Category Archives: Uncategorized

09 Aug

Random Thoughts – Human Rights, Misguided Virtue Signaling, Municipal Elections and More

1. Given how they have been colluding with Silicon Valley to stifle dissenting opinions online and buying off the media with our money to carry their message, to say nothing of M-103 and what happened with the Summer Jobs Program, what right does the federal Liberal government have to criticize Saudi Arabia or anyone else on human rights matters?

1a. Next time the Liberals want to do some virtue signaling on human rights, they might consider what’s going on in the UK. Among the many issues is the case of Tommy Robinson, a former political prisoner the British government is determined to silence at all costs.

2. I love what Premier Doug Ford did in slashing the size of Toronto City Council. If only he had done the same thing here in Niagara with regional council and St. Catharines council. Even our hard-left Liberal mayor says we are over-governed.

3. Dear Richard Stephens: If you expect to beat a high-profile incumbent like Walter Sendzik and become the next mayor of St. Catharines, it might be a good idea to get yourself out there. A website and a social media presence wouldn’t hurt. The “sit back on your ass” approach won’t cut it. Just ask Sandie Bellows, who parlayed what should have been an easy victory into an embarrassing defeat in the provincial election.

4. If I hear Sendzik tout himself as a pro-business candidate again, I likely won’t be able to resist laughing out loud. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

5. I might have considered voting for Johnny Tischler until I read that the druggies are his top priority.

6. As much as it will pain me, I might have to once again hold my nose and vote for Bellows in order to keep as many leftists as possible off regional council. Even though she’s likely to be just as ineffective as a regional councilor as she was a city councilor.

7. There are certainly many candidates for Bellows’ old city council seat in Grantham. But it’s just like television these days. Lots on, but nothing to watch. In particular, I am amused by Rob Gill’s website, which has virtually nothing besides a donation box. It makes one wonder why he even bothered to register as a candidate. At least Alan Ziemianin has something to say.

7a. Rest assured neither of my votes will be going to incumbent Bill Phillips, a Liberal who embarrassed the city with his flip-flop during the double-duty councilor saga, or the hard-left union hack Dennis Van Meer.

8. Names I’ll be avoiding for the school board election are Kate Baggott, Norman St. George and David Waddington. All three are hard-line leftists, and Waddington, in particular, has the Pride flag on his Twitter profile and laments how the Ford government pulled the radical sex-ed curriculum. Personally, I’m much more concerned over the fact that so many Ontario students lack basic math skills and can’t even count the number of made-up genders being taught to them.

9. Today, I received an official notice from the federal Conservative party seeking nominations for the St. Catharines riding. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it got filtered out of Bellows’ and Mat Siscoe’s inboxes.

10. I wish I had a vote in the Toronto mayoral race so I could cast a ballot for Faith Goldy. One of the items on her platform is to round up all the illegal migrants and take them to Justin Trudeau’s personal residence.

11. Apparently determined to keep making the same mistakes as their neighbors to the south, the CFL is doubling down with its nauseating “Diversity is Strength” campaign. I’m sure the families of the victims of the recent Danforth shooting and that van attack in Toronto will be very touched by the league’s message.

18 Jul

Over the River Again

Observations and pictures from my 44th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Award-winning management “consultanting” …

2. At One Niagara Center was a massive air conditioning unit right next to a wide-open door. As my father would say, were they trying to air condition all of Western New York?

3. Last I checked, Ferry was a one-way street, but that didn’t seem to matter to two cyclists who were going in the opposite direction against traffic.

4. At 19th Street was a fatso who wasn’t wearing underwear and whose blubber was oozing out well beyond the short skirt she had on. There are times I wish I wasn’t so observant and that was one of them. As my father would say, she needs to start shopping for clothing at New York Tent and Awning.

5. Scenes in Hyde Park:

6. Pickleball. It’s not just a St. Catharines thing.

7. Spotted off Military Road was an older guy with a “MAGA” hat. Part of me wanted to get off my bike and shake his hand.

8. I was proud to ring up a $17.10 bill at southern Ontario’s favorite Walmart just to spite Justin.

9. Dear Walmart: Please consider adding an express lane or two. You know, the way most large department stores do.

10. On Buffalo Avenue, someone driving by in a pickup truck pointed at me and yelled, “There he is!” Whatever.

11. Also on Buffalo Avenue, another cyclist passed me going the wrong way, though at least, unlike what would have happened in the Old Country, he did get out of my way and didn’t curse at me.

11a. Did I mention recently that I don’t miss the Old Country?

12. A bench on the Shoreline Trail in need of some maintenance:

13. A piano for the LGBT community?

14. If you’ve always wanted to take a tour of a helicopter …

15. While crossing the Rainbow Bridge, a guy in an SUV from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania asked me if they charged me a toll and was astonished when I told him I had to pay a whole buck. For the record, I don’t mind fair and reasonable user fees. Just as long as it’s going toward bridge maintenance and not lining government coffers.

16. Waiting at Canadian customs, a guy from New Jersey was cursing up a storm, angry that the officer was asking too many questions of the person in front of him. Dude, that’s not the attitude you bring to an international border crossing. Especially when you’re a foreign national.

17. There are teenagers in Bombay working in call centers who have a better grasp of the English language than the CBSA officer who served me.

