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August 10, 2008

Up in Canada

I spent Wednesday through Sunday in Toronto hunting grizzly bears in front of Union Station. I bagged two, which is OK in Toronto as long as you put their various parts in the correct recycling bins. And I want to bring you up to date on the happenings occurring in our northern neighbor.

First, this morning, a few miles north of our hotel, there was a major series of explosions at a propane plant, causing quite a spectacle. You can get a few details here. Watch out for those outdoor grills you guys have on your decks. If you'd like to see some photos, check out this post at

Second, you remember the incident on a Greyhound bus in Canada, when one passenger beheaded another? Well, here's an article in the Globe and Mail, in which an intrepid reporter risks life, limb, and neck to ride a similar bus and interview the passengers. Quotation of the day:

Bus etiquette is sorted out nightly on a semi-feudal basis among seatmates. One point of contention, without fail, is a reclined chair that interferes with someone else's legroom. Mr. Lehmann and Ms. Dickey moved up front after another passenger confronted them about their reclining habits. That's where you will find them now, her head resting on his shoulder, both asleep.

“You're not really supposed to change seats,” comments Oli Hall, 20, a British backpacker. “And you're definitely not supposed to stab people, decapitate them, then dance around with it.”
Third, a black bear invaded a basement apartment in a town in British Columbia. Fortunately, Brian Fortune, the resident of the apartment, was not present for the invasion. However, I'm sorry (pronounced "SAWR-ee," as the Canadians do) to report that this story is a metaphor for modern-day Canada. Mr. Fortune is apparently a liberal. How do I know that? Here's how: "Mr. Fortune said he sympathized with the animal. 'It's unfortunate that the bears are resorting to that, coming into our area,' he said. 'Although we did infringe on their area first.'" Also, the RCMP had to step in to resolve the impasse. Consider how that one turned out:
"Because of the aggressive behaviour displayed by the bear by entering a house, a shot was taken from the Coquitlam RCMP," Constable Leung said.

The shot struck the bear in the shoulder but failed to immobilize it. The animal climbed up a nearby tree, where it remained until conservation officer Peter Busink arrived 15 minutes later.

Mr. Busink fired a tranquilizer dart that soon sent the bear tumbling to the ground. But as RCMP officers approached, they realized the animal was not completely subdued. Coquitlam RCMP then used a shotgun to kill the bear.
So let's review the bidding. The RCMP shoots the bear -- and barely stuns it. The bear stays in a tree mocking the RCMP, shouting obscenities at passers-by, and whistling at the women until the animal control officers shoots it -- with a sedative. The RCMP then steps forward to finish the task that the animal control officer started. Sheesh, is that embarrassing, or what?

Oh, and it reminds me of the famous Woody Allen nightclub routine about shooting a moose.

Finally, on a more serious note, I've always found it hard to prepare mentally for Rosh Hashanah. I have some trouble with the theology, and the fact that it was Tisha B'Av today didn't help. But in Toronto, whenever the subway doors close, there's a chime that slowly plays the 5-3-1 of the major scale (out of tune, but never mind). Those notes are the same notes that begin the aleynu prayer in the tune used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. So at every stop on every trip I took on the subway, I was singing or thinking about the Rosh Hashanah aleynu. Maybe I'll return to Toronto just before the holidays.