Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day two

Our first "awake day". We spent it at Versailles (here we are in the appropriately named "Queen's garden", followed by a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedrale. Could there be a better lunch than a baguette and cheese with wine? I think not. Wine is ridiculously cheap here, but a coke will set you back six bucks. Dinner was steak tartare on a sidewalk patio.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day one

We're still up. Haven't slept for 32 hours. I think we look pretty good considering.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bon Voyage

Well, here it is. The last day before we go. It's also the last blog post for a couple days. (at least) We don't leave until tomorrow afternoon, but I'll be a bag of stress until then. We'll spend five nights in Paris and then fly to Rome on Tuesday to catch the boat for the 12 night cruise. In fact our ship is outfitted with two cameras broadcast to the web. You can see where we are and what we are seeing by accessing the web cam here.

I've got one last lesson to give this morning, then I've got to turn in the paperwork at the head office, then stop at the bank for some US dollars (that's the currency on the ship, so we'll need some for tips and for the casino) and then head over to MIL's house for an early dinner and to drop off the dog.

Pinch me, it's really happening.

Au revoir, adios, arrivaderci, goodbye.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More pretty pictures

There is beauty in all things.

I keep waking up earlier and earlier. I read last month that if you prepare for traveling to Europe, you should try to wake up earlier and earlier until you leave so that you will acclimate to the time change more easily. I wasn't really planning to do it, but my subconscious seems to have understood and run with it.

I lost the carry-on battle. Spouse is going to check the big suitcase and I'm going to bring my carry-on. Spouse wants to be assured that I won't blame him if there are baggage woes, but that was met with derisive laughter on my part. And then, don't worry, everything will work out fine. It was my turn to say that. This led to a discussion of "what if", imagining various disaster scenarios, and then we went to the internet and bought insurance for the vacation. I hope it wasn't clairvoyance when spouse said, "What if your foot gets crushed by a bus?"

In the morning, I did an hour walk through the botanical gardens. Serge had gone back to sleep for a morning nap, so I snuck out to go over there. I was a bit disappointed, as it still seems to be tulip season there, and I came to grips with the fact that I will miss most of the spring blooming of other flowers while we are abroad. The lilacs were amazing though, I could barely breathe as I walked through the perfume choked grove of them.


There were lilacs of every shade between white and this purple. Most were a pale version of the purple above.

This goose (it's a goose right?) walked right up to me as if I were a gumball machine. I wished I'd had something even though the signs say not to feed them.

It always makes my jaw drop to see blue in nature. Well barring the sky of course. I've no idea what they are, but they are blue.

Final tulip shot this year. This array made me think, "candy canes."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Very dull post

We're down to the final three days. Yesterday, we dragged out the suitcases to see if we can get away with taking everything in carry-ons. We can, but Serge doesn't want to feel confined to such a small selection of vestments. So I gave in and said, "okay, no big deal, we'll take the big suitcase." Then spouse told me I was making a big deal out of it. And refused to accept my giving in. I don't know what else I could do except agree with him, and even then he's still irritated with me. Sometimes you just can't win with spouse. I'm putting it down to nerves, he's never been to any of the countries we're visiting.

Carnival (the cruise line) has changed their dress code and now have "elegant nights" aboard the ship instead of "formal nights." All that's required now are dress pants and collared shirt for men. Jacket and tie are no longer requisite. This is so wonderful because a suit coat takes up space and gets wrinkled in transit. We will each bring a tie, however.

My clothing list
7 pair socks (4 white ankle, 3 black)
2 pair shorts (1 khaki, 1 jeans)
2 pair jeans (1 blue, 1 black)
1 dress pants
1 khaki pants
4 short sleeve collared shirts
3 t shirts (white, grey, black)
1 tank top
2 long sleeve collared shirts (pale yellow, burgundy)
1 tie
1 bathing suit
2 pair underwear (me as I don't wear them every day, 7 for spouse)
1 pair dress shoes, 1 pair sandals (wear sneakers on the plane)

Today we're going to keep plugging away at the pre-vacation lists. There's really not that much left to do, so maybe I'll have time to pop over to the botanical gardens. If so, you'll see the photos tomorrow.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A good day

I gave my last crack-o-dawn class yesterday. It was pretty easy as we met at a local restaurant for breakfast. The two hours passed effortlessly as we talked about all sorts of things. I did make a joke the third time Martin said "He don't". I told him, "This isn't Texas you know, we conjugate our verbs up here." I got a laugh out of it anyway.

