Bars, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Food, Humor, Montreal, Opinion, Politics, Quebec

Designate Downtown Montreal A Region And Reopen Businesses

A popular Montreal bar in pre-COVID times

The Province of Quebec has been under strict anti-coronavirus regulations for several weeks now. These measures include a province-wide curfew. From 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. we are not allowed out. Unless you have a very good reason – and proof thereof – you are facing fines of up to $6000 should you break the curfew.

If your work has been deemed essential, and you must be out during curfew for reasons of that work, you are exempt from the penalties, assuming you can provide appropriate documentation. You can also walk your dog within a one kilometre radius of your home. No, you can’t borrow or rent a pooch to go out for a smoke.

You can also walk your dog within a one kilometre radius of your home. No, you can’t borrow or rent a pooch to go out for a smoke

Obviously, if you are out with a dog, and are approached by the police, you are going to be asked for identification. This is where I see some potential for trouble. Calls of a police state can almost be heard ringing out across the city.

How tough is the curfew being enforced? Consider that it took the provincial court to rule that you can’t enforce the curfew on homeless people. How could you possibly fine people for refusing to stay in homes that they don’t have?

The curfew covers the entire province, but there is a plea to look at things in a little more piecemeal manner. There are places, outlying areas, referred to as ‘regions’ (it works better in French, as technically everywhere is a region, but Les régions usually means those places outside of Montreal).

Many of these areas are not densely populated and are not suffering the same COVID-19 experience as folks who live in bigger cities. Many people in these almost COVID-free regions are asking to have the curfew lifted and allow store, bars and, restaurants in their area to reopen.

I therefore put forth the notion that this area be considered a ‘region’ … and suggest that the government allow the bars and restaurants in this four-square-block area to reopen

Should the government opt to heed these requests and consider lifting some of the restrictions in les régions, I hope they will consider my suggestion. Above is a map of a small section of the downtown Montreal core. It is primarily, but not entirely, non-residential. There are no elementary or high schools to be found. There is part of a university, but it is currently operating online.

As the second map indicates with a lack of a blue dot, as of January 28, 2021, this region has very few cases of COVID-19. I therefore put forth the notion that this area, which is dense with stores, bars and, restaurants, be considered a ‘region’ (perhaps name it after the Venerable Matt Talbot, patron saint for alcoholics) and suggest that the government allow these businesses in this four-square-block area to reopen. Have them, like convenience stores, close at 7:30 p.m. thereby giving folks a chance to get home before 8:00 p.m. It’s not perfect, but some business has got to be better than none. At least let these establishments open for lunchtime and afternoon drinkers.

How could you possibly fine people for refusing to stay in homes that they don’t have?

There are certainly bars and restaurants in other sections of downtown Montreal, but I’ll be happy to start with this section One has to choose one’s battles.

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DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Music, Words, Writing

My Motown Experience

The recent death of homicidal maniac/musical genius Phil Spector reminded me of my own Motown experience. It’s difficult to reconcile those two descriptors of Spector, but he clearly showed traits of both throughout his life.

My experience had nothing whatsoever to do with music. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket as the old saying goes. When it comes to words I stick to the written variety, for the benefit of everyone’s ears.

At the end of the class he asked us to, on the way out, take our papers back, take them home and cut out 500 words then return them the next week

Some while ago I was rushing to complete a contract. It was a longish piece I was writing. Starting as a university student, and to this day, I have always been economical with words. Term papers were exercises in counting as much as writing. Believe me I counted every single word trying to get to the assigned number. Others whined about having to cut and cut. Not me.

I had one professor who assigned a 2000 word essay on something that now escapes my memory. On the due date he asked us all to place the papers on his desk. He then went on with his lecture. At the end of the class he commended us for being on time. He then asked us to, on the way out, take our papers back, unread, bring them home and cut out 500 words then return them the next week. The result was a much better, more streamlined essay. A lesson that has stayed with me always.

Needless to say the – ahem – Temptation was to complain to Microsoft

Okay … back to my Motown experience. As I was writing the aforementioned piece, I figured I had completed about four of the ten pages required. I was pleased when I check the document details in Word to find that I was in fact at seven pages. It felt off, but then who was I to complain?

Thinking something was amiss I checked again and this time the number was five pages. Was I losing my mind? Had my eyesight failed me? Nope – it was just my pagination, running away with me! Needless to say the – ahem – Temptation was to complain to Microsoft, but as long as the problem was not reversed, I’d learn to live with it.

