Monthly notable news (w20-25)

On the domestic front, after much hesitation, the summer has finally arrived. At work, it is crazier than ever with the start of the vacation loan, the TD summer reading club, the twenty-days of amnesty, the summer clean-up and all this often in a sweatshop-like environment (hot and humid, because the ventilation and AC doesn’t work properly). It is so exhausting. I’ve applied for a job with more responsibilities (and pay) but flunked the interview (for the second time!). I am either good for nothing else or there’s something rotten in the HR kingdom.

I felt quite depressed lately. With all the problems with the house and at work, as well as the fact that I have not written or read much in several months, it’s no surprise. I come back from work with all my energy spent. I feel worthless. I feel I give a lot to the people around me and doesn’t get much (attention, respect, gratitude, etc.) in return. I hate it when dark thoughts keep me from enjoying life. But, hey!, it’s summer so lets enjoy the sun, the parks, the museums, the flowers, the cats, the people and particularly the few remaining days of my second ten-day summer vacation. There’s lot to do around the house and so much writing (hopefully) to catch up (I’ll try to go at it with smaller bites)!

In the news, Apple has announced some great software updates (iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4) and some new products (iMac & MacBook Pro, or iPad Pro updates, as well as a new iMac Pro and the HomePod, a speaker that they say will reinvent music at home) and my evenings have been consumed with listening to the latest Trump craziness on MSNBC. Everyday brings a new lie! More on the news in the links bellow…

I have always enjoyed the stray cats in my backyard but this year it is a real infestation: a battered dominant male [Toffee], two females (mother [Grisou] and daughter [Chaussette/Socks], their FIVE kittens and a tomcat challenger. That’s NINE cats! They have laid waste to the backyard garden so I had to do something to control the situation. Unfortunately, the lack of consistent animal management policies in the city (and particularly in this borough, VSP) puts all the burden on the citizen and doesn’t give much help. My only option is to bring them to the Berger Blanc (which has a terrible reputation and an almost all-kill policy — also, for some mysterious reasons [$$?], my borough doesn’t deal with the SPCA) which I refuse to do. So far, I’ve caught all the females and their kittens, and I’ll see what I can do from there (any suggestions?)…

I’ve also started taking some omega-3 supplements, which (according to an NHK World report) is supposed to be good against cholesterol and dementia, amongst other things (like cancer or arthritis). It’s messing up with my digestion, but strangely I feel that my mind is a little clearer. Placebo effect? Anyway, we’ll see…

Strangely, I kept busy during the last month by doing lots of little things (cleaning up the garage, buying a new couch, burying my mother’s ashes, etc. — daily routine stuff) about which there’s little to say (or I just can’t recall some of them). I confess that I also probably watch too much TV. Anyway, that’s about it for now…

Although, as always, I continued to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered nearly a hundred notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly separated in a few categories of interest), after the jump.

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Weekly notable news (w17-19)

Another few weeks have passed quickly without anything significant happening: More crazy weeks at works and rainy week-ends where I don’t feel I accomplished anything. I am tired and really need a longer vacation. Next week I’ll start a ten-day holiday where I’ll be able to rest (sleep late!), catch up on stuff (writing, work around the house), travel around (Ottawa’s Tulip’s festival, Quebec City, botanical garden, museums, the libraries book sale, bury my mother’s ashes, etc.) and, above all, completely forget about work for a while. Or so I thought!

In hope for greener pastures, I have applied for a new library job (more responsibilities, further from home, but a greater challenge for my skills and a much better salary). However, after a lengthy processus, they scheduled an interview right in the middle of my vacation and at nine o’clock on the morning of my BIRTHDAY! Not only they made me filled a psychological test online (it’s called “an inventory of personality” and it will probably reveal that I am a total psycho) but they didn’t even bother to reply when I asked if it was possible to reschedule, so I’ll do my best to be there and we’ll see. Que sera, sera.

The weather has really been lousy lately. May is supposed to be the nicest month of all (and not only because it’s my birthday). Overall, it has been cold and rainy. It even snowed a little last week. In may! Hopefully, it will not portend that the summer will be likewise, and it will soon improve (at least for my vacations, please!).

