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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Friday, December 31, 2004

Goodbye 2004.

I think I have started and deleted this post a million times. I've tried to figure out how to sum up this year and I come up with something funny or something and then I turn on the news. Then I come back and delete this.

To say that I find the whole Tsunami and it's aftermath, human, political etc, upsetting would be to understate. I guess the things that bother me the most in this world are those that happen to normal people just going about their shit, minding their own business. I mean, soldiers dying upset me, especially when I judge that they are engaged in something that makes no sense, but soldiers are painfully aware that they have entered into a contract of unlimited liability when they join up. Even car crashes and things like that bother me less for some reason.

Since we had Lucas I find images of dead or hurt children almost unbearable to watch. But I have always felt that at the very least those of us in the affluent West must bear witness, even vicariously through the TV. So I sit, with tears running down my face, watching hour after hour of people finding and burying their loved ones. And it burns. I've spent the week wishing I had lots and lots of money or that I had a skill that was needed in the disaster area. I have neither.

We've pretty much figured out our budget (tight as it is) so we can give a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières, in part because they are the SWAT team of aid and in part because there seems to be tons of stuff flowing into Sri Lanka and not as much into Indonesia, where MSF has a lot of assets. It will be so little a donation as to be foolish, but I suppose that in the weeks, months and years to come every little bit counts.

I'll post a seperate year end wrap up from home in a couple of hours, Lucas permitting (he has a fever).

Monday, December 27, 2004

No pithy title.

Sometimes something happens that is so awful, so amazingly bad that even someone like me, who deals with almost everything with sarcasm, can't be amusing.

This is the scope of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. There is nothing funny to say. There is nothing ironic to crack wise about. God how I wish there were.

Here (I lifted this directly off the CBC site, I think, given the circumstances, they won't mind):

The following non-profit organizations are among those collecting donations to help survivors of the Dec. 26 tsunami:

Canadian Red Cross


(or donate through your local Red Cross office)




2200 Yonge St., Suite 1100

Toronto, Ont.

M4S 2C6

Oxfam Canada


Asian Earthquake/Floods Relief, Oxfam Canada

200-215 Spadina Avenue

Toronto, Ont.

M5T 2C7

World Vision Canada


Sunday, December 26, 2004


So it's the 26th. Christmas has come and gone (unless you are Orthodox, then you are merely warming up). Now we must continue the digestion, begin the promised diets and find places for all the baubles that we got as gifts.

I have eaten so much in the last two days that my ribs hurt. Ache from expansion even. My desk is littered with CDs and techno toys and manuals for same. Everyone has new jammies, Lucas has more toys than a toy store and everyone of us is fricking tired. And to all a good night indeed.

Now comes the next bit. New Years Eve. The best thing about having a small child is that no one expects you to do much that night so all the stupid pressure, advertising driven to be sure, of having the "perfect" New Years is removed. You can slouch around your house in your Xmas jammies, watch bad movies on the DVD, listen to your Xmas CDs and generally go to bed at 12:30. No stressy worry about what you will wear, that you are some how one notch down on the cool party invite scale.. no worry about meeting a special someone, you, my friend, have diapers to change. Bliss.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas, Part 1 or, OMG MY STOMACH

One of the joys of being part of, for lack of a better term, bicultural family is that Christmas happens on two different days. For us French Canadian Christmas happens on the 24th at night at Chris' moms place. Then anglo Christmas happens at my parents house on the 25th afternoon and evening. Basically it is consumption, both food and gift wise, taken to Herculean levels. By the time the 26th rolls around you want bread and water.

Last night was awesome as always, my mother-in-law makes crazy food, and lots and lots and lots of it. Both Lucas and his cousin were amazingly well behaved for two small men in a room with a not so small pile of presents. Lucas got cool gifts, both the bling bling battery kind and the (in my mind) cooler non-battery learn about stuff kind. I especially like the two books he got from his Aunt and Uncle. They are bilingual picture books meant to build your vocabulary. What is really cool is that they show the masculine and feminine of all the French animals and objects. So it is a gift for Lucas and I.

I got nice stuff, as did Chris, but in the end (and this looms larger as each year passes) all I really care about is happiness for my peeps. Not just my nuclear peeps, but my extended family. I once read somewhere that the family you choose is more important than the family you are given. To this family, the one I have found in life, online, at work, at school etc, to this family I wish nothing but happiness, joy, peace, prosperity and health for now and always.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Order of Attack

Like not very stealthy scouts they come, the sidewalk tanks. They rush up and down the sidewalks, bouncing off of tree and sometimes car, scaring the pedestrians (and delighting Lucas). Then come the buglers, the tow trucks, with their distinctive sound (beop beop beop beop) warning those with cars that the orange add on no parking signs were not a suggestion. Then comes the heavier armor, the graders and front end loaders, moving all the snow into a wall in the middle of the street. Finally the really big boys come in to mop up, the dump trucks and the dread snowblower.

