November 03, 2007

Wrong Side of the Bed

At the end of September, we left Edmonton for Jasper on Friday afternoon. The Yellowhead highway moved well, even though it was still the main season in the mountains. We were more concerned about critters on the road than traffic.

Last night, I drove into Toronto at rush-hour. Theoretically, it should have been against the traffic. And yet, it was stop and go on the 401 from Mississauga Road to the 427, a bit slower than that on the 427 from Dundas to the Gardiner, and barely better on the Gardiner til the Lakeshore. It was only there that it felt like I had the going into the city while others were leaving advantage.

The entire time, I was trying to figure out what is so bloody wrong with us that we can't get it together and have a user-friendly public transit system. I don't want to drive into the city and I don't want to deal with parking. However, I have few alternatives. Taking the GO bus would take as long as driving, but deposit me downtown, so then you can add another 25 minutes via subway and *then* you still have the constraint of having to leave the venue by about 11:00 in order to make all the transfers home. The GO train only runs at rush hour, and only in the direction of said rush hour. Even driving to the end of the subway line doesn't exempt me from the traffic or the parking issue. I hate it. And so, even though I live only 67km from the city centre, I rarely head in. A shame, really, since Toronto is really quite interesting once you get through the suburbs.

But I hadn't seen Fred Eaglesmith in some time, so I was due. And Fred Eaglesmith likes to play at Hugh's Room, and so he sings those songs I associate with fall fairs and in the middle of nowhere bars in the city, and I fight my way through traffic to get there. And then I sit in the middle of the city, and he sings Cumberland County, and all I can think of is northern Ontario, and on the way home along the Lakeshore I find myself thinking, what am I doing here...

(Fred is Fred, so it's always a good show, but I miss Willie P. more than I ever missed Ralph or Washboard Hank or any of those shiny young people who moved on to do their own music, and I think this was probably the last time I fought traffic to go there.)

I do a pretty thorough job ignoring the parts I don't like about southern Ontario. I live on a farm, after all, and while I do drive to work, it's little country roads with negligible traffic. My job, which sometimes comes with all the frustrations that jobs tend to come with, is still a pretty cool job. My office has a south-facing window, for example. I get to work with really smart people. When I'm not dealing with frustrations, I actually get to play in an interesting sandbox. I get to do field work, and go cool places. Physically being in southern Ontario is the price I pay, I guess, but I only remember that every time I battle traffic (weekends in the summer and every time I need to go to the city), when there isn't any snow to ski on, and when it gets to be smokin' hot and sticky in the summer - though usually, that's when I put the boat on the car and take off.

And let's face it, I'm gone as much as I'm here. Speaking of - after Brazil, I spent some time in Alberta, and then I went to Norway, and then Sweden, and then Germany, and last weekend I used some of the accumulated aeroplan points to spend time in Thunder Bay. And next month, I fly to Hong Kong and then to Denpasar via Kuala Lumpur and there may be some other destinations in there, not sure yet, and so I have a question: does anyone know of a reputable evaluation of carbon offset schemes? I need to find one that makes sense, and that I don't buy on the same invoice as a plane ticket (because that's personal, not work-related - and don't even get me *started* on how a funded climate change research program does *not* allow offsets to be eligible work-related expenses when the travel incurred most definitely is). I don't even like updating the blog anymore, because it just sounds like and then I went here and then I went here and then I went here, and that's now how I want to see myself. And then I get some moralizing comments that tell me I'm a bad person for this travel and I should just not do it, and often some pretty simplistic interpretation of climate change and I'm not going to defend myself or the job I have or explain that I probably know enough about climate change (if you really want to, look up IPCC AR4 WG II Ch17, and check the list of contributing authors. Or, if you want an older perspective, the same list for IPCC TAR WGII Ch18 or you can look up this book) so I just don't update so much. I get tired, you know?

Posted by Johanna at November 3, 2007 11:59 AM

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