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Found 18 results

  1. Immigrants to Quebec find job search hard Last Updated: Friday, September 4, 2009 | 4:16 PM ET CBC News Recent immigrants to Quebec have a harder time finding work than the average person, according to a CBC report. Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years.Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years. (CBC)The unemployment rate for new immigrants living in the province is nearly double the national joblessness average of eight per cent. Language barriers are a major obstacle for many people looking for work, especially in Quebec, where the dominant language is French. But even for French-speaking immigrants, searching for employment can be frustrating. Aurelie Tseng is a Taiwanese immigrant who moved to Quebec two years ago to be with her husband. Tseng has a business degree, speaks French, and is looking for work in her field. But after two years of looking for a job, she remains unemployed, and her discouragement grows. "I have no clue how to do it," Tseng told CBC News. "It takes more courage [now] because I have been depressed for a long time." Tseng has sought advice from YES Montreal, a non-profit organization that offers job-search services. They told her networking is key to finding any job. But networking in a new country is daunting, Tseng said. "In my country nobody does that, nobody would tell you to do that," she admitted. Tseng believes her Taiwanese background has made her job search tougher. "We are more, you know, moderate and modest. You just want to say 'OK, yes, I probably can do this,' but for example people here, they don't like to hear that, they want you to say it out loud: 'Yes I can do it' not just, 'Oh yes I think I can do it,' for example." Tseng said she's hoping to eventually get a break at a bank in Montreal's Chinatown.
  2. CTV Montreal Published Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 11:42PM EST MONTREAL--The Matrix, the Royal, the Sasquatch and now the Montreal Jazz. This city just can’t seem to hold onto professional basketball teams, but players hope this new squad will stick around. “One of the big differences is the league. The league is so legit. When you play away games, you can tell the league is serious. So, it's a big difference,” said Jazz forward Louis-Patrick Levros The Jazz have replaced the Kebs as the province's only team in the National Basketball League, the current owners of the franchise until a proper ownership group is put in place. “Every game was played last year, you got the website, everything was very serious which is the first time that I saw a league at that level to be so serious. All the players have to be cleared through Basketball Canada which means our league is well respected,” said Jazz General Manager Pascal Jobin. “They put in hard work to get a team here in Montreal and hopefully we can continue doing it. So this year is very important for the city and the team,” said Jazz centre Sani Ibrahim. With the exception of two players, the team is comprised entirely of Quebecers, something the league surely hopes will finally attract a loyal following. “We are really happy with a group of hard charging Quebecois players,” said head coach Alejandro Hasbani “For me it's definitely just a blessing. After I left Concordia, it's been three or four years since I haven't gotten anything. I've just been working. I miss the game of basketball and to have this opportunity I’m just blessed and I work every day just to be in this position,” said point guard Damian Buckley. As for the product, fans will be pleasantly surprised, the Jazz have a good mix of speed, size and talent—something that will complement the team’s blue collar mentality. “I think we're going to come out and play hard,” said Ibrahim. “That’s the most important thing. We’re probably not the best talent in the league but for sure we're going to play hard and get some wins.” Read more: http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/sports/montreal-s-newest-sports-franchise-the-jazz-1.1035875#ixzz2CADHMg7d
  3. The French election and business The terror The 75% tax and other alarming campaign promises Apr 7th 2012 | PARIS | from the print edition EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC, a bio-analytics firm, is the sort of enterprise that France boasts about. It is fast-growing, international and hungry to buy rivals. So people noticed when in March it decamped to Luxembourg. Observers reckon it was fleeing France’s high taxes. It will soon be joined by Sword Group, a successful software firm, which voted to move to Luxembourg last month. As France enters the final weeks of its presidential campaign, candidates are competing to promise new measures that would hurt business. François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, and the current favourite to win the second and final round on May 6th, has promised a top marginal income-tax rate of 75% for those earning over €1m ($1.3m). He has declared war on finance. If the Socialists win, he pledges, corporate taxes will rise and stock options will be outlawed. Other countries welcome global firms. “France seems to want to keep them out,” sighs Denis Kessler, the boss of SCOR, a reinsurer. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an even leftier candidate than Mr Hollande, has been gaining ground. Communists marched to the Bastille on March 18th to support him. The right offers little solace. Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, is unpopular partly because of his perceived closeness to fat cats. To distance himself, he has promised a new tax on French multinationals’ foreign sales. If Mr Hollande wins, he may water down his 75% income-tax rate. But it would be difficult to back away from such a bold, public pledge. And doing business in France is hard enough without such uncertainty. Companies must cope with heavy social charges, intransigent unions and political meddling. The 35-hour work week, introduced in 2000, makes it hard to get things done. Mr Hollande says he will reverse a measure Mr Sarkozy introduced to dilute its impact by exempting overtime pay from income tax and social charges. The 75% income-tax rate is dottier than a pointilliste painting. When other levies are added, the marginal rate would top 90%. In parts of nearby Switzerland, the top rate is around 20%. French firms are already struggling to hire foreign talent. More firms may leave. Armand Grumberg, an expert in corporate relocation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm, says that several big companies and rich families are looking at ways to leave France. At a recent lunch for bosses of the largest listed firms, the main topic was how to get out. Investment banks and international law firms would probably be the first to go, as they are highly mobile. Already, the two main listed banks, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, are facing queries from investors about Mr Hollande’s plan to separate their retail arms from investment banking. He has also vowed to hike the corporate tax on banks from 33% to nearly 50%. In January Paris launched a new €120m ($160m) “seed” fund to attract hedge funds. Good luck with that. Last month Britain promised to cut its top tax rate from 50% to 45%. No financial centre comes close to Mr Hollande’s 75% rate (see chart). Large firms will initially find it hard to skedaddle. Those with the status ofsociété anonyme, the most common, need a unanimous vote from shareholders. But the European Union’s cross-border merger directive offers an indirect route: French firms can merge with a foreign company. Big groups also have the option of moving away the substance of their operations, meaning decision-making and research and development. Last year, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the boss of Schneider Electric, an energy-services company, moved with his top managers to run the firm from Hong Kong (where the top tax rate is 15%). For now, the firm’s headquarters and tax domicile remain in France. But for how long? Pressure to leave could come from foreign shareholders, says Serge Weinberg, the chairman of Sanofi, a drugmaker. “American, German or Middle Eastern shareholders will not tolerate not being able to get the best management because of France’s tax regime,” he says. At the end of 2010, foreign shareholders held 42% of the total value of the firms in the CAC 40, the premier French stock index. That is higher than in many other countries. It is not clear whether the 75% tax rate would apply to capital gains as well as income. As with most of the election campaign’s anti-business pledges, the detail has been left vague. Mr Sarkozy has offered various definitions of what he means by “big companies”, which would have to pay his promised new tax. Some businessfolk therefore hope that the most onerous pledges will be quietly ditched once the election is over. But many nonetheless find the campaign alarming. French politicians not only seem to hate business; they also seem to have little idea how it actually works. The most debilitating effects of all this may be long-term. Brainy youngsters have choices. They can find jobs or set up companies more or less anywhere. The ambitious will risk their savings, borrow money and toil punishing hours to create new businesses that will, in turn, create jobs and new products. But they will not do this for 25% (or less) of the fruits of their labour. Zurich is only an hour away; French politics seem stuck in another century. http://www.economist.com/node/21552219
  4. Montreal goes to Chicago Windy City gets its own comedy festival Montreal’s prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival is spreading its wings – with a new festival in Chicago. The 25-year-old event, a long-time favourite of talent-spotting American TV executives, has teamed up with the TBS network for the new festival in summer 2009. It comes after the rival HBO cable network cancelled its comedy arts festival in Aspen, Colorado, in favour of a less industry-orientated event in Los Angeles. Ellen DeGeneres will headline the five-day event, but the rest of the line-up – including stand-up, improv and sketch shows, plus Latino and black showcases, will not be announced until the autumn. Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, sad: ‘We couldn’t be happier that the enormously talented and always funny Ellen DeGeneres is on board. Just For Laughs: A Very Funny Festival is a perfect opportunity for us to showcase some of the best talents in the comedy industry.’ Just For Laughs president Gilbert Rozon added: ‘Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Just For Laughs started out as a small local comedy showcase and has grown and evolved to become one of the biggest producers of comedy in the world. We are thrilled to be involved in this endeavour with TBS, and to have Chicago as our flagship comedy event in the US.’ Chicago has an illustrious comedy heritage, especially with improv and sketch acts, with comedians such as John Belushi, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, and Steve Carell starting their careers there. http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2008/02/20/6439/montreal_goes_to_chicago?rss
  5. Story God bless Quebec for making life so hard for foreign trained doctors to practice here, even after passing exams here in Canada / Quebec. Honestly if they got rid of the damn language law, Montreal and the rest of the province would grow in more ways than one. Down with Bill 101.
