fajrdrako: (Default)

J.B.S. Haldane said:

    Capitalism, though it may not always give the scientific worker a living wage, will always protect him, as being one of the geese which produce golden eggs for its table.

I think J.B.S. Haldane overestimated the ability of the powers that be to recognize the value of the scientists. Or why is Stephen Harper systematically dismantling Canada's scientific infrastructure?

We don't want golden eggs?

fajrdrako: (Default)

Every five years we have to get a new Ontario Health Card. Don't they call themselves OHIP any more? How many years am I out of date?

My old card expired on my birthday. A couple of weeks before that I went to their office to renew my card, got my picture taken - just a little older and more frazzled than the previous card. They took my old card, and gave me a piece of paper which they told me to keep in my wallet until my actual card arrives in the mail.

So today I went to the bank and got my temporary travel health insurance for my trip to the States next week. Just as I was leaving the bank, the teller reminded me to make sure I had my Ontario Health Card with me. I explained that I didn't have a card at the moment, but that they'd given me a piece of paper to tide me over. "Just be sure to take it with you," said the teller.

Very helpful reminder. So I looked in my wallet and... no slip of paper. It's been a few weeks. Had I absent-mindedly taken it out? Had it fallen out? Where was it?

I've been rooting around the papers on my desk with no luck. Starting - almost starting - to worry. Then I realized I hadn't looked at today's mail yet. There were a few things... including a letter from the Ontario government. Yup, my health card has arrived. I'll be covered to travel. Or at home, too, but it's the idea of being sick or in an accident while out of the country that worries me.

Not that I intend to have any mishaps. I think I feel that if I'm insured, nothing will happen. If I'm not insured, fate will come and bite me.

fajrdrako: ([Canada])

Some great things about Canada:

    10. Poutine.

    9. The songs of Leonard Cohen

    8. The art of Tom Thomson

    7. The novels of Guy Gavriel Kay.

    6. Nathan Fillion.

    5. Georgian Bay, Ontario

    4. The music of Jill Barber

    3. Magnificent chateaux

    2. The science fiction of Karin Lowachee.

    1. The trillium.

Happy Canada Day!

From a Rogers interview which asked "What are the best things about being Canadian?":
No one can say what a Canadian is supposed to be or do or look like. We are free to be ourselves, to celebrate in our own way and love whoever we want. I like that we could ask this question to 1,000 people and get 1,000 answers....Canada really is one of the world’s best-kept secrets.

fajrdrako: ([Canada])
Canada Day, 2012

  • Dim Sum at Mandarin Ogilvie with Sue, [livejournal.com profile] maaseru and Ysolde
  • Reading The Angevin Empire by John Gillingham, and random Avengers fanfic
  • Went to Tasia's for a scrabble party and barbecue. Lovely meal - I particularly liked Peter's hamburgers and [livejournal.com profile] maaseru's homemade ice cream. And [livejournal.com profile] gamergrrl brought some great lemon meringue pie.
  • I won one Scrabble game, lost another. So it goes.
fajrdrako: ([Canada])

I had no idea Canada could be so much fun. - Bruce Willis


fajrdrako: (Default)

I was reading this article Top 5 Canadian experiences, and thinking: those are West Coast experiences, and they aren't things I even want to do. I've been to Whistler, but I don't like to ski. I want to see whales, but I'd rather do it from the Gaspé peninsula. And tidal bores are... forgive me... a bore. (Not that the Severn Bore and the Bay of Fundy, which I've seen, aren't incredible and amazing. But I'm not going searching for more bores.)

So what would I consider the top five Canadian experiences? I'll stick to things I have actually done:

  1. Reading a really good Canadian author. Read Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, or The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, or Warchild by Karin Lowachee, or Don L'Orignal by Anotnine Maillet, or anything by Jane Rule. Good Canadian fiction. It's terrific. But I would add a caveat: stay away from anything that ever won a Governor General's Award.

  2. Have a picnic on Limestone Island, Georgian Bay.

  3. Have High Tea at the Chateau Laurier. If you want the West Coast thing, have tea at The Empress in Victoria BC.

  4. Go to a play in Stratford, Ontario.

  5. Visit The Fortress at Louisbourg, which feels like stepping into the 18th century. Warning: don't expect sunny skies like in the picture. It's real North Atlantic weather. Lots of wind and fog. That's part of the experience.

And just for the heck of it, the Five Canadian Things I want to to but haven't got around to yet:

  1. Go whale-watching in St. Andrew's, New Brunswick.

  2. Go to the Viking settlement at L'Anse-aux-Meadows, Newfoundland.

  3. Visit Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.

  4. Hike the Bruce Trail, in southern Ontaroi.

  5. Wander the Gaspé Peninsula.

fajrdrako: (Default)

This news item about Elizabeth May amused me.

