All posts by curtis72

13 Mar

Over the River XLIX

Highlights from my 49th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. While being questioned at US Customs, the CBP officer looked down at my pants and exclaimed, “You’re wearing the same pants we are!” The unusual revelation even attracted the attention of the officer in the next booth, who asked if I was with the CBSA. In any event, I get the feeling the U.S. government paid a lot more for the pants the officers were wearing than I did for mine at the thrift store.

2. Though I’m not sure why one would need it, for the benefit of tourists headed over the river, the Niagara USA Visitor Center offers a luggage storage service for $10.

3. It’s plainly obvious that staff at the Niagara USA Visitor Center say “hello” to guests only because they’re ordered to.

4. Passing a solvent plant on Buffalo Avenue, I spotted, of all things, a fox:

5. Farther east on Buffalo Avenue was a Snoopy aficionado with a doghouse out front. Loyal readers may recall that I spotted a similar homemade Snoopy display hanging from a tree outside a house in North Tonawanda four years ago.

6. Not that I’m big on Arby’s, but I’m sure old-style signs like this are indeed rare:

7. The level of courteousness at the Tim Hortons on Niagara Falls Boulevard as well as the Walmart on Military Road could use a major improvement. It was especially bad at Walmart, where the cashier, the nationwide winner of the Slowest Cashier of the Year Award, was grumpy and hardly said a word.

8. Walmart seemingly goes out of its way to recruit employees who are more than 75 pounds overweight.

9. Parking fail:

10. At the Rainbow Bridge toll gate, two cars lined up in a lane with a big red “CLOSED” sign overhead, while I went around to an open lane. Only when someone came out to tell them the lane was closed did they turn to follow me. More examples of people who just shouldn’t be driving.

23 Feb

On the Road – Wild Driver, No-Peeing Zones, Chicken Fur and More

Observations from an interesting day on the road to, from and in the universe’s center:

1. To my surprise, there was quite a bit of traffic out and about when I left the house at 6:30, and much of that traffic was drawn to Tim Hortons like a magnet as the line at the drive-thru was around the block. Sights like that again make me wonder if Tim Hortons has some sort of monopoly on coffee.

2. Speaking of coffee, someone left theirs at the bus stop at Fairview Mall:

3. GO Transit has a new message on their buses asking passengers to report any incidents of harassment to their Transit Safety office. Back in the Old Country, it is more noteworthy when a passenger isn’t harassed.

4. Near Grimsby, our bus passed a big rig from Geronimo Trucking. I wonder if they have an office near the Burgoyne Bridge. Bad joke, I know.

5. GO drivers generally move along at a pretty good clip, but the driver I had in the morning definitely put the “go” in GO, passing semis left and right while keeping one hand on the wheel and chewing on the fingernails of his other hand. Then at Grimsby, when he had a few minutes of layover time, he got out and seemed a little too peppy as he was walking around the platform. All in all, it was one of those “kiss the ground” moments when I got off after he pulled up to the Burlington GO station 12 minutes early despite leaving Fairview a few minutes late.

6. Turning off onto Barton Street was someone with the vanity plate “ARGOSFAN” and two Argos stickers on the back of his car. They can’t draw flies to their games, but I knew there had to be at least one fan out there.

7. The last person to board at Nash and Barton asked for and paid for a ticket to the Burlington GO station. Then after looking at her ticket, she turned around and went back to the driver in a huff. “This just says Burlington GO!”, she exclaimed before telling him she needed to take the train. Dumbfounded, the driver asked, “How was I supposed to know?” After continuing to berate the driver for not being able to read her mind, she eventually calmed down and got the ticket for her ultimate destination. No doubt, she was from St. Catharines, the “You’re just supposed to know” city.

8. When she took her seat two rows behind me, the overpowering stench of her perfume mixed with B.O. filled the lower level. Luckily, it was only a short ride to Burlington from there and traffic was moving well. Maybe that also provided a partial explanation as to why the driver was in the far left lane on the Burlington Skyway racing with a fuel truck.

