Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Maman, fais attention à moi!

I get out of the house and head for the metro station. I pass the (how do you say tourniquet in English?) and I see two girls (women? They looked like teenagers) with a trolley and there was a real living baby inside.

One of the girls could either be the mother or the sister, but that’s not important. The two women were lifting the carriage from either extremities and as they were clumsily going down the stairs, the trolley was continuously swinging front and back.

Of course, the only thought in my mind was that the baby was going to fly which is very cool to see in movies.

The worst didn’t happen, so this is just a little story without a bad ending.

What’s wrong with a storm?

Everytime there’s a storm, you know that beautiful days are coming up, like the yesterday and today; beautiful sunny sky, mild wind, not too cold. Of course, anybody who goes to school or to work can’t enjoy any of that.

When I see a storm or live through one, the storm itself doesn’t annoy me. That’s actually the fun part. The sad part is people’s pain and misery. Why can’t people just  smile and enjoy a little difference in life? Without things like storms, life wouldn’t be valuable. Catastrophes are important.

The snow storm occurred Saturday and I was moving around a lot. Snow flying around and low visibility sure made things fun (no sarcasm). Sunday was the aftermath. I spent most of the day outside, shoveling. I noticed everybody helping each other, especially with cars. Add a snow storm and you notice that human beings are actually capable of working together. I’m just wondering why a disaster has to take place for something like that to happen.

I’ve seen an old man who wouldn’t hold the door for a mother holding her baby and carrying bags. I’ve also seen the opposite. For readers in the world who never dealt with snow, holding a door is actually much easier than shoveling white powder falling from the sky.

Today is Tuesday. There are still mountains of snow on many streets. It’s a pain to walk on sidewalks, at least that’s how most people feel. Try this: It’s fun to slide around on sidewalks. Brighten up your day! The sun is already there to help with that.

Flying in during THE storm, our experience with KLM

By now, a lot of the local media has been covering the misadventures of all of those “poor” travelers who were returning from a week (or more) in the sun only to fall victim of The Storm of 2008 (trademarked). I still don’t understand why some companies still consider it normal to keep their passengers prisoners of their metal tubes for 12 hours as the water runs out and the toilets start to overflow. What do you think will happen when next year’s clients start their research by googling “Air Cubana”?On Saturday, we were on our way back from Rome via Amsterdam on a KLM MD11. We’ve known since Wednesday that we would be coming in during a storm but the captain was hoping to get us in just before the worst of it. Unfortunately, the position of the jet-stream forced us on a flight path that was much further north than usual (seeing Greenland was immensely cool) and KLM lost their bet.We were initially diverted to Detroit but, as we flew over Ontario, the captain was told that the weather over Toronto was “barely” acceptable. Since many of his passengers didn’t have a visa to enter the US, he decided to give Pearsons a try. That guy was one great pilot, although the visibility over YYZ was atrocious, this was the smoothest landing I’ve seen in years. Not everyone was so lucky, while we were taxiing to our gate, we could barely see the landing lights of another plane as it came in but then aborted its landing.From that point on, we would spend many hours simply waiting. Waiting to be allowed to disembark (1 hour), waiting for our bags (2 hours), waiting in line at the check-in the next day (4.5 hours), waiting for our departure authorization after boarding (1.5 hours) and waiting for the stupid people movers (1.5 hours) at Trudeau Airport because we were now a “domestic” flight. Total travel time from our Rome appartment to our house in Pierrefonds, 50 hours. Nevertheless, we were always kept informed, the water, booze and juices didn’t run out, the toilets didn’t overflow and, even through they were under no legal obligation to do so, KLM got all of their passengers to spend Saturday night in a nice hotel in downtown Toronto. They even paid for a breakfast buffet on Sunday which did wonders for our mood. Furthermore, we could really tell that they were doing all that they could to get us at our final destination. No bullshit, if they didn’t know about something they told us so. Importantly, if they told us a time estimate they also told us where the info came from and whether we should believe it or not. Sometimes the captain would get so frustrated with ground control that his communications were almost funny but we appreciated being treated like adults for a change. All in all, the crew performed admirably under very difficult conditions.The moral of the story is that sometimes you get what you pay for. Cheap flights are cheap because they can’t afford to plan for anything else than optimal conditions.

