Monthly notable news (W12-16)

Another month (or so) has passed at lightning speed. Lots of stuff to do, particularly now that spring has come. We had plenty of rain at first, however now the weather is more enjoyable but still a little chilly. The humidity has made my left knee (and a bit my right ankle) hurt and, for a week, my back pain came back with a vengeance — libraries can be hard work sometimes (and not only for the soul; although it can be amusing too). I also had an episode of high blood glucose and I feared I would become a full-blown diabetic but it returned to my pre-diabetic “normal” after a week. This is no work for old men…

It has been a busy month. We’ve visited the notary twice for mom’s succession paperwork and there was plenty of work around the house particularly for the garden cleaning. I also had to deal with many unexpected problems: some strange Bell bug kept me from my blog for a week and I had some leaky roof, front door handle and water heater issues (the latter two just this weekend). Installing two more Outdoor Nest Cams (as one of my cheap IP cameras died following water damage inside the window) has been a strain on the Bell Wi-Fi causing serious performance problems. I’ll probably solve this issue by going back to Videotron, but only for the internet (I’ll share my sister’s).

A question on FB made me look back at my collection of old books and share my love for them. I also purchased a new Telephoto Mirror Lens for my camera. My TV viewing habits didn’t change much. I still watch too much TV: the new season for old series (When calls the Heart, Into the Badlands, Doctor Who) but two series are particularly worth mentioning for their quality: Anne and The Expense (and its beautiful opening credits with Norwegian vocals — listen on Soundcloud and Youtube). I also wanted to go see Ghost in the Shell in theatre but the reviews were not too good so I decided to wait. However, I’ll definitely won’t miss the Valerian‘s movie when it is released!

I have always considered blogging (and writing in general) as an essential mental exercice (as much as my daily walks) to keep in shape, the mind sharp and age better. However, now I have some doubt. It sometimes feels like a strain since I have less and less time to do it. I have to split my waking hours between my wife-together time, my me-time and work (from which I always come back exhausted). Lately, I had lots of problems with the blog (the Dropbox issue, not being able to log in for an entire week) and it leaves me with the dilema of having to choose between fixing the layout on the old posts or writing new material (or try to do both and be unhappy with the result). I just wonders if it is really worth it.

Maybe I should try less to DO something and just take more time to enjoy life right now (going to movies, to the museums, to the botanical garden, READ more, etc.) without always thinking about sharing it, what I would say about it, which angle I could use to explain the subject better or tell an interesting story about the whole experience. My health won’t improve with the years and I am quite sure that there is less road in front of me than behind, so maybe I should just take the most of it and enjoy the moment. Who’s reading me anyway. Although, I often say that I am writing for myself, so I can read what I wrote one day and remember how it was (particularly when I would not remember it at all). It is just like a journal left adrift in the binary stream of time, to create some sort of posterity.

Both ways seem kind of selfish: if I do write I feel guilty of not doing more of my life and, if I don’t, I feel I am letting myself down. Either way it is a losing battle. •Sigh* It’s the age-old depressing philosophical question: Did I ever really lived and did it really matter? I can only press on and hope for the best.

Finally, I nevertheless managed to stay acquainted with the (ever so depressing) affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly divided into a few thematics), after the jump.

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The irresistible question

I swear  someone asked me this exact question at the library yesterday :

When I first read this (now defunct) Unshelved comic strip several years ago, I dreamt to answer exactly like Dewey did if I ever found myself in this situation. Unfortunately, such sarcasm would be considered very poor customer service so I abstained. After a long pause, I smiled (actually, I barely resisted laughing out loud) and I referred  the customer to the reference librarian. Always do like the t-shirt says: “Keep calm and let the librarian handle it” !

It reminds me of this situation, years ago, when I was trying to make a library card for a guy who didn’t want to give his personal information because he was an anarchist and he didn’t want the big-brotherly government to know anything about him. Incredulous, I said to the guy: “Wait a minute. You say you are an anarchist, but you want to benefit from all the free library services? Don’t you think it’s a little hypocritical?” He seemed unfazed but, since he refused to provide any of the required information, I couldn’t register him to the library. I found such audacity unbelievable. We really see the strangest stuff in a library…

Old Books

I love old stuff, particularly coins and books. Unfortunately, I don’t have the enthusiasm of youth, the time to travel nor the money to collect them anymore. Old stuff is now rare, harder to find and, mostly, more expensive. So I have to make do with enjoying what I already have (and sometime sharing this pleasure with others).

