Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Coming Soon

Some of you in Montreal may have noticed a new column in the Gazette on Saturday about blogs in Montreal. This blog will be featured in that column in the coming weeks. Why me? With Montreal in the title and mentioning Montreal throughout my posts tends to put me on the first page when you search for 'Montreal' in Google blogs. Montreal.

Hayley Juhl of the Gazette approached me (electronically) about including my blog in the column a few weeks back. I'm quite honored that she found what I write worthy of an article. Though I am also a bit uneasy about the added exposure. Hopefully it will be all good and it is too cool to be mentioned in the paper. I forwarded to Ms Juhl many of you who are in my blog roll who have some connection to Montreal in case she is looking for others. All in all, I am interested in what this will bring.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006


One aspect that really has jumped out at me here in Montreal is the freeze/thaw cycles. Although it stays below freezing more consistantly, there are three places that I see more of it than I remember back in Chicago.

First is rooftops. The above picture is of a rooftop near where I work. You can see that the bricks leftover from a chimney repair have completely disintegrated into a conical pile of brick rubble. My guess is that the bricks have only been there for about a decade or two. Rooftops see quite a bit of the freeze/thaw because they are in unblocked sunlight all day. Plus there is usually some warmth escaping from below to melt the snow. Over the course of the past couple winters, I have been able to see the rooftops alternate between snow covered and clear throughout the season. Whereas the ground has constantly been covered with snow all winter long.

Second is the roads. They see the freeze/thaw often because unless the roads are dry, salt needs to be laid down after a night of freezing temps. It could be a small snowfall or the morning after some thawing, but it is often that roads need to be salted. Then there is the problem of ice lensing where water either coming down from the salted road or up from the unfrozen earth hits a cold layer. The water freezes and expands usually destroying the road surface above. The roads take one heck of a beating and I'll elaborate on the potholes soon.

Lastly is the sidewalks or concrete in general. I'll also elaborate soon on other abuses the sidewalks endure. But the sidewalks also see their share of salt. It is primarily those on the sunny side of the street that get hit hardest with the freeze/thaw. I am surprised each time and how often I see disintegrating concrete. It is not the strength of the concrete because I know they use the same strength as back home. The way it crumbles apart suggests that it must be the freeze/thaw. And it is not simply age because structures built in Chicago at the same time as the Turcotte interchange don't show as much superficial wear.

I'll have those posts on potholes and sidewalks in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Montreal in Winter

This is the period that should be considered mid-winter. Because winter has been marching along up to this point, but from here on out it seems like an eternity to finish.

I've had enough. I'm ready for steady above freezing temperatures. I'm tired of changing shoes everytime I go outside. I'm tired of bundling up myself and everyone else to go outside. I'm tired of returning home in the dark at the end of the day. I know it's been a warm winter and I haven't worn any long underwear yet, but I'm ready to spend my weekends outside doing yardwork again.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Year One

Tuesday was my one year anniversary with this blog. And it didn't even get me a present. My present was a new look (well, just a different color).

145 posts and 4417 visits. Who knew it would come this far. Thanks everyone for stopping by and here's to year number two. Maybe it will start walking soon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Albertville 1992

I was studying abroad in Versailles, France in 1992. Over the course of my time there I got more and more comfortable traveling by train and more familiar with the train system. I had bought a couple Europass's for the year abroad and it made it very easy to get away for the weekend. So one weekend in February I charted an itinerary to get to Albertville to see the Winter Olympics. I was partially familiar with the area because I had visited Chamonix (to see the Alps, not skiing) one weekend the previous November. Since finding a place to stay would be very expensive, I opted for a daytrip. I took an overnight train to get there and an overnight train to get back to Paris. That way I only burned one day on the pass since the travel occured on the same day. So it cost about $50 if I remember right.

