All posts by curtis72

10 Jan

Random Thoughts – Football for a Buck, GO Train, Overdue Cards and More

1. I finally got around to reading Jeff Pearlman’s most recent book, Football for a Buck, the inside story of the rise and fall of the USFL, a topic near and dear to my heart. He did a wonderful job, he’s got a real way with words and I couldn’t put it down once I got into it. To say the least, I highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in sports history. I was particularly fascinated by his tales of the woeful San Antonio Gunslingers, and though he questioned whether or not there would be a market for a more in-depth postmortem on the league’s wackiest franchise, it’s certainly something I would be interested in.

There were a few things about it that bothered me, however. For starters, it was not necessary to belittle former commissioner Chet Simmons. Maybe he did look like he escaped the innards of a vending machine. But he was a good man, a good commissioner, and though football may not have been his first love, he cared about the league and its future. Save the cheap shot for someone who deserved it. It was also not necessary to belittle Doug Flutie. No, he didn’t blossom into a superstar, but he was hardly a scrub and went on to enjoy a distinguished career long after Donald Trump wildly overpaid for his services. Finally, his fanatical anti-Trump bias came through loud and clear. It is absolutely proper to pin the majority of the blame on the league’s demise on Trump, but it is incorrect to paint Trump as some trust-fund millionaire who never earned a dime of his own money. That’s a description better suited to our current prime minister. Then he suggested Trump wants a total ban on immigration (a topic which has no relevance to the book), which is completely false. One more time, saying it very slowly so that Democrats can follow along, Don-ald Trump is for imm-i-gra-tion. Legal immigration, with emphasis on the former.

1a. I loved the part when he was talking about the top-quality coaches the league was hiring, saying they weren’t going after Biff, the part-time truck repairman who played a little college ball back in the day. Yet I think Biff would have been an improvement over former Bomber coach Ray Jauch who worked the sideline of the Washington Federals for a season and a game. And yes, I still remember the big uproar in Winnipeg when Jauch announced he was leaving for the USFL.

1b. I will freely admit waiting until the book came out in the library before reading it. Of course, I encourage support for fellow authors, but I adamantly refuse to pay $26 for an e-book, and I don’t care what the subject material is or how many Pulitzers the writer won. That’s just gouging. If I’m going to fork over that kind of coin, I want to get a big, thick paper copy.

1c. Yours truly’s book on the Generals is in the bibliography, but he had me listed as being from San Bernardino, CA. For the record, I have never set foot in the state of California and though I’ll never say never, I don’t suspect I ever will.

2. Much ado was made in these parts over the debut of daily GO train service from Niagara Falls and St. Catharines to Toronto. But what’s the point when you can’t get to the station with public transit? It’s a not-so-minor detail local politicians seem to be forgetting. Or choosing to forget.

2a. Even if St. Catharines Transit did serve the station at that early hour, you still can’t pay with Presto. If you want to play with the big boys, start acting like it.

3. I must be an awfully special member of the Conservative Party in order to get not one, but three Christmas cards from our local candidate. Then again, maybe I’m not so special after all, since the cards came two weeks after Christmas.

4. This week, Walter Sendzik, our radical far-left mayor, proposed putting up a $4-million suicide-prevention barrier on the Geronimo Bridge, more commonly known as the Burgoyne Bridge. Given how many other bridges there are for a troubled soul to do the dirty deed, including one just a few hundred yards away, it’s a ridiculous and expensive band-aid “solution” that simply allows politicians like Sendzik to pat themselves on the back and boast about how compassionate™ they are while doing nothing to address the root causes of mental health issues, which is where the money would be much better spent. But who am I to question His Highness, who dismisses those who disagree with him as “ignorant.”

4a. For someone who preaches tolerance, Sendzik is becoming one of the city’s most intolerant people.

5. I keep hearing how many lives those safe-injection sites are saving, but just think how many more lives would be saved if the same resources were devoted to getting drug addicts off the stuff instead of writing them permission slips.

6. Tonight, for $30 you too can enjoy the privilege of listening to Grant LaFleche, political propagandist, Liberal whore and master manipulator of public opinion, co-hosting a seminar on truth in journalism. It will no doubt be followed by a lecture on human rights from Kim Jong-un.

04 Jan

An Adventure in Welland

Highlights from today’s bus-bike adventure to and from Welland:

1. Demolition work proceeding on the former Sears store at the Pen Center:

2. Passing a pair of joggers going up the escarpment on Glenridge, I instantly knew I wasn’t in Winnipeg because they were on the sidewalk and not on the road.

3. Two thumbs down to Virtue Signaling University, known to most as Brock, for flying the abhorrent UN flag near their main entrance.

4. At Turner’s Corners, the yellow light didn’t just mean “go faster” to the bus driver I had, it meant “go a lot faster.” Hopefully next time, he’ll learn from the experience and not approach a traffic light at such a high speed in order to allow himself the ability to stop safely before the intersection.

5. The new Niagara College stop on regional transit is certainly popular, but not so much for the others. This morning, I was the only one left on the bus after all the students got off.

6. Off-color scenes in Welland:

7. The level of misery and despair in much of Welland is hard to put into words or even capture digitally with a camera. You have to see it with your own eyes to appreciate it. Yet despite such glum economic prospects, they keep voting for the same socialist parties that put them in that ditch. As they say, when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

8. Somewhat related, I spotted a number of these signs throughout the Rose City. After raiding the pockets of their members to campaign for political parties hostile to job-creating businesses, Unifor suddenly feigns concern for the soon-to-be-unemployed people it helped put out of work.

