Miserable day out during pandemic

Prelude

Unfortunately I had to go out today to get some stuff before hunkering down for the duration of the quarantine. I didn’t want to go out, but stupid No Frills caused me so many problems that I kept having to go back several times this week. In fact, I’ve been out more times this week (during the pandemic) than I have for the past three months. Damn No Frills. 😒

A couple of days ago, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in town more than doubled in the past two days (from 5 to 11), and the mayor declared a state of emergency (though from what I’ve heard, it seems to be more about unlocking the emergency-funds loot-box access than anything else).

The strange thing is that despite the pandemic, there were still plenty of people out and about today, and not just out getting supplies, even just out for the joy of it. Maybe it was because it was a nice, warm, sunny day, or maybe it was because people are just dumb. It’s most likely the latter. ¬_¬

Free food?

When I got to the first bus-stop, I found a container of CoffeeMate on top of the garbage-can next to the bus stop. It was new and sealed, so I figured I’d take it. I like creamer in coffee and it’s almost $5 in store. 🤷 (Of course, it meant that I now had some extra baggage for my trip.)

Taking the bus during a pandemic

The 16 eventually came and I got on. When the pandemic started, the LTC made a change to segregate the bus, reserving the front third for the elderly and those with special-needs/prams; everyone else has to get on and off from the read door, so they aren’t collecting fare until the end of the month (yes, that means free bus rides… if you’re willing to sit in a sardine-can with possibly sick people). There were a few people on the bus during my trip, but fortunately, they kept sitting near the door, so there wasn’t really anyone near the seats at the back where I was sitting.

First stop: getting a key

I got off the bus and went to Home Hardware to use a coupon for a free key duplication which came at a good time because the stupid co-op wasted lots of money changing the front doors a couple of months ago for no reason whatsoever. 😒 While I waited for an employee, I mused at the sign saying that if customers look like they’re sick, they’ll be asked to leave. An old guy came and copied the key for me and took the coupon instead of sending me to the cashier, so I didn’t get a receipt in case the key doesn’t work (it did work, but I still needed the receipt to fill out a survey for a chance to win something). I thought it was odd that the old guy was working during a pandemic that kills old people. Before I left, I imagined being rich and how I’d ask him how much he makes and give him enough cash to cover a few days of work and tell him to stay home. Unfortunately I don’t have that kind of money. :-\

Wrong bus 🤦

Google Maps said to get on the 27 across the street from Shopper’s Drug-Mart, so I crossed the street and waited at the stop for the 27. It eventually came after 25 minutes. I got on and again, sat at the back seat. Moments later we drove past another 27 coming the other way. I realized I was on the right bus, but from the wrong side of the street.

The 27 went the complete opposite way I wanted to go. I wasted an hour because I didn’t see the stop on the other side of the street (which was also a little bit down the road, not just directly across the street), and also because my social-anxiety-disorder prevents me from drawing attention to myself, by for example, jumping up and pulling the cord to get off a stop or two away.

In the meantime, a bunch of people got on the bus in that extra hour and potentially exposed me to covid19 for nothing. Worse, because of my social-anxiety disorder, I kept worrying that the driver noticed that I was still on the bus and assuming I was going for a joy-ride during the pandemic.

Stereotypes exist for a reason

A day or two earlier, I had checked the websites for UWO and Fanshawe College and saw that both had been closed to staff and students and lessons were moved online. The only ones that should still be on campus anymore were only students who were not able to return home, and even then, they should only be in their dorms, not actually on campus, certainly not in classes. And yet, when we drove through UWO on one side of the route and near Fanshawe on the other end side, there were still a bunch of students coming and going. I couldn’t help but notice that all of them were either Chinese or Indian, every one of them. They were going to school, during a pandemic, on a Saturday, while the school was closed and locked down. They really leaned into the stereotypes. ¬_¬ Stupid young students exposing the town to a virus so that they can get in a few extra brownie points. 😒 But then, I guess they have to do that as part of their plan…

Perhaps not surprisingly, I also noticed that only the Chinese students were wearing masks while everybody was not. That’s been a pattern in general around the world and I’ve even seen some videos on YouTube that discussed it.

S.A.D. is crippling

Eventually, the bus got back to where I started, across from Shopper’s. From that point, it took only eight minutes to reach No-Frills. An eight-minute trip took 63 minutes for nothing; 55 minutes wasted for nothing. My SAD has caused countless problems in my life, and this was just the latest one.

