Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rally downtown Montreal this evening in Solidarity with the Syrian people

Cut and Paste from message I received on Facebook



31 July 2011

Today, the Syrian regime is mobilizing its army against its own people on a scale not yet seen over the past five months of the people’s uprising for dignity, freedom, justice and democracy. This represents an escalation of significant proportions in the regime’s brutal suppression of the people’s will for meaningful change in Syria.

Today, Syrian military troops and artillery are being used against the people in numerous cities and towns—most strikingly in the cities of Hama and Deir Ezzor. Hundreds have been reported killed already.

Today, a public rally will be held in Montreal to show solidarity with the Syrian people’s principled, just and peaceful struggle for rights, dignity and freedom.

Join us at:

Carré Phillip/Phillips Square ( Ste-Catherine and Union; across from The Bay)

Time 19:30/7:30 PM

No to Intervention! No to Indifference!

Yes to the Syrian people’s just and principled struggle.

The Collective for Syria in Montreal

Syria, Syria don't you cry, we will never let you die.....

Marching down St Catherine for the children of Syria.
One of the many chants recited last night at the vigil/march held downtown Montreal. Another chant from last night, recited in Arabic, was God, Syria, and Freedom, as well as Come on Bashar, leave! There were other slogans, but my Arabic being limited, I did not understand them. Though to be sure, when the name Bashar was in the slogan, it was all about what an ass hole he is being and how he should leave already. RDI suggests there were 150-250 people... I think there was closer to 400 people. The numbers RDI had were probably from the organizers, as the group from Facebook indicated there would be around 200 people. It doesn't take into account that sometimes only 1 family member wrote he was attending and then brought half a dozen people with him.

I was very pleased with the fact there was no counter protesters. Rumours through the crowd though implied there was people from the Syrian Embassy in attendance. I know I stuck out like a sore thumb, I don't look Syrian, I was asked at least twice if I was from news media, I suppose because of my big camera. I explained to one woman I was there since my mom-in-law was born in Homs, Syria, and I feel solidarity with the Syrian people.

The march went from Norman Bethune Square to Philips Square. The police arrived around 8:30ish to escort the protesters marching down St Catherine.  I will give credit to Montreal police, they do a great job escorting protests. That's  what police forces are for, to protect the people! [HINT HINT BASHAR!!!] They were there, but stayed out of the way as people were just peacefully walking and shouting slogans.
 Katherine Lalancette of the Gazette interviewing Afra Jalabi

One woman I noticed out of the crowd. Turns out she is on Syria's most wanted list. I saw her being interviewed by a young female journalist for what seemed to be quite some time. She was also interviewed on CTV news briefly as well last night.
One of the organizers asking people to get their candles for the march

I noticed also reporters from RDI - they had one of the longest reports on the protest march of any TV news outlet. It is available on the RDI website - tele-journal  for July 30th. It's about 5 minutes into the 1st part of the broadcast.  I did not see CTV on site, but I caught the news. It was obvious they only came to Bethune square briefly and not later, as they say only several dozen people were there.  When we marched we were surely about 400.  I noticed a truck from Global TV but did not see their reporters, and have no idea if they had a report.

10 placards giving history and current details of uprising in Syria
I have to say the event was well organized.  They had T-shirts for sale, and free candles to all those who wanted to walk with them.  They had printed up leaflets to hand out on the street as others marched on St Catherine. They had highly graphic placards of images taken from footage that has come out of Syria. They had a sound system they used to encourage the crowd to cheer or chant and to make Montrealers aware of the plight of the Syrian people and how the Syrian children have the right to freedom too.

We left Philips Square at 10 to make sure we caught the 10:30 train back to the West Island. By then hubby had had enough of the crowds and noise.  They were shouting slogans when we left, and were going to have an audio visual presentation. I suspect the slogan shouting was also done to attract people from downtown Montreal to make them aware of the Syrian situation.
Candlelight vigil for Syria's dead Children St Catherine Street

Because it is the last day before Ramadan, it has been one of the worst days for the Syrian people, especially those in Hama, and other restive towns.  Tanks where there in force in Hama, and I haven't found a news report that knows how many dead. The numbers indicate there have been more then 100 dead this Sunday alone. The Hamza page I follow suggests 136, the Syrian days of rage say 120, and ffnSyria says 121. Aljazeera was far more conservative in it's estimates an hour ago, but now they also say 121 people are dead.

Edit 1:15pm : AlJazeera now says 136 dead
Edit 5:00pm : AlJazeera now says 142 dead

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Norman Bethune square

Today we're taking the train downtown, I haven't decided if we're going to take the 3 o clock train or the 4 o clock train, but we will be downtown for dinner time. I'm thinking of trying out Buffet Marahaja. I've heard good things about it and seen the ads, so why not?

After which hubby and I are going to make our way to Norman Bethune Square, a tiny piece of land not occupied by a high rise building on the corner of Guy and de Maisoneuve West, across the street from one of the entrances/exits to Guy-Concordia Metro station.

Of course I was curious to know who is Norman Bethune so I had to wiki it.  Considering the type of man Norman Bethune was, he'd be proud that the group for the Global Syrian Day have chosen this square for their demonstration.

Let there be light.....

Cool invention from MIT, made out of plastic bottle, water and bleach. Cheap light bulb requiring no electricity, and from what I can tell, they can use recycled bottles. Will be especially useful in places where large shanty towns get built outside cities that aren't connected to any grid.

Unrelated but also very positive, researchers in the UK may have found a better way to treat cancer patients which is showing remarkable results. Considering all of us has known someone who has died of a cancer or another, this is great news.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Your Silence is Deadly

Today was the day Syrian protesters hoped more of their compatriots would take to the streets and be heard.  This phrase has multiple meanings. It is meant to encourage more Syrians to take to the streets, it is meant also to have people in other countries see what is happening.

It is not just the silence of some Syrians but also the silence of their immediate neighbours, the Arab League as well as the countries, like the US who got involved in Libya but so far is afraid to say or do much about what is going on in Syria.

Good feature article on AlJazeera, telling the stories of 6 men randomly plucked from Syrian streets and into Assad's jails.

Also tomorrow is Global Syrian Day - candlelit vigil in Montreal to remember all the children who have died thus far in the past 4 months of brutality in Syria.

Syrians want no association with terrorists.

I guess with all that is happening in the middle east, Al Qaeda isn't getting enough attention so their new leader al-Zawahiri decided to speak about Syria.  The Syrian protesters however want no association with al-Zawahiri or his group for that matter.  If you were to talk to the average Syrian protester on the street, they would tell you that it's not about religion, that it's all about reforms and freedom.  I was reading earlier today that the people in Hama were showing both the Qoran and the Bible in their protests, to re-iterate that the protests are not sectarian.   The last thing the protesters need is al-Zawahiri support so Bashar can say "See foreign agitators and Islamists threaten Syria".