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Why I Should Be Canada’s Next Governor General

The Canadian Governor General (GG), Julie Payette, has resigned amid a scandal that revolves around what has been called a toxic work environment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – and Ms Payette is, in fact, an actual rocket scientist and former astronaut – to realize that the position of GG is perhaps the most plum of all jobs.

According to the Government of Canada’s website:
The Governor General has important parliamentary responsibilities: Summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament. Setting out the government’s program by reading the Speech from the Throne. Giving Royal Assent, which makes acts of Parliament into law.

But the best part is that he or she doesn’t even have to write the speech. The ruling party, who will oversee things, prepares that for the GG. All they have to do is show up and read the speech.

This means the GG as the Queen’s representative in Canada, reads a Throne Speech at the opening of sessions of Parliament. Once a year or so the appointed GG sits before all the elected members and tells them what to do. But the best part is that he or she doesn’t even have to write the speech. The ruling party, who will oversee things, prepares that for the GG. All they have to do is show up and read the speech.

The GG also gives Royal Assent that – presto – makes an act of Parliament a real law. The skill required to carry out this noble undertaking is one rubber stamp.

When a GG is replaced, they continue to receive that as a pension, and also have a few years worth of $100,000 expense account. Did I mention this is a plum position?

Many Canadians have said this position is no longer required. Not that they are against pomp and circumstance, but the GG comes at a price. An annual salary estimated to be $150,000 plus staff and housing. When a GG is replaced, they continue to receive that as a pension, and also have a few years worth of $100,000 expense account. Did I mention this is a plum position?

So you can understand why I am interested in being Canada’s next Governor General.

I find myself in a bit of a fix: at 61 years of age I am four years from pension, yet few employers will consider someone of my age. In essence, I could use the cash.

To guarantee I won’t try to gum up the process, I promise to not even read the acts. Thump, thump, thump, and it’s off to the courts.

Over the years many people have asked me if I work in radio because of my voice. I can read a speech as well as the next person. Particularly one I didn’t have to write. Bring on the Teleprompters and let’s get at it.

I used to be a Commissioner for Oaths, this necessitated my developing a sure hand with a rubber stamp. Push those passed acts of parliament along and I’ll have them signed and sealed in no time. To guarantee I won’t try to gum up the process, I promise to not even read the acts. Thump, thump, thump, and it’s off to the courts.

The Government website goes on to list some other, less formal, duties of the GG: Promoting a sense of identity, recognizing the achievements of outstanding Canadians, receiving foreign dignitaries, travelling overseas as the representative of Canada, hosting and taking part in official events.

A quick scan of those obligations gives you an idea of the real role of the GG – namely, party host. I’ve been at more parties than I can count. I’m certain I can handle a few drunk dignitaries, shake hands with people who have achieved greatness, and cut ribbons at new shopping malls. And I’m a big fan of parades.

I’m certain I can handle a few drunk dignitaries, shake hands with people who have achieved greatness, and cut ribbons at new shopping malls

Frankly, I think the GG job was designed with me in mind. A bit of officialdom over which I daren’t tread, and lots of glad-handing. All this and, to make it even more up my alley, they throw in a big house and several staff. A car and driver as well.

Prime Minister Trudeau, please feel free to contact me through this blog to arrange a time to discuss the opportunity. As you can see above, I have even accelerated the process by altering the official GG photo to include myself.

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Getting Attitude From A Google Mini

A few weeks ago I wrote about the occasional hijacking of my Google Mini by television adverts. We managed to have a lovely Christmas season without any more advertisers’ hijinks. But if ever I had wondered about what some people claim regarding the arepa’s (as she has come to be known, given her shape) ability to spy on us, it was perhaps proven yesterday.

From time to time we have had internet problems, primarily related to WIFI connectivity. Music or films that are streaming to a connected device stutter and sputter or stop completely. This happened yesterday and, as is the usual drill, I restarted modems and routers and the arepa.

… she responds by saying “I can’t connect to the WIFI”. She then suggests restarting things, including herself

It is important to note that when you are not aware there is a problem with the WIFI and you ask the arepa to do something, she responds by saying “I can’t connect to the WIFI”. She then suggests restarting things, including herself.

Yesterday I tried a few times to see if the connection had been re-established without going through the rigmarole as happens sometimes only to have her (I assume it’s a ‘her’ given the voice) recite her I can’t connect mantra. So I got up and unplugged and re-plugged modem, router and Google Mini. I gave it a few moments while lights on all components flashed and blinked.

