Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Park National Frontenac - Departure

Purple Pitcher Flower - from backside
We got up around 8ish on the last day. I still didn't get feeling I slept at all. It also rained part of the night and I could hear the water dripping from the tarps periodically. 

We managed to pack the truck, go take showers and leave the park by noon. On the way back we headed towards Thetford Mines, then towards PlessisVille eventually meeting up with highway 20. We made a pit stop in Thetford Mines to gas up the truck and a second one in Ste Julie at a McD's since I was starting to be hungry. 

Field of Carnivorous flowers - every red spot is a flower
We made it downtown Montreal near 5pm, I wanted to be at Peel pub for 5pm because it was our friend's Rick's birthday today. Many of his friends were gathering to celebrate his birthday as a way to remember him, since his untimely demise on Canada day. 

I also managed to drop off daughter back at her dads and make it to my therapist on time - well he's always a bit late so I was just on time. :) 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Parc National Frontenac - we spent all day

Our Campsite after tarping
I don't think we got up before 10 am. I got the impression I didn't sleep and spent most of the night tossing and turning but this can just be an impression. It probably meant I was awake often, probably because of a noise my brain could not identify.   I had a brief moment of fear brought about by my love of watching murder/mystery/cop/whodunnit TV shows. The "What if the couple at the other end of the camp were serial killers", which I surmised was silly and what would be the odds? So I stopped being paranoid.

Purple Pitcher Plant leaves
Within an hour of getting up we decided it might be judicious to tarp. We hadn't done it the night before before there seemed to be no need.  But here the threatening sky beckoned us to do so. Sure enough minutes  after we finished tarping a few drops of rain started to fall. It didn't rain long  but it would have been enough to wet everything. 

Purple Pitcher Plant in bloom
After the rain passed, it didn't look like it was going to rain again, so we went to walk around one of the trails, 4.5 km  walk through a peat land.  It was interesting to see the trees and vegetation that manages to grow despite the heavy humidity. The coolest part was seeing carnivorous flowers. There was 2 types but we just noticed the one type. The purple pitcher plant. At first we thought this plant was two types, not realizing that both the flower and the leaves are carnivorous in their own way. While reading I learned the Pitcher plant is the flower for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It was late August and early September and I did not see much flowers around, other then a bit of golden rod, new England asters, and pearly everlastings. I did not see Fireweed in the park itself but saw tons of it in the areas around the park itself.   

Ominous Cloud
Back at our campsite we had visits from chipmunks and from a friendly hare. The hare let me get close enough to take pictures, the chipmunks not so much as it would run around like crazy and disappear before I could get the camera.

Lightning lights sky
The sunset on the lake was spectacular and while taking photos I noticed there was an ominous cloud over Mont Adstock. Once the sun had set we noticed there was a massive storm over the mountain in the distance that provided us with an incredible light show that lasted well over an hour. The best part was the fact it was perfectly clear above our campsite, we could see the stars. 

It did rain pretty hard part of the night, but we never got wet at all. What's a camping trip without a little bit of rain?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Parc National Frontenac - Arrival

View from campsite Rats Musques #19
I'd never travelled where Parc Frontenac was before. I'd gone to Sherbrooke a few times over the years, first to see my daughter's father's family around the time they were born, and then a few times to go interview University students. I've been to Hemmingford once as well, to go to Parc Safari, and in my youth I've been down the Richelieu to Lake Champlain. All those locations are in the Eastern Townships but closer to the US border. Here I was going  towards the centre of Quebec and the Appalachians.

It's funny whenever I've wanted to go camping or for holidays it always seemed natural to go towards the Laurentians. I've camped in Rawdon and around the Laurentians so often, especially at Parc du Mont Tremblant.  I also spent part of my youth skiing at Tremblant. Probably the biggest ski hill I've been to in Quebec, though I have not downhill skied since the birth of my eldest more then 24 years ago.  I figure with osteoporosis I could probably do sports that are less dangerous to my bone health! Of course I've also spent a lot of time as well in St Jovite.  Might be fun to go see the lake where I spent so much time in sailboats like 30 years later. 

So anyhow we took the Mercier Bridge out of Montreal, then followed the 132 to the 30, then the 20 going towards Quebec City. After which we took an exit around Victoriaville, where we took the 261, that met up with the 161 and meandered our way towards Lambton.  We did make a pit stop in Victoriaville and it's funny we drove it up and down in what seemed to be main streets in search of a McD's and finally gave up when we found a burger king only to realize about 3 minutes after we ate and left the burger king that the Mc d's was just down that particular road.   

View from campsite
In and around Victoriaville the large amounts of water dumped on Quebec by Irene were clearly visible. Some areas of low land were submerged I figure into up to a meter of water [about 3 ft]. Some homes were just on hte edge of large puddles, and you know when there is water all around the home, the likelihood of the basement to be flooded is very high. Though admittedly if you live in a low area with high water tables you will have one or more sump pumps in your basement, but after such major rain fall sometimes it isn't enough. 

I don't think there was a lake, river or pond that wasn't swelled with runoff from all the rain that fell. Most lakes rivers and ponds were of a brown colour and the water was cloudy. Clearly  all the handiwork of Irene.  We weren't even in the area's of Quebec hardest hit by Irene either.

It took us longer then expected because I suppose we went around the lake instead of coming in through Thetford Mines. Mind you I enjoyed just seeing towns and places I'd never been to. Besides we stopped in Lambton -  this was a town I'd heard of when I was 12. The neighbours that moved in front of my parents house, had moved to Montreal from Lambton.  So it was cool to see this town, which probably no longer looked like anything it was 30 years ago, but to see it's location. It's very pretty and sparsely populated out there. Love it :) 

We made it to the park's welcome centre probably around 6pm.  We toured the camping spots and chose one with both good tarping potential and nice view/easy access to the water.  We chose lot 19 at les rats Musques camping.  It had enough shade as well and we managed to tarp well enough that very little water got into any of our things. 

Spectacular sunset
It was a clear night, it was fun to see so many stars where in Montreal you can hardly see anything on a clear night. We heard the loons singing and also what I suspect were geese. We heard some owls, and she saw some bats.  Out of the 31 spots in that camping, only 2 were taken, ours and #5, an older couple so it was incredibly peaceful.

