Thursday 29 March 2012

Working in Montréal today --Eat Ethnic

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.

I love Montréal, it is a great city, one of my favorites in Canada and the U.S.  San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Montréal.  Great cities.

Great cities because of the food, the ethnic diversity, the arts, all coincendently on the water.  of course LA is on the water and should it slide into the Pacific I may shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well".  Should the Red River swell up and and consume Winnipeg, again.. meh. (Sorry Rob, you can come stay with us).

 So when the statement is put to me for my agreement, "The predominant position of the French language is the key component of Montréal's originality.  Without it, the city would lose its soul."

I would have to disagree.  Would it be worse off?  Absolutely, but to state that it would lose its soul is much to strong, too much of a devastating conclusion.

And it seems that 63% of Quebecers agree with me, and disagree with that statement, yet it is statements such as this that we're included in a poll conducted by the firm CROP and printed in the magazine L'actualité, and cited in Yves-François Blanchet's in his proposal for a stronger Bill 101.

Really? Lose it's soul?  The soul of a city is its diversity, its people and cultures that mix together in the market place.  Can you imagine a Montréal without a Schwartz's?  No Jewish Deli, no Indian curry, no Italian Pasta, no Mexican, no Chinese, and no Pizza.  Granted I enjoy a slice of Tortiere and a glass of Caribou followed by some sugar pie like the next guy, but every day.. Booooring.

Homogeneity is no way to make a great city, and there is none that do.

But back to the survey/poll, whatever.  People generally find what they are looking for, and CROP certainly did, and with poll questions like the above, they found that the French language is under attack, that French is is danger, danger of disappearing in Quebec, and Blanchet's new Bill 101 is just the thing to save it.

Blanchet's proposals would have Distributel and other businesses seek permission from the Gov't to create jobs that require English, that is just absurd and dangerous to the economy of Quebec.  Quebec is not a self contained entity, no.  Its people and its businesses need to communicate with people from all over the world.  In Distributel's case we have our 11th floor call center and wish to be able to receive calls from customers anywhere in Canada.  Some of those customer speak English, some speak French.

We have our marketing team in Montréal, we need JP and Kate and their team to be able to order up an English flyer drop in Calgary's South West.  I certainly would not want the Quebec Gov't approving or disapproving our business plans, and neither does any other business.

Approval of Blanchet's proposal could result in the greatest exodus of Quebec jobs since the Insurance industry evacuated Montréal to Toronto in the late '70s.

Rest assured, Montréal's soul is intact and thriving.

Have a good day, eat something ethnic for lunch.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Working in Ottawa today --stay cool

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

Hey, remember back in 1966, Pennsylvania, when that meter reader found the remains of Dr. Irving Bentley, dead and burned to nothing but a foot and slipper?  Yes, boys and girls I am writing about none other that Spontaneous Human Combustion SHC for those in need of initialisms.

Charles (Chuckles as the neighbor boys called him) Dickens, Jules Verne, a few Russian authors and that strange lady that lived down 12th St. from me in Lethbridge all wrote stories where SHC played into the plot.  The interesting thing about SHC.. well, aside from the spontaneous combustion part, is that there never seems to be any witnesses of the event.  Okay I think there was one.  jean Saffin burst into flames in her kitchen and the fire put out my her father.  Yeah..  she was in a kitchen. Where there is fire. And oils.

We don't have any eye witness accounts of the shopkeepers's wife explaining, "well there we were chatting after dinner and I was just saying how we should visit my sister Marge, and that we really should.  Marge was older than me so we didn't play together when I was young, but I always liked her, then she married a fellow from Des Moines, an insurance salesman I think, and moved away, why it's only in the last ten years that we've reconnected, what's that?  Oh yes, my husband Irving, as I was saying there we were chatting when he had a strange look on his face like when you need a good belch but you have a clergyman over for dinner.. and then he just started on fire.  I tried to put the fire put but he burned down to just his foot.  I must write my sister right away.."

