All posts by curtis72

17 Sep

Terry Fox Run 2017

Observations and pictures from today’s Terry Fox Run held here in St. Catharines:

1. Loyal readers may be aware that this was the 10th anniversary of the late Carli Ward’s last Terry Fox Run, which I had the honor of accompanying her on at Winnipeg’s largest off-leash dog park back in the SPRM. Understandably, the anniversary made this run a little more special than most of the others.

2. Since this was the first year the run was held at Brock, I was pleased to see this two-person welcoming committee at the corner of Glenridge and Isaac Brock Way, formerly St. Davids Road, along with the signage pointing the way. I’ve heard the phrase “you’re just supposed to know” once too often in these parts.

2a. This native of the flatlands has still not mastered the fine art of getting up the escarpment on two wheels. It’s getting easier at Queenston Heights and Taylor Road, but not on Glenridge.

3. Scenes before the run:

4. For an event that is supposed to be cyclist-friendly and with acres of outdoor space at their disposal, why was so much of the pre-run activity, including many of the announcements, held indoors? I understand the need to make plans in case of inclement weather, but the elements were hardly a factor on this day.

5. Speakers addressing the crowd prior to the run:

5a. Kudos to Walter Sendzik, our municipal ambassador for the Liberal Party of Canada, who managed to get through his speech without mentioning his compassionate city initiative, bashing Donald Trump, or dispensing any of the other Liberal rhetoric he’s become so fond of. It was particularly shocking given the presence of both the provincial and federal Liberal ambassadors, whom he often feels the need to impress. Especially the latter.

5b. Mayor Sendzik sure appeared to be in an awfully surly disposition upon his arrival, but his politician’s smile was back by the time the spotlight was on. Maybe it was just the sight of that snarky conservative on a bike who keeps taking him to task that put him in a bad mood.

6. While I was standing right on top of the word “START” painted on the sidewalk, someone came up and asked me where the starting line was. I should have told her to go to Port Dalhousie.

7. As the dignitaries were speaking, shouldn’t the River Lions cheerleaders have been facing the crowd instead of showing us their oversized derrieres?

7a. Two of those “cheerleaders” looked like they were eating for two. Except that they didn’t appear to be pregnant.

7b. Why weren’t they at the run in Niagara Falls so they could be closer to their “river”?

7c. If you haven’t guessed already, even if I had any interest in basketball, I would never attend a game because of their distasteful choice of nickname. I chose to make and remain proud to call St. Catharines my home. If those so-called “River Lions” don’t feel the same way, perhaps they should consider playing out of the Gale Center in the Falls.

7d. Question to ponder: Should those so-called “River Lions” be denied access to the Meridian Center?

8. There weren’t more than 10 cyclists at the starting line. Maybe I’m not the only one having trouble getting up the escarpment.

9. The sound clip from Terry Fox one of the volunteers played on his phone was an awfully nice touch.

10. Scenes at the finish line:

11. You know I had to spot an SPRM plate. It was just a matter of when.

11a. Some of you might not be aware that Terry Fox and I are both natives of the degenerate capital of the SPRM, making the plate sighting in the parking lot at Brock a little more fitting. In addition, he and I went to the same elementary school in that part of the world.

12 Sep

Bigger Problems than Equifax

In light of the recent Equifax hack that has left than 100 million Americans along with some Brits and Canadians nervously wondering when and if they’ll be identity-theft victims, allow me to share a story from my distant past.

Many years ago, while working at a consulting house, my boss stopped by my desk with a CD in his hand. A prospective client whom I’ll call Flighty HR Lady had given him an Access database and asked for his thoughts as to whether or not it was something worth using, so he turned it over to me to take a look.

I opened it up and was immediately appalled at what I saw.

Inside was a detailed listing of several hundred employees that included dates of birth, social insurance numbers and driver’s license numbers. Everything a growing identity thief needs to know. No security. No encryption.

I reported my findings to my boss, who then told me that the database I had just seen wasn’t the entire personnel file of Flighty HR Lady’s employer. It was the entire personnel file of her former employer.

So, in summary, Flighty HR Lady, a certified human resource professional who today is the proprietor of her own HR consulting business and trains others in her field, took personnel files she no longer had any right to access, let alone possess, and blindly turned them over to a third party.

Let that sink in.

I then asked my boss, “Is Flighty HR Lady aware she could be charged for this?” He brushed it off as a case of extreme naïveté, but something tells me the Mounties wouldn’t have been quite so forgiving.

