Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rick Mercer Report: The Book: Report

He has also flown with the Snowbirds, skinny-dipped with Bob Rae, urged Margaret Atwood to share her tips on how to tend goal in hockey and – most famously and memorably – persuaded Pierre Berton to share his technique on how to roll a joint. - Vit Wagner, Book Reviewer for the Toronto Star

Rick Mercer has been on CBC Television sharing his comedic political rants on both This Hour has 22 Minutes and the Rick Mercer Report for at least over a decade. In late 2007 Mercer published a book of the rants classified into different themes like "Bullies", "In Bed with Stephen Harper," and "Choosing the Nerd." The book is hillarious while also recounting some of Canada's recent political history.

One hillarious situation that Mercer finds himself in the book includes his dinner with Steven. No not Steven Harper, but Steven Fletcher the Quadraplegic MP Charleswood - St. James - Assiniboia (Manitoba). Funny things that ensue with Mr. Fletcher include running around Parliament Hill in high speeds on Steven's electric wheel chair. Further, the recounting of Mr. Fletcher being forced to sit on an airplane at 1:00 A.M. on the tarmac in Ottawa as no one from the airline could remember where his wheelchair was. Eventually Fletcher found himself in the airport chapel sleeping on air mattress while the search for the chair continued. This turned for the worse as the muslim prayer time came and went. Steven took part with a big grin on his face. Mercer has a way of bringing all these stories together into a funny recount of life as a unique MP.

The only thing one could argue about in this book is the price at $29.95. Readers may flock away because of the price. Why? Because most of the rants are available either: by watching reruns of Mercer's television shows on CBC and the Comedy Channel or pulling up the rants on YouTube. Sure even visiting Mercer's own website would probably give you some look at Mercer humour. So, some would say, why would you go out to Chapters and spend thirty big ones when you could head to the beer store spend almost that amount on a two-four and settle back for some Rick Mercering on the cheap using all the above? But then you would miss out on Rick Mercer's take, on page 192 of the book, on why he was appalled on by Scott Reid's comment on the Conservative child care plan in December 2005. Weirdly this clip wasn't yet available on the Internet as of this writing.

Overall, I found the book to be quite good in it's wit and humour. He makes fun of politicians in his rants then the next day could be hanging out with them. Doubting this? Just ask Bob Rae! It's his bare bottom on the last page of the book yet Rae gets lampooned a couple of times in the book. Somehow Rick Mercer does this all in the name of comedy, but now recorded in book form.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Did you ever wonder about your Alma Mater?

Sometimes you look back at your Alma mater and ask yourself "how in the heck did I chose this place?" This usually is preceded with the question "how in the heck did this place become so screwed up?"

I've already had these two questions asked of myself a couple of years ago when I ran across a guy who was being witheld his convocation privilages at York University due to several unpaid parking tickets. Thus the blog entry of "York's best graduate" was born.

I thought the University of Ottawa was safe (insert laugh track here) from something similar to the above. But I was wrong...

On Monday January 12th I was walking through the University of Ottawa campus on my way, with my skates, to the Rideau Canal. I looked over and saw the above sign post. I did a double take and couldn't believe my eyes.
At the University of Ottawa they teach students to think critically and logically for themselves. But apparently things have changed

Now the University believes that people pulling out of the parking lot accross from the Lamoureaux building (home of the Faculty of Education...aka...the home of those whose future is in the teaching profession no less) cannot think that a "One Way" sign pointing left means, "Hey I cannot turn right." No sir that would be called thinking critically and/or logically. Apparently the University believes students, not to mention future teachers, are no longer to think for themselves and not make that ever tempting right hand turn.

What is ironic is that these same drivers that don't understand the one way concept and require that "No Right hand turn" sign, the University deems smart enough to want their money. Why else would they require those entering and exiting that parking lot to pay for their spot using a complicated pay and display MACHINE!

How in the heck did the University of Ottawa's logic become so screwed up?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vacation in Ottawa: Days 4 & 5

Thursday and Friday were my last days on vacation in Ottawa.

Thursday I spent time visiting the National Gallery of Canada and a quick tour of Major's Hill Park.

Friday I attempted to visit "the Marvelous Mustard Shop" at 109 Sparks Street at both 10:15 A.M. and 11:45 A.M. but the store never opened. In fact the store doesn't have hours of operation even posted on their front window or door. All there was one worker in the store at the main counter working away while the front door was locked. I rattled the door pretty hard and yet he didn't look up. How can you be closed for business in the middle of the day and still seem to still be in operation?