9. At the Burlington GO station, it was still refreshing to see a lineup at the hand dryer.

10. While waiting to go out on the platform, someone stormed into the station and without bothering to look up at the board staring her in the face or go to the counter where they sell tickets, she made a beeline for the person standing nearest to the door and shouted, “How do you get to Toronto from here!?”

11. In this “extreme cold,” people dress at opposite extremes to cope with the bitter -3 temperature. On one hand, I saw a few people with thick fur-lined boots. On the other was a hotshot on the platform at Burlington with bare legs and a skirt barely extending past her genitals. I and everyone else in my car then spent the entire ride to Union listening to her conversation. “This is a turning point . . . There’s going to be some push back from Natasha . . . Shall we do this in Toronto or New York . . . There’s something not right there,” she said before talking about the disconnect and tension in the office and scheduling a call with the four of them to hash it out in Joseph’s office. This was someone whose sense of self-importance was a little over the top.

12. The platform at Mimico. Somewhere under all that salt, I suspect there’s concrete.

13. It normally isn’t this bad, but there was an awful lot of assorted garbage strewn all over the trains and buses I was on.

14. Tucked away under the three-seater at the end of the car was a compartment labeled “Emergency Tools” with a saw, a foldable ladder and other assorted tools. For readers from the Old Country, can you imagine such a thing on a Winnipeg Transit bus? Not only would they be stolen, but they would also be used as weapons against other passengers.

15. Because of some issues with the locomotive that caused the 14-minute delay with the train, many announcements were made that the train would be running express from Appleby to Mimico, then on to Union without stopping at Exhibition and that anyone needing a destination in between should detrain at either Appleby or Mimico. One highfalutin 20-something apparently wasn’t paying attention and a minute after leaving Mimico, clacked her high heels through our car, just to let us know how important she was, and went to stand right by the door to make sure she was the first one to get off at Exhibition. Except that the train didn’t stop at Exhibition, causing her to utter a nasty word as the train sped on. Then when getting off at Union, she stopped in front of the door to the staircase leading down to the station as if it was some strange piece of mechanical equipment she had never used before. Only when someone to her left opened the door on his side did she do the same on her side. Who’s to know how long she would have been left stranded there if she was alone. Perhaps they should post an instruction manual. Or have a doorman posted there to do the honors for her.

16. How convenient:

17. Not a barber shop I’d want to patronize . . .

18. Street art, of which there is plenty in the universe’s center:

19. As if we don’t have enough problems with fake news these days, now there’s fake pizza apparently:

20. A Communist dry cleaner who has to send out the work if more than one alteration needs to be done:

21. And this looked like such an inviting place to take a leak . . .

22. I never knew sleepwalking was such a problem . . .

23. Pearls of wisdom outside a library:

24. A couple of off-color scenes in the west end:

25. On the side of the building at Toronto’s home of fake news:

26. Obligatory shot of the Toronto sign and city hall:

27. A street urchin’s encampment outside Eaton Center:

28. While waiting in the Queen subway station, there was an ad from Flair Airlines with the slogan “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like Winnipeg” to promote their $79 Toronto to Winnipeg fare. I can only surmise that no one in their advertising agency has ever been the esteemed capital of the SPRM. Or else it was a joke that no one in this part of the world could possibly be expected to understand.

29. Needing a little extra food, I went for an order of chicken strips at Tim Hortons. Overall, I give their newest offering a passing grade, and though the garlic in the breading wasn’t as overpowering as A & W’s equivalent, it still stayed with me well into the following morning.

29a. When digging out my wallet to pay, the clerk was seriously taken aback by the prospect of someone paying cash. Next time, just to be a rabble-rouser, I should ask if they accept bitcoin.