9. All that’s missing in this shot is a yellow sticker that reads, “WIDE LOAD.” And no, she didn’t need the goodies she ordered from Tim Hortons.

10. Customers who left their mark on the window display:

11. While at the Tim Hortons, another cyclist came in, left his bike in the vestibule, went up to a table, pulled a can of Minute Maid orange juice out of his pocket, then grabbed a napkin from the counter before taking a seat in one of the comfy chairs by the television. Um, they like you to actually buy something for the privilege of using their facilities.

11a. Not only did he not lock up his bike, but he didn’t even employ Niagara Bike Security (turning it upside down). For sure, I knew I wasn’t in Winnipeg.

12. In both of my visits to the Welland Transit Terminal, I got quite the stare-down from onlookers, no doubt wondering who this stranger was in their midst. After all, everyone seems to know each other there and I’m not sure anyone is really outside the family.

13. The Express Donuts across the street really seems to be a hangout for the, shall we say, fringe elements of the community. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to walk in, but I could probably get enough material for an entire book there.

14. Maybe this was juice in the sink. Or maybe it wasn’t.

15. While waiting for the St. Catharines-bound regional transit bus, a wide-bodied scruffy old guy with a long, straggly beard and a big, booming voice walked up to the counter and told the clerk how much he liked a woman bus driver named Angela. He said he thought she was really pretty, but real reason he liked her became clear when he mentioned she had given him a $20 bill once, then a $10 bill on another occasion. People with money do tend to be attractive to bums like him, regardless of looks. Then he told the clerk about the three Christmas presents he got: a 60 oz. of vodka from his neighbor, $20 from his sister and $10 from someone else. Before leaving, he asked the clerk to say hi to Christina for him. As I said, everyone seems to know each other there.

16. Also while waiting, another guy went up to the clerk and asked what the route number was. Apparently she was just supposed to know what bus he wanted.

17. At the Pen Center, a couple who were among those who think buses are mobile tourist information booths flagged down the bus and tied us up for several minutes as they asked the driver to do what they should have done online before leaving the house. Yes, that is one of my pet peeves.

16 Dec

A Special Saturday in the Universe’s Center

Highlights of yesterday’s bus/train voyage to and from the Center of the Universe:

0. The occasion for my trip was to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the passing my dear friend Carli Ward, who, though she likely never saw much of Toronto, did like trains.

1. Despite leaving the house in complete darkness at 6 am, there was a surprising number of people out and about as I made my way to Fairview Mall to catch the bus. Among them were a scruffy old woman puffing up a storm as her dog was taking her for a walk and another guy who was singing as he was strutting down the sidewalk. Yet that did not translate into a higher-than-normal crowd on the bus or the train. Quite the contrary, the bus was nearly empty and, for most of the train ride, there was only one other person in the car I was in.

2. The number of carts left around the stop at Fairview Mall proved convenient as more than one passenger used them as trays for their orders from the nearby Tim Hortons.

2a. I’m still shocked that the McDonald’s in Fairview Mall is gone and even more shocked that the closure didn’t make front-page news.

3. A woman who got on at Beamsville with her male companion asked the driver, “You take debit, right?” No, they don’t, nor do they on any of the 14 transit systems I’ve been on over the past decade. The two of them then spent the next few minutes scrounging up enough cash for their trip to the universe’s center.

4. At last, the City of Hamilton has finally fixed the worst section of Kenora Avenue, whose divots felt as deep as the Grand Canyon as the GO bus made the annoying and convoluted loop to approach the Nash and Barton stop.

5. History was made as, for the first time since taking the #12 GO bus, no one got on at Nash and Barton.

6. Just leave your used apple core on the seat:

7. Raoul was here:

8. I prefer dead tables, myself. You never know what those live ones will do.

9. The purpose of this block of wood dangling from those wires near the Long Branch stop remains unclear:

10. One of the overhead messages on the Gardiner read, “That text or call could end it all.”

11. Scenes near the Great Hall in Union Station:

12. Scenes in Union Station’s new food court, located on the lower level in the York concourse. The new eateries include full-service Tim Hortons and McDonald’s locations in addition to Pizza Pizza, sushi, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Sicilian and Thai restaurants. There was also a “Get Loaded” restaurant featuring loaded perogies and Roywoods Union, which advertised itself as “Home of the Jerks.” Perhaps their head office is located in Winnipeg.

13. Better than gifts from Mars, I suppose.

14. Just drop your pants and leave them on the street.

15. Dead bird in the middle of the road:

16. Assorted street urchins:

17. A couple of interesting scenes around Queen Street West:

18. I think the writer had too many “spirits” in his system …

19. This was a sight that couldn’t help but make me remember the late, great Ken “Friar” Nicolson, the former voice of the Jets:

20. A rat with its tail on fire?

21. Walking past Osgoode Hall around 10:30 am, I spotted a scruffy bum in his early 30s cracking open a beer. Perhaps he was getting an early start or getting in one last brew before passing out.

22. This woman was one of two at Nathan Phillips Square standing in a stationary pose with her hands above her head, looking down and, I’m guessing, meditating and honoring whatever or whoever “Falun Dafa” is.

23. Other scenes at Nathan Phillips Square:

24. Near the skating rink, “Babsocks,” socks bearing the image of Leafs coach Mike Babcock, were being promoted. At the Leafs store in what is now Scotiabank Arena, they retail for $22.99. Whether or not that is a good value is left as an exercise for the reader.

25. A couple of shots of Darryl Sittler’s likeness at Legends Row:

26. Passing the McDonald’s in Eaton Center, I noticed a wide-bodied fatso waddling up to the kiosk. Rule of thumb: when you’re wider than the kiosk, you don’t need McDonald’s.