Oh look, a snowstorm

Dave Phillips of Environment Canada says Montreal, as of the morning of the 8th of March, is but a measly 60cm from breaking that 70-71 snowfall record. You’ve heard of that record right? It’s the one your parents (if you’re my age) go on and on and on about.. “Ya, Justin but this is nothing like 1971”. Well, we are 60 cm from being able to say, BAH! ’71 was a joke compared to ’08. Or worse yet, to be able to nag our kids with “nothing like ’08 son.. I remember ’08”

It has snowed 80% of the time this winter. Which is to say, 8 out 10 days this year, there’s been some snow falling. And take it from a guy who rides his bike into work, I can believe it. One thing I plan on doing next fall is getting another frame that actually makes for proper mudguard clearance. I am fed up with having my feet and shins coated with salty water. Luckily I invested well enough in decent cycling boots and shoe covers but still.

So what’s gonna fall today into tomorrow? 30cm? That leaves us another 30cm to break the record. Ha! We’ll do that in a few days with the way it’s going.

So listen Montreal, hang tight, stock up on scotch, wine, and cook up something great for dinner and then sit back, look out the window while watching the Habs sit atop first place.. Spring will arrive. I swear.

St-Patrick’s parade is next week BTW. Just thinking about it cracks me up.

Oh, and don’t forget to move your clocks forwards tonight.

Outdoor Picnic

As I rode home yesterday from work, I started to ride up my street and there in all it’s ultimate horror were the little orange signs indicating snow clearing from 07:00 – 19:00

On my new street, they actually clear the snow during the day. Something they never did were I previously lived.

I went through the 7 known stages of grief:

1) Shock and Denial – No, I am SURE I parked the car on the other side of the street. Yes, I can remember now.. Coming home from snowboarding and I thought “they’ll clear the right side first, I’ll park there”.

2) Pain and Guilt – Oh WHY did I park on the wrong side ? Ug, this is going to be hell. I’ll never find a place to park. It’s all over. They’ll tow my car, I’ll go into debt, they’ll Denver Boot it and I’ll lose everything. I hate winter.

3) Anger and Bargaining – Ok, maybe if I call the city, I can get them to change their minds. Ya, those blue collar worker types, they’re a cool bunch. They always look so relaxed. They’ll move the signs for me. I know it.

4) Depression – Who am I kidding? Oh I so long for the days when I lived at the other apartment when they cleared the snow only at night. There’s no spots now. There will be no spots tomorrow. Where did I put that bottle of prozac ?

5) The upward turn – I slept horribly. Tossing and turning all night worrying about where I would put my car in the morning. I woke up, grabbed a bowl of Cheerios (did you get that? upward turn.. Cheerios) and camped out on my front porch.. Listening and looking like a hunter trying to catch his elusive prey: the Montreal parking spot. I could hear cars starting.. there’s hope!

6) Reconstruction working through – Hang on! Someone IS leaving.. and they are on the right side of the street! I dropped the half eaten bowl of Cheerios on the front porch and raced out to grab the spot.

7) Acceptance and hope – Sitting in my car, pieces of wet cheerios stuck to my t-shirt, I sat for a while in silence admiring my new spot. Montreal in the winter isn’t such a horrible place. It’s actually quite fantastic. I love winter. Really, I do.

Wait, don’t they normally clear the other side the night after clearing the first side ?

