I know, I know, it’s not for the weather that we love Canada.
Still… plunging into winter in the middle of November?
I know, I know, it’s not for the weather that we love Canada.
Still… plunging into winter in the middle of November?
It was a last minute decision, but my wife was once again accepted as an artisan vendor, featuring her beautiful knitted hats, mittens and other things, at the Glebe Community Center’s annual Christmas Craft & Artisan Fair. She attended this fair every year for more than twenty years. I hope she will do well again this year.
I also hope that the Glebe Community Center will forgive my little Photoshopping efforts here, as I decided to copy-and-paste one of Ildiko’s designs onto their card advertising the Fair.
Well, that would be Victor Gabriel Toth, not me, but nonetheless, it is still creepy to see an obituary in the Ottawa Citizen containing, albeit with a minor spelling variation, my name.
I never met this Victor Toth, even though at one point, I was told, I might have been working just two floors above him at the Nortel building on Merivale Road, a building in which several floors were rented by Canada Post.
Well, Victor Toth, you had a long life and, I hope sincerely, a happy one. I hope your family is not so much grieving as celebrating your long life.
Then again, I also sincerely hope that I won’t be following in your footsteps anytime soon, as I have plenty more to do in this world before it’s my time to depart.
No, it isn’t Friday yet.
But it seems that someone at CTV Morning Live wishes it was. Why else would they have told us that yesterday, February 28, was a Thursday? (Either that or they are time travelers from 2019.)
Then again, maybe I should focus on what they are actually saying, not on a trivial mistake they made: that even as parts of Europe that rarely see snow are blanketed by the white stuff, places in Canada and Siberia see unprecedented mild weather. A fluke or further evidence of climate change disrupting the polar vortex?
Here is something my wife spotted yesterday on the back of a garbage truck that was collecting garbage in our courtyard:
One of the blessings of working at home is that I rarely drive. For which I am grateful.
Today, I did drive, because I had to meet someone. And I ended up in an unexpected traffic jam due to a lane closure.
It appears that they were doing emergency (?) traffic light repair at the intersection of Vanier Parkway/Riverside Road and the eastbound Queensway off-ramp here in Ottawa. What is incomprehensible is why they had to close a lane of Vanier parkway on the bridge, long before the intersection, and before the on-ramp lane splits, thus causing a close to half-mile long traffic back-up.
[Sorry, no audio. I was swearing too profusely.]
PS: Yes, I know. First world problems.
Interesting forecast, courtesy of the Weather Network earlier this afternoon:
Yes, that is a snow symbol in the upper left corner. And yes, my American friends, the 29 degrees is Centigrade.
Warm snow, I guess.
(The “Accumulating snow” headline for Goose Bay is probably valid. But the upper left corner was supposed to describe current conditions here in Ottawa.)
Today is September 25. In one of the coldest capital cities in the world. Yet this is the temperature according to the weather monitor gadget on my desktop (but also according to the thermometer on our balcony):
3233 C. Or 9091 F for my American friends. The record for this day? A little under 30 C.
No, it does not feel like autumn at all.
On an unrelated note, yes, I do like to use desktop gadgets on Windows 10.
Here is the kind of news you do not usually expect to see as the lead item of the noon newscast on a local channel in a G7 capital:
I hope it finds its way home soon.
Today my wife and I went out for a walk. We were looking for two monsters.
First, we saw Kumo the spider, standing in the shadow of Maman, the National Gallery’s permanent spider sculpture:
Then, a block away, there was Long-Ma the dragon-horse, loudly snoring in her sleep, occasionally releasing puffs of smoke through her nostrils:
These two mechanical monsters are roaming the streets of Ottawa this weekend, as part of the La Machine street theater event. Even in their sleep, these creatures were magnificently spectacular.
I think I just fell in love (figuratively, not literally) with our former mayor Jim Durrell.
It is because of what Durrell said about the security theater that took place on Canada Day. Forcing people to go through line-ups lasting many hours, herding them like cattle.
