Hey there! Welcome to your flash fiction writing prompt for June 19, 2019!
Your prompt is… Continue reading “Writing Prompt – June 19, 2019”
Hey there! Welcome to your flash fiction writing prompt for June 19, 2019!
Your prompt is… Continue reading “Writing Prompt – June 19, 2019”
Closing his eyes and feeling the waves of youthfulness flow through his veins, Finigan stands in the spotlight, savouring every second of what is going on around him. From ever direction waves of energy is emanating from the crowd, who are currently losing their minds like a pack of wild monkeys battling over a banana. He stands there not moving, in fact, welcoming the roar, as he stands in the spotlight with his arms out at his sides looking like some type of weird version of Christ the Redeemer, only this version is attired in a black and red suit. Continue reading “Finigan’s Fun House of Fantastic Curiosities, Freaks of Nature, and Traveling Circus!”
Possibly, one of the most significant milestones in a young person life is the day that they finally go for their driver’s license.
For most, they spend countless hours practicing, they read up on the laws of the road, and even shed some tears of frustration, while they deal with the learning curve of full-filling one of their many teenage dreams.
In Ontario, Canada one of the rites of passage for the soon-to-be driver is when they get their own copy of The MTO Driver’s Handbook. This legendary tome is filled with an abundance of information that both young novice and old veteran drivers should have imprinted into their brains. It includes the do’s and the don’t s of the road that include such topics as how to take corners correctly when to use your lights, speed limits, and an abundance of other valuable and essential information.
I remember the day I was ready to write my test. It was my16th birthday. I really knew my stuff when it came to the rules of the road, and I was sure I was going to pass my written driving exam. Walking into the examination room, I felt like a slightly nervous baby kitten, walking out I was an overconfident road warrior because I beat that test with flying colours.
That was then, this is now, and boy-oh-boy how times have changed. I now have thousands of hours driving, and use to consider myself a safe, considerate, generous, and knowledgeable motorist. But recently, I have been second guessing those claims and asking myself, do I still know the rules of the road? How I drive versus the way other roadies operate their cars are definitely in contrast.
I for one, am confused about when the rules of the road updated? I can not answer that question at all, because I don’t’ have the slightest idea, but I do have a couple of facts about where I stand in regards to the situation.
Fact 1. The version of the handbook I knew and studied has to be extremely outdated, and the rules have completely changed.
Fact 2. The bulk of the people out there on the roads today have either read, studied, or wrote the newer test. Making them the ones who know the rules of the lanes the best.
One thing I have figured out, and lucky for you, I am absorbing each day how to maneuver out there and apply the new rules of the road as I learn them. That, in turn, my friends, saves you $9.99 and you don’t have to go out and buy the MTO Handbook. Instead, let me teach you what I have learned out there for free! (Damn, I’m a nice guy!)
So let’s begin, shall we?
The first rule of the road for any young driver to learn is when to stop and go.
Stop signs in Ontario have not changed one bit since I learned how to drive. They are still red, have eight sides, the word STOP on them, and they are on top of a pole at intersections.
Although, the appearance of the signs has not changed the rules have improved tremendously.
Old Rule: Located at intersections, stop signs were used to make sure you came to a complete stop. When the way was clear, you advanced through the intersection.
New Rule: When you come to an intersection with a stop sign. Advance with caution, and if you do not see any other vehicles, keep on going. It’s called a rolling stop. It’s a useful skill to have, not to mention trendy.
Old Rule: The four-way stop. This was when you came up to an intersection with four stop signs, one on each corner. A bit more tricky than a two-way stop.
The way it worked was when you got to the four-way stop and were first, you had the right of way. It’s used to be basically a first-come first-go system. If two cars arrived at the same time, the person on the left went first. If the two motorists got there at the same time across from each other, with one was turning left, the person going straight went first.
New Rule: Nowadays, you treat the four-way stop much like a two-way stop where rolling-stops are permitted. When you are approaching the intersection, stay confident, and when the other person hesitates, advance before them. The technique is tricky at first, but like everything, with a little practice and time, you will be a natural at it! It’s their own fault, the other driver should have gone.
Old Rule: Located above some more prominent intersections there are three lights. One light would come on at a time. The system was pretty simple. Green was to go. Yellow was to advance with caution. Red was to stop.
New rule: This rule is the same with slight differences. When you see the green light, you keep on driving. The small change becomes evident when you see the amber light. Where you use to slow down, you now speed up and try to beat the red light. The red light means slam your breaks on, you were too slow, and you missed the chance to speed through the amber light.
The second set of rules involved using the lights of your vehicle you were driving. Believe it or not, each one of the lights on the outside of your car had a function and reason to be there. Within the first 30 minutes of being out there on the road, you will realize that this is not the case anymore. Some lights are used all of the time, and some not at all, and I believe that on specific models of cars they may even be just for show.
Old Rule: When you are going to turn there is an arm on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. This arm actually works your signal lights letting people around you know you are turning or merging into a lane.
When I was learning to drive, you would move the arm up until you heard a click. This would cause two lights to flash, one at the front and another at the back of your car. This would indicate to other drivers that you were going to turn right. Once the vehicle was out of the turn, the light would turn off automatically.
On the other hand, if you moved the arm down, it would cause the same two lights on the left side of your car to flick on and off. Once you came out of the corner, just like when you moved the arm up, the lights would shut off.
New Rule: Since my time, the name for the arm has changed. Now instead of it being for the function of the mandatory signal lights, they are now called consideration lights. They do not have to be used, but if you wish to use them to give people the warning you are turning or going to go in front of them, you can use them. To use these lights is merely a gesture of consideration and kindness.
Rule Note: Luxury cars apparently have the option to disable the turning lights altogether. This includes vehicles like Audi’s, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, etc. If you see one of them turn without the lights, it could be because it has been disabled or the feature wasn’t purchased. This, of course, could be a completely incorrect assumption to make, but I am not in the tax bracket to own one of these cars or to share my opinion any further.
Old Rule: The rules about low-beam lights use to be that they needed to be turned on 30 minutes before sunset and used until 30 minutes after sunrise while using the vehicle. They were also used when the weather was terrible so that other motorists could see you in the poor driving conditions.
New Rule: Cars now have running lights. There is no need to worry about turning on the lights. What you do need to work about is the high-beams. These do not come on automatically. While driving at night, use them. The new rule of the road is, turn on once, and forget. Don’t bother flicking off, after all, the other drivers will appreciate the concern for safer driving.
A wise man once said, “if you ain’t first, your last!” That man was Ricky Bobby.
The speed was a pretty big factor in the process of learning the rules of the road. It wasn’t hard to know how fast you should be going because the signs were posted along the roadways. These signs, I believe are now a waste of money with the new rules of the road. They are simply ignored, and most drivers out there today are experienced enough to handle their cars at higher speeds.
Although the signs can now be ignored, there are still some rules to take note of.
Old Rule: Once upon a time, the speed limits in Ontario are as follows, 100 km/h on Freeways, 90 km/h on Trans-Canada highways, and other highways 80 km/h. 50 km/h everyplace else unless marked.
These speed limits were ingrained into our memory.
New Rule: I suggest now that you forget about those limits. The rules have changed to were drivers are required to go either 10km/h under the speed limit or 20 km/h above the speed limit. Never drive the speed limit. That is not only distracting but pretty hard to do when you have a lead foot.
Rule Note: Slow driving actually causes one-third of road vehicle accidents. Slower drivers are to stay in the furthest right lane. They often don’t. This causes impatience and irritation to other drivers on the road and forces them to pass the slower driver on the right. This creates confusion and it extremely dangerous.
Old Rule: While in rush hour traffic, we would pick a lane, and stay in that lane. Especially if everyone was going in the same direction. We would merge into the right lane to exit.
New Rule: Yes, another rule that does not apply anymore and is now obsolete. If you have the chance to pass on the left, right, or use an off-ramp to pass, do it. The road is your canvas, fill it with zigzags as you weave in and out of traffic like the artist you are! One thing to remember, try is to take advantage of lanes that run out and merge into the other lanes of the road. Use these ending lanes to accelerate and cut off your fellow drivers. You can gain, one, two, or even more car lengths in rush hour traffic.
Distracted driving wasn’t as big a deal when I first started driving. There were no mobile phones, you had an AM/FM radio that more than likely didn’t have any stations, and everyone didn’t try to make their lives into a living fashion show. Life was simple.
Now, every day I see people putting on make-up, texting, using their phone to take pictures, blaring loud music, just to name a few things. This forced the rule called hands-free driving to come out. This is just another category of distracted driving.
I am the last person you will hear complaining from when it comes to how precious your time is, and I can totally understand why people do some of the things they do while driving. It’s pretty straightforward, Father Time is a royal prick. For instance, if you fail to wake up too early to take care of your daily life at home, by all means, make sure you do it in your car. There are some essential tasks you can do in your vehicle like doing your hair and make-up, texting friends, downloading your podcasts.
The concept is, it’s not so important when you get it done, it is that you merely get it done!
Old Rule: I would like to start with loud music. Music used to fall under the category of distracted driving. Not only is it distracting to the driver and other drivers around you, but you can not hear oncoming emergency vehicles.
New Rule: The new rule is Turn it up and play that funky music! You are probably one of the few people in the city that have an impeccable taste when it comes to music. Share it with the people out there on the road. It is up to you to share with other your tastes in music and immerse others in your cultural tastes. Also, who cares, use your mirrors. It is recommended that you keep checking your mirrors for advancing emergency vehicles.
Communication is essential, especially when you are on the busy streets. Therefore, don’t be afraid to communicate with each other. It’s doing others and yourself a favour in the long run.
Old Rule: When I was learning to drive, people would wave, nod, and give a thumbs up to other friendly drivers. It was a much more relaxed and understanding time.
New Rule: Nowadays, the more effective way of driving is being a lot more aggressive and a lot less civil. If you see somebody do something you do not appreciate, like breathing, for instance, you make sure you let them know about it. Be heard at all costs and make sure you get your point across. Driving is at an age where you can save the fuzzy feelings for your mom.
Old Rule: We use to use our horns to warn people of advancing and potentially dangerous situations. For example, if the other driver is going to merge in front of you and didn’t see you, it was perfectly acceptable to hit that horn.
New Rule: Cars come with horns for a reason. They tell slow drivers to get out of the way. If they do get out of the road follow it up with either yelling obscenities or creative sign language. Remember, it’s the survival of the fittest and don’t be afraid to release your inner animals!
Rule Note: Letting out your steam in your car is an excellent way to reduce your stress. Studies have shown if you honk your horn on an average of 3 times more than people who do not, you significantly lower your chances of developing heart disease.
Ok! Before you get all bent out of shape and tell me that these rules are wrong and I’m risking peoples lives and safety, I would like to point out the following.
My post is a mockery of the situation.
The lack of consideration and the ignorance of other human existence is mind-boggling on the road. It is unclear to me where this behaviour has come from if it’s the different generations, cultural influences, or the amount of mediation that doctors feed our brains. If there is one thing I can tell you for sure is, this is not the way things used to be.
Now, with a fantastic post like this, I feel I have to add this final note.
Note: if you are unsure of the rules of the road, please pick yourself up an MTO Drivers handbook, or study up on the laws of the road by reading The highway traffic act, The motorized vehicles act and The off-road Act of Ontario.
If you could pick one place on the entire planet, any place at all, that you could be during Christmas time where would it be?
For Madison Rathbone, it’s nothing less than being as far away from her family at Christmas as she can get. Evidentially, in this story, she got her Christmas wish in the form of an all-expense paid invitation for a week get-away at a lodge on a secluded island with 12 other people.
Travelling to the island on a boat Maddy learns from the captain the glorious news about her destination. What Maddy called Puffin Island is known lovingly, or not so fondly, to the locals as Deadman’s Island. That was unfavourable news indeed! That should have been her earliest clue that perhaps she should turn around and head home.
Of course, she didn’t, because that would be a short book indeed.
So, finally getting to her destination, she recognizes the mistake that she made when she comes to the estate. It was right out of thing from a horror movie, in this case, a horror book. Spooky, creepy, and pretty exhausted looking. Once she meets the rest of the guests, she knew her impression wasn’t right and that she wasn’t’ alone in her feelings.
With the scene set, what else could possibly go wrong?
The book is a page turner indeed! (Well, for me a screen tapper seeing it was on Kindle.) I found that the book was pretty exciting and suspenseful throughout. I kept on trying to guess the end of the book but just couldn’t put my finger on what I thought was going to happen at the climax.
The mysterious, isolated island couldn’t have been a better site for this story to take place. The solitude of no outside communication along with the eerie lodge gave the novel all that more spookiness.
Writing the book from Maddy’s point of view was a great choice. She was a strong character with a lot of great character traits. Intelligent, good looking, and a bit of an attitude.
With there being 12 guests to get-a-way you could assume the time it would take for the author to come up with outstanding personalities for each of the individuals. Each one was as distinct from the next as cats are to dogs.
For instance, Mercedes Brown. What a lady! She was one of my favourites. A movie star who brought the most important person to the dinner party, herself.
Don’t’ get me wrong, the main character in the book, Maddy, was great! I absolutely did like her character. But Mercedes Brown took the cake! That lady, man oh man, seems like to be the most significant bi### at a dinner party. Hopefully, Jo-Ann writes a story all around her!
Here’s a bit from Mercedes and one of my favourite parts in the book, although when she says this doesn’t impact the storyline all, was when Mercedes Brown makes her debut to the rest of the guests.
“Sorry darlings, I’ve been drinking since dawn. My agent is giving me such a headache.” Then to mark her own self-importance she goes on to comment, “I’m pleased to be with you all and will leave you autographed photos by the front door.”
Another great quote from the book was, “We need different in this world. It’s what makes life interesting”. This was said when Maddy was talking about her sister.
Now for what I didn’t like about the book. Overall, I loved the book. I had absolutely no issues with it. If I had to make any suggestions to the author, I would suggest making the book a bit longer. Just so you could create more of a back story for the characters. I am sure a lot of people don’t like that in books, but I for one, like a lot of detail and back story.
Another thing that would have been a great item to put in the book was a longer historical explanation about Deadman’s island.
Those two things DO NOT take away from the book!
Now for my recommendation. Don’t let the name of the book fool you, although it’s is called Murder for Christmas, this book won’t make you any colder if you read it in the winter. The island has no snow, only rain, so never fear. You do on the other hand run the risk of catching a chill during those dreary sections. In my opinion, this book is for somebody that needs a great read with a fabulous mystery and surprising ending.
I have to give thumbs up to Sylvain Neuvel for writing such an astonishing novel. It is the first installment in his series called The Themis Files. I haven’t had a chance to read the other parts of the trilogy, but I am one hundred percent certain that I am going to.
The story originates with a little girl by the name of Rose Franklin. Who at the time is 11 years old. Her parents are throwing her a birthday party where they have invited a bunch of other kids. Although Rose welcomes the effort her parents had made, she can’t get the thoughts of her brand new bike out of her head. A brand new bike that her father purchased her for her birthday today.
She goes through the motions of opening her presents, blowing out candles, and smiling. She can’t shake the thought of her bike out of her head and how much she wants to ride it. Eventually, she decides to sneak out of the party and go out for a ride on her new bike. She pedals as fast as she can and heads up to the end of the road where the woods are.
She spends some time there, and when it starts to get dark, she decides to make her way back home. Not paying attention she eventually falls in a perfectly square hole in the ground.
Rose sees that the walls of the hole are glowing and she runs her hands over them as she lays there. Unknown to Rose she is not on the ground but in the palm of a large metal hand.
The rest of the story is broken up by chapters in the form of interviews. The interviews
are discussions between a mystery man and a group of people that form up a secret team that work on the cracking the mystery of the giant’s hand. This team is head by none other but Rose Franklin herself! I found that this was an excellent way of breaking up the story.
The way the interviews are done helps pull out information about the story, the past of the characters, and their current feelings about their lives, others on the team, and most importantly the project. There is no way you don’t know one character is hurting inside, another who isn’t sad inside, or one is in love.
The book itself was a perfect size for me. It took me around a week to read. Just like I like it. Just long enough so I don’t get bored with the story.
If there were anything that I would change about this book, it would probably be that I would write in some chapters that were not in the form of interviews. I’m pretty sure that would defeat the format the author was trying to make of building the whole story out of discussions.
Now to sum this up. I found this book fresh, a new idea of what ifs, and easy to read. If I had to recommend this book to a specific type of person, I would have to say that I would recommend it to somebody who likes that feels real with just the right amount of Sify in it.