I went to No-Frills, but first, I had to do something with the bottle of CoffeeMate. I figured I couldn’t just bring it in with me; that’s the reason I hate shopping by bus, because it means you can only go to one store, you can’t go in with bags full of purchases from another store. I thought about it the whole hour that I was on the bus. I figured I’d hide it somewhere and pick it up after I was done at No-Frills. I kept picturing the mall and trying to think of where I could hide it. I thought I could hide it somewhere outside of the mall, in the back, but when I got there, there were a surprising number of people around the mall and I didn’t feel comfortable walking around back, I assumed people would think it’s weird (I tend to overthink and assume a lot of things).

Instead, I went inside and towards the back of the mall. I considered going downstairs to see if there’s anywhere good I could stash it, but instead, I went to the bathroom. I washed my hands from the bus, and hid the bottle of creamer behind the garbage can. Yeah. 😐

No-Frills almost wasn’t horrible… for once ¬_¬

I then went to No-Frills and began my last shopping. I saw a girl there that looked familiar and I realized it was Makayla from one of the Meetup groups I’m in. She was at the check-out with her grandmother and left, and I realized that it had been four months since that meet-up, or in fact, any meet-up, and now, it would be months before another one. It was depressing because as much as my SAD makes me dislike being around other people, I was actually looking forward to the end of winter bringing new meet-ups and going out and re-connecting with the world (even if it means sitting quietly and slipping out as soon as it’s over). I feel like the world got screwed with this pandemic which happened just as a way to screw with me. ¬_¬

Anyway, I got almost all of the stuff I wanted to get for once, which was weird because for a few months before the pandemic, every time I went to No-Frills, the shelves were half-empty and they were always sold out of whatever items that were on sale that I went there to get, regardless of the time or day. I assume the only reason I was able to get the stuff I went there fore was because fewer people were shopping. That’s the bright side of this quarantine. (Though I wasn’t able to get any mayonnaise because it was all gone.)

Most importantly, I was able to use my voucher for chocolate-milk. A month or two earlier, I had gotten a 4L bag of chocolate-milk that was on sale for the same price as regular milk. After two or three days, it started to smell like a hospital (a bizarre thing that I’ve noticed with chocolate-milk in the past few years; it didn’t used to do that before). It’s hard to describe, but it the smell really does remind me of a hospital, be it bandages or gauze or antiseptic or whatever, it’s definite the smell of “hospital”. Worse, just a few more days after that, it started to taste like formaldehyde (not that I’ve tasted formaldehyde, but I have smelled it while doing fetal-pig dissection in high-school, and the smell and taste of the chocolate-milk reminded me of that). It was so bad, that even holding my nose didn’t work and I nearly threw up the last time I tried to drink it. It wasn’t even past the best-before date (let alone the expiry date, which few manufacturers bother putting on anymore). I complained about it (and asked why it’s like that now) and they sent me a voucher to get a replacement. (I specifically told them in the message that I was put off by it and afraid to get chocolate-milk now, I didn’t trust it anymore, so what good is a replacement voucher? 🤦 I guess that was the point, they could “do right” by me without it actually costing them anything. Well, I got a new bag anyway. (Update:I finished it without it smelling bad.) I didn’t however get a chance to use the coupon for sour-cream/cottage-cheese because they didn’t carry the brand the coupon was for. 🤷

I got my groceries and checked out. As I was bagging my stuff, I noticed there were two receipts left on the conveyor belt. I figured if whomever(s? 🤔) left them there didn’t want them, I’d take them so that I could do the surveys and use the codes on them to get a couple of extra chances to win some money/PC points. 🤷 (Unfortunately, when I got home, one of them was missing. Somehow it disappeared. 😕)

I then went back to the bathroom and grabbed the bottle of CoffeeMate which was still there (there had been at least one or two people who used the bathroom in the meantime, so it wasn’t a certainty that it was still there—but then, even if someone did see it, they probably didn’t want bathroom-creamer 😀).

Yes pain, no gain

Walking from No-Frills to the bus-stop was surprisingly uncomfortable. I’ve been lifting weights for a while, so I should have plenty of muscle-power, but the four bags of not-that-heavy groceries was killing me, particularly my shoulders. The problem was no the weight, but rather their volume; they were large enough that I couldn’t walk naturally while holding them at my side because they’d keep bumping into my legs, so I had to hold them out to the side which was hell on my shoulders. (Another reason I hate shopping by bus; you can only get two bags. 😒)

F the LTC, yeah, you know me 😒

I waited at the bus stop for 25 minutes. Because my schedule was ruined from the 55-minute mess, I had no idea when the next bus was coming, so it felt a lot longer. Fortunately, it was sunny and not too cold.