Finally have a smartphone

So I finally managed to be less angry at Fido and called them to get them to send me a Smartphone. It's funny on their website, they say you can call or go to a Fido store to get a phone but when  you call, the number marked to get a phone, they tell you to go to a Fido store!

Well after my numerous trips to the Fido store and ending up empty handed I was not going to waste time standing in line to get a pimpled face youth telling me they were out of stock or whatever other excuse I've been given "come back tomorrow" - because I have nothing better to do with my life then live at the Fido store!!! I change phones about every 5 years and never hang out at the Fido store!!!

I got the message across that it was either they send me a phone, since mine was useless at this point, or I go to another company. They figured sending me a phone was probably the smart thing to do. I got my phone as promised on Saturday delivered by Brown and have been discovering it since.  It's more phone then I need but I'll see as I'm going camping today for a couple of days, how well it does outside the city. 

With my luck it will be a campground without any reception like Parc du Mont Tremblant.  We're going to Park Frontenac that is on the edge between the Eastern Townships and the Appalachians. I've never been there, and I look forward to it. This park has many campgrounds that are on the waterfront of Lac St Francois.  It won't be that warm with maximums of 20 during day and 10 at night, but it will be nice to be away from the city.

Gotta get ready, picking up daughter in 2 hours. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The balls of some people!!!

I can't believe my ears. My father-in-law has a lot of fucking balls that's for sure.  He's probably the only person in my husband's family that's close in terms of genetics that I have not met. Heck I've met his 'cousin' who's the niece of his uncle's wife :) but I have not met his dad because I don't think I could hold my tongue around him and really I have nothing nice to say and I was raised to say nothing in those conditions.

So as it goes, this man left his wife, when my husband was 18 and I believe his sister was 11. From that point on he did not do anything to help them in any shape or form. In the Middle east, and Lebanon is no exception, it is considered the man/father's duty to see to the welfare of his offspring.  He left them high and dry. Even in those times when there was barely anything to eat. He was always "too broke" to help out.

Years pass, and my sister in law in her early 20's approaches dad for help to attend university. Not only was he not willing to help her get an education, but he also kicked her out of his apartment, despite the fact she had no where to stay in Dubai. She ended up rooming with her brother who had a 1 room studio. But dad didn't have enough room for her? This was in 2007.

It's now 2011 and apparently poor little daddy lost his job in Dubai sometime last year and now he thinks it's ok to ask for help!!!!  The balls on the man. Hasn't helped his son or daughter in any shape or form in close to 20 years and he thinks he can ask for MONEY? Like Wow! The balls! He let his son take care of his daughter, instead of assuming responsibility and he has the balls?

Did he really think he'd send him some? No hubby calmly responded back to him using his own words of years passed.  Hubby also laughed and laughed and laughed probably for 10 minutes solid when he first read the message, received on Facebook, no less.

Dubai benefits from the instabilities of the Arab spring.

Since the advent of the Arab spring, business is returning to Dubai, with the odd exception. The likelihood of any kind of uprising is extremely remote in the UAE. Companies that had gotten cold feet with the economic crash a few years back are slowly returning to a place of political stability.

As well with the Arab spring and the erratic uprisings in various countries, Dubai is  now a  perfect vacation spot. Some companies in the hospitality business are opening new chains this year and hiring.

But it hasn't given back to Dubai it's real estate boom. There's still an overabundance of empty buildings in Dubai.  However air traffic has increased 8% this year.  According to an article in Gulf news, UAE's economic activity is picking up. Even the construction industry that had come to a grinding halt back in 2008, is now showing signs of picking up again. Some companies are still slumping but there's hope. This article  suggests the UAE got an upgrade or at least it's status did in terms of world rankings.

Interesting tidbit of information, the president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan decided that rice would be subsidized during Ramadan. This is good news for the UAE's poorest inhabitants, those without papers who cannot go home

I would seem the government of Dubai has taken over Nakheel.  What this means I have no idea in the long run.  There is an article in Bloomberg that says sales are up 10% this year in Dubai and basically how much it's benefiting from the Arab Spring.  Also it seems that properties near the Dubai Metro are now in high demand.  This shows that the economy is slowly picking up.

Seeing that my entries on Dubai gets more traffic then any other blog entries, these are other times I blogged about Dubai:
The dark side of Dubai
More on the dark side of Dubai
The dark side of Dubai laws
It's not all dark for women

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Night vigil photo

Night vigil in support of freedom justice and dignity in Syria

I spent 2 hours on a street corner in downtown Montreal tonight in support of the Syrian people. The organizers had signs and placards filled with photo's and information about the deteriorating situation in Syria, as well as petitions to send to Ottawa to recall the ambassador from Syria and also send the Syrian ambassador back home.

At some point I noticed a police car driving really slow along our side of the street. That's when I realized he was actually looking and reading the signs. He went all the way to the corner of the street, then backed up his police car, put it in park, got out, and started walking near one of the people holding a petition. That's when he took the petition and signed. A couple of people at the vigil clapped and most came around to see what the man had to say. 

I suspect most of the people at the vigil were probably a little afraid when the man first came out of his police car, but afterwards were just so thrilled. One of the guys wanted to take a picture or video on his phone and the officer said he would rather not as he was on duty. 

From what I've been reading tonight on the various Facebook groups on Syria, is that there has been a surge of protests in Damascus today. I hope this is a good sign :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

In the path of Irene and other news this morning.

I'm not sure if the good folks who chose the hurricane names stopped to think about the meaning of the names they choose to name hurricanes?  The reason I'm wondering is that the name Irene means peace, and I can garantee that the people in the path of Irene will not find peace of any shape!!!

Irene as seen from space looks terrifying according to one astronaut. What's for sure is that from the Carolinas all the way up the East coast to NJ is under hurricane watch. It originally looked like it would go towards Nova Scotia, but now it seems like it might come up the St Lawrence valley after hitting Jersey near New York City.  Montreal often gets massive rainstorms as remnants of hurricanes disperse over land.

Elsewhere in the news I found out my friend from Baltimore had a nasty fall yesterday and is in the hospital with broken bones. As best as  I understood she did a lot of damage to one wrist and may have surgery today to fix the wrist.  Something tells me this means she will not be travelling to Montreal Labour day week-end.  Even if she's still mobile, she might not want to travel with a cast. I guess I'll wait and see. 

