Observations from my 39th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:
1. I remain surprised at the appalling lack of regard some people have for their own safety. Such as the kid who blindly strolled across a busy St. Paul Avenue and the scruffy hobo carrying the Union Jack over his shoulder who decided that walking on Portage Road near Five Corners was a better idea than using the sidewalk.
2. If you lost some jewellery in Niagara Falls, check the left-hand turning lane on Portage Road at Five Corners.
3. Dear crossing guard on Victoria Avenue: It’s all right for you to go back to the curb as soon as the person you stopped traffic for gets to the other side of the street. You don’t have to stand in the middle of traffic and wave at us.
4. While stopping to take a picture of this sign welcoming me to the Great State of New York, blasting out of the loudspeakers at One Niagara Center was a song called “Shattered Dreams,” the title of my fifth book.
5. More sign overkill brought to you by the NYSDOT:
6. Do they make ceramics there or is their factory housed in a ceramic building?
7. I’m sorry for the poor soul who dropped a $5 bill on Buffalo Avenue, but rest assured it was and will be put to good use. Same goes for the poor soul who lost a quarter a half mile to the east.
8. Someone parked at a lot on Buffalo Avenue had a bumper sticker which read, “Locally Hated.” Is this something one should be proud of?
9. Near the North Grand Island Bridge, I spotted someone wearing a big, heavy fur-lined parka. As a long-lost friend once said to me, the farther south you go, the wimpier they get about cold.
10. Even though it was her first day on the job, the clerk who served me at the Tim Hortons on Niagara Falls Boulevard was far more courteous than many others whom I’ve had recently.
11. The obese man who took a seat in front of me should have had a “WIDE LOAD” sign strapped across his back. One thing’s for sure, he certainly didn’t need the pastry that he polished off in a flash.
12. While I was there, it was snowing in the Old Country, snow that would later result in many crashes on bridges in and around Winnipeg. The last time I was at that Tim Hortons, Southern Manitoba was under a blizzard warning. Coincidence? You be the judge.
13. Someone driving a pickup truck from Hayes Door sure seemed to be in one powerful hurry as he peeled into the lot headed for the drive-thru.
14. How exactly do you melt pepperoni?
15. A shot of the Wegmans, where an Ontario truck driver hauling refrigerated hydrogen clipped the pole in the foreground earlier this week, causing nearby businesses to close for most of the day as Hazmat crews responded to the scene.
15a. Unlike what would have happened in the Old Country, police in the Town of Niagara deemed it a reportable offense and issued the driver a citation.
16. The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, USA. Which isn’t actually in Niagara Falls. Details, details.
17. This Kansas plate reminded me of the Jesse Ventura line in Predator, “This place makes Cambodia look like Kansas.”
18. A Tops store, one of the most telling indicators that you’re in WNY:
19. An American would define this as “worldwide coverage”:
20. It beats Democrat services:
21. Something about the American flag at a memorial for a rabid fan of an NFL team doesn’t seem quite right anymore:
22. If you’re the guest of honor, you’re gone. You don’t need to ask.
23. Snacks may be welcome, but what about customers?
24. Make America Great Again:
24a. How can any patriotic American, particularly a Trump supporter, still be displaying NFL paraphernalia?
25. Um, whatever …
26. My face must now be so familiar that the people inside the Niagara USA Visitor Center didn’t even ask if I needed any help. Or maybe they just didn’t want me asking any questions they couldn’t answer, since I seem to be more knowledgeable on navigating WNY on two wheels than any of them are.
27. I’m still not sure how the mentally challenged man pedaling the wrong way on Thorold Stone Road who blindly pulled out into the middle of traffic managed to avoid being killed.
1. Admit it. You never even heard of Gord Downie before he was diagnosed with brain cancer and being subsequently forced by your inconsiderate neighbor to listen to his last concert. Yet upon his passing, he is being hailed as some kind of Canadian icon. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sorry he passed away. But his death is no more or less significant than anyone else’s in this country.
2. Much more newsworthy, in my opinion, was the passing of original Jet Dunc Rousseau. My condolences to his family and to his former teammates.
3. Dear Sportsnet: During the very infrequent occasions in which I tune in to a hockey game, I want to, get this, watch a hockey game. Not a three-hour tribute to someone who played in a rock band I never heard of before. And I certainly don’t need to see crocodile tears from our adolescent prime minister leading off the broadcast. Or at any other time during the broadcast.