30 Jun

Visiting Queen’s Park on Kathleen Wynne Freedom Day

Observations and pictures from my voyage to and from Queen’s Park on the occasion of Kathleen Wynne Freedom Day:

1. Waiting for the bus at Fairview Mall watching everyone busy with their phones, I couldn’t help but reflect back upon a bygone era when cell phones were a luxury that only the big shots had.

2. A quintessential Canadian bus:

3. When I had last taken the bus 10 days ago, they were resurfacing large sections of North Service Road between Vineland and Beamsville, but when I went by yesterday, I noticed the work had already been completed. In the Old Country, such a project would have taken two summers.

4. The A & W in Grimsby had a sign outside promoting their new Cod Fish Burgers. As opposed to their Cod Beef Burgers?

5. At the Nash and Barton stop, I laughed when I saw several Falls-bound travelers flashing their HSR transfers as if that was going to do them any good on the GO bus. Tip: You need a Presto card for that.

6. As our bus was approaching the Burlington GO station, a Burlington Transit bus whose driver was wearing a white top with black polka dots passed by, marking the first time I’ve ever seen a driver on any transit system out of uniform. Casual Friday at Burlington Transit perhaps?

7. Only a short time after it had finally opened, the Tim Hortons at the Burlington GO station has apparently disappeared:

7a. If it, in fact, has gone under, it marks the second Tim Hortons location I’ve seen in this part of the world to have bit the dust, the other being at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge. Contrary to popular belief, maybe a Tim Hortons franchise isn’t a license to print money after all.

8. If there’s anyone headed for Wrong Code, your bus is waiting at Burlington:

9. Spotted on the platform waiting for the Lakeshore West train was a guy busy on an IBM ThinkPad that he was delicately balancing against a wall and on his knee. Give it a rest!

10. The guy seated in the quad on the opposite side of the aisle at least had the decency to take off his shoes before putting his feet up on the seat in front of him. Unlike the guy I saw on the train on the way back.

11. The best seats in town:

12. Before heading to Queen’s Park, for some off-color humor, I took a stroll through the Church-Wellesley district, where seemingly everything is adorned in gay-themed rainbow colors.

Gay Pepsi.

Gay nurses.

Gay crosswalks.

Gay flags.

Toronto’s only gay-owned pharmacy.

Gay beer at a gay beer store.

Parking for gays only.

Gay funnel cake.

A gay bank.

And finally, a gay bum.

Enough already!

13. While walking through said neighborhood, I spotted a Muslim woman walking into an apartment just off Church. Hmmm. As I understand it, Islam isn’t exactly compatible with homosexuality. In fact, don’t Muslim countries hang gays?

14. Did you just assume the repair person’s gender?

15. I’ll keep an eye out for those flying procedures …

16. At Queen’s Park, I spent nearly two hours on the grounds mostly waiting for our new premier, The Honorable Doug Ford, to address the masses who had come from all across our great province to hear him speak and repeat his oath of office.

Save for one protester, the crowd was mostly tame. There were cheers when someone yelled “Trudeau Sucks” after the playing of O Canada, and seeing the scowls on the faces of the “journalists” from the fake news media was easily worth the fare in getting there.

I was squished in among a group of reformed ex-NDPers who had worked on Ford’s campaign, and several people before and after the ceremony remarked on my “Make Speech Free Again” hat, the same one Ford himself commented on when I saw him here in St. Catharines.

Although the common folk were kept at considerable distance, it was important to be there and I was glad to have represented St. Catharines on the important and historic occasion of Kathleen Wynne Freedom Day. It was representation we sure didn’t get from our local PC candidate, who did an outstanding job of deep-sixing a free ride to Queen’s Park by sitting on her behind. Honestly, I got the feeling that Doug Ford did more campaigning in St. Catharines than Sandie Bellows did. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

16a. Dear Andrew Scheer: When you come to St. Catharines today, in addition to raising funds and drumming up support, you need to seriously work on getting a credible candidate to run here for the upcoming federal election. Don’t be afraid of parachuting someone in. And please tell the local EDA that you will not approve the nomination of either Mat Siscoe or Sandie Bellows.

17. I think the cart is full …

18. Inside Eaton Center, I stopped at a Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some badly needed liquid refreshment. The small size of the drink I chose was $2.79 and the large size was $1.99. Shrug.

19. Bikes chained to the scaffolding right next to the sign asking people not to chain bikes to the scaffolding.

20. On Bay Street, I spotted a guy hauling a loudspeaker on a two-wheeler with music blasting so loudly I could hear it from a block away. Why? Isn’t there enough noise and commotion in downtown Toronto?

21. While on the Lakeshore West train on the return trip, I listened as the guy in the quad in front of me was helping his buddy at the other end of the line interpret the directions on his GPS. Driving tip: If you’re lost on a busy freeway and can’t figure out what to do when your GPS tells you to bear right, for the love of Pete™, get off at the next exit and ask someone for help before you get yourself and/or others killed. Better yet, consider turning in your driver’s license.

22. Not everyone was as lucky as I was to get a seat on the Niagara-bound bus as GO chose the day before the long weekend not to offer an additional express bus to the Falls, the way they usually do for most of the summer. As a result, I was treated to several noisy, screaming children and someone who elected to forego the use of her headphones as she was listening to music.