30. While the train was stopped at the Exhibition station on the return trip, I laughed as I watched a lost teenage kid on an adjacent street wander around, blindly following the directions on his phone that led him into an alley marked “Prohibited Area.” Before going too far, he finally picked his head up and turned around, only to again start following his phone as he made his way up the street. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

31. Waiting for the bus at the Burlington, I was seated next to someone with a bag from the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. As she and two nearby people began talking, I learned that she had taken the train from Montreal that morning and was heading for a conference in Niagara Falls, where she was staying at Fallsview. Now why do they always hold these conferences in places like Niagara Falls when I’m sure they could get much better rates in cities like Prince Albert or Swift Current?

32. You can tell who the real tourists are when the #12 bus bound for the Burlington Carpool lot pulls up, and this time was no exception as half the station emptied to run after it, figuring every #12 bus is headed for Niagara Falls. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched them all dragging their feet with their heads slumped pulling their suitcases behind them as they headed back inside the station. Read the sign next time.

33. When the Falls-bound bus came, I was seated around a bunch of college roommates with one who lives in the Falls acting as the tour leader. They were hoping to do the Aero Car and the White Water Walk, only to learn that both attractions are not open during the winter, but they still hoped to do Table Rock and Clifton Hill. The tour leader who once worked as a waiter at Elements, a restaurant at Table Rock, figured it wouldn’t be a problem for the guys to haul their luggage a mile or so from the 420 and Stanley bus stop and that all the attractions are roughly in the same spot. They will undoubtedly be considering the Sucker Bus, more formally known as WEGO, but the $9 24-hour fare might be a problem given that one guy only has $10 in his checking account and the tour leader couldn’t remember when his account’s balance was as high as three figures. Increased appeals to the Bank of Mom and Dad were likely in their immediate plans.

34. One member of this group asked one of his buddies if his jacket was real fur. “Yeah, but it’s, like, chicken,” he answered. Who knew that chickens were fur-bearing animals? The things they teach students at institutes of higher learning these days.

19 Jan

Adventure in the Universe’s Center

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

1. Bright and early before the crack of dawn, in wet and sloppy conditions, a southbound cyclist on Geneva Street made a left turn onto Scott Street against a red light. Later in the day, a northbound cyclist on Church Street in C.U. blew off a red light at Bloor without even slowing down, forcing a truck, making a left turn on a dedicated turning light that was green, to slam on the brakes. Rather than thanking the driver for sparing his life, the obnoxious cyclist instead cussed him out and spit in his direction. And cyclists like that wonder why motorists are so negatively predisposed to them.

2. When boarding the train at Burlington, I took a seat in the accessibility coach for the first time, the one where the largely unnecessary customer service ambassador speaks to passengers from. All the seats were designated as priority seating, the quads were much more spacious with grab bars for those in wheelchairs and there was an automated display, seen below, showing the next stop. Given the tenuous grasp of English our CSA had, those signs need to be in every car, just like they are on all the buses.

3. A particularly ornery woman sitting in the rear of the car who seemed to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed was having a running conversation with the CSA in between stops. Among the things she told him, and us, was that when someone called her recently to ask how things were going, she answered, “Drop dead!” She also made sure to tell us how much she loves HGTV, a network that seemingly goes out of its way to feature irritating people like her.

4. In the next quad, a woman got up to use the bathroom, leaving her coat on the seat. When she got back, it was still there. This is Not the Old Country, Chapter 3,549.

5. Seated across the aisle was a 20-something punk with a Mr. Incredible duffel bag who spread himself out over two seats. Mr. Incredible had a bad case of acne in addition to blond streaks in his frizzy hair, jeans ripped at the knees and pink shoes. He also certainly looked to be playing with less than a full deck as he was tapping his thumbs together while listening to the tunes on his phone. Tunes that were being played at such a high volume that most of us in the car could hear them even though he was wearing ear buds.

