Condi and Peter double-up!

There have been rumours that Condoleeza Rice and Peter MacKay – both single and supposedly “sophisticated and good looking” conservative government high-rollers – have a bit of a thing going. Those rumours have been refueled this week by Condi’s trip to Peter’s hometown of Stellarton, Nova Scotia.

According to the New York Times, Peter took Condi home to meet his folks, where they told her embarassing stories about what little Petey got up to as a kid. How charming. Apparently Peter is also, somehow, aware that Condi slept with the window open, to capture some of that fresh Atlantic air.

Interestingly, the NYT article is more about dismissing those rumours, so it’s OK to read it – it’s anti-gossip.

The best part about the NYT article is the accompanying photo, shown below (with modifications by me, for emphasis:


Notice the take-out Tim Horton’s cups. CTV reported yesterday that Peter had taken her to Tim’s for a double-double. Now I ask you, is there a greater milestone in small-town Nova Scotia dating than when you take your new squeeze to Tim Horton’s?

However, The Globe & Mail reports that Peter ordered tea, and Condi got a half-regular, half-decaf, black, with Splenda. (Jeez, those Americans can even make a trip to Tim Horton’s complicated!) Apparently, Peter and Condi, both diplomatic to the end, would each not let the other pay:

They wrestled verbally, to and fro, until the clerk behind the counter insisted it was on the house.

If that was ad-hoc and not scripted, then this is comedy of the highest order.

What do you do with a half-dead bird?

Our cat, the Mini, is a sweetie with a killer instinct. A few weeks ago, for example, he caught a chipmunk in the front yard — fortunately for the chipmunk I was able to pull the cat away before too much damage was done. One day last summer I found the Mini with a battered and unconcious sparrow. It was too late to save that little guy, so I set up a bit of a gas chamber using the tailpipe of the car and sent the poor creature to what I hope was a peaceful and painless end.

One evening a couple of weeks ago I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I heard a racket out in the driveway. It was the sound of a flock of birds screeching at the tops of their little lungs, along with the familiar gling gling gling of the bell on the Mini’s collar.

I put down my chopping knife and went to investigate. I found the Mini under the cedars next to the driveway (one of his favorite hiding places) sitting next to a robin-sized bird that was flat on its back with its chest heaving mightily. The Mini sat up straight and looked at me with that “What? Why are you looking at me?” expression. I think he was hoping I wouldn’t notice the tits-up bird at his side.

I noticed the bird.

Resigned, the Mini let me grab him and put him inside the house. I went back to the bird, who was still on his back but was heaving less. I waited a minute and gave him a little poke with a stick. No response. I poked again, and the bird rolled over with a big dusty flutter of wings.

Now he was upright, but plopped on his belly, facing away from me, with one wing at a bit of an awkward angle. He seemed alert. I gave him a gentle prod with the stick and his head turned so he could see me. Then it sort of lolled off to the side with one eye looking straight up and the other buried in the feathers of his back. It wasn’t looking too promising.

I figured I’d give him some time, so I went back to cooking dinner. Just before we ate, I went out to check on him. He had turned around by then, so he was facing me, and his head was upright and alert. He was still plopped on his belly though. I gave him a nudge, and he got up on his legs, limped a few steps, then settled down again. His wing was still sticking out, but less so.

I wondered if this was the end of the road for the bird, and if I shouldn’t put together another little gas chamber to end his suffering. But on the other hand, he didn’t really seem to be suffering (but then, who can tell?). He was alert, if a little beat up — unlike last year’s doomed bird who was alive but unconcious. I was surprised that he didn’t try to get away. He just stayed there, as if he had some sort of fatalistic notion that his number was up. I imagined him thinking “well, what are you waiting for? Eat me!”

More time, I thought. So I went in and we ate dinner.

After dinner, Martine and I decided to go for a walk, but first we would check on the bird. By then it was about 8:30 P.M., and getting dark. The bird was still hiding there, under the cedars, but he was up on his legs and his wing seemed to be back in place although it was hard to tell for sure in the dim light. We left him there and went for a walk around the neighbourhood.

The sky was completely dark when we arrived back home an hour later. I grabbed a flashlight and looked under the cedars. No bird. I looked up and down the row of trees, under the nearby trees, and even under the car. No bird.