Apparently there was a large blast at the UN building in the Nigerian capital. No one has claimed responsibility for this bomb. I guess we'll no more about this as the day progresses.

About 150 Syrians were arrested in Saudi Arabia for demonstrating. I guess they figured since the King told Bashar to stop the killing of his people, that it was ok for them to show support for their fellow Syrians but it seems Saudi Arabia does not want ANY protests on it's soil. Of course, it's too afraid that the Arab Spring will spread to their country. 

Lots of people are arrested, detained, beaten and tortured in Syria every day. Yesterday was no different. Bashar's thugs found one of Syria's better known cartoonist walking home and kinapped him. He was released on the road to the airport in Damascus after they beat him up and broke at least one of his hands. It would appear poor Bashar has very low tolerance for any criticism. Apparently Ali Ferzat had been more bold recently in drawing the Syrian President.

The only good news for me is that my daughter who is in Halifax will be Montreal bound tomorrow :)  On that note I have to pick up stuff before my cleaning lady arrives and get the heck out of here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Engineering for Dummies anyone?

 Interesting article in the Gazette this morning related to Montreal's crumbling infrastructure. Most Montrealers are nervous about driving on  a bridge and even more so in underpasses and tunnels, especially after pieces of concrete have fallen off.  The thing is that those in the government seem to think that we're all idiots and so they don't make available the report on Montreal's infrastructure. Right now they are saying they are simplifying the report to make it more accessible to people, that people aren't all engineers. 

While it is true that people are not all engineers, I happen to know that Quebec does have a high number of engineers. According to another Gazette article there's 60,540 engineers in Quebec alone and 390,000 Canada wide.  I personally think there's enough of the population with engineering backgrounds to be able to understand such "complicated" reports.  I personally think they aren't releasing the reports to the public because we will realize that many more of our roads, bridges, underpasses and tunnels are disasters waiting to happen. That our municipal and provincial governments have been neglecting infrastructures for years and they want to hide their incompetence.

Completely unrelated to Montreal's infrastructure, I blog a lot about Syria and I'm sure some of my friends wonder what is so different about Syria. I've even read comments on various of the stories coming out of Syria and people say "Wait till the next elections and choose someone else". Kind of hard to chose someone else when Syria has Russian style elections, where only 1 person presents himself on the ballot.  I found an interesting blog here that explains more the politics of Syria and what Bashar Al-Assad has done since coming to power in Syria in 2000, after his father's death. Funny that they could change the constitution in a heart beat to allow the then too young Bashar to become the leader of his country, but any change to the constitution demanded by the people would take months and years to accomplish.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Once you see yourself as a God you have no humanity left

I've been disturbed by events in Syria for months now, but nothing bugs me more then Al-Assad's thugs who go around saying "There is no God but Bashar".  Sorry but Bashar Al-Assad is NO GOD. He's nothing but a glorified thug, and forcing the peaceful protesters to say such garbage while beating them is just unacceptable. 

I'm a pagan and I don't believe in the God of the big three religions as being the only God. I tend to be a polytheist which believes that there is more then one God. In my belief be they a Christian, Muslim or Jewish God, he's still God to me. God can also be in a female form like Kali in the Hindu mythology or Brigid from the Celtic lore or Artemis from the Greek.  To me it's all a form of God/dess. However no human should ever be considered a God.  I don't care who he or she is.  No one should ever be put on a pedestal either. Pedestals are for statues! Once you put someone on a pedestal they have no where to go but down... as falling down from grace. 

Bashar Al-Assad thinks he's a God and his followers act like he's a God and sadly this man has no humanity left. He's trying to kill anyone who isn't worshipping him. It's not going to end well for him. Also will not end well for his wife. There is a movement on Facebook and elsewhere to remove Asma Al-Assad's British citizenship. From what I understand she has been in England since May out of harms way with the children.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Archaeological dig of Montreal`s old parliament

I was reading this morning that there's a team of archaeologists busy sifting through the remains of the Parliament of Canada that was in Montreal for a couple of years in the 1800's before eventually moving to Ottawa. This particular parliament building was burned to the ground by some angry rioting anglophones on April 25th, 1849, while members of the Legislative Assembly were sitting in session. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Late breaking News - Jack Layton is DEAD

I was sorry to hear of the untimely demise of the Leader of the NDP, Jack Layton.  He has been fighting with cancer but his death is a bit of a surprise.

May he rest in peace.

Some of his last words were as follows:

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

I'm More quiet

For most of this year I've been very verbose, but I think I finally said most of what I had to say because I'm struggling to find things to blog about

First of all let me congratulate the Libyan rebels, who have made it to Tripoli. Let's hope it means they are finally rid of Gaddafi and now can build a new Libya.

I wish it were so for the Syrians, who had to listen to Assad's 4rth speech, which didn't say anything new. In fact the reaction to the speech seemed to encourage the waving and throwing of shoes. To use the terms the Syrian's used they called it a slipper speech and encouraged people to throw their slippers. Whatever the point was they were throwing their footwear at their leader which I understand is a great insult.  That's what Assad gets for hiding the truth before the UN's arrival in key cities in Syria. Let's hope those wonderful Homsi's will find a way to protest in front of the UN delegation.

I actually left the house this week-end and went skating at the Lachine Canal. I managed to skate from 32nd avenue all the way to 55th avenue and back.  Sadly hubby was not able to follow me in this endeavour. He only managed from 32nd to a little bit past 36th avenue after which he was in too much pain.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Outraged at OPP

I could not believe my eyes when I read the gazette this morning and stumbled upon this gem.  This woman was attacked and raped in her own home for hours and despite being left tied in her bed in a harness she managed to call 911 for help.

Lots of help the OPP gave her. They had her wait FIVE HOURS in the harness NAKED in her bed while waiting for a photographer. FIVE HOURS.  The worst part is that the OPP knew there was a predator in this particular neighbourhood who had been breaking and entering homes and stealing woman's garments. Still they left her like this FIVE HOURS.  Once they took the pictures, she was allowed her bathrobe and they still kept her on the scene for several more hours INSTEAD of giving her medical attention. 

I would sue everyone who was responsible for this travesty of justice. I'm outraged, appalled and a bunch of other things.  Treating the victim like she was responsible for her attack. I'm starting to think the OPP needs sensitivity training. 

