Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So I'm in my home the other Saturday night, minding my own business, watching season 5 of The Sopranos on DVD (I now just need Season 6, part 1 and 2 and I have the complete set). Having partaken of a couple of Moosehead Cold Filtered Light beers, the better to watch the New York mob war heat up, I was feeling a little peckish so I headed downstairs to check out the last of the guacamole.

As I descended the stairs, I passed a small window overlooking the home of our left-side neighbour. I was startled to see a man, crouched on the sidewalk near her home. (Remember, we live in the heart of downtown; in these neighbourhoods many homes are right on the sidewalk.)

I paused. What was he doing? He actually had one hand on the house's foundation at one point. For a second I thought he was someone doing some work for her, but it was nearly dark - finishing up so late?

Not exactly. Getting his bearings, more like, before standing up and continuing to weave his way down the sidewalk in front of our house. "Ooh. Inebriated-like," I said to Mojo, who was standing beside me in the dark stairwell. Not an uncommon sighting in a downtown neighbourhood on a Saturday night, and certainly appearing relatively harmless. I continued down into the darkened downstairs of the house and passed through to the dining room, which looks out onto our right-hand neighbour's house. Our intrepid traveler was now in front of their home, shuffling, shuffling, slowing... pausing... and OOH! falling over, apparently dead drunk, like a sack of potatoes on their front lawn.

Hmm. This was different. Seeking a second opinion on whether I was about to either save this guy's life or ruin it, I pulled out my cellphone and called Husband.

"Hypothetical," I said. "Guy walks past our house and passes out on the neighbour's lawn. 9-1-1?"

"Hm. Yeah. Could be medical, y'know."

"Yeah. You're right, maybe he's not even drunk. I'll call 9-1-1."

So I did. First time in my life I ever had to. Felt a little weird. Is a passed-out-drunk-guy a 9-1-1able situation?

"Nine-one-one Neuf-un-un, what is your emergency qu'est-ce c'est la nature de votre urgeeeennce?" (Said in two seconds.)

"Um, yeah, I'm calling from 123 Fake Street and there's a man who appears to have passed out on the lawn next to my home. He appeared to be inebriated, and then he just fell down on the lawn next door. I don't know what number their house is. I'm at 123."

"Mmm-hmm and he is just lying there now?"

"Yeah - I'm concerned he might be sick. It's also not really a safe place for him to be. He's sprawled out on their lawn right next to the sidewalk." As I'm talking, looking out the dining room window with two curious cats, two bicyclists drive by, nearly running over his ankle. Neither stops.

"Well, we will send a patrol car over to check him out, ok?"

"I don't know the number of the house next door. I never realized that before. I'm at 123 Fake."

"Oh, don't worry," she said soothingly." If he's sprawled on the front lawn, I'm sure they'll see him." She didn't call me "hon" but you could hear it in her voice.

I hung up and waited, still sitting in the dark with two cats peering out the dining room window. Now I'm starting to develop scenarios. What if he gets up and leaves before they get here? Even if he doesn't, the police are going to come to my door 'cause mine is the only address they have and I called it in. I've got two cans of Moosehead Cold Filtered Light on my breath! They're going to think he came from here! They're going to think I'm lying! Domestic dispute! I called him in to get revenge! Oh my god! It's going to be just like an episode of COPS without the dirty white undershirts!

In about three minutes I saw the lights of a cruiser prowling down the street. The young cop inside spotted him, all right; spotted him and went over and woke him up, and talked to him for a long time. Then they got up and went over to the cruiser where the man took out some ID and they talked another long time. Husband arrived home. Finally the officer, having decided, I guess, that the guy was now awake and wasn't drunk enough to warrant a night in the tank, sent him on his way.

A second patrol car came by - heard it on dispatch no doubt, slow night I guess - and the two cops chatted for a few minutes, before they too, left.

As they drove away, my cellphone rang.

"Hello bonjour this is nine-one-one dispatch, we have a record of there having been a call made from this cellphone earlier, was the situation taken care of?"

Huh, I thought. 9-1-1 customer service.

"Yeah," I said. "I was concerned about a gentleman's health. He looked intoxicated." (Why am I using big words? So I don't sound like Crazy 9-1-1 Overreaction Lady?) "The officer came and woke him up and sent him home."