It sounded as if what she really wanted to say was “Of course I’m connected arsehole. How else could I be responding to you? Fool”

Once things appeared to have settled down I thought I’d check out the arepa. But rather than ask her to do something – turn on the lights, or play traditional Irish music – I decided to go straight to the point. I said “Okay Google, are you connected to the Internet?”.

Well, that seemed to be a fairly civil question to ask under the circumstances. But instead of a simple “Yes I am” she said “If I’m responding I’m connected” with such a tone that I felt I’d been well and truly put in my place.

I just know she’s smirking to herself as I sit here in the dark, with no music, or TV and wondering if I have anything scheduled for today

Snippy haughty little bitch. It sounded as if what she really wanted to say was “Of course I’m connected arsehole. How else could I be responding to you? Fool”.

I tried to explain to her that not five minutes earlier she had told me she was not connected, and now she’s giving me attitude. Unfortunately, she opted to ignore my argument, perhaps because I did not preface it with Okay Google.

My feelings have been hurt and so I’ve decided not to talk to her for a few days

My feelings have been hurt and so I’ve decided not to talk to her for a few days. It didn’t take me long to realize that the cold shoulder treatment defeats the purpose of the Google Mini. I just know she’s smirking to herself as I sit here in the dark, with no music, or TV and wondering if I have anything scheduled for today. I can’t win for losing with the arepa!

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Closed Bars Having An Adverse Effect On My Health

Montreal Bars Remain Closed

I used to be a runner. Every weekday morning, before work, for about twenty years I could be found jogging around my neighbourhood. I was fanatical about doing it. Not about going longer or faster, but doing it without fail – in all kinds of weather.

They’d say things like “If I don’t see you going by while I’m making my coffee I know I’m late”

I was like clockwork, sometimes I’d be approached by people later in the day who would tell me they see me everyday at precisely the same moment. They’d say things like “If I don’t see you going by while I’m making my coffee I know I’m late”

After running for all those years on roads and sidewalks, my knees started to bark at me a bit. Others who had been running for even longer strongly suggested I give it a break. Which I did, and turned to a lower impact exercise, walking. I have always loved walking, and have been fortunate enough to work within walking distance of my home.

These lads knew the importance of walking.

However I soon learned that where I could run merely for the sake of running, I need a goal when I walk. Walking as a tourist is something I can do for hours, as everything is new, constant distractions. When I tried strolling aimlessly around my neighbourhood, I soon got bored and would cut it short. Walking around the local track was a bit better, but not great.

Clearly the closing of bars and pubs can potentially have a negative effect on my health. Did the government think of this when they ordered the watering holes to close? I think not.

Therefore, my morning routine changed. No longer was I inflexible. I adapted and started going for my walks in the afternoon. I would get things done in the morning, then after lunch head out on my trek. Of course what made this change in routine and mode of exercise pleasant was the end-point of my walk.

I would aim to complete the suggested 10,000 steps with a stop-over in one of several pubs for a beer or two. There was a goal that kept me walking. Walking to and from downtown Montreal gives me the 10,000 steps. If my wife was going to drive me home after her workday ended I would extend my urban hike so the when I arrived at the pub I was at or beyond the goal.

But now they have gone and closed the bars and pubs once again in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. My walking goal is gone.

But now they have gone and closed the bars and pubs once again in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. My walking goal is gone. I flounder about trying to stick to the goal. But currently I have little motivation, even if I do try to hit the magic number on my Fitbit.

Clearly the closing of bars and pubs can potentially have a negative effect on my health. Did the government think of this when they ordered the watering holes to close? I think not.

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Sane Media Wakes Up, Smells Coffee

I have never been fond of the term ‘mainstream media/news’. I prefer to refer to it as the sane media/news. Like Trump’s phrase ‘fake news’, it makes no sense. If it’s fake, it’s not news. The fabrications broadcast on several far-right outlets are not deserving of the ‘news’ classification.

If it’s fake, it’s not news. The fabrications broadcast on several far-right outlets are not deserving of the ‘news’ classification

But why did it take the recent armed-insurrection-attempted-coup-moronic-riot to finally coax the sane media to turn against the instigator? For all but three weeks of Trump’s time in office the sane media, with few exceptions, gave him way more credit than he deserved. Wake up and smell the coffee; he didn’t just become a madman this month.

Once all hell broke loose, the gloves came off. You could almost sense the relief as anchor after reporter after analyst after guest let it all out. It must have been cathartic. After toeing the line, after showing the requisite respect for the Office of the President, it all came to the surface and boiled over.

