Toronto

The last stop on my trip/vacation was Toronto. I had planned on spending the day there, but that didn’t really work out, so I just took the Robert Q directly from the airport. But just because I was only there for an hour doesn’t mean I don’t have stories to tell you, dear blog readers. No no, I’m determined to blog about something from every city I visited. I’ll even make up stories if I have to.

This one is true though. While waiting in the airport, I saw a couple enter the waiting area. The woman was blind. She had a guitar and a walking cane. As they got closer, I saw that the man was deaf, or at least nearly so. He had a big hearing aid device, and whenever the woman talked to him she had to lean way in and speak directly in his ear.

They happened to be on the same bus as me. She asked if she could tune her guitar on the bus, and I was like hell yeah, gives us something to listen to. So she tuned her guitar and quietly practiced while the man read a book. When they both got bored of indulging in their respective senses, she leaned over and asked him to describe the countryside. He whispered about things that are mundane to most people – trees, farms, cows – in her ear.

It was just cute how they complimented each other’s shortcomings like that.

This story isn’t funny or anything. Oh wait, one thing that was funny was when she went too far in tuning her guitar, and immediately exclaimed “I popped my g string!” Hah.

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Halifax

My last major stop on my trip was Halifax, where I presented research at the Canadian Psychological Association convention. The poster was about my research on the relationship between geomagnetic activity and creativity. Basically I found that when the earth’s magnetic field is disturbed by funky stuff going down on the sun, people are more creative. So, you know, pretty out-there stuff. Surprisingly, nobody really challenged it and most found it quite interesting. One person asked me if this means that there is something to magnetic bracelets, and I said no, those are a scam and they are stupid. I think maybe she was wearing one so that was insulting, but dude, they’re a scam.

Halifax is a beautiful city. I’d love to live there someday (though maybe I’d regret it come winter). Here are some pictures:

Apparently Halifax has the most pubs per capita in North America, and was populated only because residents were promised free booze for a year. My kind of place.

The Keith’s brewery is there, obviously.

Alexander Keith, who was a mayor of Halifax in addition to brewing average-tasting beer, is buried in this graveyard:

We saw Anonymous protesting Scientology. One sign said “honk if you oppose Scientology”, but I was on a tour bus at the time, so I just sorta made a honking motion in the air. Because seriously, screw Scientology.

Peggy’s cove, a tiny fishing/tourism village just outside Halifax, is gorgeous. Look:

This girl was chasing two ducks and some giant mutant duck-goose-thing in a prom dress. She was laughing as she tortured the poor birds, while other nicely dressed people took pictures. It was all very surreal.

Anyway, Halifax was probably my favourite part of the trip, because I did lots of fun things and ate lots of delicious foods and met lots of awesome people. You should go.

British Columbia

My family and I went to BC for my grandma’s 80th birthday celebrations. My grandma is as sassy as she ever was, and it was awesome seeing that she has so many friends that she hangs out with. I hope that I can still be that social when I’m older, because it seems that for a lot of people, being old can be lonely.

She lives in a gated community where people give dirty looks to anyone they don’t recognize. I suppose that’s the price you pay for making it slightly more difficult for criminals and hooligans to wander into the neighbourhood.

This is supposed to look like eyeballs.

We were in White Rock, a small place pretty close to Vancouver. However, when you’re driving around there, you never really know what city you’re in. One minute all the signs say White Rock, the next you see Surrey City Hall, then the Burnaby shopping centre goes by, etc. There’s no place where one city ends and the next begins. I guess there are areas like that here (i.e., the GTA), but I’m used to seeing at least a few cows between one town and the next.

See, not cows.

BC rained most of the time we were there. So typical of you, BC. Many of the shops along the main strip in White Rock were closed, with signs explaining “closed on Sundays and rainy weekdays”. I wish I could stop working every time it rained.

There was one nice day though, on which we went to Crescent Beach.

It was wonderful to just walk around, enjoying the weather and taking a few pictures. There were crabs under most rocks.

