May 2001

Cup of Soup

Tues, May 1, 2001

I wonder, what sort of personality do you need to have to make someone say to you "I shall have to remember that you are the sort of person who cannot hold on to a simple piece of paper for two minutes without winning a raffle with it"?

Wed, May 2, 2001

I also wonder, is that the sort of personality one would want?

Thurs, May 3, 2001

Last night, I did something that I haven't been able to do since the weather started going cold back in October: The Midnight Skate.

At the stroke of midnight, I laced up my inline skates, and took in the fresh night air. It can be an exhilarating experience. It's as if the entire city is yours alone, and the streets and paths are laid out specifically for your enjoyment. The moon and stars shine on only you, the lampposts guide your way, and the crickets applaud you on your course. It's just you, the smell of the outdoors, the sound of your own thoughts in your head, and the feel of the cool night breeze as it whisks past you in your speedy pursuit, blowing your cares away with it.

I also used my scooter for the first time last night, over half a year after I bought it. It didn't fall apart, which is surprising considering the other problems I had with it before. It's a pretty quick mode of transportation... nice.

And, the Leafs even up the playoff series. Very good game; the guys put some pure effort into that victory. Disappointed in Domi, though; that elbow was pretty stupid of him.

Mon, May 7, 2001

Voila Montreal!

I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 Saturday morning after only two hours of sleep to make the six-hour drive east. Luckily, I wasn't the one that was driving. It was a very pleasant trip, though; lots of beautiful scenery to marvel and enjoy.

The first thing of interest that I noticed in Montreal was a saxophone player on stilts. Not quite what I was expecting, but hey, go with the flow.

So, I got myself moved in, and met my new roommates. So far, they don't seem like the murderous type, which is good. I was quite pleased to find that they are both Leaf fans. We all watched the hockey game on very fuzzy reception, and witnessed with much glee as the Leafs took a 3-2 series lead over the defending champion Devils. The seventh-seeded team swept the second seed and is now one win away from eliminating the top seed in the conference... Make way, bandwagon jumpers, I was here first!

On the second day, I did a lot of walking. We trekked up Mount Royal to check out the view, I found out where my new place of work is, and we took an evening's stroll around Old Montreal and the port. This is looking like a very nice city. I am also quite pleased that this will be the first time that my commute to work will be less than an hour. Softimage is less than a fifteen minute walk from the apartment, and the grocery store is on the way. Rest assured, I will always have an ample supply of Oreos...

A lot of people speak French here.

I mean, like, everybody.

It's at times like this I wish I knew French as well. I just went through an hour-and-a-half training session almost entirely in French, and I think I was able to figure out that payday is Thursday. The rest is kinda fuzzy.

Thurs, May 10, 2001

Bloody Devils.

After a seventh-place finish, the Leafs humiliated the second-seed team and then took on the top seed to a seventh game. It was a good run, one that few had expected, and there was some great hockey to be seen throughout it.

Thanks, boys, for an exciting run, and see you in October.

SPU, forever Leaf fan

Fri, May 11, 2001

Today I learned something very important, which will help me immensely as I struggle to overcome the language barrier here:
The French translation of that ever important technical programming term "foo" is "toto".

"Computer games don't affect kids. I mean, if Pacman affected us as kids, we'd all run around in a darkened room munching pills and listening to repetitive music."

Mon, May 14, 2001

First full weekend in Montreal gone by, and did quite a bit. My feet hurt. Full report to come, but first some bad news.

I have just learned that on Friday night, Douglas Adams passed away. The world shall receive none more of his whimsical genius, but that which he has shared with us will brighten the hearts of many for decades to come...

As Ford Prefect would say, just let it be, don't talk about him... and then get blind drunk about him later.