Earlier in the week Bashar announced a new law in effect, allowing multiple political parties but it's still too little too late. On the one hand he announces this new law and at the same time, is sending tanks to crush protesters in various parts of Syria, in hopes to keep the protests to a minimum during Ramadan. Mark my words, the more he tries to crush via violence the more people go out on the streets to protest and the less control he has. People will take to the street in much larger numbers during Ramadan.

Avaaz said 1,634 people have died in the crackdown, 26,000 have been arrested, of whom 12,617 are still in detention in Syria. Avaaz has revealed the identities of 2,918 Syrians who have been arrested by Syrian security forces and whose whereabouts are now unknown.

Nice article from the "Last tourist in Syria"  Emma Sky who is travelling exploring the Arab Spring.

On another note, earlier this week some French soldiers part of UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon were injured by a road side bomb. It turns out it the attack was carried out by a pro-Syrian Lebanese group, in retaliation for France's stance on Syria. There's also Hezbollah that denies it's helping the Syrian regime, but then you have Bashar that says he's not killing his own people!!! Who to believe?  Hezbollah has been in bed with Syria and Iran for a long time. Saying this isn't so isn't convincing too many people.

This morning seeing that it's Friday I've been looking for news of the protests after Friday prayers and haven't found out much yet. There's been a blast on the oil pipeline near Homs which the government said was done of course by terrorists. They have dispatched troops to Homs  to lay siege to the Military Academy where a Brigadier General and his officers have barricaded themselves. They say that the 7th armoured division in Deir Ez Zor have defected, after trying to protect citizens there from the regime's thugs. An article I was reading this morning says that the Syrian revolution is pure revolution because it has no real leaders, it's mostly spontaneous.

From what I'm reading in the facebook group "The Syrian Days of Rage" today, so far there has been protests today in Aleppo,  Hama & Qatana. The information will start trickling out of Syria in a couple of hours, but I bet it will be the day of the biggest demonstrations yet! Here's what AlJazeera has to say for today so far.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Discrimination rears it's ugly head

Article in the New York times had me shaking my head. Apparently most employers only want to hire people who are already employed. Which will leave those unemployed looking for work still unemployed. Sure some of the unemployed were poor employees and that's why they were laid off, but some were downsized because the company was downsizing and it has nothing to do with their performance.  To me it's a form of discrimination. You can't discriminate over gender, and race but you can discriminate over whether the person you're interviewing is employed or not?

Speaking of discrimination, this article I came across yesterday had me pretty mad. This kind of racism should not exist anymore but it does. I was pretty unimpressed. What does race have to do with anything?  It used to be people were racist to your face, now it's more hidden because of political correctness. It doesn't mean it's not there anymore. You'd think we were still in the 50's!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some terrorists are blonde and blue eyed!

I'm still amazed at how if there is a bomb, people in the West assume the terrorists are Arabs or Muslims. This mindset already existed before 9/11 but it was cemented after the attacks on the World Trade Center that somehow only Muslims can do this kind of damage.

It's actually quite amusing in some ways. Al Queda writes a rant about something they are against and the West shakes in their boots, fearing 9/11 or worse. No wonder Bin Laden spent the last couple of years comfortable in a house in Pakistan, all he had to do to make others fear him was write the odd text.

The sad part is, while we're all busy looking for the bad Arabs under our beds, we're going to completely miss local grown terrorism. The Norwegian [I'm purposefully not saying his name not to give him more glory], was anti-Muslim and pro-Israel. He was also blonde and blue-eyed, and as an article said, a poster boy for the Olympics, not for a terrorist! The guy responsible for the Oklahoma bombings, was a home grown terrorist as well. They aren't  the first or the last.

An opinion piece on AlJazeera goes more into detail and shares my sentiments.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, no one group has only bad guys and no one group has only good guys. You can find some bad Christians and good Christians, same with Muslims, Jews, Hindus and any other religion you can name.  Each group has their fundamentalists, conservatives, extremists as well as the more tolerant, middle of the road more liberal types.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad joke seen on facebook

Someone showed me a similar status yesterday and a friend said more or less the same thing this morning:

Brian Jones - dead at 27
Jim Morrison - dead at 27
Jimi Hendrix -  dead at 27
Janis Joplin - dead at 27
Kurt Cobain - dead at 27

and now Amy Winehouse dead at 27.

Only 10 more years of Justin Bieber. 

Ripped from this morning's headlines.

I was up late last night in a pensive mood and didn't get to sleep enough so I'm really brain dead this morning. About the only thing coherent I can do is comment on a few headlines!

Well written article about the causes of the famine in the Horn of Africa.

Canada puts out a new guide to help it's doctors help it's immigrant population with their health woes, I wonder if the guide covers PTSD. Most people who come from a region that lived through some form of war end up with PTSD, especially after arriving in a country that's as calm as Canada.

The Norwegian who was behind the attacks in Norway has referenced Canada many times in it's manifesto. Personally I think  multiculturalism works well. If you've never travelled to Montreal, try it sometimes. I love the fact we have people of just about every ethnic group and it makes Montreal one of the most vibrant cities in the world! I'm proud to be both a Quebecois and a Canadian.

As a last comment, I often wonder how come my blog ends up formatted all wrong even when it looks fine before I hid PUBLISH POST. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

5 year old prevents sister from drowning

Isn't that a positive headline? I think it's great! Here's a link to the story. What a wonderful little boy! He couldn't get his sister out of the pool alone, but he was able to keep her head above water until mom showed up to help.

One of the first things you can do as a parent in Quebec is take your little one to swimming lessons at a very young age. Children LOVE to play in water. The more swimming lessons they attend, the more they become aware of water safety and the least likely you are to have one of your precious offspring drown. Also my reasoning is that there aren't tons of activities you can do with a very young child, but taking them to swimming lessons and swimming with them is something fun for both.

I took mine to swimming lessons around 8 months old to a mom-tot swimming lesson. I used to enjoy it. You teach your baby how to hold his breath to go under water!  The only scare I had was when the youngest was  2 1/2. We were at the company pool and I had the presence of mind to keep her swimming belt on her around the pool at all times, even when she wasn't in the water.  Originally the belt had 4 floaters, and I would remove them as the child swam more and more on her own.  It gave the children a sense of swimming alone without risking of drowning, of course under adult supervision.

Well one fine summer day, with a belt with just one floater left she ran, tripped and fell into the pool. I was just a few feet away and by the time I reached her, barely 1 minute later,  she was pulling herself out of the pool a little shaken.  Because she had her floater and knew how to swim well with it,  she took her head out of the water, caught her breath and proceeded to reach the side to climb out.

Of course the same daughter now is a lifeguard at the DDO civic centre and has already taught a whole slew of kids water safety, and trained all the current staff!

Global Syrian Day - Save the Syrian Children!

Cut & paste from Facebook

Save our children!

Global Syria Day

For more than four months, Syrians have been protesting in the streets and squares of their cities and towns demanding their basic rights: Freedom, Dignity and Democracy.