I arrived in the morning and people were saying that the only way to get up to the mountains to see some events was to buy a ticket. So I bought a 70 Franc ($14) ticket for the women's downhill in order to be able to get on a bus up to Meribel. I met some other American students on the bus and tagged along to the event. We decided to stay down at the finish because we did not know how long the event lasted, how difficult it would be to climb the run, much less how much we would be able to see higher up the run. It was very confusing to follow the event because we did not have a program and the leader board didn't mention anything other than the current placement. So we didn't know how many competitors were left. In the end, we saw some competitors finish their runs along with the medal ceremony. Kerrin Lee-Gartner of Canada finished first, Hillary Lindh of the US finished second, and Veronika Wallinger of Austria finished third.

After the event, I followed the other Americans for a while more. I remember that since we were students, we could not afford (or were unwilling to buy) the fairly expensive food. I think I ate a can of tuna fish directly out of the can that I had brought with along with a small piece of bread. I ditched the others and strolled around on my own. It was quite an interesting scene. People from many nations showing pride in their country by wearing clothes displaying some form of their flag. But I remember being a bit embarrassed about how many more Americans were dressed like that. It was a bit more 'in your face'. It is possible there were more Americans because there was a US hockey game that day there in Mirabel. I started asking around about tickets but heard the prices were very high. There was not much left to do, so I took the bus back down to Albertville.

In Albertville, there was the stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies took place, the speedskating venue with a jumbotron outside, the figure skating venue, and a Coca-Cola tent. I quickly found out that pins were a big trading item between spectators. You meet someone, you trade pins. And of course, Coke was there selling them. I bought a couple as souvenirs but was not interested in participating in the exchanges. After a while of mulling around, I figured out that other than watching speedskating on the Jumbotron (not know what the heck was going on), there would not be much to do unless I shelled out big bucks for a ticket. I lucked out, extra tickets for the mens figure skating finals would be going on sale soon. So I waited in line and paid more than any other ticket I have ever bought. Even to this day. Good thing I brought the tuna. The ticket was worth it. I was actually able to follow what was going on and I was sitting with a bunch of US TV people (cameramen, audio, etc) who were there for the games. They gave me pins and understood when I didn't have any for them. But as the competition was wrapping up, I realized that I would have to run like mad to catch my train. I watched the medals ceremony from the exit, then dashed for the train. Viktor Petrenko of the Unified Team finished first, Paul Wylie of the US finished second, and Petr Barna of Czechoslovakia finished third. I found out when I got to the station that my train left without me, but luck was on my side, again. There was a special train of only sleeping cars leaving direct to Paris. I paid the little extra and woke up early the next morning back in Paris.

Photo borrowed from Albertville Olympics website

One of the things I realized is that you either need tons of money or some planning to see many of the events. For instance, you need to know where is the best place to see skiers or bobsleds wizz by. You need a program, but then you also need some more recent info to know who is where in the standings at any given moment. Or you need to be able to buy very expensive tickets to have a seat in a venue.

But there is one aspect that doesn't cost a thing. And that's just walking among all these people from different places here to cheer on their countrymen. It was a special kind of vibrancy that was very cool to experience.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Music as Identity - Part 9 - Summation

There it is. Industrial, New Wave, Singer Songwriters, Electronica, Dance, Grunge, and Misc. And no one is happier to see this series over than myself. It has lived on out of duty to finish what I started. Now I can move on to other things. That said...

It has also been interesting to see really where my tastes lie. Although I casually will listen to most types of music, the types that I seek out have fallen under the umbrella of Electronica or New Wave. Industrial , dance, and synth pop fall under electronica. Bands who I considered more mainstream like Duran Duran, Talking Heads, Smithereens, XTC, etc all fall under New Wave according to Wikipedia. So the genres that really have interested me through the years are more narrow than I had originally thought. But as this series shows, it is more complex than just saying I like New Wave and Electronica.

So what was the point of this whole exercise? There were a few. Primarily it was reminising (and rambling), then looking back with some perspective, but also to look back and see how this is representative of my overall identity. Who I am and what part of my identity is expressed through my musical tastes? If it can be summarized, my musical tastes have generally been a step away from mainstream, fairly varied, and contemporary. And that holds for my tastes in other parts of culture and society. One question is how often the musical tastes of others reflects who they are? Or are there really people out there that are Christian conservative who listen to heavy metal or gangsta rap?