After "class" I came home and finished up the final paperwork (correcting final exam, filling out evaluations) and then the housecleaner showed up. She seemed annoyed to find me home when she arrived, so I took the hint and headed out. I went and deposited my final pay (until September yikes) and found myself near the cinema. I went in and bought a ticket for the new Indiana Jones flick and really enjoyed it. It being the film, not the ticket purchase transaction. They were true to the formula and instead of seeming trite, staid and redundant, it was like tasting that long lost recipe you loved and then grew tired of but then much later remembered again why you had liked it originally. I love that Marian came back. (Does that count as a spoiler?) Sure they are all old now, but so am I, and I thought, "No one escapes aging."

They had a Tim Horton's inside the movieplex. Hmm, do I want a popcorn and a coke for $9 at the concessions counter or would I prefer a donut and coffee for $2.50? It occurred to me that this must be a sign of age, this preferring coffee to coke.

On the way home it hailed.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Snippets

* I knew that headphones were a no-no while driving a car, but I had no idea I could get a ticket for wearing them while I ride a bike. I didn't get a ticket, I just read about this in the paper. Is this true in your city as well?

* You've probably all seen the spinning girl. I hadn't. I can see her turn counter-clockwise if I blink or look at her peripherally, but at first straight-on glance, she's always going clockwise for me.

* It's the start of hairy albino toe season. You all know how I loathe the flip-flops.

* The view from the classroom where I taught yesterday.

* Underwear is such a rip-off. I can get three t-shirts for ten bucks all over town, but the tighty boxers are always seven bucks and up a pair. I'm fairly certain a t-shirt requires more material than a pair of underwear. Serge bought a pair for seven bucks the other day and I scolded him. "What? That's the price, " he answered in the everybody-knows-that way. He doesn't know it, but he's still wearing the Dollarama underwear I bought him last summer. (I removed the dollarama label or he'd have never put them on.)

* Up here black market cigarettes account for 25% of all tobacco sales. It's easy to understand why. You can pick up a CARTON for SIX dollars at the local (Indian but you're not supposed to say that) reservation. At the local shops, it's $65 a carton. There must be a thousand percent tax on those things.

* In related news, I've chosen Canada Day as my quit date. I will like lick tobacco this time. (Is there such a thing as a Freudian typo?)

* My friend Em is exceptionally good at reading people and accurately interpreting what it is they are NOT saying. I'm totally the opposite. I take what you say at face value and then am shocked if ulterior motives are later revealed. Em usually has the person pegged in under a minute. I miss having her around to filter for me.

* The last thing I thought before I fell asleep last night was, "did I poop today?"

* I've mentioned this before, but I like to gross y'all out. Spouse, upon seeing lint in my bellybutton, will immediately eat it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Six sleeps to go

I have a confession. Neither of us is much into museums. Well art museums anyway. Or maybe it's just art museums on vacation. It's strange though because we like galleries. Maybe it's because a gallery takes under an hour and you can never see everything in a big museum, plus you can't dream about having enough money to hang a piece in your home like you can in a gallery. Nothing is for sale in a museum. Except of course at the overpriced gift shop. I rattled off the Paris museums to spouse and received a tepid response (to my relief) to each one except the Louvre. I think we are both more into people watching than museum wall gazing. I suppose that makes us low class, but so what. We both like modern art museums but when time is limited, it's more connecting with the rhythm of the city that we're into. And we love walking and looking at the architecture, so I suspect we'll do a lot of that.

Blogger Frank stopped by yesterday to lend me his Paris books. Thanks Frank! I'm going to look through them today while I'm in class. Oh right, I got a call yesterday for a class just for today (a day I was supposed to be off) to help a functionary prepare for her language proficiency exam. Such a cake gig. I sit while the student takes the mock exam for 2 hours. Then we review all the errors and why they are errors. Then repeat. It's an all day gig, and I get to read while the student takes the mock test. I'll be reading up on the cities we're going to.

