Friday, August 29, 2014

My Quebec City Guide is live

My Quebec City Guide is live. Check out the guide. Let me know what you think. Does it make you want to go??

My favourite section: Things to Do. It was fun creating the list and my favourite activity is going off to the Old Prison of Trois-Rivières where Orange est le nouveau noir.

Here's an excerpt from the restaurant section:
Quebec’s European connections are never more obvious than when it comes to dining. Quebeckers actively support their farmers and take pride in terroir products (local products). Quebec City and the surrounding area have gained international recognition for its innovative chefs creating superb cuisine with regional flavours. Whether it’s a small eatery or fine dining salon, dining is always an experience to savour.

Put Quebec City on your bucket list. Wonderful part of Canada.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My garden explained to my neighbour

Dear anal-retentive neighbour:
What I have growing in my garden are called f-l-o-w-e-r-s. I know you don’t have any on your lawn so are probably not familiar with their purpose in the world. Experts have determined that flowers are not weeds but some weeds are flowers. I know confusing. Maybe the next time you call the city inspector to complain about my dangerous and unsightly garden, he can explain to you what purpose f-l-o-w-e-r-s serve in a garden. He probably can't be trusted since he did thank me for planting f-l-o-w-e-r-s that help the bees. Who wants those pesky pests in our gardens!

I’m sorry my lawn doesn’t look like perfect green concrete. I decided not to use poisonous sprays so the frogs, bird, bees, dogs, cats, kids and other small creatures could live. I know – it’s easier to keep your lawn neat when they are all dead. I appreciate that you have the time to trim your lawn with nail scissors and measure the circumference of each tree growing in your yard. Tree sculpting is a true art. I just like my trees a bit more natural and only have nail clippers at my house that I use on my days off. I won’t even discuss how I throw my nail clippings into my compost bin.

Is it too late for some live and let live? I’ve never complained about your boring lawn taking up space in my front window. I’ve never turned the authorities onto you while listening to your little dog bark over and over and over until he pukes. His stamina is amazing – you think three times a day would be enough to tucker the little guy out. It’s like he’s channelling the energizer bunny ‘cause he just keeps going and going and going. Maybe he just needs to get outside from your fenced backyard and take a dump without someone screaming at him about ruining the lawn and then spraying Lysol at him. Ah never mind – it's just another one of my whacko suggestions!

I know from your side of the street my dogs look out of control when they lie sleeping on my bumpy lawn or roll around in the clover. It’s just that they are trained to never set foot on your grass. (You’re welcome.) My cat sleeping in the hydrangea bush is also suspect. You never know when he may leap up and tear out your eye – if he can get up that high. I also apologize for those damn birds as well. I think one of their feathers may have blown onto your yard.

I’ll try to encourage the geraniums and peony bush to grow higher in order to cover up the weathered barrel I use to collect rainwater. I know – the more civilized solution is to just use the local water supply even when there is a neighbourhood alert. Maybe you could suggest a toxic chemical to put on my flowers make them grow higher?? Actually, it’s probably easier to just rip every living thing out of my yard so I only have to water the grass. Can you recommend an air conditioning company? Once the house is no longer shaded by those messy trees I’ll need a unit. I like the sound yours makes – it’s like having my own local factory right outside my bedroom. Hey – I hadn’t thought of this before – once I have to keep all my doors and windows shut for my air conditioning I won’t hear yours. I can listen to my own!!!!

One of these days I will get around to watering my driveway in the noonday heat. It’s such a challenge to control the dirt on your driveway. It’s like it’s outside or something crazy like that. I’ve started a savings fund to have someone come and pour more hot tar on the driveway so it can become smoother and blacker to absorb more summertime heat. Maybe that will keep those pesky butterfly attracting flowers from growing alongside my house.

Why can’t Mother Nature just get her act together and be a bit neater?? Maybe you can teach her a thing or two about how to keep anything from growing.

Yours truly,
Your “damn hippie” neighbour

p.s.: I won’t mind if you nip across to grab a few leaves of the Swiss Chard or Kale growing on my front yard. I hear both help chronic inflammation of the asshole and brain impairment.

p.p.s. I saw one of the other neighbourhood dogs pee on your lawn. That uncaring bitch didn’t even clean it up! I’ll send her over a can of Lysol tomorrow so she can disinfect your lawn like your wife does. (You’re welcome!) I’ll may be able to convince her start using it to also clean our garbage bins supplied by the city. I hear the Ebola plague has reached North America!!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sitting on your ass is dangerous to your health

Sometimes I come across things in my work that shake me up. It's not always climate related. Despite knowing some great-calamity-affecting-all-humanity is coming, these days out selfish narcissism, I pay more attention to the smaller disasters directly affecting me.

I just finished a health article on sarcopenia. This is a condition of severe muscle wasting and loss of strength. Everyone experiences some muscle loss while ageing -- it's part of the whole mortality routine. Loose a little too much though and --BOOM -- you have sarcopenia, a predecessor to diabetes and frailty syndrome. Frailty syndrome is when you turn into a little old lady who falls over a lot, can't open her own jar of pickles, wipe her own ass or pick up the mail. It's off the the nursing home when this happens.

The main cause of sarcopenia: sitting on your ass. The preventive cure: exercise! Resistance training and weight lifting. You don't even have to exercise all that long. Apparently five minutes of jogging can undo the damage sitting writing your blog for hours on end.