6. Mr. Incredible wasn’t the only one in the car wearing heavy winter boots even though it was only -3 when I left the house and with a light dusting of snow on the ground. People in this part of the world just don’t know what a real winter is all about. And aren’t they lucky.

7. A couple of women in their mid-20s got on at Clarkson with LPM (likes per minute) factors that reached double digits. Like, every car and, like, every train, has to have, like, at least one. That should be in the GO Customer Charter, which is dutifully plastered on every train and bus. One of them was was named Carolyn (she even spelled it out for us), and said that one of her friends is, like, really super French.

8. Upon arrival at the York Concourse in Union Station, I noticed these pigeons among the commuter traffic. With the new food court now open, no doubt the pickings have substantially improved.

9. When going to catch the subway, there was a long line waiting to get in the station at one entrance, so, like an old pro, I went to the other one. Then, upon seeing lines of 15-20 deep at the Presto gates, I went around to the other set of gates, where there were no lines. If I, as a relative newcomer, know this, why don’t they?

10. Gay redeemers?

11. Hospitals are known for gouging in their parking lots, but this takes it to a whole new level:

12. No, I didn’t do this. But maybe someone I know did.

13. No doubt an all-Canadian enterprise …

14. Careful, it’s “icey”:

15. Just take all your worldly belongings with you:

16. At the Hudson Bay Center in Yorkville, there was a lineup waiting for the LCBO to open at 9:30. Methinks those are people with some alcohol-dependency issues.

17. As if I needed another reason not to patronize Starbucks:

18. Problems with management?

19. As most readers are well aware, I’m not a dog person, but this is hardly an appropriate name for a store:

20. This is the equivalent of advertising a kosher ham sandwich:

21. I visited the Allan Gardens Conservatory, where I spent some time looking around and getting a number of shots.

The cost was free (for Toronto taxpayers, it’s “no additional charge”) and, for reference, it was about three or four times bigger than the nice conservatory Winnipeg used to have. While going through, I couldn’t help but wonder why our photo club hasn’t gone there, or the much larger Toronto Botanical Garden, on an outing while they keep going back to the same places over and over again. But, as I’m finding out, it’s only a good idea if the club’s co-ordinator thinks of it. Suggestions from members like me are about as welcome as a fox in a hen house.

22. While at Allan Gardens, I nearly laughed out loud while listening to one of the many children in attendance regaling his buddies about his knowledge of the life expectancy of fish and how to tell the age of a turtle. That kid has a budding future with the U.S. Postal Service as a know-it-all mailman who spends his leisure time in a bar alongside his portly buddy Norm. I know at least one reader will recognize the similarity to a former colleague.

23. Needing a bit of a break, I made a point of stopping at the Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens, site of the Jets’ only two road victories during their dreadful nine-win 1980-81 season.

After learning that they consider tea a “home meal replacement,” I paid attention to the Nutella bar.

For $4, you too can get a slice of “pizza,” which constitutes a piece of flatbread covered with Nutella, along with strawberries, icing and icing sugar. Though the strawberries do indeed provide some nutritional value, for the rest, you’d be better off going into the store and picking up a bag of sugar instead. Also available were crepes, waffles and croissants featuring diabetes-inducing levels of the high-sugar spread.

24. Also while there, a very trusting fellow dumped his bags next to me before getting in line.

25. On Yonge Street, I was following three women who turned into a dingy restaurant featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. As I said to myself, “You’ll be sorry.”

26. One of the many street urchins in the universe’s center:

27. One-stop shopping for all your “souveniers”:

28. On Church Street, someone was madly banging on a parking meter after it swallowed one of his loonies. While watching him, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the scene in Slap Shot when the Hansons were working over a drink machine while yelling “(expletive) machine took my quarter!”

29. If your car isn’t dirty, why would you be taking it to get washed?

30. While in the washroom at St. Lawrence Market, a couple of children walked in and one of them, as he approached the urinal, dropped his pants and asked his buddy, “Kiddie, do you want to meet a new friend?” To borrow a line from a long-lost friend, no visuals please.

