Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When transit gets you down...

This is the sad tale of a young girl taking a bus to go to a slow pitch game.

It shouldn't have been that hard: GoogleMaps was pretty clear on which route she was to take.  First was the LRT.  Who could have known the recorded voice announcing each platform was one stop off?  Not paying attention, the girl got off the train one stop too late and had to wait for the returning train to return her.  Once at the correct stop, she deliberated, undecided, which side of the road, and which #19 stop, she should wait at.  The all-knowledgable Internet had told her to head west.  Checking to see if she could still distinguish her right from her left, the girl waited on the far side.

Before long the bus arrived.  She was glad to feel the unyielding back of the seat as she settled in for at least a half hour ride to her destination.  Looking up from her book at one point, she realized the driver had been trying to communicate something to her with elaborate hand gestures in the giant rearview mirror.  "This is the end of the line!" he told her when she walked over to him to make sure he wasn't having a heart attack.  Kicked off into unfamiliar University territory, she searched the bus stop signs for the number 19, but was disappointed.  She sighed, uncertain if she should try to find the train station and try the whole trip again, or just give up.

There was a fence blocking off construction, and as she began to head towards the LRT, a sign caught her eye: "9, 19, and 199 wait on other side of construction".  Joy filled her heart: the 19 did stop there, she could still make it.  But, what did it mean, "the other side"? The other side of the building?  The other side of the fence?  She was caught in her wondering by the voices of the child and mother sitting behind herb on the concrete edge around some shrubbery.  "What bus are we waiting for?" the boy's voice asked; "The 19," she replied.  The girl settled across from them against part of the fence feeling just peachy.

Then it started to rain.  Many busses passed.  Sometimes the girl would up from the splattered pages of her book and make sure the mom and kid were still there, that she hadn't totally missed the bus stopping and driving away.  A bus was driving up...the 9...119.  The girl sat back down disappointed, when the young boy spoke up again, "But that's the 119."  "We can take either the 19 or the 119."  And they climbed into the bus.  The girl was on her feet again and she could see past the people crowding the bus a pamphlet stuck next to the driver with the heading "19/119".  They were the same route!  The girl climbed on, grabbed a map, and sat, familiarizing herself with the lay of the land.

Then it started to hail into the bus through the open windows.  The girl was worried: what if she showed up and the game was cancelled?  At least she could say she had been there. She checked the time on her phone: twenty minutes til commencement.  Paying diligent attention to her direction, the girl waited for 13th Avenue.  Unfortunately, the bus was going through a residential zone and the streets weren't numbered.  When she hit 8th Ave out of the blue, she panicked and kicked herself off the bus.

The wandering walk afterwards would be too tedious to convey in detail here.  The only thing to know is that the girl went in circles for quite a bit looking for the athletic centre and experienced something quite significant before walking onto the slowpitch field with an "I'm sorry I'm late" demeanour.

After threeish innings, the game was rained out anyways.  Last game of the season.

And that's the story of the transitly-challenged slow pitch player.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What do your insides look like?

Today I witnessed the Body Worlds Exhibit at the Calgary Science Centre featuring the human art of Dr. Gunther von Hagens; he developed Plastination, a method of replacing all the liquid in tissues with plastic material, allowing for the permenant positioning and preservation of a human body.  Some were playing sports; others posing in everyday ways.  It was horrific and incredible at the same time.  I felt like I was a person back in the 1900s watching Tesla demonstrate his electrical marvels at a fair, filled with the same sense of fearful amazement.

To see people cut up and flayed positioned in glass display cases, knowing that they had once been alive, was rather depressing, though, I must say, I learned quite a bit.  The Bio 30 and Psych 104 files in my memory had the dust blown off them, that's for sure: it's been a while since I've heard the word "synapse" or "electrochemical reactions".  I learned damage to the brain starts after 10 seconds without oxygen; that the liver takes up much of the right side of my abdomen; that the brain is a plastic organ, able to change and learn and adapt, even after 60 through the efforts of glial cells; too much coal dust can cause your lungs to actually look like lumps of coal; babys have hearts at week four of embryonic development; "Tesla" is not spelt "Tulsa".

The interesting thing was, that although this was a physical exhibit exploring the human body and the brain, there was an awful lot of inspiring soul quotes posted everywhere.  At the end was a banner with a statement from Dr. Hagens: he said that the exhibit, which is focused so much on what is seen, also addresses the unseen and unfathomable, the soul, which is made known by its conspicuous abscene.  For me, I did feel somewhat searching: maybe its because the plastinates were like pieces of art to me, and I was looking for an artist's hand and vision in the way they were placed.

I agree it's a good way to teach and enlighten about things in the human body - but, I don't know, at the same time it seems almost ironically inhuman to display dead corpses, well-preserved corpses mind you, for anyone to come in and gawk at.