July 27, 2005

Hmmf ! Landlords and landladies !

My stove only has 2 functionning burners.

It's been this way for the last 9 MONTHS, six out of which I didn't really care because I was gone.

I've been bugging my landlady to change it since I've been back.

She wants to GIVE me a new stove.

The catch : I get all the trouble of moving it around, 3 flights of stairs up and down, and swapping it with the old one. NO WAY.

I told her to call again the owner of the building. If nothing happens, I'm going to war.

Nobody messes around with me !

The Beaver

A little scandal in the green... and a little hope !

After my interview yesterday, I patrolled the mountain again with my french friend. This is, at the minimum, an engagement that I pursue twice a week.

We usually do some intervention patrolling, which involves scouting popular areas and interacting with people who have a behaviour deemed dangerous for the mountain's ecosystem. This time, however, we did a different kind of patrolling. We went to a more remote area of the mountain, which is pretty much only used by the homeless and the "skweejees", those young people who live in the street and try to clean cars to make a few bucks, be it for food, shelter, dope or I-don't-know-what.

In that area, the degradation is very visible. People there make fires on the soile and camp. Trees are cut by the dozen with presumably a hatchet, willows are scorched of their bark for fire kindling, and littering is just awful. There, we picked up some beer bottles (many were broken), some moist and moldy covers, cigarette packs, food left-overs, and even some underwear !

So we were picking up this crap and I was sortof sulking to myself about how these guys are pigs, when somebody strolled along. My initial reaction was "here goes one of those bums". But this was a teenager dressed very cleanly, who definitely did not belong to the category of people we cleaned up after. He offered to help, and actually registered as a volunteer as well. I was very impressed and happy that some people still want to get involved. There's hope for ya !

The Beaver

Who knows ?

Well, as promised, I'm posting about this famous job interview...

I guess altogether it went well, because it lasted 45 minutes, and at the end of the whole thing, I asked about the next step in the recruiting process and was told that I already had had my second interview. Apparently, if he didn't like me, the senior partner would have ended the interview after a few minutes.

I think I'd really like to get this job. I really like the senior attorney who interviewed me, and I think he liked me too. Apparently it's a job where you need a lot of empathy. I'm all about empathy ! (Speaking of which, the Y's consultation service is resuming next week ! I can't wait to get back to consulting !)

So, who knows ? I'm supposed to get an answer in a few weeks. I'll keep y'all posted !

The Beaver

July 26, 2005

Quick post!

Hey ! I don't have too much time to write today, I have to rush to a job interview... After 3 months and 1/2 of applications, despair, hopes and lack thereof, I get my first chance to sell myself !

*crossing fingers*

More to come, as soon as it's done !

The Beaver

July 25, 2005

Green, Blue and Copper...

I think we really needed to get out, because as soon as I came back home from my mum's cottage, Dave and I left to spend the week-end with the in-laws on the shore of the beautiful Lac Huard (Loon Lake).

The temperature had dropped all over, enough in Montreal, so this time, there was no skinny-dipping. Instead, on saturday, we went for a quick rowboat tour on the lake, and some quiet time with my in-laws, talking, joking, and having a beautiful BBQ dinner. Dave's mum likes to buy food at the beautiful MTL outdoor market, and it's always excellent. When we were done with dinner, I got out my Pictionnary game, and surprisingly, everybody was eager to play. We did two game sessions, one during which we drew, and one during which we mimed. The miming was hilarious ! At one point Dave's dad had to my the 3 bears, and looked like a gorilla ! My impersonnation of "crocodile tears" was very funny too. We laughed so hard my tummy hurt.

When that was done, Dave insisted we go out to the nearby village for ice-cream. So I can officially say that my saturday night was spent eating green vanilla ice cream, on the porch of a place called "patate a go go" by a highway, while listening to 80's music. Priceless !

It was a bit cold that night, and Dave spent the night waking up and blowing his nose and waking me up in the process. So yesterday was a lazy afternoon playing monopoly on the veranda, and enjoying the view of the tranquil lake, and the beautiful tones of Green, Blue and Copper in the mirror-like reflection of the water.

We also had a beautiful siesta in the "pink room" (this is Dave's usual bedroom at the cottage, but being color-blind, he always considered it to be the "blue room" - ignorance is bliss!) After another family dinner, we made our way back to mtl, but not before we made a pit stop by the now infamous "patate a go go".