27. At the A & W in Eaton Center, a bum began accosting those of us in line, asking to buy him a burger because he was 50 cents short. When I turned away and ignored him, he said, “Don’t insult me, just say no.” Later, while eating, another bum was making the rounds asking for money, but he didn’t stop at my table. Sometimes it pays to appear unapproachable.

27a. I’m beginning to seriously dislike A & W’s practice of asking for a name on each order. I much prefer the system used by McDonald’s, where they give you a number.

27b. The aforementioned practice brings back memories of Radio Shack, where you couldn’t pick up something as trivial as a pair of AA batteries without getting asked for your name, address and life expectancy. It was a major reason why I avoided that place like the plague.

28. Not surprisingly, there were long lines at the Tim Hortons and A & W, but elsewhere, the Mediterranean place and Mucho Burrito weren’t exactly having to beat customers off with a stick. The Thai place that had the “strap on the feed bag” feel to it, however, also had long lines.

29. A young woman in her early 20s passed by wearing far too much makeup and neon red eye shadow. And to think she spent a lot of time and effort to make herself look sillier than a circus clown.

30. The woman in her mid-30s seated two tables away from me had a very contemplative look on her face as she pulled a piece of meat drenched in some weird sauce from the end of her chopsticks into her mouth. Among her thoughts may have been, “Whose pet was this?”

31. In the urinal I used in the washroom was a toothbrush and on the ground nearby was an open tube of Crest toothpaste. Methinks someone learned the hard way that standing over a urinal to brush your teeth wasn’t necessarily a good idea.

31a. That sight reminded me of the night at the Meridian Center when I spotted someone putting in eye drops while standing at the urinal right after doing his business. Then he went to wash his hands.

32. I couldn’t help but laugh when passing the Microsoft store in Eaton Center, where they had this “Give wonder” display. If you really want some wonder with your computing experience, join me in dumping Windows in favor of Linux Mint. I installed it side-by-side with Windows on an older laptop nearly three months ago and haven’t looked back.

33. Rather than go up to street level, I used the underground walkway to get from Eaton Center to Union Station. It reminded me very much of the elaborate skyway system in downtown Minneapolis, but a first-time visitor needs to pay close attention to the maps provided at the entrance to each building.

33a. I know it wasn’t a workday, but I was still shocked that so many shops in the walkway were closed, especially so close to Christmas. Eaton Center was the only major mall that was open.

34. While waiting for the Lakeshore West train at Union Station, the only other person besides me who wasn’t engrossed with his/her phone was a bum who had a foot-long growth on his straggly beard that was probably providing a good home to some multilegged critters.

35. By the time we got to Clarkson, the customer service ambassador on that Lakeshore West train began sounding like someone who got as much sleep as I did the previous night as the announcement of “the doors are closing” became “drsrclsn” the rest of the way. We didn’t even get the customary “GO is pleased to provide bus connections to Stoney Creek, Grimsby, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls” when pulling into Burlington.

36. There weren’t many on the Burlington-bound bus I took in the morning, but the same could not be said for the return trip, where most of the passengers had plenty of luggage in tow. Luggage that kept spilling out into the aisle. This was a case where the driver should have insisted upon putting the luggage in the rear storage compartment.

37. Passing through Grimsby, I saw a driver from the Great State of New York who had a half an eye on the road and the other one and a half eyes on his female companion in the passenger’s seat. Distracted driving isn’t just limited to texting.

17 Nov

Fun Times on Public Transit

Observations, a few pictures and even some audio from a day on public transit to and from Pearson Airport:

1. While waiting at Fairview Mall, a mentally challenged guy came into the shelter and began blabbering some marginally intelligible gibberish in my general direction. After telling me that he cleaned his driveway three times yesterday, he turned his head slightly and ejected a half-gallon of snot from his nose before continuing. He apparently likes craft sales and he’ll be volunteering at one of them today, then he finished his bottle of Diet Pepsi before boarding his connecting #309 bus, thus sparing me more of his life story.

2. Among those boarding the #12C bus, surprisingly few paid with Presto, which is most unusual for a weekday.

3. Oddly, despite the wet and sloppy conditions on Friday morning, five bikes were parked at the Beamsville Park and Ride.

4. Among those boarding at Grimsby was a guy wearing a Kenora dinner jacket:

5. The customer service ambassador on the Lakeshore West train must not have slept well as “Final call for the doors” was routinely shortened to “Finlclfrthdrs.”

6. While walking through Eaton Center in Toronto, artificially bubbly clerks from Paragon were madly approaching passers-by and shoving small packets of a smelly substance at them. I did not dare to as much as slow down to investigate as to what the contents may have been. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

7. On the #1 TTC subway line, another mental case was walking up and down entertaining passengers like me with her special vocal talent.

8. On the #2 line, I was seated across the aisle from a young woman engrossed with her laptop who kept tugging on her lip so hard it was remarkable she didn’t peel the skin off.

9. While passing the Jane station, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the former first lady of Ontario, whose wife’s Liberals were so humiliated at the ballot box that they don’t even hold official party status at Queen’s Park anymore.

10. When I got to the Kipling station to transfer to the 192 Airport Rocket bus to take me to Pearson, in its place was the 900 Airport Express. It was only later when I saw this sign at Terminal 1 that I learned of the change as there was nothing posted at Kipling.

Furthermore, the change was not supposed to go into effect until Sunday, yet the buses and all signage at Kipling had already been changed. The “you’re just supposed to know” mantra may pass in St. Catharines, but it doesn’t cut it in Toronto. Two thumbs down to the TTC on this one.