Not to diminish the impact of external hacks, such as what apparently happened in the Equifax case and other high-profile security breaches, but the moral of the story is that people like Flighty HR Lady can compromise your personal information just as easily as any hacker. As I’ve often discussed with colleagues past and present, the internal threat to an organization’s data is, in fact, often much greater than anything external.

12 Sep

Random Thoughts – Civic Priorities, St. Catharines Transit, Citizens First and More

1. There was a recent article in the Welland Tribune in which Wainfleet mayor April Jeffs vowed “Wainfleet is my priority” when asked if there would be a conflict between her candidacy in the upcoming provincial election and her duties as mayor. I sure wish Mayor Sendzik, who spends half his time on social media shilling for the Liberals, would make a similar declaration putting the interests of his city above those of his party. And mean it. But I guess I’m asking too much.

2. St. Catharines Transit recently changed all its route numbers, adding 300 to each of them. For example, the daytime route number 5 is now 305, while the evening/weekend/holiday equivalent that used to be 105 is now 405. One simple question: Why?

2a. On second thought, maybe I don’t really want to know.

3. Appalled that the big dip in the bike lane on Martindale near Welland Vale Road which had been there for the past several months still had not been fixed, I did the responsible thing and reported it to Citizens First. To their credit, they did respond promptly, but their reply telling me that they had forwarded the matter to the region because it was a regional road was terse and less than friendly. In other words, don’t bother us, it’s not our problem. Note to city staff: This is St. Catharines. This isn’t Winnipeg.

3a. I’m still trying to figure out why no one else had reported it before now. For that matter, why had it even been left that way?

3b. As a friend once said to me years ago, “It’s hard being a good citizen, isn’t it?”

4. It is amazing what you can learn about your neighbors on garbage day. For example, you can find out if they prefer Coke or Pepsi, whether they prefer Pizza Hut to Domino’s, what their favorite breakfast cereal is or if they’ve just welcomed a new member of the family. Or maybe the Pampers box simply indicated the presence of a whiny liberal in the household.

5. Passing by this dumpster today reminded me of my grade 10 English teacher who would regularly pronounce this as “modrin:”

6. Please tell me this isn’t for gay lions:

7. I didn’t know there was a market for the waste products of Liberal supporters:

8. If you’ve got dirty coins …

9. I swear there must be a regional bylaw which states that all persons more than 50 pounds overweight must be in possession of a lit cigarette at all times.

09 Sep

More Observations Around Town

Some observations around town this morning:

1. How exactly does donating this bench fit within CAW/Unifor’s mandate to represent its members?

1a. Seeing that plaque reminded me of when a former colleague told me about a call he got from MGEU (Manitoba Government Employers Union) asking what he thought of their most recent ad campaign. His response was, “Why are you advertising?” I couldn’t have said it any better.

1b. No, the full description of what MGEU stood for wasn’t a typo. At least in my opinion.

2. Long overdue, but the fencing has finally been removed around the walkway at Port Dalhousie. Now about those piers …

3. Forget the daily coffee, just think how many breakfasts $10.5 million would buy. Like the $10.5 million our adolescent prime minister gave to a terrorist. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

4. Spotted behind the performing arts center was this Métis encampment as part of the Celebration of Nations taking place this weekend. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

5. Aside from the fresh coat of asphalt, I can’t say that the newly opened section of St. Paul Street looks a whole lot different than the pre-construction version. But maybe it’s just me.

6. I’ll fix his little red wagon …

7. Spotted in the farmer’s market were these “specials” I would have had to have been paid good money to take off their hands:

  • Pork in green spicy sauce for $9
  • Two pounds of shepherd’s pie or meat lasagna for $16
  • A sheepskin seat belt cover for $35

8. Even a sign for something as trivial as fixing up a staircase has to have our mayor’s re-election campaign slogan on it:

8a. Why does no one on council have the stones to stand in his way?

8b. Things have gotten so bad that I couldn’t even open up the brochure from Brock delivered with the sub-Standard this week without getting more of Mayor Sendzik’s compassionate city ramblings rammed down my throat. The growth, opportunities and jobs mantra he campaigned on sure disappeared from his agenda pretty quickly.

9. But who would buy the street?

10. I have to say, I really admire the ability of the cyclist I spotted on Vine Street to juggle a tray with four Tim Hortons coffees while racing down the sidewalk at breakneck speed. It does take quite a skill, one that even I, as someone with tens of thousands of miles on two wheels under his belt, haven’t been able to master. Not that I’ve tried such things all that often. Or care to.

03 Sep

Touring Danforth Village

Yesterday, I made another excursion to the universe’s center, this time making a tour of Danforth Village on the east end of the city. “The Danny,” as they euphemistically call it.