As I have been composing this series and looking at the variety (or lack of consistancy if you will) of the music I have listened to, there are some other conclusions. First, my prefered bands at any moment in my life are strongly influenced by the people around me. For each genre I can name one or two people who have introduced me to the music and/or I have shared the interest with. With that said, the ideals and personalities of those people are generally something I had in common with them. And stereotypically, we shared in common those same things with others interested in that type of music. (Yes, I am roughly extrapolating that contemporary minded people are liberals who appreciate art and listen to electronica music.) That may be why there was the connection both on a personal level and on a common interests level. They have been strong friendships since all of them have lasted to this day, some for close to two decades now. So this may be the reason I have felt so strongly about musical taste. And why I feel it is such a telling part of my identity. It is not only about the identity, but also the emotions and memories that they evoke.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Get the Red Out

The white army now has combatants in place and their numbers are growing. The question is whether the red nation will be overthrown in one fail swoop or be slowly broken down into extinction over time. Then there is the question of whether both armies together will begin retreating from the summit.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Bit of Olympic Levity

Yes, it's not very PC, but it is still pretty funny.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Montreal from Above

This shot was taken a couple years ago on the approach to Dorval airport. Click on it for a larger image.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Anonymous from McGill

65 page views, 13 comments left, and over two hours on the site.

Thank you very much for the comments, Anonymous from McGill. They are interesting and concise. I'll try to respond to them in a timely manner. As mrne, the elder, and cathy know, I can be bad at responding.

Logging in as Anonymous without a moniker brings out something I have been thinking about for a while. I am very lucky have only had a few confrontational comments from unidentified anonymous people. The majority have been regular comments. Though I do worry that it may increase one day. I have continued and will continue to allow them in order that people are not hindered from commenting by being required to register. But I do ask that people leave a moniker such as 'hj', 'fred', or 'the worlds best suduku player'. I don't know why but that little tag makes me feel better.

Again thank you everyone for the comments and feel free to keep them coming (with monikers).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Medal Hunt - Summer Olympics 2004

At every Olympics the medal count is unfortunately always followed by all the news media and many spectators. There is always talk of how countries fair in the count and some rumbling about how some countries dominate the medals. So two years ago, it got me to thinking. Really how well does the US and Canada fair versus other countries in relation to the population or number of athletes to medals won. I sat down with the 2004 Summer Olympics website and a spreadsheet and took note of the population of each country, the number of athletes sent, the number of gold medals, and the number of overall medals. Using these categories, I determined the population per athlete sent, population per gold won, population per medal won, athletes per gold won, and athletes per medal won. The results are quite interesting. Please keep in mind that the accuracy of the results rest on the accuracy of the website (athletes per country) and a guy crunching the numbers during his lunch hours two summers ago.

Using all the data, here are some overall results. Almost every (200) country sent athletes. There were 10,500 athletes by my count. There were actually somewhere near 12,000 or 13,000 so I know that figure is incorrect. But the ratios should still be fairly accurate. If anyone can direct me to somewhere that has the accurate number of athletes per country, I will revise the numbers to see if there is any change. 57 countries won golds and 75 won medals. The largest country not to win a medal was Pakistan (159 million). Algeria was the country that sent the most athletes (80) and did not win a medal. India was the largest country (1.07 billion) not to win a gold and Mexico sent the most athletes (114)without winning a gold. The country of Nauru had the lowest population per athlete sent (4270). Myanmar (Burma) had the highest population per athlete sent (42.72 million, talk about pressure). For comparison the US was 121 out of 200 in this category, Canada was 75. The rest is in table form in order to reduce the text.

