Montreal’s Snow Woes

A woman shovels snow from around her car following a winter storm in Montreal, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (Graham Hughes/CP)

As I mentioned Montreal was hit with a large late-winter snowstorm last week. As a city that tends to take great pride in our ability to deal with these things, this most recent storm has been a bit of an anomaly. First there was the fiasco of hundreds of people stranded on a highway for many hours behind two stuck trucks. The truck drivers refused to be towed because of the $2000 fee. They wanted to wait until their company tow-truck arrived which was not going to be any time soon.

If there is an up side to the highway snafu it is that not one of those marooned in their cars took matters into his or her own hands and attempted to throttle the stubborn truck drivers.

You might wonder why these two were not arrested, taken away and their trucks towed. But that would have required the intervention of police and it seems they had wrong information and did not think the situation warranted their presence. (Yet a few days later six cars and a dozen police officers convened on the scene of a 26-year old driver who danced outside his car to cheer up his girlfriend at 2:00 am. He was also eating ice-cream. And he was Black.)

If there is an up side to the highway snafu it is that not one of those marooned in their cars took matters into his or her own hands and attempted to throttle the stubborn truck drivers. My faith in humankind remains firm.

The mayor of one affected borough posted a photo on Twitter illustrating the problem. An immense amount of fallen snow was exacerbated by contractors having dumped snow from driveways.

In yet another snow related situation there has been a vast problem with Montreal’s usually efficient snow removal. Sidewalks in some areas had not been ploughed several days after the snow stopped falling. One of the contributors to this was scofflaw private snow removal contractors placing snow in public places. They would arrive at a client’s place, shovel the walkways, plough out the driveway, deposit the snow on the street and off to the next client. In my part of town contractors must pay an annual fee for a license that allows them to do this BUT there are many restrictions. They cannot put the snow where it will block traffic, nor can they put it on sidewalks. With such a huge amount of snow in no time already massive snowbanks had been transformed into walls.

The mayor of one affected borough posted a photo on Twitter illustrating the problem. An immense amount of fallen snow was exacerbated by contractors having dumped snow from driveways.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this it is that contractors in general tend to cut corners in an effort to make money. These contractors were privately hired by residents, but over the years there has been a trend to cut back municipal employees, or at least not hire more when retirements occur, using attrition to save money. The work that was once carried out by full-time employees gets farmed out to contractors – gardening, refuse collection, road work – through a bidding process. If the only thing you are concerned with is the bottom line – the bean counter method –  then this is the way to go. But if the ‘bang for your buck’ approach is taken, then municipal administrators should think long and hard about what they, and their constituents, getting for the money.

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+

Audio Sports Highlights Just Don’t Work

There is an expression used when an athlete makes a great play; they say ‘that will make the highlight reel’. You can see just how old that adage is by the use of the word reel, at one time teams put out end of season films of the best plays of the year.   I have never been one to watch sports highlights. I enjoy watching a number of sports in their full game state. But a program made up of one highlight after another is not my cup of tea. They all look the same after just a short time. However I understand there are those folks who get their fill of sports via these little snippets.

What has always struck me as being totally asinine is the use of audio highlights on radio.

I like radio, it can be a wonderful thing to sit back and have someone talk to you. Radio broadcasts of baseball games on a hot summer night sitting outside are the things memories are made of. But what has always struck me as being totally asinine is the use of audio highlights on radio. The first time I heard this was during the nineties when the Expos were still in Montreal and on the morning after a game the radio station that carried the games would have a recap of the game that was punctuated with bits of audio from the broadcast. I didn’t care how the play was described, if I can’t see it just tell me the score.

Radio stations now routinely feature clips of play-by-play in their sportscasts. When you televise a highlight you are focusing on the athlete who has performed the feat. But when you play a recording of, for example, a home run it is actually the announcer’s call that is being featured not the home run because you can’t see it!

On a television highlight I can see the shortstop dive to make a great stop, somehow flip the ball to the second baseman who touches the base then wheels and fires to first to complete the double play. Wonderful athleticism, great skill, fantastic reflexes and strength.

On an audio highlight I can hear a guy describe the play … Great pipes, lovely cadence, fine vocabulary, but the play takes a back seat to the announcer.