The trip would get off to a bad start as the #12 bus left Fairview Mall almost 20 minutes behind schedule. The bus we had appeared to be a last-minute substitute as it pulled off the QEW from the eastbound direction and was completely empty when I boarded. The regular bus that was supposed to arrive from the Falls probably broke down, but there was no official explanation provided from the driver.

En route to Burlington, I spotted a black pickup truck from the Great State of New York with “Smith & Wesson” plastered over his back window. Even though I am fully supportive of law-abiding citizens possessing firearms, displaying such a motto so proudly when crossing an international border might not be the best thing to do. But to each his own.

Despite the lengthy delay, we still managed to make it to Burlington in time to catch the scheduled Lakeshore West train. Much more noteworthy, however, was that the driver pulled into south loop at the newly opened station, the one they had been working on for so many years. As I said to someone while waiting on the platform, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to live long enough to see it completed.

Inside, the ticket office was actually open and more importantly, so were the washrooms. Indoor washrooms. I don’t have to use the Burlington Outhouse ever again.

Up on the platform, I was not the only Center-of-the-Universe-bound traveler on this day, though most had other plans, including the popular CNE, located just a few steps from the Exhibition stop.

On board, I took a seat across from a couple of young heavyweightettes and, like, listened to their chatter, like, all the way to, like, Toronto. As the train pulled out of Burlington, they, like, first talked about how, like, hard it was to, like, not eat all their, like, snacks right away. Like, from the looks of them, they could do without the snacks.

One of them then shared the details of how she and her sister were both delivered by c-section. Born in 1984, she was a planned pregnancy, but her sister wasn’t. The other one then mentioned something about needing to pay Lisa $650 and bragged how she got a free $60 ticket to a convention she was attending. Or should I say, it was, like, for free.

Ms. C-Section then talked about the possibility of, like, being sent somewhere to help them with, like, public speaking. Like, I need help on public speaking from her like I need a free trip to North Korea. But as she said, if she goes, it will be super fun and there will be 50 million things she will want to buy. She will just have to be adult about it.

This just in. She needs to try harder.

After they got off at Union Station, I just filed that experience under Chapter 641 of “The things you learn about people on public transit.” Perhaps one day to make it into print. You never know.

I stayed on the train and got off at the Danforth station to begin my tour. You can check the album I posted on Facebook for many of the pictures, but there were other scenes that caught my eye as well.

A creative name for a dog groomer.

Up to 80% off a mattress. But only one mattress.

Pick up a cheap “camisol.”

It’s important to care for your pharmacy. They need love too.

If you want to drive a contract around.

I could only shake my head at this sight. Have we sunk so low that there’s a demand for a take-out window at Tim Hortons?

Funny, but I don’t think this stroller was taken by mistake. Call it a hunch. Maybe it’s that crusty old Winnipegger in me.

We delivery for you.

Someone’s got to explain this one to me.

A couple of hours later, I caught the #2 subway line at the Broadview station. The connecting station to the #1 line is called the “Bloor-Yonge” station, but they only announced it as the “Yonge” station and, unlike what they do on the #1 line, they didn’t announce that it was a connecting station. A significant faux pas in my opinion, especially given the number of tourists the universe’s center attracts. Nonetheless, I knew enough to get off there and caught the southbound #1 line back to Union.

I thought I had just missed a scheduled Lakeshore West train back to Burlington, but as luck would have it, it was delayed, so that gave me a chance to make it up onto the platform in more than enough time to catch it. The platform itself was packed, as was the train when it finally arrived, but it almost completely emptied at the Exhibition stop. One of these years, I should consider a visit to the CNE.

From there, it was a relatively quiet ride back to Burlington, where I was able to get the connecting #12 bus a short while later. While in line waiting, I laughed as someone came around asking if this was where she could catch the #12 bus as she was standing right underneath a huge sign to that effect. Duh.

After the bus came, I went up top only to find a bunch of noisy families yelling and screaming. Luckily, when the driver announced that an express bus to the Falls had pulled up, it caused an exodus of biblical proportions, and I don’t think I was the only one silently applauding. Good riddance.

Unfortunately, the riff-raff was soon replaced by a couple of millennials who, like, spent the next hour and a half spewing, like, their favorite word. Which they like. A lot. It all started with one of them, some kind of a middle manager at his workplace, lamenting how, like, casual Friday has become, like, a (manure) show. His companion talked about how, like, your performance should be graded on, like, your work.

On and on this went. It, like, needs to happen this year. Like, for example, she, like, she coached her colleague. But not, like, directly.

Behind me was an older couple who was also getting into the act after hauling their luggage up the stairs, also a phenomenon that continues unabated. The woman talked about how she wanted to make, like, nachos on sweet potatoes.