Why the interest in human combustion?  The air conditioning in the Ottawa office is not on yet, it is only March after all, but with the elevated temperatures this week, and the effects of solar gain of the sun's rays on glass building skin I hear that I am heading into an inferno, an oven, a sauna.

I toyed with the idea of wearing a Speedo and a smile but then there is that whole obligation to maintain a certain office decorum.  So wish me and all of the Ottawa staff luck in not starting afire at their desks.

Have a good day and stay cool.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Working in Montréal today --Soveriegnity are us

Good morning folks,

I will be working in the Montréal office today.

So how about a simple question for you today -- is it wise for a sovereign country to allow foreign control of its communication systems?

A real quick explanation of sovereignty, unlike Bush 43, I will explain it without repeating the word 'sovereign' 10 times within my definition.  A sovereign state has a definable border of its land, and is able to exercise control, determine destiny,pass laws and generally conduct its internal affaires without succumbing to external pressures.

A very quick caveat to that is the Preemptory Norm or jus cogens of International law. Even sovereign states are supposed to not engage in genocide, slavery, piracy (on the high seas, copies of Windows 95 isn't really covered), acts of aggression on neighbors, etc.  These limitations are a reasonable encroachment on sovereignty.  Not really relevant to my question, but I always think a definition should be somewhat complete.

I think Bush's definition was something to the effect of, "A sovereign country has sovereignty, it has been granted to be sovereign.. ", I thought that rather lame and the ramblings of a bafoon, but what the hell do I know --it's not like I have been president..

Back to my question.

Canada will now allow foreign control of Canada's Cell, Internet and Telephone companies.  The foreign controllable companies are limited to those that have less than a 10% market share, but once they have foreign control they are free to dominate a market.

The move is designed to bolster competition in Canada which in theory results in better services and value for dollar for Canadians, but would a better move not be to ensure that Canadian regulations and practices enable homegrown competition?  

When Distributel participated in one of the spectrum auctions a few years back, the problem was not that we didn't have enough cash, the problem was that Bell and Rogers kept pushing the price up on the spectrum we were seeking for no other reason than to prevent us from entering the market.  If we had an absurd amount of cash from wealthy and good natured foreign investors we still could not have purchased the spectrum as we would have had to charge absurd prices to any customers to ensure any rate of return.

Canadians would have been better served if the predatory practices designed to maintain Bell and Rogers' cosy oligopoly were held in check by the regulator.

and back to the question.

What happens when foreign controlled telecom companies flood our market and do actually gain 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 ... percent market share?  Perhaps these are the same foreign companies that we are selling our oil patch to, or our farm land.

If we as Canadians are happy to reverse our evolution and go back to the days where Canada was a simple colony with laws and policies affecting our destiny were being passed at a table in another country, this is how to do it.

Sovereignty is not a state carved in stone, it is something that a state and peoples must defend and maintain.

Perhaps if we get our application in early, Canada can qualify for some IMF and WB dollars.  Think I will go farming and plant some cash crops.

Yeah.. that wasn't funny at all.  

A snail crawls up on to a bar and asks for a drink.  The bartender, instead of serving the snail the drink, flicks him (yeah, I know about the whole snail male/female androgynous thing) out the open door and the snail bounced down the street.  A year later the same snail crawled back up on the bar and yells out, "what the hell was that for!"

Have a good day, stay real.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Working in Edmonton today --Tin Pot Dictators and Rock and Roll

Good morning all,

On my way to Edmonton this A.M., although they (you likely remember them from my last missive) are working on a small problem on the plane which will delay departure by a minimum of 45 minutes.

So I will grab a cup of coffee and wait for the cattle drive onto the plane.  In the meantime.. for some inexplicable reason, Manuel Noriega popped into my head, more specifically the December  1989 Invasion of Panama --Code name Block Party, or was it Operation Just Cause, or better yet, Operation Just b'cause.

Just a few years prior, The Iron Lady invaded the Falkland Islands in a tremendous display of how tough the Brits are are beat the crap out of Argentina, I understand that both bi-planes of the Argentine Air Force were shot down by the Royal Air Force Harriers.