11. Seated near the front of the prematurely marked 900 Airport Express bus was a guy wearing a vintage-model Jets toque. I normally cringe at reminders of the republic I once called home, but I didn’t mind that one.

12. At the international arrivals in Terminal 3, an Asian couple dumped their coats and a few of their belongings next to me while running off to chat with some others. How trusting of them.

13. Aboard the Airport Express bus on the way back to the Kipling station, I spotted someone near the front who was chugging down a can of beer. Judging from the way he was staggering around the station once we got there, it likely wasn’t his first of the day.

14. The same could be said for the bum next to me on the #2 line who reeked of some sort of alcoholic beverage. From the looks of him, he probably just got up off a park bench after passing out the previous night.

15. In front of me in the same car was someone sharing a bubble tea with his girlfriend. I can’t imagine how much they paid for the beverage that looked like watered down cappuccino with rat turds floating at the bottom of the cup.

16. As we made our way east on the #2 line, a fatso took a seat in front of me. In a state of semi-slumber, she apparently thought my knee was a resting place for her arm and enormous blubber that oozed way over the edge of the wide seat.

17. One of the slogans Metrolinx is using on posters around Union Station is “We’re working hard to bring you Rapid Transit.” Trust me, you don’t want to emulate the biggest white-elephant project Winnipeg has ever known.

18. Despite the fact that mid-November is hardly peak tourist season, there was quite the line of people waiting to board the #12 bus at Burlington:

19. Waiting in that line, someone behind me yelled, “Geez, it’s cold.” Yes, the wind picked up a bit in the afternoon, but the temperature was +3. Go spend a few winters in the SPRM, then you’ll find out what cold really is.

20. I suspect the hyperactive smoker who got on at Beamsville and sat down next to me didn’t connect his heavy breathing and shortness of breath with his smoking habit. Then, the instant the bus came to a stop at Fairview Mall, the guy took off like a shot, running down the stairs and off the bus.

21. While walking through Fairview Mall after getting off the bus, a guy who was using the pay phone stopped me and asked, “Hey, buddy, do you know if there’s a bar around here on Geneva Street?”

While I was thinking, he added, “You know, a variety store.”

“But I thought you said a bar?” I replied.

“Yeah, a bar and a variety store.”

Well, there’s an odd combination.

Then he continued.

“It used to be known as something then some other thing.”

Gee, that’s helpful.

So even though I’m good with places and directions, even for places I don’t frequent like bars, I couldn’t help him.

What a shame. My heart bleeds for the poor guy.

Or not.

09 Nov

Random Thoughts – Overdue Honor, Ignorance, Liberal Kindness and More

1. The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame must be an awfully exclusive club if someone of Joe Daley’s stature has to wait nearly 40 years after his distinguished playing career to be inducted. Congratulations to Joe on the well-earned and long-overdue honor, but shame on the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame for making him wait so long.

2. One day after posting a link to an article in the sub-Standard in which he called those who disagree with his policies “ignorant,” our municipal Liberal representative, more formally known Mayor Sendzik, promoted Random Act of Kindness Day. Resorting to name-calling to belittle your political opponents must be some special sort of Liberal kindness that ignorant folks like me don’t quite understand.

2a. With said municipal Liberal representative armed with a new mandate, I’m genuinely concerned as to what he’s got in mind for the next four years. It’s not what he said during the campaign that worries me, it’s what he didn’t say.

3. I’m glad we have a filtration system, because there must be something in the water in these parts that keeps people voting for the ghost of Jim Bradley, a career politician who evidently hasn’t socked away enough unearned taxpayer dough from his decades of public disservice.

3a. Since integrity was a big issue in the regional council election, the fact that a long-standing member of one of the most corrupt governments in the province’s history received the most votes is mind-boggling.

3b. I’m not going to defend some of the things he’s said, but Andy Petrowski still looked awfully good compared to some of those left-wing nut jobs on the ballot.

4. Anyone wondering where all our health-care dollars are going need only hang out at the St. Catharines Hospital and watch the nauseating “I am Niagara Health” campaign on the fancy video boards. Personally, I’d rather see the money spent on hiring doctors and nurses instead of on spin doctors to tell us how great Niagara Health is.

5. I don’t think anyone is quite aware as to how big of a problem voter fraud is south of the border. Or here in Niagara, east of the border.

5a. With all the illegals flooding into our country, I fear the same sort of problems are about to surface here in Canada as well.

6. With my book on the IceDogs soon to be released, I’ve been sinking my teeth into my next writing project, the sordid history of the Atlanta Thrashers. Only by doing a detailed study like the one I’m doing can one possibly appreciate how badly that team was run. And I haven’t even got to the Atlanta Spirit Group yet.

6a. The fact that former Thrashers general manager Don Waddell is currently gainfully employed in the same capacity with another NHL team is nothing short of astounding.

7. The astute reader may realize that it has been over a year since the Meridian Center last saw my shadow. Not only has my interest level been in decline, but as I posted in a public forum, I refuse to undergo airport-level security for the privilege of attending junior hockey games.

31 Oct

The Hamilton Experience

Highlights from yesterday’s day trip to Hamilton:

1. And a happy Tuesday to you too …

2. Waiting with me at the Fairview Mall bus stop was someone wearing a heavy fur-lined parka, and later in the day, I spotted someone wearing thick fur-lined boots. It was only +1 in the morning and went as high as +14 near midday. I can’t imagine what these people would do if they had to suffer through winters with -40 wind chill values that last for weeks on end. Like I did.

