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+
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Banning Through Traffic On Mont-Royal Just Another Slap For Downtown Merchants

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

But more than just an inconvenience, to close the road to through traffic would be just one more hindrance to gaining access to downtown. … with so many other nuisances this is timed very poorly for long-suffering merchants.

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.

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+

Time For Major GOP Funders To Withhold

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In the wake of yet another mass killing at yet another US school, the rallying cry has gone out to get elected officials to do something about the ridiculously easy access to high-powered guns in the United States. And as usual, one party, the Democrats, are standing with those shouting for an end, while Republicans blather on about “thoughts and prayers”.

Gun proponents often trot out the tired old saw that they believe explains how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s cute but totally absurd. Guns don’t kill people: people with guns kill people. That’s just more simple logic: no guns = no gun deaths.

Is it that Republicans have little care for future victims? Do they not think the situation is now long out of hand? Well if they do they have a funny way of showing it. Sadly it all comes down to one thing in their stony hearts: money. Filthy lucre.

According to an Opinion piece in the New York Times from October 4, 2017:

Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

I don’t know about their primary voters, but the National Rifle Association donates millions of dollars to candidates and spends millions more sponsoring events supporting primarily GOP candidates. In the last election, they spent upwards of $30M getting Donald Trump elected (of course, as we will all soon find out, the Russians helped out as well). No wonder he refuses to do anything about the situation. The logic is simple: it is not in the best financial interest of politicians to bite the hand that feeds them. And the NRA is a harsh master, threatening to withdraw funding at the mere mention of undeniably sane proposals (background checks for one). They are not big on the idea of compromise. No art of the deal for them.

Is it conceivable that a major donor to candidate X could threaten to withhold contributions unless the candidate refuses NRA money?

Gun proponents often trot out the tired old saw that they believe explains how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s cute but totally absurd. Guns don’t kill people: people with guns kill people. That’s just more simple logic: no guns = no gun deaths.

But what if some of the other big donors took a stand? What if pressure was brought to bear on other large donors to GOP candidates? Is it conceivable that a major donor to candidate X could threaten to withhold contributions unless the candidate refuses NRA money? Should the gun control advocates be lobbying other major donors in an effort to get them to apply pressure?

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+

Booties, Hospital and Otherwise

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Recently I have had several medical appointments. Some in hospital clinics, some in private offices. Regardless of where the doctor is located, there is one thing they all have in common: those ubiquitous blue booties.

But the galosh has gone the way of the dial-up modem in favour of boots that provide better traction on ice and snow.

In places with winter weather going out is a tiresome experience with many layers of clothes and footwear required for comfort. Arriving at an appointment involves not only the removal of coats and hats and scarves but outdoor footwear.

In the days when many people, primarily men, wore galoshes over their shoes this was less of an issue. Simply kick off the heavy overshoes and Voila you’re aptly clad in your own shes. But the galosh has gone the way of the dial-up modem in favour of boots that provide better traction on ice and snow. These boots are more comfortable than galoshes and certainly more fashionable. But they must be removed when entering a house or office. Enter the blue booty conundrum.

In some offices the procedure is to remove one’s wet, snowy, slushy shoes, place them on a boot tray and don the little Smurf-like plastic bags. This way the booty remains dry and can be reused. In other offices the rule is to place the booty over the offending wet boot, thereby placing a sheath between slop and floor surface. Booties used in this manner are either turfed out or inverted and left to dry.

In some offices, the procedure is to remove one’s wet, snowy, slushy shoes, place them on a boot tray and don the little Smurf-like plastic bags.

All fine and dandy until someone screws up and goes against the grain. Nothing quite as annoying as slipping your stockinged foot into a cold wet bag. Can we not simplify this situation? Why can’t we have one method and stick to it? Pass a law, enact a statute, whatever it takes to alleviate this nuisance. My personal choice is for the boot-off-booty-on technique, but I am open to the other. Just as long as we can all get on the same page!

As an aside I must admit this post has taken me much longer to research and write than I had anticipated. Evidently, there is another kind of booty that is much more popular on Internet search sites.

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You learn something new every day.

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+

TLC Could Combine Many Programs Into One

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Last night while watching television with my wife it occurred to me that TLC once a conveyor of intelligent educational fare is breaking ground in the industry. I believe that the network is slowly but ever so surely merging all of its prime-time programs into one. Eventually, viewers will sit down to watch one show that will run for three hours.

I believe the show will be called: I Am Jazz Enjoying My Big Fat Fabulous 600 Pound life.

This season, as Jazz continues her odyssey toward having ‘bottom surgery’, the procedure that will remove her whatsit and replace it with a whosit, a new roadblock has arisen.