"Ok Ma'am, just following up. You have a good night now."

"Yeah. You too."

What a neighbourhood. What a city.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Opinions solicited

I've mentioned before that my laptop, a Toshiba Satellite Pro which I wouldn't have wished on my worst enemy, finally died some time ago. I've put off replacing it for a number of reasons, but the biggest - by far - has been dread at the whole decision-making process. Researching and choosing a laptop is way up there with picking a cellphone plan or buying a car in the "I just know I'm going to make the wrong decision" category.

My criteria are that the machine must have a 17" screen and must have a processor, memory and graphics card capable of supporting at least the current generation and hopefully the next generation of games in the FPS genre (Half-Life, Bioshock, Halo, etc.). It goes without saying that it has to have wireless capability. Other than that, if it doesn't overheat regularly and runs Office so I can work from home and Agent so I can start hanging out in RACS again, it'll do.

After some research, I'm leaning heavily towards this computer: HP AMD Turion X2 TL-60 Dual-Core . One of the benefits is that there is a Future Shop in town, and I can buy a warranty package that will let me just return it there for repairs if necessary.

So if anyone has any Hewlett-Packard laptop horror stories, or even better, Hewlett-Packard Turion X2 horror stories, by all means speak now - or suffer listening to me refusing to hold my peace when the damned thing dies on me and the warranty doesn't cover what happened...


Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Kissing Bridge

I mentioned that work will be taking me on some road trips in future. On Thursday I was in Carleton County, one of the prettiest areas of the province. I've written about this region before. I was in Woodstock (very near the Maine border), then took a little side-trip to Hartland, home of the World's Longest Covered Bridge.

They're doing work on the bridge now (preservation and repair work on the interior) which means that there was a flag woman at each end. However, to the best of my recollection, this bridge always operates on one-way traffic at a time; you drive up, peek in, and if there's something coming the other way, you wait until they come through before starting in. Or maybe the locals pass each other inside, I dunno.
The repairs also meant that as I drove through the bridge, there were contractors busily working on either side of my car, making it feel a bit like a drive through a very old factory.
Some of you may already know that these bridges were also called "kissing bridges" because they afforded a rare chance for privacy as a couple passed through in their horse and carriage.

It's really long! (390 metres [1,282 feet]!)

I continued on for meetings in Florenceville which, if not the prettiest little town in New Brunswick, is on the top ten.

I didn't have much time to stop for photos but did want to share a couple of the Saint John River, which bisects Florenceville, as it looks from Main Street. The river is narrow, calm and idyllic here, as if it's in no hurry to leave the little town behind and continue its headlong rush to Saint John and the Bay of Fundy.

Next week? I'm headed off to my old nemesis, Moncton. Hopefully no snowstorms, slippery streets and -30 temperatures this time!



Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy (belated) Canada Day!

A belated Happy Canada Day to everyone (and especially Peter and Bobcat, who popped into comments below to wish me the same)! I've just been too busy living life the past few weeks to blog about it properly! Canada Day fell on a Tuesday and on Friday, out of the blue, our manager gave our little team Monday off to make for a four-day weekend. We work plenty of overtime so it was deserved, but it wasn't necessary so it was appreciated.

It rained most of the weekend, causing C. and I to miss catching this year's Bard in the Barracks production of "As You Like It". Ah well, next year surely. Happily it cleared up for Canada Day - just Canada Day, the only sunny, hot day in two weeks - and we had a great time attending "Canada's Biggest Block Party" as we do every year. There are pictures but - well, more excuses... and what you see to the left is instead a very nice shot of the fireworks on Parliament Hill (where we just decided we want to spend a Canada Day in the near future). We were home before the fireworks this year, and I'm glad we were... Veronica pretty much ignores them, but Mojo has been becoming increasingly upset by fireworks over the last half-dozen years or so, and he was quite agitated on Tuesday night. I hate to see him so upset and skittish and wound up. He's normally such an engaged, curious little guy. An imperfect end to a very, very good day.

As for our Yankee friends, I'm hoping your Fourth of July turns out just the way you hope it will.