Between 10:15 and 11:45 A.M. I visited the National Currency Museum at the Bank of Canada. Admission was free for this.

All in all, my vacation to Ottawa was quite restful yet fun. I got to visit with old friends from University as well as rediscover the museums in Ottawa's downtown area. However, I wanted to visit the Aviation Museum in Rockliffe, but the OC Transpo bus drivers are on strike resulting in no bus service in Ottawa.

There isn't any pictures from my adventures on Friday as my camera was packed ready to go home. So here are some pictures from my adventures on Thursday:

The National Peacekeeping Monument

The Statue of Lieutenant-Colonel John By in Major's Hill Park
John By commanded the forces that dug the Rideau Canal which this statue overlooks.

The National Gallery of Canada

The Ramp from the Main Entrance of the National Gallery

Keep watching the Ottawa section of my Scrapbook on my website for more photos of Ottawa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vacation in Ottawa: Day 3

On Wednesday I headed to Parliament Hill in the morning and the Museum of Civilization in the afternoon.

On Parliament Hill I participated in a tour of the Centre Block. I was hoping to get a chance to take pictures of both the House of Commons and Senate. Last year I was unable to do this as there was a Mock Parliament being held by Queen's University in both. This year they were using the House of Commons only thus the Senate was open. A note to future visitors, please do not visit the Parliament Hill the week of January 10th as Queen's University has in 2007 and 2009 held the Mock Parliament which closes down either both the Senate and the House of Commons or just one of them.

Now on with a few pictures of this day...

The archway at the entrance to the Library of Parliament

the Hall of Honour

The Portrait of Queen Victoria

The portrait of King Edward

A look at the Senate

The former U.S. Postal Service uniform of John Ratzenberger who starred as Cliff Claven in Cheers
Keep watching the Ottawa section of my Scrapbook on my website for more photos of Ottawa.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vacation in Ottawa: Day 2

On Tuesday I walked along Wellington Street to the Canadian War Museum. I hadn't yet visited the new Canadian War Museum located on Lebreton Flats.

On the way I took several pictures of different buildings in between. So here we go on another photo adventure in Ottawa!

The Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill.

The Centre Block overlooking the Centennial Flame

The Bank of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada.

The Canadian War Museum

Samual Honey's War Medals from the First World War. Note the Victoria Cross on the far left.

Keep watching the Ottawa section of my Scrapbook on my website for more photos of Ottawa.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vacation in Ottawa: Day 1

It's been two years since I visited Ottawa. I always love visiting this city to catch up with what has changed since my last visit and to reminisce about the old days of strolling around the nation's capital as a know it all university student.

It seemed like perfect timing to visit Ottawa. No Winterlude (I've done it too many times) and some of my friends are into town so I can drop by for a quick visit.Add Image The only downfall is the OCTranspo bus strike is on and the city's transit system is non-existant.

Today I really did two things. One was skate on the Rideau Canal and the second was walk around Parliament Hill with my digital camera taking pictures of all the historical statues and whatever else I found interesting. So here is a photo and video montage of my day.

I started with slapping on my skates and heading down the Rideau Canal from the University of Ottawa entrance to the Lansdowne Park entrance and back again. Of course on the way back a Beavertail was in order.

Following that I had lunch at Burger King at the Rideau Centre (I know FINE DINING!).

I then set out to Parliament Hill to take pictures of the statues and if I found an interesting angle to take a picture from I did it! I even timed an interesting video of the Peace Tower striking 3 O'Clock. Hopefully I will be able to go into the Centre Block this week in order to take more pictures inside including, hopefully, the House of Commons and the Senates grand architecture.

The Centre Block peaking through the Queen's Gates.

The Centre Block illuminated by the afternoon sun.

The Peace Tower Carrillon striking 3 O'Clock.

Watch for more photos of Ottawa in the Ottawa Section of my scrapbook on my website.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Not in my Backyard...after you move in!

I hate idiots with a passion like anyone else. The people that seem so stupid you wonder how they ever made it to live past a certain age or were able to graduate from university in the first place. Everything from how people drive, how they take up the full width of an aisle in a grocery store to running a simple chain restaurant. One has to learn about living with idiots everyday. Solutions include preplanning alternate routes in traffic in case an idiot causes an accident; simply leaving when a Country Style doesn't accept a coupon that their own parent company published in that days paper; to just simply having patience for idiotic people.