First you have a dumb ass from the OPP who says women should not dress like sluts  to avoid rape - which incited "Slut walks" throughout the world. Now you have other OPP members who treat a rape victim like she was a suspect and do not get her medical treatment in a timely fashion.

Friday, August 19, 2011


On Monday afternoon my bosses  boss found me to ask me to be in for 9:30am because he wanted me to report to HR at 9:45am to escort someone who resigned to get his personal belongings and say goodbye. The reason I was asked is the guy's immediate supervisor is on vacation, and he answers to my boss who is also on vacation. I replace my boss at least for such things, when he is on vacation. 

That person who resigned turned out to be someone I worked closely with about 10 year ago. At that time this guy had it in for me, because sadly, whether I like it or not, I'm a keener. I'm highly energetic and do more work then most so of course I make those who do the same job as me look bad. 

This particular co-worker used to back-stab me or my team whenever he found the opportunity. The sad part is, he was doing it for well over a year  before I clued into it. I'm an honest person. What you see is what you get.  I wouldn't think of screwing over a co-worker or his team. Since he and his team work for the same employer as me I would feel I was a bad employee by sabotaging someone else work.   

It was a couple of my more senior team members who pointed out that those days I wouldn't come in, suddenly the drive on the server my team used for testing would become unavailable. I'd realize it coming in the next morning that the drive was no longer accessible.  Or alternatively if I wasn't in, my boss would ask another test lead, usually this fellow, to assign work to my team. He'd purposefully ask them to do something completely different then what was needed to make me and my team look bad.

After a while I realized this was a problem, but talking to my boss didn't help.  I complained the guy was doing things like that, and his response was that he wasn't a kindergarten teacher and we had to resolve our own problems.  Faced with that and other problems there came a day in fall of 2001 where I could not face going to work. The thought of going to work had me crying nonstop. The morning it got the worst I took myself to my doctor instead of work. He suggested I might be suffering from a nervous breakdown and depression and needed time off and he put me on one month leave starting immediately. 

I remember going to work to talk to my boss and give him a copy of the doctor's note and also giving the original to HR. The worst part is my boss had the nerve to say "Well could you postpone taking this time off for a week or two, this is inconvenient right now" and "If you were having problems why did you come to me?".  At the time I was too worn down to remind him of his "kindergarten" comment, and also told him that the doctor said immediately as of today and I was going home now. 

I spent 2 months at home, I believe all of September and October. Other then sleeping, and watching M*A*S*H twice a day on my dish, I painted my garage in a concept I called Industrial meets Barbie - because of the colours I used :) The painting of the walls was highly therapeutic. Putting obnoxious and bold colours was something I'd always wanted to do. Most women think the concept is neat. Most men thinks my garage sucks. Someone even said I couldn't sell the house with it painted like that and I reminded him that most people never painted their garage. Hell I bought a 40 year old house with an unpainted garage. I rest my case! 

While I was on sick leave the company underwent the biggest layoffs in it's history I believe. When I came back this co-worker had been moved to another department, my team was half of what it was and when I came back I started part time and not in charge of my team. I started 2 weeks 1 day a week, 2 weeks 2 days a week,  and so on...  until Christmas and in the new year I started back full time and in charge of my team. 

After my return, my bosses attitude towards me had changed completely. At first he didn't want to give me responsibility because he was afraid I'd crack and he said he never wanted to lose me so long again.  Apparently one is never so much appreciated until they've been missed.  Things changed a lot after that point.  

The co-worker was still under my boss' purview but now he worked in a team dedicated to creating scripts for the QA teams.  In that role he was fine and from that point on my problems with him stopped for the most part.  To make sure I didn't have problems I'd report issues with his scripts to his immediate supervisor, so I can say for the last probably 6-7 years we haven't had any issues.

My first reaction to hearing he had resigned [after being on sick leave for 3 months already] was joy. I don't hate the guy, he does fine scripts but he's someone I cannot trust on any level so I won't miss him. I found it ironic that it would be me who would end up escorting him around and out, but I was prepared to be pleasant and supportive since I was never going to have to see him again.

He decided not to show up for his exit interview, and once one of his current teammates and myself went through his desk to collect personal items before the scavenging begins, we realized he had very little at his desk and we suspected he had already brought home 2/3 of his personal effects. Still we put all his personal effects together and told HR we had them and how should we proceed. We were told he'd contact his teammate, which made sense to me. 

On Wednesday this coworker sent around a goodbye email to his closest buddies and a few of the bosses, totalling no more then 20 people, this after 15 years in the same company. What puzzled me the most is that I was one of them!!!!   He didn't even say goodbye to the 4 newer members of his current team some of which he's been working with for more then 4 years, but he said goodbye to me?!?!?!?!

This will undoubtedly remain an enigma to me. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When will the madness and the violence stop?

Despite the fact that Al-Jazeera says that they have stopped their "police action" in Syria, I doubt there is much truth to it. Assad is just pretending again because today the UN meets to discuss Syria.  He's also managed a pretty tight control of what is coming out of Syria in the past couple of hours. Most of the Facebook groups I'm on to follow what's going on in Syria have been quiet this morning. No video's coming out, no news from the LCC. Doesn't mean nothing is going on. In fact the silence is troubling, it means bad things are going to happen.

An article this morning in an Arab newspaper says the regime must fall. That it will go down in history as the government who did everything it could to kill it's peaceful citizens.  The worst I heard in the past couple of days is that the Syrian forces went looking for impromptu graves in Hama to dig out the bodies and make them disappear.  Stealing the bodies of those they killed to hide this fact? To what lows will they stoop?  

Reports suggest that Iran has also sent it's thugs to help the Syrian regime crush it's people. This article talks about Iranian snipers which are used to fire on protesters. Also in this article, some of the thugs have paraded women naked to get their husbands to turn themselves in. Have they no shame????

Between the killing of people who peacefully protest, the killing of those who try to escape the violence, they shoot Syrians trying to cross into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, there has been so much senseless death.  All because Bashar Al-Assad and his cronies don't want to give up 41 years of power. Really as far as they are concerned the country belongs to them and not the Syrian people.

