be doing the same.

Instead, I went shooting.

The bragging target of the day (50 yards prone with a sling.)

Through the Raven Gate

I spent last week at Gunsite in Paulden, AZ, for the 250 Pistol Class.

Gunsite is the school founded by shooting great Jeff Cooper. For those of you who don't know, the Colonel died 9/25.

I flew in to Phoenix on Sunday. In the past when I've flown with guns it has been for work, so I had a copy of an FFL, which tends to sooth bureaucrats everywhere. This time I was just flying as a regular Joe, so I was a little nervous about the check in procedure. I had no hassles at all. In fact, on the flight back, I thought the TSA crew in Phoenix was a little lax, because they didn't physically check to insure the pistol was unloaded. I guess they can see it in the x-ray machine, but still...

The drive to Paulden is gorgeous. Rte 69 and 89A are mainly valleys of rolling pastures hemmed in by rocky desert mountains. I really wish I had taken photos, but I don't instinctively grab a camera when I see something cool. I'm getting better, but I'm not there yet.

I stayed at the Antelope Hills Inn in Prescott. It was cheap and clean, with a pizza joint, convenience store, and Laundromat just across the parking lot. I would definitely stay there again, except... ( I'll talk about this later.) It was about 25 miles from Gunsite, but it's an easy drive. Just don't speed through Chino Valley.

The first day of class started with a discussion about the facilities especially THE FACILITIES at Gunsite. THE FACILITIES include this nifty color chart over the toilets to let you know how much you should drink to avoid dehydration. I really need to find a copy.

We also received a lecture safety, the history of modern pistol shooting, and Col. Cooper's role in its development. After that we hit the range and began to work on the 5 point draw and shooting at the whopping distance of 3 yards.

Gunsite teaches the Weaver Stance. I have never before shot in the Weaver Stance. I have always been an Isocoles Stance shooter. I was there to learn so I bought into the Weaver Stance, for the duration of the class anyways. The adoption led to some interesting kinks in my shooting. Among other things, my grip went all screwy, because the downward bent elbow changed the position of my wrist. It was quite bit of work to get adjusted.

The other interesting kink was the extra step it added to my draw. I already used the 5 point draw advocated by Gunsite. The new step was after pushing the gun out to the target, I would notice that my left elbow was pointing out, so I would rotate it down before shooting. Funky. Funky Looking.

The real highlight of the day was Jeff Copper's funeral. Jeff is now interred in a mausoleum on the grounds of Gunsite. As a Marine, he had a USMC honor guard, and a 21 gun salute. A few seconds after the final volley of the salute, every student in the school answered the salute by firing a full magazine into the backstop of whatever range they were on. I am glad I was able to be a part of that.

At the end of the day we received a homework assignment: Practice presentations.

On Tuesday, we continued to work on the presentation, and added malfunction drills to the mix. After the regular class I had an extra 2 hours of classroom time, because I am applying for the Arizona CCW license.

On Wednesday morning we received a lecture on mental conditioning. This is the classic Condition White/yellow/orange/red lecture, which everyone has seen a million times. It's a good lecture, but I was a little bored. The part that was interesting was the discussion on how you will feel after an engagement.

Wednesday afternoon we learned how to shoot from the kneeling and prone positions. We also learned how to turn around 180 degrees to engage targets behind us.

Thursday and Friday morning were composed of a series of drills to burn in our new, finely hone skills, and instruction/practice in room clearing. I didn't' think the killhouses would stress me out much because of my competition background, but they really got my heart pounding. The outdoor simulators were a ton of fun. I could do those all day and most of the night.

Thursday night consisted of night shooting and an introduction to the use of flashlights. The day session ended at 4 and the night session started at 6. Considering that Gunsite is in the middle of nowhere, it meant that we were most likely going to be stuck eating at McDonalds.

It turns out that a local B&B really likes hosting Gunsite students, and their main means of advertising is to invite the students to dinner on the day of the night shoot. It fast, and delicious. Apparently it is also an advertising method that works extremely well, because I have every intention of staying there the next time I attend Gunsite. Little Thumb Butte B&B

Friday afternoon was the shootoff. There were two 250 sections, and earlier in the week, the rangemaster from the other class challenged the winner in our section to shoot against the shootoff winner in his section.