Population per medal won
150,000 - The Bahamas (#1)
406,000 - Australia (#2)
420,000 - Cuba (#3)
2,710,000 - Canada (#38)
2,840,000 - USA (#62)
6,860,000 - Average
1,065,000,000 - India (#75)

Population per gold won
300,000 - The Bahamas (#1)
915,000 - Norway (#2)
1,170,000 - Australia (#3)
8,370,000 - USA (#34)
10,840,000 - Canada (#38)
21,180,000 - Average
238,000,000 - Indonesia (#57)

# of athletes per medal won
3.80 - Azerbaijan (#1)
4.00 - United Arab Emirates (#2)
4.33 - Zimbabwe (#3)
5.95 - USA (#6)
11.15 - Average
13.92 - Canada (#45)
106 - Ireland (#72)

# of athletes per gold won
4.00 - United Arab Emirates (#1)
8.63 - Romania (#2)
10.60 - Norway (#3)
17.51 - USA (#12)
34.41 - Average
67.67 - Canada (#46)
142.00 - Czech Republic (#57)

But the above numbers can be a bit skewed since small countries can send many athletes or if a few people win medals from a small country, they can bump up their percentage. So if the countries are limited to those of at least 10 million people and at least 50 athletes, there are only 42 countries left. So now how does it stack up.

Population per medal won
406,000 - Australia (#1)
420,000 - Cuba (#2)
590,000 - Hungary (#3)
2,710,000 - Canada (#18)
2,840,000 - USA (#19)
5,560,000 - Average
1,065,000,000 - India (#42)

Population per gold won
1,170,000 - Australia (#1)
1,250,000 - Hungary (#2)
1,260,000 - Cuba (#3)
8,370,000 - USA (#16)
10,840,000 - Canada (#19)
17,020,000 - Average
76,120,000 - Egypt (#36)

# of athletes per medal won
3.41 - Russia (#1)
3.63 - Romania (#2)
5.93 - Cuba (#3)
5.95 - USA (#4)
6.45 - Average
16.92 - Canada (#27)
60 - India (#42)

# of athletes per gold won
8.63 - Romania (#1)
11.63 - Russia (#2)
12.72 - China (#3)
17.51 - USA (#6)
28.91 - Average
67.67 - Canada (#28)
142.00 - Czech Republic (#36)

So what does this all say? Well for one, Australia, Hungary, and Cuba are good. Romania, Russia, and China are good at sending only their best athletes. It was noted in the media here in Canada that maybe they were sending too many and these statistics kinda confirm it. Contrary to what I was trying to prove, the US does quite well with the athletes they send. Yes, they had the most athletes, most golds, and most medals, but these statistics do show that relative to their population, they were not the best. They were middle of the pack.

I plan to do the same for these Winter Olympics. If I remember correctly, a preliminary look last time around suggested that Norway is quite dominant. Look for the Winter installment in March. It'll take a few lunch hours.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Music as Identity - Part 8 - Mainstream & Misc.

In addition to the previous musical genres mentioned, there are other styles that I have listened to. But there are other styles that have not interested me.

First the remaining styles. Unfortunately the only classical that I know by heart are those tied to films. Beethovens 9th Symphony from A Clockwork Orange and the pieces included in the soundtrack of Amadeus. I can listen to classical music and enjoy it, but it is not music I would choose to listen to. There was a time that I listened to Classic Rock and it was the station here in Montreal that I listened to since I could not find another that interested me. Again, it is a style I would listen to, but not necessarily by choice. There was a time that I was really into Blues and Jazz listening to them almost exclusively.

Then there are the styles that hold no interest for me. I don't know why I don't care for country (and western) music. Even though we used to listen to Kenny Rogers when I was a kid. I'm guessing the reason I don't care for heavy metal is it always came across as unorganized screaming and loud guitars. Oddly, some of the music I listen to (Nitzerebb, Pailhead, Nine Inch Nails) has those qualities. I found it odd that so many people I know up here love Metallica. They didn't have the same outward appearance as those who listened to it back home. Gangsta rap is not something I don't really care for. I like R&B or other forms of rap as much as rock or classic. It is the negative aspects of gangsta rap that I am opposed to. Blacks have a hard enough time without negatives being reinforced. Lastly, pop music for popular sake never interested me. Just because a song was popular did not influence me to jump on the band wagon. I actually despised a few bands who were popular no matter what they put out like Bon Jovi.

