Archive for July, 2007

C’est pas beutiful ça ?

I’ve heard so much complaining lately of the weather.. Personally, I’m rather enjoying it. It’s not hot and humid.. A little rain isn’t so bad..

Nevertheless, here’s a little something for everyone who’s on vacation

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Montreal’s missing bike paths

I, like many of you ride Montreal’s bike paths daily. I do so partly to commute to work, and partly to get to where I am going for a training ride.

As I have just moved, I am always out on the lookout for a better, safer way home without having to deal with motorists who seem Hell bent on cutting me off.

The overall winner in terms of bike paths in Montreal is the Brébeuf bike path. This is the bike path that runs you from Laurier park straight down to Lafontaine park and connects you to the Rachel bike path.

It is a very busy bike path. Stand on the corner of Brébeuf at 08:30 on a weekday morning and watch the number of cyclists whip by. Amazing stuff. These commuters are also excellent bike handlers who perform shoulder checks before switching lanes and who actually realize that they are not the only ones on the bike path.

Unfortunately, many of them then have to take the Rachel bike path. Without a doubt, the stretch that runs from St-Urbain all the way to Pie -IX is one sordid mess of a bike path in desperate need of repaving. I had to ride that path everyday for nearly an entire summer and if if it turns out I can’t have children, I know EXACTLY where to lay the blame.

Another area that needs work are the citizens of Lasalle. There is an excellent stretch of bike path that goes from Lachine, all along the water until St-Henri. This bike path however is chalk full of families taking walks. I recently came across 3 families, complete with strollers the size of my car taking up both lanes. When I passed them, causing them to have to yield a quarter of a lane to me, two of the women gave me the dirtiest of looks.

Whoa. It’s a bike path!

You would never see this in downtown or Le Plateau. Bike paths are for bikes, not strollers the size of golf carts.

Which brings me to my two final complaints. The first, is the path that runs along St-Urbain under the Rosemont train underpass. Why does this section, that protects the cyclists from motorists require that the cyclist ride up a side street, hop a sidewalk and then double back on itself in order to get behind the protecting divider ? Open up the path to give direct access from St-Urbain without having to do some BMX trick.

And finally, Montreal desperately needs a path that heads North. We have one that goes south from Laurier until Milton, we need the same going north.

Leave the car at home. Ride your bike. There’s only a month of summer left.

My New Street

I think anyone who lives in town, has “their street”. By this I am not referring to the street that you actually live on, although it could very well be that same street, but instead the street that you buy your bread, cheese, groceries and booze on.

For the past 15 years, I have lived near St-Laurent, or The Main, between the streets of Pins and Rachel. That has been “my street”. It’s the street where I purchased my weekly goods and it’s the street I rode up daily after a workout.. to see what the kids are now wearing, what new shops are opening and of course how long the line outside Schwartz’s is.

Since that time I’ve seen The Main change dramatically, and dare I say, for the worse.

The Main, back 15 years ago, was a street with two faces. The face during the day was a face of ‘old world’ shopping (for lack of a better term). It was the home of the St-Laurent bakery. That bakery with the really crabby ladies who served up some fantastic bread. Find me another bakery that makes a Russian bread..

It was the home of Warshaw’s. The grocery store that sold everything under the sun.

At night, it was and still is, the street for trendy clubbing.

But slowly the Main is losing it’s daytime status. The St-Laurent bakery closed and replaced with a shop that sells overpriced Puma sneakers (how they pay the rent on just that is beyond me).

Warshaw’s closed to be replaced by a drug store with the most disgusting facade on the street. I simply refuse to walk in there because of that facade.
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We’ll Be Dancing in the Street

Get your comfy shoes ready for this weekend’s annual downtown sidewalk sale on Ste-Catherine between Jeanne Mance and St-Marc.

As part of the Ste. Catherine Street Celebrates events, Q92 will be presenting free live concerts on the Dumoulin stage outside the HMV megastore (corner Ste Catherine & Peel):

Pascale Picard – Saturday at 1PM
David Usher – Saturday at 4PM
Hayley Sales – Sunday at 1PM
Sass Jordan – Sunday at 3PM

Hoping for some great walking, shopping and rocking weather!

Update: The David Usher concert on Saturday afternoon was awesome! Sorry I didn’t get any photos but I didn’t have my camera with me. The set lasted about 40 minutes and he performed some of his more popular songs. Even though it started to rain, many people still stayed to watch. He was rocking it out all over the stage. At one point towards the end of the show, he stopped singing and asked a lady in the crowd to put down her umbrella so that a little girl could see. Then he came down into the street and I think he was singing to the little girl. He got everyone around him to sit on the ground while he was crouched down and singing. So there was a whole crowd of people towards the front of the stage who were sitting in the middle of Ste Catherine street as he sang his last song. There was an autograph session outside the HMV afterwards but I didn’t stick around for that.
If you’re planning to go to today’s concerts, I hope they are just as good. But there should be a little bit more crowd control for people who are trying to move past the concert stage area. Things got a little pushy at one point towards the sides and I’d hate to see a fight break out with that many people around.