Something strange happened at the beginning of the month: out of the blue, one late afternoon, I started to smell a vague odour of gazoline in the basement. It didn’t come from the obvious source, the garage. Usually, such smell comes from the sewage (through a dried P-trap) or from a dead animal but, in this case, it seemed to come from the pit of the water-pipe entry. I called the city and was told not to worry, it was “probably” not toxic and might have come from some work on the pipes in the neighbourhood (I couldn’t locate any nearby). I cracked open a window and the next morning it was gone. I never knew what it was.

The unlucky streak didn’t stop there. Not only I broke a piece of tooth while eating a granola bar during my lunch break at work (and I am still waiting for the dentist to find some spare time for an appointment), but I also discovered that the damage to the rear balcony of the house is more extensive than I first thought. The supporting posts are not planted deep enough (they rest on concrete supports that are just on the surface while they should be in soil deep enough so it never freezes in winter — who are the morons who built this house?!) so the ground expansion due to the freezing is slowly ripping the balcony off the house. So much that it has now become worrisome. We will have to do the repairs sooner than expected and it will probably be quite costly! What an exciting boring life!

Again, I must remind myself not to let the outside world rattle my core. Carpe diem, my boy, carpe diem!

Finally, I managed to stay acquainted with some of the affairs of the world and gathered notable news & links of interest — which I share with you (in both french or english, and organized into a few basic categories), after the jump.

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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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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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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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Monthly notable news (W53-03)

The Holidays and the couple of weeks that followed were rather quiet. Thankfully, I had to deal with much less craziness at work. But that was only the eye of the storm and those depressing days (scientifically certified as such since Blue Monday fell on January 16th this year) are coming to an end. The days are getting longer and more shit will soon hit the fan. Of course, there’s also this endless American nightmare with everything Trump. I wish I could forget about all that and never hear about it again, but unfortunately that’s what the world has become now.

I am already getting behind in my writings, but I caught up a little with my TV and movie watching. Besides the restarting new seasons (mostly Call The Midwife, Colony, Endeavour, Father Brown, Homeland), the notable new additions are Victoria and Dark Angel (although those two have already ended) as well as the weird Young Pope (a young and reckless leader is unexpectedly elected to head the Church — a little reminescent of the whole “orange is the new black” American electoral fiasco — but it’s directed by Paolo Sorrentino, who gave us La grande bellezza) and the quite interesting Mercy Street, a medical period drama set at the Mansion House Hospital during the American Civil War.

I’ll try to reinvent myself this year (so much to do) and push forward even harder on the path to improve my temperament and expend my knowledge. That’s the only purpose one can have.

Despite everything, I tried to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english): Continue reading

Monthly notable news (W49-52)

December was a super busy month. I barely had time to read or write anything. Every week I had some meetings or appointments. First, I visited the exhibition “Terre d’Asie” (a private collection owned by Sam & Myrna Myers) at the Pointe-à-Caillère museum (held from November 17 to March 19) [Pictures to come soon]. Then there was a team meeting at work (I’ve learned nothing new there). I also went to a public assembly where the head of the city’s libraries was presenting an assessment (what was achieved in the last ten years and what they are planning to do in the next five years) to the City’s Permanent Commission on culture (made of elected officials). It was quite interesting and I intend to write a lot more about this as soon as I have a little more time. Finally, there was a couple of Christmas parties and a couple of doctors’ appointments.

I watched a few movies or TV series (most series had ended their run for the season, but I watched The Crown, about the first years of Elisabeth II reign, Mars docudrama miniseries, about what the first human trip to the red planet could be), a few Christmas Specials (Grantchester, Call the Midwife, Doctor Who, When calls the Heart) and episode two of Maigret. I have also purchased and installed a new exterior Nest Cam and so far it has survived our first big snow storm (15 cm), freezing temperature (-20’C) and even freezing rain. The camera (and particularly the app to operate it) really works great.