What is most tragic is the death of children. One that comes to mind happened on Monday. When the Army warmed the citizens of a part of Lakatia to leave, this particular couple left with their 2 year old daughter and a driver.  This 2 year old was cherished by her parents who tried for 8 years to conceive her. They wanted her out of harms way so left Lakatia. They shot the 2 year old in the eye at the checkpoint and when dad went to check on his baby darling, they shot him too and detained him.  Report suggests mom and driver were also injured but no one knows what happened to them.  Even more heart wrenching, the story of a child under 2 found wandering after both of her parents were killed. 

The funniest article to come out in the past couple of days is about Mubarak telling Assad to stop. Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black? Then you have the Turkish prime minister who has compared Assad to Ghadafi! I certainly cannot tell which one is crazier. He's also been compared to Saddam Hussein too. The comparisons to Hussein were made early on in April and still are valid today.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Syrians in Canada were being threatened and one Canadian man claims that because he spoke at a pro-democracy rally in Canada, two of his cousins in Syria was arrested, detained and tortured. Now the same claims are coming from Syrians in the USA.  I've been hoping that Canada sends back home the Syrian ambassador but it doesn't look like it's going to happen, nor will Canada recall it's ambassador to Syria. I personally think they should do both.

Countries that have recalled their ambassadors include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Tunisia, Switzerland, & Italy.  When will it include Canada?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's in a name?

I haven't asked my daughter who is in the naval reserves how she feels about the announcement made in the past couple of days about changing the names of Canada's different military branches to older names that includes the title "Royal". 

I mean I have nothing against the Royal Canadian Navy, however, we're in 2011. Trudeau repatriated the constitution back in 1982 to make Canada more into a country and less as a British colony. The term "Royal" especially in Quebec is a large step backwards.  Most Quebecois don't give a rats ass about the British monarchy. In general  it's being slammed as a colonial throwback

On the other side of the coin you have the veterans, mostly those from WWII and later who didn't care much for the changed names when all the branches of the military were put under one name and have been lobbying for the names to change back.  It makes sense. If you fought for Canada under the Royal Canadian Navy, you feel the name shouldn't have changed. 

Personally I have nothing against the British Monarchy. I'm not a huge fan, but I don't hate them either. If the British like them, it's their prerogative. It still bugs me that Canada's head of state is the Queen, but I can live with it so long as I have the freedoms I care so much about. 

For instance I can say whatever I want about the Queen or Steven Harper on this blog, or even if I was walking downtown Montreal, or Ottawa or Toronto or Vancouver.  One of the things Syrians are fighting for is that same right. If they say anything against Bashar or his regime, that's surely a beating and possibly a jail term sprinkled with torture.  

That being said I'm grateful to be Canadian, grateful that our Canadian forces are from the people and for the people. My daughter joined the naval reserves because she wanted to HELP people.  She knows the Canadian Navy has a nice track record for peace keeping missions and rescue missions.  That's what made her join.

I'm very grateful that I have two wonderful daughters. Both which want to help people. Just had to throw that in. Also in the end I don't care what the Canadian military is called so long as it keeps being a peace keeping force and used to help people more then to kill people :) 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thirteen Senses

I'd never heard of the band before yesterday, though one of their songs has been haunting me since I heard it as the song used for one of the various video montages to come out of Syria, to show the world how bad things have gotten under Assad's regime. 

The song they used is called "Into the fire" and when I hear it, I get emotional. I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to this song without thinking about Syria in 2011. Of course because they are considered as an alternative/indie rock it appeals to my senses too. It's also considered "Dream-pop" whatever that means. There are so many sub-genres now.

I'm going to check out the rest of their music to see if it's just one song that gets to me or if this is a new band that I'll be enjoying from now on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

twenty-two minute video inside Assad's Syria

From the BBC.

Assad's reforms from A to Z

This is the video I linked last week that was removed from Youtube for being disturbing. I found it again but this time with English subtitles.  It is disturbing but the World needs to see what the Syrian Regime does to it's own people. 

Unbelievable the lengths a dictator takes to crush down his people

You know this entry is all about Syria again.  Bashar's thugs seem to like using let's kill a fly with a machine gun approach. Overkill but does the job. Well now they have warships attacking the port of Latakia. Warships firing on innocent civilians. Warships that prevent those who would escape by the sea to a safer place from leaving by sea.  I'm wondering how Bashar will explain the gangs firing from the sea?

What has me completely flabbergasted is that the Syrian government in response to the lack of tourists during tourist season, has reduced prices by 50% and are encouraging Syrians to travel!!! So if say you were in Hama and have had everything you own blasted to smithereens by Bashar's thugs, now you can travel to another part of Syria and experience it all over again!!! WOW such great travel opportunities!!!

One of the reports I read by a doctor in Hama, believes another 2000 people have been killed when the army stormed one of the hospitals there.  That's an additional 2000 that has not been tallied. The numbers that get circulated in terms of deaths are very conservative. The LCC will only say someone is dead if their body has been clearly identified. People who's body were too badly injured who were not identified have not been added to the tallies.

There isn't a place in Syria where people aren't getting murdered to death by Regime sponsored thugs. In some areas it's worse then others. Like near the border of Turkey for the past couple of days, there has been a forest fire, that was started by the Syrian forces after storming a village. But the worries were that there was a large amount of people living in the forest. I guess the idea of the fire was to snuff them out?  Wow nice way to deal with your people, burn them to death.

Yesterday someone was sharing this blog entry where he wrote about the threat to Syrian Churches. I guess his fear was that it was going to encourage more sectarian violence. What's for sure is that Bashar's thugs do not give a flying fig about religious buildings or institutions or people's religious rights. I have seen many different video's of Mosque's minarets being shelled and demolished. I have seem video's of what remained of the insides of Mosques after they had been shelled. At this point if churches were shelled people would assume it was Bashar's thugs too, not sectarian violence.

Let me tell you this will not end well for Bashar. Something tells me when it is all said and done, he will end up hopefully in as bad shape as poor young Hamza AlKhateeb. [May he RIP] Some articles are now comparing Assad to Saddam Hussain, and that a similar fate awaits him. May it come sooner then later. I think the world needs all those PEACEFUL Syrian people. God/dess bless them all!!

EDIT 16-08-2011: The article on Syria's tourism policies seemed to have disappeared. It sure was there the day I posted this entry. I found this article which is a subset of the one that disappeared.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dragonfly on balcony lamp

About a week ago when I got home from work there was a really nice dragonfly waiting for me on one of the lights on my front porch.

