Monday, September 24, 2007

Bimbos, the Movie

While watching TV on th weekend I came across this little tidbit. It seems that there is a Hollywood producer who wants to make a film about the trials and tribulations of poor little rich girls. The film will feature a series of scenes that illustrate what the poor girls have gone through. One scene will illustrate the trauma of Paris' incarceration, another about Britney's meltdown, and still another about poor little Lindsay Lohan. Now, how stupid is that idea? Unfortunately, my little cynical voice tells me that it will probably fill the theatres even if it is pure garbage.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What P's again?

I've been tagged by my lil sister Jazz again. She just likes making me work hard, lazy person that I am. Well OK here are my seven P's

I consider parenthood to be my greatest achievement. Not that I'm a perfect parent, but if the proof is in the pudding, we seem to have done a pretty good job with the kids because they have turned out to be intelligent, well read, responsible adults.

: where would I be without people? I work with adolescents (yes they are people, sometimes I think that they are more mature than certain adults) everyday, many, many of them, with their hopes, dreams, and problems. This kind of leads me to a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde complex. In school I am a people person, I like to listen to the kids, talk with them, joke around, laugh and be there. On the other hand outside of school, I can be pretty much a loner, a leave me alone and I'll be just fine, type of guy. Every so often I have a desperate need to be by myself, go trekking alone in the mountains, go on long cross country ski runs, bike alone. Thank deity that Mrs. BB is such an understanding spouse.

Public schools:
This is where I have spent most of my career. It is underfunded (well anyhow the money doesn't get to the classes) and often not appreciated. (Often get the feeling that we are considered to be a free babysitting service). It often has a bad reputation and yet it continues, in sometimes appalling conditions, to produce a relatively sane next generation. In my experience the majority of kids are just fine. As in any group of humans there are always some bad apples but the vast majority of students do not deserve the reputation they have. The kids deserve much better than they are getting.

I am a teacher, first and foremost. Always have been, always will be. Even after 30 years, I still have great fun teaching and interacting with my kids. I think that I am a good teacher, or so the kids and parents tell me. Teaching for me is more than a job, it is a vocation. I know of no other job that can have such an impact on the future, on the kids who are our future, so it deserves to be done well and with passion.

What I wear on my back (all 35 pounds) when I do one of my favourite things, trekking. My good old 80 litre pack, full of dried food, gorp, water, water filter, stove, fuel, sleeping bag, mattress, clothing, socks, wet weather gear, etc.

My life has been peripatetic. Being an Airforce brat we would move every 3-4 years, Montréal Qc (2 years), Downsview On (3 years), North Bay On (2 years), Greenwood NS (8 years) , Bagotville Qc (3 years) and finally stopping in Québec city. I've slowed down since university, I've only moved three times in the last 30 years. But the urge to see other horizons hasn't left me since Mrs. BB and I just love travelling.

I have shown this and finally got to the end of the list...

As for tagging five people, well I'll be lazy and let anyone who wishes to do this exercise go right ahead. If your little heart desires, be my guest, consider yourself tagged.

PS: How weird, my blogger has turned back to English after having talked to me in German for the last few weeks. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What a day.

I went climbing at Mount Sutton with the students today. A really perfect day, the sun was shining, there was a small breeze and the temperature was a balmy 24 degrees. Celsius. The students really liked the climb and had a great time. What more can one ask for? The view from the summit was gorgeous, with the trees starting to turn red, the different shades of blue grey of the mountains fading off into the horizon. We could see all the way to Mount Mansfield and Camel's Hump and farther on the horizon the White Mountains in New Hampshire. What a day!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weird sights