3. Since our GO driver came late, I appreciate his efforts in trying to make up time, but running that aging yellow light at Lake Street was not a good idea.

4. Even though I didn’t leave that early, many people were sleeping on the bus:

5. Here’s a guy who probably moans and groans to his doctor about all the health problems he has:

6. After boarding the Barton bus, it took only three stops before someone with a wheelchair got on and it took only three more stops for the first stroller. That stroller was draped in plastic as the mother undoubtedly wanted to protect her child from the “extreme” cold.

7. En route, I spotted a poster plastered on a pole that read, “Your perfect the way are – chin up.” Oy.

8. Soon after seeing such grammatical “perfection,” someone got on who was munching on a sticky bun from Tim Hortons began filling the airwaves. He would later say Donald Trump is a racist (he would also call Justin Trudeau an airhead) and has a big mouth, but he had a pretty big mouth himself.

For starters, he told us his mother’s birthday was yesterday and they had “a hell of a feast” at the Red Lobster in Burlington to celebrate. After saying “I don’t pay much attention to other people much,” he went on a diatribe about government extortion and that there’s no such thing as justice unless you’ve got the money to pay for it. In another display of the “tolerance” of those on the left side of the political spectrum, his answer was to “hang all the suits.” He went on to say that the only real criminals in society wear suits and ties and make laws to protect themselves.

Then it was on to his employment history. He told us he has 15 years of experience working on houses, and his previous employer who fired him abruptly supposedly jumped him from behind “like a girl” and tried to gouge his eyes out after he tried to retrieve his tools. Then when he “painted” his ex-boss’s truck, he was charged with mischief. “Sometimes life is just a joke,” he said. But he likes his current employer much better, who even trusts him with his Home Depot card. I’m not sure I would.

He also told us he used to be a volunteer at the Good Shepherd on Mary Street and his mother has only $200/month to live on. His sister is apparently a really good cake decorator, but his brother is a real underachiever who needs to get his head out of his butt.

9. While all that was going on, our bus driver and other passing motorists somehow managed to avoid a member of our distinguished First Nations community who was standing in the middle of traffic.

10. Walking to the MacNab Transit Terminal, I passed by someone on the street wearing a Chipman toque. As a good friend of mine would say, “Loser!”

11. It’s bad enough that I’m forced to pay for that fake news Liberal propaganda on CBC, but does HSR have to shove it down my throat on the video display behind the driver?

12. En route to the Lime Ridge Mall, someone was running after the bus and the driver actually waited for her. Unlike the case in another part of the world, where drivers wait until such a passenger reaches the front door before flooring it.

13. While using the pay phone next to a door clearly labeled “out of service,” people still kept trying it. The same people who don’t believe those signs are undoubtedly the same ones who do believe the crap they see and read on the fake news.

14. Spotted at Lime Ridge Mall was a mother pushing her child in a stroller heading for the exit while fishing a cigarette out of her purse. Later in the day, I would also spot a fatso waiting for a bus puffing on a cigarette while tending to her child in the stroller in front of her. Such concern for their children.

14a. Not that I’m one of those “ban everything” people, but I wouldn’t object if smoking directly in front of your infant child was made a criminal offense.

15. The most popular topic of conversation among the seniors hanging out in the food court involved the scratch and lose tickets most of them had. However they earned a living back in the day, it obviously didn’t involve anything that required a high level of proficiency in math.

16. I nearly choked when walking past the Yankee Candle store. As someone with allergies, I know I’m more sensitive than most, but how anyone can stand to put that stuff in their home is beyond me. Let alone pay good money for the privilege.

17. The mall was promoting the Canadian debut of “Le Refuge,” some piece of artwork on tour of various malls across North America. Whatever.

18. Get your complimentary stamp card here:

19. Not just a regular hall, but a fabulous hall …

20. Someone who courageously resists the imposition of the Metric system:

21. If you have a community you want to donate …

22. Nothing says you care quite like a gift card from Value Village.

23. Spotted on Concession Street was a fatso waddling through the front door of “One Wellness Group,” where “Your wellness is our passion.” Wellness certainly wasn’t her passion, that’s for sure.

24. Someone was kind enough to leave a free pair of pants for anyone who may happen to be in need. How very compassionate™.

25. Passing me at the Hamilton GO Center was a guy with a walker holding a roll of toilet paper in his hand. You can never be too prepared, so it seems.

26. I’ve heard the expression that everyone smiles in the same language, but as I saw on the faces of an Asian couple leaving the Hamilton GO Center, everyone also looks lost in the same language. I hope they found their way, because it was plainly obvious they had absolutely no idea where they were. I might have offered to help, but I wasn’t even sure they knew much English, if any.

27. Someone doesn’t like Donny M.:

28. Free supplies for those involved with street drugs:

29. Some dude wheeling a bike approached me on James Street and asked if there was any way I could spare 60 cents. Since his bike was nicer than mine, I should have asked him for 60 cents.

29a. Recall that it was less than two weeks ago that a haggard cyclist in Buffalo referred me to a nearby mission for a free meal. I obviously don’t have that Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous look.

30. Walking past the Money Mart on James Street, I noticed some salty looking dudes inside waiting in line. How desperate and/or dumb do you have to be to patronize places like that?

31. I think Mayor Sendzik has another case for trademark infringement …

32. So if it’s $25 for full legs, does a midget only have to pay $12.50?

33. What is a “rail drink”?

34. Got to keep that pole warm …

35. As I discovered with my lead-footed driver on the return trip, there’s a reason they call it “GO” Transit.

36. Spotted on Lake Street was a guy on an ebike with one hand on the handlebar and his other hand digging for buried treasure deep inside his ear canal.