They have faced brutal repression from the Syrian regime, and many have lost their lives: More than 1600 civilians have been killed including at least 80 children. More than 14,000 citizens have been arrested and jailed, and over 15,000 people have become refugees. The regime persists in its killing and repression, but the people continue to resist in the name of freedom, unity and dignity.

We are calling on Montrealers to show solidarity with the Syrian people at a silent candlelight march in downtown Montreal to Save the Children in Syria.

From Morocco to Egypt, from Bahrain to Palestine to Syria, self-determination, justice and dignity will prevail!

Date: July 30th, 2011.
Time: 8:00 PM
Checkpoint: Normand Bethune Sq. Guy corner de Maisonneuve O. Metro Guy-Concordia.

Collective pour la Syrie à Montréal
Courriel: syrian.collective.mtl@gmai​
Facebook: Journée mondiale pour la Syrie| Syria Global Day

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Don't read the news, it's too depressing!

Yesterday no matter which way you looked at the news, there was very little positive. 

The biggest headline was the death of singer Amy Winehouse.  The comments here were mostly, that she should have gone back to rehab. It's sad, she was but 27, an age that seems particularly dangerous for musicians who like to abuse drugs and alcohol.  The sad part is, she is just one person, she shouldn't have been on the top of the headlines.

The 2nd headline was the nearly 100 dead in Oslo, Norway. I believe 7 died from a bomb attack and about 90 died from being shot by a madman. The saddest part of this incident after the fact so many died and about an equal amount of people got injured, was the fact that the first speculation was that it was done by Muslim terrorists.  Goes to show how anti-Muslim the west has become, especially when manifestos come out like this.  You'd think both the 'Christian world' and the "Muslim world" would have both lightened up  in the centuries between now and the crusades. You'd think we'd have learned something, you know? Sadly, the views of the few extremists are now starting to colour everyone else  view.

Then there's the continuing wave of protests in Syria, they say more then 1.2 million marched last Friday mostly in Hama and Deir Ez Zor, but smaller protests happened throughout Syria.  The death toll continues to climb  in Syria[depending who you read it's between 1500-2000] and so do the number who have been arrested, detained and tortured [Anywhere from 12000 to 15000].  Sadly this week they were pounding on Homs again. It didn't prevent some folks from Homs from having mini demonstrations, where people gather, shout slogans and disperse before the Security forces arrive. 

So far the Syrian security forces are not giving up. They continue to target and shoot unarmed civilians.  There is now rumour that some of the snipers are from Iran. There was a train derailed and the Syrian media blames it on the protesters, but as far as we know it could be any number of the Syrian forces and/or Iranians who are behind it, to make the protesters look bad. Much like the Syrian regime is trying to say that it's the protesters that were behind sectarian violence in Homs last week. There is no proof of that.  But again it's hard to get proof when the media is tightly controlled and the ambassadors of France and the US were told they could NOT leave Damascus.

There's still fighting going on in Libya, there's massive protests going on in Egypt as well as violent clashes, there's been a bomb near a military building in Aden, Yemen the 2nd in this city in 2 months, there's been a train derailment in China which caused deaths.

Then there's the situation in the horn of Africa. Things have been bad in Somalia for over 20 years and instead of getting better, now there's drought again, thousands are already believed to have died of famine and thousands of women and children of fleeing in hopes to survive the drought.The men are afraid to travel fearing to be recruited in one armed group or another.

The protests that started in the Arab world now forever known as Arab spring was just the beginning. The wave is spreading, there's been protests in Spain, and Greece, there's been protests in Israel. The theme is similar, people want to be able to make a living. People want reforms.  The reasons behind the protests in Greece and Spain may not include personal freedoms like they do in Syria, but in the end, the needs of people are the same world wide.

That's the thing. Whether we're white or black or red or yellow, whether we're Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans or other, whether we're straight, gay, bi or transgender, whether we're male or female, we're all HUMANS, and it would be nice if we started treating each other with respect instead of being suspicious of anything that isn't familiar.  

Edit 25/07/11: Norwegian death toll was 73 people.   
Edit 26/07/11: Norwegian death toll was 76 people, but I couldn't retain number long enough to re-post it correctly!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Funny bumper sticker

This photo I took in 2008 in the parking lot of the EcoMuseum.  I noticed it in my screen saver today and had to hunt it down to share :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Storm that followed the oppressing heat

Link to cool video of the thunderstorm over Montreal last night, which followed the oppressive heat. Apparently we had a record heat of 35.2C recorded yesterday. So July 21st 2011, was the hottest July 21st on record in Montreal.

The hottest day ever in Montreal was on August 1, 1975 with a temperature of 37.6 °C (100 °F) .

Oppressive heat

When I got home from work yesterday it was 35C [95F] in the shade outside my dining room window. I can't imagine how warm it was in the sun, and it doesn't take into account the 50% humidity. I think we beat some records for heat yesterday in Montreal and elsewhere around eastern Canada.

We did our morning walk around the building around 11ish and that wasn't too bad, it takes us 10-15 minutes. We decided not to do an afternoon walk  because of the oppressive heat.  I was going to go swimming after work yesterday, but when I came to leave around 5ish I was feeling nauseous and the one thing I know from all my swimming lessons is never go in a pool when you're not feeling well. So instead I left to go home. I met a co-worker walking out and we ended up talking 15 minutes in the parking lot.

I spent a grand total of 30 minutes outside yesterday. The UV rating was so bad that my back and shoulders, and nose were a bit burned. Because of the heat I had to ask hubby to put some aloe on my back and shoulders. I could feel the sunburn.  Normally I don't burn in 30 minutes this late in the summer from so little exposure. It's not like it was the first day I wore a dress with little straps that expose all my back. I've been wearing dresses like that since early June, since it's so hot in the office. It got to  31C [88F] at my gf's desk yesterday.

It's sad I'm realizing that the UV is far worse in Montreal then it is anywhere in the Middle East. Sure the sun is strong and hot there, but I never got a burn in the Middle East, and I didn't wear sunblock if I didn't think I was going to be hours in the sun.  Sure I covered myself more in the Middle East then I do at home, but in my family we can burn even with clothes on!  It's happened to me before in Montreal and it used to happen to my aunt in Florida.

Admittedly my aunt is a pale blonde with translucent skin. I remember the first winter she spent in Florida, she came home with a brown face. I'd never seen my aunt with a tan so I asked her about it. She wore #30 sunblock and would go to beach with friends, wearing long sleeved white shirt and pants as well as a big hat. She would sit under a beach umbrella that was under the shade of palm trees and still come home burned!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Famine in the Horn of Africa

As a story I was reading this morning says, that we have been warned of the upcoming famine situation for months. Heck, considering how much food first world nations have, there's never an excuse for people in any part of the world to die from starvation.