So there you have it. My musical tastes in a nutshell. Next is FINALLY the conclusion/summation to the series.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It's Time to Start Running!!!

Yes, it's one of those cultural references that has been running through my head for twenty years. Richard Dawson would be proud.

I used to be big into running. It started in late elementary school when my mother started running. It continued through running 1000 miles in 3 months during high school. Then I had spurts of occasionnal intense training until 2001 when I accompanied her on her 50th marathon (my 3rd). I have only run rarely since.

There are many events that inspire me to get back into it. Every year I would accompany my mother for a few miles during the Chicago Marathon. The excitement surrounding the event, the fans lining every block of the course, running shoulder to shoulder (literally) with people accomplishing such a feat, and my mind saying 'I could do this again' all got the wheels turning I should get back into it. Unfortunately, winter came soon after and the inspiration waned by spring. The Summer Olympics was another inspiring event. The marathon, the quarter mile, the relays, and even the pole vault reminded me of the days on the high school track team.

But now I have some other inspiration. Firstly, I need to shed some pounds and diet along has not been working well enough. OK, hospital food didn't help and my mind gives up on the diet (I actually binge) when my family comes to visit. Secondly, the weather is unusually warm and the streets are actually clear of any snow as of this writing. Lastly and probably the biggest reason is the company I work for is participating in a hockey tournament in Boston in early April. I already know I am the least experienced on the team and my stick handling is pretty poor. But the aspect where I could make up for that is through endurance and speed. The stationary bike won't cut it to get into the shape needed. It's time to hit the pavement doing long runs and fartleks. Fartleks because they would best simulate the sprint/coast sequences on the ice. I will also need to get some practice on the skates, but running is the only way to get back into that kind of shape.

Friday, February 10, 2006

It's Cold!

Winter has finally decided to show up. Just in time for some first time visitors to Montreal. Hopefully it won't scare them away from coming back. This is a view of the St Lawrence with the seaway in the foreground and the Victoria Bridge hiding behind the mist.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More Industrial

The other day we did some processing of moving boxes and I came across all my old tapes. This was soon after my posts on industrial music and new wave music so I immediately searched for those tapes since I hadn't heard them in close to a decade. By the way, I posted the answers to the new wave lyric questions in the comments. There was one compilation tape I had created with some of the industrial songs that meant the most to me at the time. I popped it in while I was running some errands during lunch the other day and found my adrenaline soaring. I felt like putting the gas pedal to the floor as I flew through the Ville Marie Tunnel. It was quite a rush to hear some of those songs again. The playlist included:

Pailhead: I Will Refuse
Front 242: Welcome to Paradise
Front 242: Headhunter
Ministry: Everyday is Halloween
Ministry: All Day
Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Joy Division: These Days
and assorted songs by Revolting Cocks, The Creatures, and Half Japanese.

The songs by the last bands were added because I was borrowing them from other people. The Revolting Cocks songs are not as strong as those by Front 242 or Die Warsau, but they definitely embody the industrial style. The Creatures were Siouxsie Sioux and one of the Banshees so they had that style.

But the two songs that I completely forgot about in the Industrial post were I Will Refuse and Welcome to Paradise. Paradise was as big if not bigger on the Medusas dance floor at one period than Headhunter or Halloween. But I Will Refuse reminds me of the mosh pit on the dance floor. The song starts orderly and slow and the crowd saunters leisurely around in a circle. Then the music quickly switches to a loud angry mix of screaming, guitar, and rapid drum beats. The circle turns into a swirling mass of forceful flailing arms and legs with people bouncing off one another. The amazing thing about the pit was that although there was a lot of aggression shown, it was not a chaotic street fight as it appeared from the outside. The players were showing their aggression, there was body contact and glancing blows, but no straight up punches or kicks. Although my sister pointed out that the skinheads would sometimes try to start something to see what would happen. It was a weird kind of release to be part of the melee.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Olympics

I have always been a sucker for the Olympics. If I had the time and nothing better to do I'd probably watch every night of coverage. I distinctly remember doing that for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics when Bryant Gumble was the TV host, though other years I saw very little. The interest goes for the opening and closing ceremonies also. The pagentry of the celebration of nations is just a cool thing.