You know when I was 17, I went with the family on a 7 week European vacation, the family vacation of a lifetime. I remember thinking at the time, "Oh I've got my whole life, I'm sure I"ll be back a bunch of times." So taking everything for granted. So naive. I went back only once for a trip to Amsterdam, and well, that was a different kind of trip. Oh, lots of fun mind you, I just remember more about the trip from when I was 17 than the one 10 years ago if you catch my drift (clears throat). Spouse didn't go on that trip because he wasn't readily able to cross borders at the time. Spouse has iterated time and again that he wishes to relax on vacation. I keep saying, "THREE sea days! Three whole days with nothing to do but schlub around the ship." This doesn't seem to be enough for him, alas.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The usual jitters

I'm trying to convince spouse to travel light for the trip. Inevitably, we always pack too much and don't use half of the clothing options we bring. So I pitched the idea that we only pack carry-ons and then we can avoid any baggage problems. He was rather alarmed at the idea since we'll be gone for weeks. The way I see it, we only need to pack for a 5 day trip. On the cruise, there are laundry facilities, and if we want to buy things, we can check-in bags for the trip home. Who cares if the luggage is delayed when you come home?

The usual pre-trip dynamic is something like this. I meticulously plan what I consider "salient details", while spouse accuses me of "stressing" before vacation. See, he doesn't care if it's cheaper or not to buy a transit pass in Paris instead of a packet of tickets. He doesn't want to look through the stack of guidebooks I brought home from the library. He's not concerned with the logistics of getting to the airport in Paris by 5:30am for our flight to Rome. So when I bring up how we're going to get to the Paris airport at 5:30am, he becomes cross for my upping his stress. (Incidentally, apparently I'm a freak for printing up the terminal plan for Charles de Gaule airport.) "Don't worry, we'll deal with it when we get there," is his constant refrain. He says the word worry like "be such an idiot".

I made a calendar for the trip, but I'm keeping it hidden for now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Verklempt plus Paris

That was so uplifting for me yesterday, watching all the comments come in. I loved seeing what some of the reader's favorites were, like the steve sherman story, the time spouse put foot cream on his face, and the excitement of visiting the Moncton tidal bore. Thank you all for such kind words, it really helped get through the dreary rainy day that was yesterday. Spouse and I sat pretty much the whole day in front of our computer screens. I researched Paris. So overwhelming, we're only going to be there for five days, and spouse gets all confined feeling if we schedule too many things. So I've made a list of things we're interested in doing, a list that makes my heart race with terror were we obligated to do them all. And Jiminy Christchild but that town is expensive. The five day transit pass is going to be eighty dollars EACH. That's more than a monthly pass in Montreal. At least we don't have to tip in the restaurants, or do we? I read that the tip is included but if you liked the service you could leave 5-10 percent. I'd love a clarification, what is standard?

Today I've got a class and then I'm going over to the library and see if I can copy some maps of the city. If not I'll go buy one at the map store (one of the few stores I can't just pass by without entering.) I want to get a couple walking tours copied too as possible activities. Only eight more sleeps until we go. Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy! I was thinking that I'd try to do little blog postcards during the trip. Try to put up a picture and quick note each day. No promises, but I think it would make a nice souvenir. I don't want to blog the trip, that would be too much like work, but a picture and a couple sentences, maybe that would be more fun. We shall see.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Three years already?

Hey guess what? This little old blog turns three years old today. Three years that I've been getting up every morning to face this screen. My first post was so lame and I didn't tell anybody about it for a few days. But then I told friends and family and voila, an audience. Then I started seeking out others and found lots of retarded people like me writing about their life. And then, well, the rest is history. Like falling into a group of new friends at University, it became a fast obsession. It was the beginning of my summer vacation and this little hobby became a summer project, a project that has now gone on three years. Just for fun, I'm going to list a few of my favorite posts.

The ball
Note from spouse
Dog 'n spouse story
Love is....