Of course the Harper government doesn't want her interference in their business - she might interfere with their plans to make money by devastating our national resources. Can't allow that.

fajrdrako: (Default)

From the headlines of The Hill Times today - what's going on on Parliament Hill:

    Conservatives fined for breaking elections laws, but Tories claim outcome a ‘big victory’

    The Conservative party and its financial arm pleaded guilty Thursday to a total of four charges of exceeding the party’s campaign expenses for the 2006 federal election and failing to report the proper amount, but in a plea bargain that saw related charges dropped against four top Conservatives who masterminded or approved the so-called 'in and out' advertising scheme at the centre of the case, both the Conservatives and their opponents claimed victory.

How's that for double-speak?

What appalls me is that the country at large doesn't seem to notice or care. The Conservatives break the rules, and break the laws, over and over... And still get elected. Why do people vote for cheaters and liars? Why don't the voters, and the elected officials, have respect for the laws about how the country's legislators must act responsibly?

I shake my head sadly.


Oct. 9th, 2011 11:14 pm
fajrdrako: ([Canada])

This Scandinavia and the World comic made me laugh, especially since it's Ottawa who gets those Dutch tulips, and vast beds of them are planted right next to my apartment.

And much appreciated they are, Sister Netherlands. Every May.

fajrdrako: (Default)

I just read Jeff Lemire's comic Tales from the Farm, which I'd heard was good. It's better than that. It's superb.

I have a weakness for stories about the milestones of growing up, and this captures childhood experience beautifully. It also had the whiff of autobiography about it: like his protagonist, Les, Jeff Lemire is from Essex County, Ontario, and the story is that of a ten year old who has lost his mother and has to live with his Uncle Ken - a farmer who has never had much experience with children. Les works on his own superhero comic book in secret, and befriends an ex-hockey player who was damaged in his one big game.

It's about what we do when we are lonely and life goes wrong, and what we make of it.

Though I have never been to Essex County, and though I don't know a lot of farmers, it's a story that made me feel as if I was seeing people I knew, people just like those I might meet on any given day. The way I felt when seeing Bon Cop, Bad Cop or Slings and Arrows.

fajrdrako: (Default)

Looking at this CBC website made me cry again, a little, but in a good way. I like the orange bicycle. I liked all of it, And I smiled when I saw [personal profile] commodorified.

I begin to think there really is hope - that people will listen to Jack Layton now he's dead in ways they didn't listen when he was alive, when he was the Opposition.

fajrdrako: (Default)

commodorified has a good tribute to Jack Layton today. She quotes him:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Full text here as well.

I hope other Canadians will be moved to think the things Layton was thinking, and to say the things he was saying.

Oh no...

Aug. 22nd, 2011 09:47 am
fajrdrako: (Default)

Jack Layton died.

I was so hoping this wasn't going to happen.

What a blow for Canada. He was the best we had.

fajrdrako: ([Canada])

I've been browsing lists of Canadianisms. I'm always amazed when I do that - a mixture of "you mean other people don't say that?" and "but that's just another case where we use the British term, not the American". So it's all in the perspective. I'd like to see a list of Canadianisms complied by someone from the UK - I bet it would be entirely unlike he ones I'm seeing here, which are generally written by or for Americans. Mind you, the British just tend to think we talk like Americans. Which we don't, of course. Not at all. Absolutely not!

This is what got me started: An American's Guide to Canada: Canadianisms.

Don't Americans have Kraft Dinner? What do they call it?

A lot of these lists say "pop" is our term for "soft drinks", and I've heard that word used, though I'd never use it. I thought that was an Americanism. What do Americans say? Soda pop?

I knew Americans didn't have Smarties, but don't they have Coffee Crisp? That's downright sad. I think I should send care packages to all my American friends now. (Or maybe just go and get a Coffee Crisp for myself...)

I don't use "coriander" and "cilantro" to mean the same thing - I tend to use "coriander" when it's dried in a bottle, "cilantro" when it's fresh. Maybe it's because we get our bottles of coriander from the States?

The Wikipedia article has interesting notes about the "low-back merger and the Canadian Shift" in words like "cot" and "caught". I never figured that one out - can't even hear it. I assume it's the same as "dawn" and "don", which I have been known to get American friends to repeat over and over so I can hear the difference. It baffles me. Similarly, I can't hear a difference between my pronunciation of "out and about" and the average American's way of saying it.

They also say, "Some older speakers still maintain a distinction between whale and wail, and do and dew." Well, of course - doesn't everyone? I'll have to listen carefully to these words now. They sound quite different to me.

I already knew "eavestrough" was a Canadianism, but I didn't know about cooking onions, keener, knapsack, laneway, deke, fire hall, whitener - common words - and do other people really not say Jesus Murphy? This site makes "eavestrough" two words, which is wrong.

An American Guide to Canadianisms has corner store: a phrase so common I've probably used it elsewhere about thinking about it. Don't Americans get in a lineup when they are waiting for something? (I struggled with that one when I lived in England.)