Mixed in among all that, I listened as someone ran down Brantford and explained how he wanted to set up a blacksmithing business in St. Catharines and a boyfriend-girlfriend couple seated in front of me were having quite the spat. I heard so many F-bombs from them that, for a moment there, I thought I was back in the Old Country.

08 Jun

Thoughts on the Ontario Provincial Election

Thoughts on the recently concluded Ontario provincial election:

1. Congratulations to Premier-designate Doug Ford and his team on securing a PC majority government. As much as they’ve done to get to this point, however, their work is just beginning, but I’m confident they’re up to the challenge.

1a. I want to be there when Ford unveils that “Open for business” sign at the border.

2. The following video sums up my reaction to the election results:

3. I don’t think we can fully appreciate how much of a bullet we dodged by not electing Comrade Horwath and her nutty gang of radicals, activists and misfits.

3a. Is there something in the water in Guelph that made voters there go off the wall elect a representative from the eco-fascist Green Party? Or was it just a case of a suitable Marxist-Leninist candidate not being available?

4. For all those narrow-minded unionists out there who voted NDP, those of us who voted PC probably saved your jobs. You can thank us later.

5. Is there anyone out there with half a brain who can still say the media isn’t heavily biased in favor of the Liberals and NDP?

6. Good riddance, Kathleen Wynne. Ding-dong, the witch is gone.

6a. Imagine how the Liberal volunteers who had spent countless hours knocking on doors felt when their leader effectively threw in the towel a week before election day.

7. Good riddance, Jim Bradley.

8. Help Wanted: PC candidate for St. Catharines. Must be prepared to be visible during election time and be willing to do more than just parrot your leader’s press releases on social media. Mat “Proud Liberal” Siscoe and Sandie “Hold your nose and vote for” Bellows need not apply.

8a. Same goes for next year’s federal election. Just like the case provincially, there’s a seat here for the taking.

9. Mark my words, Walter Sendzik will be making a run at the now-vacant leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. Even though he told me he’d be going back to the private sector after another term as mayor, I just don’t believe him.

9a. Anyone else notice how cagey Mayor Sendzik was during the election by praising, yet stopping short of endorsing Jim Bradley? Most likely he was doing a delicate balancing act of being a loyal Liberal while distancing himself as much as possible from the train wreck the Wynne regime had become.

25 May

Random Thoughts – Advance Poll, Tattoos, IQ Test and More

1. Today, I stopped by the St. Catharines returning office to cast my ballot, marking my first time voting in an Ontario provincial election. Though there were no problems, it turned out to be a little different experience than what I was expecting.

I walked in and was shown to a desk, then after the clerk checked my voter card and photo ID and found me on the list of registered electors, she began filling out a long “Special Application Form” on legal-size paper that I had to sign attesting that I was a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older and that I lived at the address stated on my voter card.

Then she handed me a ballot. Not a standard ballot where you mark an ‘X’ next to the name of your chosen candidate. But one where I had to write in the name of the candidate. For reference, the names of the registered candidates were provided in the “voter screen,” but one could just as easily vote for Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear or Wile E. Coyote.

Those who have been calling for write-in ballots would no doubt be thrilled, but the whole process seemed, so, well, antiquated, for lack of a better term.

Moral of the story: It’s an advance poll. It’s not an advanced poll.

1a. As tempting as it was to vote for Duke Willis or the Libertarian candidate, I held my nose and voted for Sandie Bellows, as she has the best chance to unseat the ghost of Jim Bradley and hold off the media-enhanced threat of the Communist Party.

1b. There’s a good slogan for her campaign: Hold your nose and vote for Bellows.

2. Going through Welland earlier this week and seeing all the derelict homes with bums and assorted riff-raff roaming the streets, to say nothing of all the abandoned factories around town, it is not hard to figure out that poverty is the only thing on an upward trajectory there. Yet Wellanders do not seem to be short of cash to cover themselves in pretty little tattoos. It makes you wonder sometimes.

2a. It also makes you wonder why those same people keep voting for socialist parties whose policies have been primarily responsible for them being out of work and poor. A ballot can also be thought of as an IQ test, one that far too many people fail.

3. Though I continue to lament our lost spring, I like that temperatures have warmed up and that winter is now behind us. One unfortunate part of summer, however, is the amount of blubber on display. For the heavyweights out there, please consider dressing more modestly.

4. Dear Microsoft: I appreciate that you are on top of things and provide Windows users like me with the latest security patches. But please stop using those updates to shove unwanted Windows Store apps that I’ve uninstalled numerous times down my throat.

5. Did this company just assume the boss’s gender?

6. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat it, it’s still wrong.

7. And you’re just supposed to know what URL to visit.

8. They probably have a good “macoroni” and cheese as well.

 

12 May

Retour à l’Outaouais

Highlights and lowlights from my third train trip in as many years to Ottawa, where I spent much of the time on the wrong side of the Rivière des Outaouais:

1. Watching the driver on the #12 GO bus shaking his leg all the way to Burlington reminded me of a slightly mentally challenged former colleague many years ago who used to do the same thing at his desk for hours on end. Thankfully, our driver did not exhibit any other tendencies that would lead me to question his stability.

