Canada has a graduated driving license system. The first driving license test is a simple computer test and once you pass it, you are awarded a G1 license. This license allows you to drive a car as long as a fully qualified G license driver is sitting beside you. There are other restrictions but that is the main one.
After a period of at least 6 months, you can apply for a G2 road test. During the road test you drive in the area around the Ministry of Transportation's Test Center. The official riding with you in the car checks if you are following all the rules and are a "safe" driver. If you pass the road test, you move up to a G2 license. This one allows you to drive a car on your own anytime as long as your blood alcohol limit is exactly 0%.
The G2 license expires after a few years. You can either renew your G2 by doing another G2 test or you can do a G2 Exit Test and get a fully qualified G license. During the G2 Exit Test you drive around on the local streets and then you have to show your ability to drive on the highways as well. The G license also expires but you can renew it by simply mailing an application form.
I still have a G2. When it was expiring in 2003 I decided to re-take the G2 test instead of the G test because I rarely had an opportunity to drive while studying in Ottawa. I was too out of practice and if i had failed the G test, then I would've gone back to the G1 instead of G2. This was because my G2 was expiring and I wouldn't have enough time to schedule a G2 test after failing the G test. The test schedules are usually fully booked for the next two months.
Now, my G2 is expiring again in a few month and this time I've decided to take the G2 Exit Test and get a G license. I want to buy a car in the next month or two so I want to have a G license instead of G2 so that the car insurance rate would be a little bit better. Those blood-sucking thiefs look for any excuse to hike your insurance rate as much as possible.
I've booked some driving lesson classes with a local Driving School; ABM College of Defense Driving. My first out of four 1-hour lessons was today during lunch time. My instructor has been teaching people for the past 5 years but he said it feels like 15 because he usually gives 6 or 7 lessons a day.
I've been driving for the past 8+ years and I don't consider myself a beginner or novice at all. However, I knew that I would probably make a few basic and minor mistakes that the Ministry of Transportation official would be looking out for.
I was quite surprised at how many mistakes I made. I should check the mirrors and blind spots first before turning on the signal. When making a two lane change I should move to the middle lane first, turn off the signal. Then check the mirros and blind spots again, turn on the signal, and then make the second lane change. I should stop at the stop sign and literally count to two seconds and then move. When merging on a higway I should stay on the on-ramp lane as long as I can before merging into the highway. This is to give me enough time to increase my speed to match the traffic speed. When stopping behind a car at a street light, I should leave a car-length space between my car and the one in front. During a three-point-turn I shouldn't use the gas pedal and should just let go of the brake and let the car roll on its own. During the three point turn, I should change gears first before turning the wheels. Both my hands should always always always be on the steering wheel. Lastly, and most importantly, I should not use my thumb only to turn the steering wheel. I am so fond of doing that :P
This refresher course is a must for everyone who has a driving test coming up. We get so used to driving "our" way that we forget all the nitty gritty details that the officials will be looking for. Also, dooh, you better get your license this summer.
The lesson was only for one hour and I have three more hours of driving left before we, the instructor and I, go to the Test centre on 1st March for my G2 Exit Test. Wish me luck!!
Lunato called me at 4:30-ish from Bloor Street. She was at a restaurant and had had a late lunch there. After finishing her meal she realized that her purse is at home!! Oh noes!!
A damsel in distress? I'm on my way!!
It took about about three-quarters of an hour to get to the restaurant. We've been to this restaurant before and the owners were very nice and they told lunato that she can pay later sometime. But, no way, have to take care of this right away. I met lunato at Bathurst subway station and we went to the restaurant together and took care of the bill. If you want to try Korean food someday, then go to Ka Chi restaurant. They have two locations; 612 Bloor Street and 8 St. Andrew Street. Good food.
Lunato was at the Bloor street location, in the middle of Toronto Koreatown. We bought some groceries from the Korean supermarkets there and came home.
Our swimming class is usually on Mondays but Max was out of town this week so Eunice's Swimming School rescheduled us for Tuesday night at 8 pm. The instructor tonight, Julian, is much older than Max and he seemed more confident and comfortable with his job. Both instructors are great but I think we will ask for Julian for the next swimming course we take. This current one runs until end of March, as far as I remember.
He started the lesson by asking us to show him our Front Crawl. Kicking is second-nature to me now and I don't have to think about it now. The first two weeks I had to think about how I am moving my legs the entire time I was in the pool. Practice makes perfect, and even though I am not perfect yet, I can kick easily and move around in the pool. Today we practiced how to glide, use the left arm to propel us forward, then move the right arm half way, flip from our stomach to our back, and then continue swimming. This enables you to breathe while swimming and not hold your breath the entire time :P
Max taught lunato and I how to do this last week on Monday and we went to the pool during the free-swimming time on Sunday to pratice it more on our own. It is a bit hard to do the flip but we're both getting better at it. Again, practice makes perfect. Now I move my legs and kick without even thinking about them and I can focus on the the flip. Soon the focus will switch to something else and then on to something else. Swimming is nice!