Currently one can watch I am Jazz which traces the journey of a teenager as she transitions from male to female. Born a male, Jazz has always identified as a female. Her family is very supportive as she changes before their (and our) eyes into a woman.

This season, as Jazz continues her odyssey toward having ‘bottom surgery’, the procedure that will remove her whatsit and replace it with a whosit, a new roadblock has arisen. Jazz has taken to dealing with her frustrations by binge eating. McDonald’s was mentioned so often you’d think it was a sponsor (and why does Mikey Dee’s always take the rap for binge eating? Doesn’t anyone binge on Burger King? Wendy’s? Popeye’s?).

I recall when a tranny was the thing that made your car move

And speaking of Popeye, Jazz has adopted his ‘I am what I am and that’s all that I am’ approach to her weight problem, choosing to just enjoy life regardless of the extra pounds. Although not as heavy as Whitney on My Big Fat Fabulous Life, her attitude is similar.

If Jazz is not careful she may balloon to the size of those on My 600 Pound Life and then Dr. Nowzaradan will be performing a significantly different surgical procedure on her. Yep, watch as America’s favourite transgender (I recall when a tranny was the thing that made your car move) teenager transitions from bottom surgery to gastric bypass surgery.

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+

Urinals and Elevators: Rules of Etiquette

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Even after fifteen years, my wife, who hails from Caracas, Venezuela never ceases to be amazed by some of the small cultural differences she observes here in Montreal. She has finally become used to seeing people in downtown Montreal dressed for the hot summer weather. Evidently in Caracas, where it is much hotter more often than Montreal, one does not wear ‘beach apparel’ other than at the actual beach.

She was apoplectic when I pointed out that at one downtown office I worked at there was a group of women who would, weather permitting, wear bikinis under their business attire and strip down to take some midday sun in a park across the street during lunch.

For our first date lo those many years ago, we arranged to meet at an outdoor cafe. It was August; it was hot and humid. Given the conditions, I wore a golf shirt, sandals, and shorts. It was only some years later when she had observed several summers here, that she admitted that she was somewhat taken aback by my garb that evening. She was apoplectic when I pointed out that at one downtown office I worked at there was a group of women who would, weather permitting, wear bikinis under their business attire and strip down to take some midday sun in a park across the street during lunch.

Another of the idiosyncrasies that conflicts with her view of things is the notion of not speaking to strangers as they get on an elevator. Evidently, the thing to do in Venezuela is to greet folks as you enter an elevator. I have come to realize that Latin Americans are much more social beings than are we North Americans. Now I don’t mean to stifle sociability, but here we tend to employ the look-at-your-feet-ceiling-or-floor-only rule. I’d like to think that this comes from a respect for women who, finding themselves in a small enclosed box may feel uncomfortable with a man greeting her or staring at her.

Ladies… next time a man tells you that, boot him in the cojones. He’s scamming you. A boob is a boob is a boob; whether your bikini top falls off at the beach (or downtown park), or you’ve got a pair of twins on the twins, it’s all the same to us!

We men have an advantage with this look at your feet tactic as it greatly resembles the urinal look-at-the-ceiling-rule. No matter how interesting the conversation with your co-urinator may be, keep those eyes upward or, if the establishment has been kind enough to tape a newspaper to the wall, straight ahead. It’s all about peeing, not peeking. If your eyes stray downward they better be trained on your urinal; better to look ceiling-ward.

Not only has this public bathroom etiquette given men a leg-up on elevator decorum, but it has also provided us with some practice of the look-at-the-mother’s-eyes only rule when in close proximity to, or conversing with a breast-feeder. Once that boob comes out it is eyes up fellows. Of course the more mature among us will explain that a breast with a wee one latched onto it is somehow less of a breast. That breasts being used for what they were intended for are not at all titillating (a great word in this context). Ladies, a word in your ear, next time a man tells you that, boot him in the cojones. He’s scamming you. A boob is a boob is a boob; whether your bikini top falls off at the beach (or downtown park), or you’ve got a pair of twins on the twins, it’s all the same to us!

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+

How Public Officials Should Handle Mistakes

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The excerpt below from the Montreal Gazette illustrates the proper way for public officials to handle making a mistake – admit it, adapt and move on.

The city of Montreal, which intended to let the past week’s snowfall melt, has now reversed it’s (sic) decision and will start clearing streets Sunday evening. 

The head of snow removal, Jean-François Parenteau announced the reversal on Saturday.

Parenteau explained the change because of cooler temperatures. The decision not to clear the snow was a bad choice on his part and he apologized.

A snow removal operation costs an average of $1 million per borough. The City of Montreal has carried out four clearing operations since the beginning of winter.

