Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday recap without a single segue

I don't have a cohesive focus today, but there are plenty of little things about which to write.

First, some shameless self-promotion: thanks to everyone who participated in my silly survey about Mayor Palmer's job performance. Due to limitation of the size of the column to the right, and the verbosity of some of selections, it was a visual mess. A lesson for my next poll: all selections should have the roughly the same amount of text. I've recreated the poll here for posterity.

Yep, I have nothing better to do with my time than recreate a(n automatically-generated) poll (by Blogger) in which a whopping 47 people, of the region's millions, participated. It's hateful, but it's my life and I can do more or less what I want. I copied the numbers right out of my original poll, but since I don't really do math, have no idea if it's accurate or not. I trust someone will let me know if it isn't. I do make a nice graph, though, if I do say so myself.

Of local interest (relatively speaking): on Friday, April 4, I witnessed a third car accident in the residential intersection outside my home in about 8 months*. No one was injured, but that doesn't mean it can't happen: there was a nasty accident just one block away back in September, which you may have read about in the papers at the time: a motorcyclist split his head open, and he was held up and together by a selfless off-duty officer until help arrived. We live approximately two blocks between the high school and a local middle school, and while no one deserves to get creamed in these intersections, there's a very good chance it could, someday, be someone's kid. I've written to my councilman several times, but have never heard back, though it would appear someone showed up in the fall with perhaps some sidewalk chalk to thicken the stop line on the road beneath the stop sign. It has now mostly washed away, and was never terribly effective, anyway.

My thought is that some people are ignoring — or only slowing at — the stop sign on the one street, and driving at ridiculous speeds on the side street — the street without the stop sign. I get that it's fun to drive fast; most of us have done it, but it just seems stupid in a residential neighborhood, especially since one can only go a whopping two blocks before encountering another stop sign. The whole thing just irks me, but to be fair, I really don't know what the answer to this problem is. I thought maybe speed bumps might be a good solution, but they seem to be very unpopular around here, though that doesn't really mean anything. I have a wacko neighbor who hates the street sweeper, too, so I think that perhaps some folks just hate anything new and different. These are two-way streets here, by the way; maybe making them one-way like Villa Park or Mill Hill, might help? In the meantime, I have a radar gun and am not afraid to use it. I read about the cosine effect, though, which means if I'm not totally in the line of oncoming traffic, I won't get a perfectly accurate read. Anyway, when I document the results, I'll note my angle off of head-on. Of course, it seems any time I've even played with the radar gun, everyone drives more carefully. My guess is that a lot of people have radar detectors around here.

This accident occurred in late August 2007, outside my house.

In more personal news, last week, I purchased Glen a couple of climbing yellow rose bushes for his birthday; his mother kept yellow roses back in Canada, and I thought that a few bushes here might make our own place more lovely, more homey, or at least more reminiscent of his home and family in Canada. As I loaded them into the car, I punctured my thumb on a thorn, even though I thought I was handling them gingerly. It was a big, honking, dirty rose thorn. I mention this not for pity or ridicule, but just because maybe the information might be helpful to someone else. Roses are beautiful, but attract every single damn pathogen and bug in the freakin' universe. They can be crawling with nasties, or may have been just sprayed with some equally nasty stuff to fight the other nasties. So within a few hours, my thumb turned purple and doubled in size. I'm kind of clumsy, and injure myself unintentionally on a fairly regular basis, and have a few sharp-clawed furry pals who have accidentally scratched me, and never have I had any kind of reaction to such a minor inconvenience. Anyway, some advice: try not to puncture yourself while handling roses, because who knows what's crawling on them, and if you do, don't reopen the wound on your own and dig around for thorn debris, and then and make it bleed "to clean it out," and then soak it in alcohol, especially if the injury is in your dominant hand. It's just stupid, and in my case, ultimately spoiled the birthday surprise. Enough said.

Yesterday, Glen and I drove up to Plainsboro to shop at an Asian supermarket; yes, we live in a city, and common sense would dictate that an Asian market might be something one would find in a city, but alas, that's not the case in Trenton. So we made the drive up Rt. 1, and once inside the store, we wished we had camera phones to take a few pictures of some of the wacky foods (to us...and we dabble in wacky foods). There were oddball fruits and veggies as well as stuff more well-known here in the western hemisphere. And then there was stuff like canned silkworm pupae. Apparently young silkworms are jam-packed with protein. If you're on the Atkins diet, it might be worth giving them a shot.

Yummy! Canned silkworm pupae...not fishin' bait...
picture courtesy of Silkworm Spit
Who needs a camera phone when one has Google Images to prove that this stuff is real?