2. At the Beamsville stop, the rainbow bench was still AWOL and the reward sign posted for its return was also gone, but there was a big, heaping pile of garbage in the bin that badly needed emptying.

3. If the shoes fit …

4. Someone walked through the Burlington station then boarded a Falls-bound bus with his unleashed dog following along. Since when is this allowed?

5. In the washroom at the Burlington station, rather than simply unzip his fly, one guy opted to pull his pants down to his knees before doing his business at the urinal. As a long-lost friend once said, “no visuals please.”

6. As we passed the Willowbook train yard on the Lakeshore West train, there was a sign that read, “Caution: Watch for trains.” Better to remove the sign and let the law of natural selection run its course, if you ask me.

7. While waiting at Union Station, I was accosted by someone looking for spare change for a coffee. After I declined to donate to his favorite charity, he turned to a nearby sucker who gave him a quarter.

8. Oatmeal was on the menu at The Bagel House, but it was only available during the week. I guess the designated oatmeal guy doesn’t work weekends. It is, after all, a complex dish that requires years of culinary training to prepare properly.

9. There was a flighty young woman running after a train whose boobs were flopping so hard that she undoubtedly had bruises all around her rib cage by the time she got to the platform. Tip of the day: Invest in a bra.

10. Seated nearby in the York Concourse was a guy with a big beer belly stretched out and breathing heavily. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he was about to give birth.

11. Signage in Union Station is already being changed to reflect the new name of the former ACC:

12. Good to know that on Sunday, my train was indeed a Sunday departure:

13. Some kid with a hockey stick in hand was skating through the VIA concourse on roller skates. Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed like an odd place to look for a pickup game.

14. Call me ultra-picky, but I think it’s best to check the spelling before carving it in stone …

15. Among those boarding the Ottawa-bound train was someone who looked to be Kim Jong-un’s pudgy teenage son.

16. Aboard the VIA train, I recognized one of the service attendants I had on last year’s trip. What made him stand out was that he was pleasant. Because with VIA, it’s not an adventure, it’s a job.

17. Rolling through Oshawa, I spotted a cyclist riding on the left side of the white line despite having a wide bike lane. It reminded me of the times back in the Old Country when, while returning from Birds Hill Park along a very busy PTH 59, I would regularly see cyclists who preferred to go elbow-to-elbow with cars and big rigs speeding along at 60+ mph rather than use the paved shoulder that was just as wide if not wider than a car lane. No doubt those were the same yahoos who complained the loudest about not getting respect on the road.

18. Nearby in my car, three people paid for their “food” by credit card. What was noteworthy was that rather than employ some sort of electronic system, the service attendant had to rub the card against carbon paper with his thumb. Now that’s really old-fashioned. At least in the stores, they had a device with a swipe handle.

19. Among those paying with a credit card was a fat guy across the aisle who rang up a big $5 purchase for a Coke and bag of Doritos that he enjoyed thoroughly. Don’t people carry any cash these days? Especially when traveling.

20. Our car was pretty quiet except for a foursome of 20-somethings who, like, couldn’t open their, like, mouths, without, like, saying like. Like, give it a rest.

21. After the first pass, the second and subsequent food cart runs were done with lightning speed and any passengers looking to buy anything could be forgiven for blinking their eyes and missing the guy as he sped by. Once again, it’s glaringly obvious that VIA personnel care little about serving customers and trying to make a little extra money for their employer. All they care about is fulfilling the terms of their union contract to the letter and the faster they fulfilled that obligation, the better.

22. When they made a garbage run, I tossed my empty Tetra Pak into the black bag. That was apparently a major no-no as the service attendant angrily tore it out of the plastic bag I had wrapped it in, crushed it and tossed it into the white one his colleague behind him was holding. Well, excuuuuse me! No doubt, I’ll probably get a few points deducted off my VIA Préférence account for that egregious transgression.

22a. At least they were wearing gloves, unlike the case at a previous employer when they would come around and empty garbage cans with their bare hands. Once, they even fished out a bloody snot rag of mine out of the bin.

23. When going through Brockville, I spotted the Broadway Dance Academy. On Park Street.

24. On the platform at the Fallowfield station, a woman lit up while talking to her friend who had her two young kids in tow. How incredibly considerate.

25. Upon leaving the train station, I was aghast to see so many cabs waiting. If every single passenger on the train had taken a cab, I think there still would have been some left over waiting for a fare.

26. Dear City of Ottawa: Please assign someone the task of washing the windows in the pedestrian walkway over the 417 linking the train station to the ballpark and convention center.

27. En route to the Ottawa Train Yards Wal-Mart to pick up some food for the next few days, I was approached by a Caucasian woman in her late 40s. After first asking me if I spoke English, not a given in that part of the world on either side of the Rivière des Outaouais, she proceeded to give me a long sob story about how her sister was stranded at nearby St. Laurent Center with her newborn and wanted to know if I could give her bus fare. Which I declined to do.

Angry and grumbling, rather than go back to St. Laurent Center where her sister and the newborn allegedly were, she proceeded to follow me toward Wal-Mart, not bothering to hit up the next guy who passed by on the sidewalk. I kept a careful eye on her and when I turned off on a side street, she kept going.

