Category Archives: Uncategorized

09 Nov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Oct

Meet the Candidates – Niagara Regional Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 Sep

Return to Buffalo

Pictures and observations from yesterday’s bus/bike trip to Buffalo:

0. Yesterday marked my fourth two-wheeled trip to Buffalo and 46th overall to the Great State of New York. Yes, I am a frequent border-crosser.

1. Whereas on GO buses, the space on top of the front wheel right by the door is used for luggage, Metro puts two seats there:

2. Though I didn’t use them, I noted once again with interest that the back doors on Metro buses open automatically. Just like they do on buses in most every other part of the continent. Except one.

3. On the Buffalo-bound #40 bus, I listened as someone in the back was talking about his pending court dates. From the tone of the conversation, I got the distinct impression he was a client of one of the many bail bondsmen parked around Niagara Square.

3a. No, I’m not going to call them “bondspeople.”

4. Spotted en route to Buffalo was a fellow cyclist without a helmet going in the opposite direction in the middle lane of traffic while trying to balance a large box wrapped in a garbage bag on the handlebar. Why did I get the feeling that an accident was about to happen?

5. Another interesting sighting en route was a bait and tackle shop selling their wares out of a vending machine outside on the sidewalk, similar to a Coke machine. Believe it or not, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a bait machine before.

6. Through the course of the day, I learned that in addition to the Queen City and the City of Good Neighbors. Buffalo is also called the Nickel City. I’m sure there’s another explanation, but my guess is that it’s related to the average value of the homes I passed by.

7. This doesn’t look like a bus to me:

8. I just hate when they put lead in cash. Good to see places like this offering unleaded cash instead:

9. I toured some of downtown and around Canalside. Click here for more of my pictures on Facebook.

10. The intersection of Marine Drive and Marine Drive. There’s another one a block away.

11. Boarding at the Metropolitan Transportation Center ahead of me on the return trip was a fat guy hauling a pair of suitcases who was also going to the Rainbow Bridge. He apparently felt perfectly justified in spreading himself across three priority seats while others, including a gentleman with a cane, had to stand.

11a. Even though only buses use it, it’s not a “bus depot,” it’s a “transportation center.”

12. I’ve made this observation before, but anyone looking to take Metro buses really does need to pay attention and flag down the driver. Standing at the stop aimlessly looking around won’t get it done.

13. It is apparently not standard procedure for Metro drivers to pull up to the curb to pick up passengers lucky enough to attract their attention. Far too often on my return trip, the driver simply stopped in the middle lane and expected the passenger to walk into the street to board the bus.

14. Dear Operator 4346: I realize Buffalo streets are in horrible shape, but I’m sure your colleagues in the maintenance shop would appreciate it if you tried to avoid the large divots in the pavement instead of aiming for them.

15. As I was getting ready to repatriate myself, the same fat guy on the bus approached me and asked where he needed to go to cross the bridge. After showing him the way, I told him about the $1 toll. Shocked at the charge, he exclaimed, “But I’m Canadian, I shouldn’t have to pay!” Why did I get the feeling he was a Liberal?

17 Sep

Random Thoughts – Doug Ford, St. Catharines Mayoral Race, Terry Fox Run and More

1. I can’t express strongly enough how proud I am of premier Doug Ford, who has decided to use the notwithstanding clause to override the flawed ruling of a judge-turned-activist who shockingly upheld the City of Toronto’s challenge of the province’s bill cutting the number of city councilors. Not that I care about the inner workings of Toronto city council. Whether there are 25 councilors or 2500 councilors makes no difference to me. I’m just sick and tired of judges making law in this country and it’s about time we had someone in public office with the stones to stand up to the judiciary. I can only hope Ford’s courage emboldens others in similar positions to make a stand.

1a. If only Mayor John Tory and the rest of Toronto city council worked as hard for their citizens as they’ve been doing to save their own hides.

1b. Dear Andrea Horwath: Do you really think that acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get her favorite toy on Christmas morning makes you any more of an attractive premier-in-waiting?

1c. The same NDP and their friends in the Media Party who are crying the blues over Ford’s use of the notwithstanding clause would no doubt have been applauding had Kathleen Wynne used it to ram through her radical sex-ed curriculum if it had been squashed by a judge.

2. Spotted along the route of the Terry Fox Run yesterday were many signs in support of Richard Stephens. Good to see that he’s apparently decided to come out of the shadows, discard the Sandie Bellows approach and try to win after all. And I loved seeing his old car with “Stephens for Mayor” plastered on the side strategically placed at the bottom of the hill as the cyclists and runners were nearing the finish line. Rumor has it he had a campaign kickoff party last week, but rather than publicize it, he relied on the time-honored “you’re just supposed to know” principle so common in this part of the world.

2a. From reading his website, Stephens wants to see the size of St. Catharines council cut in half, something I enthusiastically support. I would take it a step further and say they should be full-time positions and also double as regional councilors. As our current far-left mayor once said, we are over-governed.

3. Anyone else notice how Walter Sendzik has been toning down the compassion rhetoric lately and going back to posing for selfies with business owners in a desperate attempt to recreate the illusion that he’s a pro-business mayor? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

3a. Despite our widening political differences, Sendzik made a point of approaching and encouraging me yesterday as we passed each other during the Terry Fox Run.

4. Listening to the speeches before the Terry Fox Run, I had to ask myself why researchers at Virtue Signaling University, better known locally as Brock, need specialized software to predict that some big mama sitting on her porch puffing on her fourth cigarette of the morning is at a high risk of getting lung cancer. Seems to me those dollars could be better spent elsewhere.

5. Spotted in the light crowd at the Terry Fox Run was fake-news spin doctor Grant LaFleche of the sub-Standard who took time away from bashing Andy Petrowski to cover the run. He spent much of the time before the ceremonies chatting up fellow leftist Mat Siscoe. Birds of a feather.

6. Walking the streets of Toronto on Saturday, I don’t think I saw anyone without a tattoo. It must also have been Slutwalk day as I don’t think I saw anyone of the female persuasion who was not displaying her wares for all to see.

7. Spotted in Graffiti Alley on Saturday was a potty-mouthed homeless woman who apparently doesn’t have enough money for shelter or food, but does have enough money to care for and feed a large dog.

8. Spotted in a bus shelter here in St. Catharines last week was a guy in a white and black dress with pink stockings doing jumping jacks in a bus shelter while singing and listening to some tunes on his phone. You can’t make stuff like this up.

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.