DCMontreal Light, St. Patrick's Day, Wordpress

An Irish Blessing for St. Patrick’s Day

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DCS_Grad_2 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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Canada, DCMontreal Light, Montreal, Photography, Quebec, Westmount, Wordpress

March Still a Lion in Montreal

Let’s hope this is Old Man Winter’s last kick at the can!

Snow_1Snow_2Snow_3Snow_4

 

DCS_Grad_2 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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DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, News, Talking Urban Wildlife, Wordpress

Disappearing Bees Explained

BumblebeeIn honor of World Honey Bee Day, I am re-posting this from last year.

I am learning so many things from the bug world this spring. First there was the eye-opener that earthworms live by a system of rules and regulations, with lawyer worms to keep them on the straight and narrow. Then I was approached by Harold the Emerald Ash Borer to ghost write his reply to all the negative press he and his fellow borers have been getting lately. Now it’s bees.

The other day there was a thump on my window. As I live on the third floor this was somewhat unnerving. I approached the window and looking out could see nothing that would account for the noise. Then I looked straight down at the window ledge and saw a bumblebee the size of a Fiat on the sill. Rotund, he was on his back with legs and wings flailing in an attempt to right himself. “A little help please” I heard through the window. Being a bit of a coward I was in no rush to open my window to the possibility of a visit from a stinging entity, even one who was asking for my help. “I assure you I come in peace” he said. How could I not act? I opened the window, and using a pencil got my visitor to his feet.

… the idea to go into hiding and thereby upset the entire ecosystem in an attempt to keep bees from being used as fodder in the search for explosives, was suggested by the Drones. Worker bees and union lads to the nth degree …

“Many thanks” he said. “Yours are some of the cleanest windows I’ve ever encountered”

“Thanks, and you’re welcome” I replied. I asked him what brought him to my window. It appears word has gotten around the neighbourhood that I am “bug friendly”.

“Allow me to explain sir. My name is Basil, and I am a Bumblebee. I have been selected by my hive members, based primarily but not solely on my ability to speak English, to get our message out to the world. Being a reader of your blog and therefore aware of your recent encounters with my fellow bugs, I thought you could be of assistance.”

I told Basil I was flattered that he read my blog, but didn’t know how I could be of help. However I was willing to listen to his problem. I invited him to come in on one condition; he had to sheath his stinger. This he understood completely and showed me that he had already encased his weapon in a lovely leather holster. So in came Basil. He complimented me on the decor and said I should feel free to drop by his hive some day.

I was pleased to be able to provide him with the saucer of water and sugar he requested in lieu of coffee. With no threat of being stung, I was able to get a good look at his yellow and black furry torso and was taken aback by what I think was styling mousse.

I asked what it was specifically that brought him to me and, in between sips of sweetened water, he told me that the recent news stories about the mysterious disappearance of vast numbers of bees were incorrect. He explained that the bees were not missing, nor had they been exterminated, they were in fact hiding.

“Hiding” I exclaimed. “Where?”

At this Basil merely rolled his eyes and said “if I told you that, it wouldn’t be a very good hiding place, would it chief?”

Everyday we bees leave the hive in search of pollen. Once located we return and proceed to inform our hive colleagues just where the cache is to be found. We do this by way of a complicated dance. Scientists have studied this dance and been amazed by it for generations. On the other hand, dogs fetch sticks
He continued to explain how bees have always been proud of the role they play in the whole ecosystem, but that the latest job suggested for them was a but over the top. It seems someone has come up with the bright idea to use bees as a means of finding explosives. Sniffer bees would be trained to seek out bombs, and mines.

He elaborated: the idea to go into hiding and thereby upset the entire ecosystem in an attempt to keep bees from being used as fodder in the search for explosives, was suggested by the Drones. Worker bees and union lads to the nth degree, they felt this was necessary. And you thought the AFL-CIO was powerful!

“But,'” I protested “you can’t do that”.

Hey, we’re not supposed to be able to fly either, but we do!

It was when I mentioned that sniffer dogs have long been used for this that I understood I had offended Basil and I got what can only be described as a lecture from my little guest. “Everyday we bees leave the hive in search of pollen. Once located we return and proceed to inform our hive colleagues just where the cache is to be found. We do this by way of a complicated dance. Scientists have studied this dance and been amazed by it for generations. On the other hand, dogs fetch sticks.”

Feeling a little put out by Basil’s harsh tone I said I couldn’t imagine him doing much dancing, complicated or otherwise, given his girth. Again he shook his head in disbelief and told me those dances were soon to be a thing of the past. With smartphones equipped with GPS, when bees come upon a stash of pollen they now send a text back to the hive thereby informing the drones where to go.

To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. No wonder bees were becoming rare, they had no intention of being used to find explosives. These are not dumb beasts and Basil wanted me to get that message out.