I'm sure there's more that I like, these just came off the top of my head. I'm a bit alarmed at the number of half naked photos of myself. (for example here, here and here) Perhaps I've worked that out of my narcissistic self. Only time will tell (wink).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hearing hairs in your ears

Did you know that there are sounds that adults can't hear, but kids and teenagers can? I can't remember what website I saw this mentioned, but the kids can get ringtones for their cell phones that the adults cannot hear. That just seems so Harry Potter, I didn't believe it. The ringtones are called "mosquito" and you can test your hearing over here, and see which rings you can and can't hear. Spouse couldn't hear the 49 and under one (if I were more of an asshole, I'd mock him here parenthetically) and I couldn't hear the 24 and under. I could hear the 30 and under, but just barely. The numbers refer to how old you need to be to hear the sound. Apparently, you've got some hairs in your ear that aid in your hearing and you lose those hairs as you get older.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Doting on yesterday

The thought just went through my head, "How long are you going to sit here before you type something?" Then I calculated how long (22 minutes) and started typing this. I've just been reviewing the day yesterday, looking at parts of it, turning them over in my head, and deciding they're not worthy of your interest. Things like the fact that we had the doorbell system changed on the building. Two of the tenants doorbells haven't worked since we bought the place, and we've been trying to find someone to fix the system. The most notable thing about the event was the mesmerizing blue eyes of the locksmith. (And who knew it was them to call to fix the doorbells?) I also spent a lot of time yesterday reading the reaction to California's supreme court decision. Ellen Degeneres announced her intent to marry Portia. (And I thought they had split up. Why did I think that?) I read about the people trying to "protect" marriage and would like to change California's constitution. I look at my life with Serge, married, and I think, "We are not villains." If there's anything villainous, it's the fact that I had to leave my own country in order to stay with Serge. (read the Road to Montreal on the left for that story)

The afternoon was rather dull and I worked on more student evaluations. Then we took MIL out for Mother's Day since last week's plans were scrapped due to a car breakdown at the last minute. We went to this place. They have an entertainer and a little dance floor, and it was cute to see MIL dance with her boyfriend. Spouse refused to dance with his mother, but I don't think he knows how to dance this way. Everyone had their hands up a la Dancing with the Stars. This place is more for the generation that came before us and we wondered what our generation's place will look like in 20 years. Will 80's music one day be the hallmark of the blue haired crowd?

Sleep came effortlessly and lasted eight uninterrupted hours. Today will be good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Snippets

* This is not photoshopped in any way. Well, except for cropping. But that doesn't count. I popped over to the botanical gardens yesterday to check out the spring progress. The lilacs are just starting, and the apples and cherries are going gangbusters.


* I was very pleased to see my home state's supreme court overturn the ban on gay marriage. It is not activist judges disobeying the will of the people, it is judges rightly interpreting the law, the tyranny of the majority notwithstanding. My terrible fear is, however, that this is part of some evil plan to win McCain the election.

* Only 12 sleeps until vacay. I think this might be the best part.

* If there's one thing in Paris that spouse shouldn't miss, what is it?

* I mowed the lawn. Or perhaps I should say the dandelion patch. I used to think they were pretty. But then I became a landowner.

* I'm reading Perfume whose storyline unfurls in Paris. It takes place hundreds of years ago when all sorts of matter was in the river, the streets, the stores. There were 75 different kinds of stench, all layered atop one another. Such foulness made perfume a popular item. But it kind of grosses me out too and I know I'll be thinking about it as I walk along the Seine.

* I was thinking today was going to be kind of an easy day. That's because I have one class and the rest of the day to do as I wish. But it's not all grand, I've got to leave at 6:15 this morning, ugh. Y'all have a nice weekend. (Ours is long, the queen's birthday or some such nonsense Monday. I wonder what we'll do......)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peggy Babcock

I got a great laugh out of spouse last night. We were watching tv and the name "babcock" came up and Serge made a crack about what a weird name it was. I told him it wasn't a weird name, my next door neighbors when I was growing up had that name and of course there's the most difficult tongue twister to say, the simple girl's name "Peggy Babcock". Serge didn't believe it was difficult to say and started to try. I wrote the name down on a paper so he could practice and then I grabbed the camera. Unfortunately, the video is very dark. However, it still makes me laugh helplessly. It's also a bit long, but if you're up for a laugh, go ahead and watch the video here.

