Saturday, March 06, 2010

This that and the other

This has been the best winter that I've experienced up here. One major snowstorm which we missed because we were in Cuba and then a couple of 4 inchers which didn't even trigger snow removal. I haven't seen a snow removal operation since this time last year when I was SOOOO over the copious snowfalls. February broke sun records and I bet this winter overall is going to be one of the mildest on records. It's weird, it's like all the nasty stuff went South this year which happens to be an El Nino year. We were really cold the last El Nino, but this year was very nice. We are in perfect maple syrup production temps right now. 40ish during the afternoon 20ish at night. I bet this is going to be a high production year up here.

OMG less than a week and we'll be in Spain. I picked up a couple hundred euros for pocket money and of course the next day the Canadian dollar surged. I swear you could make money off my timing for currency exchange. It never fails to rise significantly the day after I buy the foreign currency. I'll go the library later today and pick up a couple guides to the cities we'll be visiting. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Toledo and Segovia are the principal cities we'll be exploring. I saw an article about how 80% of young people disagree with the tradition of bullfighting and that it may be dying out. I was aghast the first time I saw one, but that feeling lessened upon further visits. The art and pageantry of it finally was appealing. I don't know if we'll go see one, but regardless of my attendance, the matadors are still heroes for many and the sport has at least two decade legs.

There's another little brouhaha up here over the niqab this time. That's the garment that covers the face completely of a Muslim woman with only a slit for the eyes to see through. Apparently a new immigrant attending the free French language classes immigrants receive caused problems in the class. She had real issues about the males in the class, didn't want them near her or looking at her and it finally came to a head and the college kicked her out of the class. Now she is going before the human rights commission with a complaint about it. If she had been in my class, I would have said pretty early on that the teacher runs the class and if you don't like how it's run, go find another. Which I think is finally how it went down. Anyway, I love stories like this because my job gets so easy. Instant long conversation topic. A lot of people are offput because she's not assimilating enough into our secular culture. At the same time, she has a right to freedom of religion like everyone in our society. Most feel she tested the limit of that right by asking others to accommodate her wishes in the class. Some feel very strongly about it, especially those who see religion as the true evil of this world. I love teasing the students too. "Why can't you all just learn English and give up the ghost of French culture and assimilate already? You're 7 million in a sea of 330 million English speakers?" Ahh, but there's one big difference, they say, an immigrant arrives from elsewhere while we have always been here. I wonder what the First Nation's people would say about that.

13 comments:

A Lewis said...

Oh boy, you've opened a can of worms, haven't you. And there are, no doubt, MANY schools of thought. I think she's more than welcome, hell yeah, come on in. Enjoy. But if other people want to stare, it's not a crime. As long as there is no abuse, rudeness, inappropriate comments, hatefulness, and such...it's all good. Everyone is stared at from time to time. I just stare back. I've had people on board flights before refuse to be seated near men for the same reason. And the other way around as well. It's typically accommodated as well as possible but no guarantees.

Nick UK said...

Whereas here in the UK we have had the coldest winter for over 30 yrs!
I am so envious of your trip to spain, we had a weekend in Barcelona 2 yrs ago and the only bad thing was that it was too short! It is a beautiful city particularly away from Las Ramblas, and Gaudi's buildings are so bizarre yet wonderful.

Religious versus Secular culture? since I'm an atheist I tend to think that religion is just another word for hatred and intolerance.

Rox said...

I vascillate with the whole immigration thing. Yes, I welcome you into my country and yes, I will be patient with you while you learn the language and the way we do stuff up here. However, when you start whining that we are not treating you special, well, I just want to shove you back from whence you came.

I've been living in Alberta too long. My neck is getting red.

By the way, mildest winter here too so far. The almanac says we are to have a wet spring though. I just pray we don't have a bone dry summer. Mama wants to go camping!

GayProf said...

Can't say I appreciate the sport, but matadors are hot.

Anonymous said...

The first people to live in Canada did not speak French or English. Just saying. Here we call the muslim woman's head gear a Burka. I now must do all of these things to get a drivers license: 1. no hat, 2, no facial expressions. 3. no hair on face or forehead. So imagine how I feel when a Muslim can wear a Burka in her ID Photo. I just watched a documentary on Iran. In every mosque there is a sign that states: Kill all Israelis. There is no hope for peace in this world and as the Bible predicts the final war will be over control of Jerusalem. 2012 isn't that far off. Enjoy Spain, you guys. Ted

Anonymous said...

In the long run, 100 years from now, who is going to care about the winter of 2010 in Canadia, or niqabs/burkas, or bullfights?

As long as you, Serge and Georgie can all curl up in bed together and snore up a storm...it's times like that in which everything is all right in your world.

Enjoy the trip to Spain. Be sure to post plenty of gorgeous pictures for us. And, even more importantly, be sure to pick up a souvenir or three for Georgie that he'll be sure to appreciate.

Will said...

Strategy for your next trip: Plan how much money you want to exchange, take it out of the bank, tell all your friends you're going to exchange money that day. Don't.

Wait for next day when the exchange rate will have changed in your favor.

I have to say that twelve years of strict Catholic education has left me strongly anti-Catholic; that reading history and seeing the vast majority of wars have been fought for religious/cultural domination has left me convinced religion is a blight on the world; and that the use of deity for genocide, exclusion and bigotry has left me an atheist.

What possible use could religion be if not to bring people together in peace and cooperation? Religion in his world fails signally to do that.

Fresco said...

Sorry to hear about the job loss, but you've got E viva España to look forward to.

In Barcelona there's a nice spot for breakfast called Café Opéra on the Ramblas. You can't miss it as all the gays go there :-) and Valencia is just amazing with stunning architecture in the brand new Ciudad de las Ciencias.

Rick said...

Enjoying the unusually mild winter here in New England too.

dr. mo said...

I won't comment on the niqab thing because that will just lead to me raging against both sides and is not very productive. I will, however, express my complete envy of your trip to Spain. Whatever you do, spend at least one evening at a bar munching on tapas, anywhere in Spain. The architecture in Barcelona is mind-blowingly awesome -I think it's one of my favorite places in the world. And I would strongly recommend going to a bullfight in Madrid, but I realise this is a cultural preference (I say "olé"! but I know it's a touchy thing). Have fun!

Lemuel said...

I got a good chuckle out of your paragraph on the niqab and how it evolved in your classroom discussions. As you would be aware we have a similar thing going on in the states between Latinos and the "always been here" crowd. As you note, the truth is that we've not always been here.
Now, where did I put my "Learn to Speak Lenni Lenape" software? :-D

Tatiana said...

I'm with Rox on the immigration thing - something to be said for Alberta. And I'm an immigrant...

Bullfighting is atrocious. I don't think I could lose my aghast feeling 'bout that. Hope it goes out the window soon, along with all animal sports.

Have an awesome time in Spain!

Jabacue said...

Have a good trip!