And lots of sea shells around. If you picked up a handful of shells and stayed still for a few minutes, many of them would come alive; hermit crabs would emerge from them and scuttle around.

I took this picture of the beach and a cloud, which I think is quite beautiful and artistic:

But reality is uglier than fakery, so I photoshopped it:

You can use it as your computer wallpaper if you pay me $5.00, and/or promise to back me up if I am ever involved in gang warfare.

This is a Betty Boop limo / hearse looking thing for a wedding that was happening on the beach. The driver explained that he rents it out “to weird people.”

The trip had many other highlights, such as learning what bum fluff and fairy liquid are, and many good times with family and alcohol. But I will save some stories for boring my real life friends with a narrated slide show.

Montreal

Montreal was the first stop on my cross-country tour. We went to see Geoff get ordained, so I got to experience the actual religious versions of all the Quebec swearing. Before, I didn’t know that the “‘ostie” tacked on the end of every sentence when a person from Quebec gets emotional was referring to little flour wafers, but Geoff had a little tub of hosties and they taste pretty good. Crisse, chalice tabarnac ‘ostie!!!

In general, it was interesting to see the issues with language that are prevalent in Quebec. Here, language is something that requires no thought; it’s a safe assumption that everyone speaks and approves of English. There, every greeting requires a guess as to whether one should say “hello”, “bonjour”, “hellobonjour”, or “bonjourhello”. Sure, everyone will probably understand any of them, but the language one starts with will colour the first impression given off, and there is always uncertainty over whether the other person will understand. I often felt a bit bad starting with English, but I don’t know if starting with mangled French would be any better (P.S. Education system: you failed me. Thanks for nothing. Sarcramant!)

The city has its own feel to it, with the unique houses with the stairs on the outside and the “mountain” always giving a sense of direction. The subway system is great. It felt almost like a teleportation system; get in the subway station, wait a while, and pop up in a completely different part of the city.

We went to two different bars that made their own beer – one was Brutopia and I forget the other one. Both were delicious and I wish they shipped their beer outside of the bar. Like to my house. Montreal is also famous for its bagels, and those did not disappoint.

Montreal is an awesome city, and I’m looking forward to going back. There is so much to see there that I didn’t, like the people who beat each other up with fake weapons while wearing duct tape every Sunday, and I didn’t stop by to see my entire family that lives there. Next time.

Coffee of Doom

I’m writing this from a Starbucks in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve never written anything in a coffee shop before, but it seems to be a thing that real writers do, so here I am.

This vacation has been awesome, but I gotta point out one thing about traveling in today’s world. More and more, every place I go looks almost the same. This Starbucks has a pretty sweet fireplace and no breakfast sandwiches, but other than that, I might as well be in London. I drive down any major street in any decent-sized city, and it’s Wal Mart, McDonalds, Starbucks, Pet Smart, CIBC, Starbucks, some generic family restaurant chain, Starbucks, another family restaurant chain, etc., repeat. Any major street corner plaza could be constructed, and probably be successful, by putting the names of big franchised businesses into a hat and pulling a dozen out.

One of the most fundamental laws of the universe is that entropy constantly increases. Things get more spread out, random, arbitrary. Less meaningful. Us humans like to think of ourselves and our society as an exception to this law, getting around it due to the open vs. closed system loophole in nature, as we get more organized, and our lives becoming more meaningful. But maybe that’s not entirely true.

Maybe the future of human civilization is every restaurant collapsing together into a Kelsey’s-flavoured mass; every coffee shop mixing into a super-grande cup of Starbucks. Then, like milk poured in coffee will eventually spread out randomly until it’s just a beige sludge, each type of business, represented by a single brand, will randomly disperse throughout the world. The “character” of a city will be determined purely by chance fluctuations in its mix of businesses.

The fact that you can already get a hot cup of Starbucks coffee on every corner of every city is an early warning sign that the heat death of human civilization is near.