On an audio highlight I can hear a guy (it is usually men) describe how the shortstop dove to make a great stop, somehow flipped the ball to the second baseman who touched the base then wheeled and fired to first to complete the double play. Great pipes, lovely cadence, fine vocabulary, but the play takes a back seat to the announcer.

And God forbid you should have to listen to audio highlights of a soccer game: ten different versions of GOOOOAAAALLLLLLL. Nope, time has come to label audio highlights dumb!

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+

Montreal: There Was a Whole Bunch of Snow, Someone Must be Fired

Earlier this week Montreal was smacked with a late winter snowstorm. On this occasion the meteorologists’ predictions, forecasts and warnings were bang on as the city was blanketed under some 40 centimetres – almost 16 inches – of snow. There was a whole bunch of snow.

Others are parking the blame (pun fully intended) squarely with the motorists for not heeding the requests to stay off the roads.

The snow began falling in earnest about midday Tuesday and by rush hour had developed into the forecast storm. Perhaps the recent near misses and close calls that saw called-for big storms just miss the city influenced people, as many ignored suggestions to leave work early. The resulting mayhem on one highway caused numerous motorists to spend hours, some overnight, in their stranded cars. Now there are calls for the Minister of Transport to resign, as many of those who were stuck feel the situation was poorly handled. Did I mention there was a whole bunch of snow?

Others are parking the blame (pun fully intended) squarely with the motorists for not heeding the requests to stay off the roads. Why should they have skipped driving? Because there was a whole bunch of snow.

On March 4, 1971 Montreal was hit with a spectacular snowstorm that dumped 43 centimetres in one 24-hour period. I was just a kid, but I recall my father being stranded on a bus as he and fellow passengers tried to make it home from work. He, and many of the others spent most of the night on that bus. It can’t have been a very enjoyable experience, yet I don’t recall people looking to allot blame. It seemed to have been understood that, there being a whole bunch of snow, these things can happen.

Today we live in a litigious society in which there are no accidents, no chance occurrences. Everything is somebody’s fault …

Today we live in a litigious society in which there are no accidents, no chance occurrences. Everything is somebody’s fault and therefore legal action must be threatened or actually pursued. There was a time when if a kid rode his toboggan down a hill and struck a tree it was an accident. If there was any fault to be ascribed it was his fault, and his parents would deal with any care required. If that same incident occurs today the parents would be irate, threatening to sue the owner of the hill, for not having appropriate padding around the tree, or proper signs warning of trees.

There really was a whole bunch of snow.  

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+

St. Patrick’s Day and Danny Boy

St. Patrick’s  trivia: The iconic Danny Boy is actually called The Londonderry Air.  Which should never be confused with a London Derrière.

LondonderryAir

To get you in the mood …

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+

Amp or Ramp Up?

amp

 

You hear it often. As something gains intensity, or someone tries even harder. Ramp up. The North Koreans have ramped up their missile tests. The quarterback is going to have to ramp up his efforts during the last two minutes if his team is to win. The police have ramped up their efforts to find the missing poodle.

… but I believe the expression would be please turn down your music (or some more forceful and perhaps vulgar variation thereof) 

But what does a ramp have to do with an increase? If you’re standing at the top of a ramp, there is only one way – down. It reminds me of the concept of a slippery slope, the onset of potential problems down the road.  We’ve all seen ramps, highway on and off ramps, wheelchair ramps, skateboard ramps. One characteristic of them all is that they can be used to go up or down.

On the other hand amped up can only mean one thing; whatever the subject, it is increasing. Or more precisely, being amplified. So I’m more concerned about the North Koreans amping up their missile testing program. If the walls of your apartment are rattling with the strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s Free Bird one could knock on the door and say, ‘please amp down your music’, but I believe the expression would be ‘please turn down your music’ (or some more forceful and perhaps vulgar variation thereof) . 

Even my spell-check wants me to change ramped to amped! (This does give me pause for thought mind you.)

So I think I have to amp up my blogging as I have been otherwise occupied lately.