Since I've had my rant for the month, let us go on to lighter things. Can you possibly tell me who in the world would buy a Walt Disney "Cinderella" toaster. Now I can understand a Cinderella lunch box, book bag, pencil case, sneakers, or something like that for kids but a toaster? Yes it's true. If you go to Zellers you will be able to buy your very own Cinderella toaster. I'm not joking, they actually sell Cinderella toaster's there. (No they are not selling them in the toy department, but in the kitchen appliances for adults.) Even stranger, if they are selling them that means that someone is actually buying them. If it's a trend, then why not Bugs Bunny toasters which would say "what's up doc?" to let you know the toast was done or a Snow White apple peeler?
On a street corner in Montreal I saw a really strange personage the other day. (In a town of strange people he was really strange) Imagine a guy, trying to look like a gangsta rapper. He was wearing low (really low, somewhere around mid-thigh) jeans. You could see his not too clean jockey boxers, and tucked into his jockey's was a rumpled undershirt tight over his pot belly. Now you must add big fake silver jewelry, small sunglasses crooked on his nose, a hairnet and a baseball cap set crooked. To top it all off, like a cherry on a sundae, he was wearing his mother's fur coat. Of course this guy must have been almost six feet tall and his mother was obviously about five feet. The overall effect had to be seen to be believed. There he was on the corner trying to look tough, flipping a "loony" (for those who don't know, a Canadian 1$ coin) and all around him people kind of looking away with an half concealed grin on their faces. Mind you he probably thought that he was the epitome of cool. All of this and to top it off, he was as white as wonder bread.

All day today, Blogger seems to have become bilingual. Certain directions and words are in German. Not everything, just certain things. Why German? Deity only knows, I use French and English on my computer so why German. As we say in French "mystère de boule de gomme" (loosely translated "bubble gum mystery " don't ask me why.)