Friday, August 12, 2011

UK Rioters hoods

We all figured the people who took to the streets in London were the poor, the disenfranchised, the youth, those from minority groups, in general all those affected by austerity cuts.  Surprisingly once a percentage of the rioters were arrested, it was found some had jobs, some came from well to-do families and a large majority were white. What gives?

No matter what anyone says, going around, destroying other people's property and attacking the police is NOT a way to protest anything. Once you resort to violence, how can you have any legitimacy? 

And then you have the Syrian Ambassador trying to compare the 'Armed gangs" rioting in London with the "armed gangs" protesting in Syria [Meaning peaceful protesters].  Besides the police in London has shown restraint. Although they have been authorized the use of rubber bullets, they have not resorted to using them. Unlike Bashar who uses Tanks, and anti-aircraft missiles and whatever else he can to attack peaceful protesters and civilians alike, including the infrastructure in many parts of Syria.

The brave people of Syria are still out there protesting peacefully in large numbers. There has been more then 2000 dead, more then 3000 disappeared, more then 20000 detained and 6000 wounded.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We love freaky weather in Quebec....

Montreal should really consider fixing it's aging sewer system. It's not acceptable whenever it rains a lot in a short time, to have a percentage of Montreal's underpasses flooded.  It makes it very difficult to get between one area of the city and another.

Last night an ambulance got caught in a flooded underpass. They had to dispatch a second one to the emergency as the first one was floating in the water that accumulated there. About 10 days ago there was another flooded underpass, and also in mid July.  Here's a story from 2009 with flooded underpasses.  I mean we should not have flooded underpasses each time there's a big thunderstorm.

What about the car that got lifted by a water geyser on July 18th?

Nothing beats the flood of July 14th, 1987 though, where 2 people died. I remember that day well I spent it alone in my basement condo with my eldest, who was 3 months old, watching the water rise from my patio door and wondering if my condo would flood.  The intensity of the rain stopped, when the water level was almost flush with the door.  I also remember worrying because the father of my daughter didn't get home till very late. I especially remember that the phone line was dead. It was the only time in my life I've seen the demand bigger then capacity. I've never seen it since, where you couldn't get  a signal picking up the phone. My dad spent 3 hours picking up the phone every couple of minutes until he got a signal to call me to see if the baby and I were OK.

Here's a headline you don't get to see often, Tornado hits Lac St Jean area. I know every summer we get 4 or 5 tornadoes and most of the time they take out a barn in rural Quebec. Thankfully most of the time there are few injuries or deaths, just some property damage.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Police to focus on individuals not on racial profiling.

I hope that the police makes good on it's changes with it's anti-gang unit to stop racially profiling youths and people in general.  I've written about it several times, that despite living in one of the most multicultural cities in the world, the police still did racial profiling. This article  talks about the changes the  Montreal police has made since the unfortunate dead of Freddy Villanueva in Montreal-North on August 9th of 2008. 

I didn't blog much in 2008, with a total of 17 entries but I was troubled enough by the events in a part of Montreal where I was born that I blogged about it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Special talent with traumatized Children...

This morning I could ramble on about Syria and the fact the Lebanese are finally standing in support of their Syrian brothers, and not the government that is murdering them, or I could talk about Libya and the fact Gadafy is still crazier then ever,  or about Yemen where things are getting ugly, heck I could even ramble on about the 3rd day of riots in London, which won't go away - because they are part of that same malaise the youth is feeling everywhere, but it's all too depressing!

Instead I'm going to write about Rosie, a golden retriever named after Rosa Parks. Her gift in life has been to help out children who have gone through traumatic events.  She's great to have in a room where a child is telling about abuse they have been through. Recently she made headlines in New York because she was allowed in court to 'hold the hand" of a young woman testifying against her dad, who had raped her.

Dogs and pets in general are great companions. They are great when you are upset and can't talk to another human. My cats will know when I'm really upset and they will all take turns making sure I'm ok. They will listen to anything I can ramble on about and offer cuteness :)

Some are arguing that Rosie adds an element of cuteness into the courtroom. That she might be encouraging people to believe whatever the witness with the dog is saying as the truth. Personally I'm thinking the dog is helping a child who otherwise might be too traumatized to give a full account of what happened. The dog sure is not testifying. The dog just seems to help children to keep talking. 

Here's hoping Rosie continues to help out children in any capacity she can. Children who have gone through something traumatic can definitely use the company of a friendly dog who seems to know when to prod the child with her nose to encourage them. 

Monday, August 08, 2011

Potty equality

Apparently locations that have equal facilities for men and women in terms of bathrooms are doing the women a great disservice. I've accepted the fact that in most large public places, you have to wait in line to use the bathroom. I've seen it everywhere in the world where I have travelled.  Apparently women take more time in the bathroom and have more bathroom needs. Some States in the USA and some countries have made laws that says there should be twice as many bathrooms for women as there are for men.

I work in a company where the ratio of women to men is greatly skewed.  There are also less bathrooms for women then there are for men and I suspect it is the cause of some of the appalling tantrums that some of us have witnessed at work in the woman's bathroom.

My gf seems to share same bathroom hours as a tech from another department.  This tech sighs really loudly, huffs and puffs, stomps feet and even sometimes leaves slamming the door behind her if she arrives and my gf is using the ONE sink.  This bathroom has 2 stalls and 1 sink! What kind of genius designs a bathroom with more toilets then sinks?  If you have 2 bathrooms you should have 2 sinks, like DUH! The tech is a bit OCD and feels the need to wash her hands often. If someone is using the sink when she enters the bathroom she has a conniption.

At work we've had the bathroom Nazi, part of the cleaning crew  who would chase women out of the bathrooms, including the showers at the gym bathroom,  to clean them. We also have the bathroom Diva, who has hissy fits  if the sink or "her stall" is occupied when she walks into one particular bathroom.

The thing that amuses me about the bathroom Diva is that there are 3 other bathrooms, equidistant from this one, that she could also use.   Heck I have days where I want to be alone in the bathroom,  if someone is already in,  I just go to one of the other three.  I don't sigh, huff, puff, stomp feet or slam doors in disgust either!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Join movement to expel Syrian Ambassador to Canada

On Facebook, page dedicated to send the Syrian Ambassador back to Syria.