I had to hand it to her, though, as it was a pretty creative line. These days, the beggars really are getting better at their craft. But if they devoted half as much energy into earning money as they did in trying to con people on on the street, they wouldn’t need to resort to such things.

28. Inside the Wal-Mart, there were so many disciples of Mohammed that I wondered if I was in the Ottawa Train Yards or the Tehran Train Yards.

29. Also inside the Wal-Mart, I spotted a fat woman with a tub of Haagen-Dazs in her cart. Cause and effect.

30. Shots of the Cancer Survivors Park taken on the way back to the hotel:

31. The hotel finally got the hint and stopped leaving copies of the National Post outside the door of every room each morning.

32. While eating breakfast on Monday morning, one of the staffers came by and was surprised that I was sitting in her usual spot where she stops for a break. Funny, I wasn’t aware it was reserved seating. For a moment, I thought I was at our photo club, where everyone seems to have an unofficial assigned seat.

33. Unlike the case last year, the STO buses I took on this trip were of modern vintage with automated stop announcements complete with an LED display near the front. My driver on Tuesday morning even said “merci” after I tapped my Presto card. History was indeed made on this trip.

34. Another one for the history books came when someone boarded at Rideau Center on Monday morning and began speaking to the driver in the Canadian language and again committed that heinous infraction before getting off at les Promenades station. No doubt, la Sûreté will soon be issuing warrants for their arrest.

35. Soon after getting off at Station de la Cité, I spotted a teenage girl headed for the nearby Cégep wearing a short skirt that barely covered her backside yet also wearing a thick fur-lined parka. An odd combination if I’ve ever seen one.

36. Clever little display outside a bike shop:

37. As I got closer to Boulevard Gréber, I got an awfully foul look from a heavy-set guy in his late 50s who passed me on the sidewalk. It is a look I would get again later in the day along the Lac Leamy trail from someone who did a severe double-take after looking at my “Make Speech Free Again” hat. It was probably the combination of the message and the fact that it was written in the Canadian language, something that could have gotten me tossed in the same jail cell as the aforementioned passenger and STO driver.

38. I heard a “rumeur” …

39. There’s nothing “routine” about a dish that looks like a cow with diarrhea unloaded on a plate of fries.

40. La Ville de Gatineau thinks it makes perfect sense to do street cleaning on a busy roadway during the Monday morning rush hour. I would wager that the majority of its residents disagree.

41. Near the A-50 interchange at Boulevard la Vérendrye, I spotted this orange chair on the ground. Perhaps it was left over from the $9.50 ice level seating at the Winnipeg Arena.

42. Walking down Rue du Barry, I was approached by a Jehovah’s Witness who handed me a pamphlet and said something in Quebecese. Yes, they have them all over the place. Even in Quebec.

43. Also on Rue du Barry, I saw someone on a mobility scooter eschewing the sidewalk and going on the road. Normally, I strongly disapprove of that practice as we spend oodles of money making ramps on sidewalks. But in this case, I couldn’t blame him given the deplorable condition of the sidewalk. Just as I noted last year, given how much money that country sucks out of Canada and the extent to which they tax themselves, what on Earth do they spend it on?

44. When I went to the washroom at les Promenades and again later at les Galeries de Hull, I had a surprisingly hard time deciphering the gender of the silhouettes. Just put the text in there and I’ll figure it out.

45. The level of courtesy on the Canadian side was certainly nothing to write home about, but it was much worse on the Quebec side. Several times on my travels, I stopped to let cars pass and not a single one waved to thank me. I even held the door open for someone at les Promenades and didn’t even get a grudging “merci” out of it. Even Toronto looks really good by comparison and it made me appreciate St. Catharines so much more.

46. A couple of shots at Station de la Gappe, one of the Rapibus stations I passed on my travels:

47. While stopped at this little park off Rue Jacques-Cartier where, oddly, a Canadian flag was flying, I saw an older woman walk across the road without looking, forcing a cyclist with the right of way to stop to avoid hitting her. Then two guys in scooters went by side-by-side, taking up both lanes on the two-way bike path. Once again, the lack of consideration was palpable.

48. Shots of a tour boat docked near the Pont Lady-Aberdeen that spans the Gatineau River:

49. A three-way stop sign in Quebec:

50. Scenes along the Lac Leamy trail:

51. At the very busy intersection of Boulevard du Casino and Boulevard de la Carrière, an older guy on a bike was going the wrong way and didn’t budge as a big rig was trying to make a difficult turn to avoid turning him into compost. Bienvenue au Québec!

52. As I’ve said before, the SPRM just keeps following me around:

53. Even in Quebecese, I can spot misspellings such as this “burreau”:

54. I shudder to think of how much I paid for this “art”:

55. Approaching the Macdonald-Cartier International Bridge, I noticed this sign instructing cyclists to walk their bikes across. It is a regulation I haven’t seen obeyed during any of my crossings of that bridge.

56. Though I remain satisfied with the hotel, I was unable to use the safety lock in the room and this thread on the carpet was there throughout my stay. Given that they only spend about three and a half seconds vacuuming each room, I suspect that it’s probably still there.

57. As I noticed last year, the sidewalk on Wellington seems to be a speedway for cyclists and anyone waiting for a bus at the busy stop right in front of the Parliament buildings needs to keep their head on a swivel.