Unlike some of my friends, I don’t have really rare stuff (one has a page from a Book of Hours or another has a 1661 french edition of Suetonius!) but I have just a little more than a dozen ancient books that I cherish. Some because they are history books or works of an ancient author, others just because they are old (and despite the fact they are insipid religious documents).

Inspired by a question I was asked on Facebook, I invite you to share my joy after the jump >>
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Weekly notable news (W10-11)

The last couple of weeks were so busy that it felt like months.

Strangely, after getting temperatures up to 10℃ in February, we had nearly -20℃ in March! And, as it warmed up a little and all the snow we had received during the winter had almost melted, we got hit by the biggest snowstorm of the year! This mid-march wallop left us with almost two feet (sixty centimeters) of snow in one night and one day! It felt like January again! Today, Spring has officially arrived and it is above zero again, but I have the feeling that this roller-coaster is not over. There’s really no seasons anymore…

It was the sixth anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster (as well as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster), but lately the news were dominated by the various scandals rocking the Trump Presidency, mostly the Russia Dossier and allegations of Russian interference during the electoral process. Despite Trump doing his best to distract our attention from it, it become increasingly clear that his campaign has had contacts and possibly collusion with Russian interests. We can only wonder how much his Presidency is politically and financially compromised by this. Lately, I’ve started watching MSNBC and it is fascinating. It gives me a brand new perspective. Now, considering that it took only ONE blow-job to put Clinton on the impeachment path and that Trump has been plagued already with numerous questionable business deals and sexual misconduct allegations, I am wondering how much more it will take to remove this evil clown from office !!!

Another notable event was the fact that my Jawbone fitness band broke and that I replaced it with a Fitbit. It’s my third Jawbone fitness band that breaks (first a UP24, then a UP2 and finally a UP3 and in all cases it was the rubber of the band that broke apart) so, that’s it, I’ve decided to never use that company again (too bad, I really liked their app). Considering the reviews and quality/price ratio, I chose to replace it with a Fitbit Flex 2 band. Since I already have an Apple Watch, I decided to go with a simpler model and I was impressed with Fitbit’s clever concept of the device itself being separated from the band so you can switch band at will for fashion reasons or if it breaks. I am a little disappointed with the app but I am sure I’ll get used to it. So far, it is working quite well.

I also discovered that I had been screwed by Dropbox — which I used to host all the images for this blog. They changed their policy and now all the image links are irreparably broken. I’ve already taken temporarily measures to keep the most recent or important entries of the blog illustrated, but I am considering to eventually switch to a WordPress blog (with the same web hosting service that was used for the magazine). The transition will probably be slow and incremental since it is a lot of work.

However, the last couple of weeks were mostly dedicated to preparing for my mother’s funerals. I took a week off from work not only to help my sister preparing the funeral (book the hall, choose and order the buffet, shop all the stuff that was needed, contact people, make appointments, fill paperwork, plan the ceremony, etc.) but mainly to prepare the music medley and produce a commemorative video that would pay hommage to my mother’s memory (it is now available in two slightly different versions, on both this blog and my Vimeo page). Strangely, the funerals for the father of one of my dear friends were on the same day…

I was hoping to take advantage of this little time off also to catch up on my reading and writing, maybe go see a movie and visit a museum, but it was so busy that I couldn’t do anything. I even got behind in my TV shows watching.

Unfortunately, I also barely managed to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered only a few notable news & links — which I share with you nevertheless (in both french or english, and in no particular order), after the jump.

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In Memoriam Laure Gauthier

Hommage à Laure —
Faire le tour de sa vie en 180 images
Pour honorer sa mémoire

Après lui avoir rendue hommage avec des mots, voici un hommage en images à la vie de ma mère, Laure Gauthier, décédée d’un cancer le dimanche 5 mars 2017. Elle avait quatre-vingt-sept ans et a eut une belle vie bien remplie qui mérite d’être célébrée et commémorée. Puisse-t-elle continuer à vivre dans nos souvenirs…

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Laure Gauthier (1929-2017)

Ma mère, Laure Gauthier, est décédé paisiblement dans son sommeil dimanche le 5 mars 2017 d’un cancer sauvage des poumons. Elle avait quatre-vingt-sept ans et a eu une belle vie, bien remplie, qui mérite bien d’être célébrée et commémorée. Je lui suis reconnaissant pour toutes les merveilles qu’elle m’a transmises.