After the bus came, I got on and took the earphone out of one of my ears to make sure I could hear the stops so that I could ensure I got off at the right stop. I needed to get off the 25 and walk across the street and down the street and wait at a different stop for the 34 so that I could go home. It used to only take a single bus to go from very close to my house to No-Frills and back, but the stupid, idiotic, piece of garbage LTC changed the routes and schedules last year to accommodate the stupid, idiotic, piece of garbage students who pay $80 for an 8-month bus-pass then leave at the expense of residents who pay $81 per month all year round. Now, it takes two buses, twice as long, and a lot more walking and standing and waiting to get there and back, which is worst in the winter. (And now, I can’t even get the car documents and stuff sorted out so that I can drive, because everything is locked down. :-|)

So I got to the bus-stop at Glenora and crossed the street and waited for the 34. After 25 more minutes, the 25 came and I got on out of habit (like I said, I always used to take the 25 before). Once we passed the street that I was expecting to turn into, I realized I was on the wrong bus, and pulled the cord and got out.

This was at least two stops past the street I needed to catch the 34 on, and since it was out in the middle of nowhere, the stops were very far apart. There was no way I’d be able to walk all that way while carrying those bags of groceries. I gave up and waited for the 25 to take me back in the right direction, towards home (the 34 eventually showed up back at the other stop where I had been, far off in the distance).

While I waited for the 25, I decided to screw the 34 and just take the 25 to Adelaide and walk the extra 15 minutes to get home instead of waiting another 40 minutes for the next 34 to take me to a stop that’s a 5-minute walk from home.

So I waited for the 25. And waited. And waited. Two 25’s came by in the other direction (three if you count the one I was on) before the one in my direction finally came 40 minute later. What the actual hell‽ 🤨 How is that that three buses came in that direction on that route before a single one came in this direction? It makes no sense. The LTC is a friggin’ mess, and they can’t blame it on the pandemic, they’re always like this. 😒 Worse, it was past 5pm at this point, the sun was dipping in the sky, and it was windy. I was freezing by this point.

Eventually the 25 came and I stayed on it. I got off at Adelaide and started walking home. I figured I’d make up for the extra walking by getting a lottery ticket from Rexall on my way home. But, when I got to Rexall, it was closed. There was a note on the door saying that they’ve changed their hours due to the pandemic and were now closing at 6pm on Saturdays. It was 6:05pm. 🤦

The lottery ticket; or, making the least-worst of a worse situation

Despondent, frustrated, and angry, I walked the rest of the home. I still didn’t feel relaxed and ready to start the lock-in because the having to go out the next day to get the lottery ticket still weighed on my shoulders. I considered that maybe Sobey’s was still open so I could get the ticket there, but I thought that if it weren’t, then I’d be wasting another 10 minutes to walk there and back for nothing. But, as always, I figured that even if they’re closed, walking there and back wouldn’t be for nothing, it would be exercise. I have a tendency to dismiss things like that by chalking it up as forced exercise, which is good because it makes it less frustrating when I have to walk around and waste time, but also because voluntary exercise is difficult, so forced exercise like this isn’t unwelcome. I left the grocery bags on the floor and went to Sobey’s. They were open. I got the ticket.

As I was about to leave, I looked at the receipt and noticed it said $13 for alcohol. 🤨 I mentioned it and she gave me the correct receipt. I’ll be generous and chalk it up to the pandemic rather than general sloppiness. 🤷

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I got home and put the groceries away.

I made myself a nice hot cup of coffee and relaxed, finally having gotten everything and done everything I had to do in order to hunker down for the pandemic. Finally. (Except I still hadn’t used the sour-cream coupon… ¬_¬ I realized I could have gotten the sour-cream from Sobey’s or Rexall, so I still have to go out on Sunday. 😕 Motherf-)

Anyway, I didn’t go on Sunday and won’t go on Monday or anytime soon; I don’t need it right now, and the coupon is good for 2.2 more months.

(Update: I later ended up going to Rexall to get my prescription and they didn’t have that brand, and went to Sobey’s as well to get milk (I don’t trust Rexall’s milk anymore after what happened a couple of months ago), and they didn’t have it either. I’m not sure if I can use the coupon at all; the only chance is if either Food Basics or Freshco happen to have a brand of cottage-cheese/sour-cream that the voucher covers, but I’m definitely not going to those anytime in the foreseeable future. 🤷)

Finally done

It’s time to finally unwind and try to make the most of being shut-in.

(Update: unfortunately, between having to watch YouTube videos literally from morning to night, and TV shows, I’m not actually feeling any different during the lock-down than any other time, so it feels wasted to me. :-\)

My not–Covid-19 cleared up!