3a. Where, pray tell, were those crocodile tears from said adolescent prime minister when those people were mowed down in Edmonton?
4. I fail to be surprised that Mayor Sendzik is planning to spend every last dime of the $4-million hydro dividends the city will be getting. No need to put the money in reserve, he says. Spend, spend, spend. Just like a true Liberal.
4a. We need a new mayor. Badly. And not a hard-line leftist.
5. A poll came across my Twitter feed yesterday asking who is the dumbest person in America. There were some worthy contenders on the list, but I chose NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is proudly spearheading the league’s death spiral. With its popularity and ratings in a self-induced free fall, the once-mighty and seemingly infallible sports colossus is slowly circling the drain. All I have to say is thanks for the memories.
6. Out before sunrise this morning, I spotted three cyclists without helmets, lights or brains.
7. Happy “Anniversery”:
8. As opposed to dirty food …
9. Happy “Hallooween”:
10. I couldn’t resist this shot of a pizza joint named for a former USFL team. For those unfamiliar with USFL history, Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly starred for the Houston Gamblers for two years and would have done the same with Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals if the league had not gone under.
10a. Shameless plug: Fallen Generals features a comprehensive history of the Generals, including the aborted 1986 season that would have seen Kelly suit up for New Jersey.
10b. Shameless plug 2: Coming in a few months time will be my first mystery. Set in Winnipeg, it will feature a potty-mouth lesbian detective matching wits with a deranged, self-absorbed sicko who believes the world is out to get him.
11. At the Tim Hortons in Chippawa, I was served by a crusty old fartess whose commitment to customer service could have used some improvement.
12. I think I was the only one there who wasn’t known by one of the staff or patrons. I suppose it was like the Cheers bar where everyone knows your name.
12a. There were more flies inside the restaurant than patrons.
13. Don’t ask me why, but that place seems to be a hangout for bikers, and I don’t mean cyclists.
14. Someone in the washroom walked out without washing his hands. It does happen here, but unlike some other part of the world where yours truly once called home, it stands out.
15. Parking fail:
16. It’s a bike rack, not a dog rack …
17. Even though it’s mid-October, parking at Table Rock today was running at $20. For tour buses, it was $65. It remains sad to see how they shake down tourists here, particularly given the importance of tourism to the region.
18. This Holiday Inn, one of the closest hotels to the falls, offers free parking to registered guests, yet the Hilton by the Winnipeg airport charges for parking. I don’t get it.
1. My former MP, Steven Fletcher, touched a very raw nerve with me this week when he announced that his so-called “Gift of Life Act” will be coming up for a vote in three weeks time. If passed, this would give the Manitoba government the legal right to presume upon your death that you consent to being an organ donor.
Let me be clear. I support organ donation. Voluntary organ donation. No politician, party or government has any moral authority whatsoever to harvest your organs without your express consent. No answer is just that, no answer.
Even though it does not affect me since I no longer live in the SPRM, I suspect the reason my dander is up about it is because it is being championed by a so-called conservative whom I know personally and once respected.
1a. For those who think this bill is a good idea, consider the example of an accused rapist who tells the judge, “She didn’t say anything, so I presumed she was OK with it.” Do you think that defence should allow the scumbag to get off?
1b. One of the reasons Fletcher broke ranks with the Manitoba PCs was because representing his constituents supposedly took precedence over the interests of his party. Yet I rather doubt the impetus behind this bill came from a groundswell of support from any constituents who wrote to his office or attended one of his Fletcher Forums. In this case, he is most likely only representing himself.
2. This week, the million-dollar donation IceDogs owners Bill and Denise Burke were to have made toward the construction of the Meridian Center officially came off the table. Yes, the city screwed up royally. It was a case of small-town politics at its worst. But as much as they are being portrayed as victims, the Burkes are not blameless in this sordid affair. When first having problems with city staff, rather than approach the mayor, they instead chose to air their dirty laundry in public. To their credit, when everything came to light, council and Mayor Sendzik acted decisively to address all the problems behind the scenes, yet the Burkes were still unmoved. All told, over the last year, they have come across looking very petty.
2a. If the Burkes really wanted to do something for the community, how about naming the team for the city whose taxpayers are putting up the bulk of the $50 million for the arena their team is the anchor tenant of? But I guess that’s asking too much.