  6. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-working-group-formed-to-improve-citys-business-outlook Montreal has considerable assets when we think of our quality of life, of our spot as the second largest pool of higher-education students in North America and certainly when we think of how safe it is…” Hubert said. There should be a working group that looks at how to retain students. It's all about retention. Students come here from abroad, live for cheap, party hard and then leave. Aside from high taxes, this should be highest priority.
  7. Interesting thread from airliners.net about WS 5th 767-300 Not sure what their routes will be, but will probably be hard to find some un-treaded territory with so many players already on the trans-atlantic market. Perhaps stuff from the west-coast to Asia? Anyone know when they're supposed to start flying them? http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/6416411/
  8. Alberta's heritage savings fund hit hard The Canadian Press October 14, 2008 at 4:45 PM EDT Edmonton — Falling stock prices have sliced roughly $1 billion from Alberta's rainy-day savings account. Finance Minister Iris Evans told the legislature that the value of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund has been reduced to $16-billion — a drop of roughly 6 per cent since June. But she says the loss is only on paper because the province isn't selling any of the stocks that have lost value recently. Evans is promising a further update on the heritage fund at a public meeting Thursday in Edmonton and again in the second-quarter fiscal update next month. Premier Ed Stelmach has said there's nearly $8 billion set aside in a separate fund that will be used to maintain government programs at current levels if the economy falters. Mr. Stelmach said last week the province is not immune to current market fluctuations, but is “prepared to weather any storm.”
  9. Plan Nord' exploited Mining, energy Charest would expand Hydro-Québec output WILLIAM MARSDEN, The Gazette Published: 14 hours ago Premier Jean Charest ventured into solid Parti Québécois territory yesterday where he announced his government's intention to supercharge Hydro-Québec with $19 billion in new energy projects as part of his plan to open Quebec's north to massive development and resource exploitation and make the province an economic powerhouse. "We are the party that forges Quebec's future," he told an audience of Liberal faithful huddled under a large white tent erected in the rain-soaked Port of Sept Îles. As part of a continued string of staged events where local Liberals pack the crowd, the premier used the opening of new port facilities in Sept Îles, which were actually completed two years ago, to hammer home his vision of turning Quebec's north into an economic powerhouse of mining and energy exploitation. He calls it the "Plan Nord." His said new energy expansion plans that will add 3,500 megawatts to Hydro-Québec's grid by 2035. That's enough power to run about 600,000 homes - or Quebec City. Charest traveled in a chartered plane from Montreal to Sept Îles Thursday with his wife, Michelle, and then flew yesterday to the town of Gaspé to tour a Danish factory called LM Glasfiber that makes windmill blades. From Montreal to the Gaspé, every time he tours a plant, the Liberals make sure workers are lined up to shake his hand for the cameras. The Liberals campaign slogan, "The economy first, yes?" festoons his podiums and he never fails to mention the need for a majority government to navigate the province through the international slowdown. Yet in most of the areas he visits, the economy is doing well. With the exception of forestry, most other resource industries continue to thrive. So Charest warns of an "approaching storm." But it's a hard sell. Unless you are at sea, it's hard to see the hurricane before it hits and Charest finds himself frequently questioned about the embattled health-care system. This problem he blames on Pauline Marois and the PQ when they retired thousands of nurses and doctors in the late 1990s, creating a huge deficit of medical staff. He argues that without wealth generation Quebec cannot maintain its social services. Yet the expansion plans he announced yesterday won't see the light of day until at least 2015. So he tries to appeal to Quebecer's pride. "Quebec's north is mineral resources, it's energy for the future, clean and renewable energy. It's energy that we have developed and it's energy that is in our genes," he told the audience to great applause. "We have to plan for the future, for the future of our children," he said. Hydro-Québec is about to embark on several giant projects that will add another 4,500 megawatts to the grid, increasing its overall capacity of 38,000 megawatts by about 12 per cent. They will exact a high environmental price, environmentalists say. Charest hopes the grandeur of his economic vision will entrance Quebecers to support his Plan Nord strategy. He links it with signing labour mobility agreements with France and Ontario, which he claims will help open new markets for Quebec's resources. But even here it often sounds as though he wants to give jobs to foreigners. Yet it's hard to gage audience reaction, since they are all Liberals.