One of the side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is that whenever anyone has any sort of issue, they can’t help but immediately assume the worst and jump to conclusions that they have contracted Covid-19. It’s just part of the paranoia that the pandemic has unleashed. The paranoia is so strong that it even affected me.

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, my alarm clock went off, so I hit the snooze and rolled over to stay in bed for nine more minutes (for some reason, my alarm clock’s snooze is set to nine minutes 🤔). As soon as I rolled over, I was washed over with a wave of horrible dizziness. I felt like the world was spinning and felt horribly nauseous.

Over the next week, I did some research and determined that:

  • It’s definitely not Covid-19 because dizziness, which I had, is not one of its symptoms, and conversely, I did not have either of the two key symptoms (fever and cough) that Covid-19 does have (if anything, I was ~0.5°C below normal—not low enough to be a concern, but still, clearly not a fever)
  • It’s one of three things. It could be an inner-ear infection, a sinus infection, or BPPV. I did the Dix–Hallpike test and it was absolutely positive; doing the move resulted in extreme dizziness and my eyes jumping all over the place, trying to get a fix on the world as it spun (in my case, the nystagmus was vertical instead of horizontal).

BPPV is really nasty. Imagine spinning around in a circle for a couple of minutes, then stopping. That sense of dizziness, nausea and vomiting, falling over, and inability to see because it looks like the world is spinning around you is the same vertigo that people with BPPV have, all the time. Imagine feeling like that all the time; it’s excruciating, and arguably worse than having chronic physical pain. 😵 🤢 🤮

The typical onset of BPPV is from 50-70 years old, but with my luck, it makes sense that I would get it early. Worse, the condition usually clears up after a few days to months, and may recur for some people. Again, with my luck, I fully expected it to last months and recur, if not just be a permanent thing I have to suffer with.

I wasn’t sure it was BPPV or an infection. Even with the Dix-Hallpike test, the only way to diagnose it, is to perform a differential-diagnosis to rule out other causes like an infection, which I couldn’t do. I considered going to the hospital to have them check, but with the pandemic, I knew that if I went, I would likely end up having to wait for many hours in the waiting room before being seen, and also increase my chances of contracting Covid-19, so I didn’t want to go. (To make things worse, the longer I avoided going, the more the ER would fill up and the more Covid-19 patients would end up there.) But, like I said, with my luck…

There are a few maneuvers and exercises that are supposed to help with BPPV, but they actually trigger the dizziness and nausea, so they were very undesirable and I kept delaying them as long as I could when I tried doing them. It’s as though a treatment for the pain of a broken arm is to punch the broken arm and cause it to hurt. 😕 Regardless, they didn’t work and I still had the condition.

I held out hope that maybe it was just an infection (preferably sinus over inner-ear since that’s easier to resolve, with fewer side-effects, and also, I did feel a pressure behind my nose and eyes, so it was a possibility). I ate a lot of onions and garlic and citrus and hugged a hot-water-bottle, huffed Vic’s VapoRub (I love that stuff, it’s so refreshing; I’m baffled that some people don’t like it 🤨), and pretty much every other home-remedy you can do for a cold/flu/infection/etc. in the hopes of clearing it up sooner.

Unfortunately, after 4-6 days, I was starting to lose hope of it clearing up and starting to worry that it was going to be chronic. I tried my best to avoid moving at all because any movement could trigger it, but even just stretching could cause it (that’s actually what caused one of the early episodes that caused me to really worry).

Every now and then, it would feel like it was over because I hadn’t felt dizzy in a while, and I crossed my fingers and hoped it was cleared up, but when I tested, it was still there. :-\

On Friday, March 20th, sometime in the afternoon, I felt like it had been a while (several hours) without an episode, so I cautiously did a test, and… nothing. I assumed I was too cautious and didn’t trigger it, so I tried again, and still nothing. I tried to convince myself that it was over, but I was too scared to believe it. But, it turned out to be true. It was over, it wasn’t happening anymore. After 6.5 days of agony, it really was over.

(Update: Whatever the condition was, it’s been over for two weeks now, and I’m desperately hoping it doesn’t return. The strange thing is that it’s been two weeks already but it doesn’t feel like it, and also, I already started taking for granted living without the horrible symptoms very soon after it cleared up instead of really enjoying being healthy and not miserable. 😕 I guess that’s normal; people who have near-death experiences say they feel changed and want to make the most of life, but that never lasts long, they go back to normal life pretty quickly. :-|)

Strange things I think of while brushing my teeth

It’s fascinating how the brain, and in particular, memory works. It’s interesting the way memories form and associate. This is the reason that every living thing is unique, even if they have the same DNA, because since they cannot occupy the same position in space at the same time, they must necessarily have different exposures to their senses, which leads to different experiences.