2b. Since council is now free to rename IceDogs Way, the street upon which the Meridian Center sits, I propose calling it “St. Catharines Way.” It’s one way the Burkes can be forced to publicly acknowledge the city.
3. This week, this non-driver got yet another promotional mailing from CAA Niagara. When I shamed them on Twitter, they offered to take me off their list if I gave them my address, but I figured they should look it up themselves. After all, they added me to their list, they can do the work to get me off it. And if they can’t be bothered, far be it from me to stop them from flushing their money down the toilet.
4. I also got a promotional email from Bell recently patting themselves on the back for all the great things they’re doing for me. Call me a skeptic, but I get the feeling I’m being primed for another rate increase.
5. I am a frequent user of some highly credible open-source freeware such as the LibreOffice Writer and GIMP, the graphics manipulation program. But just because it’s open source doesn’t make it good. Consider the case of LibreOffice Base, the Access knockoff, that I had some experience with this week. On the surface, it has a lot to offer, but getting data in and out of it is clunky and it crashed more often in one day than Access has for me in several years.
6. Clear the track for Eddie “Shak” …
7. The apostrophe king of Vineland …
8. And on the other side of the street is “House across the street from the school:”
9. At the Tim Hortons/Vineland Seniors Center this morning, I was served by a clerk whose disdain for her job couldn’t have been more obvious if she put a flashing blue light on her head.
10. Seated nearby at said Tim Hortons was someone who said he lived in a townhouse near the “lie-berry.” Oy.
11. Maybe it was just me, but the tea I had at said Tim Hortons tasted like it was made with dishwater. Methinks the time to replace their water filters came and went several months ago.
12. I appreciated the fresh coat of asphalt on North Service Road between Jordan Road and Vineland. I appreciated that the project was completed the same year in which it began even more. Once again, this is not the Old Country.
13. Did the brainiacs who renumbered all the St. Catharines Transit routes consider that there is now a route 406, the same number as one of the main highways running through town? And that said route 406 doesn’t actually go on the 406?
In light of the recent Equifax hack that has left than 100 million Americans along with some Brits and Canadians nervously wondering when and if they’ll be identity-theft victims, allow me to share a story from my distant past.
Many years ago, while working at a consulting house, my boss stopped by my desk with a CD in his hand. A prospective client whom I’ll call Flighty HR Lady had given him an Access database and asked for his thoughts as to whether or not it was something worth using, so he turned it over to me to take a look.
I opened it up and was immediately appalled at what I saw.
Inside was a detailed listing of several hundred employees that included dates of birth, social insurance numbers and driver’s license numbers. Everything a growing identity thief needs to know. No security. No encryption.
I reported my findings to my boss, who then told me that the database I had just seen wasn’t the entire personnel file of Flighty HR Lady’s employer. It was the entire personnel file of her former employer.
So, in summary, Flighty HR Lady, a certified human resource professional who today is the proprietor of her own HR consulting business and trains others in her field, took personnel files she no longer had any right to access, let alone possess, and blindly turned them over to a third party.
Let that sink in.
I then asked my boss, “Is Flighty HR Lady aware she could be charged for this?” He brushed it off as a case of extreme naïveté, but something tells me the Mounties wouldn’t have been quite so forgiving.
Not to diminish the impact of external hacks, such as what apparently happened in the Equifax case and other high-profile security breaches, but the moral of the story is that people like Flighty HR Lady can compromise your personal information just as easily as any hacker. As I’ve often discussed with colleagues past and present, the internal threat to an organization’s data is, in fact, often much greater than anything external.
Observations from my 37th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:
1. Would you expect them to be promoting an unlicensed mechanic?
2. With terrorism running rampant these days, is it really appropriate to be using the term “grenade” in promoting protein bars?
3. Outside the Project SHARE office on Stanley Avenue was a scruffy old bum with a better bike than mine puffing on a cigarette. He lacks money for food and/or shelter, but he’s got money for smokes. But as I’ve been told, I’m just an ignorant person who doesn’t know the real issues behind poverty. Right.
4. Scenes on the Robert Moses Recreation Trail:
4a. Yes, it’s still called the Robert Moses Recreation Trail even though Moses’ name has been removed from the adjacent parkway now known as the Niagara Scenic Parkway.
5. Scenes at Whirlpool State Park:
6. Also at Whirlpool State Park was a guide leading a tour group making a stop on their way to Niagara Falls State Park. She was seriously overweight and wheezing as she was waddling along trying to keep up with the group. Given the physical requirements for the job, one would think a tour guide would have to be at least slightly fit. Or at least a little less unfit. More on that topic later.