So long, Douglas, and thanks for all the fish... (1) (2)

Tues, May 15, 2001

So, what was my reaction to my first weekend in Montreal? Well, there are a number of things:

  • There are lots of places to go for nightlife, which is good
  • There seems to be a significant amount of vomit on the streets in front of said places, which is bad.
  • Downtown is very compact (i.e. walking distance), which is good
  • While walking, you encounter an inordinate number of homeless people, most of whom are talking to themselves in a disturbing manner, which is bad
  • There's an interesting mix of culture, which is good
  • Bloody separatists; bad
  • There's some very nice architecture, which is good
  • After walking around McGill, returning to Waterloo will drive me insane, which is bad
  • A lot of the chicks are hot, which is very good
  • Some of the hotter chicks don't speak English, which is bad, but incentive to learn French
  • There are a large number of strip joints (not related to the previous two points), which is good or bad depending on your perspective

On Friday, we got our first taste of nightlife guided by a cousin of one of my roommates. We went to a pool hall with some very nifty bar lights, and superb wait staff. Afterwards, we wandered about, got rejected at the door of a club due to the presence of sneakers, and ended up at a small pub where we chatted the night away.

Saturday turned out to be not quite as successful. Guided by a native-Montreal acquaintance from Waterloo, we randomly selected many pubs and then finally decided to enter one of them, in which we were greeted by $7 pints, a Celtic band the couldn't sing, and a crowd full of cougars, pumas, and underagers. Discreet exit.

After getting shunned several times for lack of dress shoes and for severe indecisiveness, we eventually ended up at a rather large multi-floored Francophone bar that was extraordinarily overcrowded and very thick with smoke, but also filled with some very nice scenery. I may not have understood a single word spoken in the place, but the view was good.

Sunday was a little calmer. We took a stroll to Place Jacques Cartier and had dinner at what may turn out to be our "regular" restaurant; it's the second time we've eaten there in a week, and we had the same waitress both times. They have a very pleasant outdoor setting, and very tasty crepes.

Things seem to be going along smoothly. No internet at home is quite annoying, but the little time I'd be on it each day doesn't quite justify the cost of cable net. Our free service seems to have packed up and left (their website and support number are gone), and I don't have any disks to download a different one from work and bring it home.

I had pork chops last night. Yum.

My foot has been killing me since Wednesday morning. Whenever I move my big toe, I can feel the tendon rubbing against the bone. Thus, it's quite painful to walk if I'm not careful, and has been rather inconvenient considering the copious amount of walking I've been doing lately. If it persists, I may have to see a doctor, but then, I don't know how health insurance works here. Can I just show them my Ontario health card and everything will be OK?

Oh, and one of my roommates has the Ark of the Covenant in his backyard, but no one's allowed to see it.

Wed, May 16, 2001

The Metro Zoo is having a contest to name their two new polar bears. A warning about trying to name them after your sweethearts: "Not every woman would be flattered to have a quarter-ton of frozen whoop-ass named for her." - DOPE

Thurs, May 17, 2001

Well, we found a way to get internet at home again, since Funcow seems to have packed up in the middle of the night and split with their advertisers' money. It came in the form of a CD that arrived in the mail with the words "Three months of free internet", which I find quite convenient.

The bad part is that is was from AOL. And I installed it. I feel dirty.

Fri, May 18, 2001

Mmmm... Free croisants...

Sat, May 19, 2001

Last night, the three of us got dressed up and went to a club that we had heard was a really neat place. It was called "Element", and had different bars based upon each of the elements: fire, water, earth and air. When we arrived, we found that it did indeed look pretty neat, but it sounded like crap. Neither of us like R&B or hip hop at all, so after boring holes in our wallets with expensive cover and drinks, we left, disappointed.

Our next stop took us to the infamous Peel Pub. The place is a grimy hole, but the music was better, the crowd was better, and for the same price as a round of drinks at Element, we got a pitcher and a massive plate of nachos here. As well, I was impressed with the superb "quality" of some of the waitstaff.

Odd, that. The upscale classy place turned out to be crappy, but the grimy hole was quite the good time.

Having new roommates has afforded some new freedoms, notably with food. I am now enjoying many foods I like, but that I was unable to have before due to people's allergies, traditions, dislikes, or pickiness.

This week I've had poached salmon, beef steak, pork chops, shrimp pastries, and king crab salad. Yumm...

Sun, May 20, 2001

Today I discovered that this city isn't made for inline skaters. I thought I'd be adventurous and explore the city a little further, and so I decided to lace up the skates and boot down to Parc La Fontaine. It's a beautiful park, with an enclosed lake containing a fountain, and a concert stage. You can rent paddle boats, or sit on the hill and enjoy the weather.