It's always bugged me when governments encourage farmers to destroy a crop that could feed thousands because there is too much of that crop this particular year and it would cause the price of item x to plummet because of the surplus.  I always figure if the government is going to pay the farmer to destroy his crop, why not pay him for the crop and use it to help out others in places where food crops were not so abundant.

The earth doesn't always bring the same disasters to the same areas year after year.  We should take advantage of exceptional crops to help feed our poor neighbours.

You know it's always bugged me that when we were little, and I didn't have much appetite, I'd always be told, that I had plenty to eat and those poor starving children in Africa would love my lima beans. Well if we know there are starving children in Africa why are we doing nothing about it. Just because it's not our children, does it make it any less of a tragedy if they die of starvation?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Right to walk around bare chested

Women in parts of Canada have had the right to walk around bare chested for 20 years.  I know they have the right in Ontario and in BC, and in Ontario it has been 20 years.

It's not something I'm ever going to do, being a prude who's easily cold and with extremely white skin. I think my fear of sun burnt breasts is worse then having people stare at them :P

While I never plan on doing it, I strongly feel women should have the same rights as men in this regard.  I know plenty of men who have larger breasts then I do. Why should they be allowed to expose them and I can't? Mine are probably nicer to look at then those of men who's are bigger then mine :)

Along the same lines I'm also for the right of women to be able to breastfeed anywhere they see fit. Anyone who gets offended by this should go back and think long and hard about baby's health. It's fine in our society to eat in public, babies should have the same rights. Those who say women should breastfeed in bathrooms, should be sent to eat their lunch in the bathroom!

As far as I can tell only Ontario and BC allow the right for both men and women to be topless in public. This doesn't change the fact that there is a nudist beach at Oka Park and another near Meech Lake in Gatineau park, both in Quebec.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Scandals and the media

Ever since  large newspaper has been buying other large paper and you realize that in North America there are only a handful of different news outlets, I've had a distrust of the news.  You only get to hear what this particular news outlet has decided you will hear.  Getting two sides of a story is harder to find unless you dig really deep. In some ways the internet is good for that because it gives you access to all different news media.

I had a Facebook friend recently comment that he tends to learn things when he reads the BBC or even AlJazeerah English, but he doesn't learn so much when he reads North American media. I'm not in complete agreement, I still find some Canadian news sources acceptable, but overall I am in agreement as I've been staying away from American news outlets for a while. It's all the same rehashed views.

When you look at some countries in the Middle East like Libya, Syria, just to name a few, the news outlets of those countries are even more tightly controlled. People in some countries are hard pressed to find anything else to read other then the party line. We've seen in the west how Syrian SANA stamped news stories differ greatly from what people on the ground have to say.  The middle east isn't the only place where the news is tightly controlled. I'm sure if the Chinese government doesn't want us to know things, we never find out about them either.

It's kind of ironic in this day and age of globalization, the internet and Facebook, where in theory we should be more aware of what goes on elsewhere in the world and in some ways we're just as backward because the news we get to read isn't always the only news but it's the only one "those in power" think we should be reading. 

Here's hoping that the scandal involving phone hacking of victims by Rupert Murdock employees changes some of the way news media operates and perhaps puts back a bit of honesty in the game. At the moment this scandal is like a runaway train. No one knows how much damage it will do or where it will stop, as this article demonstrates.  Right now it's having a catastrophic effect in Britain.

Monday, July 18, 2011

She thinks of me

My eldest daughter was telling me that she thinks of me when she hears this song. It's not particularly surprising that she does when I write entries like this one. I wasn't really able to make out the lyrics so I had to hunt those down. Now I know why it makes her think of me and my lovely unpredictable ADHD brain :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Awake at the crack of dawn

Been up since about 5:30am. I really don't like being up that early.  Probably it's hunger that woke me up, wouldn't be the first time.

So yesterday I ended up picking up both of my daughters around 12ish. We first went to Jean Coutu on Sources, eldest wanted hair dye.  Then we went to Deserres, eldest was looking for  a stencil to draw shapes, for flow charts I suppose, for her Navy classes, and I stopped by at Tau to pick up soy milk. Then we went to Colosseum mall. We went to Ardennes, eldest got flip flops I got hair clips, and lastly to Sirens. Each one of us bought a few items there, and they were done with shopping, so we got take-out from Mr Falafel. The gentleman who served me even knew that I was a long time customer. :)

They hung out with hubby and I for about an hour then she had to go unpack and repack and be ready for her flight this morning.   I was drained of energy, just because it was a hot day I think.

I wrote most of this blog and around 7am decided I wanted some more shuteye so slept till 10ish .

On an unrelated note, yesterday between me blogging about the trip and the message passing along various family members, my mom-in-law finally agreed not to go shopping in Damascus today. Hamdallah!  I'm sure it will be safe again to shop in Damascus in a few months insh'allah, but right now, she's better off not going anywhere in Syria.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wow 20 hours is crazy

I thought daughter got to Montreal last night. Apparently she's only getting to Montreal at noon today, so we're shopping this afternoon.  I guess she's leaving by plane earlier tomorrow then she arrives today.  Crazy stuff. Gets to spend 20 hours home. I figure the Navy figures better 20 hours then no hours!

Tearful talk with cleaning lady

On Friday I had the unpleasant task of telling my cleaning lady about her previous week's blunder. It was hard because I had to be nice and make my point at the same time. As I said previously I really like my cleaning lady and she's going through a rough time. I watched her walk up the driveway and I could tell she was already having a bad day.

I was very gentle with her. I explained I wasn't mad at her, but at the event. Her first reaction was "Why didn't you call me up, I would have come to pick up the mess". I know she lives far away and works nights, which means at the time I found the mess, she was probably sleeping. Told her while it really upset me because I'd had a rough week, that hubby picked up the mess. That all I wanted was for her not to balance kitty litter on top of something again. Poor woman was so fragile she broke into tears.

I spent about 10 minutes holding her because she was just crying. I know she's worried about her immediate future and she's really stressed. I felt so bad.  While I was holding her I told her how much I cared for her and appreciated her, and that I understood she's spacey lately because she's preoccupied.

I still feel guilty I told her about the accident. I didn't need to add to her stresses and problems.

Daughter in town for the day

My eldest tells me that the Navy in it's infinite wisdom gave her a train ticket to Montreal Friday night and a plane ticket to Halifax for Sunday. She expected she was going to travel from Quebec city to Halifax directly. But no, apparently she spends Saturday in Montreal.  This is good since I was too much of a basket case to go to Quebec city last week-end.  She has errands to do today but is willing to do them with me so she gets to do things she needs to do and see her mom all at the same time. 

