Backpacks Briefcases and Buses

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The other day I found myself on a crowded city bus. It was mid-afternoon and many of my fellow commuters were college or university students. At one point the bus became so cramped that the driver had to insist on those carrying/wearing backpacks to remove them. Put them on the floor between your feet. Don’t take up two places.

This got me to thinking how things change. My memory can be vague at times, but when I was in grade school I recall the common means of toting your books was a school bag. It was probably part of the backpack family as it was worn on one’s back via straps over each shoulder. By high school these bookbags were passé and it was bare hands used to carry books.

School Walk

When you got to college or university it was a very serious matter, school bags were for children. The university student of my day carried his or her things in a briefcase. Backpacks were strictly for travel purposes. No one ever had to accuse another of taking up two places on the bus or Metro while carrying a briefcase.

Then again it was probably also true that the buses were more packed in those days as, unlike the current trend, no self-respecting student of higher education would have arrived on campus on a skateboard. This purported entrance to adulthood called for the retirement of childhood toys.

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How times have changed indeed!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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Presidential Decorum a Relic of the Past

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I have a friend who is American but currently resides here in Montreal. He has often commented to me about how knowledgeable he finds many Canadians are regarding the United States. I have pointed out that for Canadians, living so close to the USA, it is almost impossible not to become more than familiar with our neighbours.

As the late Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau once explained, sharing a border with the USA is like sleeping with an elephant. Even the slightest movement has a great effect on us.

US_FlagThey say that the British do pomp and circumstance well given their royal heritage, but I maintain that when it comes to the trappings of patriotism, no one can outdo the USA. From flags to military uniforms to flags on military uniforms, great reverence is the norm for these symbols. (Ever notice how the flag on the right shoulder of a uniform is flipped so the stars appear in the upper right corner? Why? If you assume the flag is being carried on a pole, the usual configuration would indicate that the soldier is going backward, or retreating. That won’t do.)

Recently in Korea Shaun White, an Olympic medalist from the US got caught up in his own exuberance and lost track of the flag he was waving about. The flag got entangled in his snowboard and as he walked away it was seen dragging on the ground. It was an accident; he did not intentionally defile the flag, he didn’t step on it or set it on fire. Yet there was a hue and cry on social media, chastising the athlete.

All of this leads me to wonder how another great symbol of the United States, the office of the president, can be so egregiously degraded by President Trump without a similar outpouring of disgust.

All of this leads me to wonder how another great symbol of the United States, perhaps the greatest, the office of the president, can be so egregiously degraded by President Trump without a similar outpouring of disgust. The actual Oval Office, as well as the position of president, are steeped in decorum and respect. At least they were until the current inhabitant moved in.

Silly misspelled posts on social media, asinine rantings at campaign-style rallies, “management by Twitter”, and the ludicrous slagging of former presidents have all contributed to Trump’s besmirching of the office.

Regardless of party affiliation, the presidency of the United States has garnered respect, it was held in high esteem and the incumbent was pressed to live up to that expectation. Yet since Trump assumed the role, his total lack of decorum, of respect for his predecessors, has become the norm. Why don’t those who were so quick to denounce White for dragging the flag make a whole lot of noise about what Trump is doing to the much-vaunted presidency? Just when we Canadians think we’ve got our neighbours figured out, it boggles the mind.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

My Long-Time Neighbour Is Sick

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By Karsten Ratzke – Own work, CC0,

For as long as I can remember we’ve had the same neighbour. We go back years, decades, indeed centuries. We live in what in the real estate world is known as a semi-detached. Which of course means it is also semi-attached; we share one very long partition, I am hesitant to call it a wall, given what my neighbour has in mind for the other side of his house.

Oh, sure we have the occasional spat, a little falling out. But when push comes to shove we have each other’s back. 

We are so very similar in many ways, and get along just fine for the most part. Oh, sure we have the occasional spat, a little falling out. But when push comes to shove we have each other’s back. For instance, my neighbour had an ungodly upset about 17 years ago when one of the central family members was struck down in an egregious act of violence. We did what we could to help the situation and felt our bond grow stronger as often happens in difficult times.