58. On Tuesday morning, when someone got off the #33 STO bus I was on, he said “thank you” to the driver. There are times I wish I had that kind of nerve.

59. Some artwork on the grounds outside Cégep Gabrielle-Roy:

60. An NDP supporter who needs to work on his spray-painting skills:

61. Approaching Saint-Raymond from Cité-des-Jeunes, I started hearing a bunch of sirens, then I looked to my left and saw the billows of smoke coming from this car on fire:

62. In my return trip to les Galeries de Hull, I stopped into one store that sold books and novelties. All the books inside the store were in Quebecese and anyone wanting a book in the Canadian language was forced to go to a special section by the entrance, almost as if they didn’t want the rest of the store polluted with such vile material.

Just imagine if anyone tried such a thing on the Canadian side. I can just hear the cries from the perpetually aggrieved Quebecers who would complain bitterly about being stigmatized and excluded.

63. English training is allowed in Quebec?

64. Crossing Saint-Joseph at Rue Amherst after getting a walk sign, a cyclist coming the wrong way down Saint-Joseph blew off the red light and would have run into me if I did not stop. He didn’t apologize or as much as turn his head and instead kept going down the street. Bienvenue au Québec!

65. At the A-50 interchange at Boulevard des Allumettières, this bum was approaching cars stopped at the red light presumably looking for donations to his favorite charity:

66. Near Place du Centre was a man and a woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk busily chatting away. When I passed them for the second time, I made no effort to avoid the woman’s bag that she was swinging out. If you want to act like jerks, expect to be treated accordingly.

67. I noticed these cleverly designed bike racks outside Place du Centre, which are good for areas with limited space. Standing your bike up, you hook up your front wheel near the top and lock the frame to the pole.

68. Shot of Gatineau city hall:

69. On the Alexandra Bridge going back to Canada, the pathway was chock full of cyclists and joggers going on both sides of me. It’s much less congested on the other bridges and if I should make a return visit, I’ll make a point of avoiding it.

70. Shot of the Parliament buildings from the overlook on the Canadian side of the Alexandra Bridge:

71. While going through Byward Market, I spotted a “Diversity Barbershop.” As they say in Texas, El Paso. The last thing I want is a left-wing political lecture while getting my hair cut.

Also spotted in the area was an “Upward Dog Yoga Center.” Yoga for dogs?

72. Speaking of dogs, I saw very few of them in my travels on both sides of the border. That’s about the only good thing I can say about the area.

73. On the bus ride back to the hotel, one woman got on and asked the driver for some directions. Once satisfied she was headed in the right direction, rather than take a seat on the largely empty bus, she opted to stand right by the door and obstruct the narrow passageway. Many people getting on and off over the next half hour were forced to squeeze past her, including one who obviously had some problems with her leg, yet this jerk would not budge, even after the driver told her that her stop was not coming for quite a while.

Farther down Vanier, she then pulled out a piece of paper showing the driver where she needed to go. We were then made to wait while the driver called into dispatch for directions and then draw her a map pointing the way.

Look, I get being a tourist. But when I go to a different city, I do my homework. Just like she should have done. It’s not fair to jump on public transit and expect the driver to be your personal travel concierge. Next time, if you don’t know where you’re going, hail a cab.

74. While eating breakfast on Wednesday morning before leaving to catch the train, three guys in suits came into the dining room with stethoscopes around their necks. No, the food wasn’t so bad that they felt they might have needed them. They were just showing off.

75. Parking fail at the VIA station:

76. At the VIA station, it wasn’t until past 8:15 that they began allowing passengers to board for the 8:25 Toronto-bound train. So rushed was the process that people were still walking through the car and getting settled when the train took off. Note to VIA staff, try allowing for a little extra time instead of walking around chatting with yourselves.

77. At the back of the car was a group of young boys from Fern Hill School, a private school in Ottawa only about a block off the #9 bus that I’ve since become very familiar with.

78. Over the next four hours, I would learn a lot about the big-shot federal government employee in front of me who was traveling with her annoying and very restless daughter. Ms. Big Shot spent the first two hours reading and replying to emails regarding CCS policy documents and gaps and unclear points in legislation. She then made sure to ask for a receipt after ordering a sandwich and drink, no doubt so she could get me to cover the $9.75 cost.

Once we got past Kingston, she began to check real estate listings and did some searches as to where to live in Victoria. Her next target was a furniture store in France, where she had her eye on an easy chair for 100 euros.

While perusing furniture, her daughter was busy chomping on chips half a bag at a time, which sounded like she was crushing boulders, all while listening to music on her high-quality Bose headphones. Nothing but the best for the daughter of a government employee.

79. Across the aisle was a fat woman who ordered a ham croissant she hardly needed for $7.50 and was reading a book on how to present yourself on social media. As I would later learn, she was going to Toronto for five days for a convention.

80. I listened as Pierre, our service attendant, explained to another passenger that he had been with VIA for 12 years. He said that though they didn’t have a good reputation when he first started with them, today, they’ve got the best in the industry. Sorry, Pierre, you and your colleagues still have a lot of work to do.

Interestingly, he bore a striking resemblance to Dale Hunter, the ex-Quebec Nordique and current coach of the London Knights.