There's probably a few reasons for being a fan of the games. My father is a big sports fan. We went to watch sporting events all through my childhood. I got to learn fairly well all of the major sports (though hockey somehow slipped through the five hole). So with that background, I developed a competative nature that pops up from time to time. I was also fortunate to be fairly good at both physical sports and sports of skill. So I have the experience of many sports from the players vantage point also.

So what I find interesting in these games is both the competition and the empathy. With any sport, you can choose an athlete or team (the Japanese guy with the mohawk, the team with the cool uniforms) and root for them. Also, you can vicariously empathize with their movements through their competition. A skier racing down a hill having to make movements at certain points down the run. A runner making a move at the turn. Interestingly, I have trouble empathising with athletes who make movements I have no physical memory of. For instance, I empathize with right handed batters or pitchers, but I feel awkward with left handed players. Just as I would batting or throwing lefty. As an example, I grew a new level of understanding of hockey after playing it for a season. Knowing the movements they are going through can get you more into the game. Maybe that's why people like watching golf.

Yes, I do root for both the US and Canada. But that patriotism is not as strong as in the past. Partly because over the years I realized it is not us against them. It is equally about individual achievement. This a meeting of the greatest athletes around and that should be celebrated and enjoyed.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Notes on the Superbowl

I was really rooting for Seattle to win this year. A while back I did a study of the major sports (baseball, American football, basketball, and hockey) to determine who (team & city) really has had the worst drought over the past 30 years. I usually use the results to decide which team/city underdog I am going to root for. Seattle has only won the 1979 NBA championship in 87 seasons of professional sports. Pittsburgh has been the top in the NFL in '75, '78, and '79. They won the World Series in 1979 and they won the Stanley Cup in '91 & '92. So Seattle got my vote. I will eventually post the results of that study.

Oh! The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss being used for the opening was cool. Interesting to see Harrison Ford recited the slightly modified version. It became tonight's bedtime story.

I'm sorry but the commercial breaks really suck here. Granted the commercials in the US did not have the same umph they had in years past. But seeing the same commercials at every break is beyond monotony. I don't ever want to see another commercial from Sirius or Delmar. The Bud Select commercial on the otherhand was cool just because they showed Prague. And those stupid ten second spots before the return to action where they place a false advertisement on the actual scoreboard are just plain sad.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Notes on My Writing

When I opened this up to family and friends, there were a couple questions that I imagined popped into their heads. Now that we are juggling two small children, I feel it is best to answer those questions whether they are said or not.

When do I blog?
Or how the heck do you have the time to blog between work, family, and home? It is true that the vast majority of other bloggers I know are not parents. So when do I blog. Well, pretty much during all the in-between times whether I'm at the computer or not. Much of what I write is thought about and thought through when there is not much going on except inner dialogue. Driving alone in the car. Taking a walk during lunch. Waiting in line at the grocery store. Also much of the time that I had spent in the past alone aimlessly surfing, watching television, or sports is now spent writing and reading blogs. It has replaced other leisure activities.

That said, I have already noticed that my time blogging will be reduced with the new member of the family. In the previous months, it was easy to find the time late at night to write and read. My pregnant wife would turn in early and the youngster would be asleep at an early bedtime. But now that free time will diminish since I will be able to spend time at night with my wife again and available time to complete necessary tasks is reduced. I'll try to keep up the two post, one picture per week minimum as much as possible.

Why do I blog?
So what is the appeal that would make me pass on reading the latest about Britney on CNN or watching pundits argue the most recent political controversy. Oh wait, that already answered the question. It's the observations of life and the intellectual discourse. It is also like banter between friends. I could really ramble on about this one. It's a source for venting my inner dialogue. Like: Do others think this or is it just me?