As the bus inched along in the holiday weekend traffic, there was at last some relief with some long periods of silence, briefly interrupted only be the incoherent ramblings of a mentally challenged man sitting a few rows behind me. All that I could make out was something about a strip club in Scarborough.

There was an interesting sighting at the Vineland exit, where a car had pulled off onto the shoulder. A few feet away in the middle of the tall grass was a father watching his young son take a leak. Sometimes the call of nature comes when you’re stuck in traffic and there’s nothing you can do about it, but there was a service station only a hundred feet away and Tim Hortons just on the opposite side of the QEW, as the signs on the highway clearly indicated. But why use a regular toilet when you can take a whizz in the full view of several thousand people driving by.

Not long after watching the kid fertilize the grass, our bus took the Lake Street exit and turned into Fairview Mall, where there was an older gentleman in a motorized wheelchair. He was not on the sidewalk, where he should have been, but in the left turning lane at an extremely busy intersection. If it’s not illegal, it should be, but in any event, you have to wonder about people who care so little about their own safety.

It was another interesting sight and, in a sense, a fitting way to wrap up an eventful day.

01 Sep

Hockey in August – Black and White Game

Observations from the annual Black and White game to wrap up Niagara IceDogs training camp:

1. En route, I spotted someone picking up after his dog. Again, this is not the Old Country.

2. Also en route, I passed by this sign. I asked it how I could become a member, but it didn’t answer. How rude of the sign. If the Lions are really serious about wanting to add new members, they really should consider replacing this sign with a more friendly one.

3. I guess that’s what smoking weed does to your brain.

4. Spotted downtown was a pair of young women clearly dressed to begin their shift selling their services on the street. One was dressed in a tight top with her cell phone tucked inside her bra, no doubt waiting to be dispatched by her pimp, while the other had a short skirt with smurf-blue hair.

5. A rather interesting paint job on this barrel:

6. No doubt the driver will claim to be a dog lover …

7. Stopped at the light at St. Catharines’ answer to Confusion Corner were two women arguing, one of whom was insisting she wasn’t using her phone while driving. With the disturbing prevalence of texting and driving, why is it that I didn’t believe her?

8. Not too far from that intersection was a mentally disturbed couple engaged in a heated F-rated conversation. As I got closer, the man leapt out of his wheelchair to grab the woman’s purse as the two of them continued to argue. Two blocks later, it was an argument I could still hear quite plainly.

9. Farther down St. Paul Street was a bum stretched out on a bench using his backpack as a pillow. But at least he wasn’t smoking.

10. It would have been nice if the staff at the Meridian Center had actually propped open the doors instead of leaving attendees to guess as to where to go. But I guess that’s asking a little too much.

11. Strolling through the souvenir store, the outrageously priced items that grabbed my attention were the $120 light jacket and the $45.95 golf shirt. With prices like that, it’s no wonder sightings of IceDogs paraphernalia around the region are rare, much like it was with the Fighting Moose in Winnipeg.

12. I keep hoping this will be the year the glass at the Meridian Center will see its historic first cleaning, but understandably, my optimism is waning.

13. The management at Meridian Center wants my feedback like they want a root canal without anesthetic. I’ve already given it to them. More than once. Publicly. What do they do about it? Nothing. What they really want is for people to tell them what a great job they’re doing so the bigwigs can pat themselves on the back, just like the politicos did at Lakeside Park earlier in the day.

13a. That $20 at the concessions sure won’t get you very far.

13b. Case in point, last night’s shortened menu:

13c. I could only shake my head when I walked past two teenage heavyweights standing near the concessions debating what to fill their faces with. It didn’t seem to occur to them that they didn’t need anything. Save your money and more importantly, your health.

13d. Am I just noticing it more or is obesity on the rise? Maybe it’s a little of both.

14. It’s “merchandise.” A common word. Not hard. And the space is there to print it out in full.

15. A few shots from around the rink:

16. The crowd was a little light as hockey in August is evidently not terribly popular. Even the team’s photographer was noticeably absent. But despite the few number of attendees, I did notice a few familiar faces, including some from past bus trips.

17. It is apparently not a proper IceDogs event unless the PA announcer introduces himself. Which he did. But he broke from tradition and didn’t introduce himself again after the game. It was a faux pas he is undoubtedly still kicking himself over and one he will surely never repeat again.

18. Did they really need to blow the horn after each goal? All it did was wake up the otherwise comatose “crowd.”

19. Seeing the name “Hooper” on the back of one of the linesmen made me think of “Jaws” and the scenes where the bounty hunter Quint kept yelling at the oceanographer.