After that I asked him to try a couple of other simple but common tongue twisters. This one is a bit lighter and also shorter. Hope you get a chuckle out of it. I sure did.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bananas, cashews and gas prices

So I put cashews in the banana bread. One of those voices up there said hey wait, it's supposed to be walnuts isn't it? I rationalized that cashews are yummy, and bananas also tasty, I can't see anything wrong with putting the two together. Well I'll tell you what's wrong with cashews in your banana bread, they don't adhere to the mix. It's like the bread thinks the cashews smell and forms little bubbles around each piece. (They were whole but I scrunched them up in my hand first.) What that means is that you have the nuts just tumbling out of the bread as you eat. Sara's having a ball scouting out the fallen nuts. Anyway. Now you know.

Gas prices went up 12 cents yesterday, from 1.27 to 1.39 a liter. (from $4.82 to $5.28 a gallon) It costs me eight dollars to go to and from my suburbia classes. I'm grateful they end next week. The pattern here is always the same. Hike the price sometime between Monday night and Thursday. Then the price descends a penny at a time until the next week. Then they raise it slightly higher than the previous week's high. I always check this website, because citizens write in with prices. See, some stations hike it a few hours before others (although they all go up in the same 8 hour window) and if you have this info, you can know exactly when to get the cheapest gas that week.


Here's a shot of the station across the street just before prices went up. The place was packed until 9pm when the price change went into effect. I don't see how supply and demand has anything to do with the pattern of pricing changes, because it's always the same pattern.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

12 of 12

First thing I saw in the morning was the beautiful Sara sleeping on her bed. I spent a little time on the computer, then got ready and headed out.

Off to the nearby metro station to head downtown.

I had a little extra time, so I popped in to see if they had some sneakers on sale at the shoe store in the downtown metro station. I got these for $25.

I passed by the church with all the tulips. This is the bottom half of the picture.

And this is the top of the picture.

I still had a little time to spare when I got to the job site so I did some sudoku in the park.

Then I went into the glass and steel building. But we didn't stay long as it's our last class. So we headed over to Chinatown again for lunch.

On the way there we passed the grove of crabapple trees (Montreal's official tree) that are in full bloom as you can see.

Chinatown really is like going into a different country. Here we see some roast ducklings. We all stopped and gasped at the eyes and beaks still intact.

Tails still on the pig too.

After class I came home to discover serge sunning on the deck. He worked from home yesterday and was taking a break here.

Then I headed out to teach an evening class, but not before I whipped up a banana nut bread. After class, I came home and treated myself to a slice. Yum.

To see other participants of this month's 12 of 12, click here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

This n that

Here I am in the dungeon doing my routine. It was hard to feel hungover and do it, but I badgered myself into it, as hungover is no excuse to skip out on responsibilities. I love the ipod too because before I got it, I listened to tinny music from a portable radio. Now I dance between sets because I've got the music blasting in my ears. The ipod is a wonderful thing, I didn't really want it for the music playing capabilities, but now I just adore it for that. Every song that comes on I think, "Hey, I LOVE that song." Then I laugh at myself, since of course I love that song, that's why I put it in there. In case you're wondering, that's 185 I'm squatting there. It looks like the bar is bending too, doesn't it? I think that's a trick of the lens as I've never noticed it bending before.

We joined up with our out of town visitors for a drink in the afternoon. This is the first time I've gone to a bar in the gay village since the last time we had nice weather. Must have been October. It was pretty crowded up on the rooftop patio of the Sky, but we found a table over by the restrooms. What was nice about that is that you eventually see every single person there, since eventually each one will take the walk to and from the toilets. Each person has their own way of promenading down this particular catwalk. Chests up, to strut or not to strut (many seemed conflicted about this) sashay, and one little twinky even skipped to the bathrooms. We decided it was a great spot for people watching.