7. Would you want to be in this car dangling over the Whirlpool Gorge?
8. With the park adjacent to two bike paths, you’d think there would be a bike rack there. But there wasn’t. Sigh.
9. There also weren’t any paper towels or hand dryers in the washroom. But at least there was soap and running water. And the washroom was actually open, which it isn’t for most of the year.
10. It was nice of the state to pay tribute to their Canadian neighbors with this shelter. It’s not just a shelter, but a shelter, eh.
10a. I’ll pause for a moment while you groan.
11. Passing this street, I couldn’t help but recall a line from Peppermint Patty in a Peanuts movie, “Lafayette, we are here!”
11a. Below the street sign is a New York reference marker, one of which appears every tenth of a mile on each highway in the state. Someone thinks that makes sense.
12. Scenes around Reservoir State Park:
13. It was nice of Andrew to ensure that these stretching aids were placed along the pathway. He thinks of everything.
14. FedEx. When it’s just got to get there.
15. I noticed this Dollar General, but what about other USFL teams?
16. Would you expect him to specialize in non-medical oncology?
17. There was serious room for improvement in the friendliness of the clerk who served me at the Tim Hortons on Military Road in the Town of Niagara.
18. After moaning and groaning about their satellite radio provider, calling them “a bunch of screwies,” the seniors seated across from me were planning their southerly migration to Arizona. Yet for someone like me, having grown up in the frozen wilderness of the SPRM, this part of the world feels like a winter paradise.
19. I nearly jumped out of my chair when one of them started talking about the “Old Country.” I dare say she wasn’t talking about the SPRM.
20. There was a poster on the wall facing me promoting Tim Hortons’ Childrens’ Camps, one of which is in Pinawa, MB. I can’t imagine how many people come in there and scratch their heads wondering where that Pinawa place must be.
21. Given its proximity to the busy shopping district, I was surprised that there was only one Ontario plate in the parking lot.
21a. The Military Road shopping district, which includes the fashion outlet mall, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, K-Mart, Wegmans and the Tops/Target plaza nearby gets more traffic than the falls on that side of the river.
22. Of the eight others in the place, three were seriously obese, a recurring and disturbing theme I would notice throughout the day. One of those obese patrons was a young girl no older than 10.
22a. One of the seniors seated nearby who was one of the heavyweights said she was going home to bake herself a banana cream pie. She needed another banana cream pie like I need another hole in my head.
23. Being on Military Road, it was only fitting that someone from the U.S. Air Force walked in.
23a. I can just imagine how many SJWs out there would be triggered by simply being near Military Road.
24. Scenes from Hyde Park:
25. I never promised you a rose garden:
26. A truck from “Buffalo Exterminating” passed me on Walnut Avenue. Why would you want to exterminate Buffalo?
27. Please tell me this isn’t for gay dogs:
28. I spotted two Mexican plates during the day. Given how this area attracts tourists from all over the world, that people are visiting from Mexico isn’t surprising but that they drove all that way is.
29. I also spotted two “642” plates and at the Niagara USA Visitor Center, my Garmin handheld GPS told me that my elevation was 642 feet above sea level. Once again, I was not alone. You may understand. You may not.
30. In the washroom at the Niagara USA Visitor Center, someone in a stall flushed the toilet, then walked out without washing his hands. For a moment there, I thought I was back in the Old Country, where such things hardly stand out like they do here.
31. A piano for gays only?
32. Many hamburgers and hot dogs, but only one sausage:
33. The attendant I had today at the Rainbow Bridge didn’t seem the slightest bit annoyed by the collection of nickels and dimes I paid my 50-cent toll with, unlike the one I had the last time I went over the river.
34. In light of how the Liberal government is failing to defend our borders and allowing illegal migrants to cross at will, as a law-abiding citizen born and raised in Canada, I seriously resent waiting in line and being grilled by a CBSA officer for exercising a constitutional right.
34a. Can we please stop calling them “refugees” or “asylum seekers”?
35. With my “compliements” …
36. Um, whatever …
37. What do people see at the NOTL outlet mall? When I stopped there to use the washroom on my return trip, the food court was absolutely packed and I wasn’t even there during the noon hour.
2. The beggar greeting motorists as they exited the 406 at Glendale seeking to relieve them of some of their money had a better bike than mine. Just saying.