Something that I find amusing about my own memories is some of the stranger associations I make between disparate things. One thing in particular tends to trigger memories that to other people, without context would seem to be completely unrelated, that thing being brushing my teeth. There are at least two things that I often end up thinking about when I brush my teeth:

  • The Goa’uld attack during the “Pretense” episode of Stargate SG-1

    A long time ago, I was watching the Stargate SG-1 episode “Pretense” in which SG-1 had to go to trial on the Tollan home-world because the Goa’uld Zipacna (Kevin Durand) was trying to get them to rule to allow the symbiote Klor’el to stay in Skaara’s body. While I was watching the episode, I was flossing my teeth as thoroughly as I could. I then paused during the scene in which the Goa’uld began their attack and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and then rinse with mouthwash. Then I continued the episode. Ever since then, I sometimes remember the scene of the Goa’uld ships attacking while I brush.

  • The People’s Court, Bugs Bunny, and Pornography

    I think it’s safe to assume that this is probably the strangest thing to associate with tooth-brushing, but it makes perfect sense to me.

    One day, a long time ago (much “longer ago” than the previous one), when I somewhere between 6-9 years old (I was still going to King’s Road, so it would have been grade 1-4), I didn’t go to school that morning because I had a dentist appointment around noon. I decided to brush my teeth before leaving. (I can’t recall if I had been brushing normally and wanted to add an extra one or if I’d kept skipping it and tried to cheat by brushing just before the appointment 🤷.)

    While I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth with the door open, I could hear the TV in the living room loud and clear (I don’t know if my mother was actually watching or if she was in the kitchen or something—and now I can never ask her. 😢) While I brushed for what must have been an exceptionally long time, I recall hearing pretty much the whole case. It was about a woman who was suing a video-store because she had rented a Bug Bunny video for her son’s birthday, put the tape in the VCR in the basement where the kids were having a party, pushed play, then went upstairs, and when she came back down later, she was shocked to find that the video was actually a porno. (Many years later, I’d heard about other cases of people purposely switching tapes, but I think this one was a mistake.)

    If I recall correctly, the judge ended up ruling in her favor (because it was the store’s responsibility to check that the correct tape was returned) and ordered the store pay her some amount I can’t remember. So now, sometimes when I brush, I think of court, Bugs Bunny and porn.

Memories are weird.

Resolving to be more productive

We only get a few end-of-decade New Year’s(es?) so it’s not unreasonable to think of them as special. I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but this time I will. I have two main resolutions to make:

  • Pursue a relationship
    Now that I’m officially older than the Earth itself (long story), finding someone to love and share life with has suddenly and magically forced itself to the top of my priority list. I started looking a couple of years ago, but I’m running out of time and options, so I have to kick things into high gear and make every effort I can. I tried waiting for someone to fall in my lap, but the closest I got was someone lightly bumping into me on the bus, but that wasn’t a meet-cute. (To be fair, it’s not like I didn’t do anything, I did pretty much everything I could, but there’s still some stuff I put off. 🤷) One thing I need to put more effort into for this goal is getting in shape, which is also a general resolution, but I’ve already been working (dieting and exercising) hard at that for a couple of years with little success, so I’m not sure how much harder I can try on that front. Well, here’s hoping…
  • Be more productive
    I have far too many things to do and not nearly enough time for it all. I don’t exactly sit around all day, staring at the wall, but I definitely don’t spend my time as well as I could or wish I did. I want to start fighting harder against my OCD (and FOMO and other neuroses) to help eschew things that I don’t think are good uses of my time to free it up to spend on more productive things (including a few that would help make me more money or just be more fullfilled). I just wish there were a good medication that actually worked and helped make it easier instead of having do it the hard way as usual.

There’s also other goals, but those are just regular to-do items as opposed to specific resolutions.

In this spirit, I am setting to kick off the second goal by making a post to each of the sub-blogs today (this post counts for this one).

Unfortunately, by making these plans, I have pretty much guaranteed failure because exactly 0.00% of my plans come to fruition, something always messes them up (I don’t know why I still bother ever making plans 🤦). So forget you saw anything, I didn’t write this. ¬_¬

Apparently, I was a vegetable racist

Last week, a grocery store had a sale on onions, a 10-pound bag for $1.97, which is a good deal. I usually only go grocery-shopping once every 30-60 days, so I wanted to get two bags to be sure I’d have enough to last a while and actually use and enjoy them without worrying about running out. (Nothing complements a meal better than a nice cold, crunchy, juicy, spicy onion. 😋) Unfortunately, when I got there, they didn’t have any onions (that were on sale), not even in the back. They said to come back the next day, but I couldn’t return then, so I was out of luck and upset.