For all but three weeks of Trump’s time in office the sane media, with few exceptions, gave him way more credit than he deserved.

I can only imagine how many times over the last four years sane White House correspondents were temped to treat Trump as he treated them. How many times did Jim Acosta want to change his reply from ‘But Mr President you called on me’ to ‘Don’t be such an asshole Trump, you called on me’?

An early example of the frustration bubbling up came from CNN’s Dana Bash who, after a candidates’ debate between Trump and Biden described it, accurately indeed, as a shit-show. But for the most part the sane media has bitten its collective tongue, until, that is, January 6th. Since then it has been all out wat between them and Trump. He always considered it thusly.

You could almost sense the relief as anchor after reporter after analyst after guest let it all out. It must have been cathartic

But they should not have waited.

Frankly, the sane media should have been all over this presidential imposter from the very outset. It’s one thing to criticize politicians, that’s all part of a democracy. But to not raise alarm bells in exceptional cases is a dereliction of duty. The average consumer of news fell into one of two camps: pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Regrettably, for the last four years there has been no middle ground, no happy medium.

(Dana) Bash was correct, but her timing was off by about three-and-a-half years.

FOX News and other right-wing outlets didn’t even try to maintain a balanced position, but CNN etc. seemed to hope against hope that by not straying leftward, perhaps things could appear to be normal. It was not possible: Bash was correct, but her timing was off by about three-and-a-half years.

I don’t imagine the right-wingers will afford Joe Biden much time before they are calling him names and concocting lies – in fact I believe they have already started.

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I Have The Taste Buds Of A Four Year-Old

The legendary Groucho Marx left us with an inexhaustible library of wonderful quotations. One of my favourites is “You’ve got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it”.

“You’ve got the brain of a four year-old boy; and I bet he was glad to get rid of it”

I have been thinking about this quip lately, as it may apply to my taste buds. Since being diagnosed with a significantly elevated lipid level, and subsequently put on Lipitor, I have changed my approach to eating.

I’ve already said so long to my buddies butter and fat, and hello to light mayonnaise and margarine.

As I undertake to reduce the bad cholesterol I consume, I have discovered that a la Groucho, I have the taste buds of a child. I have consumed more fruit and veggies in the last five weeks than I can remember, but I am going all in via smoothies. Yep, throw them all in a blender – spinach, lettuce, carrots, berries, mangoes, oats – add some 0% plain yogurt, skim milk, then bash the bejesus out of them and I’ll drink them.

Yep, throw them all in a blender – spinach, lettuce, carrots, berries, mangoes – add some 0% plain yogurt, skim milk, oats then bash the bejesus out of them and I’ll drink them.

The more common means of consumption are also part of my diet, but I figure I need to make up for lost time. But sometimes the ‘taste bud elation’ scale just doesn’t coincide with the amount of trouble and effort put into preparing some veggies. So why bother? Pop them in the blender and be done with it.

When it comes to eating, I have always been eye and taste bud driven. I used to love buffets; a nicely appointed vast display of food outweighs my attempts to cut back. I also sometimes think that my stomach and taste buds need to communicate much better than they have for the last few years. On countless occasions I have continued to eat tasty food when I should have stopped.

Hell, if cars can beep and vibrate to let you know you’re about to back over a child, why can’t we install a similar system between belly and buds?

It seems to me that there should be a means whereby sensors in the stomach shut down taste buds. The problem is that the taste remains lovely, even when the ability to digest has been hampered. Hell, if cars can beep and vibrate to let you know you’re about to back over a child, why can’t we install a similar system between belly and buds? Call it a stomach overload sensor that, when it kicks in, temporarily shuts down taste buds

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Beer, Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, Opinion

Pub Crawl vs Pub Walk

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a Pub Crawl as ‘a visit to several pubs, one after the other, having a drink or drinks at each one’. Other well-established dictionaries offer similar definitions. However, they all neglect to explain the crawl aspect as opposed to merely walking.

If you’re not crawling, you’re not doing it right!

Visiting several pubs, or bars, for a drink or two (three?) in each, if done properly, will seriously impair one’s ability to walk. Hence the notion of crawling.

If you’re not crawling, you’re not doing it right!

Or, perhaps you are mired in the middle of a pandemic that has, among many other restrictions, required pubs and bars to close. Yesterday, long before curfew, my wife and I went for a stroll down memory lane. We retraced our steps through downtown Montreal, now resembling a ghost town, and paid an extramural visit to several drinking spots.

