Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Innovative stupid warning signs

You're probably familiar with some of the stupid warnings that circulate on the World Wide Web:
  • Clothes iron: "Never iron clothes on the body";
  • Coffee cup: "Contents may be hot";
  • Superman costume: "Cape does not enable wearer to fly";
  • Sleep medication: "May cause drowsiness";
  • Knife: "Keep out of children";
  • etc.
Here in Canada, we recognize the wisdom of stupid warning signs. In fact, we have begun to get quite innovative in this field of human endeavor. For example, this sign is posted just a few minutes' walk from my house:

Dangerous Dock

"Use the dock at your own risk". You're probably picturing a huge dock that extends far out into the water, or one surrounded by aggressive sharks, or one that is frequented by drug smugglers. But actually it is located at the shoreline of an idyllic river:

Ooh, very scary.

If you're anxious for the woman who foolishly ventured out onto the dock, rest easy. Immediately after taking the photograph, I sprinted onto the dock, threw my arms around her, and dragged her to safety.

(Heroism is hard work, but I'm up for it.)

Here is another innovative stupid warning sign:

Hazardous High Hoe

It's like this. The construction company is aware that not every driver will notice the large, brightly-coloured object that completely obstructs the left-hand side of the road. Such drivers will, however, take note of the arrow sign and veer safely to the right.

Another example:

Perilous Post

Note the miniature pylon. (I'm not sure it's big enough to do the job, but let's not quibble.) It warns cyclists, do not attempt to cycle directly over the concrete post. Ottawa has many kilometers of bicycle paths like this one, so the potential number of injuries prevented is considerable.

And this is merely phase one of the project. In phase two, the municipality will place a flashing light on top of the pylon.

(Someone has stolen the pylon from the concrete post in the background. Canadians do not usually show such reckless disregard for the welfare of others.)


Risky Rocks, or Rapids, or something

It's not often you see a "danger" sign in the water. Its significance is not immediately clear. It could mean:
  • shallow water — do not dive;
  • rapids — unsafe boating conditions;
  • polluted water — do not drink;
  • piranha — no swimming;
  • etc.
The sign is regrettably ambiguous, but still — full marks for thinking outside the box.

But this one doesn't quite work for me:

Precarious Crossing

It seems to mean, do not attempt to cross the canal on foot. Note there is a minimum $75 fine for disregarding the sign.

Again, a creative concept, but I dunno. I think it will be found to violate Canadians' constitutional right to freedom of religion.


Beware the Babe!

I've thought it over, and the dock doesn't constitute much of a threat. But the woman? — she should be marked with a DANGER sign.


At 4:37 PM, June 15, 2005, Anonymous The Babe said...

Great post! Ottawa, as we now know, is a city fraught with peril. And just wait till YOU get home...

At 4:46 PM, June 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup Dangerous babe - right up there with killer bunnies and attack kittens.

Sorry I take that back she just might have a voice behind the smile.

Or even a pen / computer.

OOOH I am going to pay for that one......... (-:

Signed W the Corn curer (-:

At 5:30 PM, June 15, 2005, Blogger snaars said...

Every man needs a dangerous woman to keep him sharp. Er, I mean alert.

Aaaaaw, it's a little pygmy cone! That's a rare breed, only recently discovered in June of 2000. Population estimates vary, but it's possible that they're in danger of extinction. It's sad that one was stolen/lost. It would be such a shame if these fragile little pygmy cones die out.

People show such disregard for traffic cones, poaching them from their natural asphalt or concrete habitats.

To learn more about how you can help, visit:

For more about pygmy cones, visit:

P.S. I haven't had any time the last few days, but I plan to write a lengthy comment on your article from Sunday.

P.P.S. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this fine blog of yours, Q. Keep up the good work!

At 5:45 PM, June 15, 2005, Anonymous sleuth said...

"Anonymous" is the babe's brother: I recognize him from his backward smileys.

And thus, he is in no position to gauge her danger factor... ;-)

At 6:41 PM, June 15, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks, everybody. You probably noticed that I have a new toy (a digital camera). I'm not much of a photographer, but the camera is very talented! I plan to publish a photo feature twice per month. (But we'll see how it works out.)

• Hi, Babe —
The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

• anonymous —
I could leap to the Babe's defense, but she's quite capable of standing up for herself.

• Snaars —
I knew you were a knowledgeable man, but your data on pygmy cones caught me totally by surprise! What did you study in university, may I ask?!

• Sleuth —
Sisters are dangerous, but not in the sense I meant it in the post.

At 7:36 PM, June 15, 2005, Blogger snaars said...

Q, how do you get those links to work in your comments? I've tried using the same html tags that I use in my main blog posts, but they never work in the comments. I've had to abandon the tags, as you saw, and simply paste the url as text. Please help me!

At 12:11 AM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you too Sleuth, and it is not just because YOUR smileys are backward.

Enough said or we will start giving away details we don't care to.

It's been fun.

W the Corn Curer?

At 9:25 AM, June 16, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

• anon —
Sleuth says, "William (Wilhelm?) the Conqueror".
(I never would have gotten it.)

• Snaars —
I use the standard html:
open angle bracket
a href="URL"
close angle bracket
link text of your choice
open angle bracket
close angle bracket

Presumably that's exactly what you're already doing.

For Snaars and anyone else who cares, I do have one practical tip to offer. I begin by typing everything except the URL, which keeps it compact; then I paste the URL between the quotation marks as step two. URLs tend to be long and convoluted, so it's much harder to see whether you've got everything right once the URL is in there.

If it still doesn't work … I'm useless to you.

I'm nothing like a geek. Just ask the Babe.

At 7:39 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger Carolyn said...


Nice to see some personal posts...not that I don't enjoy the deep discussions...but a fine change of pace.

The cone in the water to me means that something was dangerous above and it was run off the road
(it looked kind of scratched and dinged up)...which landed it in the water. So now, the dangerous situation it was meant to prevent will endanger the next person.

Digital cameras rock!

At 8:15 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

not that I don't enjoy the deep discussions...but a fine change of pace.

I agree. I won't apologize for writing about serious subjects, but the abortion issue is particularly depressing, and I've dwelt on it for weeks now.

The camera is a good way for me to turn my thoughts to something lighter.

I see you're doing a photo feature on the PRIDE Day float you're creating. And Aaron had some fine shots of a heron in flight recently.

You're right, digital cameras are very cool!

At 12:33 PM, June 20, 2005, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Very cool.


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