  10. Why having Montreal fun in Toronto is, well, work Publié par Alexandra Molotkow le 2011-06-10 12:50 I just got back from Montreal. Returning to Toronto from Montreal is a learning experience. For example, I learned that my apartment does not strictly count as indoors. Also, that work and fun are actually two different things. I have lived in Toronto my whole life and I don’t know Montreal very well. I only have basic impressions of it. Here they are: Montreal is a trading post where you exchange your hopes and dreams for a mansion that costs 25 cents a month. When you get there, angels gently unburden you of your ambitions and hand you a beer. If you want more beer, you can get it at the convenience store, which has a more festive name than “convenience store.” You can drink anywhere and any time you want, because you will never again have to be sober for anything. Montreal actually has by-laws against working, so if you move there you have to hang out forever. And the people you’ll be hanging out with are friendly and enthusiastic because they live in mansions and never have to work. They’re also very good looking, and they have sex all the time. They would like to have sex with you, too. In Toronto, everyone works hard and still doesn’t think they’re working hard enough. Those who do not work hard, and instead throw DJ nights from time to time, are known as bums, and they live in flophouses because in Toronto a tarpaulin over a tree stump costs 850 dollars a month. Because rent is high, and because the pressure to not be a bum is so great, people in Toronto are ornery and they want you to get out of their face with your foolishness. Toronto has by-laws against eye contact, so if you want to have sex you have to baldly proposition someone. Toronto has some fruity things, like Pedestrian Sundays, but they only exist because of the bum lobby. Every once in a while, Torontonians start talking about how Toronto is too uptight and everyone here needs to have more fun. So they form fun militias to enforce policies like always dancing at shows. Whether you like the music is not an issue, because, if you believe in fun, any music a Torontonian makes is automatically good. The Toronto version of fun is derived from an idea of fun that Torontonians spend a lot of time seriously considering, and it involves playing the glockenspiel and making up kooky portmanteaus like “Torontopia.” Torontonians have a lot of anxiety about fun because, in Toronto, fun is just another pressure on top of not being a bum and figuring out who’s going to have sex with you. Having fun is an accomplishment, and it’s wasted if no one else knows you’re having it. So the experience of fun is work, in a way, because you have to tweet about it while it’s happening. In Toronto, having fun kind of sucks. You can stay out until 6 am, but how are you going to function tomorrow? So Torontonians cheat by reading fun into everything. Getting a slice of pizza after midnight is fun. Drinking beer beyond a legal drinking zone is fun. Seeing a friend on the street is fun. You have to take fun where you can find it, because fun abides a schedule just like everything else. Even if you do manage to schedule fun, there’s no guarantee that others will fit your fun into their schedules. Deep down, Torontonians know that to really have a good time, we need to get on a bus and go to Montreal for the weekend. Coming back sucks, but, at the end of the day, there’s a reason we live in Toronto and not Montreal. We are the authors of our own misery. http://montreal.openfile.ca/en/blog/2011/why-having-montreal-fun-toronto-well-work
  11. New York Times, October 1, 2008 Failed Deals Replace Boom in New York Real Estate By CHARLES V. BAGLI After seven years of nonstop construction, skyrocketing rents and sales prices, and a seemingly endless appetite for luxury housing that transformed gritty and glamorous neighborhoods alike, the credit crisis and the turmoil on Wall Street are bringing New York’s real estate boom to an end. Developers are complaining that lenders are now refusing to finance projects that were all but certain months or even weeks ago. Landlords bewail their inability to refinance skyscrapers with blue-chip tenants. And corporations are afraid to relocate within Manhattan for fear of making the wrong move if rents fall or a flagging economy forces layoffs. “Lenders are now taking a very hard look at each particular project to assess its viability in the context of a softening of demand,” said Scott A. Singer, executive vice president of Singer & Bassuk, a real estate finance and brokerage firm. “There’s no question that there’ll be a significant slowdown in new construction starts, immediately.” Examples of aborted deals and troubled developments abound. Last Friday, HSBC, the big Hong Kong-based bank, quietly tore up an agreement to move its American headquarters to 7 World Trade Center after bids for its existing home at 452 Fifth Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets, came in 30 percent lower than the $600 million it wanted for the property. A 40-story office tower under construction by SJP Properties at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue for the past 18 months still does not have a tenant. And