Cover photo by Paul Heaberlin, used under Creative Commons license


When we visited Halifax last weekend we flew Porter. It’s great service and we like flying out of the island airport, so…yeah. We always fly Porter.

Anyway, just before both legs (Toronto -> Montreal, Montreal -> Halifax) the head flight attendant made an unusual announcement. Before closing the door she told us that someone aboard was so allergic to peanuts  that she had to collect any open containers of nuts before closing the door. Also, that no one could open any nuts during the flight, and they would obviously not offer almonds as one of the snacks.

First, let’s assume the flight attendant misspoke and conflated nut allergies with peanut allergies, and that the passenger was allergic to peanuts as she first stated. Let’s also assume that the afflicted passenger is one of the estimated 0.6%-1.0% of people with an actual peanut allergy, not the self-diagnosed sort.

Going by a quick and dirty estimate based on Porter’s Q400 aircraft spec, I’d estimate that this passenger sat in roughly 9,300 cubic feet of cabin space. Granted, the air in that cabin is pressurized and recycled for the 90 minutes of flight time, but that’s still a pretty big space to worry about a single package of nuts being opened, no? We’re talking about peanut dust which, having gone airborne and diluted in nearly 10,000 cubic feet, being able to kill you. That seems incredibly sensitive. What happens in a movie theatre? Or a school bus? Or a doctor’s office, where you must surely spend a great deal of time? An airplane crew chief aside, I’m not sure how you control for that in your daily life.

And of course if that person was so massively allergic to peanuts we should accommodate that, and of course the airline was right to protect the passenger.

But maybe


Cover photo by Paul Heaberlin, used under Creative Commons license


Everyone knows I love a good graphic, and this one (from the excellent is a particularly eye-popping example. It provides pretty clear evidence of how disproportionately irresponsible BP’s North American operations are.

Courtesy of Flowing Data

The Cove

Tuesday night Nellie and I went to see a Hot Docs screening that I’d been both looking forward to and dreading. The Cove (hot docs | imdb) has been on my radar since it won the audience award at Sundance and Scott Weinberg at Cinematical wrote this review. I knew any documentary about saving dolphins would be right my up alley, but this line from his review gave me pause:

“I’ve seen hundreds of horror movies in my time, and I’ve never seen anything quite as disturbing as the final sequences of The Cove.”

Here’s the thing: I don’t deal well with scenes, even staged/acted ones, of animals being hurt or killed. The video for Mogwai‘s “Hunted By A Freak”, even though it was animated, haunted me for days because it featured a crazy man dropping pets off a rooftop. So I was worried that The Cove would give me nightmares or something. But it won’t. Make no mistake, there were some incredibly disturbing scenes of violence perpetrated against dolphins in this film, and as Weinberg said the final scenes were the worst. They weren’t quite as graphic as I thought they might be based on his description, but I think my mouth dropped open at the sheer scale of the carnage. Hundreds of dolphins slaughtered at a time, more than twenty thousand a year, all in this tiny cove…and all so pointlessly.

I won’t get into it all here, I’ll just tell you to go see the film. It might not sound appealing from my description, but that’s just because I’m still a little freaked out by it. It really was a great documentary — the only 5/5 I’ve given this week — with lots of suspense, stunning underwater shots, political intrigue, interesting character stories…even a mild car chase or two. Please, go see it when it comes to theatres this summer. Or rent it. Or if you can’t do either of those things, here’s one simple way to make a difference: stop going to fucking Seaworld.


I apologize for the poor quality of these images, but I just had to show you the ridiculousness that we walked past last night on the way home from Smokeless Joe.

You’ve probably all seen a stretch hummer limo before. They’re the preferred ride of gaggles of horny, be-tuxed teenagers and d-list actors trying to make a splash. We saw this one last night:

But take a look in front of it:

That behemoth was about two feet higher than the “regular” stretch hummer limo and longer. We had to get a closer look.

The engine hood of the truck looked bigger than anything my father uses to haul several tons of blueberries/bees/what have you. Sure enough, a little googling revealed that it was a Ford F-650. It also holds about 30 people and has an 1800 watt sound system. What. The. Christ. This was way more than a stretch hummer; what the hell is this monstrosity called?


We saw this display on Adelaide Street, west of University. Not surprising; only in clubland would enough douchebags congregate to warrant the arrival of the almighty Mammoth. All hail.

Because I will never want to buy a commemorative plate of any kind

Every time I check my mailbox — because some adorable companies still insist on sending me actual paper mail…quaint, no? — I’m amazed at the quantity of junk mail I see. The recycling bins in my building’s mail room are overflowing with flyers, ads…junk mail of every stripe. Seems like such a massive waste.

