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Hemlock B. Bootsalotta

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NaDruWriNi 2018: Just Sayin' [Nov. 5th, 2017|12:37 am]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
[mood |it's all advertising]

You know, I would take Netflix's current principled stance against Kevin Spacey a lot more seriously if they weren't also airing Mike Tyson Mysteries.

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NaDruWriNi 2018: Intermission [Nov. 5th, 2017|12:14 am]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta

Current alcohol count: Ready for my next drink. I will live to regret this.

I have run out of topics. What shalkl I talk about next?

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NaDruWriNi 2018 Chapter Four: A Country Divided [Nov. 4th, 2017|11:30 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta

Current alcohol count: I am never going to finish this fucking g&t, seriously he made it in a pint glass.

[personal profile] elusis brought up learning French in my languages post and reminded me of something that has pissed me off for decades.

In theory, Canada is a bilingual country. In reality, we have one bilingual province, (New Brunswick, population approximately 750K) and one bilingual city. (Montreal, population approximately 1.7 million) When I call them bilingual I mean that most of the population speaks both languages. The rest of the country speaks either English or French but not both.

Two of my co-workers speak to each other in Punjabi when they are trying to figure something out quickly and it's just the two of them because it's so much faster. This led to a conversation with one of them about how many languages he speaks. (Five) "But you speak French, don't you? I thought in Canada you all learn to speak French."

I don't know about the rest of the country, but let me tell you about French education in Toronto.

I started off in Scarborough, which is one of the suburbs of Toronto. There they started French classes in grade 6. (I would have been 12.) An hour long class, once a week.

Halfway through grade 6 I moved to Toronto proper, where they start French classes in Grade 4. Two hours a week now. Since I was obviously two years behind I had no idea what was going on and my teacher made it very clear she had no interest in catching me up. I literally did not learn a single word. I tried a couple of times in High School but... well as previously explained I don't have a language brain and it didn't really take.

The fucked up thing is that I have friends who did French immersion when they were growing up. (That's a school where every class is taught in French.) They are completely proficient in French - as long as they are speaking to somebody from France. Because apparently Quebecois French, the language spoken by the largest French-speaking population in Canada, is completely different than the French that is taught in our schools.

This blows my mind. That you can go to a French school in Canada and they will teach you French - but not the French that is actually spoken in your own country.

My sister actually went through something similar when she was living in Switzerland. She took German classes to try to become proficient enough to get a job while she was there, but the only language classes she could take were in High German. Not in the Swiss German that was actually spoken in Zurich where she lived. So even if she passed the course with flying colours she wouldn't be employable because she wouldn't be able to communicate with her co-workers who were all speaking Swiss German.

I don't get it.

You know what? Fuck both official languages. Rightfully we should all be learning Cree and Inuktitut anyway.

I wonder how hard they are to learn.

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NaDruWriNi 2018 Chapter Three: The Aristocats [Nov. 4th, 2017|10:25 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
[Tags|, ]
[music |Pennywise]

Current alcohol count: I'm still working on my second g&t but in my defense, Axel makes fucking enormous g&ts.

I make jokes about coming home from a weekend where D is alone in the house and finding out we have 4 additional cats. Because seriously, man. He is the cat whisperer. He sits on the porch to smoke and every cat in the entire neighbourhood has figured out that he is a hopeless soft touch and will feed them if they give him big kitten eyes.[1]

And that is how we ended up feeling responsible for the welfare of a tiny grey tabby feral tom cat[3] who has developed the habit of sleeping on our porch. Last weekend's project was to dig out one of our unused plastic storage bins, cut some entry holes in it and line it with styrofoam to make a winter shelter. This is now sitting on the far corner of the porch. We taped some plastic across that corner of the porch to try and create a sheltered area but it seems to just trap the rain water, so we'll have to come up with something better.

We are such suckers.

I give it a year tops before he's living in the house.

[1]He's also on a "neighbourly nod in passing" basis with every skunk and possum that lives in the 'hood.[2]
[2]Not the raccoons so much. They're assholes.
[3]I have dubbed him "the Ghost". He's very shy.

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NaDruWriNi 2018 Chapter Two: Speaking in Tongues [Nov. 4th, 2017|09:31 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
[Tags|, , ]
[music |Soulscraper]

Current alcohol count: My second g&t

Many years ago I decided I was going to learn German.

It was a good idea at the time. Axe speaks German so we could start speaking it at home and that would help me practice. English is partially derived from German so the vocabulary is super easy. And you know, German Industrial bands and all that.

So that was the theory. As you know Bob, theory and practice - sometimes they differ. I started with a lot of enthusiasm but I kept getting bogged down. German vocabulary may be very similar to English but their grammar is (to me) very different and therefore feels complicated and I never really got my head around it. Axel speaks it, but he doesn't really understand the grammar very well - his family moved to England when he was pretty young and so his German is kind of stuck at the elementary school level - and my plan to practice at home never really took off.

Probably the most proficient I ever felt was when I was visiting Italy with BC and when I was sleepless from jet-lag I would watch their one TV station that broadcast in German. I could mostly follow along with what the story was about although the details were lost on me. After that it was all downhill, I just got too busy with other things to practice regularly and it fell by the wayside. Then when I was actually in Germany with Axe a couple of years ago I mentioned to his cousin that I had tried to learn German at one point and he said, "What for? Everybody here speaks English anyway."

Sooooooooo maybe you can call it short attention span, but I recently made the decision to give up on German. And gave all my German books to my daughter[1], who is hella enthusiastic about it. Good for her.

But me, I have a new love.