20 Oct

Buffalo Again

Observations and a few pictures from my second visit to Buffalo within the last month and my 47th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Crossing the Homer Bridge in virtual darkness first thing in the morning, I spotted a fellow cyclist on the other side of the street traveling in the opposite flow of traffic without a helmet, a light or a brain.

2. When approaching the booth at U.S. Customs at the Rainbow Bridge, a car pulled up right behind me instead of waiting behind the explicitly marked stop signs, drawing the ire of the officer in the booth, who came out, put up his hand and yelled “STOP!” at the offending driver. When they say stay behind the stop sign and wait until the vehicle ahead clears, they mean stay behind the stop sign and wait until the vehicle ahead clears.

2a. I would have loved to have been that proverbial fly on the wall for that driver’s inspection.

2b. As I’ve said before, my respect for the CBP increases with every visit.

3. Having just missed a bus, I made for the Portage Road Transportation Center to catch the next one. There, I purchased a day pass from the machine inside, which was particularly finicky about the $1 bills I was putting in. Several of them were rejected and I was lucky I had enough with me that the machine accepted. Had the need arisen, however, there was a change machine inside, which accepts bills as large as $20 and returns $5 bills.

4. The washroom at the Portage Road Transportation Center, in sharp contrast to the one at the Metropolitan Transportation Center in downtown Buffalo, was an absolute dump.

5. All the homies at the Portage Road Transportation Center waiting for the same #40 Buffalo-bound bus seemed to know each other, which made me stand out even more, since I was one of only two Caucasians within a one-mile radius.

6. Complimentary gum for “valued Metro bus customers.”

7. NFTA should seriously consider adding more buses on the #40 route as the bus was practically full in both directions.

8. Seated near the back door, I noted once again that it opened automatically and that departing passengers don’t need a battering ram to get it open. Unlike the case in a certain part of the world where I used to live.

9. Spotted near Sheridan Drive was a sign “Support America. Support Unions.” To that I would add, “Pick One.”

10. I listened with interest as a guy behind me named Bob, a waiter, told all his fellow passengers that he made $102 in tips from Tuesday’s lunch crowd and another $80 on Wednesday. After he told the person on the other end of the line about how his buddy left his number for a female patron and invited her to a party, he shared his story about the time when two old ladies came in and ordered a bottle of wine with their meal. Despite being a little tipsy, they drove home, but he was happy that they left him with a $20 tip on their $80 order. Then he went on to tell everyone about another one of his buddies who had fathered several children with multiple women, only one of whom was his wife. “You’ve got to protect yourself,” was what he told his MVP (Most Virile Parent) buddy, but better advice would have been to keep his pants zipped up or something even more radical like remaining faithful to his spouse. All told, I was seriously disappointed when this guy got off near Busti Avenue. There was undoubtedly much more to hear.

11. Scenes at the Metropolitan Transportation Center in downtown Buffalo. Unlike the case in a certain part of the world I once called home, it was relatively clean and not Ground Zero for bums and the like.

12. Just after stepping inside the washroom at the Metropolitan Transportation Center, a black guy came out of the handicapped stall without a shirt and went to admire himself in the mirror. Who exactly was he trying to impress in there?

13. While taking pictures around the McKinley Monument in Niagara Square, an older woman openly holding out her wallet with credit cards and bills plainly visible kept walking around and around the circle. Methinks some mental health issues were in play.

14. Bail bondsmen parked at Niagara Square for the convenience those patronizing the courthouse across the street. Or bondspeople.

15. Someone forgot to “inpect” his sign before putting it up. And paying for it.

16. I never realized what a major problem parking is in downtown Buffalo.

17. Kudos to the City of Buffalo for the number of bike racks they provide throughout the downtown area.

18. I couldn’t agree more, which is why I would urge my American friends to vote Republican in the coming midterm elections. Just like I urge my Canadian friends to vote Conservative.

19. People who walk across our border illegally are not “immigrants,” they’re criminals.

20. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this bottle of “Buffalo melted snow” at the Buffalo Niagara Welcome Center. As I said to one of the people behind the counter, you don’t know about snow. Or cold.

21. While talking to a fellow cyclist on North Division Street who was waiting for a bus, he told me that they were serving chicken at a nearby mission on Eagle Street if I was hungry. I know I’m cheap and don’t live extravagantly, but do I really look so haggard that someone would think to point me to a mission for a free meal?

22. While waiting for the #40 Falls-bound bus at the Metropolitan Transportation Center, a couple of guys came running out to flag down a departing #1 bus. In a scene eerily reminiscent of those I’ve seen far too often another part of the world I used to call home, the driver ignored them and kept going.

23. NFTA should seriously consider installing backup horns on their buses instead of forcing drivers to keep honking when they’re backing out.

24. At the stop on North Division Street, three Muslims got on waving a VISA card wondering where they should tap it. No transit system I know of takes credit cards on the bus. Cash, tokens or passes only. They seemed a little miffed over having to dig out cash once the driver explained that little detail, but they eventually managed to scrounge up enough. Then in spite of not being disabled in any way, they sat down in the priority seating and while there, tried to catch a few winks. How successful they were as the suspension-challenged low-floor bus made its way through the pothole-filled streets of Buffalo is anyone’s guess.

25. Being picked up or dropped off at the curb seems to be a genuine luxury when it comes to Metro buses.

26. On the GO bus back to St. Catharines, rather than tell the driver where he wanted to go, someone boarding at Niagara College instead flashed it to the driver on his phone.

26a. Niagara College is indeed a popular stop.