Of course, until about a year ago, I was one of the people throwing junk mail in there. It was automatic: open the mailbox, sort out what’s useful, toss the rest in the bin and off I went. Finally, and I don’t know remember what prompted me to do it exactly, I printed a small ‘no junk mail please’ graphic that I downloaded from Red Dot Campaign and stuck it in my mailbox. Since then…no junk mail. At all. None. The odd bit of marketing disguised as a letter sneaks through (damn realtors!) but 95% of the time…junk free.

So yeah…I no longer get all this paper & plastic that I have to throw out. The delivery guy no longer has to bother stuffing my mailbox. The cleaning people who gather up the recycling have that much less crap to cart away. And it was easy to do. And it cost me nothing.

You need to get in on this action, people. If we can inadvertently kill newspapers, we can kill junk mail.

But I like it bright when I do my dog-walking…

Every night when we turn off the lights, it feels like there’s still a lamp on somewhere in our condo. The lights at Moss Park, nearly a kilometre away, are so bright that I wouldn’t be able to sleep in any room facing them without drawing the blinds. They stay on all night, whether or not anyone’s on the field. This seems like a colossal waste of energy.

I understand that maybe it’s a safety issue, to keep the park lit, but wouldn’t one stand of lights be enough?

Things I feel it's important for you to know

  • My favourite word for today: solipsism. No idea why. I’m sure it’s related to some kind of deep and brilliant observation that I made earlier today and shall force you all to hear about. Gosh almighty I notice that the definition of solipsism sounds an awful lot like blogging geez whod’ve thunkit.
  • A new poll suggests that the Montreal Canadiens are considered “Canada’s team.” The results were met in disbelief both in Montreal (where they’ll believe it when the CBC assigns announcers to Canadiens games who can actually identify their players and correctly pronounce their names) as well as in Toronto (where they were, quite frankly, shocked to find out that other Canadian cities even have hockey teams).
  • Any smoker who justifies throwing butts on the ground by asking sarcastically, “Where are we supposed to put them?” is a premium unfiltered asshole. Why not apply the same logic to empty beer bottles? Used syringes? Diarrhea? Just because there isn’t a conveniently located receptacle into which I can dispose of the byproduct of whatever unhealthy habit I may have, I haven’t the right to discard butt, bottle, needle nor shit wherever I please. It’s bad enough that you smell bad; try not to be so lazy too.

OK, back to your regularly scheduled solipsism.

[tags]solipsism, montreal canadiens, canada’s team, cbc, cigarette butts[/tags]

And more importantly, white-skinned?

So far we’ve seen two Hot Docs documentaries, and we’re off to see a third in just a few minutes. To date we’ve seen:

  • Air India 182 (hot docs) by Sturla Gunnarsson. It screened opening night at the Winter Garden Theatre (which I’d never been in before…it’s quite strange and lovely) and, while it packed quite an emotional punch, it wasn’t really a very good documentary. It was certainly educational (I was only nine when the bombing occurred and knew only bits and pieces that I’d heard over the last twenty years) and at times infuriating (as the director said, would the bombing have gotten so little attention if the flight had been full of blond-haired, blue-eyed people?), but Gunnarsson mixed documentary interviews with ham-handed recreations. The bar for docudrama has been set so incredibly high by Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, Omagh, United 93) that this seemed amateurish by comparison. There was no doubting the emotional impact, but technically this was a weak film. The subject deserved better.
  • The Last Continent (hot docs) was far better. The subject was a ship’s crew from Quebec who spent more than a year in Antarctica, with no way to leave, in order to document and study the effects of climate change on the Antarctic winter. The result was obvious, to the point that it endangered the ship and crew (who knew they would need pack ice to lock their ship in and protect it from high winds, but the pack ice is later and later in coming each year) and the animals around them. A great study of science, psychology, and most strikingly of all, the continent itself. The scenery and whirl of life around the little bay which the ship eventually called home was staggeringly beautiful. Apparently the scientific findings will be part of a 3-part special on The Nature Of Things some time soon, and the account of life on the ship will be a series on TV (not sure which channel…may only be in Quebec); in the meantime, check out the documentary for yourself. It’s scheduled to be released to theatres this summer.

[tags]hot docs, air india 182, the last continent[/tags]

[Journey] "When the lights…go out…in the city…" [/Journey]

OK, it wasn’t quite that dramatic — this is a camera effect, not reality — but Earth Hour was at least noticeable from our balcony. We had CBGB over to observe the darkening, and while the effects from here weren’t as dramatic as if we’d be airborne, we could see the difference. Toronto even exceeded their 5% power reduction target.

Nellie was struggling to get good night shots — she still needs a decent tripod — but a few turned out. You can see them over at my flickr account.

[tags]earth hour, toronto[/tags]