Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things


Hurricane Dorian, US National Weather Service graph. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Hurricane Dorian, US National Weather Service graph. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

I begin with a shout-out to those of you who have yet to get your power back and are…unable to read this.

Yeah, that didn’t really make much sense, did it?

I want to be very cautious writing about Nova Scotia’s Dorian experience, given the Bahamas’ Dorian experience, which puts everything into far too sharp perspective.

That said, I think Robert Devet’s Nova Scotia Advocate has been focusing on some important local issues raised by the storm. Judy Haiven writes about the plight of hourly paid workers in the aftermath of a hurricane:

Because of Hurricane Dorian most shops, bars and stores were closed from at least last Saturday at noon until the following Tuesday. Depending on whether or not there was electricity or damage, many shops and services did not re-open till later Tuesday or even Wednesday.

Does anyone pay workers when they can’t work due to “weather”? Hourly paid workers – such as bar, restaurant, and coffee shop employees simply do not get paid. This week, they could lose nearly half their week’s pay (and tips), due to the closures. Some more conscientious employers do try to compensate their employees, but those employers are few and far between.

And Kendall Worth explains how difficult storms are for those living in poverty:

This weekend of hurricane Dorian I have been in touch with a lot of people living in poverty.

During storms the social isolation they experience in their day to day lives gets even worse, they say.

I hear some were upset that the evacuation centres were not located within walking distance from where we people who live in poverty live. However, they may not have understood that these evacuation centres were only intended for people who live right on the coast who were asked to evacuate their homes.

Because Metro Transit suspended bus service, and because we cannot afford taxis it was hard to get to a friend’s or family member’s place.

Community Services does not allow us any extra allowance for storm preparation supplies and emergency kit. Such an allowance is not even available as a special need, we are told by our caseworkers.

The subject is further explored in a letter to the editor from Sheri Lecker, executive director of Adsum for Women & Children:

[I]f you are among the working poor or living on income assistance in Nova Scotia and existing check-to-check is a regular feat of survival, you don’t have the privilege of preparing in advance. Buying extra non-perishable food and bottled water to last for three days, much less carrying bulk supplies on foot and by bus, is not an option when your personal allowance for the month is a meagre $275.00. It all has a place to go already, and there is no extra cushion for emergencies. And your neighbour likely doesn’t own a generator or a vehicle to give you a lift to one of the three temporary shelters/comfort centres in HRM, all set up kilometres away from the city core and inaccessible to folks without transportation.

I would also point you to Jennifer Henderson’s piece for the Halifax Examiner which includes some very interesting information about the pre-storm disposition of some Emera stock options and the quirks of the NSPI outages map. (Paywalled, but you know what I’m going to say — you can have access to Henderson’s work and much more with a joint Examiner/Spectator subscription.)


Grand Theft Credit Card

I had the oddest phone conversation yesterday with a local businessperson  who accused me or “someone in my office” of breaking into their office and stealing their credit card.

I wanted to ask, “Who keeps their credit cards in their office?” but I sensed the businessperson (whose identity I am protecting for no particularly good reason) was in no mood to humor me.

The evidence connecting me to the break-in was one of my articles, which the thief had apparently left behind. (Thanks for that, by the way.)

I don’t break into offices and steal credit cards, but if I did, I’d like to think I’d be better at covering my tracks. I admire a calling card as much as the next person, but there’s a difference between leaving a monogrammed glove (think: Pink Panther) and leaving a piece of paper with your full name and place of employ on it (think: moron).

I denied the accusation, but the businessperson didn’t seemed entirely convinced of my innocence. They took the opportunity to inform me I was a “stain on the community,” that I was “negative” about everything and that “everyone” thought I was crazy enough to break into an office and steal a credit card.

It was so over-the-top I found myself laughing (and hoping this particular businessperson did not work in a “client-facing” capacity) which made my accuser even angrier. They informed me they did not want my business and would prefer I didn’t patronize their establishment.

There is, of course, only one dignified way to respond to this: I must prepare to patronize their business IN DISGUISE.


Comic relief

Just to prove I am not always “negative,” let me take a moment to congratulate Alison Uhma on the publication of the first volume of her comic book, From the Other One.

Uhma discussed the project with the CBC’s Norma Jean MacPhee back in 2017, and while the drawings in the finished volume have evolved since then, the story  remains the same: it’s “an honest depiction” of Uhma’s relationship with her mother, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at 52 and died in 2013 at the age of 59.

