Dead Ducks

Duck soup, duck pie, duck jelly, duck wine....

One of the neat things about this picture from the 1930’s of my grandfather-in-law Stuart Penny and his brother Rae at the end of a day’s hunting at Honey Harbour, Ontario is that I have two of the decoys they used, one with buckshot in its butt.

Tag – You’re It!

…and I am going to quit playing for a while. 11 days off. Drove for 4 of them. 3300 km or so. Other 7 full of cleaning out the house which appears to have sold pending closing. Some thoughts from between Kingston and PEI, the length of the St.Lawrence:

  • The two best looking parts of Canada on the drive are both in Quebec: the Kamouraska areas between Riviere-du-Loup and Pocatiere on Highway 20 (huge granite mounds in the river and on the land, between which the river and the road flow respectively); and the waterfront road at the foot of the cliffs at Levis across from Quebec City (active working river, old rail bed used by hundreds as we watched for biking and roller blading, Chateau Frontenac in front of almost as many layers of mountains in the dusk as Montpellier, Vermont);

  • Old car tapes are a minefield of emotions. Bought before my CD buying days began around 1993, I was brought back to a rawer time. Garnett Rogers is pretty damn good. Damn song about a damn pigeon makes me cry every time I hear it;

  • Worst service in the world: The Kentucky Fried on the west 401 at Cornwall. Stood with wife and children at a till for five minutes as teen staff walked two feet past us setting up a fan for themselves to be told when we said we were leaving becuse the service was so bad, that the sign at the other end of the counter said “cash”. As there were five tills each with other families waiting, the meaning of this message eluded us. Please shun this establishment on your travels;

  • Cars are amazing. For about 75 to 80 bucks (Canadian) you can go 1500 kilometres either in one day (my trip to PEI) or over three (the return);

  • Best diners: the Irving Big Stop at Salisbury NB on the Trans-Canada (good diner food including a very respectable Ruben and 2 buck, 12 oz., large tomato juice), the Normandin at Levis (a favorite for over a decade – draft beer is a moslons ex and the waiting staff help you do the whole thing in our respectly poor english and french) – maple beans (aka “the bomb” in a couple of respects) with your breakfast; and

  • Best hotel in the Maritimes – the Sheraton at Fredericton. Great waterfront location in what looks like a park. Staff are capable and relaxed. Room service is fast and the wine celler is respectable. In 1999, they had no rooms left in the class we had ordered and we got the Royal Suite. Literally the rooms the Queen gets when in NB. We could have played basketball in the livingroom. The dinner table sat 12. We paid the same as the basic room we booked. Somnewhere we have a photo of our daughter, then 11 months having a pee on the floor. Although in the the same room, she was too far to run to in time but the camera was not. You have to think way ahead if you want to embarrass the hell out of someone at their wedding reception.

  • NPR – 90.1 Calais Maine; 106.1 Presque Isle, Maine, 106.5 Fort Kent Maine, 104.7(?) Vermont Public Radio St. Albans, 89.5 North Country Public Radio, Northern New York State.

Well, that is it for now. Thanks for stopping by during a slow posting week and a half.

Kołobrzeg! Kołobrzeg!

When looking through the web stats, I got to wondering why, outside of North America, Holland would be the hotbed of the greatest number of my readers when I realized it is the Google effect. Having used the word Nederlands and therefore been linked by a few Dutch blog trolling spiders or bots or whatever they are, I get a bit of a boost on Dutch Google and, bob’s your uncle, I stand tall in the low countries. So…can this be manufacturered?

My wife and I met in Ko³obrzeg, a resort city on the Baltic Coast of Poland where the Nazis met a well-deserved, nasty fate at the hands of the Red Army on the beaches after running out of both land and options in the spring of ’45. The ever patient Ellen and I both taught ESL there and, unlike most others who travelled to Eastern Europe to teach a decade or so ago, briefly enjoyed a rather splendid if corney luxury lifestyle – Bulgarian wines, tinned elk and boar, first walkman in the province, at $400 a month an income 3 times that of a doctor. A sense of the place can be seen in some of its websites for a sanitorium/spa, a hotel/spa, spa-tourism, spa-fishing-poets, spa-investment, yacht-spa, people at the spa town…I suppose I could go on…Anyway, this is an open invite for discussion of all things Ko³obrzeg. What the hell.

PS – if your computer shows a small raised “3” between the two o’s of the name, it is spelled Kolobrzeg with a little bar across the “L” kinda pronounced “e-u”: “Ł” or “ł”

[Update in 2016: proof of the finding of Kay…]

Web Radio

I love web radio as I love radio. You don’t get the romance of the signal fading in and out but crappy buffering almost makes up for it. I love media that let you know they are there. I have recently switched to using the Windows Media Player – and it’s excellent listings pages – and so have had to give up BBC Live Five due to poorer BBC coverage, compared to the Real player, for improved NPR choices.

By the way, I understand there’s some flooding risk in New Jersey – have care if you are out and about there this afternoon.