For reasons explained above, no drink was taken, no crawling was involved. But maybe, just maybe, if we are all good, and adhere to the rigid restrictions of the confinement, one day soon we can once again meet up for a drink or two (three?)

Here’s to crawling!

For further bar related reading please check out: An Ode to Bars and Those Who Tend Them, Montreal Bars of the Eighties, A Short History of Montreal’s Anglo/Irish Pubs

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Essentially, Essential Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, rumour has it that the Premiere of Quebec will, at a five o’clock news conference today, announce a severe new lockdown for the province. The kicker: it is also rumoured that this new lockdown will include a curfew.

The plan seems to be that from 8:00 P.M. only emergency traffic – both pedestrian and vehicular – will be allowed. Will we see police officers tackling late-night joggers? Tazing someone who nips out for milk? One hopes the concept of a curfew will be managed carefully and with much compassion and limited force.

Will we see police officers tackling late-night joggers? Tazing someone who nips out for milk?

But different people see things differently. This has become clear with the current COVID restrictions. In essence: what is, and what is not an essential item? I was talking to a friend last evening. His wife has significant mobility issues and couldn’t get out even without a request to stay home. He was out getting groceries and thought it would be a good idea to pick up a book of word puzzles for his wife. Crosswords, word search and the like. She is fond of these things and, given her infirmity, they help to pass the time.

Unfortunately, he was unable to purchase the puzzle book as it was deemed non-essential. They government does not want us to go out, yet the purchase of a book that would help one in confinement was not allowed.

I was in Walmart over the weekend. They have sectioned off the non-essential goods from those that are allowed. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw hockey sticks in the non-essential department. C’mon, this is Canada! However, one could argue that a backyard skating rink is the ideal way for kids (and adults) to get some fresh air and exercise without breaking any confinement rules. Perhaps allow child-size sticks and skates?

Doesn’t it seem counter productive to ban night walkers via curfew?

Essentially, essential is in the eye of the beholder, if you will.

I know a person who is out of work directly due to the COVID restrictions; he’s a bartender, and bars/restaurants are closed. As a bartender he is used to keeping late hours. Every night at nine o’clock or so he goes for a long walk. During the course of his stroll, with things as they are now, he passes a mere handful of other walkers.

My wife and I also take a daily walk, but we usually go in the late afternoon, after she has finished her ZOOM teaching day. We are constantly dodging others and dipsy doodling on the sidewalks or park walkways to avoid people. Doesn’t it seem counter productive to ban night walkers via curfew?

Perhaps the SAQ should, like Walmart, cordon-off the expensive scotches and champagnes, but allow access to lesser brands of the gargle

Interestingly the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the government owned liquor stores (the only liquor stores), remain open during the pandemic. Appropriate measures have been taken within outlets to provide shoppers with a safe environment. Is booze an essential item? Certainly for some it is, but I think alcoholics could get by without high-end hooch. Perhaps the SAQ should, like Walmart, cordon-off the expensive scotches and champagnes, but allow access to lesser brands of the gargle. For medicinal purposes of course.

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Quitting Resolutions

As per usual, I have decided not to attempt any new year’s resolutions this year. Positive changes and different approaches to living are all good ideas, but when you add the new year angle I believe you are just setting yourself up for a loss. I stopped smoking about twenty years ago, but I did not do it as a resolution. I just stopped in April.

So when it comes to new year’s resolutions, I resolve not to participate. Nor will I accessorize.

This year I hope to eat better, lose some weight, and get more exercise. But that has more to do with a high cholesterol level than a new year’s resolution. In fact I have already started on my new regimen, I’m about a month into it in fact. I do miss my old pals including butter and cheese, but have found some new buddies called oatmeal and kale. They’re not nearly as much fun, but I’m told they are better for me. I guess I was hanging with the wrong crowd.

Earlier in the fall, I thought I would give a shot to accessorizing. I took to wearing a scarf and cap even though the weather was mild. I tend to dress the way I write, and the way I like to read. Nothing superfluous. If it’s cold out I’ll wear a hat and scarf; if not, why would I bother? I’m only going to misplace them. I like authors who get to the point: Ernest Hemmingway and Georges Simenon come to mind. If you tell me the sky is blue, I get it. No need, really, to describe any further. Certainly no need to go on for paragraphs and pages explaining that it is the same blue as your aunt Tilly’s eyes when she sang Danny Boy.

Cut to the chase.

So when it comes to new year’s resolutions, I resolve not to participate; I think I’ll be a success. Nor will I accessorize, although I managed to hang on to my two accessories.

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