Old Man Winter’s latest and hopefully last snowfall for the year. The winter wonderland effect will only last a few hours as temperatures are forecast to be above freezing today. DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and […]
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.
They 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, 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.
Welcome to Daylight Saving Time (DST) 2018. Last night many moved their clocks ahead one hour. Days will now seem longer because of the sunlight later in the evening. Every year there is a debate about whether or not we should continue this move, but so far DST is hanging in.
As you meander about today keep in mind that your body thinks it is an hour ago. Sort of like a movie star with much plastic surgery; their body thinks it is twenty years ago.
It never used to be such a big deal, but last Friday I heard a local doctor being interviewed on the radio who was going on something fierce. He said that to deal with the loss of sleep trying scheduling a nap for today, and perhaps tomorrow as well. Not a long one, but maybe twenty minutes. And for teenagers who need the most sleep, he continued, parents should consider letting them take Monday off of school to give their bodies time to adjust. Huh? It’s only one hour for God’s sake.
I imagine kids lose an hour of sleep here and there just communicating via smartphone during the night. I really can’t see one lost hour causing too much harm. In any event, they’ll get it back next November. They didn’t lose it, just loaned it. Put it in a bank until autumn.
But it all comes down to one thing, my credo in life, when all else fails, nap. (I’m sure part of me is feline.)
When Montrealers elected Valérie Plante as our first female mayor last November there was much excitement. Not just because of her gender, but because she was a new voice. Her predecessor, Denis Coderre, had ruled in a very heavy-handed manner. Making many decisions that would come back to sting him and ultimately lead to his downfall, including the FormulaE race debacle.
Life was good for Ms. Plante in the immediate aftermath of the election. She canceled the remaining FormulaE races that Coderre had agreed to, which was a campaign promise she made. Of course, there will be a cancellation fee that some estimates put it in the millions of dollars, but Mayor Plante is not worried: “What we know is that whatever the cost to cancel the race, I believe it’s worth it, because at this point, it doesn’t pay off.”
This event was intended to bring spectators to the city, something along the lines of the annual Formula1 race that pumps millions of dollars into the city’s economy each June. Unfortunately for Mayor Coderre the race proved to be a flop and the city took a bath. Even with the fee, Plante was lauded for scrapping the project as promised.
She did not fare quite as well however when she increased taxes beyond the cost of living, which she promised not to do. But she is hardly the first and will no doubt not be the last politician to fiddle and fudge when it comes to taxes.
But an odd notion has started to cross the minds of many Montrealers: based on some recent ideas and proposals, Mayor Valérie Plante seems to have something against downtown Montreal. A bit of an axe to grind for some reason. Not a typical position for a mayor.
Aside from acting in a Coderre-like manner by deciding unilaterally, i.e. without any public consultation, to stop through traffic over Mont-Royal, traffic that may well be on the way to downtown restaurants and bars, she now wants to revamp St. Catherine Street, one of the main commercial roads in the city, turning downtown into a mall.
If she gets her way one of four main east-west conduits in the downtown core will be reduced to one (yep one) lane for traffic while the sidewalks will be doubled in width. The mayor has floated this trial balloon in the latest salvo against downtown. St. Catherine Street is already suffering, evident by the many empty storefronts that seem to appear every day. How can making it more difficult to get to these businesses possibly do anything but hurt them?
The mayor claims public transit is the key. Get more folks on the buses and Metros. I agree that Montreal has a pretty good transit system, but I think I speak for many with whom I have brought up the topic when I say that people who are paying for a vehicle are loath to pay again for public transit. If you make public transit free, then you may be talking.
I use public transit because my wife takes the car to work. She could use the bus and subway, but it would take over 90 minutes each way. Not a feasible option. When we travel downtown we use the car; rather than paying for the numerous expenses and then leave it sitting at home only to pay bus fare, we drive.
I would humbly suggest to the mayor that an increased number of parking spots, even if metered, is the realistic way to go. Trying to find a spot on a Saturday evening so we can spend our hard-earned cash in a downtown restaurant has proven difficult, although several streets are for reasons not apparent deemed no parking while other have meters that are covered in red bags denoting no service. Many frustrated potential patrons are forced to take their business out of the downtown area to the parking-friendly suburbs. The pipe dream of public transit will only face the possibility of becoming real once the fare has been eradicated. No one wants to double dip – paying car fees and transit fares.
Yesterday my electric kettle done up and died, had the biscuit, bought the farm, went for the kippers. It was about ten years old so I really couldn’t get too cranky about it. I performed the appropriate solemn rite over the late kettle and turfed it into the garbage.
As is my wont, I did a little research online and found a lovely assortment of electric kettles available at my local Canadian Tire store. Conveniently located in a nearby shopping centre to which I was planning on visiting anyway.
I arrived at Canadian Tire and, having used my morning’s research to its fullest capacity, I knew I needed to stroll over to aisle 11. Sure enough there they were: silver kettles, black kettles, white kettles. A regular Smörgåsbord of kettles from which to choose. I checked out a few then decided on a Sunbeam model that was very similar to the one that had gone kaput and was available for a decent price. So off I went to pay for my new kettle and continue with my other chores.