Oh and one last thing. Parvati?! For such a great show this season, THAT was a letdown.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Overhung

Lobsters are on sale all over town this weekend. These were $6.77 a pound, live or precooked. I am a total sissy when it comes to the live ones, so I was glad when our out of town friends opted for the precooked. (They assured us that they had just cooked the live ones that day.) Then they had rib-eye steak on sale too, so we had lobsters for an appetizer, and steak with garlic mashed for the main course. I have a headache too this morning from the various libations we indulged in. (Saturdays are for libations.) The steaks were awesome. I watched as the boys put garlic, lemon juice, basil and soy sauce on the steaks and let them sit for a while like that before they went on the barbeque. I'm writing it here so I won't forget because they were DELISH.

As I look at the photos from last night, I think, "we certainly are in our cups".

After the boys left, I called back mommy, and since I've brought her up, Happy Mother's Day. I think my words might have been a little slurry. I'm sure they were when I called back em. I'm grateful now that at least I didn't drunk blog. At this moment, I need aspirin. It's gonna be a long day if I don't 86 this headache.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Class pics

I finished up 4 classes this week. I say finished, but now I have to correct the final exams and prepare detailed evaluations for each student. This is a group I've had for a few years and we get along swimmingly. We talk about simply EVERYTHING in this class.

This was a new class this session. We're missing the red-headed Romanian with her piercing laugh, but we enjoyed dim-sum for our last class lunch out yesterday. Guy, the guy on the left, might not have enjoyed it so much. He's young and can't eat anything from the sea. It seemed that all the pork dumplings, won tons and pot-stickers, even though they were "pork" contained a shrimp. Now you and I, we don't even realize there's a shrimp in the pork dumpling, but poor Guy, he kept discovering them after he took a bite. Then he refused to eat anything until he took apart the item completely to verify the absence of seafood. Even the fried rice had shrimp in it. I don't think he'll be coming back to this place.

Oh and for newbies, I teach English to adults at their workplace. It's a great job if you can get it.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Snippets

* I've had about twenty nuggets I wanted to share with you bouncing around my head, and now that I've sat down to write them, I can't remember any. I need to get back to jotting them down, but I've been so darn busy (like always at the end of the school session) it's just not been a priority.

* That said, I still find time to scramble every day. Scramble is a facebook application that is essentially the game of Boggle. I'm pretty good at this game but only because I went through a boggle phase a few years back when another site called it Tangleword.

* I bought some dirt. The package of dirt says not to put it in the sun. I don't understand. Don't you put dirt in the sun?

* I can't believe I'm buying earth and water. What's next, air and sun?

* I bought 500 euros to have when we go on the trip. Cost me 800 bucks. Serge mocked me since it's so easy to use ATM's. But I have already learned that lesson. When I went to Hong Kong with no money, I had memorized my pin for my atm card by the shape it made on the keyboard. But in Hong Kong, the numbers were all listed in a reverse way, so I didn't know my pin anymore. Even though now I memorize my pin by the numbers, I still want to be safe rather than sorry.

* Everyone else down south posted their spring flower pictures starting months ago. Forgive me my fervor, but it's new for us up here!

* Up here the bus pass is non-transferable (though this rule is essentially non-enforceable) except for spouses. You are allowed to share between couples.

* Ugh, so many of these start with "I". I'm such a pompous windbag sometimes.

* Only 20 days til vaykay. 20 sleeps. 20 daydreaming days of spring. Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Quickie

Did you see the news the other day about breastfeeding? That they have now established that breastfed babies end up more intelligent? (I though it interesting to note that the increased intelligence did not translate into more financial success in life.) I don't think we really neede an extensive study such as this, I mean, nature has had millions of years to perfect its creatures. Man always thinks he can improve on nature's design. We are nothing if not proud.

As we speak, there are probably people out there trying to improve the tulip. I'd wager it can't be done.

Behold perfection.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Biggest profit ever

I'm not the best at giving well though out arguments. I realize this now. Back at university, I used to get very frustrated with my dense professors. Couldn't they understand my logic when I wrote a paper? Do I have to spell it out for them? Can't they get the link between this sentence and the several before it? What is wrong with them, shit I could teach this class. Ah the hubris so prevalent in youth. I say all this because I want to rant a little bit, and I'm sure it will be scattered and ill-organized. Be thankful that it will also be short.

