August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina...
Hurricane Katrina hit the souther United States, and there are possibly thousands of people who died from it. Despite the long distance from here to the Southern States, we felt the effects of the hurricane today. Yesterday it was very warm and humid here (the warm air pushed up from the south), and today there were higher than normal winds, with a lot of rain. It`s supposed to clear up for the weekend though.
I`ve only got a few days left here in Ottawa. Today we said goodbye to another one of the guides. It`s weird to loose one or two guides every few days. It`s not like we`ve had a chance for one big goodbye, although there`s a housewarming/BBQ/party this Friday night chez Véro.
When I got home this evening, I found out that one of the winter roomates is moving back in. The one whose room I stayed in over the summer. But it`s all cool, Will is gone for the week, so Matt will probably sleep in Will`s room until he gets back.
Oh yah, I checked out the Aviation Museum yesterday, which was kinda cool. They had some neat planes from WWII, including an experimental German one that was jet powered. I`m going to miss being a guide, and getting into the museums for free.

August 30, 2005

One Week...
I`m leaving Ottawa in one week, which is an interesting thought. The end of the summer has come up so quickly that it just doesn`t seem like I`ll be back in uni in one week. My plane arrives home just after 3PM, and my first class is at 4. Needless to say, I think that I`ll be missing my first class.
I`ve had a really incredible summer here, and I know that I`ll miss the people that I worked with (each in their own quirky way). It`s an interesting thought to think that I didn`t know any of them, at all, only four months ago. And yet, after many hours of talking in the guide lounge, social events, and drinks and dinners, I`ve gotten to know a lot of them quite well. They sort of feel like an extended family across the country. I`ll miss Ottawa, the people that I`ve met here, and the amazing experiences that I`ve had in the nations' capital.

August 28, 2005

l'Horreur d'Aurore...
I went to watch Aurore in Gatineau (Québec) this evening with a few of the guides . It`s a Québécois film that is set in the 1910`s Québec countryside. The true story is about a girl, named Aurore, who is physically abused by her step-mother after her mother dies of TB. Her father is too busy with work to notice that the abuse is getting worse, and she`s ignored by the village priest because he thinks that she`s lying and too cheeky. Some of the townspeople are worried, but don`t do anything because they don`t want to cause a stir (most of them owe the father money).
The girl is litterally abused to death at the age of 11. Trust me, you don`t want me to go into the details. Even though the film was rated 13+, it should be higher than that. The parents are tried and found guilty of manslaughter. The mother is first sentenced to hanging, then to life in prison (she got out early). The father was also sentenced to life in prison, but he got out after 5 years for good behaviour. The priest blew himself up with TNT, because of the fact that he had been to lofty to notice the small details in the village (he was a theologian, with the ambition of working at the Vatican).
It`s mind-boggling that parents can do that to their children. I don`t even know how someone could think like that. It`s totally beyond me.

August 26, 2005

Almost there...
The end of the summer is creaping up, ever so slowly.
I treated myself to a really good poutine from a chip wagon during my Wednesday split. In the evening I had coffee with Chantal, a friend from way back in Jonquière (about 5 years ago). We had those Frozen Hot Chocolate things at Second Cup, which taste like you`re drinking cold, melted chocolate. Mmmmmm....
On Thursday I went to the Museum of Civilization, to check out the whole museum. In the evening was a dinner at East Side Mario`s, to say goodbye to Malaïka (one of the guides), who`s going off to New Brunswick. I tried the funnel cake at the resto, which was really good. It`s basically deep fried batter in a lattice shape, that`s served with icing sugar, strawberries, and ice cream. Mmmmmm....
Tonight I watched the Sound & Light Show on the Hill. It`s basically a large super-charged slide show that`s projected onto the Centre Block of Parliament. It was much better than I expected, and quite patriotic, eh? Afterwards, I went to Mark`s place where a few of the guides were cooking breakfast for dinner, than having dessert for dessert. Mmmmmm....
Are you noticing that everything ends with food?

August 24, 2005

Days Off...
I had Monday and Tuesday off -yes that was my "weekend"- and decided to make the most of my last few days here. On Monday I went wandering through the market, and bought a few little things. It was so nice outside that I read for a bit in one of the courtyards in the market.
Yesterday I went to Canada & the World, which is an exhibit by the Rideau Falls touting Canada and Canadian`s achievements. I met up with Tanya, another guide, in the evening and we went to the Museum of Civilization to look around a bit (I`m going back on Thursday to see the rest with my roomate). We went to see Mysteries of the Nile on IMAX, which was playing at the museum.