81. Nearby on the Burlington-bound Lakeshore West train was this salty looking dude hauling a couple of well-worn suitcases in a baby stroller:

Rather than take a seat, he was leaning against a pole, using a rolled-up sweater as a cushion. Later, the pole became too uncomfortable for him, so he went to lean up against a wall. Then he dug out and began eating some pistachios from a bag he got at 30% off, being at least considerate enough to pick up a shell that fell on the ground.

Before he got off at Port Credit, I noticed some brown stains on the back of his shorts as he was playing with his troublesome right ankle.

82. I know the sign at the bottom is meant to indicate hailing a cab, but it’s much too similar to a Nazi salute.

83. On the #12 GO bus back to St. Catharines, they had installed a new floor-to-ceiling luggage rack just behind the wheelchair seating on the first level. Given the amount of luggage I’ve seen on Falls-bound buses over the busy summer months, it was long overdue.

01 May

Garbage Day

Things I learned on garbage day around my neighborhood:

1. My neighbor has a preference for Gino’s Pizza, though others lean toward Domino’s and Little Caesars.

2. My neighbor bought a big Nerf toy for her young son. I’m sure I’ll be seeing the kid playing with it in the front yard soon.

3. Many were obviously spending a lot of quality time with their shredders recently. There were four full bags of shredded documents in front of one house down the street.

4. The house down the street that was flying his Canadian flag upside down finally figured out which way was up. Insert sarcastic applause here.

5. The traditional bucket from the Colonel even stands out in a garbage bag. I wonder if their advertising executives thought of that angle.

6. Farther away, someone has a serious Coke addiction.

7. A block away from Mr. Coke was someone who just bought a chandelier with 636 crystal beads. Trust me, when it starts accumulating dust and spider webs, you’ll be sorry.

8. Spotted near a garbage pile was a box top from a Tops-brand product. Shopping across the river, I see.

9. The Quali-Cat litter box seems to be popular.

21 Apr

Across the River Again

Pictures and observations from my 42nd two-wheeled visit to the Great State of New York:

1. As I was heading south along the canal trail this morning, the bridges at Carlton, Queenston and Glendale were all up, with the Homer Bridge at Queenston up long before the approaching ship even came into view. I respect the Seaway and what it means to our region, but they need to be ordered to be a better neighbor. Seconds count in an emergency situation and one of these days, it’s going to cost someone their life, if such a tragedy hasn’t happened already.

2. Going up the escarpment at Taylor Road, I thought I heard an ice cream truck behind me, only to find out it was a car with its muffler pipe dragging on the ground.

3. Turning off Mountain Road to the trail that connects to Stanley Avenue, I spotted this backpack next to the garbage can with a number of its owner’s possessions inside.

3a. The fact that it was still there on my return trip with those same possessions visible from the outside is further proof as to how far away I am from the SPRM.

4. What’s the big deal about having certified vehicles? Even I, as a non-driver, can certify that you have a vehicle.

5. At U.S. Customs, I was served by the same officer I had in December who was so taken aback that I had a NEXUS card.

5a. Given the number of times I’ve gone over the river on two wheels, I’m surprised it’s the first time I’ve recognized an officer from a past crossing.

6. The new Hyatt Place on Rainbow Boulevard. It wasn’t that long ago that they were driving piles and now it looks nearly ready to open. Once again, on both sides of the river in this part of the world, when shovels hit the ground, work gets done quickly, unlike the case in the SPRM.

7. The former Days Inn on 1st Street is now the Wyndham Garden Hotel. I’ve never been inside the Days Inn, but from the outside, it seemed like a bit of a dive, so for their sake, I hope they did more than change the name.

7a. If you haven’t been over the river recently, there are a couple of new hotels not far from the falls. They’ve still got a long way to go to catch up with their Canadian neighbors, but they seem to be figuring out that there are benefits to keeping American tourists on the U.S. side.

8. For the benefit of anyone looking to take the #40 bus to Buffalo, a shot of the Portage Road Transportation Center, the route’s northern terminus, one block north of the Tops. Or “Tahps,” as many on that side of the river say.

9. Parking fail:

9a. If you’re asking yourself what the problem is, that’s a Metro bus stop.

10. Off Porter Road is this graveyard for end-of-life Niagara Falls Police Department vehicles:

10a. I wonder if they were certified vehicles?

11. There was a serious traffic jam at the Tim Hortons on Military Road complete with horns honking as cars were trying to get into the drive-thru from two different directions.

12. While inside said Tim Hortons, a supervisor who looked like he had celebrated his 18th birthday only a few months ago was on his break. Most of the clerks behind the counter, however, looked like they had celebrated their 18th birthday only a few weeks ago. Which probably explains the reason for his “promotion.”

13. The Big K, formerly K-Mart, on Military Road. Last of a dying breed.

14. A communist casino?

15. Here, I suspect students, among other things, learn how to sell their product or service to prospective customers in order to earn money. If this was the SPRM, students would learn techniques for bleeding money out of the government.

16. Apple juice?

17. Scenes along the newly refurbished Shoreline Trail connecting LaSalle Waterfront Park to Niagara Falls State Park:

18. Shots from Niagara Falls State Park, including some from the observation deck, which was free today. Normally, there’s a $1 charge. That’s a U.S. dollar, not a Canadian dollarette.