During the last half hour of the class, we learned how to tread water; stay afloat and not sink like a rock. You have to keep moving your arms and your legs at the same time to keep yourself afloat in the same position. Easy to easy but incredibly hard to learn. Julian saw that we were having a lot of trouble with it so he made us lie on our backs, something that we've already learned, and then use our hands to stay afloat. No kicking at all. Just lie down on the water like you lie down on your bed and use both your hands to keep yourself afloat.
This was much easier to do and it was so relaxing. I spent the next 10 minutes just floating around in the pool and experimenting with moving one hand faster and harder than the other to steer around the pool. Finally, when there was only one minute left, we decided to show off. We went to the corner of the pool, launched ourselves into the water, stomach down, feet kicking, arms moving in circles to propel ourselves forward, then flip onto our back, and finally, tread water while on our back and go to the end of the pool; swimming lesson all-mix combo!
Max would be proud.
i don't know how to swim. it's true. i never learned. i never had the chance since i grew up in a desert and only the rich and filthy rich had swimming pools. i didn't have the slightest motivation to learn either.
the small community centre beside our apartment building has a swimming pool. Eunice's Swimming School is in charge of the pool and provides lessons as well. they have beginner classes, intermediate, and advanced as well.
lunato knows how to swim but she hasn't swam (swum ?) for a more than a few months. late last year, we decided to enroll in the Beginners' class together. the fee is decent enough and the classes are once a week. we choose monday evenings.
our instructor is a kid named Max. i call him a kid because he really is a kid. only 16 years old and yet an expert swimmer. he teaches 10 classes per week!
when we first met, max was a bit confused as to how to teach us. he told us that he has never had "adult" students before so he was't sure what approach to take. i asked him to consider me a complete novice and perhaps it would be better if he taught us the same way he teaches children who are learning. honestly, if you had thrown me in a pool i would've sunk to the bottom and probably drowned myself while frantically trying to reach the surface.
but that has changed now! i can swim! i'm being very liberal when i use the term "swim." i can move from one end of the pool to the middle and back without any styrofoam boards. i can float. well, i can float as long as i am at the shallow end of the pool because the deep end is still a bit scary. i want to call that swimming :)
last week we were learning how to float on our backs, turn ourselves on our stomach and then back again. the first twist is easy for me and i can go from my back facing the cieling to my stomach facing the cieling. but the second twist is too difficult and i can't seem to do it properly without completely disorienting myself. lunato was having the exact same difficulty. the first twist is ok, the second difficult.
lunato is so much better than i am. when i swim it's as if a typhoon is passing through the pool.. water flying everywhere! i can see water droplets flying from my feet and landing in front of my face. with all that power, i still move so slowly in the pool. lunato and i would start at the same time but a dozen seconds later, which seem like centuries to me, she would be at the end waiting for me. annoying!
it took a long time to convince me to actually sign up for the classes. i kept complaining that even though it is a "life skill", in 26 years of existence, i have never had to say to myself, "gee, i wish i was able to swim right now."
another reason, and probably the main reason, for my unwillingness to sign up was that i would be half naked. lunato actually wanted to buy me a speedo (never in a million years would i put that on!) but i totally refused. i wouldn't even touch one. swimming shorts are, of course, better than speedos, but still........ as i said, i grew up in a desert and never had a chance to swim. in highschool i didn't have to join gym class. in university, i didn't have a reason, means, or partner to learn swimming with. so i was too shy about the whole idea. i kept imaging people would look at me, point and laugh at my unimpressive build. stupid, idiotic, and probably egoistic of me to think that way.. but i was shy and that is a fact.
on the day of the first lesson i was having second thoughts about the whole thing but thankfully lunato didn't give up on me and forced me to try it out for at least one lesson. i enjoyed it immensely. i look forward to each monday evening now. there are usually less than half a dozen people at the pool at the time and they are swimming as well so hey everyone is naked! that helped to overcome my shyness.
each instructor has a maximum number of three students at a time and there are only two instructors in the pool at any given time. max only had lunato and me as his evening students for the first four weeks. last week another woman joined our group. she is a beginner as well so she fits well in our tiny group of adults learning how to survive. the more the merrier i suppose.
at the end of each class, we go over to the deep end of the pool and max asks us to jump in. the idea is to get rid of our, or rather just mine since lunato is ok with the jump, fear of water.
i put one leg at the edge of the pool. the other leg a step back. i lift my arms horizontally on each side. when max says "Go!" i force my brain to act. that takes about 5 seconds of convincing myself. max is already in the pool waiting to help me incase something goes awry.
5 seconds later i've convinced myself that i can do this!
i step forward and into the pool while moving my arms forward at the same time. after making a big splash and finding myself in the deep end with the bottom of the pool about 2 metres away, i panic. i force myself to be logical about the situation and i start pushing myself upward. once i hit the surface, i start moving my legs and try to reach the side of the pool as fast as i can.
phewh, made it. time to go home. until next week!