Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Magic in Royal Oak - Christmas Parade - Miracle Madness - SANTA'S FIRST STOP IN MICHIGAN!!!

UPDATE: 2008 Parade HERE!!

OK, I had some issues picking a title for this post so I used them all.

Last Saturday, we made an appearance at the annual Christmas parade in Royal Oak. This was our third one; we missed last year as we had a pre-booked trip to Cereal City - the Kellogg's attraction which has since felt the Michigan squeeze. Well, no apparent squeeze around here, as the parade seems to be getting bigger each time I see it.

On a personal level, there was a difference this year. All the little uns in out family were part of the parade, so me and my wonderful wife got to watch the parade on our own - well apart from the other couple of thousand people, of course.

As we had to deliver the kids to where they needed to be, we were early to find a space to stand on the curb. Good thing too - people were all over the place booking their spots with chairs, blankets, dogs, babies. It was cold too - thankfully we were strategically positioned near to Pronto's, who had a coffee and cocoa table in operation.

Anyways, here are some pics of the parade.....

Pre-parade street-level view.... ok, I thought it was cool.

A float getting all psyched up for the big event

Some sorta clown....

A fire truck.

Now that is one big flag

Not to be outdone, the Canadians turned up with a big flag too.

And some Canadian ladies riding horses in an unconventional way. Funny Canadians!

It wouldn't be a parade without a mob of cat-stranglers.

Or the world-famous Candy Band!

A car.

Another car.

And a dung cart.

The Wizard Of Oz! There was me thinking he played in goal for the Red Wings.

And people riding bikes. Or should that be ikes? Yikes!


The Miracle's Dancing Entourage. Obviously not feeling the cold. Although they do look a little blue!

And the man himself. It's a miracle! Or 2.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

D-Bar-A Scout Ranch - Another fun weekend - this time in November

We recently took a weekend at the scout ranch - been here many times before - and as always, it was good. The weather was a wee bit cold, but overall it was nice. We were guests of another pack - who were attempting to introduce us to the fun of boy scouting 9instead of cub scouting). It worked.
We had a great time hiking (for miles), eating plants that look inedible, and eating (or avoiding eating) semi-cooked chicken.

Nice reflections..

Yep. It's Jack Lord of Hawaii Five-O. Apparently he donated a load of the land to the BSA.

The dreaded Pedro Trail - Feared amongst Boys Scouts.

We ended the Saturday evening by building some trebuchets (or Scout Catapults) to launch water balloons at each other. Below is a simple plan for the type of things we built -

Tree-mendous fun for all involved - our catapult was by far the best. We took out pretty much every other group. Sometimes engineers are useful!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sleep Driving, Beautiful.

Here’s how it happened. A couple of weeks ago, I had to go for a wee drive for work. I ended up in a huge parking lot somewhere near Detroit. This wasn’t a special parking lot, but it wasn’t your ordinary parallel right-angled conventional parking lot. No, this was the well thought out fishbone layout. In summary, it’s a one way system, you drive into your space, and when leaving, you back out into that one way flow. Never cross a solid line. Simple! See below for an illustration!

Now, well-thought-out plans are usually conceived by individuals with at least a few hundred brain cells. Unfortunately, when these plans are let loose on the general public, those who possess (or use) less than a handful of brain cells usually mess up. And that is what this is all about. I recently saw one of these plebs mess up.

So, I had just got out of my car. Me is the green spot below. I had my laptop on my shoulder and was just setting out to go into the building, when a black SUV drove past me and pulled into the spot in front of me – probably at 20mph. I also noticed that the lady driving the car had her head tilted to the side, jamming a cell phone to her ear, as she was unable to hold it in her hand and steer at the same time as her other hand was busy holding a coffee which she was drinking as she spoke. Steer, shlurp, and spout simultaneously.

Anyway, as she used the small amount of concentration left over to navigate into this parking space, she obviously had made a calculated decision to drive across the solid white line and into the opposing parking space. Because, it is way way way easier to drive out of a space and head into the wrong way of a one-way system, than it would be to reverse out and play by the rules. So on she proceeded.

What Miss Observant had failed to notice was another car coming into the parking space she was about to illegally occupy. The other car, a silver Grand-Am braked immediately, but Miss Observant had much more important things to be aware of. She simply drove her car into the Grand-Am. Shee-Mash! Not enough to cause major (or even minor) injuries but enough to throw broken light glass everywhere. And, coffee all over Miss Observant.

The next bit got me. Miss Observant jumps out of her car, walks over to the other car, and says, “Why didn’t you look where you were going? I was already in that space” to the lady pulling her shaken self out of the now messy Grand Am. Grand-Am lady was speechless. I was speechless. Miss Observant then put her cell phone back to her ear, and said “I’ve just been involved in an accident. I’ll call you back.” Inconvenient to have an automotive impact interrupt your phone chat, eh? Especially if you’re the cause of it.

A few words were exchanged. Then security turned up and that was the end of it. I gave my details to the disinterested security guy, and I went off to where I needed to be, once again disappointed in the ability of my fellow humans to use this so-called intelligence which separates us from other life forms.

I guess the thing that got me most was Miss Observant’s reaction. I have encountered many people like that – when something goes wrong, the priority is to start blaming the first person you see. Make sure you are not at blame, no matter how blatant the offense was. You see, I’m a long way from perfect, but when I’m involved in something like this, my usual reactions is to shut up and try to analyze the situation. First off, is everyone ok? Second, see if what just happened has set up a situation which needs to be rectified quickly to avoid other problems. Then when all that’s taken care of, figure out responsibilities.

Unfortunately as all this happened in a private parking lot, I doubt if any tickets would have been issued. Perhaps Security called the cops; I don’t know. Personally, I think Miss Observant should be sent back to driving school, given an eye test, and banned from cell phone use for a while.

At least she spilled her Starbucks all over herself.