A little later, on the way home, I stopped at a different store, which also had a sale on onions, this one on seven-pound bags for $2 which wasn’t as good a deal, but still worth it. I wanted to get a bag of red and a bag of white, but unfortunately, all they had were Spanish onions, no white onions. I got two bags of red, but was still upset about missing the sale on white onions because Spanish onions aren’t as useful as white onions because they’re mostly just salad-onions. They’re sweet and don’t have the same hot, juicy, crunchiness as white onions. Boy was I wrong.

The first onion I used from the bag was hot enough that it actually burned me. It may not have been the hottest thing I’ve ever had, not even the hottest onion, but it was certainly hot enough. I was pleasantly surprised. The next two were the same.

In the end, I learned that white is not always best and to be less prejudicial in life, including with vegetables. 😀

(Jokes aside, in my experience, Spanish onions really do tend to be sweet and not hot, so I don’t know why this bag was. 😕 Maybe there’s more than one type of red onion or maybe these are hybrids. 🤔 Either way, they certainly made up for missing the sale—though I’m still upset about missing the sale on the ice-cream. ¬_¬)

Welch’s grape-soda and Ringolos

When it comes to snacks, Welch’s grape-soda and Ringolos hold a special place in my heart. For one thing, they’re a good combination of salty snack and drink, both of which are really tasty. But even more so, they have a sentimental, nostalgic value for me.

For a big chunk (10 years) of my childhood, we lived in an apartment building, which had a couple of vending machines in the lobby. One fond(-ish) memory of the apartment is that my sister and I had dog-shaped piggy banks and while I knew it was best to save up my change for something worthwhile, I couldn’t help but try to pull out quarters from my “doggy-bank” to use in the vending-machines to get a pack of Ringolos and a can of cold Welch’s grape-soda.

That was a tasty snack combination and while I felt naughty for “wasting” my money like that, it’s a good memory that I now look back on fondly.

My “paranormal” experiences

I don’t tend to believe in paranormal stuff (not for lack of desire, but because I hate vague, nebulous so-called “proof” of them ¬_¬). That said, there have been a few times when I experienced something strange.

  • One night back in the early 90’s (or maybe mid-to-late 80’s 🤔), when we lived in an apartment building, we noticed some strange lights in the sky. There were three white lights circling each other about 100 feet in the air. My mother, sister, and I stood on the balcony looking around and theorizing what it could be. Of course we included aliens, but also tried to figure out other options. We were running out of ideas for explanations until one of us (I don’t remember which one) remembered that there was a new Ikea across the road and they were having a grand-opening soon. Sure enough, the lights were just Ikea’s grand-opening spotlights reflecting off a cloud layer. Oh well, maybe next time. 👽

  • In the summer of 1997, I came over to London to register for university. While we were waiting for the person from student-housing to return from lunch so that I could register to get a dorm-room, a guy came by to post a listing for a place for rent for students. My mother asked him about it and we went to check it out. It was great and the rent was low, so we ended up signing a lease that would start in October.

    In September, I moved into a dorm-room for my first year of university and a month later, my mother and sister moved into the town-house. I went there now and then to help clean and prepare the place as well as to do laundry and get food, but I spent most of my time in the dorm. In April, I moved out of the dorm and into the town-house. It was weird because before the dorm, I lived with my family in the town-house in Burlington, this new place didn’t feel like home to me, it felt like my mother and sister’s place. Regardless, I moved into my room and the first night was the strangest of all.

    That first night, I went to bed in my room, with my bed directly in front of the door, I had a straight line of sight (and sound) to the hall outside, and could see things clearly because of the night-light in the hall. I lay there waiting to fall asleep for a while when I noticed some creaking. Creaking is a pretty normal sound in most houses with wood expanding and contracting on its own. The difference is that this creaking wasn’t random, it had a distinct pattern. I laid there, listening carefully to the creaks, specifically noticing that each subsequent creak was further and further down the stairs. Moreover, there was at least half a dozen of them. If the creaks were in random locations or if there were only two or three, that would be one thing, but for there to be that many creaks, consistently further down the stairs was suspicious and statistically unlikely.