I'm not eager at all, I've been awake since about 6:30 this morning and am already bathed and full dressed. Heck I wasn't that early on some mornings I was working this week.  All I need is to eat breakfast and I'm ready to go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Combat Hospital

This week was the 4rth episode in the new series Combat Hospital and I was just as pleased with the show. Of course these days after CSI and reality shows, now the surgery scenes are far more graphic then back in the day. I've never liked graphic scenes and rarely look at them. But it doesn't take away from it being an interesting TV show.  It's not doing very well in the US, but Canadians love it.  One critic said that it's too real, you might as well watch the news. Another critic said it's no M*A*S*H because there's no witty anti war repartee, but honestly M*A*S*H became more critical of the war and more political as seasons progressed. It's also easier to criticize a war decades later, whereas NATO currently has a combat hospital in Afghanistan as we speak.  I'm finding some critics have already made up their mind what this show is and isn't and they've probably only seen one episode, maybe two.

I've also got my M*A*S*H DVD collection out and I'm on the 4rth season first DVD.  It's had been a while since I'd watched it, so it's like coming home to old friends.  I do love that show.

On an unrelated note, I hear my mom-in-law is planning a day trip on Sunday to Damascus, from Beirut. I'm shaking my head, it's dangerous in Syria at the moment. It was dangerous in Syria before the Arab spring but now?  Last I read, they killed 10 protesters in Damascus today.  They estimate so far 1400 people have been killed by security forces and 12 000 are missing most likely in jail in Syria.

I'm thinking there's probably safer places she could go shopping on Sunday then Damascus. I wonder with all the protests and security forces dispersing protesters with live rounds, how many stores will be opened? Despite my hubby's attempts at changing her mind, she's still planning on going to Damascus Sunday.

We don't all need prescription drugs to function.

I was just reading an article on how much anti-psychotic drugs are being prescribed in the US. The war on drugs isn't working with illegal drugs and it sure isn't working with prescription drugs, when you look at the sheer volume of people on prescription drugs. And not to resolve major life or death issues.  To resolve what appears to be sometimes routine depression. It's normal after certain events to feel depressed. It's  way to deal with the loss of a person in your life, or pet, or job or relationship. It's NORMAL. Suffering from long term depression isn't but often a good therapist willing to listen will help you get through it without stuffing yourself with drugs.

I'm not saying no one should use prescription drugs, but I think the volume of people on those drugs, for minor complaints is excessive. Doctors are no longer really looking at the overall welfare of their patients but are looking for quick fix.  Or they are being brainwashed by big Pharma that the only way to go is to prescribe.

I've been put on the number of medications since it was discovered I had osteoporosis and sadly none of these meds have a long track record, they are new meds, and the doctors don't even know the side effects never mind long term effects. I was put on fosemax for a while, until I said no more. I was a 40 year old woman who on fosemax felt like I was 70, I couldn't do any activity without being in severe pain the next day. I tried explaining this to my doctor, her solution was to give me acetaminophen. As a 40 something woman I shouldn't be in constant pain because I moved. Besides with osteoporosis  you're supposed to do weight bearing exercises to keep your bones strong. Well any exercise on fosemax was like every inch of my body hurt. Joints were so painful I could barely walk.  

Where was my quality of life?  Then I was put on EVISTA. though I clearly said no hormones. Well technically it's NOT a hormone but it latches on to estrogen receptors in the body so acts like it. I stayed on it for close to 2 years again because it's supposed to help. Well it fucked with my head, my moods, who I was so badly, I'm still recovering. I don't want anything else for the osteoporosis. I take calcium and it will have to do.  Besides so far I'm doing better then my mom, I haven't broken a bone [knock on wood] and I'm going to be 49 this year.  She'd already broken 3 bones by my age, and I'm far more active. I still lug around 50lb computers at work.

There are cases where drugs are useful. My gf has a heart issue, where her heart can go excessively fast, and needs to be controlled. In her case medications have a use when they do work. She's been on several meds over the years to help with this issue, and for her it makes sense because it does give her back some quality of life she wouldn't have without the meds.

But there are so many people who are prescribed pills just because they went to see a doctor with a complaint. Like when I got water on the knee. This one doctor kept prescribing all those anti-inflammatory meds. All it did was give me stomach issues, but didn't help my knee. The solution that worked the best to reduce the golf ball sized water accumulation on my knee was low tech. I wrapped it up with an elastic bandage. It took months, but the problem went away. There was some pain, but until the water went down there was pain regardless and none of the meds took it away. This knee is still susceptible to water, and I know what activities to wrap the knee to avoid the problem. Still low tech and works like a charm.

I always ask doctors if there is a low tech solution to a problem. Ok you want to prescribe med x, but what if I wanted to go a natural route?  Like with the ADHD, I'm watching my diet, instead of taking meds. I'm sure long term this approach will work well for me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Estonians freed in Beirut

The 7 Estonians that were kidnapped in the Bekka valley near Zahle  in Lebanon were released in Beirut today and are in good health according to an article in Al Jazeera this morning.

This is good news for those 7 Estonians that have been captive for over 4 months. They can go home and be re-united with their families.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Poor wittle dead meadow vole

I didn't really want the poor little thing dead. Unfortunately, most small rodents like mice and voles can carry the Hantavirus.  This can be deadly in some cases.

Ironically the maintenance guy who disposed of the vole and cleaned my tray with disinfectant, also tossed the contents of my tray by just dumping it in the garbage. Never a good idea. They suggest to wash and wet everything so it doesn't become air born.

I really hope that my exposure won't make me sick. The entire contents of my drawer has been exposed to voles. I just cleaned my top one with Lysol wipes. I didn't clean the other 2 yet, I will tomorrow.

I had no idea that rodents could be so deadly. Of course the risk of me having unwanted rodents in my house with the 4 cats is limited. But in a large building like at work, it's not unusual for it to be full of rodents.

Rodent dead finally

They brought me 2 new glue traps and 2 regular mouse traps yesterday after I discovered that the 'mouse' had been stuck in the glue trap over the week-end but had managed to escape since Monday morning all I found was droppings and lots of fur in the glue.

This morning there was a body in my drawer. I would call it a "field mouse" but it's probably a meadow vole. Some kind soul in maintenance disposed of the body after I called them. 

A co-worker asked me how I can live with myself killing an animal when I'm vegetarian. No one likes to have droppings of any animals in their drawer. Seriously.

Arab summer going on.

Just because I haven't written about Syria or other hot spots in the Middle East doesn't mean I haven't been reading the news. Things haven't improved, Assad is continuing to be a butcher.  Interesting observations from the US Ambassador to Syria.

No one ever fires on the people holding 'mnhebak' or Pro-Assad demonstrations.  He also noted that if his embassy and the French embassy as well as his residence was stormed by demonstrators, it's because the government allowed the people to get that close. Generally they are heavily guarded. Embassies of other countries were not swarmed.  Just pointing out a fact.

In Yemen the people don't want Saleh back. In fact even the US is trying to get him to sign the GCC brokered deal in which he steps down within a month in exchange for his freedom from prosecution.  He still hasn't signed. The Yemeni want to be rid of him and they keep protesting to back their point. Even if there is a calm in Yemen it certainly isn't over.