This morning, I got a phone call from JP telling me that we forgot about the last Fantasia movie, which was last night ! Crap ! Again, ignorance is bliss!

The Beaver

July 21, 2005


Sorry I haven't been updating a lot... I just spent a few days out of the heat-drenched Montreal, back into the beautiful fresh and green Laurentians.

My mother was on vacation for a few weeks and had decided to spend it all at the family house, in a cozy little village buried in the green Laurentian mountains. I had free time and so did my friend, so we packed our goodies to survey my ancestral home.

Needless to say, I was very happy to be back at the cottage, where I had had a tree-house, endless cow-boy indian sessions (that was before the time of politically correctness) and wonderful, lazy afternoons reading books and comics and listening to my mum's old records.

This time was a bit different : my bedroom is now a guestroom, my comics are in Mtl, the tree house has been dismantled and I admit I would feel kinda silly running around dressed like a member of the First Nations ready to pow-wow !

Nevertheless, it was nice to hang out in the green. We actually did have a lazy afternoon with the remaining comics, swam in the gorgeous local lake, and even went on a horse-back riding forest trail... It was my friend's first time, and she litterally cried in emotion while on the horse ! Of course, the beast felt it, and took advantage to go up to a small trot, which sent my friend in a panic ! Thank god, the guide stopped her, and all was well...

Well, now I'm back in the exceedingly hot Mtl... Sorry guys, no pics this time, my camera went dead !

The Beaver

July 15, 2005

Waves of Funkiness

I've been blogging recently about festivals in Montreal, and how I really have a practical issue with going to those. I seem to be on the right path.

After an afternoon of patrolling the green heap in the middle of Montreal, I had set out to go out for drinks with an old friend, probably the nuttiest friend I had.

Oblivious to Montreal life, we were supposed to have so girl talk over a pitcher of Sangrila at the Saint-Sulpice, the haven of all UQAM students.

Little did I know that Just for laughs had started, and completely taken over the Quartier Latin. (That's how we call the area of downtown that surrounds UQAM university).

Event the lamp posts were transformed into buffoon hats, and the streets were invaded by street entertainers

Well anyway, I made it to Saint-Sulpice through the waves of funkiness that were surrounding me, and found my friend. Cynthia, be it impatience or boredom, had ordered a huge pitcher of sangria. I could have had one glass happily, but needless to say, we both shared the whole thing and were quite loopy by the end of the pitcher.

So we gave in to the surrounding funkiness and got some tatoos (don't worry mum, it's temporary !) How d'you like my climbing panther ?

We then proceeded to walk around and check out the acts. Here's a few for you guys :

Left, is an info stand. These guys are payed to hand out flyers and make joke at the innocent bystanders.

Right, is a moving statue. This girl was really graceful. The concept of the moving statue is that you can only move if the spectators put some change in the pot. I've seen some acts where there was barely anyone. They probably had cramps by the end of the day.

These guys here at the left were doing some funky theater in the street. I didn't have time to stick around and see but I though there was lot of effort in the costumes.

The four chicks on the right were doing a surreal act about the race to beauty, make-up, fashion, and plastic surgery.

These were my favorite act: Michel for the Netherlands and Zora from Denmark. Their physical prowess was very impressive. One of their acts actually involves Zora getting inside of a balloon ! That was really something.

Another cool attraction was a public karaoke : it involved a restricted selection of uncool (dare I say out?) songs and the brave (crazy) members of the public could go up there and sing (not recommended for sensitive ears).

Well, that's it for today !


The Beaver

July 13, 2005

Fan-tastic Fan-tasia - I'm a fan !

I was discussing movies the other day with a fellow volunteer at the mountain, and he expressed to me his disappointment that the movie industry is no longer producing new ideas. To a certain extent, I agree with him. Hollywood movies are now all remakes. Of children's books. Of comics. Of old movies.

So this is where Fantasia comes in play. Fantasia is a film festival. As their staff puts it :
"Since its inception in 1996, FanTasia has been an event hell-bent on showcasing the most exciting, innovative and individualistic examples of contemporary international genre cinema, with an emphasis on unveiling films very rarely seen in North America. It has become a hugely popular Montreal summer tradition for roughly 70 000 festival-goers to spend three weeks being amazed by sensational celluloid from Japan, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Hong Kong, Germany, Thailand, Denmark, France, Russia, India, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Holland, Scotland, Belgium, Sweden, Great Britain, the US and of course, Quebec and Canada. As fellow film fanatics, we pride ourselves on getting the works that we love in front of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience. We also do everything possible to bring these films to the attention of potential distributors and the international media."