    This was in April of 1998, several months before we got the cats, so it was not them. And it was not my mother or sister either because they were both in their beds, fast asleep. To this day, I cannot figure out a rational explanation for that experience. (Also, over the 14 years we lived in that place, there were other instances of strange things, mostly involving numerous electronic devices dying, some of which were attributable to bad household wiring, but most of which were not.) 👻

  • (I’m sure there have been a few more but I can’t think of them right now; I’ll add them as I remember them.)

My public school was more impressive than my private school

I’ve been to several schools in my life (grades 1-4: King’s Road elementary, 5-6: Glenview elementary, 7-8: Maplehurst middle, 9-10: Aldershot secondary, 11-12+OAC: Assumption catholic). Almost all of them were public schools, but the catholic school was semi-private school (it wasn’t private, but it wasn’t a government school either). Surprisingly enough, the public high-school was even better than the private one.

Assumption was a great school; it was newish, clean, and had some more recent technology. Most importantly, as the principal said, because it was semi-private, they don’t have to take any students, so everyone has to be on their best behavior. Because of this, the staff and students were very nice and it went a long way to helping to heal the years of trauma I endured in public school and by the last year, my social-anxiety disorder had improved a lot.

While Assumption had the best people, it didn’t have the best facilities. That honor goes to the public school Aldershot. It may have been older and had terrible staff and students, but the facilities were very impressive for a public school:

  • It had its own swimming pool (in its own wing). That alone puts it ahead of a lot of schools. When I was at Glenview elementary, we even went to Aldershot a few times to swim.
  • Most schools have a “cafegymatorium”, but Aldershot had a dedicated auditorium which was like a movie-theater, and not those tiny new mini-theaters they have today, but the classic large ones with many rows of cushioned seats. I still remember my mother meeting my English teacher there during a parent-teacher meeting.
  • There was a large gymnasium. Most school gyms have a curtain that can cut it into two smaller ones, but the one at Aldershot was so large that it could be cut into three gyms.
  • A lot of schools have a shop and technology lab, but Aldershot had a whole technology wing which included a separate wood-shop, metal-shop, automotive-shop, full electronics-lab, computer-lab, and a tech-lab which duplicated some functionality by containing two separate banks of computers (Amigas for things like Deluxe Paint and Windows PCs for things like CAD and Corel Draw), an electronics lab, a full dark-room, and a video-lab with equipment like Video-Toaster. Then upstairs, there were two more computer labs, one with C64s, and another with IBMs. Remembering all of these blows my mind. 🤯 (Sadly, I only ever used the wood-shop, the big tech-lab, and the IBM lab. One of my few regrets is not getting a chance to take the electronics course in school.)
  • There was a large two-story library. Two-story libraries are usually for post-secondary and private schools; you don’t see them as often in public high-schools. I spent a lot of time in the library reading, especially lunch and breaks.
  • Aldershot had a big, full-function art room. Most high-schools have art rooms that provide most functions, but Aldershot’s was even more stocked with everything from all the supplies we could need (though we still had to buy some things like an art kit and bag, and stuff ¬_¬), and a large kiln.
  • There were actually no less than two science labs. I don’t remember them too well, and when I think of science-class in Aldershot, I usually end up thinking of things from Maplehurst middle-school or Assumption, but I’m sure there were two science labs, one in the middle of the school, and the other out at the end of one of the school’s several wings, beneath the big statue on the outside wall (one time we had to evacuate that lab because of a release of a chemical or smoke or something and had to stand outside until it was clear).

I can’t remember much else of Aldershot’s facilities; other classes like French, English, math, geography and history were in pretty standard classrooms. I suppose the only thing that might have been outstanding about those might be the equipment (I recall using a Texas-Instruments graphing calculator once), but those kinds of classes don’t really need anything fancy. Regardless, the facilities of that public school put a lot of even private schools to shame, let alone other public schools. The staff and students may not have been great, but the school itself was amazing.

Two and half stories of campus tours

Since they were so spread out (and I was young at the time), I didn’t notice them, but I’ve actually been on three campus tours during my school life.