Upon arrival at home, I wanted to boil the kettle a few times to get the factory taste and gunk out. I opened the box and withdrew the kettle. I noticed that the contents of the box were packed in somewhat like a well-played game of Tetris. There was not a millimeter of extra space in that carton.
I put the kettle aside and went in search of the power base. Only to be disappointed. No power base was present, no means of plugging the kettle into an electrical outlet existed. How could they have been so stupid, so dim-witted as to package a kettle without including the power base? Given the tight fit in the packing, this was clearly a box that was not meant to hold a power base. Evidently, I had purchased a ‘replacement’ kettle. Why did it not indicate that on the box?
Somewhat irked I called the number on the user manual. After the usual wait – I was so glad my call was important to them – I got a person on the line. I calmly went through the whole experience and she took the model number and asked me to wait for a moment. That was some 24-hours ago so I guess I’m technically still on hold with them, except for the fact that I hung up after several minutes, thinking I would have to return the kettle regardless of what she may tell me.
I packed up my new kettle in the Tetris-like manner I had received it and, later in the afternoon made my way back to Canadian Tire. I approached the returns desk, plunked my bag on the counter with my receipt and Canadian Tire money and started to unpack things while explaining my gripe.
“I bought this here this morning but there is no power source,” I started but before I could finish the nice lady cut me off. She said knowingly “yes there is”.
I looked at her as she casually opened the box and removed two pieces of tape that were holding down the kettle lid and lo and behold there was the power base. Just like the neck and giblets in a frozen turkey, except the turkey packaging clearly indicates there are parts inside. I looked at her and asked if she had seen this before to which she rolled her eyes and said it happens all the time with this product.
Why would they put the power source in the f*%#ing kettle but not mention it on the box, (as I have suggested above) or in the user manual?
This packaging and lack of instruction is nothing short of diabolical. Thank you Sunbeam Canada for a fine kettle, but a really bad lack of communication!
As the latest installment in the gun debate rages in the USA following the horrific multiple death shooting in Parkland, Florida I can’t help but be reminded of some of the ludicrous sayings that the pro-gun advocates often spout.
I am conversant with several, including the granddaddy of these pithy little slogans is, of course, the infamous: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. When was the last time you were shaken by breaking news that a deranged strangler was seen in a high school? Has a school ever been put on lock-down because a mentally ill person was stalking the halls threatening to choke or kick to death students and teachers? Of course not. Seems to me guns are killing people.
If, as a society, we could control mental illness it would be a wonderful thing in many ways, but as of yet, we can’t. However, the other variable in the guns don’t kill people equation is guns. As has been shown in countries such as Australia, these can be controlled.
So frankly it would be more accurate to say: guns don’t kill people alone, people with guns kill people. But if those people could not get those guns, who knows how many lives would be saved, not just in the large, media grabbing multiple killings, but also those lost in smaller almost daily shootings.
Then we have the cute, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Mass killings seem to be the purview of the mentally ill, not ‘outlaws’. This is along the lines of: an armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject. Sadly some people believe this nonsense.
I am not a gun person, yet I do have a favourite pithy statement myself: I fully support the right to arm bears.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to Wikipedia: With access to six universities and twelve junior colleges in an 8 kilometer (5 mi) radius, Montreal, Quebec (Canada) has the highest proportion of post-secondary students of all major cities in North America. This represents roughly 248,000 post-secondary students, one of the largest numbers in the world.
Many, certainly not all, of these students not only attend school in the city but also live there. There are numerous student residences and much housing geared to students. To say nothing of the plethora of condominium developments, of which a new one seems to pop up every day. This is just one of the ingredients that give Montreal an actual livable downtown. Unlike many cities in North America with downtown cores that are essentially abandoned once the business day is over, there is an entire group of Montrealers who live right downtown. A vibrant community that keeps the sidewalks from being rolled up at a certain time as is the case in many other cities.
However, the last few years have been hard on the downtown merchants. Several multi-year infrastructure repair projects, no doubt much required, have put a strain on many restaurants and bars. Some have seen their front doors blocked by an assortment of equipment while others have had their streets torn up for months on end, both of which make access to the business tricky if not impossible. In a city encrusted with bars and restaurants of all stripe, competition is fierce at the best of times. These poor owners must feel like a boxer with an arm tied behind his or her back.
A debate is currently brewing about a road that passes over the mountain (it isn’t really a mountain, more of a hill, but that’s what it’s called, Mont-Royal). The newly elected mayor and her cohorts have decided, without public consultation (there is a petition here), to end through traffic over Mont Royal. Instead, they would allow vehicles from the east to go only as far as one parking lot, and those coming from the east only as far as another lot.
Let’s say you wanted to take visiting friends to see the lovely large park that sits atop Mont Royal – designed by the same fellow who did New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted – you would have to enter from the west. If you then wanted to scoot along to the look-out on the other side of the mountain you would have to backtrack, circumnavigate Mont-Royal and enter from the east. Less traffic over the top, perhaps, but no doubt havoc on summer days on other streets.
But more than just an inconvenience, to close the road to through traffic would be just one more hindrance to gaining access to downtown. Granted not a major conduit to downtown’s bars and restaurants, but with so many other nuisances this is timed very poorly for long-suffering merchants.