This is definitely a forum for new ideas, and funky film making. I've already seen 2 Fantasia movies, Ashura (Japan, 2005) and Crying Fist (Korea, 2005). I will take the time to write a review of both, but in the meantime, let me say this : both were interesting and new. Both had a film technique that was very different from what we're used to. It was, indeed, very refreshing. I can't wait to see more ! (I must say, with the weather we have here, it's nice to be in a nice cool cinema for a few hours...)


The Beaver


Once again, the Jazz Festival came to an end without me even setting foot there. Hmmf ! this is the 4th year this happens. I need to start being more willful about this.

A few more festivals are opening up though :
- The Francofolies
- Fantasia
- Just for Laughs

I already went to Fantasia. My goal is attending at least once the other two.

In the meantime, I will pursue my patrolling activities and keep making new friends. I just came home from an evening of board games with Dave and a couple of new friends, a german game called Carcassone :

"Carcassonne die Stadt (Carcassonne: The Town) is a deluxe edition of the Carcassonne-series, that comes in a wooden box with quality components. In this new standalone game, players build up the old town together by placing tiles. While the town area grows, the town walls grow around it, starting from a wooden tower. The wall is comprised of delicately carved wooden parts, that create a beautiful rendition of the medieval town at the end of the game.Next to the slightly modified tile-laying rules, players have the possibility to place their followers as guards on the walls, offering them a wide view of the town. This brings the players extra points. Each player also receives three twisted wooden towers, giving the town walls an added aesthetic effect. (from www.spielbox.de)"

It was a lot of fun, but Dave had a hard time : being color-blind, he has trouble seeing the detail of the game-tiles. it was the first time that I witnessed his color-blindness really affecting an activity. And I've know him for 12 years. Kinda makes you think, doesn't it ? I guess I should be more aware and helpful...

So my resolutions :
  • be nicer to boyfriend,
  • go to more festivals !


The Beaver

July 11, 2005

Looking for the ultimate action movie !

Hey !

I decided to take a poll for the best Holliwood action movie of the spring/summer ! The best movie will get ......nothing !

So check out the poll and CAST YOUR VOTE !

If you feel a movie should enter the competition, send me your comment onto this post and I'll be happy to add it !

Complete compilation will be published on September 21st.


The Beaver

Goin' International !

007 and Red Handed Jill 's brilliant use of a guest map had me convinced to add one to my blog too, so place your pin, and let me know where youz at ! See ya !

Place your pin !

Coming soon...

Movie reviews :
  • Fantastic Four
  • War of the Worlds
  • Ashura
  • Crying Fist

Some observations on :

  • Fanstastic Fantasia
  • The Jazz Festival (Victoria actually has good stories about that)

Random stuff :

  • The world of Ice Cream consumption in Montreal
  • Beaver's Guide to Driving Your Roommate Crazy


Heading out to farmland

I spent the day at the 80th birthday party of a very loved family friend. It was nice to be out at of Montreal for the day, and nice to be there on the special occasion. Our friend has a lot of friends and a very extended family, so it was really like a big family party.

Family portrait, in front of a beautiful traditionnal canadian farmhouse :

The event involved driving for 1 1/2 hours, which I don't mind, since I like driving. It allowed me to see some fields, cows, and more fields.

This fun family event involved a bar-b-cue and some volleyball. So for the first time in 10 years, I was back up at the net, making an idiot of myself, running barefeet in jeans under the unforgiving summer sun. But it was cool to hang out with the youngsters !

Here's a pic of the local Countryside, in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon. What a change from yellow Senegal, huh ?

Sorry about this relatively short post ! Promise to write more next time !

July 09, 2005

Welcome to the temple of knowledge !

Sorry guys, I haven't updated in some time...

It's just that sometimes, I feel like there is little of interest to tell... Of course, it's not exactly true, but whatever...

So I mentionned in my last post that I would write about the Great Library, and I will.

First and foremost, let me explain that there exists in Québec a vast network of libraries. Some are nested at the heart of educationnal institutions, colleges, universities and such. Others are municipal properties which offer the service for free to local inhabitants.