I suppose that was good news. After all, every time I checked on the bird he seemed to be doing better. But as I thought about it, I realized there were basically three possibilities, only one of which was favorable:

  1. The bird recovered enough to come out from his hiding place and flew, in the fading light, back to the safety of his nest.
  2. Despite the appearance of recovery, the bird was just using the last of his strength, that he had enough to finally limp off to a dark corner where he expired.
  3. Some neighbourhood cat came along and said “whoa, this one’s easy!”

Whatever the case, I’m glad I didn’t gas him. It’s one thing to do that for a bird that is unconscious, but this guy was alert and aware. I’m not sure that being stuffed into a bag and then having a loud pipe belching stinky fumes into your face is exactly the most humane end for a creature who is aware of what’s going on. But had he been more beat up, had he declined instead of improved, what else could I have done?

Friday Silliness

I know what you’re thinking: Thank Dawg he’s taking a break from all that other nonsense and giving us what we really want to read: inconsequential silliness.

So be it.

How I Know It’s Post-Labour Day

  • By the time I get home from work it’s almost too late to barbeque.
  • I see those bottles of Vinho Verde and rosé in the basement as lost opportunities.
  • Those white pants? Just don’t feel right.

The Most Retardedly Awesome and Awesomely Retarded Thing I’ve Seen in Weeks

Fun with Treadmills. DIY choreography, with fitness machines! Watch the whole thing! (Via Vero. B.)

Build Your Own Dubya

Hey look, you can build your own George Dubya Bush!


So, like, is this how dragonflies give head?

Regarding Katie Couric

Contrary to what you might think, I have nothing against Katie Couric. What I resent, however, is how the media has gotten so frothy-mouthed over the very, very, minor story of her taking The Big Job at the CBS news. That was worthy of a couple of lines several months ago when it was first announced, but that’s all. The fervor we’ve seen since then over this non-story is just stupid. And embarassing.

Let’s get this straight – Katie Couric is not the news. She reads the new. Any media outlet that has focused on the Katie Couric story in the past three months should be fully and completely discredited as being nothing more than gossip mongers. Because that’s all it is. I repeat, inverted and modified for better comprehension – Katie Couric is not the news. Katie Couric presents the news.

(OK, that one was not so silly. Forgive me. Even on my silly days I still have something to rant about.)

Hey, happy hour starts at 4:30!

Of People and Places (Part 3)

This strange relationship I have with places (as described in part 1 and part 2) is reflected in much of the photography I do. My black and white work from the late 1980s and early 90s, for example, is all about places. In most cases to the complete exclusion of people.

Travellers often say that that the thing they enjoy most about their voyages is the people they meet. I too enjoy meeting people when I travel, but the best part about being somewhere remains, for me, the simple fact of being there.

People are transient, but places endure. Arguably, it is the people who make the place. But the ghosts and myths of that place reside in the bricks and mortar, in the trees and utility poles, and in the walls and doors. If I photograph a street vendor in Rome, that is, to me, a photograph of a street vendor. I will rarely iconify an individual. But when I photograph a curving street with its old stone paving and houses of crumbling dusty orange, I feel I am photographing not just the physical structures, but the embodiment of every person who has ever lived on or visited that street, along with their stories and memories.

Few will agree with that view of the world, and that’s fine by me. I envy those who can visit a place and immediately strike up a friendship with its people. That is not so easy for me to do. I tend to keep to myself, to stay quietly in the background.

This is part of the reason why I have generally failed as a travel writer. My attempts in that field have always been very internally focused – accounts of what I saw and felt and imagined. There are almost no people in my travel stories, and that makes them less entertaining, perhaps downright boring. It’s ironic, in that I often enjoy the “people” aspect of other people’s travel stories – books like Karen Connelly’s One Room in a Castle or the Best American Travel Writing series from Houghton Mifflin are full of colorful and interesting people. But they are also full of excellent internal journeys brought about by the external ones.

Regardless, when I photograph or write about a place, I go for what moves me, for what triggers my sense of mythology. For me, that means the place itself, not so much its people. For this reason, I am doomed to eternal failure. Fortunately I have a day job.

(Of People and Places, Part 1 and Part 2.)