As Uhma told MacPhee:

It’s a story I haven’t seen told in this way before, and it’s one that deserves telling and to be heard.

At the time I was in my 20s and still feeling like I needed a parent and found myself in a position where that parent wasn’t there anymore.

The role changed so much that I was something of a parent to her.

The first volume has gone into a second printing (yay!) and is once again available at Ed’s Bookstore on Charlotte Street in Sydney. And while I’m being non-negative, can I just note how much I like Ed’s Bookstore on Charlotte Street in Sydney?


Federal library funding

Saint Nom de Marie church, Marieville, QC. The municipal library is housed in the basement. (Photo by Pierre Bona [CC BY-SA 3.0 (])

Saint Nom de Marie church, Marieville, QC. The municipal library is housed in the basement. (Photo by Pierre Bona, CC BY-SA 3.0)

A spectator drew my attention to this August 21 press release announcing federal and provincial funding for a new public library in Marieville, Quebec (population 8,891):

Marieville, Quebec, August 21, 2019—The governments of Canada and Quebec recognize that cultural infrastructure plays a key role in developing dynamic prosperous communities.

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Nathalie Roy, Minister of Culture and Communications, and Minister Responsible for the French Language, today announced a joint investment to build a new 1,155-square-metre [12,432 square feet] municipal library in Marieville, tripling the library’s current space in the church’s basement.

The new library will include a media lab to allow patrons to become more familiar with new technologies including video editing, music and sound production, and 3D printing. There will also be a workspace, and reading and relaxation areas. Once completed, the library will be able to provide better services to residents with extended hours of operation and more shelving capacity.

The new venue will also provide spaces for library patrons and other building users to share, including a multi-purpose room, storage area, main lobby and an exhibition area. Landscaping and parking spaces are also part of the work.

The governments of Canada and Quebec will each invest more than $896,000 in this project through the New Building Canada-Québec Fund, Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component—Small Communities Fund. The Ville de Marieville will be responsible for the remaining costs.

The Marieville library has been located in the basement of Saint Nom de Marie Church since the Desautels Memorial Library, built in 1967, was demolished due to asbestos in 2012. The CBC reported on Thursday that federal funding for the new library was part of the Trudeau government’s $3 billion, pre-election spending spree in Quebec.

At about 12,500 square feet, the new Marieville library will be roughly half the size of the existing McConnell Library in Sydney (21,000 square feet) and much smaller than the new library proposed for the Sydney waterfront.

But although the projects are very different in scale, I thought it worth noting where and when Marieville got its funding. The money came via the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component—Small Communities Fund — which is open to applicants (including municipalities) whose projects:

…are situated within or are for the benefit of, communities with a population of fewer than one hundred thousand people (100,000) as determined by Statistics Canada — Final 2011 Census.

“Civic assets and municipal buildings” qualify for this federal funding stream and “most” projects are funded on a one-third, cost-share basis. (The CBC reported that the Marieville library would move into “a new, $900,000 building, paid for by the federal government” but this doesn’t seem to be correct.)

I have no idea if the CBRM (population as of the 2011 Census: 97,398) qualified for this funding stream (or how it works in Nova Scotia — the federal government makes agreements with the individual provinces which then identify qualifying projects) but it makes you think, doesn’t it? As does date on of the announcement — 21 August 2019.

Apparently CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke was wrong when he announced in May 2019 that the CBRM library proposal was “dead” as federal funding announcements were about to dry up in the lead-in to the election.



Fashion Victim

I got my latest New Yorker in the mail the other day and found this glaring at me from the outside back cover:


That tagline apparently says something like: “Right on target: these lapels have big plans,” which set me off immediately because I have a recurring nightmare in which my lapels have big plans.

I showed the image to a friend who asked: “What sport is she playing?”

“All the sports,” was my first guess, although, on closer inspection, she seems dressed for some combination of race-car driving, soccer, tennis, street-walking, prep school and the Oscars.

Why the ad is in French I cannot tell you, unless it’s trading on the age-old anglo belief that anything French is chic. (A belief this outfit may have single-handedly destroyed.)

I really have no point to make here, I just wanted to share this with someone else so we can all have this image burned into our retinas for eternity.

You’re welcome.