Elle est née en octobre 1929 à Maskinongé de Lucien Gauthier (1905-1944), tailleur, et de Lucia Ricard (1907-1991), qui doit reprendre son métier d’institutrice après le décès de son époux afin de pouvoir s’occuper (avec l’aide des parents) de sa famille de neuf enfants. Laure, qui est la deuxième enfant, épouse Claude Eugène Pelletier en octobre 1953 à l’église Notre-Dame des Sept-Allégresses de Trois-Rivières et ils ont quatre enfants qu’elle doit élever pratiquement seule car Claude, qui est preneur de son pour l’Office National du Film, est souvent parti en tournage. Ils s’établissent d’abord à Hull, puis aux Iles-Laval en février 1956.

En septembre 1970, alors que les enfants commencent à être un peu plus autonomes, elle entreprend des études en bibliotechnique, qu’elle complète en 1977 par des cours en archivistique (et paléographie). Cela lui donne les outils nécessaires pour appuyer Claude dans sa passion pour l’histoire et la généalogie. Elle devient membre de l’Association des Archivistes du Québec et s’implique, avec Claude, auprès de la Société d’Histoire de L’Ile-Jésus (contribuant, entre autre, à l’inventaire des archives de paroisses de l’Île Jésus et à la sauvegarde de la Maison André-Benjamin Papineau), puis de la Société de Généalogie (ils sont parmi les premiers à devenir des maître-généalogistes agréés au Québec) et, finalement, de l’Association des Familles Pelletier. En plus d’avoir collaborer avec son époux à l’élaboration d’une série de recueils généalogiques des Familles Pelletier (du Perche [2 vols], de Beauce, du Poitou) et d’un bulletin spécial de la Société d’Histoire de l’Île Jésus pour son 25e anniversaire, elle a écrit deux ouvrages: une biographie d’André-Benjamin Papineau (Cahier d’Histoire de l’Île Jésus #2, 1985) et une histoire de famille intitulée Le tour du Québec en 70 ans (qui demeure inédite).

Même si Claude était à la retraite de l’ONF depuis 1983, ce n’est vraiment qu’en 2004 qu’ils prennent du repos en diminuant leur engagement auprès de diverses associations et en vendant la maison des Iles-Laval pour s’établir plutôt dans une maison de retraite. Ils feront plusieurs voyages pour des colloques et ralliements généalogiques ainsi que des croisières dans le sud. Comme Claude est atteint de la maladie d’Alzheimer, Laure doit beaucoup s’occuper de lui, jusqu’à son décès en octobre 2015. Malheureusement, elle ne peut guère profiter de cette nouvelle liberté, car un peu avant Noël 2016 elle découvre qu’elle est atteinte d’un cancer du poumon. En janvier, il est devenu évident que c’est une forme très agressive de cancer et que les métastases se sont propagées au foie et aux os. En février, elle a commencé à avoir de la difficulté à respirer et le cancer des os est très douloureux. L’oxygène et de forts anti-douleurs l’aident pendant un certain temps, mais elle perd l’appétit et de la force très rapidement. À la fin, elle dort beaucoup. Elle est morte paisiblement dans son sommeil, chez elle. L’effort d’une respiration laborieuse fut probablement un peu trop pour son cœur. Ou peut-être qu’elle était juste prête à se laisser aller. Je suis heureux que sa souffrance ait pris fin. Puisse-t-elle reposer en paix.

Laure Gauthier était l’épouse de Feu Claude E. Pelletier (1928-2015), la mère de Feu Johanne (1954-1983), de Luce, de Francine et de Claude J., la belle-mère de Miyako Matsuda, la grand-mère adoptive de Sébastien Chartrand (Sonya Godbout-Gaucher). Elle laisse également dans le deuil sa sœur Micheline (Jean Morissette), ses frères Jacques et Marcellin (Marie José Hamelin), plusieurs belles-sœurs et beaux-frères.