Our cultures are similar, sports, arts, entertainment are all on the same track. Not identical mind you, but shall I say variations on a theme. The way we run our household is, again, on the surface comparable, yet dig deeper and it is almost like night and day.

We often spend time in each other’s place; in fact, we are each other’s most frequent visitor. Over the years many members of my extended family have married into my neighbour’s clan, and vice versa.

There is something akin to a cancer that courses through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in over a year ago, the vile malignancy has surfaced.

All in all, we are a pretty close pair. Which is why I write this. You see it has occurred to me recently, after poring over the vivid assay results, that my neighbour is sick, undeniably very ill. There is something akin to a cancer that courses through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in over a year ago, the vile malignancy has surfaced. For the most part this sickness manifests itself in relatively small flare-ups, but once every so often, frankly way too often, a major outbreak erupts that knocks everyone for a loop. One such episode occurred last week.

My sadness over my neighbour’s sickness is compounded by a strong feeling of frustration. You see, the illness, hideous though it is, is absolutely curable. Other neighbours in our community have suffered from similar afflictions, and have taken appropriate actions to remedy the situation. But my semi-detached neighbour not only refuses to consider the cure but rather insists on confronting the disease by applying even more disease.

I would be lying if I did not admit to also having a selfish desire to see my neighbour well, and that is the concern that, like popular culture, the disease may spread to our house.

We have been good neighbours for so long that it pains me deeply to see this lovely big household  (mind you our house is bigger even if our family is smaller)  afflicted in such a destructive manner. I hope that before it is too late my next-door neighbour will realize that something must be done to eradicate this infirmity. In conclusion, I must come clean, I would be lying if I did not admit to also having a selfish desire to see my neighbour well, and that is the concern that, like popular culture, the disease may spread to our house.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Icy Sidewalks and Lack of Driver Courtesy

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Permit me to rant. Montreal’s weather patterns seem to be changing. Call it climate change if you want, but we have experienced ups and downs like never before. Snow then rain then back to freezing again has made for more than a few sidewalk wipe-outs. A friend of mine who works at a large hospital told me that one week in January saw three times as many broken bones from falls on icy sidewalks.

Based on my observation, the main streets and adjacent sidewalks are cleared first, followed by secondary streets. 

The process of clearing snow has a pattern as well. Based on my observation, the main streets and adjacent sidewalks are cleared first, followed by secondary streets. The secondary sidewalks is where the problem arises. Evidently municipalities deem these less than essential and therefore get around to clearing and sanding them later.

That’s understandable given they cannot clear everything at once; they have to prioritise. Make the lost of the available labour force. Keep buses and heavy traffic areas – both vehicular and pedestrian – cleared of snow and ice.

One side effect of this is that when pedestrians do find themselves on side streets with impassable sidewalks they are left with no alternative but to walk on the cleared street. This has been true for years, and for years drivers and walkers co-existed on the street. Cars would slow down when passing pedestrians, often exchanging a smile or wave. When possible vehicles would move over allowing the walker a wide berth and feeling of security.

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In my experience those days are, for the most part, gone. Today the sidewalks on a street I take were knee-deep in snow, necessitating the use of the road for cars and pedestrians. I was passed by about five cars, not one of which slower or moved. Zero. Nil. What happened to common decency? Logic? Basic safety?

… on a snowy icy day in Montreal please bear in mind that when the sidewalks are not suitable for walking, we both must share the road. Got it?

Drivers maintained their usual speed as they zipped by me and others who had been forced onto the road. Are they insane? I can’t blame the entitled millennials for this as a straw poll showed me the drivers were both men and women and of varying ages.

So to any of you who may find yourself driving on a snowy icy day in Montreal please bear in mind that when the sidewalks are not suitable for walking, we both must share the road. Got it?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Ice Hotels Can Burn?