With smartphones equipped with GPS, when bees come upon a stash of pollen they now send a text back to the hive thereby informing the drones where to go.

He finished his water and wiped his mouth with a small handkerchief before starting to buzz. Oh no, here it comes, he’s going to turn on me, I thought. They always say you can’t really trust wild animals; no more civilized gentleman bee, he’s going native on me. How long until he unsheathed that stinger and was having at me? As the buzzing increased I could see Basil trembling; I thought he was going to take flight but instead he pulled out the smallest iPhone I’ve ever seen and said “I always forget when I put it on vibrate. I’m thinking of switching to Samsung. What do you think?”

With that Basil made his way out if my window and off to his hive. But before taking off from my sill, he said there was no need for me to send him a draft of our conversation before I posted it; that he trusted me to get it right. Not coincidentally I fear, he said this as he was removing the holster from his stinger with a funny glint in his little eyes that I still am not sure indicated appreciation or threat!  Yet the next day when I looked I noticed a very small sticker on the lower part of my window that said “Make Honey, Not Bombs” and I knew Basil had been back.

As per today’s Daily Post, what about a Bee who seems to want to me my BFF?

Me DCMontreal 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 Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Canada, CNN, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, History, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion, Wordpress

Happy Canada Day 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA / BONNE FÊTE CANADA

CanadaDay2014

On this 148th birthday of Canada I will let others do the writing about my country. No doubt this is in keeping with our reputation of being polite folks.

The CBC has a piece on how Canada is perceived around the word, in which they ask Canadian Studies teachers and researchers to comment on Canada.

Can_VenezI don’t usually take request, but just for today I will: Sorry! You see we also seem to be known for our tendency to apologize. However I explained this in a post a couple of years ago that CNN was kind enough to link to.

Me 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Snow is Inconvenient; But Cold Hurts!

Steam rising from Montreal's Old Port

Steam rising from water in Montreal’s Old Port

As a blast of arctic air envelopes Montreal to start the week, the age-old debate arises. On buses, subways, on radio and in bars and cafes the discussion can be overheard: extreme cold vs. extreme snow. Certainly no one wants both, but given the choice which would you prefer.

But most of all, cold friggin’ HURTS!

Snow is inconvenient and costly; it makes for dangerous driving conditions; it can be harmful if mishandled (i.e. out of shape people – usually men – who decide to shovel a driveway only to suffer a heart attack). On the other hand it can be pretty and fun and, under the right circumstances can provide a cozy sense of comfort.

While you don’t have to clear or remove it, extreme cold provides no lovely vistas; it results in increased heating costs and puts a strain on the electricity grid; it can also create dangerous roads with the formation of black ice, and it reduces people to mummified lumps as they pack on layer upon layer of clothing. But most of all, cold friggin’ HURTS!

Yes indeed, there is nothing quite like the bite of a gust of extremely cold wind in the chops. Like having a nail driven into your forehead (or so I imagine), there is more than inconvenience, there is downright pain.

MTL_Weather

This morning the temperature in Montreal is -23°C but when you factor in the wind, and believe me you’ll be in for a shock if you don’t, it is -36°C. That’s -9°F and -29°F respectively. The wind is howling at 176 kph or 103 MPH. You just know it has to be Monday!

So from this agent’s vantage point, faced with snow or cold, I’ll take snow thanks.

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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Blogging, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Internet, Montreal, Opinion, Photography, Wordpress, Writing

Missing Bloggers

Bermuda_Triangle

One of the most enjoyable benefits of blogging is that, over time, you come to know other writers, or at least you get an idea of their blogging persona. Subscribing to their blogs and trading comments leads to a sense of camaraderie. There are several bloggers I read faithfully, others that I check out occasionally, some are similar to my own style, many are completely different. But the number has recently decreased for reasons I can’t explain.

Of course they have absolutely every right to do as they please. Post, not post, stay, leave, it’s a free world. I just hope they did decide not to continue, and that nothing has happened to them.

Call it the Bermuda Triangle of blogging, but two of the bloggers that I used to read and with whom I used to exchange comments have mysteriously disappeared.  These were folks with significant online presences, one of whom posted to WordPress daily and often several times a day on Twitter, the other posted every few days. Then they stopped. Gone.

I have followed other bloggers who decided to take a break, or stop altogether, but they let people know. Neither of these bloggers posted about taking a hiatus, nor did they allude to quitting. They just stopped posting. Of course they have absolutely every right to do as they please. Post, not post, stay, leave, it’s a free world. I just hope they did decide not to continue, and that nothing has happened to them.

These were folks with significant online presences, one of whom posted to WordPress daily and often several times a day on Twitter, the other posted every few days. Then they stopped. Gone.

They could have switched blogging platforms from WordPress to Blogger or some other, but I assume they would have let their followers know about the move somehow, perhaps via Twitter.