For starters, the building is impressive in size, as it actually spans on a total of 33 000 sq. meters (so that's about 355,209.04 square foot). It also is pretty well conceived, as it is meant to provide a lot of natural light while still protecting the books from sun exposure. The GL is 4 floors high, which holds pretty much anything one would hope to find there. It is linked to the subway by an underground tunnel, and by the same occasion, to UQAM, one of the major francophone universities in the country. Let me take you on tour !

In the basement, you'll find the Kid section. Includes comics, child novels, child movies to be borrowed or viewed on site, and CDs for children. The collection is mainly francophone but there is a multilingual section with books in pretty much any written language. The whole space is conceived with children in mind, so bright colors and low seats are in order.

The lobby provides access to about 150 newspapers, with open access to the latest issues and more than 1,600 print journals and magazines from QC and everywhere. This includes specialized publications such as "Anthropology News" and "Environmental Law Review". Wonderful comfy spaces to sit and read everywhere. That's also where you borrow docs (self-serve with digital scanning) and return them (just drop them on the little moving carpet). I love technology !

The 1st to 3rd floors include the art and litterature section (this is where you get novels, but also pretty much anything artsy or philosophical). Again, the international aspect is there. Also, this is where the Comic section is. Ah... I love comics ! History, social sciences and maps (that's more serious, I don't go there often). Also where you get law documentation (though it would not be my primary source, the courthouse is still more exhaustive). Also where they keep the encyclopedias. I'm not sure but I think the language learning centers and job search areas are on the 2nd floor, and that's also where the National collection is kept : a record of every book that was published/written in Quebec.

4th floor is the music collection. It probably is the most popular place, because it allows you to listen to and borrow CDs without having to pay. (And we all know how expensive CDs are !) It's also possible to borrow movies (and they have a good range) or to view them onsite. This is an amazing service, espescially if you're broke ! Also, they have an amazing collection of music parts, so musicians no longer have to spend on paper music ! Did you notice the state of the art computer equipment ?

So the creation of the GL is pretty amazing because anyone who lives in Quebec is allowed to use the service for free, including borrowing a cumulative total of 15 documents for 3 weeks, which can be renewed 3 times. So I can borrow 15 docs for approximately 3 months. Talk about making knowledge accessible !

As you can tell, I'm very enthusiastic about this ressource. Of course, nobody has any excuse not to read anymore in Montreal. Now, the question is : is this going to reduce business for bookstores, musicstores and videostores ?

July 06, 2005

It's raining, man !

Montreal was apparently overwhelmed with rain today.

I was blissfull unaware of it, while reading at the new National Library (I'll tell you guys more about it later).

I did realize it happened when I went home and found my laundry completely soaked on the patio !

Oh well... At least I wasn't on the highway when it happened, and 13 cars got stuck in the dug-in Decarie Highway !

Pics are from Cyberpresse.






Another sleepless night...

Once again, can't sleep...

It's 5:15 AM here, so I've officially endured a white night. And this once wasn't spent partying.

I think i need to work. Despesperately, passionately, i need to work.

I applied to so many interesting places.

Noone is calling me in for interviews...

What's wrong ?

July 02, 2005

St-Jean-Baptiste, Quebec National Holiday

On June 24th, I spent the afternoon and evening in Ste-Hyacinth, serving beers to party goers and enjoying the local show of french-canadian music. It was fun to renew with my Quebecer identity and to enjoy the French Canadian way of partying. The whole thing started at 3PM and ended with seemingly cool (well, what I could see from behind the tree) fireworks. No traditionnal bonfire, though, as apparently some Einstein decided to jump in the last bonfire that was made, years ago.

Some may question the existence of a nationalist holiday in a province, but to put all this in perspective, according to a CROP survey, in june, 55% of quebecers would have voted YES to a referendum. Even without ventilation of the indecise, sovereignty would have passed with a meager 52 % based on the 1995 question, which involved a political and economical partership with Canada. Where do I stand ? I don't know. I've been away during most of the events that stand behind such an increase, (the Gomery commission investigating corruption in the federal Liberal party and the student strike contesting modifications to financial aid to students), so I do feel less involved than I might otherwise be. Nevertheless, I am first and foremost a francophone and do feel simpathy for the cause, even if I don't feel that my opinions are strong enough to go along with the new majority.