I figure it's a language that's a lot more likely to be practical. There are many, many countries, some of them ones I can drive to, where a variant of Spanish is the main language and people don't necessarily speak English as well. Of the Latin-derived languages it's probably simplest, only two genders and no silent letters. And it's accessible. Even Sesame Street has a Spanish component. (Well in my country it was French, but YouTube is thing.) The vocabulary is very close to that of Portuguese and Italian - at least according to my Portuguese, Italian & Spanish-speaking co-workers who are constantly talking the piss out of each other in their respective languages. AND my dad's wife is a Spanish teacher.

I have no idea how long this particular project is going to last. But every night on my way home from work instead of pulling a book out of my knapsack I slap my headphones on my ears and open duolingo on my phone. I'm having fun with it and that's the thing that usually drives me to keep going on a new project.

[1]Except for Struwwelpeter which Axe wanted to keep because of childhood memories and seriously that is a book you give to children?! What is wrong with German people.

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NaDruWriNi 2018: Prologue [Nov. 4th, 2017|08:05 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta

I have like four things I am working on right now and I don't really feel like doing any work on any of them. So I may noodle here for a bit instead.

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i know my kingdom awaits and they've forgiven my mistakes [Oct. 27th, 2017|05:53 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
[Tags|, ]
[mood |working on my zen]

Almost home going time!

It took me over an hour and a half to get home last night. Keep in mind that this is less than 10 km. And I travel at non-peak time, because getting on my bus before 9 AM is an exercise in, "I wonder if this one will have room."

Part of the problem is that it's construction season[1] in Toronto. I should be used to this after so many years of living in the city, but it never ceases to be a pain. This year they are building some kind of transit building right on my route to work (A new station maybe? For the Eglington line?) and of course Dufferin is always being repaired because it's one of the busiest routes in the city and it's always torn to garbage. Cycling on it is a complete shitshow.

Torontoist published an article a few months ago (that I can't find now, of course) talking about how the city keeps giving contracts to companies that repeatedly screw up the work. Road re-pavings are supposed to last for five years, anybody who drives here knows a city street barely makes it through one-freeze thaw cycle. There are companies that fuck up so badly they get fined for it and yet they still get the work year after year. Because they submit the lowest bid and that is the sole criteria the city is allowed to use when awarding contracts.

It's a ridiculous situation - it probably ends up costing twice as much and it explains why we have to deal with massive construction delays in the exact same spots every single summer. But I can't really see where the current setup provides much impetus to change. Why would a city councilor push to spend money during their own tenure when you know some idiot like one of the Ford brothers is going to come in afterwards and just coast on the work their predecessor invested?

On the plus side, I'm working overtime for the next little while. Getting home is a lot faster when everybody else is already home from work.

Oh shit, wait... You know what else is coming?

Christmas shopping traffic.


[1]Construction season, of course, runs right up to the start of weather season. Some years they overlap.

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"proud" can also mean "infected" [Oct. 23rd, 2017|03:57 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
[Tags|, ]

A lot of people who live in Toronto don't remember the days when we suffered from a bad Nazi infestation. They hear about these assholes on the news and they think these people are a small vocal minority that nobody takes seriously and yeah sure, they start out that way. They started out that way in the 80s. Probably in the 30s too.

So what with the rise in neo-nazis and alt-right all over the western world, we've had another local outbreak and they've been holding rallys at City Hall. In the interest of keeping them a small vocal minority and not something worse, some of the local folks have been holding counter-rallys. I finally managed to drag myself out of the house and attend one this weekend.

There were maybe 30 of them? It was kind of hard to get a head-count because they were boxed inside a wall of bicycle cops the whole time[1]. It was a weird mix. Mostly they looked to be Soldiers of Odin (most of whom showed up late, apparently they took the bus in from Peterborough) and some Proud Boys. There were also a cluster of evangelical Christians who were there because gays. And a couple of middle-aged suburban housewives of the type who get the vapours when they see a hijab.

The cops pretty much kept the two groups seperated but didn't stop people from arguing across the barrier. Mostly it was an effort to drown them out, although as the day dragged on that got harder. I now fully appreciate the value of of the air horns and vuvuzelas that some people brought, they are a lot easier on the throat. On the plus side they didn't get to march unless you count crossing the square inside a wall of police.

Of course the press was there and of course they interviewed both sides and of course they printed the Nazi's explanation they they were just there to protest Trudeau's economic policies without any caveats. At least the photo on the CBC website actually showed some of the white supremacist flags.

Favourite moment: One of the bicycle cops had a Punisher water bottle. I pointed it out to Axe and he in turn tried to point it out to one of the press cameras. She saw him though, and hid it.

Second favourite moment: The Japanese tourists taking selfies in front of the line of mounted riot cops.

[1] There were easily more cops than protesters.

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NaDruWriNi 2017 [Oct. 22nd, 2017|05:09 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta

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14 degrees west [Oct. 13th, 2017|10:19 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
[Tags|, ]
[mood |i have become unstuck in time]

I am supposed to be in New Brunswick right now. Porter cancelled our flight, apparently because they had a sick pilot who called in at the last minute. However, they still issued us boarding passes, and we didn't get told the flight was cancelled until we tried to go through security. BC returned to the check-in desk to find out what was going on, and during that time they continued to issue boarding passes people who then discovered that they had no plane mid-taking their shoes off.

This is my second Porter experience and the second time they have been not so on the ball. I gotta say I'm not so impressed.

Also, you know how I said I had an anxiety dream about a week ago that featured me forgetting my passport? Guess what I forgot to pack. I didn't actually need it for a domestic flight, but still.

So instead we went out to dinner. And I'll spend my weekend writing and drinking beer instead of eating seafood and looking at lighthouses. I'm sure D is disappointed not to have the house to himself for the weekend, I fully expected him to have adopted four more cats by the time I got home.

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