12 Oct

Meet the Candidates – Niagara Regional Council

Takeaways from the Meet the Candidates night featuring most of the hopefuls running for a seat on Niagara Regional Council:

1. It was obvious right from the get-go that this “Committee for an Informed St. Catharines” who put on this event was nothing more than a front for promoting extremist left-wing values and candidates who espouse them. Before the first candidate spoke, the moderator read a prepared “land acknowledgment” statement, groveling ad nauseam to the aboriginals and telling us how we are all treaty people. Then when it came time for answering spot questions, the only questions drawn out of a sombrero were from leftists. One which managed to slip past the censors was “Which political party best aligns with your views?”, but it was quickly squashed and another question was drawn.

2. Regional Chair Alan Caslin was the most noteworthy of the missing candidates, but I don’t blame him for not showing up. Given how the whole thing was rigged against anyone with political leanings to the right of Lenin, it was a no-win situation for him. Best to take your message directly to the people instead of relying on groups like this.

3. Grantham Ward city council candidates Dennis Van Meer, Bill “I take your vote for granted” Phillips and Dawn Dodge were among the overflow crowd, though oddly, none of them did much campaigning. In Dodge’s case, perhaps she hasn’t yet regained her train of thought from her disastrous opening remarks at the Grantham Lions Club.

4. Just as they were at the Grantham Lions Club, school trustee hopefuls Norm St. George and Alex Bradnam were there to greet attendees on their way in. But regardless of how many of their brochures they give me, I’m not voting for either one. Nor am I voting for Kate Baggott or David Waddington. I only wish I had someone to vote for as opposed to against.

5. Haley Bateman played the lesbian card to try to pick up some cheap sympathy votes, and in so doing, displayed the same level of intolerance she accuses others of by summarily dismissing the Christian values of a voter whose door she knocked on.

6. Bateman also bragged about her hare-brained social-engineering plan to combine day-care facilities and senior centers. As if I needed another reason not to vote for her.

7. Even if Kelly Edgar didn’t get a union endorsement, I would have stricken him off my list for bragging about bringing those worthless Canada Summer Games to Niagara.

7a. That’s a union endorsement, not a labor endorsement.

8. Debbie MacGregor’s idea of attracting industries “compatible with the region” also reeks of social engineering. With jobs in such short supply in this part of the world, can you really afford to be picky?

9. Mary Margaret Murphy was the candidate who got the “Which political party best aligns with your views?” question, and even though she got a new one, she answered the original quite clearly with her diatribe on a living wage and knocking Premier Ford for stopping the ridiculous safe injection sites.

10. Emily Beth Spanton showed herself to be even more of a far-left extremist than Murphy. She also needs to get that hair out of her eyes and stop wearing those foot-high heels if she can’t learn to walk in them.

11. Len Stack used his time at the podium to talk about the negative stigma around the word “addiction” and failed to acknowledge Mayor Sendzik’s trademark of the word “compassion.”

12. The ghost of Jim Bradley, the recently deposed MPP who served in one of the most corrupt governments in the province’s history, had the nerve to speak about restoring integrity to the Region.

13. When Bruce Timms was speaking about how the double-duty councilor issue failed by just one vote, I was hoping he was going to call out Bill “The self-appointed voice of reason” Phillips, whose flip-flop was crucial in bringing it down.

14. Frank Rupcic spoke about the embarrassing incident when the sub-Standard “reporter” was kicked out of a regional council meeting, but what’s really embarrassing is the fake news that publication keeps churning out.

15. I hope I can come up with enough acceptable names on my ballot so I don’t have to vote for Sandie Bellows.

09 Oct

Thanksgiving in the Universe’s Center

Pictures and observations from Monday’s visit to the Center of the Universe:

1. On this occasion, rather than take the usual #12 bus to Burlington and transfer to a Lakeshore West train, I took advantage of the special holiday express train running between Niagara Falls and Union Station. Unfortunately, had I not been fortunate enough to get a ride to the train station, I would not have been able to take this train as St. Catharines Transit buses, as per their normal holiday schedule, don’t start running until after 11:00 am. Since this train comes through St. Catharines so infrequently, couldn’t they have made an exception and run a couple of shuttle buses to the station? After all, what is the point of having this great public transit service if you can’t get to the station by public transit?

This is exactly why I’m not one of those people eagerly anticipating the promised arrival of regular GO train service to St. Catharines. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s some planning going on behind the scenes for new and/or improved service to the station, but as things currently stand with St. Catharines Transit, when the buses are actually running, it would take me longer to get to the station than it would for the train to get to Burlington. Not a big win in my books.

2. Parking fail at the train station:

3. Scenes around our humble station:

4. Spotted this sign for a cannabis company at the Exhibition station, an unfriendly reminder that the legalization of weed is only days away.

5. Bums passed out inside Union Station:

6. Also at Union Station, a woman clutches her teddy bear outside the washroom:

7. As a long-lost friend of mine would say, “no visuals please.”

8. We all need our “proten” :

9. Dear Black Guy Pissing in the Alley: I realize many local restaurants only offer washrooms to paying customers, but just a block away was the Dragon City Mall as well as nearby Chinatown Center, both of which were open on the holiday Monday and have public washrooms. Consider using them before grumbling at passers-by who give you a dirty look.

10. Inside Chinatown Center was the familiar and sometimes overpowering odor of recently applied rodent-killing chemicals. It was the same smell, incidentally, that reeked throughout the mall in Brampton I was at with a friend back in April.