It was a disgrace, I thought at the time. It was a demonstration that the terrorists won: we have institutionally succumbed to fear. But I kept my thoughts to myself.
But now a former mayor of this great city said just that, and in no uncertain terms.
Thank you, Jim Durrell. We need more politicians, former or current, to speak the truth.
Within minutes of the posting of my open letter to our Councillor Mr. Fleury, I received a private message from him on Twitter, asking for my phone number. A few hours later, I received a phone call from him. Mr. Fleury took my concerns seriously and offered some important background.
First, he pointed out that as chair of the Ottawa Community Housing Board, he may be the best qualified Councillor when it comes to the subject of the Salvation Army shelter.
He then elaborated on three important points. He acknowledged that the status quo, the Salvation Army’s present, run-down downtown location is not acceptable. He emphasized that the city very much welcomes the Salvation Army’s $50 million proposed investment. But he pointed out that studies suggest that decentralized solutions should be preferred, and that he would very much like the Salvation Army to engage in a process involving the city and its residents, rather than making unilateral decisions that might affect the lives of many of us in Ottawa.
We then both briefly lamented on the fact that it is impossible to control which soundbites in an interview make it to a broadcast or how those soundbites are interpreted when they are presented out of context. (On that note, I hope I am summarizing Mr. Fleury’s points accurately and coherently.)
I very much appreciated this call by Mr. Fleury. It showed that he is taking our concerns seriously, that he is more of a leading voice on this topic than news reports suggest, and that he responds to criticism in a meaningful, constructive way. In short, my trust in Mr. Fleury is not misplaced.
Dear Mr. Fleury:
I was listening this morning to a soundbite on the morning news, your Clintonesque explanation of the difference between meetings and consultations.
Please don’t do this.
I chose to vote for you back in 2010, as I decided that despite being a newcomer, you can be trusted. My trust did not appear misplaced; I voted for you again in 2014.
But now you are giving me reason to pause. Suddenly, you are not a leader but a follower of the NIMBY crowd. A leader would consider the good of the whole of the community and, if necessary, would not be afraid to contradict a minority, no matter how loud their protests.
I do not wish to belittle the concern of those who live near the proposed Salvation Army location. But, well, isn’t it true that no matter where we put it, the facility will anger some? And it’s not like the Concorde Motel, the Salvation Army thrift store, or the pawn shop across the street inspire high confidence in the neighborhood. For all I know, a well-designed, well-managed, well-supervised and well-policed Salvation Army facility may actually improve the appeal of the area.
In any case, please keep in mind that there are more voters in our ward than these NIMBY folks. Including voters who are familiar with the Salvation Army’s current location, and know what an improvement a well-designed facility at a more suitable location might represent. I am not claiming that such voters are a “great, silent majority”. Maybe the Montreal Road location is not ideal. But then, I appeal to you again and act as a leader: instead of lecturing on the difference between two synonyms for an encounter, tell us what you propose as an improved solution.
I am no photo artist, and my best camera is, well, my phone. That’s it.
Even so, a few minutes ago I felt compelled to take a couple of photographs. We are a few minutes away from sunset and a big storm just began. Then I looked out my window and I found the building across the street brighter than the sky above.
The light came from the other side of the sky. The Sun was not visible but the sky in that direction was bright enough to light things up.
Photographs (especially, photographs taken with a phone) really don’t do these sights justice. The contrasts were amazing.
Not only is there severe flooding in our region (I’ve lived in Ottawa for nearly 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything remotely like this) but this “spring” weather is anything but.
In fact, yesterday CTV News almost apologized for their forecast:
And the saddest part? They were not wrong. I see flurries outside.
Fortunately, the flooding doesn’t affect us, despite our proximity to the Rideau River.
Here is today’s gem of a survey question from CTV Ottawa:
My answer is greenish-pink, with whipped cream.
(To their credit, a corrected question appears on their Web site.)