One of these two lived in Malaysia, the other is a fellow Montrealer. Both had excellent blogs that covered a wide range of topics and were accentuated with some fine photography.

Aside from missing their posts, I am puzzled by their sudden David Hemmings-like disappearance.

I do hope they are well.

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion, Westmount, Wordpress

The McDonald’s Approach to Snow Removal: Clean Your Own Sidewalk

As North America’s northeast digs out from a whopper of a snowfall, there is one topic that, not surprisingly, often comes up at these times and that is snow clearing and removal. That’s clearing and removal; two different beasts. The difference is simple, clearing involves pushing the fallen snow out of the way to allow for vehicles and pedestrians to get about. It’s a temporary measure that allows cities to function.  On the other hand removal entails the actual permanent cartage of the snow from city streets to some end point. Clearance comes first, and takes place even as the snow falls. Removal is done once the snow gods have finished their work.

Sno_ParkingI consider myself to be very fortunate to live in a municipality on the island of Montreal that provides both excellent snow clearance and removal. For instance we are anticipating about 10 cms (almost 4 inches) of snow to accumulate today; only time will tell as we have often been expecting snow only to have it change to rain or miss us entirely – global warming I guess. Prior to the snow’s arrival trucks will lay down abrasive rock salt that will keep roads safe – it will eat your car as well, but that’s another issue. During the snowfall plows will keep streets clear so that cars, buses and, for those hardy souls who dare, bikes can get around. But before seven o’clock this evening the fluorescent orange No Parking From 7:00 to 19:00 signs will be erected on my street, giving motorists the legally required twelve hour notice.

But let’s bear something in mind, we are already paying for this service in our taxes. If people agreed to clear their own section of sidewalk, would they see a reduction in taxes? I think not.

Tomorrow the tow trucks will circulate making their hideous toodling noise warning any recalcitrant parkers that their cars are about to be hauled away and a big ticket left on the windshield. Then the snow will be removed by a small army of plows, dump trucks and a snow-blower. Viola! Do I live on a main thoroughfare or fire lane? Nope. Just a regular old street.  Sadly other municipalities and boroughs in my area don’t deal with snow quite as effectively as mine, but then what are taxes for?

Of course it’s not just snowy icy roads that require maintenance, sidewalks must be cleared as well. One idea that arises once or twice a year it seems is the notion of having people take responsibility for clearing the snow and ice from the section of sidewalk in front of their home or place of business. Evidently there are European cities where this is the norm, but I have to wonder how much snow these cities get. It’s one thing to sweep away a dusting of snow, and quite another to shovel heavy snow and more importantly insure the ice is also taken care of.

Don't shovel the sidewalk! Photo: Tom Hanson/CP

Don’t shovel the sidewalk! Photo: Tom Hanson/CP

I’m sure city officials would love to have people clearing snow in this manner. They could sell off most of their Bombardier sidewalk plows, even lay-off workers who would no longer be needed. But let’s bear something in mind, we are already paying for this service in our taxes. If people agreed to clear their own section of sidewalk, would they see a reduction in taxes? I think not.

And what about elderly and disabled citizens? And what if my neighbour does not do a very good job and I slip and hurt myself as I walk by, do I sue him or the city?

To me this sounds like the thin end of the wedge. Today it’s the snow in front of your house, tomorrow it’s pruning that tree on your front lawn that, by the way, belongs to the city. God forbid a streetlamp malfunctions and they ask us to shin up the pole and have a look. Should folks who live facing a park be expected to cut the grass? Can we pick up sacks of asphalt to use filling in potholes come spring?

This is a mentality that McDonald’s has very successfully driven into the minds of many of its customers. Clean up after yourselves so we don’t have to hire more staff.

This is a mentality that McDonald’s has very successfully driven into the minds of many of its customers. Clean up after yourselves so we don’t have to hire more staff. I have to admit I drop by said hamburger emporium every now and then, and worse, I bus my own table. Yes, I’m one who at some point drank the Kool-Aid and I now dump my own detritus in the trash and place my tray in the pile, like a good customer should. I have friends, some who work in the food industry, who berate me for this. “Next time just go in the back and make your own burger” they hoot at me. And of course they are correct. In 2013 McDonald’s Corp. had earnings of $28.1B; they don’t need any help.

Call me old fashioned, but while I seriously doubt many municipalities have a bankroll like McDonald’s, I do still believe there are some services that are best left to city administrations to provide. Snow clearance and removal fall into that category. After all, we are paying for it. Here is a link to an article from a few years ago in Maclean’s on the topic.

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Skilled Blog Reader!

Early this morning I was surprised to see the skill of one of my readers. He or she has visited once, seen 21 pages, but did so from six different countries!!