The odd thing is that English has always been my worst subject. Whereas many other bloggers are doing it to 'get back to writing'. I had/have no desire to become a writer. Whereas I excelled at all my other subjects from math to art to social studies to 3d imaging, I always fell into the 50% for English. And those subjects which required writing suffered like history papers or science reports. That is unless I could butter up the teachers. I worked the little redhaired kid routine. The hair, a smile, and a little twinkle in the eye helped me in classes even though my placement exams said otherwise. Funny how it didn't help me on the dating scene.

How long will this last?
OK, this is a question I ask myself. Well, I'd love to use Lennon's quote about the Beatles. Who knows? It could be just a passing interest or it could become a part of my life like watching reality shows or drinking beer.

Why don't you write in French?
Plainly, this is one of my outlets for English. I still have not gotten to the point where I would be comfortable for all aspects of my life to be francophone. Plus, although I can speak fairly well, my writing needs alot of work. This would be a good place to practice, but it already takes a while to be sure I get across what I want to say without switching languages. And, I don't want to torture my readers with choppy sentences. Maybe someday, but not tomorrow.

Also, all of my readers back home wouldn't be able to read stuff I wrote in French. Hey. Wait a minute. Maybe I will...
La prochaine post: Les choses que je n'aime pas de ma famille et mes amis - part 1 de 23.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Coucou! Hello! Quelqu'un Est Là? Is Anybody There?

This is one of the first places I visited when my journey of discovering Canada started 12 years ago. It was -40C (-40F) during that trip. That made it very difficult to see Montreal and Quebec City.

This is the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec across the river from Ottawa. Cool building with cool exhibits. This photo was taken in the Grand Hall two summers ago.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Review: Batman Begins.

Note: I wrote this a few months ago, but finally decided to post it.

It looks like I'm a bit out of touch with the movie scene, my standards are going down, or I'm just lucky. I keep seeing movies that I have heard little about and I really like.

Batman stars Christian Bale and a notable cast including Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neilson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, and Rutger Hauer. The film starts from the beginning of Batman's coming to be through his first victory. This includes his first encounter with bats, witnessing his parents murder, coming to terms with their death, and the creation of Batman.

Being an architect, I like films that venture into the future and show what could be possible. Granted Hollywood has a habit of always making it dark and wet, but it fits with the comic book feel. The added treat for me was that downtown Chicago was used as a backdrop for many of their cityscapes. They just did a bit of rearranging and added some skyscrapers. Curiously, they didn't omit any of the scaffolding covering the sidewalks for the chase scenes. It's cool to see that stuff on the big screen since many of my friends and myself worked on many of those buildings. And the scene where Batman is out on a ledge overlooking the city, he is looking directly across the river into the office where my wife used to work.

Aside from the scenery, it was an overall good comic action movie. I feel like I have seen Christian Bale before, but I can't figure out where even after consulting IMDB. His manner of speaking in this movie also reminded me of someone who I can't put my finger on. The gadgets and the car are really cool. The main point that made me like the film was discovering the story behind how Batman was created. I found it to be an above average film that would be good to see on a large TV due to the imagery.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Holy Mackerel !!!

I have had 700 hits over the past week! Amazing considering I had only 3000 over the previous eleven months. It took 4 1/2 weeks to receive the previous 700 hits and it took seven months to reach the 700 hit mark after my first post last February.

I didn't realize the post on snow removal would be of such interest even though I found it so fascinating myself. More than a couple people said they had also wanted to write a post on it. I just hope that some of those 700 will find what I write interesting enough to keep reading (and commenting). Not because I crave noteriety, but because my hope is to generate the discussions and conversations that the likes of Martine, Blork, and Cassandra's posts generate. I'll probably write more about that in the future.

So I would like to send a big thanks again to Martine who really got this snowball rolling. Thank you's also go out to Patrick, Sylvie, Panthere Rousse, and Sara who also linked to the page. Yes, I also did a bit of self promotion on the Metroblog, but hey!, why not?