31. Store-made beef “jerkey”:

32. Rodent-endorsed gourmet cheese:

33. I don’t care what they’ll be selling in the future, I want to know what they’re selling today.

34. For all your “ingraving” needs:

35. Is the place that bad that they have to apologize for being open?

36. This must be CBC’s headquarters:

37. Outside the NHL Hall of Political Correctness store was this jersey bearing the name of the reviled NHL commissioner, a jersey modeled in the style of a team which used it when playing in a rival league some factions in the NHL still hold a grudge against 40 years after its demise. Maybe it makes sense to somebody.

38. Spotted outside Union Station was a sign, “Message to Doug Ford: Hands off our $15 minimum wage.” Message to poster: Do the math. Doug Ford’s plan of a low-income tax cut will put more money in your pocket than the Liberal/NDP plan of raising the minimum wage, then clawing almost all of your “raise” back in taxes, not to mention putting a number of your low-income-earning friends out of work.

39. At Union Station, two people from GO were seated at a table offering to help Presto users set up the Autoload feature. While I’m sure it’s not as buggy as the Peggo system used in the Old Country, I have no desire to get my card maxed out when a software upgrade gets put in, as what happened to some in my former home city. I’ll take care of loading my card myself, thank you very much.

40. Union Station was abnormally crowded on my return trip and seats were hard to come by, even in the spacious food court.

41. Across the aisle from me on the Lakeshore West train was another one whose LPM factor was high and whose smelly McWrap was permeating all corners of the car. As we advanced westward, I learned that Smelly McWrap was a student in Toronto, owns a MacBook, has multiple dogs and got her black scarf for only $6 at a place in Milton that had them on sale for 60% off the clearance price. She was also jealous that her girlfriend went to Mexico with her husband recently, suggesting she should have taken her instead.

The McWrap, incidentally, was one she could have lived without, and if she continues at her current pace, she will likely have trouble fitting into her seat on the train by the time she reaches 50. If she even lives that long.

42. On this trip, we had not one, but two customer service ambassadors. Though it was two more than necessary, at least they both had a much better command of the English language than the guy I had on the way in. Unfortunately, they both needed to learn that “Final call for the doors please stand clear of the doors the doors are now closing” should be three sentences instead of one.

43. After the Oakville stop, we were met by a fare inspector, who went down the aisle checking Presto cards and receipts. Unlike the case in the Old Country, most people in this part of the world pay, but there was a couple at the opposite end of the car who didn’t and got caught. As someone who does pay, I smiled as I watched the inspector spend the next 15 minutes checking their ID and writing them each a citation.

44. When making the loop heading for the Nash and Barton stop, the bus drove over a plastic water bottle half-filled with a yellowish liquid that probably wasn’t apple juice.

45. At the Nash and Barton stop, someone got on with a black cap from Cannabis on Cannon. Now which party do you suppose he voted for in the last federal election?

46. Also boarding at Nash and Barton was a guy with a Native Pride hat who took a seat across the aisle from me. All the way to St. Catharines, he kept getting alerts of “New messages received from Dana” on his phone, and though they seemed to annoy him, he didn’t think to put his phone on silent mode. The same guy, incidentally, couldn’t get off the bus fast enough at Fairview Mall, all so he could dig out a cigarette and light up.

47. Spotted on the highway was a truck from Trans-Ontario Express. No doubt they offer nationwide service.

47a. Readers originally from Southern Ontario won’t get that one.

48. Facing the QEW in Grimsby is a place called Lake Foundry, which has a logo showing all of the Great Lakes. So shouldn’t it be Lakes Foundry instead?

49. At Beamsville, two gas stations near the highway posted prices of 94.9, while a newer Shell station farther to the south had a price of 95.9. Why would one drive farther to pay more?

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.