Friday, September 14, 2007


Sometimes driving to work feels like being in Spielberg's 1971 film "Duel". You know the one... where a car driver gets chased by a psychopathic truck. "A duel is about to begin between a man, a truck, and an open road. Where a simple battle of wits is now a matter of life and death."
I have been driving along the same road for the last 15 years to get to school and during this time the quantity of trucks has quadrupled. Last Thursday while driving along, there were so many trucks in the right lane that it was like driving beside a train. They were nose to tail for kilometres. Rather intimidating. Of course all these trucks slowed the traffic down to a crawl since all the cars squeezed into one lane. (A person would have be be completely deranged to want to drive encircled by these mastodons.) To make matters worse from time to time one of then would pull into the left lane and slowwww down traffic even more. (Who's going to argue with a giant 18 wheeler truck when it butts in front of you, forcing you to put on the brakes and slew to keep from hitting him.)
All the pundits tell us that trucks are needed for the economy and that business can't get along without them. Maybe that's true but maybe we should also look at the cost of having so many trucks on the road. The philosophy of "just-in-time" inventory and rapid delivery might be nice for business but I'm not so sure that it's good for the rest of us.
  • Trucks pollute. One truck puts out about as much pollution as 150 cars and they are not even held to the same standards as cars. Most big trucks do not even have antipollution devices not being obligated by law. A train pulling the equivalent of 280 trucks of freight produces the equivalent of 30 trucks of pollution. (Could be a lot less if we electrified the railroads like the European rail system. We have much cheaper and cleaner electricity here than them. I'm sure we could come up with a hybrid system for when electrification is impossible.)
  • Trucks usually cause traffic congestion at the peak traffic hours. Though I have no statistics, empirically from my observation, the days when traffic is the slowest are invariably the days when there is the most truck traffic. All that stalled traffic is not very good for air pollution.
  • I was once told by an engineer who had worked in Transport Québec that a truck had a negative impact on roads equivalent to 10,000 cars. Everyone has seen and driven in the runnels carved into the road by truck wheels. They were certainly not made by cars since they are wider than any car width. For example, the Champlain Bridge in Montreal underwent major repairs a few years ago and these repairs were supposed to last 50 years. It has now been ascertained that they'll barely last 15 years because of all the heavy weight truck traffic.
  • Compared to the wear and tear that trucks cause to the roads, they do not pay even a fraction of the the costs. Yes, they pay the same fuel taxes, license fees as car drivers but a car does not put the wear and tear on our road system that a truck does.
  • Supposedly trucks are more economical than trains. Of course they are, they don't have to pay for the upkeep of the roads, like the railroads do. Make them pay the real price for their usage and wear on the roads and they would probably be much more expensive than the railroads.
  • How many times have you seen accidents involving cars and truck. I know truck advocates say that car drivers are dangerous and cut in front of trucks. This is probably true but that does not cover all accidents. Where I live there was a major accident when an eighteen wheeler ploughed into stopped cars at a red light. The driver had been asleep. People died. In another accident on Highway 40 in the east end of Montreal, a tanker trailer truck again ploughed into stopped traffic on the highway killing many people. I've seen trucks pulling out onto a boulevard, turning left, crossing the boulevard and blocking it from side to side in the face of oncoming traffic. This was in the middle of winter, during a snow storm in icy conditions. I've seen trucks turned over in curves, trucks dropping their loads in the middle of the road, trucks losing control on the highway and wiping out a couple of cars on the way. When you are in a car, what chance do you have against them? I sometimes feel that certain truck drivers know this and use it to drive with impunity.
  • Another problem is that many trucks should not even be on the road, bald tires, brakes shot, lights out etc.. (To be fair there are also many cars that shouldn't be on the roads either. Maybe we should have MOT inspections every year like in the UK. Cars and trucks that don't pass get their licence plates removed until repaired.) Every year in the spring the transport inspectors stop trucks but there are too many trucks and not enough inspectors, so many get away with it.
  • There is also the fact that trucks are getting bigger and bigger all the time. The standard size is now a 53' trailer, whereas a few years ago they were much smaller. There are also more and more "train routier" road trains as we call them here. You know the trucks pulling two 53' trailers (That must come out to 120' of rig counting the truck itself.) Not light loads either, I've seen them pulling two flatbeds full of logs. No matter what they tell me, I'll never believe that they have full control of their rigs. If an emergency happens they'll never be able to control the load.
What would I do if I had the power? Well first of all I'd pass a law saying that trucks may only be used to deliver freight within 100 kilometres. Anything outside of that radius must be carried by freight train. There are now special freight cars where the truck drives up unto the freight car and leaves the trailer which is then carried to destination. Once arrived, it is then delivered to its final destination by another truck. Money must be spent to electrify the railroad grid to make it even less polluting.
I would have hours of exclusion, morning and night, where trucks are not allowed on the roads around a city, to help with traffic congestion.
Trucks have to be smaller and carry a lighter load to help with road deterioration and I would ban "train routier" and oversize loads.
There would be new much higher licensing fees to make trucks pay their fair share of the road usage and there must be yearly inspections for all vehicles.
OK I'm drastic, but I'm also tired of feeling that I am driving the highways and roads on sufferance. So there is my rant for the month.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jazz is right...

After having read my lil sister's blog, I must come to the same conclusion as she did. That is really the PINKY SWEET HURL INDUCING AWARD of the year. It is so frothy pink that even Pink Barbie would be nauseous. In the light of this realization, I have marshaled my meagre artistic talents, Adobe Illustrator, an Illustrator template (You didn't really think I could do something artistic by myself did you?) and made a new logo for the award. I hope that the person who designed the original will not be too upset and curse me to the nether regions of hell.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Award

Em has kindly given me an award... *Blush*. "The Nice Matters Award" This award is given for being a nice blogger. So I'll pass on my good fortune to some other bloggers that I've been following for a while.
First of let me be accused of nepotism because I'm going to give the first one to my lil sister Jazz. I know she tries to make out that she's a world weary, cynical broad, but underneath it all she is a very nice lil sister to have.
My second choice is everyone's favourite curmudgeon, Ian who despite his grinch like attitude at times, really cares or he wouldn't rant so hard.
Then I'll add Voyager, a nice lady mountain trekker (we both love the mountains), who is always worth reading.
Next is Tai, a fellow traveller, the one and only who has moved into a new house and a new job.
Then here's Dr. Deb, she always writes a very interesting blog about psychology, and people.
Finally Choochoo living in Hellhole Norway in a new apartment as strange as the last. May her studies go as she wishes.
And I'll add one more, Cs, not last as an afterthought, but because she has already received this award from Em. He beat me to the punch.
Enjoy and thanks