Slipping into Christmas

Well, it had to happen sometime. I took my first fall of the season this morning as I was making my way home from the grocery store, lugging 3 bags and a purse. Sidewalks were covered with a light dusting of snow that left the black ice underneath impossible to see. On my way there, I’d already slipped in a few spots but managed to catch myself but I guess I wasn’t so nimble on my way back. So there I was, flat on my back, my bags and my purse strewn all around me on the ground. A piece of camembert cheese stuck under the wheel of a parked car. Thank goodness I wear a well-padded parka so I didn’t feel the force of the impact too much. The city has layed down abrasives on the main streets but walking on residential and side streets can be treacherous if not tricky. So if you’re planning to head out tonight or tomorrow to visit family and friends, be careful and watch your step. And on that note, I’d like to wish all the Metroblog readers out there a safe and Merry Christmas!

Snow in the City

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I just love a winter snow storm on the weekend. When you’re not obligated to get yourself anywhere, you can actually enjoy it instead of fighting it. This morning, I was walking around town and took some photos with my cell phone camera. It was actually quite an exhilirating and pleasant walk. As long as you’re dressed properly – warm parka: check, head covering: check, gloves: check, boots: check – the calm that settles on the city during a storm is quite lovely and peaceful. The streets are near deserted as people hunker down indoors and cars are few and far between or else crawling along at a snail’s pace. Everything just slows down. That said, Monday morning rush hour will probably be a more messy picture.

Shopping and cinema

I arrived in Montreal last Friday, and until now I’ve done mostly my Christmas shopping! The verdict: not so bad… It’s all about choosing the right moment to go shop! Saturday and Sunday are nuts in malls, especially in the afternoon. I went to the Salon des Métiers d’Arts on Sunday at opening time and it was already packed! Yet… Going to shop on a weekday morning, the shops are empty! So that’s my favourite time. No bumping into anyone, no waiting at a cash register, the attention of workers… PERFECT!

I also went to the cinema twice… I saw Atonement at the AMC (really good) and Fred Claud at the Scotia Bank (a good low-thinking entertainment movie).

I’m running out of ideas of cheap activities to do… I thought about visiting the exhibition A Victorian Christmas at the Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada, but I don’t know if it’s worth it… What else is there to do that doesn’t involve shopping or cinema in this town a few weeks before Christmas? :)

Now is the Winter of Our Non-Discontent

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Despite all kinds of reports, today’s snowstorm made me immensely happy. It took me double the amount of time to trudge into work, and at lunch I battled a furious western wind that made a point of hurtling sheets of snow crystals painfully into my eyes. I was ecstatic. Nothing stokes the spirit like the Montreal elements, I say.

On the way home, I passed many neighbours digging, shoveling and snow-blowing their way through the snow, remarkably all with gleaming smiles on their faces. The most heartening sight was a father taking a break from shoveling his sloping driveway to drag his gleeful toddler up in her toboggan as the older daughter squealingly sleighed her way down the hill. I paused and thought: despite global warming, it is still possible for today’s kids to encounter those ridiculous snowfalls of my childhood again. Thank goodness.

Better enjoy it while we can, we’ll all be complaining non-stop about the “frickin’ weather” come February.

Montreal as a tourist

Since September I am no longer a Montrealer. I accepted a job offer back in my little home village, Blanc-Sablon. It’s where I will live until June. Still, I am excited about coming back to Montreal on holidays! For example, I’ll be there from December 7th to the 16th.

In this time, I am planning all kinds of activities… It’ll feel strange to be a tourist in the city I’ve grown to know and enjoy for the past 5 years!

I will…
-Go see the fireworks at the Bassin Bonsecours on Saturday December 8th (they are on every Saturday of the month).
-Go do some serious Christmas shopping. I can’t wait to see the neatly decorated malls!
-Enjoy a OSM concert, the Christmas Oratorio on December 12th.
-Go out with friends at a good resto… Here in Blanc-Sablon, there’s only one, a Pizza Delight. I can’t wait to be in the city and eat out and enjoy all of the great Montreal restos!
-Go see a hockey game, the Habs agains’t the Leafs on December 15th.

I’ll report on my activities and my week in Montreal as it happens…!

For now, still got to wait a week more… 3.5 more days of work and I’m off to the big city!

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