 

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+

Aerosmith and MLB: Walk This Way

Photo/New York Times
Photo/New York Times

Here we are once again looking at a fresh new baseball season about to get underway. Hours of entertainment lie ahead with so many games available on television, even for those of us with regular cable. A true harbinger of spring and summer, the annual Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are underway, having crept under the radar while President Trump stole the spotlight.

Daylight was our only means of seeing the ball, as the evening crept in it was deemed frugal to not waste valuable sunlight while walking a batter.

And just what does Major League Baseball have up its sleeve for us this year? The powers that be are forever tinkering with the game. As technology advances there are more calls for its use in determining close plays. Yet this year’s alteration actually seems to fly in the face of technology.

I played recreational fast-pitch softball for many years. Quite often in the latter stages of a game, if an intentional walk was to be issued, the process of throwing four pitches outside of the strike zone was omitted and the batter just trotted down to first base. There was a very logical reason for this: we played in a park that had no lights! Daylight was our only means of seeing the ball, as the evening crept in it was deemed frugal to not waste valuable sunlight while walking a batter.

No possibility for a balk, or a messed-up attempt at the outside pitch under pressure, or a poorly thrown ball back to the pitcher that allows runners to advance, and no chance to throw two outside pitches then sneak in a strike.

MLB wants to go down a similar road by scrapping the four-pitch intentional walk in favour of a signal that will indicate to the umpire that the batter should make his way to first. No possibility for a balk, or a messed-up attempt at the outside pitch under pressure, or a poorly thrown ball back to the pitcher that allows runners to advance, and no chance to throw two outside pitches then sneak in a strike. Nope, all those little facets of the game that make it so interesting will be replaced by a head nod or a flag from the dugout. Initial rumours that managers would blast Aerosmith’s Walk This Way from the dugout have thankfully been quashed.

Is MLB behind on their electric bill? Are the lights only on for a certain amount of time? Is there another couple of teams that have the park booked for a specific time and therefore the game must be rushed?

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+

Former Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney: The Singing Bandit

muldoonreagan

On March 17, 1985 – St. Patrick’s Day – U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were in Quebec City to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian MulroneyThe event came to be known as the Shamrock Summit.

Reagan, well familiar with stage and screen at times looked a little embarrassed by the whole thing,

Perhaps the only thing anyone recalls of this meeting was a gala that was held to fete the visiting president and his wife. At one point during the show the Reagans and Mulroneys, including wife Mila, traipsed across the stage and joined in the singing of When Irish Eyes are Smiling. Reagan, well familiar with stage and screen at times looked a little embarrassed by the whole thing, or perhaps it was just the early signs of the dementia from which he was to suffer.

On the other hand Mulroney was in his glory, sucking up to, boot-licking, a conservative U.S. president in a particularly smarmy manner.

Flash forward 32 years and our neighbours to the south have elected a president even more controversial than Reagan. But as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Last weekend at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate there was a large fundraising event full of glitz and glitter. And there, like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day, was now former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney kowtowing to yet another president and, you guessed it, serenading him with his signature tune When Irish Eyes are Smiling.

muldoontrump

Smarmy, toadying, but mostly embarrassing.

Is Brian Mulroney going to become the political “singing bandit”?

A woman by the name of Morganna Roberts, perhaps better known as “the kissing bandit” made a name for herself by trotting onto Major League Baseball fields across the States and, kissing players or umpires. She popped-up all over the place and became an unofficial mascot for the game. No doubt her ample bust, which she claimed to be 60 inches, added to the spectacle. Is Brian Mulroney going to become the political “singing bandit”? Appearing at events and singing with/for world leaders? One hopes not.

morganna
Morganna the Kissing Bandit in action

Last week our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, paid a visit to the White House and met with President Trump. For the most part this was a glorified photo-op that maintained a long tradition of neighbourliness between the two countries. Folks here seemed pleased with Trudeau’s demeanour, neither servile nor offensive.

The only positive thing from the Mar-a-Lago affair is that when Canadian musician David Foster, who must take some of the blame for goading Mulroney into sing, presented him with the option of performing Danny Boy, Mulroney stuck with Irish Eyes. I like Danny Boy, and would hate to have it ruined for me by Mulroney using it in a fawning manner. With St. Patrick’s Day less than a month off, I am reassured!

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+