3. Pets are not entirely welcome at the Farmers Market …
… yet that didn’t seem to matter to this dog owner. Or the other one who passed by seconds later.
3a. Certainly no one expects him to take the law into his own hands, but why bother hiring a rent-a-cop to patrol the place if he’s not even going to as much as say anything when people bring dogs around?
3b. Not that there’s much I could have taken with me even if I had wanted to, but the medley of putrid smells around there didn’t exactly tempt me.
3c. There was something particularly weird about strolling around while being serenaded with a rendition of “Home on the Range” being played on an accordion by some scruffy character who looked like he just spent the night in Montebello Park. But maybe it was just me.
3d. When our mayor talks about “enlarging the circle,” it’s people like that guy with the accordion he has in mind. Not those of us like me who don’t share his view of the world.
4. I get the feeling the fire department wouldn’t exactly condone this potpourri of extension cords running from the portable generators.
5. Going past City Hall, I noticed that the flags were not flying at half mast. Our virtue-signaling mayor had ordered the flags down after what happened in Charlottesville, yet as people in Europe drop like flies in hate-filled acts of radical Islamic terrorism and a church defaced by ISIS graffiti burned in nearby Burlington, he remains dutifully silent, no doubt following orders from his Liberal masters to the letter. Hate is hate in my books, but apparently not to our mayor.
5a. Care to speculate as to what Mayor Sendzik’s reaction would have been if the burning church in Burlington had been a mosque instead?
6. With “fall arrest” checked off, it was only fitting that the courthouse was nearby.
7. If this were the in the Old Country, how long do you think such an unattended scooter would last before being stolen? Or vandalized. Or used as a toilet.
8. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t care if you sleep with a goat. But stop shoving your gayness down my throat.
9. It’s nice that their menu is made in-house, but what about the food?
1. While pedaling up the escarpment on Taylor Road this morning, I spotted a couple pedaling like mad on their way down. This just in. You don’t need to pedal down the escarpment. In fact, you should be using your brakes. As old Oakland Raiders fans used to say, speed kills.
2. Also on Taylor Road, a couple riding on a motorcycle with Michigan plates passed me. Instead of hanging on to the back of the driver for dear life, the woman in the rear was busy texting. Once again, speed kills. Along with inattention.
3. An interesting sign in front of a church on Dorchester Road:
3a. Is it a free … Methodist church or a church for free Methodists?
4. I’ve said it before, but is this sign really necessary?
5. I can’t imagine how much some women would be willing to pay to have the size of boobs the 80-year-old guy I spotted on the sidewalk farther south on Dorchester had. That was one of those sights I only wish I could un-see.
6. Would you expect them to be promoting ice cold subs?
7. How exactly do you melt a mushroom? Inquiring minds want to know.
8. Don’t just fry one fish, fry the whole family.
9. I spotted these “special coaches” parked at Table Rock. Are they for “special” passengers like the kind who participate in the Special Olympics?
10. To the tourists at Table Rock: Act like you’ve been there before.
11. While overlooking said wide-eyed tourists at Table Rock, I was listening to a few Niagara Parks employees lament the upcoming minimum wage increase. Their biggest argument against it was that someone doing a demanding job at $15/hour could just leave and get the same job working at McDonald’s or Giant Tiger. Except that McDonald’s, Giant Tiger and other such businesses won’t be hiring. In fact, they’ll be laying off. In the case of McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants, they’ll be replaced by kiosks and those who keep their jobs will be run around so much they won’t want to work there for any amount of money.
12. From the looks on their faces as they were getting drenched from the rainy mist, those same tourists who came from near and far likely didn’t anticipate getting so up and close and personal with the falls.
13. Sadly, modesty really has gone out of style.
14. I swear there’s a regional bylaw which states that all visitors to the Falls must stop for a selfie at Table Rock.
15. I laughed as I spotted a mother spraying her kid with insect repellent. That’s something you need to do in the Old Country, not here. I could count the number of mosquitoes I’ve spotted in my 3+ years since leaving the SPRM on one hand.
16. They should really print “I AM A TOURIST” on the lanyards they hand out with the WEGO day passes.
17. I spotted a car with a bumper sticker from “Catholic Radio” on Bridge Street. Nowadays, with Western culture under attack from the alt-left, I’m surprised such a thing is still allowed.