Apparently, someone hacked the Syrian Army Website :)  

Video showing some of the attrocities committed by Al-Assad's thugs.

S.N.N | Shaam News Network: Video showing some of the crimes of Bashar's regime since the beginning of the revolution in Syria in 2011

Warning - Some parts are graphic!

EDIT 09-08-11 - I can't believe it was removed from YouTube. It's OK that Bashar Al-Assad kills people but it's not OK to put it up on the WEB???  I'm appalled. 
Edit 10-08-11 - I found it again on Youtube at another location.  Do search on "Assad regime reforms from a to z"

Riot in London

Saturday night a peaceful protest in front of  a police station in Tottenham, North of London turned violent into a riot like London hadn't seen in years. The protest was over the shooting death of Mark Doggan by police.

It sucks when people's good intentions turn into a violent force that inspires the worst out of us humans.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Canada welcomes it's immigrants

Compared to other countries we Canadians have a much more positive attitude towards immigrants and immigration.

It is suggested in this article that it is far less likely for what happened in Norway by the right wing man, who set off a bomb and shot young people, killing a total of 76, to happen in Canada.  This is because immigrants are far better integrated into Canadian society. The article also suggests that we cannot become complacent as racist attacks have become more common place across Canada.

For all people might say that French Quebecois are racist and not particularly welcoming, this isn't true. Sure Quebecois have issues with people who don't speak their language and are suspicious of people who's culture they don't know [Like all other peoples btw], but it takes little for them to open their hearts and homes to their new neighbours.

Stupid comments made by various Quebec Politicians in particular those from the parti Quebecois who blamed "maudits immigrants" for not voting for independence, while offensive are also correct.  Most who come to this country come for it's stability and safety. They might come from a country which was unstable and for them the unity of Canada is important to continue ensuring it's stability so it is true they will vote federalist and against Quebec leaving. It is completely logical and no one should blame them for this.

Ironically some of the most racist people I have met in Canada were new arrivals!!!! I used to have a neighbour that my native-ex [The one I am no longer on speaking terms with] befriended.  This neighbour moved to Toronto for several months and when he came back, he had nothing but vitriol to spew about Toronto. "Toronto, is so fucking full of immigrants he said". This guy was NOT even born in Canada. His family had come to Canada from Europe when he was a small child.  I could not believe his comments. I tore him a new one. I asked him what rights he thought he had as a person NOT even born in Canada to criticize other people, who he perceived as new comers because of the colour of their skin but who might in fact actually be born here, unlike his sorry ass.

I went on to say that the only person in the room who could complain about immigrants was my native-ex, who by definition was a 'Native of Canada'. That even myself who has an French ancestor who arrived in Quebec in 1667, was still an immigrant in comparison.  So if he wasn't happy with Canadian "Immigrants" he could go back to the country where he was born, and where it was obviously so perfect.  Because Canada is a country built on immigration. It started off with the Natives, and the arrival of the French and the English, but now has become a nation where EVERYONE is welcome.

It sucks that in some immigrant communities they continue to fight internally like they have not left their own country and I strongly believe that those who attack other members of their nationality should be sent back home.  Last week I linked an article where some pro-democracy Syrians in Montreal have been  threatened by pro-Assad factions. Those in pro-Assad factions should be warned that in this country everyone is entitled to their opinion and no one goes out and beats up people for having a different opinion. If they don't get that, they are welcome to find a country who tolerates this abhorrent behaviour.

One of the things I love the most about Montreal is it's multicultural international flavour. It's wonderful that you can meet people from all sorts of different countries. I love it that at work I've had opportunity to work with people from just about everywhere in the world. Of late the students that apply for internships are mostly from the old European eastern bloc, North Africa, the middle East, and Central Africa. A percentage of those who apply from those countries are often new arrivals to Canada, with a degree in their own countries re-doing an engineering degree in Montreal in a COOP program to get the benefits of a Canadian education and Canadian work terms, which give them that Canadian experience which helps them find work.

The majority of the students that I've had working for me in internships are very grateful to have the internship and are thrilled to be in Canada. They praise the education system, and the Coop programs. One of the questions I often ask is why they chose the University and program they are in, and also ask how the Canadian university compares to the university they previously attended. It's the kind of question that's not very personal and should make the candidate relax as it's an opinion and there is no right and wrong.

Every last one will tell me that they were impressed at our school system here and they have learned so much even if they are doing the program for a 2nd time.   There's a percentage who just feel everything here is better, if nothing else they might be saying it to convince themselves and look appreciative, but there's another percentage that can give you great details as to why our Engineering programs rock.

The thing I like to remember is that unless you are fully a North American Native [Also wrongly labelled Indian], you are an immigrant and from immigrant roots. Even if your family has been in Canada 400 years. By keeping that perspective it makes it far easier to accept new comers and help them integrate into Canadian society. 

One of the stories we were told in school was that Canada is a mosaic, and the USA is a melting pot. Canadians are proudly Canadian but also retain a little bit of their previous identity which I think makes for a far more diverse country and I love that about Canada.

My daughters grew up in a very diverse neighbourhood and were exposed to people from all different nationalities.  At some point in her late teens, my eldest dated briefly a boy from Drummondville [or was it Valleyfield - always mix those? ]. The biggest shock my daughter had travelling to meet her beau in his home town, was the fact everyone was homogeneously white and french-speaking. Having always lived in Montreal she had never seen areas that were so uniform in language and people's ethnicity.

Even though I grew up in a less ethnically mixed area, where I grew up in Montreal North and Riviere-des-Prairies, we were a mix of French-Quebecois,  Italian-Canadians [first/second/third generation] and Haitian-Canadians [mostly first generation].  The English schools I went to had students who where 95% Italians, 3% French and the remaining 2% included everyone else! That was my experience until about age 15, when my mother placed me in a private school downtown. It was there I was exposed to Montreal's more varied English community, as well as Montreal's diverse Jewish community.

Friday, August 05, 2011

I tawt I taw a puddy tat

I did I did taw a puddy tat

His thugs crave blood

Apparently you cannot criticize Bashar Al-Assad anywhere. There was a peaceful protest in front of the Syrian Embassy in Beirut on Tuesday, peaceful until Bashar's thugs showed up and beat the living daylights out of everyone there, because they refused to be intimidated and go away.