The biggest novelty of the month was probably that I finally got fed up with the unfulfilled promises of Videotron’s new generation Illico TV (mostly I wanted to watch the BBC in HD and wanted to be able to watch ALL my channels on my iPad). So I’ve switched to Bell Fibe TV and saved fifty dollars a month! From telephone post to finish the installation took more than six hours! Fibe TV is really great (all HD, greater quality picture, all wi-fi, and the Fibe TV app is totally marvellous). But… Bell’s internet is really shit. The wi-fi signal is somewhat weak, the range is limited and it doesn’t play well with my Apple Airport Extreme & Express routers, my Primus phone router (calls always drop after ten or fifteen minutes) or everything else that relies on wi-fi (my old ip cameras can’t connect, the Nest Cam regularly cuts, even the Nest Thermostat lose contact sometimes!). I hope they’ll be able to fix that. The worse is the phone issue (and I am sure they will try very hard to have me switch to their own ip phone instead but they can’t match all the services I have with Primus). At the same time I also had lots of iPhone battery troubles. I am looking to have this fixed also [later tonight: went to Apple Store and they replaced the battery: it took three hours! I thought they would just swap the phone not repair it in situ].

I can’t believe that 2016 is almost over. Even if I have not been able to write as much as I wanted, I did manage to write a little more than last year. To recap the year, you can check all my press reviews & notable news links for the last year. However, all in all, 2016 was not a good year for me. Hopefully, 2017 will be much better. But, unfortunately, I seriously doubt that.

Despite all this, I still found some time to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english):

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Monthly notable news (W45-48)

So far, November was quite a busy month. Besides all the exasperation and exhaustion at work (I feel I am working like a blue-collar — it’s my understanding that a white-collar should never sweat at work), I kept busy by going to a vegan fest and the Montreal Book Fair. I also finished watching a few tv series like Poldark, A Place to Call Home, Versailles; and Westworld becomes more intriguing.

Winter finally came (temperature in the minus and a little snow on the ground) but I am ready for it since I already got my flu shot. The world events were mostly dominated by the U.S. election and the unexpected election of Donald Trump (that’s the beauty of democracy: people have to right to be wrong!), as well as by the passing of Fidel Castro. I also noted the proliferation of announcements and trailers for live-action movie adaptations: Valerian, Blade of the Immortal (a.k.a. L’Habitant de l’infini; directed by Takashi Miike!), Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist, Stranger in a strange land, Starship Troopers, Saint Young Men (Les Vacances de Jésus et Bouddha), etc. ! And I discovered a new Fuyumi Soryo’s manga about Marie Antoinette (can’t wait to receive it and read it)!

However, I still found some time to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english):

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Weekly notable news (W43-44)

The first week was totally uneventful; another quiet but tiring week (with the usual craziness at work). However, the second week was very busy with all sort of outings and events! First we had a family brunch to celebrate my mother’s 87th birthday. Then I finally received the (substantial) back-pay for the retroactive raise since the signature of our collective bargaining (the two good things that work brings: the pleasure of books and money! — but there’s only 550 weeks to endure).

Wednesday, I finish work early and the museum is opened late, therefore I took this opportunity for a last-minute visit (last week!) at the Museum of Fine-Arts exhibit on Toulouse-Lautrec. Thursday, not only Apple released new hardware, but it was also the beginning of the 33rd Japanese Film Festival of Montreal at the Cinémathèque Québécoise. There was a sake tasting, a few speeches and then they screened A Tale of Samurai Cooking. I went to see a second movie on Saturday: Sue, Mai and Sawa. That was wonderful. I felt alive. It’s good to get busy since we don’t have that many good years left.

I also tried to read a little. I have so many books piling on my bedside table (haïku compilation, numerous mangas, Solaris #200, etc). However, I find it so hard to read lately. I am so busy that whenever I can read, I feel guilty and this sentiment is a distraction that make it difficult to concentrate on my reading. Quite annoying. And there’s plenty of other distractions… like watching TV! Beside the U.S. presidential election madness and the returning shows (7th season of Walking Dead, 2nd season of Poldark, 10th season of Murdock Mysteries, 14th season of NCIS, 2nd season of Blindspot, 3rd season of Z Nation, 8th season of Vampire Diaries, 4th season of A Place to call home), there’s very interesting newcomers like Westworld and Tutankhamun, or others like Class (a Doctor Who spin-off)! I’ve also watched on Dvd the Michael Moore documentary Where to invade next.

Maybe all that activity was too much, because I caught some bug (cold, stomach flu?) that left me tired, congestionned and with an upset stomach. But there’s no rest for the wicked and now I must work on my monthly accounting and pay the bills.

However, before I do that, I’d like to share with you a few notable news & links that I came across lately. Because, even with all this activity, I will always find some time to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here they are, after the jump, in no particular order, in both french and english):

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