The snow budget of $160 million makes it possible to make five per winter.

However, the decision not to clear the snow but let it melt is one with which I, as a 90% pedestrian, abhor. The snow melts under the wheels of vehicles no doubt. The resulting slushy swamps and pools of filthy water end up being splattered hither and yon, making sidewalk navigation a royal pain.

I understand the savings, but there has to be a way to convince drivers that it is not acceptable to ignore pedestrians on sidewalks as they plow through the slop, drenching folks as they walk. There was a time when drivers, those with an inkling of common decency,  took this into consideration and would slow down, to a crawl if necessary. But I fear those days are long gone.

So thank you M Parenteau for doing the right thing!

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+

 

Will Driverless Cars Reduce Or Increase Traffic?

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The futuristic-sounding driverless cars as in the news a lot lately. It seems everybody and his aunt is involved in the race to replace drivers with cars that conduct themselves. Proponents of autonomous cars would have you believe that they will be commonplace on our roads in just a few years. That may be true, but another claim made by these folks is that driverless cars will lead to more public transit usage and therefore less traffic. This one has me flummoxed. I think we will have more traffic, but some of those vehicles will not be driven by humans. What could possibly go wrong?

I think we will have more traffic, but some of those vehicles will not be driven by humans. What could possibly go wrong?

I know lots of people who own cars and use them every day to get to work and carry out routine chores. Many of these people could use public transit to do the same thing. Why don’t they? Because they like their cars, they paid a lot of money for them so they are loath to leave them at home.

I’m sure many of us know people who actually enjoy driving. Not necessarily sitting in traffic, but the getting around part. They like to keep their vehicles in top shape and even gussy them up a bit, making sure the lines are perfect in silhouette. I don’t see either of these two groups of drivers readily giving up their cars for a driverless option.

Well, they could take buses and Metros now, but they don’t. Why would a driverless bus be any more appealing?

I fear that the driverless revolution may have to overcome North Americans’ love of automobiles. The cases cited by driverless enthusiasts seem to revolve around people jettisoning their current manual cars either in favour of autonomous ones, or public transit. Well, they could take buses and Metros now, but they don’t. Why would a driverless bus be any more appealing? And if they enjoy getting behind the wheel, why would they want to be driven by the car?

While driverless vehicles may well one day be a boon to industry, albeit one that costs a vast number of delivery truck drivers their jobs, I think we are a long way from the utopian image of driverless cars being in the majority. Regardless, I still believe that when that day does arrive, if it does, people will still sit in traffic and bitch about it, but they’ll be doing their grousing from the back seat, maybe watching a driverless police motorcycle chase a driverless joyrider!

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+

Tardiness Is Stealing My Time

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Appointment: A fixed mutual agreement for a meeting set for a specific time or place.

The definition above, from http://www.dictionary.com, sums up nicely the concept of an appointment. If only the medical profession could get a grip on this. Yesterday I dropped by a local medical imaging place to see about making an appointment for my mother. At 89 and with mobility issues just showing up and taking her chances on getting in quickly is not an option. I could have phoned, but as I was passing right by I thought I’d throw a little human touch into my quest.

The idea behind making an appointment is to eradicate the need to wait. Make a reservation at a popular restaurant and you stroll right past the line. 

Upon entering the place I immediately noticed two things. The first was a large waiting room full of people hacking, wheezing, and sneezing all over each other (if they were not sick when they went for their x-ray, they sure as hell will be when they leave). The second thing that caught my eye was one of those ticket dispensers like they have in pastry shops and delicatessens.  I applied some simple logic and concluded that those folks waiting were there without an appointment, and had taken a ticket and awaited their number.

As I looked at the dispenser I saw three different kinds of tickets: 1) for those with an appointment, 2) for those without an appointment, and, 3) for those wanting to make an appointment. This had me more than just a bit confused. If you have an appointment, why would you need a ticket? The idea behind making an appointment is to eradicate the need to wait. Make a reservation at a popular restaurant and you stroll right past the line. Make an appointment for an x-ray and you still have to wait. something is wrong with this system.

While making an effort to avoid waiting, option three would have you wait twice; once to make the appointment and again when you arrive for the appointment.

But it gets even more idiotic The third option is to take a ticket so you can wait until called, then make an appointment, then when you arrive for the arranged appointment you will sit and wait again as per option one. While making an effort to avoid waiting, option three would have you wait twice; once to make the appointment and again when you arrive for the appointment.

If nothing else I am a punctual person, never tardy. When I make an appointment or reservation I am always early out of respect for the other party. Why does the medical profession seem to think appointments only work one-way? When I agree to an appointment and I have to wait, I always feel my time is being stolen.

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+