This is what is happening outside my window as I speak, and like Lucas, I still find it fascinating. The difference in ages disappears and we both stare in mute awe. You can see pics of all the excitment here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Plateauy Christmas

Every year about this time boulevard St-Laurent, or rather the merchants association has a Christmas window decorating contest (pictures to come) and also has decorations put up all up the street. In the past they have been really nice and cool. The last five or 6 years have seemed like the designers are in a contest to see who can come up with the stupidest shit possible.

Recently we've been treated to what we like to call around my house "A 12 Monkeys Christmas", the decorators put up fairy lights (I love that UKism) and those strip lights on the trees on the boulevard and then wrapped the trees and the lights in Saran wrap™. Some people I know felt they looked like alien catapillers.

Another recent offering was the year they put up some over sized traditional Christmas decorations (so far so good) and huge fabric panels. In Montreal. In the Winter. How does the old joke go? "The wind she blow like one big hell!" A few weeks after they went up most of them were ripped to shreds. The ones that weren't were covered in a lovely veneer of slush and road salt kicked up by the passing traffic.

So it was with great trepidation that I noted the presence of designer type people with ladders out on St-Laurent a few weeks ago. But I had high hopes, "how much worse could it be?" I asked myself, and anyone who would listen.

MUCH MUCH WORSE BY FAR would appear to be the answer. Have you ever seen the pictures from the Himalayas of the prayer flags? Don't they look forlorn, stark and austere? Now imagine the same effect, intentional or otherwise, with Christmas decorations. The designers have run a series of ropes up the street on both sides from tree to lamp post etc. On the ropes, perfectly equidistant from each other are either traditional Christmas balls and bells or ribbons, cream colored ribbons. The ribbons have Christmas wishes written on them in different languages. They are held to the rope with that most festive of attachment devices, red duct tape.

You can see what I am talking about here. I tried to get a nice picture of the whole contraption, but then I realized that I couldn't, because it is so butt ugly. They have also put up some trees, and decorated them. These work (photos soon), but seem totally out of step with the other crap that it is confusing. It's like two design teams worked on the one project, one with budget and a clear plan and the other with a pile of left over crap from some hardware store.

In other news the snow really arrived this week and with it came slush. Also Lucas has been trying to relearn how to walk with his new winter boots, you can check out a video here. He has a whole robocop walk thing going on.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Art on trial.

If you live in Montreal, at some point you have seen the cool little bits of art that transform parking lines into light switches, parking meters into a ball and chain etc etc. They are all over the Plateau and they are one of those things that brings whimsy and happiness into the world, which, according to me, is a very very good thing.

I had always wondered who the artist was. Imagine my surprise to find out by reading about him being arrested for public nuisance. You can read about the whole thing here, and there are links to the Mayor of Montreal's office and the arresting officer. I encourage you to voice your opinion on this matter.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


So yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Every year I remember it is coming, every year I forget the exact day, every year I see some news piece or a white ribbon or something and I am suddenly thrust back to that night, that awful, crappy night.

My parent's generation has JFK's assassination, we all now have 9/11, but for me this was one of the first major events that I can remember how I felt, what it was like out etc etc. I can remember my sister coming home from CEGEP, what she was wearing (docs, jeans and a sweater) I can remember watching the news and crying and crying. I can remember being told that I knew one of the women (only to say hello to, her student club had offices near the student paper where I worked) and seeing her picture on the TV and not recognizing it (grad photos from High School suck) and then seeing a more natural picture of her months later and feeling like someone had kicked me in the gut. I remember being at work (at Sam the Record Man on Ste Catherine Street) and a balloon bursting and everyone in the store freezing, for just a second. I remember all these things and more, and they come rushing back every year at this time.

I am not one of those people who believes that he (I will not write his name, the victims didn't get nearly enough coverage relative to him without my help) was only a madman, or only an extreme extension of the patriarchy, I believe he was a nicely balanced mix of both. Lots of people are nuts, lots of people are sexist, most of them don't go off and kill lots of women. The mix together allowed him to believe that he was right to do what he did, but that hardly makes him unique. I can't remember what book I read this in, but it went like this: Why do men abuse women? Because they can.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Political journalists, let it what?

Paul Wells, who I read daily has an interesting bit on journalists on trips with their national leaders here. It is, as always, smart and snarky. He points out something that anyone who has ever watched a press conference during a foreign trip by their country's leader has experienced. Recent examples were Paul Martin in Africa being asked about MP Parish etc... good times.

So, it had to happen, and there it is. Out my window. Snow. On cars. On people. On sidewalks. FRICKING WELL EVERYWHERE. Oh it is so pretty people will tell you. Oh it makes the world look magical.. laa laa.. WELL SO DOES A COUPLE OF DRINKS BUT I DON'T SEE A SEASON THAT FORCES DRUNKENNESS ON ME!!!


In other news, I soldier on with my internship work, largely unsupported, mostly kept in the dark, annoyed and confused. Ah, life.

Further. I get blood test results tonight (hopefully). Nothing serious I would guess, it's just been years since I last had a physical. Waiting for this sort of thing is always worse than the actual result.