In today's Toronto Star there is an article about the development around the Redpath Sugar Refinery on Toronto's harbourfront. Redpath Sugar, a nearby condo developement and the local waterfront development management has come together to develop neighbouring pieces of land to the sugar refinery. The developers of the condos thought that their residents would love to overlook Lake Ontario and watch the large ocean liners come into Redpath to unload their goods and head back out again. The developers, though, did their homework by working with Redpath over possible issues. As the article notes, one of the major issues is that the ocean liners can come in at any time of day or night. The boats tend to be noisy. So the condo developers worked with the Redpath Sugar Refinery to buffer the noise as much as possible. There are other issues but the Toronto Star article, and accompanying video, provide lots of problems and solutions as is.

The only thing not mentioned by the condo developers was if a clause in the each condo's sales agreements that there is currently an large sugar refinery industrial operation next door that does create noise. Hopefully this would prevent the idiots that purchase the condos from complaining about the industrial noise emanating from the sugar refinery next door. But then again, the fact that their is a fully functioning sugar refinery and the clause in the contract might still be missed by a few people who will inevitably complain five to ten years down the road about the said noise.

In Aurora there are similar idiots like those who would complain about the condo next to the sugar refinery in Toronto. In Aurora there is a rail line that originates in Toronto and winds its way up through Vaughan, King Township, Aurora, Newmarket, Bradford and onwards to Barrie. This line, in its heyday used to go all the way up to North Bay or Sudbury and connect into western Canada. Eventually the line was cut back by CN Rail to Barrie.

As a child growing up relatively close to the rail line in the south end of Aurora, I could hear the nightly freight trains blowing their horns as they travelled through the town. The same thing occurred in the mornings with the commuter trains destined for Union Station in Toronto. I was able to tell, by the frequency and length of the train whistles, as to where the trains were in Aurora and how much further they had to go until I couldn't hear them anymore.

Today Aurora has grown quite significantly since then growing to a population, according to the 2006 census, to over 47,629 people. Quite a few people have moved into Aurora which also increases the number of idiots moving into town (that is if you believe there is an idiot to regular population quotient). Newcomers to Aurora (read: newly moved in idiots) are now complaining about the train whistles interupting their slumber in the middle of the night and early morning from the odd freight train and GO Trains. The town council has now spent over ten thousand dollars in completing a study and obtaining the necessary approvals from York Region, Transport Canada, and GO Transit. All except Transport Canada has given their approval. Transport Canada is requesting an updated study as the report has languished since 2006.

The town and its taxpayers are not done yet. After Transport Canada approves the report the Town and others levels of government (read: more taxpayers money being spent) are going to have to pay for new horns and other sounding devices for the four level crossings which will probably cost over one hundred thousand in the end.

Over one hundred thousand will be spent because recent home buyers seemed to have missed a railway through town. Is this a new railway put through and the property owners are complaining about the noise? No the rail line has been coming to Aurora since the 1850s and even had a decent rail yard near current day middle of town (for more on Aurora's rail history see here). So the railway, like the Redpath Sugar plant in Toronto, was there first before the majority of the houses that the people are living in are complaining. I would also dare to say the railway was there before every single person who lives in town currently was even born!

But nonetheless, the people moving to Aurora couldn't be bothered to either do at least Google satellite map search of the town to see what is around or venture around Aurora before they made one of their biggest purchases in their lives, a new home. If they had done so they would have noticed the rail line, railway station and others. They could have inquired with the Town, GO Transit or CN Rail as to the activity on this line in the present and the recent past. If these idiots had done their homework they would have realized freight trains do come through Aurora overnight the odd time and the GO Transit commuter trains are currently eight times a day and are likely to increase to all day service within the next five to ten years. And, big note here to those not yet doing the math: NEWSFLASH TRAINS BLOW THEIR HORNS AT THE CROSSINGS!

But then again, we have to realize idiots will never understand that trains blow their horns and boats unloading a sugar refineries make noise as this would require too much common sense. As we all know idiots don't have common sense. Because of this lack of common sense, a condo developer and sugar refinery have to work on noise and other issues and the Town of Aurora must spend at least a hundred thousand dollars in order to pacifiy idiots who refused to do their homework before moving into the area. Thanks to the idiots, it is the rest of us that have to suffer.

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