A Blog is Blorn

Who will have a sip from my experiment??The good lads at silverorange, my pals, former clients, former employers, wise buyers of my furniture and…umm…oh, yea…award winning web designers have listed me on their new development web log. The referral logs here at GenX at 40 HQ are a buzzin’.

One point. Establishing their web log as their playground is a disservice to their office round many days about 3:30 pm when the Snood-fest begins.

RTJ on Father’s Day

Two little voices were on the phone at noon to wish me a happy Father’s Day from PEI where they are helping get the house ready for sale. They gave their gift in calling after my morning nap, required after a visit from my pal, now a teacher in Scarborough, Arthur (aka Art, Uncle Artie, RTJ or Tree – depending on the era of our now 22 year old friendship we are describing and the number of ales having been tasted.)

We started Kings together in 1981, he suffering from the bad luck of sharing common keys with our room, the room Wugg and I shared in Chapel Bay. Safety second!Suffered in having us from time to time creeping in, lifting the bed where he lay between drunk and hung to two feet off the floor, dropping it as we screamed “wake up”. Rather than wallowing in glory days, we we toured the downtown pubs Merchant McLaim, Pilot House and the Kingston Brew Pub and talked about soccer, family and, well, some old friend talk . Home by taxi at a sensible hour watching a MLS game on Fox Sports World. Highlight – smoked cod battered and fried at the Pilot House with a Guinness.

Photo above: Not us but still… two at the Brew Pub to be admired for their foresight.

WBZ

I am listening to WBZ radio 1030 AM here on the east end of Lake Ontario with pretty much the same signal strength I had most nights in PEI. WBZ is the oldest licenced station in North America operating now for 83 years. They claim they are heard throughout the continent east of the Rockies – which is probably true given they have a 50,000 watt licence and a clear channel without competition. Don’t judge the station by its terrible web site.

Paul Sullivan [who sounds exactly like Ray Romano except for a total lack of “duh, I dunno” schtick on Everybody Loves Raymond (they never asked me) that drives me nuts] hosts the 10 pm to midnight Eastern show following David Brudnoy – a Phd talking in the town where Harvard can be found – who starts at 7 pm. Both in their own way stake an interesting place in the talk-radio world as both are rightist libertarian without being republican right-wing a la Limbaugh. Brudnoy, for example, was merciless on the Clinton administration but not in the banal coarse way in which most US talk radio was – he was offended on principle. By way of contrast, one of the few real US liberal voices on any talk radio is Lovell Dyett evenings on the weekend. He also has the best voice on radio anywhere, making James Earle Jones sound watery and thin.

What is amazing to me is that the CRTC can’t block access to whatever radio waves on the AM band float over the border to be caught by a $9.99 Radio Shack transistor special. In Canada, we live in a veritable cultural police state when it comes to the control of access to television signals on the grounds of protecting Canadian values. If those nasty US values are conveyed by audio, somehow they don’t count.

Heck – on a good night you can hear Cuba on 600 Khz from most of eastern North America most nights on your car radio, especially in winter. Viva the old tech! Viva the low tech! Viva radio libre!

First Things

Why are first things so interesting to us? I had no idea that hack was a 1920’s invention at MIT for a gag or prank or that, as we learn in page 41 of the 9 June 2003 New Yorker, that hip-hoppy scratchity records was invented in 1975 by a guy, perhaps only later called Grandmaster Lester, trying to not listen to his mom.  I have been both attracted to these firsts of information but, then, suspicious of them, too.  Blame book learning.  In Gogol’s Dead Souls, one Russian’s Dante’s Inferno, the first layer of human vanity we encounter is in the person of Manilov, the personification of the superficial, of whom Gogol writes:

…never did these projects pass beyond the stage of debate. Likewise there lay in his study a book with the fourteenth page permanently turned down. It was a book which he had been reading for the past two years! In general, something seemed to be wanting in the establishment.

Another GrantThat danged 14th page. I haven’t read that passage for 20 years and that is to me that has always been the little, dangerous knowledge. I learned about Gogol from Yuri Glazov who, along with George Grant, were the first really bright old guys I ever met. Both taught me a few courses at Kings and Dal in the early 1980’s and, for all their depth of understanding, could still spare the time: laughing with the ideas of a far too drunk kid over a cheese tray, Glazov holding his night’s one Ten Penny in his slavic mitt, me holding eight in my gut; Grant stopping when walking the dog to ask about a cold fall soccer practice, ciggie ash trailing down his sweatered belly.

Another GlazovThey were too bright to be interested in any kind of heated discussion with me – they were happy to listen to kids who get B’s, make small talk at the Capital Store. I recall each man laughing a lot, which was good. Not only as they really weren’t part of the mild, shallow elitism there at King’s then, though some fawned, but as each had suffered to some real degree personally and professionally for their thoughts – Glazov in the Soviet Union when rejecting his faith in Communism, Grant for standing by his deep but somewhat homey understanding conservativism and Christian faith devoid of what we would call conservative Christianity today.