the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe last week suddenly pulled out of what had been an all-but-certain lease of 300,000 square feet of space at Citigroup Center, deciding instead to extend its lease at 666 Fifth Avenue for five years, in part because they hope rents will fall. “Everything’s frozen in place,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s lobbying association, shortly after the stock market closed on Monday. Barry M. Gosin, chief executive of Newmark Knight Frank, a national real estate firm based in New York, said: “Today, the entire financial system needs a lubricant. It’s kind of like driving your car after running out of oil and the engine seizes up. If there’s no liquidity and no financing, everything seizes up.” It is hard to say exactly what the long-term impact will be, but real estate experts, economists and city and state officials say it is likely there will be far fewer new construction projects in the future, as well as tens of thousands of layoffs on Wall Street, fewer construction jobs and a huge loss of tax revenue for both the state and the city. Few trends have defined the city more than the development boom, from the omnipresent tower cranes to the explosion of high-priced condominiums in neighborhoods outside Manhattan, from Bedford-Stuyvesant and Fort Greene to Williamsburg and Long Island City. Some developers who are currently erecting condominiums are trying to convert to rentals, while others are looking to sell the projects. After imposing double-digit rent increases in recent years, landlords say rents are falling somewhat, which could hurt highly leveraged projects, but also slow gentrification in what real estate brokers like to call “emerging neighborhoods” like Harlem, the Lower East Side and Fort Greene. At the same time, some of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s most ambitious large-scale projects — the West Side railyards, Pennsylvania Station, ground zero, Coney Island and Willets Point — are going to take longer than expected to start and to complete, real estate experts say. “Most transactions in commercial real estate are on hold,” said Mary Ann Tighe, regional chief executive for CB Richard Ellis, the real estate brokerage firm, “because nobody can be sure what the economy will look like, not only in the near term, but in the long term.” Although the real estate market in New York is in better shape than in most other major cities, a recent report by Newmark Knight Frank shows that there are “clear signs of weakness,” with the overall vacancy rate at 9 percent, up from 8.2 percent a year ago. Rents are also falling when landlord concessions are taken into account. The real estate boom has been fueled by a robust economy, a steady demand for housing and an abundance of foreign and domestic investors willing to spend tens of billions of dollars on New York real estate. It helped that lenders were only too happy to finance as much as 90 percent of the cost on the assumption that the mortgages could be resold to investors as securities. But that ended with the subprime mortgage crisis, which has since spilled over to all the credit markets, which have come to a standstill. As a result, real estate executives estimate that the value of commercial buildings has fallen by at least 20 percent, though the decline is hard to gauge when there is little mortgage money available to buy the buildings and therefore few sales. Long after the crisis began in 2007, many investors and real estate executives expected a “correction” to the rapid escalation in property values. But after Lehman Brothers, the venerable firm that had provided billions of dollars of loans for New York real estate deals, collapsed two weeks ago, it was clear that something more profound was afoot. And there was an immediate reaction in the real estate world: Tishman Speyer Properties, which controls Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and scores of other properties, abruptly pulled out of a deal to buy the former Mobil Building, a 1.6 million-square-foot tower on 42nd Street, near Grand Central Terminal, for $400 million, two executives involved in the transaction said. Commercial properties are not the only ones facing problems. On Friday, Standard & Poor’s dropped its rating on the bonds used in Tishman’s $5.4 billion purchase of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartment complexes in 2006, the biggest real estate deal in modern history. Standard & Poor’s said it cut the rating, in part, because of an estimated 10 percent decline in the properties’ value and the rapid depletion of reserve funds. The rating reduction shows the growing nervousness of lenders and investors about such deals, which have often involved aggressive — critics say unrealistic — projections of future income. “Any continued impediment to the credit markets is awful for the national economy, but it’s more awful for New York,” said Richard Lefrak, patriarch of a fourth-generation real estate family that owns office buildings and apartment houses in New York and New Jersey. “This is the company town for money,” he said. “If there’s no liquidity in the system, it exacerbates the problems. It’s going to have a serious effect on the local economy and real estate values.”