20. This is the start of my fourth season since moving to St. Catharines, yet I’m already going on my third head coach, second mascot and have seen many front office people come and go. I’m getting to think that the IceDogs must give long-service awards after six months.

21. This year’s marketing slogan is “The New Age.” Isn’t every year a new age in junior hockey?

22. During the second period, an usher was walking through the stands handing out finger-licking-good wall-size posters with the home schedule and a little bit of his spit on it. It didn’t take me more than two seconds to spot the glaring error:

22a. It is incredible to think how many hands this passed through on its way to the printer, yet no one else seemingly caught it.

23. I wonder if that same usher remembers the game last year where he chased me down an aisle trying to force me to accept his “help.” He might not remember the occasion, but I do, and that incident will be among many featured in a future book I intend to start in a couple of years time on my fan experiences with the IceDogs, similar to what I did with the Fighting Moose. Some people will like it. Others won’t. He will likely fit into the latter category.

24. Spotted in the “crowd” was someone wearing a #31 Brent Moran jersey. There’s a player whose name will live in infamy longer than any other in the annals of IceDogs history.

25. For the record, the black team beat the white team by a score of 6-4. Now let the real games begin.

30 Aug

Around Hamilton

Observations and pictures from yesterday’s day trip to Hamilton:

1. Spotted outside a Money Mart on the way to the bus were a couple of disheveled bums perched on the sidewalk waiting for the place to open. From the look of them, neither had a dime to their name, yet they did have money for smokes. And a dog. Stop me if this is sounding familiar. You know, maybe it’s those ne’er-do-well poverty advocates who are the ones who don’t know about the basic issues behind poverty.

2. Standing in line in front of me waiting to board the #12 bus at Fairview Mall was a couple in their late 50s or early 60s. Displaying the devil-may-care immaturity of a teenager, she had half her hair dyed blue, while he had such a bulging beer belly that he could have passed for being pregnant. An odd pairing if I’ve ever seen one.

3. Also in line was an obese woman with a white cane. From the way she was getting around, she sure didn’t seem to have any vision problems. Especially at the dinner table.

3a. Obesity was another common theme I would encounter throughout the day. As was the lack of modesty in choices of clothing.

3b. For those who are more than tipping the scales, when you’re browsing in a clothing store and debating which size to buy, consider erring on the higher side rather than trying to fit into something so tight that it could cause serious circulation problems. And please take the Nancy Reagan approach to those sleeveless tank tops. Just. Say. No.

4. You can tell it’s tourist season by the fact that so many paid with cash even though it was a weekday. The driver took in so much cash, in fact, that he had to put it all into the lock box when he stopped at Grimsby.

5. On the way to Stoney Creek, I listened as a woman from Mississauga, originally from the U.S. and now living in Canada for the past 21 years, told us about how her son survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan while serving with the U.S. Army. Later on, the guy across the aisle told us about how he fell off his ladder while on a roofing job and spent a year in hospital recovering from his injuries. You do learn a lot about your fellow passengers and passengerettes on public transit.

6. You know the bus is crowded when three people get on at Beamsville. Or anyone gets on at Beamsville, a new stop that’s going over like a lead balloon. But at least they have an official park and ride location, unlike St. Catharines. And they’re scheduled to get regular GO train service before St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

7. On Barton Street before the Stoney Creek stop, I spotted a vanity license plate “HAVEACUP” with the slogan “Sometimes I go topless” on the frame. This is a detail I doubt that the average motorist on the QEW really needs to know. But others obviously disagree.

8. Spotted on Nash Road was a car with a Canadian flag bumper sticker bearing the slogan “Fit in or (expletive) off.” Aside from the unnecessary profanity, right about now, the owner is probably someone I would like to get to know. And invite him to get on Gab. Like me.

9. Before boarding the Barton bus, I spotted a truck from Reimer Express. On the return trip, I would spot a car with a Bomber bumper sticker and two trucks from Bison Transport. As loyal readers are well aware, the SPRM does keep following me around.

10. It was only a few blocks before we picked up our first wheelchair passenger on the Barton bus, and I’m surprised it took until Strathearne before we got our first stroller. By the time I got off, as an able-bodied person who wasn’t pushing a stroller or using a cane, walker or wheelchair, I felt like a visible minority. Which is par for the course on the Barton bus.

11. Walking down Barton Street was a young woman wearing a skirt barely covering her privates and black fishnet stockings who looked every bit like she had just finished her overnight shift selling her services on the street.