The trails available were OK, but a little crowded and not particularly long. The problem was getting there and getting back. There are some nice little communities along the way, but narrow streets filled with potholes or made of interlocking bricks are not a skater's friend. As well, there is the whole issue of the mountain, and the unexpected places where the elevation drops steeply. Ouch, good thing I had a helmet.

Wed, May 23, 2001

If you like danger, try one of these: Softball at night, or inline skating down a mountain.

This city must be great for the elderly; it gives some plausibility to the typical stories of "when they were your age".

"You know sonny, when I was your age, I had to climb a mountain everday just to get to school! And, on the way back, I had to climb it again!"

Others will add references to pyjamas and bedroom slippers depending on their enthusiasm toward the story.

Fri, May 25, 2001

Last night I had an unusual run-in with the locals. One of my roommates and I went out for dinner and then for some ice cream. As we were walking home, we were stopped by a homeless man asking for change. None of this is very unusual so far, but this particular man spoke quite coherently and had no discernable scent of alcohol, which is unusual. So, we gave him a few dollars, and went on our way. But, before we left, he decided to wish us well with a little quote: "I wish that if you were the Sun and the Moon, that you would have many eclipses."

Make of that what you will, but it felt nice to have your help appreciated, even if it was a miniscule gesture.

Mon, May 28, 2001

Yesterday was museum day - a day on which all museums are free to the public. We thought we'd venture out into the big city expanse and take in some culture, and we decided to start our adventure at the Biodome.

As it turned out, rather than being a brief study of wild animal behaviour, the venture was more of a wild human adventure. After waiting outside for a half-hour, we weaved and waddled our way through hordes of people attempting to get a glimpse of a golden tamarin, an anaconda, or the three-toed sloth - as if they expected it to do anything other than sit there and be very sloth-like. No one particularly cares to be told to get out of their way or get elbowed in the kidneys. I also didn't expect some of the people to smell worse than the animals. But, I guess it was a day of surprises.

Next time, we'll pay the eight bucks to get in without the fear getting trampled.

Sometimes I wonder if the animals know the're trapped in that little area. Maybe they could be sitting there, looking at the hordes of people that go by, and laughing at us? "Look at those humans," they could be thinking. "All trapped in that little crowded room. They don't even have water to swim in!"

The penguins, though, are smart little creatures. The entire time we were there, they stood in groups staring at the back wall. They must have been brainstorming an escape plan. Every now and then they consider trying to fly out, but soon remember that they can't fly. I think they're next escape attempt will be through the snow chute. Boy, will people be surprised when they find uber penguins barracading the maintenance staff and systematically conquering every ecosystem in the building.

Another note, just in case you were curious: Olympic Stadium is ghastly. I mean, really. It was one of those buildings that seemed like a good idea at the time, and caught the people's interest for about three and a half minutes, after which everyone thought "Oh God, what have we done". My sympathies to all Montrealers that have to see it everyday.

I have an essay due for my distance course on Wednesday. I planned to spend the weekend working on it. I've finished the introductory paragraph. Ugh. If anyone has any useful input on the origins of the French Revolution, please send it my way. Sorry, references to "Cheese-eating surrender monkeys" are not helpful.

Tues, May 29, 2001

Looks like Tracy's going through similar essay troubles. Woe are we.

What does it mean when you dream that old-fashioned cuckoo clocks were operated by cute fuzzy bunnies pushing an oily wooden ball around the inside of the clock?

Also, what does it mean when some models of those clocks used kittens with scratchy claws instead of bunnies?

As well, what does it mean when one of the aforementioned bunnies burps louder than any human you've ever heard?

SPU, slept in; wacko dreams

Wed, May 30, 2001

I've started the Freedom Day counter. Freedom Day is the day on which I should have enough money in the bank to pay for the rest of this work term and the two following school terms, and pay off my student loan. It is the day that I will finally be working for myself; any money I make is money made for me, and not for school. I will be free of the "student budget". The current projection predicts Freedom Day to fall on July 13, assuming I don't blow all my money at the casino.

Thus, it will be a happy day.

I expect the euphoria from it will last about a week, perhaps, until I realise that all the money I make in the future will not be for me, but instead for the government, car, insurance, house, family, speeding tickets, gambling losses, bail, etc.

But it will be a good week...

Thurs, May 31, 2001

Beans are not a meat.

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