Saturday, June 28, 2008

"You're much heavier than you look!"

Is not an example of a comment that one is automatically flattered by. However, when given after a battle in the crease (the area of ice directly in front of the goal) during a hockey game it can make you feel highly self-satisfied. Hockey; it's a strange sport.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On America's 10 most wanted

Living in a foreign country, you'd think I'd be a seasoned traveller. Well... I am, only my organisational skills seem to improve at a rate far slower to the number of trips I take. Okay, I'm a basket case when it comes to preparing. This trip was for 10 days and had the added excitement of putting the cat into kennels for the first time. So the day before I dropped her off bright and early and headed back to my apartment thinking through what was still to be done; pack camera and charge battery (probably ought to do that next)...., wash smart trousers for conference presentation (no, I should do that first, camera battery can always wait)...., buy travel-sized shampoo that is non-threatening enough to be taken on the plane in hand luggage...., back up laptop in case it gets dropped out of plane (could take a while, maybe set this up before I pack)..... stop for police car that is flashing its lights at me (... Ah).

"No officer, I can honestly say I have no explanation for going 40 mph in a school zone."

So it wasn't exactly "10 most wanted" but it was traumatic enough for me. For the uninitiated non-American, school zones operate only at certain times of the day over stretches of road close to schools. They are marked by yellow flashing lights and reduce the speed limit from 35 mph (yes, ok, I was speeding anyway) to 20 mph (meaning I was now quiet seriously speeding). Since I don't normally drive at times when they're operable, I'm pretty shoddy at looking out for them.

By looking remorseful, female and foreign I managed to escape with a standard speeding offense (school zone speeding normally triples everything) of a $120 fine and a 4 hour on-line driver course (or points on my license which I wanted to avoid). Today, I went into the court house in Gainesville to pay it all off. I'd like to say I walked in proudly, dealt efficiently and, head held high, strode from the building. It wouldn't be entirely true. The process was painless and the people very nice but, as foreigner on a highly-revocable visa, walking into a court house seems a little to close to disaster for my peace of mind.

As for the cat, she survived kennels but also seemed to think the car ride was the most traumatic part. I can only be thankful that she wasn't in the car when I was pulled over; the bad language would certainly have driven up the fine.