12. Many people exited the bus via the back door and no one needed a battering ram to get out, as they would have to have done on Winnipeg Transit buses. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

13. Near Tim Hortons Field, a young man dropped his bike on the lawn in front of a pharmacy and ran in without locking it up. Unlike Winnipeg, there was probably a pretty good chance it was still there when he came back out.

14. A couple pleaded poverty when getting on and successfully evaded paying fare. I know that, come right down to it, there’s not much the bus drivers can do about it, but he could have used a little more verbal judo to make it a little more difficult for them. After all, if I have to pay, so should they.

15. I pity the poor man who was obviously having a great deal of trouble in the bathroom at Jackson Square. The people in nearby Nations Fine Foods probably heard his groaning and grunting.

16. A sale that’s half used?

17. Come and meet “you neighbors” …

18. A sighting enough to trigger any liberal …

19. Perhaps not coincidentally is this idyllic sermon just down the street undoubtedly carved into the sidewalk by some bleeding-heart liberal who naively believes that disarming law-abiding citizens and preventing them from defending themselves is the only way to rid society of violent crime.

20. Locks. On Locke Street.

21. A stop sign at a light, a puzzling oddity I thought was unique to Winnipeg.

22. I spotted many of these bike sharing stations throughout the city, something that no one would dare try in the Old Country, where the bikes would be promptly wrecked, vandalized, stolen and/or used as a toilet.

23. I’m suspecting these words on the sidewalk on Locke Street are part of a poem. I might be able to find out if cared enough to look it up. But I don’t.

24. Do these “whoopie pies” make a farting sound when you eat them?

25. When I spotted this van from Donut Monster, I couldn’t help but think of a former colleague who once boasted that he has never refused the offer of a free donut, as I did when we worked together.

26. I spotted a woman who stopped to pick up the mess after her dog took a dump on the grass. Readers from the Old Country will understand why this grabbed my attention, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in several decades living in that part of the world.

26a. A male passer-by across the street whistled at her immediately afterwards. Perhaps he found something particularly attractive in how she scooped up her dog’s crap.

27. And by misspelling Dr. Seuss’s name, I guess that does make you stand out …

28. So say the free-spending socialists among us …

29. Much preferred to an impersonal mortgage …

30. Yes, these are legal parking spots, with cars passing on the left and bikes on the right. Someone thought this was a good idea. I don’t think I agree.

31. For all your “stationary” needs …

32. So says a dog looking to unload its bladder …

33. I spotted a scruffy looking dude foraging for buried treasure inside a garbage can near City Hall. He must have found so much in there that he decided to scurry off with the whole bag. I guess this was his lucky day.

34. One of the many works of a vandal who goes by the handle of “Rat Daddy”:

35. Looks like I might end up on Google Sidewalk View:

36. The tattoo industry is thriving in Hamilton.

37. Forgive me, but I just don’t understand the attraction of eating outside while sitting in the middle of traffic. But maybe it’s just me.

38. Spotted back at Jackson Square was a guy wearing a fur-lined hoodie. Later, I would spot someone wearing a heavy sweater. As someone born and raised in the sub-Arctic conditions of the SPRM, let me just say that people in this part of the world have no idea what real cold is.

39. Also spotted at Jackson Square was a young man sprawled out on a bench who was approached by security. After asking him if he needed medical assistance, which he didn’t, they asked him to sit up and then leave. Loyal readers from the SPRM know what would have happened if such an incident occurred in Portage Place.

40. Back-A-Da-Bus-O-Phobia, a term coined by Winnipeg Transit, is alive and well on the HSR.

41. While waiting for the GO bus at Nash and Barton, I noticed this car parked in the lot with an expired registration as indicated by the sticker on the upper right hand corner of the badly worn plate.

Not long after taking this picture, the driver loaded up his purchases from the Wholesale Club and took off. If you’re driving around Hamilton, better hope you’re not in an accident with this guy.

42. On the GO bus headed back to St. Catharines, our driver royally cut someone off when pulling out of the Grimsby stop, then on the QEW, he was practically riding the bumper of a small car in front of us. One has to wonder how he lasted long enough with GO to get that 15-year pin on his tie.

43. For more pictures on the day, check out the album I put up on Facebook, and make sure you visit before my account is suspended for having right-of-Lenin political views.

25 Aug

Back on the Road

Observations from a brief ride around the city today:

1. To the joggerette I passed on a side street first thing this morning: The perfume or body wash you use was meant to be applied a splash at a time. You’re not supposed to use the entire bottle. Try reading the instructions. They’re there, I promise. They even print instructions on soap bottles.