“Our study showed that only fairly small doses of running were needed to produce these profound benefits," said study co-author Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of preventive cardiology at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans.

The 10 minute miles can save my muscles. Gotta go for my five-minute life saving jog -- maybe I'll carry the dog so I can combine some weight training as well. Bye. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Oh Canada
How I love you when I am away.
But then
I remember you only in the spring
and summer.
Forgetting those times
when we lie like icebergs
floating freely in the cold ocean
Oblivious to life
until it smashes into us
and we realize our potential
for participation.

Now, I have become accustomed
to sand in my bed.
Able to judge how much I will
comfortably tolerate.
The surf no longer talks to me.
I am bored with the turquoise sea 
that pushes bone white sand
up to my feet.
The high winds at my door
no longer frighten me.
The heat no longer excites me nor do
night stars silence me.
Paradise has become commonplace.

My days are spent drifting in and out of sleep.
My nights spent half awake from listening to the darkness.
I came to escape the idea of time and have become lost in each second.

Time to go home.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Media manipulation and the art of distraction

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A smart poet friend just posted that quote on his Facebook page. It got me thinking. We carry the myth of freedom because we can choose what we want to eat at the grocery store and post whatever we want on our Twitter. Once you start connecting the dots, you see we are  more manipulated than ever by our media. It’s the art of distraction. A technique that parents of crying toddlers use as well as dog trainers.

Wonder why Rhianna’s butt gets more coverage than Obama signing over the Gulf of Mexico oil rights to Exxon?  Today in Canada we are all  fired up about a Saskatoon woman losing her court case against her boyfriend who posted nude pictures of her on the Internet. The article finishes with this paragraph: "However, she noted that a new provision of the Criminal Code — part of Bill C-13 that is still before Parliament — could change all that." Our reaction: pass the bill, protect ourselves. Where is the in-depth discussions about how Bill C-13 will be a huge loss of privacy for Canadians? Let's see if the nude picture story gets picked up by the other news outlets.

We have all heard about the Tar Sands and the controversial pipeline they want to push through. Have any of us heard about the fracking going on in northern British Columbia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia? Did any of us hear about the millions of dollars in subsidies given to companies without British Columbians getting anything in return?

We do have articles about the Joslyn oilsands project northwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., being put on hold indefinitely. The final quote: “McKinnon said it's "no coincidence" Joslyn's shelving comes on the heels of an indefinite delay of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would enable oilsands crude to flow to Texas refineries.”

What's the next article? Statistics Canada sounding the alarm about the unexpected deficit in April as energy exports declined amid refinery shutdowns. No discussions about investing in alternative energy but we do have an article about how Canada’s energy patch (and its investors) are under a green siege. Why a siege? Why can’t Canada’s energy patch also be developing alternative energy? Wouldn’t that be another revenue development? Isn't developing new revenue streams part of havong a business?

Remember March 28, 2013? Probably not. It’s the day Obama signed a bill giving immunity to Monsanto for any harm caused by GMO foods. It wasn’t dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act for nothing. Not much in the news that day about that. In the headlines that day: Obama meeting Pope Francis and the traffic jam scandal at the foot of the George Washington Bridge. Which issue is going to have the most far reaching impact on you, your children and your children's children?

Buyer beware. When you see some big gossip scandal break, read between the lines. What else is happening in the world and off our radar? Remember that our media is a business just like Walmart. Only their product is ideas.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear GM Customer Ambassador

Dear Cassandra O,
Thank you for replying to my previous message with an email that is for internal use only. I did receive a message from your customer service rep. That poor girl is not getting enough stimulation at work. I could hear the boredom in her voice. She sounded so depressed! Is she burning herself out with all the caring-about-our-safety? Like I tell my teenage daughter when she is doing her pouty-whatever-talk-to-the-hand routine  -- just breath darling and it will get better.

I know how much your GM ambassadors to the common people care about me. My first customer care ambassador was a lovely woman who only kept me on the line for 90 minutes convincing me not to be upset about my driving a car that may or may not kill me. After all what is seven years of driving my deathtrap Saturn considering the years I have left on the road?

Obviously, I need to loosen up and trust more. My second customer ambassador pointed out I had a 50-50 chance of the steering wheel giving out. Why not wait until GM got all the VIN numbers entered and see if mine came up? It would be like winning the lottery!

Thank you for the 5th recall letter for repairs already done. I'm sorry I called so many times before you could get the head office printer working and mail out the letters. After all, what is a few more months of potential accidents after seven years?? Silly me.

I know you are so very busy caring deeply about our safety. It must be exhausting giving out so many reassuring pats on the back over the phone.

All the people I have driven over the years, the young and the old, want to thank you for adding a bit of excitement to their lives. Now they can think back to all the trips they took in my car and know they were living on the edge. How lucky to have gotten home alive! The dogs don't care either way -- but you know how they are.

Finally, I want to thank you for doing the repairs and then letting me drive off away from the dealership with brakes that weren't working. How could you have known? You probably didn't have time to take it for a test drive with all that caring about safety. Don't worry though. I found a good mechanic who fixed everything. It only cost me an extra $400. Really nothing when you think about the 57 cents it would have cost you to fix the problem back in 2000. Everything was so different back then before the age of computers and media.

Please give my best to Mary and Kevin. I know they must be working hard at being committed to their customers.