Gadafi is losing ground slowly in Libya, but he's not seeing it.  He's made suggestions that he was going to take the war to Europe. Thankfully at this point, this is just a fantasy. He's not going to let go without more struggle. The US backs Russian mediation in Libya. Hopefully this will help them achieve peace and rid themselves of Gadafi.

Monday, July 11, 2011

UGLY Black google bar - Part II

So since the first post I made about the ugly black google bar, I figured out that this new bar is part of the Google + they have on Beta.

However it still doesn't make it anymore friendly to impose it black like this on any google page once you're logged in. I still stick to my guns. It's like I don't have to worry just about Microsoft taking over my entire PC experience, it's like now that I let google in, it also wants to take over my entire PC experience! Just because I use google to search and for email, and I use blogger doesn't mean I want my life to rotate around google applications. 

Anyhow, I'm exploring this new Google+  so far I'm lukewarm.

Disappointed that equality just isn't there.

Alasdair Thompson, of New Zealand's Employers and Manufacturers Association, said on a radio show that women should be payed less then men because they take sick leave once a month. You can imagine that women in New Zealand were less then impressed.  The guy got sacked and for good reason.

I often like to read comments on articles that I read,  and was flabbergasted by how most supported Thompson. Besides it's really bullshit. With the exception of one woman who worked for me, I've never heard of a woman where I've worked who's taken time off because it was her time of the month. While up to 50% experience painful cramps, only 10% are incapacitated by them, to the point they can't function. So for a 10% we're making a blanket statement about women in general?

Years ago I had a female employee [which is rare in my field] who suffered from endometriosis. There was two to three days a month where she could not get out of bed she was in so much pain. She proposed that she would work extra hours each week, so she could take those 2 or 3 days off when she was incapacitated. She was as productive as any male employee in my team and worked as many hours.  I'll give my boss credit, I explained the situation to him and he was fine with it. 

Something else he said is that women also take too much time off for children. Well maybe on the other side of the various ponds that's true, but from where I'm sitting, with a team of mostly men,  I have a different experience.  I currently have 5 male and 1 female employee who have children.  I don't see either gender not involved with their kids, including those with adult children. That's the way it should be.  Besides my one female employee with children will bring her sick kids to work with her instead of staying home with them, so she doesn't miss time for sick kids.

A lot of the guys I work with and/or who work for me are involved in their kids lives. They might be the one who drops off and picks up the kids at school or the daycare. They might also be the one who stay home with a sick child.

It also makes me wonder what people in other countries figure single women should do? Not work and be on welfare instead of working and supporting their children? I don't know too many men who would do that, and yes if you made a baby you're just as responsible as the woman who carried it.

It makes me wonder about the men in the U.K., in Australia and in New Zealand. I didn't think Canada was so far ahead of other nations for their gender equality but I suppose we are! Or maybe it's just because I work for a company that encourages men to participate in their children's life? Either way I tend to think it's normal. What's abnormal is expecting everyone but yourself to take care of your offspring, which some people seem to be champions.

I mean at that rate, what should you prevent all those with children from working since they are obviously unreliable, they get less sleep and they have more stresses in life and more responsibilities? No so this theory that women should make less money then men because they have children and are a weaker gender is for the birds.

Over the years I've met male employees who couldn't make it to work the day after payday because they partied so much they couldn't get out of bed. I wonder how much sick time they take for being too hungover or alternatively how unproductive they are when they come into work hungover? Maybe we should dock the pay of anyone who drinks too at that rate. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another day stuck inside my head

I woke up this morning and still feel miserable. It's a beautiful day out and I could be doing 1001 things and I can't even get the motivation to leave the house. I feel like crawling under a rock. I feel particularly crappy today.

What makes me feel worse is that there is nothing physically wrong with me, it's all in my head. Yet it stops me from enjoying life sometimes. I can't even go outside on my property to garden. I wanted to go to the PowWow, but the thought of running into my ex, I can't handle it.  I would have another meltdown if I saw him or if he insisted on talking to me. I know how he is. He's not getting that I want to have nothing to do with him. He figures if he runs into me, we're going to talk.

Heck he was going to come over to apologize. Hubby stopped him and said that I didn't want to see him. I mean this happened in February and now he SAYS he wants to apologize. I know what that means. He'll say one sorry and then find a way to make me feel like he said this bullshit because of me. He'll guilt me into thinking that it was all my fault. No. Not going to happen.  Hubby made him an appointment with our therapist. It's a step in the right direction, but I feel it will take years of therapy before we can have a conversation where I don't feel he's being an ass hole or making me feel responsible for his shortcomings.

When I feel like this I'd rather be dead. I feel like I'm the worst piece of trash that ever walked this world. I feel nothing I can say or do has any value, and makes any difference I feel insignificant and useless. I know it's my brain that has fucked up wiring, but nothing much I've done over the years has helped me fix it. I still end up feeling like this periodically. 

I can hear those who said "Just go out there and do it". Sure. Easier said then done. My head is so fucked right now, I'm a danger to myself. I can't drive anywhere, I'd be an accident waiting to happen. Wouldn't be able to focus on the traffic. If I get stuck interacting with people, and they say the slightest negative thing I'll have a meltdown. It sucks but it's the truth.  Since I'm not with the people of Walmart, I'll keep my meltdowns to the inside of my house thankyouverymuch.

Edit: As one last note, I feel even more like crap because I have it good here in Montreal, I have a good job, a good hubby, good kids, good friends and a peaceful life. My problems are tiny compared to people from the Middle east or Africa, who are fighting for their lives and for freedom. 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

My cleaning lady really pissed me off

Left kitty litter on sewing basket!
It didn't help I came home to this yesterday because my cleaning lady has also been going to a rough time. My cleaning lady is a wonderful woman who's in her early 60's and has had a really rough life. She never went beyond grade 7 at school, which means she doesn't even have a high school leaving diploma [grade 11]. She's been working for close to 15 years restocking shelves at the Zellers in Pointe-Claire overnight. It's not a fun job especially at her age but it's almost a living. Unfortunately Target, has bought her particular Zellers and once they take it over she will lose her job or at least her salary will be back to minimum wage if she does keep it. She's been depressed and fretting over this for months now.

This means that she's more spacey then usual. She always forgets at least one thing, usually it's turning off the lights after she's done, but of late she leaves bags in random places or the mop. Heck last week she forgot her umbrella on my front door and two weeks before that she forgot her sweater in the kitchen.

But yesterday she outdid herself in spaciness and while it really pissed me off, when I do talk to her next Friday I'll just ask her not to do this again so if she spaces out, the results will be different. No matter how upset I was when I saw it, I certainly won't chew her out or dock her pay or anything like that.  I suppose she put the kitty litter on sewing basket while she mopped the floor. It's hard to see it's a sewing basket because I cover it with a towel since the kitties like to use it as a chair to look out of the window. Problem is she left it there, and I presume one of the 4 cats decided it might be a good idea to use the litter not realizing it was precariously perched and it toppled emptying it's contents on the sewing machine desk, the floor, the chair, the vent you name it there was kitty litter on it.