The course of fire in our section was a symmetrical array of steel pepper poppers. Each shooter had two pepper poppers and one half of a spit popper to shoot. A split popper is a pepper popper split down the middle and hinged so one half of the popper falls over the other. We stood with a foot in a tire, and had to shoot the two plates, reload and then engage the correct side of the split popper.

My class was a 25 shooter single elimination tree. I didn't think I would do well, because there were several shooters that did very well in the class. Many of them were SWAT team members and police firearms instructors. One of them was even a retired instructor from FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center). I thought my biggest challenge would be Shane, because he apparently was a regular competitor in bowling pin matches.

The real challenge was the FLETC guy. His name is Charlie. As we won matches against the various Yankees and westerners in the class, we would suggest the various southern foods that must be responsible for our performance. Grits! BBQ! Cornbread! Biscuits and Gravy! I had to shoot against him the last match of our sections tree. He was having trouble with his magazines dropping free. It's my understanding that we were tied in every match until the reload, where his magazines weren't falling cleanly, so I was hitting the target as he started to aim.

After his defeat Charlie said he'd buy me dinner if I beat the guy from the other class.

The whole class drove over to the other range. I walked into the pit with the steel targets and became immediately concerned. The layout was the same, and the split popper was still there, but the other targets were 6" lollipops instead of poppers! This isn't fair! The other guy has been shooting at this array for the last hour and a half! Now I have to adapt to new, much smaller targets, and still shoot faster than the guy! I was pretty concerned, because I was having some difficulty with shooting too fast and missing on the original array of pepper poppers. Now I had to shoot at targets that were even smaller.

The Rangemasters agreed that the match was to be 3/5.

On the first bout, I forgot to reload, but I apparently clanged the targets down so fast that challenger dude was intimidated. I heard him say "Shit, he's fast!" to his instructor.

On the second bout, I remembered to reload, but I hit the wrong side of the popper. I realized what I had done before the gun had gone off, and started cussing before the plate had finished falling over. As I moved to the other tire, I looked back and saw my whole class cheering for me. I can honestly say I've never had people vocally cheering and jumping up and down for me. Ever. People that know me are going to think I'm being sarcastic when I say this, but it makes me a little misty-eyed thinking about it.

At this point I was down 2 in a 3/5 match. In other words, the other guy either had to get lucky once, or I had to screw up once to lose. To win, I had to be flawless for the next 3 rounds.

If you have ever read Brian Enos' books, you will remember the chapter where he talks about your consciousness stepping back, and being aware of everything going on while your reptile brain does what it has to do. For one of the first times in my life I experienced that. I could see the other guys plates falling while the red dot on my front sight filled nearly my entire field of vision. On the third bout, I hammered down the popper with 3 rounds/3 hits. I had finished before the other guy had hit his second target. I was later told that the last three rounds were so fast that a few folks thought my pistol had gone full auto.

At this point, Ed Stock, the Rangemaster from my section grabbed my shoulder and shook me. He yelled something in my ear. I seem to recall it being "BREATHE!!"

The next two rounds were pretty much the same. On the last round, I looked up after I finished, and realized the other guy was still missing the first target after I had finished. It had been a blowout.

The prize for winning the shootout was an M6X gunlight. I was also given a silver raven lapel pin. I'm not sure if I got that just for winning the shoot off, or for winning both sections, or what. Charlie told me that Gunsite didn't exactly hand them out like candy, but I have yet to confirm that. Ed said when I came the 350 class, that pin had better be on my hat or else, which makes me think Charlie is right. Does anybody know the story about the silver ravens?

I've won man-on-man competitions before, but having people cheering for me and shaking my hand and hugging me made it completely different. Like I said, it makes me a little misty eyed. How odd.

I highly recommend Gunsite for training, with one important proviso. If you have your own way of doing things, and are stubborn about it, don't bother. There was at least one guy in my class that seemed completely unable to accept what the instructors were teaching him. His shooting was ok, but his gun manipulation was terrible, and never got better. The instructors would show him something, and he would resist it. This school is expensive folks. I paid $1400 plus room, board and travel to get there. At least buy into the program long enough to see if it works. Otherwise you can send me your tuition check, which I will use for my ammo fund. Either way, you'll learn the same amount.

Wow. It's just hitting me that I participated in Cooper's funeral. F'n A.