1a. Once I stopped coughing, I remembered a former colleague I had the misfortune of often being in the same building with decades ago who, like this joggerette, also applied perfume much too liberally. I would sometimes joke that she had three taps in her washroom at home, with one of them being for water.

2. I couldn’t help but notice some rubby-dub walking down Geneva completely engrossed in a conversation. With himself.

3. Why is there a Catherine Street in St. Catharines and a Catharine Street in Hamilton, Welland and Port Colborne? And a Catharine Crescent in Niagara Falls?

3a. How often do you think all the Catharines/Catherines get misspelled in this part of the world? It might be easier to count the number of times they are spelled correctly.

4. This sight reminded me of my former home city, which was one big off-leash dog park:

5. I’m sure everyone in the densely populated residential area I passed by around 7:30 this morning genuinely appreciated the construction worker using what appeared to be a leaf blower that I could hear from blocks away.

6. The chunky, bordering-on-obese joggerette I passed by on Pelham Road really needs to invest in a good sports bra. It was another of those unappealing sights I only wish I could un-see.

7. This sign in advance of the Pelham Road/MacTurnbull Drive/Louth Street intersection is one of the oddest I’ve ever seen:

8. More good deals on pre-owned furniture:

9. I’m not sure what language the mentally disturbed man I saw on Queenston Street was barking at the top of his lungs. About the only word of English he seemed to know started with the letter ‘F.’

10. Farther down the street was a man in a wheelchair with his cap out looking for donations with an equally good pair of lungs bellowing out some monosyllabic grunt-like words in a dialect I’m probably happy I don’t understand.

11. Queenston Street between Geneva and Eastchester is an, um, interesting place. Interesting as in don’t go there after dark.

12. What exactly is a “miked drink”?

13. Imagine my shock at seeing a city sign without one of our mayor’s re-election campaign slogans on it. He must be slipping.

13a. Do you really need to be told not to walk on the rocks?

14. I lost count of the number of dogs I spotted today, yet they all were on leashes. This is definitely not the Old Country.

23 Aug

On the Road in the Great State of New York

Observations from my 37th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Would you expect them to be promoting an unlicensed mechanic?

2. With terrorism running rampant these days, is it really appropriate to be using the term “grenade” in promoting protein bars?

3. Outside the Project SHARE office on Stanley Avenue was a scruffy old bum with a better bike than mine puffing on a cigarette. He lacks money for food and/or shelter, but he’s got money for smokes. But as I’ve been told, I’m just an ignorant person who doesn’t know the real issues behind poverty. Right.

4. Scenes on the Robert Moses Recreation Trail:

4a. Yes, it’s still called the Robert Moses Recreation Trail even though Moses’ name has been removed from the adjacent parkway now known as the Niagara Scenic Parkway.

5. Scenes at Whirlpool State Park:

6. Also at Whirlpool State Park was a guide leading a tour group making a stop on their way to Niagara Falls State Park. She was seriously overweight and wheezing as she was waddling along trying to keep up with the group. Given the physical requirements for the job, one would think a tour guide would have to be at least slightly fit. Or at least a little less unfit. More on that topic later.

7. Would you want to be in this car dangling over the Whirlpool Gorge?

8. With the park adjacent to two bike paths, you’d think there would be a bike rack there. But there wasn’t. Sigh.

9. There also weren’t any paper towels or hand dryers in the washroom. But at least there was soap and running water. And the washroom was actually open, which it isn’t for most of the year.

10. It was nice of the state to pay tribute to their Canadian neighbors with this shelter. It’s not just a shelter, but a shelter, eh.

10a. I’ll pause for a moment while you groan.

11. Passing this street, I couldn’t help but recall a line from Peppermint Patty in a Peanuts movie, “Lafayette, we are here!”

11a. Below the street sign is a New York reference marker, one of which appears every tenth of a mile on each highway in the state. Someone thinks that makes sense.

12. Scenes around Reservoir State Park:

13. It was nice of Andrew to ensure that these stretching aids were placed along the pathway. He thinks of everything.

14. FedEx. When it’s just got to get there.

15. I noticed this Dollar General, but what about other USFL teams?

16. Would you expect him to specialize in non-medical oncology?

17. There was serious room for improvement in the friendliness of the clerk who served me at the Tim Hortons on Military Road in the Town of Niagara.

18. After moaning and groaning about their satellite radio provider, calling them “a bunch of screwies,” the seniors seated across from me were planning their southerly migration to Arizona. Yet for someone like me, having grown up in the frozen wilderness of the SPRM, this part of the world feels like a winter paradise.

19. I nearly jumped out of my chair when one of them started talking about the “Old Country.” I dare say she wasn’t talking about the SPRM.