18. I didn’t spot a Manitoba plate today, but I saw plenty with the last three digits of 204, the original area code for the socialist republic I once called home. That place does follow me around. But you’ve heard that before.
1. Dear Mayor Sendzik: Please fund your re-election campaign out of your own pocket, not mine. Slogans of elected officials have no place on official government signage.
1a. The Oxford Canadian dictionary defines “mayor” as “the head of a municipal corporation.” Sadly, Mayor Sendzik now defines it as “the municipal ambassador for the Liberal Party of Canada.”
2. Do Pen Center shoppers really need to text someone to help them find the food court? It isn’t exactly the West Edmonton Mall or the Mall of America. Go one way. If it’s not there, go the other way. It’s not that hard.
3. Overheard at the dentist’s office last week: “I’m here for a wallet biopsy.”
4. Dear CFL: Stop lecturing me on the virtues of “diversity.” Learn from the mistakes made by the NFL and its cable carrier, ES(JW)PN, a former giant of the industry whose fortunes have gone into the toilet as a direct result of trying to shove their left-wing agenda down our throats.
Remember that every preachy political message only reduces what little relevancy you have in this country. See Argonauts, Toronto. Stick to football. And try harder to protect your officials while you’re at it.
5. As the NFL anthem nonsense continues to go on, it is another clear indication that after suffering through a disastrous season in which ratings hit new lows, the league still doesn’t get it.
5a. Why does Roger Goodell still have a job?
6. Dear Paul Maurice: There’s going to be a bus rolling through Winnipeg this winter that Mark Chipman is getting ready to throw you under. Just so you know.
6a. If you need a good real estate agent, Paul, I can recommend one.
7. Dear Dale Hawerchuk: You will make a fine NHL coach one day. But not behind Chipman’s bench. That is not a job you want. Trust me.
1. While taking pictures at the NOTL Peach Festival yesterday, I was again asked by multiple people if I was there in an official capacity. Just because I have a notepad and a camera, it does not mean I work for the sub-Standard, the Welland Tribune or any other accredited media outlet. Given how photography seems to be more popular in this part of the world than it is in the Old Country, having a camera hardly puts me in select company.
1a. Were I in fact employed by the sub-Standard, I wouldn’t exactly be proud to say so. With some notable exceptions, the quality of journalism in that publication is so poor that I get the feeling that when the proposed Ontario minimum wage hikes become law, most of their staff will be getting a raise. One they don’t deserve.
2. Case in point. No one from the sub-Standard or anyone else in the local media seems willing to challenge local politicos like Regional Chair Alan Caslin when they spout off on how they expect 30,000 visitors to come to Niagara for those worthless Canada Summer Games in four years’ time. This is a figure clearly pulled out of thin air, yet blindly accepted as if it were the gospel. Personally, aside from the media, the athletes and their families, I’d be surprised if 30 people came from outside the region for the sole purpose of seeing those games.
3. A Bell technician was across the street yesterday installing services for our new neighbors. After he left, I still had a working phone line. No, I don’t miss the Mysterious Telephone System, and it was another welcome indicator that I no longer live in the Old Country.
3a. I still appreciate picking up my phone and no longer being surprised by the sound of a dial tone.
4. Good riddance to former Winnipeg mayor and current MPP Glen Murray, who is leaving his cabinet post and resigning his seat on the first of September. If you’re in Winnipeg, be sure to honor him by taking the Million Dollar Flush, something I never had the chance to do when I lived there.
5. As happy as I was to see Murray leave the political arena, I was equally sad to see Brad Wall step down as the premier of the Farmers’ Republic of Saskatchewan. I just hope that the reasons behind his sudden and unexpected retirement from politics are entirely personal.
6. I still do not understand why people who aren’t friends of mine on Facebook keep insisting on contacting me through Messenger rather than by email. Are these people aware that most message requests sent to non-friends through Facebook end up being filtered? Is the graphic showing my email address on my website not visible enough? Do I need to put a flashing bar around it?
6a. As someone whose political leanings are somewhat to the right of Lenin, it will just be a matter of time before Facebook suspends my account. Just like Twitter will do eventually. So the problem will take care of itself.
6b. Get. On. Gab.
7. Forget the Garden City moniker, St. Catharines should be called the Fireworks City. As I’ve said before, I just don’t get the attraction to fireworks.