You did see that the oil companies rang up record profits in the first quarter of 2008, didn't you? Maybe you missed it since it was buried far away from page one. Those tough-as-nails journalists really asked the hard questions too, like how is it you made record profits when the price has gone up so drastically of late? (In case you missed it, I was going for sarcasm there.) Those oil PR people, man, if there is a hell, those people are headed straight for it. "Well, gosh, our hands are tied. It's supply and demand you know, and anyway, what's good for those oil company investors is good for all of us." Oh how my blood boils when I see these softball questions bounced back with bullshit answers. Supply and demand? Supply and demand? But you create both! The oil companies squelch the development of other energy forms, such as electric powered vehicles. Their goal is simple, ensure that their product is necessary and then control the supply. And that wouldn't even be all that bad, I mean capitalism pretty much dictates that profits be generated and protected. But in this chokehold they've got on all of us, they are also causing the slow destruction of the planet. Guess what happens when we despoil the planet. We all lose. With half the money spent thus far in Iraq (I believe the invasion was all about the oil) we could have changed the entire automotive infrastructure in North America so that cars no longer ran on gas, and this would have released our countries from their dependence on other countries for energy needs. And then we would be more powerful. But no. Instead big oil is going to ruin us, all of us.

I'm not a paranoid guy, I'm not a consiracy theorist, and maybe I don't give well-reasoned arguments, but I firmly believe that big oil is the most aggressive cancer on the body of capitalism. And for what? For that fictitious substance we call money. It just boggles my mind.

Kay, I feel better now.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tree killers

The guy next door has been trying to sell his place for over a year. Last summer as we chatted across the fence in the back, he told me he'd sell it to me for the same price we paid for ours. I told him we have had no money left since we bought this building and we watched as people came and went, realtor signs went up and came down, and then yesterday morning a crew of six guys arrived to do "fon├žage de pieux". Google translates this as "shaft piles" which really sounds nasty if you think about it. I really have no idea what it is in English, but basically, they dig a trench around the building and attach brackets to the foundation and then stick metal beams through the bracket way down deep into the ground. I'm not sure if this is supposed to prop up the building or just stabilize and anchor it, but I know it is borne of a foundation problem. So at 6:30 in the morning they arrived, parked the big dump truck on OUR front lawn and proceeded to dig up his front yard. I woke up to a trembling house and was horrified to see them chopping down the Sumac tree, the one I adore, the one that turns bright red in the autumn and whose seed pods feed the starlings well into the winter. Hacked it down with a chainsaw. I've decided I'm gonna dig a small one up over by the train tracks and plant it on our side of the dividing line this year.

Anyway, we went out front to chat with the owner when we were leaving and he told us that no one would buy the building because it showed signs of a bad foundation. Apparently, according to the company doing the work, our property does not show the bad signs. We also learned that the bedrock is 44 feet down yet the foundations are 10 feet down, just "earth" between the foundation and bedrock which is why all the houses on this street feel the vibrations from time to time from the heavy traffic. So we asked how much this was costing since it could be an eventual problem here and he about gagged me with his response. Thirty grand. Later I moaned to serge that we don't have that kind of money and he blithely said, "eh, we'll borrow it then."

Monday, May 05, 2008

From the spam folder

I can't decide if my favorite is "you're a moron Richard" or "set your wife on fire". There sure are a lot of insinuations that my love wand is lacking in length and girth. If I didn't know better, I'd get an inferiority complex. (wink)

Spouse made one of his spontaneous predictions yesterday. He said, "the dog is going to die when we are on vacation." I hate it when he says things out of the blue like that, because that's the red flag for his clairvoyance. I told him not to say that. Sure enough this morning, Sara is limping worse than ever. She doesn't seem to mind, but it breaks my heart. I hope Serge is wrong, but he's probably right.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Rambling

It's a cloudy, rainy, gray weekend, perfect for putzing. Wait a minute, it's telling me putzing isn't a word, but I'm pretty sure I remember being admonished in the past for "putzing around". According to the reference source I just checked, it's slang and vulgar. Also it's a noun meaning "fool". Makes sense, fooling around, putzing around. Anyway, that's what we did yesterday and will probably be what we do today.