So anyway, for those who wonder, what is "La Fete Nationale" ? here's a quick wrap-up which also gives you a 101 on French Canadian history. (Thanks, http://www.genealogyforum.rootsweb.com/gfaol/resource/Canada/StJean.htm).

Of European origins...

"While the orgin of the holiday in France was the pagan celebration of the summer soltice; a celebration of light and a symbol of hope. In the reign of the French King Clovis, the annual event was christianized and became a religious celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, who is known as the Precursor of Christ, the light of the world – thus the link with the soltice and the bonfires.

The festival of Jean Baptiste had particular importance for all the Catholics of Europe, especially those of France. The King of France would light the bonfire in the nights of June 23 and 24 in Paris.

...a custom which travelled to Quebec...

Once in America, the French continued to celebrate this event, but it was then a very pious, religious festival with processions in the streets of Quebec City.
St-Jean Baptiste came to be know as the patron saint of French Canadians as a result of centuries of recognition of the influence he had on New France as new colony was developing from the time of early colonization.

It was on 24 June 1615 that the first St-Jean-Baptiste mass was celebrated in New France, though mass had been celebrated since the times of Jacques Cartier. The religious authorities found that the day coincided with the summer soltice and the birthdate of Jean Baptiste, thus the symbolism of the baptism of New France.

From the 150 French residents of New France in 1635, their customs spread with their pursuit of the fur trade. It was quite important, particularly since it coincides with the summer collection of furs and the gathering of employees who had been isolated during the winter. Large bonfires, singing, fiddle music and dancing are all a part of this festive occasion. The conviver (come together) was boisterous with many les santés (toasts) to health and much gunfire and cannon booms. Festivities lasted throughout the night.

French residents in the St. Lawrence River area formed a chain of bonfire lights from village to village. Even in the late 20th Century, more than 15,000 of these fires could be seen on 24 June. Soldiers mustered to fire cannon and muskets as a part of the provincal.

Which survived the British conquest...

After the conquest of New France by the British, the celebration of St-Jean Baptiste lost some of its importance. It was just over two centuries later on 24 June 1834 when Ludger Dunvernay, a newspaper editor, and about 60 people decided during a banquet to turn that day into an event that would unite all French Canadians. The festival grew in size and importance to French Canadians.

A great number of English-Speaking Montrealers took part in the national banquet, which was held in the gardens of a prominent lawyer, John McDonnell. While the enthusiasm for the annual event were put on hold during and after the Patriot’s Rebellion in 1837-38, Celebration of the Fête de la Saint-Jean as it was named, reappeared in Quebec City in 1842 as a religious festival with a great procession. Montreal followed suit in 1843.

... and was declared a statutory holiday...

The annual celebration grew and in 1925 the Quebec legislature declared June 24 as a holiday.
(...) The usual order of activities would open with a mass to commemorate St-Jean Baptiste. A parade would follow the streets of the villages with a band, baton twirlers, people dressed in period costumes and floats. The last float would represent St-Jean Baptiste with a blonde and curly haired child wearing sheep skin, holding a cane. One or more lambs would signify a shepherd and his flock of sheep.

After the parade there was a banquet with entertainment, folkloric dances and the day would end with a great bonfire and fireworks.

...with nationalistic meaning...

The evolution of St-Jean-Baptiste Day from a religious to a nationalist celebration was complete by 1975. In 1976, the Province of Quebec government passed legislation making it the official national holiday of Quebec and an official paid holiday. The name of the holiday was then changed to la Fete Nationale, though many still refer to it as St-Jean-Baptiste Day.
At the beginning of the 19th century, in towns and villages along the St-Lawrence River, it was customary to take the first swim of the year on the even of St-Jean-Baptiste Day. Even today most swimming pools in Quebec open for the season around that day.
Another tradition was the petits pains benits (blessed loaves of bread). These bread loaves were shaped either as a star (another announcement of the birth of Christ) or heart (For God so loved the world). They were then given to the priest. This is not the same as the Lord’s Supper.

Many other French-speaking villages in other provinces celebrate St-Jean-Baptiste Day and several of them have churches named for the patron saint. And there are villages named for St. Jean Baptiste—one in Manitoba is known as the soup pea capital of Canada. Several are in the Province of Quebec."