8. As I wrote in a tweet this morning, nothing good can ever come from a Bomber victory. Nothing.
9. Don’t you wish the media would be just as harsh on the Antifa and BLM thugs as they are with the demonstrators in Charlottesville? But they’re not biased, right?
Observations from a day trip to and from Pearson Airport commemorating the three-year anniversary of our defection from the SPRM:
1. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see an SPRM plate upon arrival at Fairview Mall to catch the #12 GO bus. But I was.
For the record, that same car also was there after getting back. Again, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
1a. I spotted two trucks from Bison Transport on the way to Burlington. That place does have a way of following me around.
2. Also waiting at Fairview was a middle-aged dude with an emerging beer belly who was madly puffing away on a cigarette. Rather than use the wheels on his suitcases, he opted to borrow a shopping cart from one of the stores in the mall to haul his luggage around.
3. Now an experienced veteran of the GO bus, I’ve got the prerecorded line they play when opening the door down pat. Thank you for pre-purchasing your fare. For customers using Presto, please have your card ready to tap on. Thank you for traveling with GO Transit.
4. A couple seated in the upper level who I later learned were headed to Quebec City had dragged their suitcases up the steep, narrow staircase. As did a couple on the return trip. I do not understand the apparent fascination with hauling heavy luggage around the bus when storage facilities are provided right by the door, and upon request, in the locked rear compartment.
5. A scruffy punk in his 20s who got on at Fairview was sporting a T-shirt with “Turkey Bowl” on it and was slurping his coffee so loudly the bus driver below him must have been able to hear it.
6. At Grimsby, I spotted a plate with the last three digits of 642. I would also spot a 642 plate parked at Port Credit as well as locomotive 642 at Union Station. I knew I was not alone on this trip. You may understand. You may not.
7. Boarding at Grimsby was a smoker who put his expertise in speed-puffing to good use to squeeze every last bit out of his cigarette before getting on.
8. Also at Grimsby was someone waiting to go to St. Catharines. Despite the fact that the bus was clearly signed, “Burlington Carpool,” he figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask if the bus was going to St. Catharines. Sure, buddy, we’ll just turn the bus around and make a special trip back to Fairview. Because it’s you.
9. Leaving Grimsby, I spotted a sign for “fresh fruit from the farm.” Where else besides a grocery store would you expect to get fresh fruit from? A car wash?
10. I didn’t know there was more than one stop at Fairview Street and Maple Avenue.
11. The construction of the new Burlington GO station remains a puzzling and lone exception to the otherwise speedy pace at which things get done in this part of the world. I swear they’re working on a one-screw-per-day rule.
11a. What do you suppose we’ll see first? Year-round train service to Niagara, the completion of the new Burlington GO station or Halley’s Comet? My money’s on the comet.
12. On the Union-bound Lakeshore West train, the customer service ambassador’s disdain for her job could not have been more obvious. I didn’t think it was possible to say “final call for the doors” any faster and less clearly than she did.
13. On said Lakeshore West train, I had the pleasure of being entertained by a teenage princess who, like, couldn’t stop, like, saying “like.” Including the part where she gave us the details of, like, her proposed trip to, like, Florida. But, like, she didn’t have much, like, money. Like, what a shame.
13a. It was the same way on the return trip on both the train and the bus. The next time someone tells you that the most used word in the English language is “the,” don’t believe it. Like, it’s just got to be “like.”
14. Another case of failed train etiquette:
14a. Not to defend it, but it beats the obnoxious bums, beer bottles and condom wrappers regularly found on Winnipeg Transit.
15. I also had the pleasure of watching the infantile doodlings of a fellow passenger seated in front of me. What people will do to mindlessly pass the time.
16. Walking through Union Station to catch the UP Express train, I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t call the new service the Pearson-Union Express instead. PU Express has such a classier ring to it.
17. A hard, wooden bench isn’t exactly my idea of “comfort.”
17a. This would have constituted high-end, luxury seating at the previous incarnation of Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium, where you couldn’t even be assured of getting a back on your seat.
18. I was so happy to hear that Dr. J. didn’t find anything troubling with the guy who boarded the UP Express train at the Bloor station. But the entire car didn’t need to know the particulars of his visit to the dentist. Nor did we need to know about his upcoming travel plans to China.
18a. I don’t think I was the only one cheering when he got off at the Weston station.
19. It’s nice that they provide moving sidewalks at Pearson, but I don’t understand why people who want to walk get on them. I swear for every five people using the moving sidewalk, three of them were walking.