La famille recevra les condoléances, en présence des cendres, le vendredi 17 mars de 15 h 30 à 20 h à la résidence funéraire Laval (salle Opale) de la Coopérative Funéraire du Grand Montréal (2000 rue Cunard, Laval, Qc). Un buffet sera servi vers 17 h et sera suivi à 20h d’un hommage en sa mémoire et d’une cérémonie de la parole. L’inhumation des cendres se fera ultérieurement en privé.

Les détails sur les funérailles sont disponibles sur le site de la coopérative funéraire et dans les pages d’avis de décès du Journal de Montréal du 11 et 15 mars.

Au lieu d’envoyer des fleurs, si vous désirez faire un geste en sa mémoire, nous vous suggérons de faire un don à la Société Canadienne du Cancer.

Si vous désirez écrire des messages de sympathie ou d’hommage, vous pouvez le faire sur la page Facebook de Laure.

Un diaporama commémoratif est aussi disponible (sur mon blog et sur Vimeo).

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Monthly notable news (W4-9)

The last month was rather depressing. Same old, tiring and annoying job. Grey and very cold weather. I feel that we live in a world that is increasingly absurd and selfish, where people don’t respect anything or anyone anymore (and that’s beside all the Trump crazyness). Also, I just realized that, although I have been “writing” all my life (probably since age ten or twelve), I have been involved with publishing ‘zines for about thirty years and it has been already ten years since I’ve stopped publishing the magazine. Jeez, time really flies. Quite depressing. Finally, I also realized that I had read only twenty books last year! I really need to read and write more. Unfortunately, lately I’ve been lacking the stamina and motivation…

After a brief spring-like interval, the cold and snow are back. Like the Hobbits’ second breakfast, this is our second winter. Or maybe the Indian winter. But spring is in sight. We just have to be a little patient. For now we get freezing rain again.

On the bright side, I solved most of the problems with my new Bell Home Hub 3000 router. Since I have lots of devices using wi-fi (nearly forty!), I first decided — in order to ease the transition — to create a guest network with the same name and password as my previous network. Unfortunately, the guest network uses just one band and therefore less antennas so its reach and power is a little lacking. I was able to get most of my devices to finally work properly by switching them one by one to the main network (which uses two band — 2.4 & 5.0 GHz — and several antennas). At first, many devices still didn’t want to log into the main network so I had to resolve into forcing them with MAC filtering.

As for the phone line always dropping after ten to fifteen minutes due to some problems between the D-Link VoIP Gateway and the Bell router, it eventually stopped. Strangely just after a Bell technician rudely told me over the phone that they were not supporting VoIP and couldn’t alter the router settings. I suppose they purposely don’t support VoIP so their customer are forced to use Bell own phone system (at three time to cost of my current phone provider). Unfortunately the problem came back after a few weeks (just after I received a rebate offer in the mail for a Bell phone line — a possible argument for the conspiracy theorists). I tried to bypass the problem by creating a DMZ for the VoIP Gateway and, so far, it is working. All this unfortunate situation confirmed my previous experience with Bell (and what I’ve been hearing from friends and on the internet): the Bell customer service is excellent up to the point where you sign up with them; once you are a paying customer they don’t give a damn about you. Sad.

Finally, another reason for my late melancholic disposition is the fact that my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer just a little before Christmas. In January it became apparent that it was a very aggressive form of cancer and that metastases had spread to the liver and bones. In February, she started having difficulty breathing and the bone cancer was quite painful. Oxygen and strong pain-killer helped her for a while but she lost appetite and strength very quickly. In the end, she was sleeping most of the time. Yesterday, she peacefully passed away in her sleep, at home. The strain of her laboured breathing was probably just too much for her heart. I cannot forget her lifeless face but her expression was peaceful and I am glad that her suffering has ended. She took care of my father, who had Alzheimer’s, for several years (until his death, last year) and we were hoping that she would have many more years to enjoy life after that, but it wasn’t to be. She was eighty-seven year-old and has had a good life. I try my best not to be sad and rather choose to celebrate her beautiful life, preserve her memory and be thankful for all the greatness she gave me. May she rest in peace.

Despite all this, I managed to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s some notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in both french and english):

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