20. There was a poster on the wall facing me promoting Tim Hortons’ Childrens’ Camps, one of which is in Pinawa, MB. I can’t imagine how many people come in there and scratch their heads wondering where that Pinawa place must be.

21. Given its proximity to the busy shopping district, I was surprised that there was only one Ontario plate in the parking lot.

21a. The Military Road shopping district, which includes the fashion outlet mall, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, K-Mart, Wegmans and the Tops/Target plaza nearby gets more traffic than the falls on that side of the river.

22. Of the eight others in the place, three were seriously obese, a recurring and disturbing theme I would notice throughout the day. One of those obese patrons was a young girl no older than 10.

22a. One of the seniors seated nearby who was one of the heavyweights said she was going home to bake herself a banana cream pie. She needed another banana cream pie like I need another hole in my head.

23. Being on Military Road, it was only fitting that someone from the U.S. Air Force walked in.

23a. I can just imagine how many SJWs out there would be triggered by simply being near Military Road.

24. Scenes from Hyde Park:

25. I never promised you a rose garden:

26. A truck from “Buffalo Exterminating” passed me on Walnut Avenue. Why would you want to exterminate Buffalo?

27. Please tell me this isn’t for gay dogs:

28. I spotted two Mexican plates during the day. Given how this area attracts tourists from all over the world, that people are visiting from Mexico isn’t surprising but that they drove all that way is.

29. I also spotted two “642” plates and at the Niagara USA Visitor Center, my Garmin handheld GPS told me that my elevation was 642 feet above sea level. Once again, I was not alone. You may understand. You may not.

30. In the washroom at the Niagara USA Visitor Center, someone in a stall flushed the toilet, then walked out without washing his hands. For a moment there, I thought I was back in the Old Country, where such things hardly stand out like they do here.

31. A piano for gays only?

32. Many hamburgers and hot dogs, but only one sausage:

33. The attendant I had today at the Rainbow Bridge didn’t seem the slightest bit annoyed by the collection of nickels and dimes I paid my 50-cent toll with, unlike the one I had the last time I went over the river.

34. In light of how the Liberal government is failing to defend our borders and allowing illegal migrants to cross at will, as a law-abiding citizen born and raised in Canada, I seriously resent waiting in line and being grilled by a CBSA officer for exercising a constitutional right.

34a. Can we please stop calling them “refugees” or “asylum seekers”?

35. With my “compliements” …

36. Um, whatever …

37. What do people see at the NOTL outlet mall? When I stopped there to use the washroom on my return trip, the food court was absolutely packed and I wasn’t even there during the noon hour.

19 Aug

Observations Around Town

1. Would this be a one-car or two-car “garae”?

2. The beggar greeting motorists as they exited the 406 at Glendale seeking to relieve them of some of their money had a better bike than mine. Just saying.

3. Pets are not entirely welcome at the Farmers Market …

… yet that didn’t seem to matter to this dog owner. Or the other one who passed by seconds later.

3a. Certainly no one expects him to take the law into his own hands, but why bother hiring a rent-a-cop to patrol the place if he’s not even going to as much as say anything when people bring dogs around?

3b. Not that there’s much I could have taken with me even if I had wanted to, but the medley of putrid smells around there didn’t exactly tempt me.

3c. There was something particularly weird about strolling around while being serenaded with a rendition of “Home on the Range” being played on an accordion by some scruffy character who looked like he just spent the night in Montebello Park. But maybe it was just me.

3d. When our mayor talks about “enlarging the circle,” it’s people like that guy with the accordion he has in mind. Not those of us like me who don’t share his view of the world.

4. I get the feeling the fire department wouldn’t exactly condone this potpourri of extension cords running from the portable generators.

5. Going past City Hall, I noticed that the flags were not flying at half mast. Our virtue-signaling mayor had ordered the flags down after what happened in Charlottesville, yet as people in Europe drop like flies in hate-filled acts of radical Islamic terrorism and a church defaced by ISIS graffiti burned in nearby Burlington, he remains dutifully silent, no doubt following orders from his Liberal masters to the letter. Hate is hate in my books, but apparently not to our mayor.

5a. Care to speculate as to what Mayor Sendzik’s reaction would have been if the burning church in Burlington had been a mosque instead?

6. With “fall arrest” checked off, it was only fitting that the courthouse was nearby.

7. If this were the in the Old Country, how long do you think such an unattended scooter would last before being stolen? Or vandalized. Or used as a toilet.

8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t care if you sleep with a goat. But stop shoving your gayness down my throat.

9. It’s nice that their menu is made in-house, but what about the food?

10. Another good deal on pre-owned mattresses: