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Snapshots (Dog leashes, tennis season, “the youth vote,” flies)

Curtailed commentary on current conditions: Dog leashes, tennis season, “the youth vote,” and what to do with flies



Print Edition: May 8, 2013

Riley Nowlan

Off the leash

I love dogs. I’m a dog person. However, you couldn’t possibly know this by looking at me. In fact, you can’t assume that any person you pass on a walk or at the park likes dogs. This simple fact is why dogs need to be kept on a leash in public.

Very few things annoy me more then when I’m going for a run, headphones in, music blaring and suddenly a dog comes charging towards me. Or when I am walking my easily-irritated dog (who never leaves her leash or my side) and another dog comes bounding towards us, sending her into a defensive panic.

They tell me, “Don’t worry, my dog’s nice! He’s just being playful.” Well that’s great for you but my dog isn’t nice or playful. This habit is especially irritating as there are lots of off-leash dog areas to choose from.

Bottom line? There is no way of knowing if you are going to pass someone who’s had a bad experience with dogs, a child who is just plain scared of dogs, or another dog who’s just not as “friendly” as yours. So please, for others’ safety and my sanity, keep your dog on a leash.


Nick Ubels

The sport of kings is a lesson in persistence

Every year it’s the same. After a winter of very little athletic activity, let alone racquet sports, my first trip to one of the local tennis courts always goes surprisingly well, considering my six months of zero practice. I now realize it goes well precisely because I don’t go for the smashes or wild serves, but keep my game simple.

The problems always start during my second game. With freshly-boosted confidence, I’m suddenly attempting shots that I could barely make by the end of the previous summer’s weekly matches. Overconfidence and inexperience inevitably result in one of the most frustrating outings of the year.

Other sports and activities seem to be more forgiving. You know, “you never forget how to ride a bike,” and all that. Springtime tennis is aggrevating because of the discrepancy between my current skill level and what I think I should be doing, what I think makes good tennis strategy.

After a few matches, my outlook starts to get a little more positive. With a little humility and time commitment, I can already see my game improving. And as much as this is a frustrating experience, it’s actually something I kind of value.

Tennis is my yearly reminder that persistence pays off. It’s something I need to keep in mind not just in tennis, but in every new experience or creative pursuit. There’s always a gap between what you’re doing and the sort of thing that inspired you to do it in the first place. But with time, effort and many failed attempts, your work can finally begin to resemble the quality you seek.


Dessa Bayrock

The mystically enticing “youth vote”

I have a favourite phrase that pops up around election season without fail, and it is “the youth vote.” It’s like young people are a mystical and untapped resource—some kind of super-rare and useful mineral, like unobtanium or kryptonite—that no one can really figure out how to safely mine or process.

Even if no one quite knows what to do with it or how to get it, the idea of “the youth vote” is appealing. Imagine if a politician could inspire young people to vote en masse – as though the polls are a cult, or a new bar, or a prerequisite for a class that everyone wants to take.

However, measuring “the youth vote” in any great quantity is as rare and as unlikely as a unicorn. I’ve heard less and less about the magic demographic with each passing election, be it provincial or federal.

But I think I’ve figured out why.

There is no such thing as “the youth vote.” Young people are, at the end of the day, just people – and just like any demographic, the 18-24 age range is going to be split a dozen ways between political parties. To imply that a politician could inspire the majority of young people to vote a certain way is not only wrong, but offensive. It’s ageist.  You can’t lump us all together. You can’t assume that we all think the same way. We can barely agree on where to eat lunch, let alone organize ourselves to vote as a bloc.

The idea of “the youth vote” is shrouded in mystery because it is non-existent.

And that isn’t a bad thing.


Amy Van Veen

Shoo fly, seriously, get out of my face

Flies tend not to listen to “shoo fly” commands.

They also don’t really care when you swat your hands manically. If they were capable of a sense of humour, I imagine they’d laugh their wings off when you slapped yourself in the face.

What is it about those little guys that makes my blood boil?

They’re there when I try to drink some juice. They’re there when I try to eat my dinner. They’re there when I try to fall asleep. And it often seems like the same little guy buzzing around trying to ruin my day.

And I’m ashamed to admit that he often succeeds.

The choice is there: either close all the windows and doors and slowly turn my home into a sweat lodge as the outside temperatures rise or swing those things open and invest in the best fly swatter money can buy while slowly being driven mad by the buzzing.

There are pros and cons to both options. Although the solution to the latter seems more simple: turn up the music and hope the stupid little guy finds his way out one of the many open windows instead of banging into the glass of the closed ones.


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