I'm sure in a couple of weeks I'll look at this entry and laugh but last night when I spotted that, it was just too much. I had a complete and utter meltdown. It was the straw that broke the camel's back or the drop that made the glass overflow. Thankfully hubby picked up the mess, I just couldn't cope.


I still haven't gotten over the shock of Rick's death on Canada day. I'm well aware of the fragility of life, but Rick you know was the guy who was going to live forever. Or at least it seemed that way. From the time I met him in Fall 1990 till today, Rick had pretty much been a constant in my extended circle of friends. I read his Facebook page just hours before his untimely demise.

I've been upset about it all week. Not to the point where I can't function like after my parents death, but I'm not functioning so well. I was just able to go to work, go to the funeral home for the viewing on Wednesday and that's it. I haven't been able to do any errands or even leave work at lunch time. I'm just frazzled. I was hoping to go to Quebec City to see daughters this week-end, but I didn't even have the stamina to drive up and for some reason this week-end is bad because they are booked at the base.  I also don't have the cash right now for anything.

I also couldn't find it in me to put on a happy face and go out for dinner with some friends from out of town, who only had a tiny window to meet friends and family. I so wanted to see them, I've missed George and Bia. I also wanted hubby to meet them as I've talk about my buddy George often enough. But I got home after work and all I could do was cry and cry and cry last night.

It didn't help that sometime this week I noticed one of the sapphires on my engagement ring had fallen off. That really upset me and every time I'd think of it hubby wasn't around. I finally got to show him yesterday and cried and cried.  I'm not sure I know why I'm so upset. But I love that ring we got in Gold land in Dubai. I love the fact it has like 6 little sapphires and 5 little diamonds. It's just so beautiful and unique and it's white gold. I remember when we toured this place in Dubai, I was just disappointed by the jewellery.  Traditionally Bedouin jewellery is big and being tiny I tend to like smaller things.  That's why my ring is so special, it's so delicate.  Hubby took it to get it fixed and I feel bare without it.

It's a beautiful summer day and I could be out enjoying it but chances are I will stay in and watch M*A*S*H in hopes it lifts my spirits. It's the show that helped me get through that nasty break-down I had in 2001 [or was it 2002].

Friday, July 08, 2011

Cheeky bugger

Something tells me I will be buying a real mouse trap at the dollar store or Canadian tire. Those glue traps they got seem to be for the birds.

The trap has been in my drawer for 3 days, there are mouse droppings around the glue trap but the mouse is avoiding them like the plague.

Waiting for Monday morning to see if the glue helps over the week-end

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dead children get no relief

Two verdicts came out in 2 trials involving children yesterday.

Closer to home there was the trial of Guy Turcotte, who killed his 2 children by stabbing them, probably in a fit of rage. He was held not criminally responsible. Which pissed off a lot of people. How can he not be criminally responsible?? He admitted to drinking windshield washer fluid and killing his children by stabbing them more then 40 times?

From across the border there was the trial of Casey Anthony over the death of her daughter Caylee Anthony. Another gut wrenching story that has been riveting audiences for several years. The final verdict, she was held not guilty of killing her daughter.

In both cases the verdict certainly didn't reflect popular opinions or the media. Most people wanted to throw those 2 people in jail and toss away the key. However one has to consider that in each case a jury of 12 people, supposedly of their peers, spent weeks, probably sequestered, trying to go through all the evidence and coming to a verdict.  I always read that a verdict has to be "beyond a reasonable doubt". Both may be guilty, but if the evidence left the jurors wondering, isn't it better that they 'acquit' a guilty person then put in jail an innocent?

Many of us are so disturbed by these 2 verdicts that we want to impose our own sense of justice, but then at that point we become judge, jury and executioner as well as a lynch mob. How many cases seemed a slam dunk 20 years ago, and now we're slowly checking DNA and realizing that we have jailed, or even executed innocent people.

I'd like to think that the juries in both cases gave it lots of consideration and we should respect their findings even if we think that they made a mistake.

Cheers good buddy!

Today is the service for our buddy Rick.  It's going to be difficult.

I didn't really post what happened, so I'm cross-posting a message left on Rick's wall by his friend Lee:

I am afraid I have some very sad news to share with you all.

Early  morning July 1st, after spending a night of celebrating with close friends, Rick fell from a partition outside his apartment, striking his head. The partition was only 3 feet high, but the blow was hard enough to kill him instantly.

It is sad and shocking and terribly difficult to comprehend, but we can at the very least take some comfort in knowing that his last memory was of having a wonderful time with a few of his closest and dearest friends. If he had had any choice in how he was to leave this world, that is exactly how he would have wanted it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The mouse is toast

For the third morning I checked I had pistachios shells and mouse droppings in my top drawer at work. I also had a maintenance man show up this morning with 2 glue traps. I'll see if there's a mouse stuck in my drawer ! Or maybe 2?  then I will have to Lysol my drawer because apparently mice can carry deadly disease so those mice droppings can be deadly.

I also had the urge to wash my hands three times while writing this entry, and have actually washed them 3 times. Go figure.

Link to the obituary

Link to the obituary for our friend Rick Langston in the Montreal Gazette.

New white dress popular with felines.

Yesterday I ironed and try out a dress I bought a month or two ago and haven't worn yet. It's a white sundress, with blue flowers best worn in the heat of the summer.  I left it on the ironing board after trying on the dress.  

Well first I found Spock, on the ironing board passed out on the dress mid-afternoon. I had to shoo him off and re-position the dress. A few hours later when I went to sleep, I noticed Jethro was lying on the ground next to the ironing board. That's when I realized he was asleep on the dress, he had knocked to the ground.  I shooed him off the dress and put it back on the ironing board for the night. 

This morning I had to iron the dress all over again it was all wrinkled. I'm not even going to comment on how much cat hair is now on the dress.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Info for my friends service

Re-posted from Facebook to reach more of Rick's friends. 
The funeral service for Rick Langston will be held on Wednesday July 6 from 12:00pm-2:00pm, and from 7:00pm-9:00pm at the J.J. Cardinal Funeral Home in Dorval. 560 Lakeshore Drive, Dorval, H9S 5W7

Rick will be cremated and buried to join his parents, however the burial itself will postponed until August following the return home of his friend Valius Kmieliauskas who is currently serving our country overseas.

Rick's family has asked that instead of flowers, donations can be made to the Montreal S.P.C.A. Those of us who knew Rick well can attest that this is something which would make him very happy.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The women of the Middle East

I blogged a week or two ago about the women in Dubai, and in general the UAE, to highlight their position in Emirate society.  I stumbled upon an interesting article by Naomi Wolf about women in the Middle East. One of the point she highlights is that once women change in a society, everything changes, and the women in the Middle East are going through a radical change. She points out how the women in Egypt and Tunisia weren't just taking part in the protests but helping lead them.  That part of the reason they were so peaceful was because of the women and the children that were also with them. 