It has become popular over the last twenty years or so to, when weather conditions permit, create ice hotels. Indeed a real inn made out of carved ice. Several years ago we visited one here in Montreal. It had several rooms that are available for rent, just like a hotel. I understand access to the rooms is limited until closing time, as the rooms are on display.

There was a restaurant that, like the rooms, was booked for the entire period. No room at the ice inn. There was also a chapel in which you could arrange to be married. While meandering through the edifice I was taken not just by the lovely ice sculpture, but by the presence of a fire extinguisher.  Being a public building this was mandatory. I thought it odd until this week when I read that the Quebec City Ice Hotel had to be temporarily closed after a fire! In fact, three guests had to be hospitalised.

How can a structure that is made of frozen water catch fire? Would it not just put itself out? When the firefighters sprayed water on it did they add an upper storey? Perhaps a guest house.

As someone who likes to look out at winter from the warmth, my chances of staying overnight in an ice box were severely slim, now that I know they can catch fire I think it safe to say it’s not on my bucket list at all!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Bomb Cyclone Has To Be Punishment

At some point along the way, we folks in the eastern part of North America must have done something very bad. It is the only viable option to explain the recent weather conditions. Never mind all that meteorological mumbo-jumbo, the only explanation is that the weather gods are pissed big time at us.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that many of us are just coming out of a deep freeze that lasted longer than a week and at times brought temperatures colder than Mars …

As if it wasn’t bad enough that many of us are just coming out of a deep freeze that lasted longer than a week and at times brought temperatures colder than those found on Mars, now there is a ‘bomb cyclone’ making its way up the east coast.

According to CNN, the bomb cyclone happened overnight, it occurs when a cyclone has a significant and rapid drop in atmospheric pressure over a short period of time. Mumbo-jumbo, take it from me, we are being punished for something. Could it be the football gods are fed up with the New England Patriots’ constant winning ways? We are certainly paying the price for something.

Let me go on the record here: if the ungodly weather is retribution for electing Donald Trump, and I have to admit that makes sense, please note that not one Canadian voted for him

Let me go on the record here: if the ungodly weather is retribution for electing Donald Trump, and I have to admit that makes sense, please note that not one Canadian voted for him. Please keep all Trump-voter-punishing weather fronts south of the 49th parallel. And yet I am not surprised that we will experience some of the fallout from a display of USA election gods unhappiness with the Trump victory. After-all late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau once pointed out that: Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.

So if you are in the path of the fast approaching and growing bomb cyclone take good care of yourself and loved ones. If you lose power you may have time to sit and ponder just what the hell we did to deserve this!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

A Montreal Fender-Bender

On the Saturday before Christmas my wife and I went to a local shopping mall for some last-minute odds and ends, having finally completed our shopping. The temperature was hovering around the freezing mark which was providing us with that much detested freezing rain. Snow is one thing, rain another, but the two mixed at one time usually results in a skating rink effect.

Snow is one thing, rain another, but the two mixed at one time usually results in a skating rink effect.

While leaving the parking lot, driving ever so slowly as the surface had yet to see any salt or abrasive, I came to a stop at a stop sign. Approaching the same little intersection on my left was another shopper. With the slippery surface, I waited to make certain he stopped before I advanced. That was my mistake, as in his attempt to stop he slid into my right front wheel.

I got out of the car and looked for damage. I found several pieces of plastic that I could not place until he pointed out that they were from his car. He apologized and, once I had confirmed that he was using snow tires, I graciously accepted. He pulled over to the side and prepared a paper with his name and contact information.

Interestingly he was a Francophone, but would only address me in English, while I did my best to communicate with him in French. Call it a typical Montreal fender-bender.

My wife and I had a good look at the car’s body and could not see any damage. So I went over to him, took his coordinates, shook his hand and we wished each other a Merry Christmas. Interestingly he was a Francophone, but would only address me in English, while I did my best to communicate with him in French. Call it a typical Montreal fender-bender.

