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May 31, 2006

Butt Out

Today, Ontario and Québec joined the growing list of provinces and states that ban indoor smoking.

Washington State has been non-smoking for over six months now, and contrary to predctions by bar and restaurant owners, the entire service industry has not collapsed. In fact, I find myself going out to drink more often, and to more different bars and pubs, than before the ban. Hm, maybe the beer gut I'm developing indicates the ban has a downside after all...

07:52 | Canada | Comments (1)

May 30, 2006

Lazarus Risen

After a year-and-change hiatus, Qatsi returns.

Good to have you back in the (unfortunately named) blogosphere, Ian.

22:30 | Entertainment | Comments (1)

May 24, 2006

Little Jewel

While I was home, I was lucky enough to meet the new edition to my parents' household: a Manchester Terrier puppy named Ruby. I've always been used to a dog around the house, so the few days I was visiting my parents before they brought Ruby home seemed eerily quiet. Although she's not meant as a replacement to Zoë, my parents' home seems a little more complete with a little critter running around. Ruby is my family's fourth dog, and the first puppy my parents are raising.

She's adorable, and it didn't take long before Ruby and I became fast friends.

23:28 | Family | Comments (1)

May 23, 2006

Back In Seattle

First off, I want to thank everyone who offered condolences and kind words about my grandmother's death. I appreciated them very much. The funeral was very nice, and it was great to see my friends and family (although I wish the circumstances were better). Once again, I was a pall bearer, and escorted Nonna's coffin down the same hallways I escorted Nonno's three years earlier. Once again, it was an honour, but it doesn't get any easier the second time. They will live on in our hearts and memories.

I'm back safe and sound in Seattle, although it was touch and go for a while. My visa expired in March of this year, and the lawyers here applied for an extension, which was approved just days before I found out I needed to leave the country. So I flew to Toronto with no documentation that I was allowed back in the US. Luckily the lawyers couriered the papers to me before my return flight. Despite being fully documented, the US Customs officer gave me a hard time about the way I filled out my customs form. I answered the question "Is this trip for business?" with a "No", since I figured I was going home to my place of residence. I didn't consider the fact I'd be working when I got there as the main reason for my trip to the US. Apparently this guy did, and referred me to an Immigration Officer, but not before insensitively grilling me on the details of my grandmother's death.

Thanks again to my parents for their hospitality; to my brother Matt for letting me crash on his couch and getting me out for karaoke (his rendition of Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto beat my Shock the Monkey hands down); to my sister for seeing me off at the gate; to Dav, Amit and Amy for inviting me out to the cottage (under other circumstances, I would have jumped at the opportunity); and to Bonnie for picking me up at the airport at the ungodly hour of 2:30am.

18:41 | Stuff | Comments (1)

May 12, 2006

Good bye Nonna

Yesterday my mom called me at work with some bad news. My grandmother passed away in her sleep sometime yesterday morning. I'll be flying home to Ontario this weekend, and will spend the week with my family.

It was a little over three years ago my Nonno passed, and once again I've been asked to be a pallbearer. The last three years were tough for Nonna. Her diabetes affected her eyesight and poor circulation made walking difficult, but she always had a positive attitude. A harsh bout of pneumonia prevented her from going on her annual trip to sunny St Lucia in February, which dampened her spirits a bit, but family was always near to keep her company and cheer her up.

Today would have been her 80th birthday. The family had planned a big party to celebrate her life, but I wasn't able to attend. It looks like I will be attending a celebration of her life with the family after all.

Arrivederci Nonna.

15:25 | Family | Comments (1)

May 8, 2006

Bush's Best Moment

When asked by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag what was his best moment since he became president, Bush replied "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake,"(link).

For once, I agree with the president.

Curious how other presidents answered? Check out Carter and Clinton's responses here (note, neither of them involve catching big fish in a stocked pond).

16:13 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

May 3, 2006

Nuestro Himno

On Monday there were numerous demonstrations across the country by immigrant workers protesting the proposal of a new immigration bill. In time for the protests, a Spanish-language version of the American National Anthem was released to the airwaves. President Bush's reaction to the song was less than supportive:

"I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English"

If that's the case, then I guess the US Government should update their web pages to remove not one, but four Spanish versions of The Star Spangled Banner.

Although I agree that knowledge of the English language is an important skill to have if one wants to live in the United States, I don't agree with people who take offense at a Spanish (or any other language) version of the national anthem, considering the United States (unlike most countries) has no official language. One can imagine any politician proposing an English-only America kissing Hispanic votes goodbye.

07:48 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

May 2, 2006

Make You Strong Just Like A Vitamin

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to see Massive Attack live here in Seattle. They only did three shows in North America to promote their new double-disc best-of album Collected. I've been listening to Massive Attack since high school, and never once thought I would have a chance to see them live. And what a show it was.

The nice thing about seeing a band tour when they don't have a brand new album out, is that they don't have to sacrifice playing their best material in order to hawk their new songs. MA knew their audience and for an hour and a half made the crowd very happy with some old favourites.

They opened with a previously-unreleased track False Flags which is featured on Collected. The rest of the set was very Mezzanine-centric, with two songs from 100th Window, three from Blue Lines and one from Protection. I don't know the names of the two female guest vocalists they featured, but the one that sang on Unfinished Sympathy had an incredibly powerful voice. They even had Horace Andy there to serenade us with Angel and others. When 3D and Daddy G came out together and sang Karmakoma, I nearly wept (ok, not really, but it was incredible to hear that track live).

Throughout the show the band members (which consisted of the vocalists, a DJ, guitar player, bass player and drummer) were illuminated from behind by a series of coloured lights that pulsed and glowed with the music. During the performance of Safe From Harm, the lights displayed statistics of the war in Iraq, including US, UK and Iraqi death tolls and the total cost of the war in US dollars. Needless to say, MA disagrees with the war.

The show was at the fabulous Paramount Theatre, one of my favourite venues in Seattle. This was truly one of the best shows I've seen in a very long time, and certainly one of the best I've seen in Seattle. If any of you are planning to be in Europe this summer, I highly recommend you try to see them on tour. If not, maybe Collected will tide you over until their next album.

21:52 | Entertainment | Comments (1)