Sound & Fury

Anyway, the world is a shitshow right now and this has been my soundtrack for the past couple of months.


The Difficulty of Making Plans

The new year often brings, if not soon to be broken resolutions, at the very least a sense of taking stock of one’s life and a desire to make some adjustments where needed.

Over the holidays, we went back to Saint John where I had time to think about some of the things I wanted to do differently in 2020. Lose weight, yes, but also stop hating myself if I’m not at the weight I’d like to be. But also manage the finances a little better, be a little more on the ball at my job (attention to detail is an issue). Keep the house better cleaned. Maybe even hire a cleaner? Help our son is doing better at school.

So you get back from your trip, ready to make a plan to attack all your 2020 challenges and … the president of the United States provokes a war with Iran. Or we’re told we have less than 15 years to effectively slow down climate change and we know the chances of that are slim to none. Or there is another financial crisis around the corner and suddenly you wonder why are you making plans at all. There is so much out of our control that I understand why people these are choosing not to have children.

Was it always like this or are we just hyper-aware of everything at once thanks to smartphones? I remember the anxiety around nuclear war in the 80s. Maybe every generation has these moments and this one is simply the early 21st century iteration of it.

I hope there won’t be a war with Iran and that we are up to the task of tackling climate change but I fear we don’t have the leadership required to adequately handle either of those things right now. So I’ll keep making plans because the alternative is worse.


January 2020 Update

And so as we enter this first month of a new decade, and as we take down our Christmas decorations, we ponder the three months of salt and slush that is the climate change version of a Montreal winter and ponder our own mortality. Just me?

The wee lad is not so wee these days as he’s an eleven year old in grade five with an eye to starting high school in 18 months or so. He’s joined Scouts so he can keep going on camping trips. He’s generally an indoor kid with a YouTube obsession (which brings its own worries) but he loves camping.

I’m still at the law firm which has me going to Toronto fairly often. I like Toronto and could easily live there as long as I had a house with no mortgage because I honestly have no idea how they do it. A friend once said the only people who can swing it are power couples with six-figure salaries each. So we’re content to stick it out in a province whose current CAQ government sees us, being Anglos and immigrants, as a problem to be managed.

I’m still in the gym three days a week. You’d think after three years of this, I’d be lean and fit but you would be wrong. Apparently you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Generally I eat healthy meals but then I also snack a lot.

We had an election last month. It went as I expected: Trudeau would be returned to government but with a strong minority parliament. I’d like to think this upcoming parliament will be a throwback to the days of Lester Pearson and Tommy Douglas when many of the social programmes we enjoy today were passed as legislation. But who knows? He may just end getting support from the Conservatives and not bothering so much with the progressive stuff. They always say the Liberals campaign like the NDP and govern like Tories.

Other than that, we’ve got a trip to Cuba to look forward to and some long overdue renovations to the house to do. Here’s hoping 2020 turns out well for everyone.


Summer Update, 2019

Well, happy upcoming St. Jean Baptiste. Or is it summer solstice? According to some, if a music festival set for June 22 through 24 falls on those dates, it must be called the former, and not the latter. So they changed it. Seems like a minor thing but I suppose it would seem odd if a festival set around July 1st didn’t mention Canada Day. Or would anyone care? Such is language politics in this country. Less intense than in the past, but there is always a tempest in a teapot brewing somewhere.

Call the holiday what you like, but for us, next weekend, we’ll be bad Anglos by spending the holiday in deepest Ontario. And by deepest Ontario, I mean Ganonoque and Kingston for a tour around the Thousand Islands and a visit to the nephew’s house for a barbecue. The following weekend, my parents, sister, and brother in law are in town so we can see Through the Echoes at the Old Port.

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It’s a show organized by former Cirque du Soleil guy Guy Laliberté. I have no idea what it is but they promise a light show and, I dunno, a history of the universe. I keep thinking it’s going to be along the lines of one of those Pink Floyd laser light shows.

All this means we need to get our backyard patio finished before they get here. We have a postage stamp sized backyard that faces west with no shade, half of it set with concrete, the other half dirt. It was never a pleasant place to sit outside. I spent last weekend setting down paver slabs to create the thing and this week putting up a gazebo. This weekend, we’ll cover over all the mistakes I made with a carpet and potted plants.

Our intention with our little townhouse condo is to live there until retirement and then buy a small, two bedroom condo that is newly constructed, walking distance to the metro and requires absolutely no renovating whatsoever. When I think of our kitchen and the work and expense required, I cry a little bit.

Beyond that, things are as well as can be expected. I still enjoy the job and the freedom I have to work from home when required, or really, whenever it’s more convenient than taking the train downtown. It will be very convenient to work from home when my line shuts down for two years to build the new train. Alternate routes involve traveling halfway to down the line, getting bussed to a metro and hoofing it into the office, adding an hour each way. You can imagine why working from home is more optimal.


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Years and Years.

Russell T. Davies was good at writing believable human characters in fantastical situations when he was running Doctor Who.

Now he’s writing an HBO/BBC miniseries about a normal and very modern English family navigating the increasing brutal next ten years as a coarse, populist politician played by Emma Thompson rises to power in a post-Brexit, socially fragile U.K. It’s all very terrifying and very plausible as people simply become used to the changes as rights are stripped away and things like concentration camps are justified as simply a British invention from the Boer War.


Jade Bird

Fairly new artist on the scene. She has a nice, stripped down rock that I imagine will sound nice on terraces this summer.


CBC’s daily morning podcast that takes on a single news story for a detailed discussion has been a staple of my morning commute for months now.


I’d like to read more blogs, to be honest.

And how are you all?


St. Lawrence vs Bay of Fundy

We’re going to Saint John for the March break today. And every time we go back, we ask, “Why don’t we live here again?”

Looking back over my blog’s archive, this is a theme I return to all the time. At one point, it was very much going to happen as I was actively seeking employment with interviews and everything. Eventually, those plans were put on hold as we focused on building a life here by purchasing a home and deciding on a community to put down roots.

Now, I find myself asking if it could still happen. The reasons are simple: family. Neither of us has any family immediately nearby, other than my brother-in-law in the 450 and sister-in-law outside Ottawa. Living in Saint John would offer a pre-established social network. Our kid wouldn’t feel quite so alone as he would have cousins his age, grandparents, and aunts and (1) uncle all nearby.

My job makes working from home easy. So long as I have my laptop and iPhone and a WiFi connection, I can work anywhere. This week, I only went to the office twice. Of course, some of that has to do with my very unpredictable train line which is being dismantled in favour of the REM, leading to an eventual shutdown.

My office has talked about increasing telecommuting options which I would certainly benefit from. So why not work from another province?

But moving to New Brunswick, sadly, has many disadvantages:

  • Few high paying jobs. I’m making almost twice what my previous paid me. I doubt very much I would find a job that pays that much in Saint John.
  • Lack of available healthcare. For all our public healthcare system’s faults, the quality of healthcare in Montreal far surpasses Saint John.
  • Fewer choices in education
  • Fewer cultural choices. Saint John springs to life in summer but Montreal always has something happening.
  • Fewer career options for our son

But, on the other hand, Saint John has much cheaper real estate and, generally, friendly people and a little of that goes a long way.

It’s always like this. Montreal and its fast-paced lifestyle can be alienating. Friendly Saint John can feel like living in a fish bowl where everybody knows your business.

But I know we’ll stay in Montreal. Because every time I go to the old hometown for a visit, by the end of the week, I am very much ready to go back.