I don't personally say "housecoat", I say "dressing gown". When I hear "housecoat" I tend to think of a loose garment, perhaps with buttons or a zipper, that you'd wear casually around the house - not just when you're on the way to the shower. A "dressing gown" has no fastener but a belt to tie it closed. To illustrate:

  • Housecoat
  • Dressing gown - and the one in this picture just happens to be identical to the one I wear every day.

A Nanaimo Bar doesn't, to my mind, resemble a Brownie - it doesn't involve cake. I like Nanaimo Bars, and strongly dislike Brownies. Butter tarts are the best dessert ever. (Well... maybe not quite as good as crème brulée, but close.) Do Americans not have sugar pie? It's a sort of Quebec specialty, but I thought they had it in the North-East US. "Chip truck" strikes me as an odd inclusions - surely they have these in the States, too? And in England? What do they call them? "Fries truck"? "Chip van"? I think, but can't prove it, that the British are more likely to differentiate between trucks and vans (or, rather, vans and lorries) than we are.

This site of Funny Canadian Sayings made me laugh. Canadian humour. I don't believe they're all really sayings, though - just expressive jokes. Mind you, I've heard people say a number of them.

Most of these lists omit a few things I'd put on my list:

  • First Nations
  • "grade one" instead of "first grade". I messed this one up in the first fanfic story I ever put online - an X-Files story - and that mistake was the first thing the Americans commented on. Usually the only thing.
  • Multiculturalism, which is used somewhat differently here than in the rest of the world.
  • Bank machine - an ATM. Once in Ireland I wanted to ask where to find one, and couldn't think of an alternate word. The poor girl I was trying to ask had no idea what I was talking about.
  • Wicket. I'm not sure what the US word for this is. It's where you get service at a window, as in a bank or box office.
  • Enumeration lists
  • Electric kettles
  • MPP
  • Humidex and wind chill factor
  • "Thank you kindly." I'm not even sure it's a Canadianism, though it's certainly a phrase I hear. I had the impression it was an Irish phrase brought over to Canada (or the US?) by early immigrants.
  • HST - simply meaning that the websites listing GST only haven't been updated.

Can you think of other things you'd include? Someone told me recently that glasses like the ones I just bought - which I called "multifocal glasses" - were called "progressives" in the States, but I couldn't find documentation on that. Looking up multifocals got me a bunch of Australian sites - an example of the Australians and Canadians thinking alike?

fajrdrako: ([Canada])

It's amusing, and possibly quite right, to see Canada on a list of places to go to if you want to avoid war.

But wait, what's this about Canada being homogeneous? Us? Hotbed of multiculturalism that we are? Maybe they have us confused with some other country?

fajrdrako: (Default)

The best man in Canadian politics has cancer. Again.

It just seems so ... wrong.

I love it that he talks about optimism, when most politicians are talking pessimism.


Jul. 18th, 2011 02:44 pm
fajrdrako: (Default)

Rather belatedly, I just read Kirstine Stewart's address about the CBC. Her best line:

    The stories we tell, whether real or fictional, showcase a diversity of voice that recognizes and respects that Canadians have an insatiable curiosity.

She has a difficult role to play with the looming shadow of the Harper government, and I wish her well. The latest news I've heard was about the delay in the CRTC hearings till next year.

I worry about the CBC, I really do.

fajrdrako: ([Canada])

I went downtown today, to the National Gallery. It was a hot but beautiful day.

Maybe because I was looking at paintings and thinking visually, I started looking at Ottawa as if it, too, were a piece of art. And looking particularly beautiful. So I started taking photos the way a tourist might, right there in the middle of the city, where all the good tourist attractions are.

And here they are:

  1. The Parliament Buildings, seen from inside the National Gallery:

    2. Maman )

fajrdrako: (Default)

I decided to have a picnic breakfast, so I packed up a peanut butter sandwich with plenty of apple slices in it, some cut veggies, and a bottle of milk, and I crossed the street to the Rideau Canal. I found a patch of ground under the trees, where I put my Gore-ted jacket as a blanket, and sat listening to Jill Barber and Leonard Cohen while I read and ate. I hadn't planned the music ahead of time, and they were the only Canadians on my Blackberry at the moment. Which is okay: they are favourites.

It was lovely.

The scene:

Nice of a boat with a big flag to go by just as I was taking the picture. Just in case I might forget what day it was.

One of the ducks... )

And I saw the Snowbirds fly overhead! Ahh, Canada Day. I get such a kick out of it.

It's fun that William and Kate are in town, too. I remember seeing Queen Elizabeth in her visit to Canada in the 1950s - fun to remember.

News photo of them from this morning... )
fajrdrako: ([Canada])

Happy Canada Day!

glorious and free


fajrdrako: (Default)

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