Not to be out done, Bush 41 searched frantically for a small nation that he too could invade.

But wait.. This is not about Latin-American politics or any kind of exposé on tin pot dictators or their Panamanian counterparts.

Nope..  Is about Rock and Roll.

Two questions came to mind.

The first was instead of playing various R&R tunes for ten days in an effort to drive Noriega out of the Vatican Embassy where he was holed up, why didn't the Psyops guys just play one bad song over and over.  And over.  I am thinking MacArther Park(Richard Harris) or (and much worse) You're Having My Baby (Paul Anka).  I would be ready for surrender after about 3 hours of hearing about leaving that damn cake out in the rain.. again and again.

The second was, has anyone (or have they) compiled a list of the songs that were played, and are they available on uTunes as a downloadable set?

Have a good day, please feel free post your own set of worst rock and roll tunes.  Just so you know, I had considered Saturday Night (Bay City Rollers) but Having my Baby is just so much worse.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Working in Montréal today --Météo

Good morning folks,

I will be working in the Montréal office today, and just when you think you have figured out my repeating schedule and have confidence that you can predict where I will be next week, I will not be in Ottawa next Thursday, but instead will first be in a few Alberta cities and then off to B.C. to have dinner with my grandson.

Speaking of predictions (scroll back up, I nestled it in there to help in this segue), Toronto weather, or should I say, the recent Toronto meteorological predictions have reaffirmed my belief that the only accurate predictions are those made afterwards.  Much like the backward decodings of the scribblings of that drunk doctor, Nostradamus.

"look!  He wrote about Hister!  He must have meant Hitler.". Nope, sorry Sparky, he actually meant Hister, the common name of the River Danube.  Have another drink.  "No.. he did that to hide the predictions in shrouds of mystery.". Really?  Go away.

Back to Meteorology.  I'll take another segue (and tighten my seatbelt, flight 402 has encountered some turbulence), ever wonder what Meteors and Weather have in common?  I'll save you the etymology research (although how will you know if I am just making this up?  Better do your own), Meteor, Meteore, Meteorum.. Middle Fr., Greek, Middle Latin all refer to stuff that falls out of the sky and may land on you.  Meta + Aorus. Over, high up + In Air.

So Rain.. Aqueous Meteors. Rainbows.. Luminous Meteors.. Lightning and shooting stars, Igneous Meteors..

Back one segue, oops.. we're sitting with Nostradamus, too early for a drink, let's go back another, yes.. The Weather predictions.

Last week they (they, the somewhat unidentified group of individuals that are responsible for all things.  i.e. Why don't they make the tab thingy longer, it's too short to fit in the slot thing.  I hate Ikea.  --They), yes they predicted the winter snow storm of the year, the snow storm by which all others would be judged.  A snow storm that you could tell your grandchildren about (I won't be mentioning it to Ethan when i see him next week).  A storm that would remind us of the insignificance of man, a reminder of the awesome (here is is folks, the only valid use of the word 'awesome' in the last two years) power and wonder of nature.  I printed up t-shirts, "I survived the most awesome snow storm of February 2012!".

So there we were with extra bags of Cheetos!(tm) and beer (one should always prepare for the worst case --Pizza and Chinese food can always be delivered even in snow storms, but it's hard to get someone to drop off beer and Cheetos!(tm)) yes, waiting for the snow storm.  There were a few drops of rain.  Some breeze tickled through the leafless branches of the trees bringing back memories of past summer's green leaves shimmering in the warm sunlight (yeh, I know -had a certain poetic pleasantness) but no snow!  Oh wait.. There was a few flakes that almost landed in the backyard but they became caught in an awesome updraft and didn't actually hit the ground.

And then this morning.

I think that the report was for two degrees this morning; I don't remember the call for an icy driveway.  As I slid backwards down the driveway I remembered how much Nostradamus annoys me.

Have a good day.

Oh, btw, if eating veal is wrong, is eating baby carrots also wrong?