August 23, 2005

"Choose a job you love and you`ll never have to go to work" - Confucius.
Wasn`t he a brilliant man? Now I just have to find that job that I`ll enjoy for many years to come... I know that many people change careers several times throughout their lives, but if you find the right job, would you have to change careers?

August 22, 2005

I was working in the Peace Tower yesterday and was talking to some visitors (as usual). I asked them where they were from, and they told me the name of the city. I didn`t recognise the name, so I asked them if it was far from Ottawa. They said that it was a suburb of Ottawa...
Yup, I`ve been here for four months folks! I know most of them, but it must be a little further out of town. I guess it doesn`t help that I don`t really go out of the centre of town that often, as I don`t really have any need to.

August 21, 2005

Update, finally...
OK, OK, OK -I know that the updates have been slow in coming. But in all fairness, I`ve been so busy that I haven`t had the chance to update, nor to send out any emails in the past few days. What have I been doing you ask? Well:
Since I don`t exactly remember in what order I`ve done things over the past few days, I`ll just write. I went to the Contemporary Photography Museum during one of my split shifts. There was a really cool exhibit on by Michael Semak, a Canadian photographer. During the split I also tried a beaver tail, for the first time ever. I decided to go all out, and get one with maple butter, chocolate, and nuts (queue c'est bon -sorry for the pun). We also had a BBQ at Anna`s place, since she`s leaving early to practise with the McGill soccer team. I also met up with Kyla, and we went to the Festival de Lumière (lots of cool lanterns, and fire dancers). Apart from that, I`ve been working, eating, and sleeping.
I`ve only got two weeks left here in Ottawa, which is a bit scary to think about.

August 17, 2005

Mussels, CWM, Ethiopian Food...
Last night I went for all-you-can-eat mussels for Chantalle`s (one of the guides) birthday at a seafood restaurant in the market. I`ve been feeling like mussels for a while, so it was nice to finally have some. We ended up closing down the kitchen :)
Today I went to the new Canadian War Museum to see the rest of the exhibit that I didn`t have time to see on the opening day in May. I got in for free, and went through the Second World War (and saw Hitler`s car) and Peacekeeping sections of the museum. The new war museum is really incredible. They do a very balanced job of explaining the war, including the internment of the Japanese Canadians during WWII.
This evening I went for Ethiopian food for the first time ever at a cool restaurant called the Horn of Africa. The food was amazingly good, and reasonably priced. You ate the food with your hands, using injera (a spongy flatbread, made from slightly fermented batter that tastes a bit like sourdough) to scoop up the various dishes. The sauces weren`t overly hot, but were nicely spiced. I`m planning on going again before I leave it was so good!

August 15, 2005

Guide Ball...
Last night was the annual guide ball in the West Block ballroom. This year it was Oscar themed, which made it easy to dress up for. I wore a new blue shirt that I bought at Simons in Québec, with a black suit. It was a really fun evening. Almost all of the guides were there, including the East Block guides, the infotenters, and some of the scanners.

Équipe Avenir -Hugo, Monic, Graeme, Laura, Stephen, Karissa
There was lots of food, and being that it was the Oscars there were awards for everyone! They were all funny, although most of them were inside jokes. For example, Meena won the "most visible minority" (she always jokes about how she`s brown), and Genviève won "most communist monopoly player" (her and I shared money and land while playing Monopoly). I wasn`t too surprised by my prize -"Scariest Spice". After the food and awards was lots of dancing.
Today is the Fête Nationale de l'Acadie! It`s been 400 years of French settlement in Acadia, and 250 years since Le Grand Dérangement (the deportations by the British).

August 13, 2005

Happy Birthday Castro...
Today, August 13th, is Fidel Castro`s birthday. I was reading a bit about him in The Embassy (a Canadian foreign affairs newsweekly). They printed part of an early speech by him after his revolutionary victory (you can read translations of his speeches from 1959 to 1996).
Here`s a few things that he said on January 3, 1959 in Santiago de Cuba, and I quote:
-[The President] will decree the re-establishment of all rights and freedoms, including the absolute freedom of the press (there`s 2 TV stations in Cuba today)
-I will not go and live in Havana because I want to live in Sierra Maestra...
-I [do not] intend to exercise any power greater than that of the President of the Republic (at the time it was Dr. Manuel Urrutia)