  12. A few months ago I've installed "Graph-IView- Montréal 2025" on my hard disk but now the downloaded program doesn't want to work. Can somebody provide me with a link where I can download it again please? It seems it is no longer available on the city webpages.
  13. Merci, Au Revoir,Montreal and Hello New York I had the chance to escape from New York (no not like the movie) and visit Montreal, Canada this long Memorial Day Weekend. Wow was I impressed. This was not my first trip to Montreal by a long shot, but it was my first trip as an adult. When I was in college, Montreal meant three things to me: Hockey, Concerts and Strip Clubs. And not always in that order. I failed to see the beauty and the thriving cultural scene through my beer goggles. The city is charming, as are the people, restaurants and scenery. If you want a little bit of Europe without actually going to Europe, Montreal may be just your ticket. Yes, Montreal is in Canada, and Canada is another country, not located in Michigan as one of my crestfallen fellow countrymen discovered on line at the airport when asked for her passport. Much to her chagrin, she discovered she would need a passport to travel to Canada, as Canada is a country, not a state or a city. So much for those improved New York State Regents requirements in geography. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I had the opportunity to visit my friends in Montreal, and they, along with the city, were charming and delightful hosts. While I did not get a chance to take in the whole city, they gave me their perspective. It’s always good to visit a city where you know people, they can show you the off the beaten path gems and diamonds in the rough. If you are located in New York or its environs, East Coast, Montreal is about an hour flight and a world away. I can see why it made the list as one of the world’s cleanest cities. Walking around I was puzzled my first day there. I was thinking to myself “what’s wrong with this picture” and then it hit me - the place is so clean you could probably eat off the sidewalk. I mean not a gum wrapper, plastic bag or tossed away soda can anywhere in sight. It’s obvious that people respect their city and the city does a good job keeping things tidy. A small thing to notice, but when you live in New York, where littering is an art form, you notice these things. Don’t worry New York, you are my hometown and I still love you, and you have vastly improved since the days of my youth, I was just dancing with another girl this weekend and in terms of littering and cleanliness, she just danced better than you. Montreal has a lot to offer - if you are into the nightlife, they have a thriving club and bar scene. Food more your thing? Plenty of top notch restaurants. It’s a city of festivals, and a city of fun. Art and culture more your thing? Plenty of that with galleries and museums, and just the architecture and landscape of the city will leave you breathless. I managed to see a great exposition of Cuban art which I probably would not have had the chance to see since that sort of thing is embargoed in the United States (what, you thought I was not going to get political in this post, that it was all going to be travel tips and city reviews, think again, this is me). The city has a famous Formula One Grand Prix coming up in June, not to mention one of the world’s largest comedy festivals, Just for Laughs, and from what I hear, a kick ass fireworks competition. It also has a casino, located near the famous Biosphere from the 1967 World’s Fair (known as Expo 67). I managed to do what I always do whenever I walk into a casino - lose money. But it has great dining and the trip on Montreal’s Metro was an experience. Makes the average New York City subway ride look like a scene straight of “Nightmare on Elm Street”. Okay, as you might guess I have a come down with a bad case of culture envy, city envy, country envy, with a side order of IAS (Inferior American Syndrome). I get this a lot. I travel somewhere and see how things are and begin to feel like a savage. I tend to forget that in terms of culture, America is extremely young on the world’s stage, we are the bratty teenager compared to most of the world. If you have a brain and a conscience, it’s hard not to hang your head in shame these days. My country is prosecuting a war that is not popular abroad, and is currently lead by a man who is despised and looked upon as a clown by most of the world. Try as we do, we Americans are really culturally naive, and I really feel this when I travel. Let’s just say that after Starbucks, Sex and the City and McDonald’s, our cultural lexicon is extremely limited and we are kidding ourselves when we pump ourselves up with this feeling of superiority. Yes, for now, we are a super power, whatever that means. Our motto should not be “In God We Trust” but “The Sword is Mightier than the Pen”. Okay so this blog entry seems like and exercise in self-hatred and