We're normally not impulse buyers, but on the way out, we saw and purchased this:

We had no idea what the heck it was; there were three other caucasian women huddled around the display, and we all conferred, and decided the green stuff was wasabi. There was no English (or any characters/letters from any western language) on the packaging except for the name. Glen and I splurged; for the record, this item was $2.50 for two fingers of Kit Kat. And the green stuff was not wasabi; it was a special green tea, called Matcha. This may sound surprising, but it was really very rich and smooth. Matcha tea is shaded before it is harvested, which produces more amino acids in the plant, which makes it very sweet. The Matcha is then dried, ground, and most often used in fancy Japanese tea ceremonies. I think both Glen and I would recommend this item, but not super-enthusiastically. It was VERY good, but it was still only a Kit Kat bar. Well, technically a HALF a Kit Kat bar, but one that cost more than twice the price of a full-sized one.

Oh, and it took us awhile to acquire the information about what it was we were eating. I'm generalizing, but it seems that a lot of Asian marketing is very literal, meaning we felt fairly confident we weren't eating insects or vomit, because those things were not pictured on the packaging. While we knew instantly we weren't eating wasabi, we weren't quite sure what it was. Thanks to an informative site called The Candy Blog, we were able to figure it out. An interesting note, the Candy Blog owner reviewed the Matcha Kit Kat awhile ago, but back then, it was green. I'm guessing the green chocolate, at least here in the US, didn't fly. Our chocolate bars were normal brown, with blond-colored wafers, with a green filling.

On the way home, a fire truck pulled out in front of us; we had slowed to let it go. Ahead of the fire truck, though, the person driving did not pull over. Glen said to me about that driver, "Must be nice to be a fucking moron." I have a tendency to give other people — at least initially — the benefit of the doubt, and so I was thinking of all the reasons why someone wouldn't pull over for a screaming fire truck, and remembered the relationship-building that took place when I forced myself to agree with Glen when he verbally assaulted the Sports Authority and the Tombstone Pizza display, AND, perhaps more importantly, I just couldn't come up with too many good reasons to not pull over for a fire truck, except for deafness. And moronitude. If that's even a word. It's just my opinion, but I don't think I'm a moron, so I thought about what it might be like to be a moron, and right then, in the car, driving back to Trenton, I came to my own conclusion that it must be nice to be a fucking moron. Even though Glen so eloquently said it first.

Lastly, and on a more serious note, I just wanted to express my condolences to the family of Renee, who lived just a few houses down from us. She died rather unexpectedly last week; she was in her mid-40s, and her death is due to what we think are complications from a gall bladder gone bad. I blogged about her back in October: Renee was the object of an jerk neighbor's attack, over who parks where on the street last year. Renee had a bright, expressive face, and always had a big smile for us, and a tendency to tease in a good-natured way. She was a life force, and she leaves behind a large, broken-hearted family, including a twin brother.

I don't outright dislike any of my neighbors, except for the house full of young knuckleheads a few doors down, and all of their stupid, knuckleheaded friends. This may seem particularly harsh, and I don't mean to go all cliche and unevolved on you, all at the same time, but when bad stuff happens to good people, hearing things like "Well, there's a reason for everything" just makes my blood boil. There are no reasons for perfectly good people to die and/or suffer, especially when there are plenty of knuckleheads around here who live life so close to the edge anyway, AND diminish all of our lives. Not that I'd start chanting "death to knuckleheads," because knuckleheads are an unfortunate side effect of bad politics and bad choices, but still, none of it makes sense. And I don't mean to turn everything around as an opportunity to trash the Palmer administration, but I'm going to. If he really had any sense, maybe he'd be embarrassed for not trying harder to keep this place cleaned up and less conducive to knucklehead activity. It's wrong for any decent citizen to have to tolerate the crap that so often occurs on our city streets, but it's so much harder for those raw from grief. Life and death are intertwined and loss is a part of life, but it would be a great day if we had a more functional government here in Trenton, run by real people with real feelings — instead of a self-serving egomaniac, hell-bent on saving the job of one dude who doesn't even deserve his job here — which would improve the overall quality of life for so many people, especially those too emotionally drained to deal with the illegal dirtbikes and open-air drug deals, and ridiculously loud music.

Anyway, I'll quit daydreaming for now.

Renee will be missed.

* In the four years we've been here, there have been other accidents in this small vicinity : Glen's car was totaled the first month we lived here; he was parked just off the intersection on the side street at the time. There have been at least two other accidents at the intersection near the elementary school, one in which a car actually flipped. It's not like we spend our days looking out the window, so we may have missed others.

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