I captured this close captioning gem several days ago but then promptly forgot about it.
I know, I know, it’s not easy to caption a conversation in real time. But it was still hilariously funny. Thanks for a good morning laugh.
For what it’s worth, as I recall the word that was actually used was “agree”. How that turned into “pee”, I have no idea.
Yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from our prospective Liberal candidate in the upcoming provincial by-election.
Although I voted Liberal in the past, I was never particularly fond of our previous MPP, Madeleine Meilleur. (It didn’t help that back when she was still city councillor, when I once wrote to her about an issue, she never even bothered to send back an acknowledgement. And this was back in the snail mail days.) So despite my vote, I am not what they call an enthusiastic supporter.
Anyhow, Nathalie Des Rosiers called yesterday, and I had a delightful conversation with her that lasted maybe 10 minutes. For starters, I learned that she spent years working with one of our neighbors, whom I respect highly. She also used a phrase that I welcomed very much: “Evidence-based governance.” Most importantly, she patiently listened to me on the phone, even when I was less than eloquent with my concerns about Ontario politics (apologetically, I had to explain to her that my mind has been preoccupied lately with the US election campaign and the prospect of a Donald presidency.)
All in all, Ms. Des Rosiers left me with a very good impression. I am glad that someone with her attitude and qualifications is running for office, and I hope she succeeds.
Exactly thirty years ago today, I grabbed a suitcase, a bag and my passport, and boarded a train from Budapest to Vienna, with the intent never to return.
A few hours later, I arrived at Vienna’s Westbahnhof, where I left my suitcase at the left luggage office and proceeded to Traiskirchen, to register as an East Bloc refugee. Thus, my new life began.
Little did I know in the summer of 1986 that in a few short years, the Berlin Wall would crumble; that most communist regimes would peacefully transition to pluralist democracies; or that even the mighty Soviet Union would come to an inglorious end after a failed coup.
And a good thing, too, as otherwise I might have stayed put. And then, I could have experienced from the inside what it is like to live in a country in which the great democratic experiment is faltering; one in which xenophobia (if not outright racism) prevails, fueled by a distorted view of history and a perpetual sense of victimhood.
Instead, I ended up a citizen of Canada. July 16 will mark the day of my arrival in Ottawa 29 years ago. I now call this city my home. My memories go back much further, as I had the good fortune to visit here back in the summer of 1973, when I was only 10. So although I didn’t quite grow up here, sometimes it almost feels like I did.
Of course I have not forgotten the city of my birth, Budapest. I love the history of that city, I love mundane things about it like its streetcars and other bits of its infrastructure. But it’s no longer my home. I feel like a stranger in town who happens to know the geography and speak the language… but who is far, far removed from its daily life. And sometimes, knowing the language is a curse: such as when I walk down the street and stop at a red light, only to overhear a young person yakking on her phone about that “dirty Jew”. Yes, such language, which I once thought was condemned to the cesspit of history, is not uncommon in Budapest these days, which breaks my heart.
So I consider myself lucky that I left when I did. I consider myself very fortunate that I had the opportunity to become Canadian.
Thirty years is a long time in a person’s life. Thinking back… I don’t really remember what I was like back in 1986. The world was a very different place, to be sure. The year I spent in Vienna… it was educational. At first, when I ran out of the small amount of money I had in my pockets, it was scary. But then… I found a job of sorts. I started to make some friends. People who owed me absolutely nothing were nice to me, helped me, offered me opportunities. And then, the same thing happened in Canada. First, my aunt and her family, who offered me a place to stay and helped me get started. Then, a mere three weeks after my arrival, a per-diem contract. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was vastly underpaid, but no matter: it was money, real money for professional work, not for washing dishes somewhere. And it allowed me to rent an apartment and begin my new life for real.
Many things happened since then, some good, some bad; but mostly good, so I have no complaints. It has been an interesting journey, which began with a first class ticket (who says a refugee cannot travel in style?) on the Wiener Walzer express train one early June morning in 1986.