country shame. It is. But as my Canadian friend reminded me this weekend, “You Americans are too hard on yourselves.” That was a refreshing point of view. As I continually feel the necessity to apologize for being an American and living in a country who’s government has sponsored and supported war, misery, crime, and tyranny, I need to be reminded of this - that I, and we as a nation, are indeed too hard on ourselves. Like everywhere else, we have our good and we have our bad. Maybe I will never be a flag waving patriot, but I still love my country and want it to grow and thrive, and yes I want us to stand out in the world, not for what we can do to our enemies if they cross us, but what we can achieve once we set our minds to it. There are a lot of challenges that are currently facing us a nation, and indeed as a globe. The environmental crisis, poverty, hunger, tragedies on a global scale, and lack of faith and trust in established institutions have exploded to the surface and kick us in the balls on a daily basis. Now we can turn away, ignore these issues, grab a beer, watch a ball game, become obsessed with “American Idol” or overindulge in the multitude of distractions that are available to us. Or we can see this as an opportunity to take up these challenges and work with others around the globe to come up with creative solutions. The death toll in the Chinese earthquake alone was over 60,000 people. Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma) has claimed over 140,000 lives. Here in the United States, and estimated 37 milllion people live in poverty according to 2006 data from the US Census Bureau. Domestic violence, addiction, lack of health care coverage, a crippled education system - these are all bigger challenges our country has faced than anything the terrorists can do to us. Soon, we will have the opportunity to select a new President, who will supposedly guide us through this quagmire. But it’s not too early to think about what we can do on the micro level - that means the nation of one - you and I. Can one person change the world - yes believe it or not one person can - one at a time. Keep your eyes open, and you may just see an opportunity to do that.
  14. I'm doing this because someone suggested it to me. If you or any of your friends or family members happens to buy or see a used 13'' MacBook pro with serial number ending in V66D (the serial number is on the back in tiny fonts), I will be happy to buy it back for a much higher price (or give you a nice negotiable cash reward, if you show me where I can buy it). Just let me know the rest of the serial number. It was stolen for me and it will probably soon end up in one of the many used computer shops or pawn shops in town. I have some important school papers and very important personal media which I will try to recover if the hard drive has been cleared. Thanks in advance!
  15. Montreal == Barrayar So, I'm probably not going to get around to doing a really complete trip report post. But there's one thing that eventually got to sticking in my mind, and is probably going to really affect my image of Vorbarr Sultana in the future. The thing is, it gradually became clear that Montreal, at least the part of it that we spent a week in, is a city designed pretty much entirely without regard for the existence of disabled people. There are stairs freaking everywhere. Can't go into most restaurants or shops without going either up or down stairs. Can't, as far as I could tell, use the metro without using a whole ton of stairs. You walk down hallways and there are just little flights of stairs, almost randomly. On the last day there we saw a couple of people in wheelchairs, and I don't know how they manage. It seemed to me that there were all sorts of times when we would be going someplace, and we'd go and go and go on the flat, and then suddenly there would be stairs. And you'd have to turn around and go all the way back where you came from and find a different way, or maybe something entirely different to do. This would drive me completely nuts, were I in a wheelchair. Thankfully I can walk these days, and apart from occasionally feeling like I was in a Bujold novel (not necessarily a bad thing) I had a wonderful time there, and felt something of a connection with the city. It's just a weird piece of setting that struck me rather hard. And a strange thing knowing that as much as I enjoyed being there, it's likely to be somewhat of a fair-weather friend. (Much like San Francisco was, come to think of it.)
  16. MTLskyline

    Music

    What genres/bands do you listen to? I love blues/southern rock like ZZ Top http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY1lCmjldGw I like progressive/psychedelic rock like Pink Floyd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hkjkTe5kZE Also hard rock like AC/DC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdcBosqI1pA Pretty much everything I listen to is 25-30 years old now...