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Following others, what I did

Having no inspiration these days, I've decided to do like Ian and my little sister Jazz and tell a bit about what I've done in my life. Let's see it's hard to get going since I don't feel that it is an extraordinary life, but here goes.
I'll start with the important stuff, stuff that we often overlook. I've been married for 31 years to Mrs. BB. (Doesn't seem that long but I guess time flies when we're having fun.) We've raised two wonderful children who are now intelligent, productive, stable adults. I've also been teaching for 30 years and I still love doing it. Having had a family early on Mrs. BB and I didn't travel much until our kids grew up a couple of years ago, but we have been making up for lost time.

I've gone trekking with Mrs. BB in the Parc de la Gaspésie. We crossed the whole park from one end to the other (over 100km) across some of the highest mountains in the southern part of Québec. The whole trip took us about 10 days and when we finally came straggling into civilization it took us a while just to get used to it. You don't know how good a cold beer tastes until you are sitting on the terrace with one, after having completed the last 20 kilometres across "le Mont Albert", one of the highest of the mountains, with a full pack. There we were sitting at a table, dirty, sweaty, tired, in hiking boots, with a 35 pound pack at our feet and all these tourists kept staring at us as if we had come from another planet...

I've gone trekking in Nepal with my little sister Jazz and Mr. Jazz. It had always been my dream to go trekking to Everest. Not climb it, just get close to it. In 2000 that is what I did. We got to Pheriche at 4600 meters when we both got a good dose of altitude sickness. Realizing that no mountain is worth dying for we started back down. Since we had more time, we were able to take trails that the tourists usually don't take, so we ended up on a trail above Pangboche in what can only be described as a perfect day. Breathtaking scenery, beautiful weather and a path that we had pretty much to ourselves. Like my sister I've visited the Swayambunath and the Bodnath stupas which are the most beautiful in Nepal. I also visited Tengboche Monastery, one of the oldest and most sacred.

I have (along with my wife) also been to the Neolithic tombs of Newgrange and Knowth in Ireland. They were awe inspiring. Imagine a tomb that was built around 3200 BC. That is 5000 years old, almost 1000 years before the pyramids. These tombs were built without any metal tools and yet are so well built that on the winter solstice as the sun rises its light races across the ceiling and hits the main chamber just as the sun clears the horizon and then retreats across the floor. We've also visited Avesbury and Stonehenge as well as many other neolithic stone circles in the Orkneys and Outer Hebrides. It is humbling to realize what our ancestors could do with so little.

We've also hiked along Hadrian's wall. Over hills and ridges, it goes on as far as the eye can see. Those Romans sure knew how to build.

I've climbed Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, as well as assorted other mountains in the highlands. One of them was beside the Loch Ness and we could see the loch from one end to the other.

I've walked and climbed in Edward's I castles in Wales. They are truly something to see, being the state of the art in military technology of the 13ht and 14th century. What struck me the most though, was that, although the castles are now in ruins, the towns that grew up around them are all thriving. Maybe there is hope for mankind yet.

I've sat in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris and listened to a choral singing a Gregorian Chant as it echoed across the thousand year old church, with sunlight steaming through the stained glass.

We've walked in the desert of Tunisia and haggled with merchants of the Souk El Bey of Tunis. (It helps to have a friend living there to show you the ropes. ;o)) And we've walked around one of the most complete Coliseums outside of Rome.

I spent ten years in the artillery (army reserve) and finally finished as a Captain and CO of the 58e Batterie where I had started. Got to do many things in the meantime including jump school in Edmonton. (Never got my wings since I busted a knee and had to leave before the end)

I've read more books than I can count. If I had all the books that I've read since I was a kid I could probably start a pretty decent library. Reading and books are one of man's greatest inventions.

I guess I could go on and on. Doing this exercise at least makes you realize just how much we have done in our lives. Hey and the best is still to come. ;op