I suppose this is why in Libya Gadaffi's encouraged his armies to use rape as a "weapon of war". Attack half of the population by violating them and figure it will break down the rest of the society. 

I've also read that in Syria women were being raped by the various "security forces". Of the extent of this problem won't be fully grasped until the uprising is over. 

However I've also read of a movement in Syria where young men are saying that they will marry women who have been raped, sight unseen.  I hope this movement spreads throughout Syria and also to Libya.  I'm happy there are men who realize that being raped is never a woman's fault, and always her attackers fault, and she shouldn't have to carry the shame of being spoiled for others.  It's hard enough to deal with having been forcefully violated, but to be cast aside by society and sometimes your family due to the shame is inconceivable to me. 

I have been raped and what has helped me deal with the rape is talking about it. Telling other women that rape doesn't only happen to others, it can happen to any woman. Rape isn't about what you did, it's about men who want control. I have never allowed anyone to see me as less worthy a human being because I was raped. 

On the topic of rape, the "SlutWalks" that started in Toronto have spread all over the world, with one in London this month.  Some of the criticism of these walks includes that women are now defining themselves in male terms.  I have issues with that. I don't dress for men, I dress for myself. I like wearing clothes I find attractive on myself.  My mom used to tell me as a young woman to not wear shapeless clothing. That I had an attractive body and I should wear clothes that makes me look good.  Not once was it mentioned I was dressing for men.   My mom's point was that if you feel good about who you are you should also be projecting a positive image with your clothing. That it was all one package.

Besides it wasn't a woman who told a bunch of York university students to "Not dress like a slut". It was a male police officer. I wonder what this male police officer would have to say to the Libyan and Syrian women who have been raped in the Arab Spring, never mind those in Somalia, Afghanistan and other troubled countries?

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Friend's death hits home.

When I heard this morning that Rick had died, I was shocked and upset. But I didn't cry. I barely reacted. I've known him since 1990. At some point for about a year I was really close to him but I had to distance myself at some point. However I always stayed on good terms with him, and I did seem him on average once to twice a year, of late more typically at my gf's place when she has BBQ's.

I had gone to Fairview Mall in Pointe-Claire this morning to pick up my black pair of Rockabilly Hush puppies. On the way home I was thinking about what my gf told me about Rick talking in the past few months about what would happen to his cat should he die.  The tears just poured out. I hadn't realized I was still very attached to Rick. You don't have to see someone daily to care about what happens to them. I always enjoyed reading his silly comments on Facebook and had "liked" one just a couple of hours before his demise.  He was known for his sense of humour. He was also known for being a good friend. He was someone who would listen to your problems if you were upset, and somehow always make you smile.  He will be missed by many people.

There's a lot of things in life I never saw the same way after meeting Rick. Not something you can say about everyone you meet.

Woke to find out a friend had passed away

I met this friend back in 1990 at one of the many BBS GT's we had in Montreal back in the day. He has pretty much been a constant in my circle of friends for the past 21 years.

The one thing that can be said about this friend is that he was pretty much the same back when I first met him as the day he died. You could count on him for that.

He was out drinking on Thursday night at Peel pub with friends and had an accident on the way home. He was found dead in the wee hours of July 1st outside his building.

May he rest in peace. If I still drank I'd have a beer in your honour Rick Langston.

Friday, July 01, 2011

July 1st - Canada day and Quebec moving day!

One of the weird things people who arrive in Quebec notice is that most landlords have their leases that start/end July 1st.  They also notice how crazy July 1st is in neighbourhoods where there are a lot of rentals. Everyone their mother, brother, sister, and their dog move on July 1st.  [Sadly the family pooch and feline might be moving from a nice pampered life in someone's home to being abandoned in the streets]

I've heard rumours from other parts of Canada that people think we're doing it on purpose not to celebrate Canada day.   The amusing part is that the change to July 1 was introduced by federalist MNA, Jérôme Choquette of the Quebec Liberal Party. His intention was certainly not to dis Canada day.  However there's a history as to why this is.

Back in 1700 when Quebec was still the colony Nouvelle France, one of the rules was that Lords could not evict peasants until spring, because it's cruel to evict someone in -20C weather. For urban leases it became May 1st.  By 1866, it was included in the Civil code of Lower Canada [Which became the civil code of Quebec].  For over a century leases in Quebec by law went from May 1st to April 30th.   The Quebec Government in 1973 created the Regie du Logement, which has guidelines for landlords and tenants, as well as a court to deal with problems between owner and renter. Also  they added that leases dates and lengths could be fixed as the landlord see fit, and decided that all the leases that ended in April 1975 would be extended to the end of June 1975.  This was done to push the end of leases away from May 1st.

It was great, because for the first time, children weren't changed schools the last 2 months of the year if their family moved.  My mom, who was a first grade teacher, was so happy when the leases ended at the end of June after the school year was over. At least if the family moved every year and some families do surprisingly, at least the child could get to do a full year of school in the same school with the same teacher.  She claimed the date of July 1st was chosen because it was after the end of the school year and it was about time.

In theory landlords could have their leases end on different dates and have leases for more or less then a year but it seems a large percentage of landlords keep it like that.  Some say it's just easier to rent if your lease is from July 1st to June 30th. The exception are generally large building complexes and low rent housing complexes. They just try to fill vacancies as they come and they generally have 1 year leases. Personally while I rented after separating from first husband, I always had my leases that went from August 1st, to July 31st.  Just to avoid the July 1st madness. 

My mom used to live in Rosemont as a girl and she tells me my grandma didn't understand the neighbours, who would live next door one year, across the street next year, 3 houses down on the left the year after that, and come back and be neighbour on the other side the year after that.  I mean the row houses on that street were more or less the same. My grandparents rented the same place for the 10 years they lived there. They never understood people who moved every year and on the same street no less!!!!

While researching a bit why Montreal had it's rents going to May 1st, I found out that New York City also had their leases that terminated May 1st starting also sometime in the 1700's.  The difference is, that in New York City the practice came to an end after WWII, due to the lack of availability of able men after the war,  the advent of rent control and many other factors.

In this province despite the fact the day changed from May to July there is still moving day madness. I was reading that any July 1st in Quebec, there's 20% of the population moving. If we talk in terms of Montreal and Quebec city  it might be a larger percentage. As of 2002 only 36% of Montrealers owned their own home. So that means lots of people move on moving day!

I was just thinking if that friend had been visiting in Montreal today, I could have driven her a bit around town and she could have seen some of the moving day madness. I mean sometimes it's worth driving around just to see how precariously they balance furniture in a tiny little pickup truck. Or people who pile stuff on the roofs of their car. Of course after wandering around the Middle east, seeing stuff piled as you can on what you have, this is not eyebrow raising in the least,  just amusing.

Joyeuse fête du Canada - Happy Canada Day to all those who aren't moving :)