The UN is about as useless as tits on a man with the crisis in Syria. Their resolutions always short of being meaningful.  Assad lost his legitimacy months ago, and yet he's still able to kill people with no consequences.  The Arab world sits in silence as people are being slaughtered like sheep in Hama, to use the expression people in Hama have used.  Some of the video's coming out of Syria are incredibly disturbing, and the fact the world sits and watches without intervening just blows my mind. I'm not sure what the best method of intervention is but there has to be a way to get him to stop his killing.

This Friday's protests in Syria are dubbed "God is with us". All I have to say is  Yalla irhal ya Bashar!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Great blog about self-defense

This guy has a great entry in his blog with self defence tips for women, and men too! Always good to have awareness on what to do if you are attacked.  I have to look where to get bear repellent and at least have some in my purse and in my truck.

CBC video on the protests in Syria

For the protection of those who are in Syria, this video is ONLY viewable in Canada :)

Bashar Al-Assad has the audacity while pounding Hama every day since Sunday to announce reforms. What a joke?  Who does he think he's fooling? Other then his followers and his thugs, no one believes a word that comes out of his mouth.

What about Lebanon, distancing itself from the UN resolution?  It's watered down enough as is, with Russian's interference. One of the lines Russia wanted added was there should be no violence towards the state. The only one destroying the state is the regime! They are continuing to  flatten out Hama.  However I have nothing but admiration for the Syrian people and their restraint as well as the people of Hama.

If they had spent half  of the money used to squash the uprisings to actually implement reforms, Syria would be doing great at the moment. But it makes so much sense to pay militia to do your ugly work, your killing, and feed them, and provide them with weapons of human destruction.  I stand by my comment the other day that Syria has more Tanks then Canada!!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Manitoba first Nation needs new home

I've been blogging a lot about Syria and the Arab Spring/Summer whatever you want to call it now. But I haven't blogged much about Canada recently.  There are people in Canada who's rights are ignored or eroded for the most part. That would be the people from Canada's first nations.

People from the Lake St. Martin First Nation have had to be displaced yet again due to flooding. It happens frequently that they are displaced due to flooding but this year's disaster has doomed the reserve. It's no longer fit for habitation. The people want to move close by to where they used to live, far away from white settlements, which just brings drugs and alcohol along with the problems that go with it, into the native community.  They want out of Winnipeg at the moment, that's for sure.

I don't know how this will be addressed by  Harper's government, as they seem to think natives are just like any other Canadian and don't need special services.  When are people going to realize that not all humans have the same needs and lumping everyone into the same pile is not helpful to anyone?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cats can be entertaining

They all want the primo spot on the window sill.
I think this blog needs something warm and fuzzy :)

I'll settle for warm and furry.  Here are photo's of my cats excited over an opened window, so they congregated. Who says cats aren't sociable?
And then there was 3

Video of Global Syria day 2 in Montreal

One of the video's of the Rally in Montreal in support of the Syrian people on July 30th, 2011 If you're really observant and know what I look like you can spot me briefly in one frame among the crowd.

I'm asking  myself what the Syrian regime hopes to accomplish by the continuing crackdown, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. One article I read in the middle of the night while I couldn't sleep was from the Jerusalem Post   The journalist made allusions that those Syrian tanks couldn't do much harm to an Israeli brigade but it's perfectly adequate for attacking unarmed civilians.  I get amazed when I see the footage of all those tanks. I doubt Canada has that many tanks! [Then again the lack of adequate military equipment in Canada is always a running joke, and frankly I think I'd rather we were poorly equipped.  I'd rather see our army as a peace keeping force.]

Bashar now faces indictment in international  criminal court. However I can't help but wonder how much good the International Criminal Court can do.  It's certainly not stopping Bashar's goons from shelling Hama.

Crumbling infrastructure

Some of my fellow Quebecois seem to think we have the worst infrastructure in the world. I think people exaggerate. Admittedly when concrete slabs fall on highways it makes all of us nervous. It gives me more reason to take the train downtown. The last chunk of cement who fell was in the Ville Marie tunnel downtown Sunday morning.  Thankfully no one was hurt.

I think the crumbling infrastructure is also a Canadian problem and probably a north American problem.  Our governments built highways, tunnel and bridges 50-60 years ago when we had a 10th of the volume of traffic. I don't think we ever expected the sheer volume of cars on the road that we're seeing today.

It doesn't help either that some of the construction companies around Montreal and/or Quebec were suspected of being mobbed up.  This means that while the projects were completed, many were completed with inferior materials and many corners were cut so as much money as possible was pocketed.  This is presumably why the Quebecois think we have the worst infrastructure. But I'm sure we're not the only ones with this problem either.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The butcher keeps pounding with no relief

Sadly Bashar and his ilk have not stopped pounding Hama and other restive towns in Syria on this first day of Ramadan. I've wanted to blog something this morning, but all I can think about is that 142 people were killed by the Syrian Government forces yesterday and that is Extremely disturbing. 

Finally today the Harper Government is condemning the Syrian Government. What it took 142 deaths in one day? What 100 deaths isn't enough? Fact that more then 1600 died so far just a fluke? Or does Harper believe the Syrian line of "Armed groups". Yeah the armed group is the Syrian Regime.

Bracelet picked up in Homs at The Church of the Girdle
I never wear bracelets to work as with the work I do, bracelets end up broken or I get hurt caught in a PC. But today I will wear the bracelet I picked up in Homs at The Church of the Lady of the Girdle. I generally don't pick up religious items, but the blue bracelet with blue cross reminded me a bit of a blue medal of the virgin Mary my grandma gave to me as a child which I still miss.  I will wear the bracelet in solidarity with the people of Homs and the Syrian people in general. 

I have an aversion to worshipping in Churches since my childhood, however when we went downtown Saturday for the rally, I wanted to stop at the Marie-Reine du Monde basilica, to light a candle for all those who died in Syria so far. I also wanted to sit in front of the beautiful wooden Statue of the Virgin in silent meditation. Sadly when we arrived downtown it was 5pm, one of the time for mass, and since I did not want to sit through mass, we did not go in. We figured we'd go after the restaurant but it was locked. I guess they have had issues with revellers going nuts on Saturday nights, so they lock the doors. Will have to go back in the near future to light that candle.  

Edit: Harper's statement in full from government website.