11. A nail place for gays?

12. This “Hello Kitty” sign struck this Jets fan, who remembers the “Hey Kitty” game in December 1985 all too well. For those who may have forgotten, trailing the play behind Randy Carlyle, Bernie Nicholls of the Kings called out to Carlyle using his nickname. After hearing “Hey, Kitty,” Carlyle obliged by feeding Nicholls a perfect drop pass. From my vantage point up in section 44, I had a bird’s-eye view as Nicholls then went in alone and potted one past Daniel Bouchard.

13. Someone with boxing gloves on the top of her backpack. Spoiling for a fight perhaps?

14. Walking southbound though along Spadina, a Muslim woman walking alongside her husband grumbled angrily after having to submit to the indignity of getting out of my way. Excuuuuse me for being there.

15. As they say in Texas, El Paso …

16. Did someone just assume the city’s gender? And shouldn’t it be Ms. Toronto instead of Miss Toronto?

17. Stress testing the railings?

18. More political incorrectness on display. What is this world coming to?

19. What is “klezmer” and why do I need to be worried about it?

20. Spotted on Queen’s Quay were a pair of homeless bums who apparently don’t have the means to put a roof over their heads, but do have the means to support a pair of dogs.

Later, I spotted another homeless guy camped out under the Gardiner who again didn’t have the means to put a roof over his head, but did have the money for a bike better than mine and to also support a dog.

21. Across from Union Station on Bay Street was this “starving writer” parked on the street begging for money. I know as well as anyone how tough it is to break in as a writer, but that’s why you need another occupation to pay the bills. For every “star” author that hits it big, there are thousands who don’t make a dime off of it. Bottom line: Do it because you love it, not for fame and fortune.

22. While waiting under a big digital sign at Union Station indicating that it was platform 5, a woman asked the guy standing behind me if this was indeed platform 5.

23. Just put up your feet on the seat.

24. While in line at the washroom in Burlington, I noticed that someone who was in one of the two stalls had left his suitcase unattended by the entrance. How trusting of him.

25. Boarding the #12 bus in front of me at Burlington were a couple of Middle Eastern guys giving the driver a sob story about having gone the wrong way and conveniently having thrown away their receipt. I understand why the driver let them board rather than risk a confrontation and/or be accused of racism, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

25a. The aforementioned freeloaders remind me of a case at our photo club, where one guy keeps showing up and feels very much entitled to enjoy the benefit of club membership without paying for it. Then the executive who say nothing to him complain about declining revenues and membership.

25b. Sometimes people are too polite for their own good.

26. Soon after taking one of the last available seats on the bus, a guy sat down in front of me who had a distinct odor of shit that hung in the air all the way back to St. Catharines. The niceties of public transit.

27. The mother of a young boy seated across the aisle who got on at Nash and Barton was complaining that her phone had been acting up ever since she dropped it in the toilet. I understand that accidents happen, but why was she taking it with her to the toilet in the first place?

28. Free clothing left outside the LCBO at Fairview Mall:

29. Did this mean that regular gas was free?

30. For more pictures on the day, check my album on Facebook.

04 Oct

Meet the Candidates in Grantham

Takeaways from the Meet the Candidates night in Grantham Ward:

1. I could not possibly have been more disgusted with what I heard. For all the talk about change and fresh ideas, everyone at the table was parroting the same Liberal ideals as our hard-left mayor and the current council, one that has been far too obedient of said mayor. They also emphasized how they’re here to listen to and represent our views, yet they were much more interested in representing their extremist left-wing views to us. All in all, I felt like I had attended a Liberal Party nomination meeting instead of a city council candidate debate.

2. The common theme all night long was low-cost housing and safe injection sites as if they were the solutions to every one of the city’s problems. Never mind the fact that low-cost housing isn’t even a city responsibility. Or what the people think of those safe injection sites. Yes, finding needles in parks is a problem. But writing permission slips for druggies is not the answer.

2a. I refuse to use the euphemism “affordable housing.” It’s low-cost housing.

3. I found Alan Ziemianin’s arrogant dismissal of critics of safe injection sites particularly offensive. Excuuuuse me for having a different opinion.

4. Coming in, I was hopeful that Jeff Brooks, a teacher at a nearby Christian school, might have been candidate with whom I could park a vote. Until he opened his mouth and confirmed that he was another one who had been drinking too much of the Sendzik Kool-Aid.

5. Having not handled myself well in front of a camera in years past, I can excuse a newbie like Rob Gill for bumbling and stumbling through his opening address. But not so for Dawn Dodge, who lost her train of thought near the end of hers. She’s been in public office for too many years for that to happen.

6. Dear Bill Phillips: Mayor Sendzik sees you as a “voice of reason” only because you’re a fellow Liberal. Stop patting yourself on the back.

7. Phillips pompously boasted about a recent council resolution he supported requiring a housing developer to set aside 10% of the units for government-subsidized rentals. So while Niagara’s unemployment rate continues to outpace the national average, he and the rest of council are more concerned with social engineering. Priorities.

7a. Phillips is a walking argument in favor of term limits.

8. I nearly burst out laughing when the NDP/union hack Dennis Van Meer started going on about overspending on projects. And again when he talked about keeping life affordable for the people in St. Catharines. This from a man whose party has become synonymous with spending wildly beyond its means and taxing both the rich and poor out of house and home.

9. Matthew Bastead said he was 35 years old, but he looks closer to 15.

10. I don’t relish any of the candidates becoming my councilor and “None of the above,” if only it was available, would be by far the most preferable option, but for what it’s worth, I found Bastead and Mark Stevens to be the two least unattractive candidates. At least Stevens said he was “torn” over the safe injection sites. No doubt, the other candidates would have been throwing rotten tomatoes at him if he dared to suggest he was against them.