20. As I did in my last trip to Pearson, I took the link train to Terminal 3 and back, but this time, I recorded it on video.
21. I stopped for lunch at Subway at Terminal 3, where the people behind the counter had less command of the English language than the crew who served me in Gatineau last year.
22. Dear Frans Von Houten: Whoever you are, there’s someone walking the halls of Terminal 3 looking for you.
23. A shot of the Niagara Airbus counter. Where it all began.
24. There were far too many people in Union Station who looked like they’ve been featured on People of Walmart. Maybe soon there will be a People of Union Station website.
24a. Among the People of Union Station was a woman wearing a T-shirt a couple of sizes too small showing off the results of a surgical procedure. It must have been tough for the surgeon to implant so much silicone or saline, depending what it is they use these days.
24b. That sighting reminded me of the time when I heard basketball announcer Chip Caray say “There’s a Dow Corning nightmare” when the camera focused on a scantily-clad cheerleader.
24c. Also among the People of Union Station was someone covered in tattoos from head to toe. I don’t get it and I’m proud of that.
25. Visiting the washroom prior to boarding the train back to Burlington, I noticed everyone was washing their hands after doing their business. I continue to appreciate living in a part of the world where this is the norm, not the exception. Just like I continue to appreciate living in a part of the world where police have to remind homeowners to lock their doors before going to bed at night.
26. The internal IP address and MAC address of the display screen up at platform 9 was not something travelers, even techies like me, particularly needed to know. But the wizards at GO evidently thought otherwise.
27. I’m not sure why those screws were sticking up from the roof covering the staircase leading up to the platform, but it’s got to be one heck of a deterrent for anyone who gets the brain wave of crawling up there to wave good-bye to departing train passengers.
28. Mixed in among the “likes” from a teenage princess seated a few rows away from me were, “me and her went somewhere,” and “it’s like every five minutes, she goes ‘I’m lost.’”
29. On the train, someone came around for a fare inspection, followed behind by a constable to write a ticket in case there was anyone who had not paid. Which there wasn’t, at least in my car.
After they left, I couldn’t help but recall the words of a friend from Winnipeg who remarked how surprised he was that so many people actually paid on the train. It again made me happy to be living in a part of the world where paying fare under the honor system is the norm rather than the exception. Not that Winnipeg will ever get anything close to the equivalent of the GO train.
30. Spotted at the Bronte station was a bike whose owner had dropped the lock on the ground rather than using it to lock up the bike. But both the bike and the lock were probably still there when the owner came back for them, unlike what would happen in some other parts of the world.
31. If a prospective thief can manage to cut his way through the thick metal poles holding up this sign at the Burlington GO station, that puny little cable sure isn’t going to stand in his way.
32. Spotted at the Burlington GO station was a young mother pushing a stroller who couldn’t have been much older than 14. Oy.
33. To the three people who asked me for tourist information at the Burlington GO station, you’re welcome.
34. The driver of the car the GO bus was following turned on her signal lights after taking the exit to the QEW. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.
35. According to the British guy seated behind me on the GO bus, there’s also a town called Grimsby in the UK, but it’s a “total turdhole.” At least from what I was able to gather in between “likes.” Like, that got to be really annoying.
36. Why do people make a special effort to go up top and park themselves in the front row just so they can snooze through the entire hour-long ride? Like, I don’t get it.
37. Spotted on the back of a van we were following: Rules of the Car: 1. Get in. 2. Shut up. 3. Hold on.
38. After getting off at Stoney Creek, a kid who got off ran down the street as if he had a 2×4 rammed up his backside.
39. As we made our way through a heavy rainstorm, the British guy said, “The only thing that would make this trip more Canadian is some bears.” I can understand bears, sort of, but since when has rain become quintessentially Canadian?
39a. Traveling through said rainstorm, I couldn’t help but recall Environment Canada’s forecast of 40% chance of showers. How those people can justify their jobs is beyond me.
40. Some rubby-dub got on at Grimsby who looked like he hadn’t either shaved or bathed in the past couple of weeks. He was wearing a cap with “I Don’t Care” written on it and I didn’t doubt it for a second.
41. Someone painted the bench at the Beamsville stop in rainbow colors. Enough already! I don’t care if you marry a goat. But as a good friend often says, stop shoving it down my throat!
42. Spotted on a van near Fairview Mall: If you choke a smurf, does it turn blue?