Hare Krishna in the Park

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Every year, I see colorful tents set up at the corner of Parc and Mont-Royal in Jeanne Mance Park for the Hare Krishna/Hindu festival. I’ve also seen the colorful chariot covered in flowers parade by. There’s always free food given out and you would think that me being me – where there’s food, I would be there – but oddly enough, I have never gone to check things out. This year, I decided to be more adventurous and went to visit the festival site. I looked at some of the displays, fingered some of the souvenirs, and even sat under a tent where I listened to some very rhythmic chanting taking place on stage. It was nice to see all the beautiful saris worn by the Hindu women and Hare Krishna devotees. I lined up for a free vegetarian plate which was generously filled with a mélange of Indian food and marveled at how many different people of various cultures also came to visit the site. Montreal is such an open-minded city and its festivals so inviting. If you’re interested in immersing yourself in some Hindu culture, the Festival of Chariots continues Sunday.

Oh my aching back

It’s done. It’s all done and I don’t want to have to do it again for another 2 years.. At least !

Moving that is. Oh my gawd, what a pain in the back. And, I can’t even really complain as we hired movers this time.

The mayhem started weeks ago as I started to dump tons and tons of crap that I have accumulated over the past 10 years that I lived on De Bullion. I’m a nerd and nerds love to collect useless electronics. Remember the Zip disk made by Iomega? The one that suffered from the click of death Ya, I still have one and it still clicks whenever I put a Zip disk in it.. Oh, and I have never purchased another Iomega product since then.. Ya, like it wasn’t defective..

It was a nerd museum in that old apartment.. I had VGA 600×800 screens! Yes, plural. There was even a 386 that booted Linux (and not much else).. Anyhow, thankfully Montreal has éco-Centre where you can dump electronics, and gobs of other stuff you don’t want and Renaissance where you can rid of clothes and sporting goods you no longer want..

But even with that, it was still a good 5 HUGE construction garbage bags..

$2000 later (yes, that’s right) for the movers, 60 boxes that had to be packed and unpacked and then flattened and then shipped off to be reused elsewhere and one aching back and very sore legs (not good for a cyclist) and we are all settled.

Now I remember why I only move every 10 years.

Oh, for crying out loud; or, Petition to save the Main Hall

In a typical case of threat-by-bureaucracy, the proprietors of the Mile End Cultural Centre have been forced to cancel all ticketed events at the Main Hall for the rest of the summer because the “salle de réunion” permit the venue has held for the last sixteen years apparently does not allow for “spectacles.”

Yeah, that’s right.

According to their press release, the impetus for the sudden turnaround by the city is a noise complaint from one of the MECC’s neighbours, which may now jeopardise their application for a proper “salle de spectacles” permit. Because you know, if you’re looking for a nice, quiet residential street to live on, then Boulevard St-Laurent is just the place for you.

This isn’t the first time that noise issues have threatened cultural establishments in the north Plateau. Back in 2000, a proposal to turn the old Rialto Theatre into a nightclub was quashed at the last minute because of noise concerns. Meanwhile, in 2006, the borough very nearly evicted the Montreal Fringe Festival because of complaints about noise emanating from its beer tent in Parc des Amériques.

Coincidence? Probably not, as the borough has listed the reduction of street noise as one of the main priorities of its 2007 Budget participatif, which began public consultations in June and is scheduled for final approval in the fall.

Determined to buck the trend, the folks at the MECC have started a petition in support of their application, which you can sign here. For the full scoop, check out the organization’s website or, if you’re feeling networky, you can join their Facebook group. Tell ’em I sent you.

Future Shop Experts? I don’t think they exist

Qui sont ces experts? Les gens qui se promènent dans les magasins Future Shop? It can’t be, because I just had a very strange encounter.

Quand je suis aller chez Future Shop au marché central cette fin de semaine, je savais que j’allais acheter un écran widescreen d’au moins 22 pouces. L’écran 22″ que je regardais était à côté d’un écran qui semblait être un 19″ normal. Un des employés passait et je lui ai demandé quelle était la résolution des écrans. Il m’a répondu avec certitude que c’était 22″. Quand je lui ai expliqué ce que résolution veut dire, il m’a répondu avec autant de certitude que c’était 1280×1024 pour les deux. Il a aussi ajouté fermement que c’était pareil pour les deux écrans 19″ (not wide) et 22″ (wide). C’est à ce moment là qu’une voix a éclaté de rire dans ma tête.

If the resolution of your widescreen LCD monitor has a ratio of 1.25, I can tell you with more certainty than that clerk that you will return the monitor. Actually, you shouldn’t even buy it in the first place, because everything on your screen would be very much stretched.

Je sais que les employés chez Future Shop et ailleurs passent des entraînements, mais est-ce que leurs connaissances sont mis à l’épreuve à la fin de l’entraînement ou est-ce que c’est trop couteux pour les compagnies de viré les employés incompétents.

Ce n’est probablement pas le cas de tous les employés, mais je demande rarement l’avis des employés dans les magasins électroniques. Je me tourne plutôt vers l’internet et les geeks que j’y trouve. Les compétents, c’est vraiment ceux là.

Mon conseil: pour vos prochains achats d’articles électroniques, allez en magasins pour pouvoir prendre l’objet dans vos mains, mais gardez en tête que ce n’est pas le meilleur endroit pour avoir des opinions valables.

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