 

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Me 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Canada, Crime, DCMontreal Commentary, Magnotta, Montreal, News, Quebec, Wordpress

Big Brother Is Indeed Watching; Just Ask Luka Magnotta

Decarie_5720

Google

The building is on a busy street and overlooks an even busier sunken expressway. The heavy traffic means it is loud and dirty in the area which is mostly industrial except for a strip of lower-rent apartment buildings that remain from the days before many were razed to allow for the construction of the expressway. I’ve passed by countless times and never really took any notice of the drab yellowish apartment block, but 5720 Decarie has been in the news here recently. People glance as they drive by while going about their business, some stop and take a longer look. Others even snap a picture with their trusty smart phone.

So instead of looking like Luka Magnotta, gay porn star wannabe, he looked like Luka Magnotta, gay porn star wannabe wearing an ill-fitting wig!

In apartment 208 of this average building once lived Luka Rocco Magnotta – originally Eric Newman – who is currently on trial for the gruesome murder and butchering of Jun Lin. Who would have thought walking by the building what atrocities were being carried out there on the night of May 24, 2013? Who could have imagined what the quirky guy in 208 was planning? Who would have guessed that what he was calmly disposing of during the night, as security cameras caught him several times, were pieces of his guest? Who would have thought this building even had security cameras?

If any proof is needed that “Big Brother” is indeed watching, the trail of video appearances left by Magnotta must surely dispel any doubts. From the time he brought his victim home, to his coming and going over the next several hours, then his arrival at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, followed by Heathrow in London and a hotel Paris and Internet cafe in Berlin, Magnotta is clearly visible. Did he want to be caught?

If any proof is needed that “Big Brother” is indeed watching, the trail of video appearances left by Magnotta must surely dispel any doubts.

If he planned this revolting execution and subsequent dissection with a view to getting away with it, as seems most likely, he didn’t give much thought to the security cameras. Mind you, he did get himself a disguise: a $1700 wig that he stops several times to adjust in front of his building’s lobby mirror. So instead of looking like Luka Magnotta, gay porn star wannabe, he looked like Luka Magnotta, gay porn star wannabe wearing an ill-fitting wig! It reminds me of the claim by prosecutors that O.J. Simpson used a black knit hat as a disguise, only to have the late Johnnie Cochran make fools of them by putting on the hat and asking “Can you tell who I am?”.

Magnotta is an interesting study. Evidently he cared not a whit about being caught on camera as he brazenly disposed of his victim’s remains. Yet he put on a silly wig. Did he really think that would fool anyone? Putting aside for a moment grizzly facts of this case, what I’m most curious about is how he decided who would be the lucky recipients of the mailed body parts. The Prime Minister and Liberal Party offices may reflect his anger with Canadian society, or politicians, in general. But why did he send packages to west coast schools?

 

Me 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Canada, Cycling, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion, Public Transit, Wordpress

Cyclists Are from Mars, Motorists Are from Venus

Cyclists_Roll

It has finally occurred to me why some cyclists and motorists have such a hard time communicating, often leading to dangerous encounters. Like lovers of fine art, who can both look at the very same painting yet see two entirely different things, drivers and cyclists see the exact same intersection differently.

So if we are going to have to accept that bike riders don’t adhere to the rules of the road, then it should be made abundantly clear to all – both drivers and street-crossing pedestrians –  that they should not expect cyclists to stop. Let’s get everyone on the same page.

Case in point. Yesterday I witnessed a near disastrous confrontation between a cyclist and a driver that opened my eyes to this phenomenon. There was a four-way stop sign situation, a car approached the intersection and came to a full and complete stop. Looking to his or her right the driver saw a bicyclist nearing his stop sign and slowing to a stop. There being no other vehicles present and assuming the cyclist was stopping, the driver had the right of way and proceeded through the intersection. However the driver was forced to come to an abrupt stop in the middle of the intersection as the cyclist, rather than come to a full stop, merely slowed then accelerated once again.

When I went to drivers education they taught us that at stop signs there was a “your turn, my turn” concept. First come, first served. The driver in this situation, having stopped and seeing the cyclist slowing down, assumed he was going to stop and that it was his or her “turn” to go, having arrived at the stop sign first.

On the other hand the cyclist seemed to figure he’d slow down enough to let the driver see him, but would then speed up and cross the intersection. Evidently he assumed it was his turn; no first come first served for this cyclist.

RightofWay

I have seen this sort of thing often; cyclists disregarding the “you go, I go” approach to intersections, although some do so without even slowing down. It seems to me that most cities don’t have the police manpower to seriously clamp-down on cyclists flouting the law, which would be my favored solution. So if we are going to have to accept that bike riders don’t adhere to the rules of the road, then it should be made abundantly clear to all – both drivers and street-crossing pedestrians –  that they should not expect cyclists to stop. Let’s get everyone on the same page.

 

Me 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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