19. Once again, before heading back to Canada, I paid my bridge toll with nickels and dimes, more of the latter on account of the massive increase from 50 cents to a whole buck. No doubt, they start playing a certain Nana Mouskouri tune when they see me coming:

20. Someone still needs to explain to me why I, as a Canadian citizen who has lived his entire life in Canada, have to wait 45 minutes in line at customs, while these so-called “refugees” get to walk across the border and have the RCMP act as bellboys.

21. There’s never a good time to have car trouble, but a pair of travelerettes from New York got an especially big dose of misfortune when smoke started pouring out of their engine while in line at Canadian customs.

20 Apr

Three Days on the Road

Observations from a busy three days on the road earlier this week:

1. The rainbow-colored bench at the Beamsville stop is again AWOL and someone isn’t too happy about it. Posted inside the new shelter is a sign “Wanted: Safe return of rainbow bench. Reward.” I’ll say this for the LGBT community, they are determined.

2. Also spotted at Beamsville was a truck from Industrial Commercial Environmental with the big letters ICE plastered on the side. Taking that truck over the river would undoubtedly send illegals scattering like rats.

3. Facing the QEW in Stoney Creek is an office for Manpower, a company that obviously has not fully embraced gender inclusivity.

4. Call it a hunch, but I get the feeling this student driver still has some learning to do:

5. The Tim Hortons at the Burlington GO station is now officially open, capping off an epic five-year construction cycle that had to have involved Manitoba contractors.

6. Spotted on the UP Express train to Pearson was the Toronto Equine Hospital. Couldn’t they just call it a horsepital?

7. On the Lakeshore West train was a new automated announcement, “Friendly reminder: Keep your feet off the seats. The person sitting there after you will appreciate it.”

8. Parking fail:

9. Seated across the aisle from me on Tuesday’s bus ride to Burlington was a heavyweight who was badly hooked on his smokes. Soon after taking his seat, his snoring was loud enough to wake up the dead, but he managed to wake up in enough time to crack open a Pepsi before his stop at Stoney Creek, where he again lit up within seconds of his feet hitting the pavement.

10. The sign at the Dixie Mall in Mississauga pointing hungry customers away from the food court:

11. Proficiency in the English language is obviously not a requirement for anyone working at the Tim Hortons in Markham where I had my lunch. I had an easier time understanding the clerk at the Subway in Gatineau and I’m anything but fluent in Quebecese.

12. The Kennedy Square mall in Brampton had a distinct odor that suggested it was an exterminator’s preferred client. Maybe even his only client.

13. But domestic objects are OK.

14. It cause me inconvenience none …

15. And so is you …

16. Dress “royaley” …

17. Especially on Tuesday, I lost count of the number of trucks I saw from the SPRM. The most popular carrier was Bison Transport, whose offices were only a ten-minute bike ride away from my last house there.

18. Inside the King City ONRoute. Sure beats those Manitoba rest areas that have nothing more than a rickety old outhouse.

19. At the snow-covered Barrie waterfront:

20. As Yosemite Sam once said, ya better say your prayers, ya flea-bitten varmint … I’m-a-gonna blow ya to smithereenies!

21. This reminds me of the burrito place I spotted in Toronto’s East Chinatown recently …

22. At the Port of Collingwood:

23. It’s nice to know they have a special theater for the LGBT community in Collingwood …

24. A tribute to Shania’s twin?

25. View from the basilica in downtown Guelph:

26. In Elmira, I found Dan Snyder’s grave and got a shot of the Woolwich Memorial Center, which houses the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena. Both shots will be used in a future book on the history of the Atlanta Thrashers, the team that, as a former Manitoba taxpayer, I was forced to purchase for Mark Chipman.

 

05 Apr

Another Doug Ford Rally in St. Catharines

A few takeaways from Doug Ford’s second appearance in St. Catharines in recent weeks:

1. The fact that Ford came back so soon after his last rally here might very well be an indication that the party is going to put on a major push to eject the stubborn Jim Bradley from office. Now all we need is a candidate …

2. Seated in front of me was someone who couldn’t stop gushing about Sandie Bellows, the only one who has stepped forward to seek the nomination here. I only wish I shared his enthusiasm for our prospective new MPP. If she is indeed successful in garnering the nomination, I will probably vote for her, though very reluctantly.

3. Once again, my “Make Speech Free Again” hat drew plenty of raves, including from someone who instantly recognized it as coming from Gab. Good news is travelling fast.

4. It was good to see a full house in double the size of the room he was speaking in last time.

5. I took note that once again, I didn’t have to pass through any security to get up close and personal with the next premier of Ontario, but I do need a free rectal exam for the privilege of attending a junior hockey game. Some people think that makes sense. I am not one of them.

6. Chuck McShane, the PC candidate in Niagara Falls, came around introducing himself to many in the crowd including yours truly. He impressed me as the kind of person who would have been better suited sitting next to Cliff and Norm in the Cheers bar discussing whether or not Wile E. Coyote is the second coming of the Antichrist.

7. During his speech, Ford mentioned that Wynne has stopped listening to the grassroots. Funny, but that’s exactly what happened with Patrick Brown. Remember him?