I finally received all the films I ordered for the session, and so we watched Silver Streak and The Graduate, both films I haven't seen in a very long time. Silver Streak was sooooooo lame, and I can't figure out why I had ever liked it. The recurring joke line of "Son of a bitch!" which I just know was funny way back when, seemed really stupid now. I'll never show that film in class. The Graduate, on the other hand, was timeless. A classic. I think I'll show that one next session.

Hmm, a couple other quasi-notables from yesterday. I printed up our cruise documents, and then I did the doc dance. 30 days until the cruise, but before that, Paris! It's this that keeps me chipper these days. Also, I made hamburgers for din-din last night. My secret ingredients are egg and parmesan, but I read over here that his secret is oats and milk. So I put them all in. Plus a bit of Montreal steak seasoning. They were quite possibly the best burgers I've ever consumed. Plump, juicy and flavorful. I wanted to make the perfect french fry (by far the most popular post on this blog, sigh) but after a martini, I lost the drive and punked out with tater tots. Ooh ooh ooh, I almost forgot, I bought a new toaster oven. Ours was 7 years old and I'm not sure if it had ever been cleaned, I know I never did. Tossed that mofo in the garage, and now we have a "self cleaning" one. (Quotes indicate my disbelief.) Anyway, that thing did those tater tots right. Yum.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Rude awakening

It is four in the morning. I'm jerked from sleep by shooting pains below the abdomen. This happens from time to time and I always think it's a particularly large knob turning a corner in the intestines. I read that the intestines don't have any pain receptors though, so it could be something else. I change my position feeling the knob shift. It hurts. I get up and go sit on the couch to have a cigarette and see if this will pass. As I sit, I feel slightly nauseous, "Do I need to throw up?" I ask myself. My mouth waters and the knob turns another corner. Ouch. It seems to be getting close to the exit, perhaps I need to dump. Yes, that's it, I need to dump. And it's as though the thinking it makes it very pressingly true. I leave the couch and go sit on the bowl and there is a rather large knob that explodes forth, followed by liquid. The odor reaches my senses and I have to throw up. Now. No waiting. It is only instinct that has my right arm grabbing the little trashcan beside the toilet. The first half of the first WHAAAAAAAAAARSH gets out before the can is positioned correctly but the other 5 gut wrenching heaves make it in. "A first," I think, having never had this unique experience of exploding from both ends at once. I decide that I don't really like it. Spouse, having heard the ruckus, runs in from the other room with a glass of hot water, bless him, and steps into the vomit that missed. He is unusually kind as he slips out of his soiled socks and goes to fetch the mop and bucket. He cleans up as do I. I am fairly nauseated the rest of the day. I learn that the culprit is likely salmonella. I'll never order that delivery submarine sandwich again, I conclude.

I gave it a shot, but I really hate writing in the present tense.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ricky Retardo*

I am really behind on everything. Somehow I don't have any time these days. Here look at some pretty pictures.

The tulips have risen. If you can believe it, it snowed the day I took this picture (Wednesday).

I still giggle inside when I see the word erect in any form. Some things I just can't grow out of. This is one of my favorite buildings in Montreal. They don't erect edifices like this anymore.

If it interests you, I left the images pretty big if you click on them. This is the entrance. The marble stairs are worn into patterns by 80 years of comings and goings.

Once inside, it is cavernous. Above is looking back toward the entrance from the picture before. There is amazing detail on every surface. I always take time to gawk at the ceiling when I go in. I asked the security guard if I could take pictures of the ceiling and he said yes, but I couldn't take pictures in the bank part.


This is looking toward the bank area. Sometimes I feel as though the grandiosity of it is gratuitous ostentation and a useless display of wealth. Still, I get a little thrill whenever I go in. Which I do often. See, downstairs at this place is a little cafe where you can get a huge salad selection to go for four bucks out the door. Right now my favorite combo is the vermicelli, spinach salad, nicoise salad and greek pasta salad.

Oh and this is just because I pass it every day in one of the metro tunnels. It's one of a series of posters for I can't remember what - Art in movement? This one always makes me feel good about scurrying around with all the worker drones in the tunnels going to work. At least I'm not chained to a job like this. Ugh.

* actual childhood epithet hurled at yours truly