Alas, it was not the fender that was bent, but a tie-rod. We noticed that the car was pulling to the left and that the steering wheel was not ‘true’ i.e it was off-center when driving straight. The replacement and a wheel alignment cost us $180. Did I contact the other driver? Naw. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and accept that shit happens.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Season’s Greetings Bonjour-Hi

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It’s the funny season again. As in the Season’s Greetings debate. As fellow blogger Marilyn Armstrong at Serendipity has pointed out, it was never illegal to say Merry Christmas. Some folks, myself among them, find the all-inclusive Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays phrases work well when addressing a group of people comprised of a variety of religious backgrounds. But saying Merry Christmas really can’t be construed as negative; I don’t celebrate either holiday, but if someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Diwali, I certainly am not offended.

They felt that by allowing this bilingual greeting some may sense that Montreal is a bilingual city, (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it is) not a solely French one.

Here in Québec, we have our own silly debate taking place in the form of Bonjour Hi. In the city of Montreal, it has become something of a tradition for store employees to address customers by saying Bonjour Hi as a means of determining in which language the conversion should proceed. Couldn’t be simpler, could it? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the pro-sovereignty Parti Québécois (PQ) opposition party got its hackles up over the use of the English word Hi. They felt that by allowing this bilingual greeting some may sense that Montreal is a bilingual city, (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it is) not a solely French one. Perish the thought that a storekeeper should want to provide good customer service.

The PQ went so far as to introduce a motion, not a law, to encourage the use of the single French Bonjour greeting. The motion passed unanimously, including those members who represent primarily English-speaking constituents. Many of those constituents were less than pleased that their elected officials voted for a motion that evidently pointedly omitted their language.

One such representative, Kathleen Weil, who was recently named Ministre responsible des Relations avec les Québécois de langue anglaise – the minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers – said we had all misunderstood the vote. Given the backlash on social media, I suspect it may be more accurate to suggest the elected officials did not understand their constituents.

Evidently, the gorge between linguistic groups is narrower than the one between the English-speaking community and its elected representatives.

Regardless of motion, legislation or advertising slogan, why would those elected to represent large numbers of English-speakers think that voting in favour of something focused on the eradication of their language would be met with anything but piles of scorn, calls for resignation, and disgust?

Fortunately the store employees in Montreal, and I bet a few in Quebec City, stores are still using Bonjour Hi. Evidently, the gorge between linguistic groups is narrower than the one between the English-speaking community and its elected representatives.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

In Montreal It’s Bonjour-Hi

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You might think that a city that can and does function in two languages would be a benefit. Particularly when that city is located less than 100 miles from the United States. Montreal is just such a city, offering tourists a real taste of a French-speaking city with the comfort of being understood in English.

Just about perfect you might say. Who could possibly find fault with the concept of store clerks, wait staff, cab drivers and just plain folks greeting one another with Bonjour-Hi? This little couplet has become an unofficial motto for Montreal, one that some see as a welcoming means of determining in which language to continue the discourse, while others deem it an irritant.

The opposition Parti-Québécois wants to pass a motion declaring the use of Bonjour-Hi an irritant. This party would like to see English usage in Montreal eradicated. Instead of embracing the bilingual nature of the city, they push their heads into the sand and refuse to see the positive side of the coin. When it comes to the language debate, Quebec politics turns zoo-like in a hurry.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Canadian Prime Minister Prefers a Pint

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau checks the quality of a selfie with an admirer.

From time to time I like to drop in for a pint or two at a downtown Iris pub here in Montreal. Rather than rotting my liver, I prefer to think of it as carrying out a civic duty since, as the photo above shows, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also likes to pop into the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill.

Although I was not present when the PM arrived unannounced, I have been told he stayed for a couple of pints, offered to pay but was told it was the pleasure of the house to have his company. He was approachable and open to a few selfies.

Had I been there I could have mentioned the time I was stuck in an elevator with his father, the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau. No doubt the former Prime Minister must have told that tale countless times at the dinner table as the kids were growing up. I like to think it makes up part of the Trudeau family lore. Mind you I also like to think there is an Easter Bunny. Oh well…

By the way, there was some very discreet security present, lest you think our PM sneaks out alone at night to quaff beer and chat up pretty women.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+