  1. My first campus tour was in early 1989 when I was in sixth grade, my last year of elementary-school. We walked down the street from Glenview to Maplehurst to see the middle-school we’d be going to in several months. Naturally, I felt overwhelmed and nervous walking around amongst those scary older kids. (This is pretty much constant throughout childhood; everybody seems older and intimidating.) The only thing I remember from this tour was when—for some reason—the last thing they showed us was the staff-room. The tour-guide took a long foam thing out of the top-shelf of a closet there and explained that it was a gift from a former student who now works in Hollywood and that the foam thing was a prop from the 1986 remake of The Fly (it looked like one of the creature’s arms/legs, but it was unpainted, so it was probably a spare or defect or something).
  2. The next campus tour I took was just two years later when we went (walked?) up the street from Maplehurst to Aldershot to see the high-school we’d be going to in a few months. Again, walking the halls of the high-school and seeing the big, old pubescent near-adults was quite daunting. I’m sure we got to see the (shockingly impressive, for a public school) facilities, but there are only two things I remember from it:

    • We walked towards the oversized gym down the phys-ed wing hallway whose walls were adorned with awards and photos. The tour-guide stopped at one of the photos (I think it may have been black-and-white), of a kneeling student with a football, wearing a football uniform (I swear he was wearing one of those old-fashion leather helmets 🤔). The guide explained that the photo was of former-student Jim Carey. Yes, the actor. Years later, I tried to look it up, and he did indeed attend Aldershot. If I ever meet him, I have something to discuss. 😀
    • After the tour was over and we returned to Maplehurst, somehow I got split-up from our group and remained behind at Aldershot. It’s been many, many years, but I vaguely recall staying behind for a reason; I think was supposed discuss or ask something of someone at the high-school (I do sort of recall a wait of some sort for the teacher to be free). Anyway, I remember being all alone down in the music wing which felt like an unfinished basement with exposed pipes and feeling nervous and out of my element. I also recall walking down the hall, towards the school-proper and seeing the portraits of various composers hanging from the roof.

    I also recall taking a bus to Central, but almost the only thing I remember about that (other than the dark, unlit hallways) was worrying that a girl from my class that I liked was going there while I was going to Aldershot. 😞

  3. My final campus tour was spring of 1996, in my last year of high-school. (When I was in high-school, we had an extra year after 12th grade called OAC which was discontinued a couple of years later.) There were no universities in Burlington, let alone within walking distance, so we took a bus. Once again, I had a crush on a (different) girl in my class, but going to three different cities to see universities was still exciting. I brought my (non-Sony) walk-man with me along with several tapes and listened to Bryan Adams, Green Day, and a bunch of comedy routines and songs. We went to see three universities (though for the life of me, I can only remember two). On the way, we stopped at a couple of other high-schools to pick up more students for the tours. Not surprisingly, being among all of those literal adults was really something.

    1. First, we went to Guelph to visit the University of Guelph (¬_¬). I only vaguely remember this (maybe I should look it up on Google Maps to jog my memory). I do remember seeing the large, three-story library, and especially the canon in the grass that I think they said is occasionally fired. 😕 I also remember sitting on some stairs in a large foyer/courtyard/mezzanine type of area of a building while we waited for something or other.
    2. Next, we to London to see King’s College (which is a subsidiary of UWO). We saw a few (dark, empty) rooms and stopped in at the cafeteria where we were given lunch. I don’t remember much else, but then, King’s is only a single building (including the dorm). We then went to the main campus of UWO to see the university-proper. (Maybe the “three” places we saw included King’s as a separate one. 🤔) We also saw an off-campus student-residence (I think it was just a building that students often rented 😕). I recall again sitting on stairs waiting, but this one was in the Social-Science building (which I became fairly familiar with later). We also went upstairs in the Social-Science building for some sort of administrative stuff (instead of the Admin-building 🤨). We saw the pool in the Thompson Recreation & Athletic Center at the (then-) edge of campus. We were told to split up into a few groups and explore things of relevance to ourselves. We probably saw a few buildings and facilities, but the thing I remember the best was Alumni Hall because our bus was stopped in front of it and when we were ready to leave, I had to go to the bathroom, as did Rebecca (who happened to be the girl I liked). We were told there’s a bathroom in Alumni Hall and we ducked in to go quickly before heading home. Alumni has a double-door in the middle of the edifice that opens to a hallway that goes to the left and right. We went to the left and saw a sign for the girl’s bathroom. She went in and I had to go to the other side of the building to get to the boy’s bathroom. (Stupid symmetry. 😒) Anyway, we got back to the bus to head home. Later on, every time I was in Alumni, I thought of the bathrooms. 😀

    We dropped off the other students at their respective high-schools and headed back to our own.

The strange thing is that each time I went to the new school, I quickly got accustomed to it and forgot about the tour and stopped thinking of it as the place we went to a few months earlier. Weird. 🤨 I applied to Guelph, Waterloo, and Western and ended up going to Western, and the rest is history.

(In case you’re wondering why it’s only two and half stories, it’s because the first two had something that could be interesting to other people—the prop and Jim Carey—but the last one is only of interest to myself—unless others find my urinary nostalgia interesting.)