August 12, 2005

The Day...
I met up with my parents again last night for dinner (we went to The Black Tomato, which was incredibly good). Sitting at the table next to us, totally par hasard, was Sarah (one of the guides) with her mother, grandmother, and sister.
This morning I bought Shake Hands With the Devil, by Roméo Dallaire, after meeting up with Adeline for breakfast before she leaves for Taiwan. I went to his office and got a sticker that he had signed placed into the front cover of my book. My parents stopped in for a quick visit while I was working today, before they head back to BC tomorrow morning.
There were a few cool groups that came through today while I was working out front. First there was an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Camp that came through. The campers were from Israel and Palestine, and some had never talked to people from the other side of the divide. It`s all privately funded; a lot of it by the former Israeli ambassador. Actually, the wife of the former ambassador came on the tour. It was fascinating to hear from the leaders a bit about the camp, some of the stories, and what they were doing. We also had a group of Iraqi scientists, as well as the Iraqi Minister of the Environment come for a tour this afternoon.
I had a lady in the Memorial Chamber this evening who`s uncle fought in WWII -from southern Italy through to the liberation of Holland. She told me a few stories, and I found one really fascinating. It was of the troops marching single-file though a vinyard in Italy. Her uncle was quitely talking to the soldier behind him, when he noticed that he wasn`t responding. After a few seconds, he turned around and the man had been shot dead -as well as the other soldiers in the row behind him. The sniper was using a silencer, and her uncle would`ve been his next target. When they located the sniper hiding in a tree, they found out that he was a 10-year old boy who had been trained by the Italians...

August 11, 2005

Montréal and Québec...
I just got back late last night from three days in Montréal and Québec with my parents. We drove to Montréal on Monday morning, and spent two hours there shopping, and drove through a bit of the city (past McGill, Outremont, etc.). We continued on to Trois-Rivières where we stopped for a coffee and a walk along the St.-Laurent. We arrived in Québec a little while later, and stopped in at our hotel. We wandered around the upper-old town for a bit, and had dinner at a crêpe restaurant.
The next day we walked by the Citadel, and along the Dufferin Terasse, before arriving at Château Frontenac. I took off on my own to the Museum of Civilisation in Québec, which was having a cool exhibit about Russia. I was able to get in for free, thanks to my Parliamentary pass. The museum was really cool, and I loved the Russian part. I met up with my parents in the evening, and we went for dinner at an Italian place near the old town. I also got them to try squeaky cheese. Mmmmm, squeaky cheese. I wish they had it on the West Coast.
Yesterday, we had breakfast at Chez Cora`s in Ste. Foy, then drove around Ile d'Orléans, which is a farming island in the St. Laurence River. We drove back to Ste. Foy, and did some shopping. I bought a cool blue shirt at Simons. We drove to Montréal, and had poutines there late in the evening. Then it was back to Ottawa for midnight. At least I`m working later today, at 12h10.

August 07, 2005

Vacation Time...
Tonight I`m heading off to a birthday party for one of the guides, Ryan. He`s the self-proclaimed card-carying member of the Conservative Party among the guides, and we all tease him about it (he doesn`t mind, because he jokes back). In the spirit of his birthday, he`s decided to have a "conservative themed" dinner at The Keg -I`m not yet sure if I`m going to wear blue, or red...
Tomorrow I`m heading to Montréal and Québec City with my parents, so I`ll be away from the blog for a bit. I`m looking forward to the two cities. It`ll be nice to play tourist for a while, and ask some stupid tourist questions :)

August 06, 2005

Pirate Party...
Last night I went to Erin`s pirate party. She`s one of the guides, and decided to have a pirate themed birthday party last night. It was a lot of fun, especially since almost everyone actually dressed up. I didn`t really have any pirate stuff, so I made an eye patch out of cardboard, and wrote "ARRGH" on it. I ended up staying much later than I had expected, especially since I worked the 8:20 shift this morning.
Tonight I`m off to a farewell night for Adeline, one of the girls who worked as a Vimy guide when I was in France. She was given three weeks notice before she`s off to Taiwan for an indetermined amount of time. It`s a good-bye party, as well as an "eat and take anything that`s still left in my house before I leave" party.

August 05, 2005

Parental Visit...
My parents are in Ottawa now for a week and a half. I went to the airport yesterday to pick them up, then showed them around downtown a bit before we went to the National Art Gallery (free on Thursday evenings), and then out for dinner. Today I took them for lunch at the parliamentary café, gave them a private then public English public tour, and finally on an East block tour. We`ll be heading to Montréal and Québec City on Monday, which I`m really looking forward to.

August 04, 2005

Chamber Music Festival...
Last night I heard a concert of Italian chamber music, sponsored by the Italian embassy. Right now in Ottawa is the International Chamber Music Festival, which is supposed to be the largest of it`s kind in the world. They have over 120 concerts!
Last night's concert was really amazing. The venue was incredibly hot, as there were no fans during the performance (it would reduce the listening experience). There was a soprano and harpsichord performance, a piano solo, cello sonata, and a few other pieces as well. Just as we left the church, we saw the tail end of the firworks across the river at Lac Léamy in Gatineau.