Thursday, September 30, 2010


Or, as I call it, Heaven. Score 1 new Habs t-shirt for ronniecat.

Curious - while they had a whole bank of ladies' tees with players' names on the back, the one name I wanted - Halak - has been expunged completely. I'm about 3 months late for that one. Even a joke about finding one in a back room got only a terse twitch of the lips.

As you can see, it was pouring apocalyptically. Always seems to be my luck with Montréal. So much to photograph here, on the square outside the Bell Centre - status of many of our Canadian hockey heroes, paving stones noting great moments in hockey - all drowned under a downpour. Quel dommage!


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Arrived after dark with nothing interesting to take a picture of. I'm right downtown next to the Bell Centre again, and hoping to grab a half-hour to run over there tomorrow to get myself a new Habs t-shirt or jersey.

I'm in a big shiny tower surrounded by hundreds of other big shiny towers, which is part of the fun of being in Montréal. Oh, the Vieux-Port is wonderful too, especially if it's new to you, but to me Montréal means Rue St-Catherine (where I wandered around a bit tonight), where high-end boutiques sit side-by-jowl with "Gentlemen's Cubs" where sad-sack hucksters on the sidewalk invite the punters in to see the lovely ladies (I swear in Montréal they still have these guys), next to mom-and-pop Indian, Greek, Brazilian and Ethiopian restaurants and Korean-immigrant-run dépanneurs. I love it. I wandered through a film shoot wrapping up on a sidewalk tonight. Love that, too.

The hotel is a chic, boutique-y hotel with clever lamps and a flatscreen TV and post-modernist furniture. It also has a "refreshement sensor system". This means that, planted here and there about the room on countertops or in the mini-fridge, are little trays with sensors underneath bottles of water and beer and wine and tins of soda, and Toblerone bars and mini-cans of Pringles and other things laid out to tempt you in hotel rooms at $5 and up a pop. ($9 if you move the half-a-glass-serving bottle of bad white wine.) These sensors automatically report to Central Refreshment Intelligence that you've lifted up an item, which is then automagically added to your room bill.

These stations are laid about the room like land mines, and I find myself walking lightly, lest a heavier-than-normal tread lead to a shudder that tells Central Refreshment Intelligence that I've moved a 500ml bottle of spring water at $4.95 plus tax. I've considered trying the old Indiana Jones "replace the coveted item with an item of exactly the same weight so subtly that the sensor can't detect the movement" scenario, but after wandering around the room looking for something exactly the same weight as a medium-sized bag of M&Ms I decided I wouldn't give my BlackBerry up for them, anyhow.

I'm currently watching a movie on CJMT filmed entirely in Russian, Finnish, and Sami, with English subtitles. There's Montréal for ya, right there.


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

OMG! They can read!

We knew they were eventually going to take over. This is the beginning of the end, my friends.

I, for one, welcome our feline overlords. I just sure as hell hope they remember who toadied up to them when this wasn't a foregone conclusion.



Friday, September 24, 2010

The democratic circus.

Provincial election Monday!

It's been an insane campaign, with the two major parties, the incumbent Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives promising an orgy of spending on campaign promises in spite of our $8.5b debt and growing deficit. The Liberals' campaign slogan is "The Future Matters". They better hope it does, as the electorate is so enormously pissed of at them for how The Past has been handled for the last four years. The PC slogan is "Putting New Brunswick First... For a Change", which strikes me as kind of snotty and which is designed to distract you from the fact that most of their platform is a plan to hire some people to study things and make a plan.

The NDP, meanwhile, normally the most left-leaning of the three largest parties, has restyled itself "the Voice of the Middle Class" (really? who, then, is advocating loudly in this election for the poor, the NDP's traditional role?) Coming up in the rear are the Green Party, which was coasting along inoffensively until yesterday when its leader claimed that there had been an agreement that if all five provincial parties weren't invited to appear at a debate, nobody would participate - and the three main parties broke that agreement when they appeared at a debate on CTV last night to which the two smallest parties were not invited. The brass at those three parties say there was no such agreement. Finally, there's the upstart People's Alliance of New Brunswick, of whom I wrote earlier, who have managed to shake off a significant amount of the whiff of being a bunch of crackpots, but not nearly so much as to poll provincially higher than 2% at any time during the campaign and usually flatlining at 0%.

Husband texted me yesterday that the campaign platform that worries him the most is that of a party that has promised to cut costs by shrinking the civil service. "I'm only 5'10" now," he fretted. I replied that at 5'4", I'd be in danger of disappearing completely.

We will get together at the pub on Monday evening to watch the returns with C., as we always do. "We're policy wonks," husband noted once. "These are our Olympics."



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Many Happy Returns

This is the latest in a series of pictures C and I have taken together while celebrating her birthday which falls around this time of year. Husband took it, and when he protested and wanted to take another one, saying "It's blurry!" we replied "That's okay, we're blurry!" and insisted on using this one. Taken with a Blackberry, without flash, in a bar, by a blurry Husband of two blurry women. Pretty accurately captures the merry mood. Happy Birthday, C, and many happy returns of the day!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

In the midst of insanity, a young hero.

Texas Skateboarder Stops Christian Extremist From Burning The Qur’an.

My estimation of both Texans and skateboarders has just risen significantly.


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Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sorry, this thing does what again?

Technology is changing our worlds rapidly, and often in ways we aren't able to keep up with.

I was reminded of this at my local grocery store / dry cleaner / post office/ portrait studio /clothing store / pharmacy / gym / medical clinic conglomerate a couple of weeks ago. (They're really going for one-stop shopping, folks.) It's got a big bank of checkouts, but it also has 8 self-scan checkouts. I always use these, partly because the checkout process is so damned boring I'd rather be doing it myself.

As I waited my turn, I noticed a woman in front of me. She was about my age or a little older - but not much. I watched as she took item after item out of her cart and randomly rolled it around on the scanner, over and over, until the scanner went "beep!", and then put the item in a bag.

After a minute I realized something: she had no idea she was supposed to be looking for a bar code to scan. She was just rolling items around until something beeped.

How could somebody use a self-scan checkout and have no idea what it is supposed to scan?

Technology had offered her a new option, and she was using it without understanding it at all.

I bet we do that a lot these days. Wonder what I'm using wrong.



Saturday, September 04, 2010


Earl nailed us with apocalyptic rain in the early afternoon hours but the skies seem to be clearing now.

He was mostly a washout everywhere (although CBC is now reporting as breaking that one person drowned in Nova Scotia... let's hope he wasn't some fool who went to the beach to watch the waves... police have been chasing them off the beaches all day).

(Update: Turns out he was a guy trying, with a friend, to retrieve a boat that had broken loose of its moorings in Blind Bay, near Halifax. He was wearing a life jacket... but he didn't make it. I can't help but almost think it should've been one of those fools on the rocks at Peggy's Cove rather than him.)

However, over 200,000 people are without power in Nova Scotia right now according to one source and another 1200 in this province according to NB Power. Even when they're washouts, they're a royal pain.

And I believe there are two more on Earl's tail. Hurricane season is jolly fun for everyone.