Saturday, 25 December 2010
Today's crackers, have a paper hat inside, a small novelty item, a silly joke or riddle and may have other items depending on the quality of the cracker you bought. They are a wonderful tradition at the Christmas table.
Today we rose late, took care of the puppies and then opened a bottle of Champagne and had panettone while we opened our gifts, I gave Will 2 paintings of Rome by a Canadian artist, scenes of the city not often seen but known to Will. I received a beautiful Cashmire scarf and 3 books, one on a specialized topic of Roman Aqueducts by A.Trevor Hodge, published by Duckworth UK. Of the numerous aqueducts built by the Romans to supply the Eternal City with water quite a few still work. What is amazing is the description of the team of maintenance men needed to keep the system going and the incredible feat of engineering in an age when knowledge of mathematics and construction was still rudimentary.
W and I also got a beautiful drawing of the basilica of St-Francis in Assisi on this the 800th anniversary of the founding of the order by St-Francis.
Lunch was more Foie Gras and rack of lamb, I enjoyed it a lot and W did a wonderful job, as always, in the preparation.
Foie Gras is my weakness, I really cannot resist it.
Tomorrow a few friends may drop by for a drink, otherwise it will be quiet.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
This year has been a bit slow off the mark, work at the office kept me really busy and many people are away, so we will not see them during the Holidays. But on the 24th we are going to have a very nice dinner with friends, then on the 25th we are having Carré d'agneau, the 26th drinks with friends and possibly another dinner at a restaurant in Rome just entre nous with 4 other people. For New Year's Eve we are having dinner at home with old friends and we all share in dish preparation.
The New Year will be with us all too soon. But for now let's play some Christmas music from Southern Poland, Mazowsze Polskie Koledy i Pastoralki and from Michael Praetorius, Lutheran Christmas Morning Mass of 1620 and enjoy a glass of two of Champagne.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
Well so far this year, I cannot say I am excited by the Festive Season. Maybe the recent surgery, too much work at the office and the uncertainty about next year, still no news, where will we be next year at this time, someone in Personnel for sure knows. Maybe once the tree is up, things will look different or as we get closer to Christmas, who knows.
Anyway I am sort of melancholic now, I just can't get into the spirit, many of the people around me are also tired and anxious at work over technological changes which appear overwhelming.
Now the tree is up in the living room thanks to the help of our friend Lionel, who very kindly came over, he lives next block up. I am unable to help W. with this chore this year due to me recent surgery. We went for lunch today at one of your neighborhood restaurant with our good friends Larry and Walter, so we could see them before Xmas since they are going away for the Holidays to southern Italy, we had a very good lasagna as a first course, Primi and as a second course, Secundi, a veal chop with one large artichoke Roman Style, with the mint typical of Rome, mentuccia. The weather is grey, cold and humid today, stores are open but mostly empty, Xmas sales do not appear to be on the swing like years past, maybe it has to do with the economic slump here.
Next door in Greece snow in Athens, lots of it, I knew it sort of snowed in Greece in winter, they have ski resorts on Mount Parnassus and just a sprinkle of snow in Athens, but this time there is a lot of snow and apparently it will stay at least until after Xmas because of the cold front in the area, how do people keep warm, homes are not equipped for the cold.
Venice is under water, up to a person's waist line, which is very high, it's salt water from the Adriatic and you cannot go anywhere because you cannot see where the sidewalk ends and the canals begin. It is a disaster but it is not in the news, strange really.
Our Holiday visitor arrives on Tuesday from Paris and this coming week we have one Cocktail party and one dinner party in E.U.R. that neighborhood built in 1938-39 by Mussolini outside of Rome. We had a beautiful Holiday dinner party at the Residence on Via di Porta Latina, the roast beef was excellent and so was the turkey. Both H.E. and Madame have outdone themselves, it really felt like home, Chef Paul as always was superb.
Tomorrow 13 December is Santa Lucia, the Feast of Lights to mark the Winter Solstice.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
They have one son Jean Philippe who will immigrate to New France (Canada). He is illeterate like most people of his time being a poor peasant but he can sign his name and hires himself out to work for another farmer in the area of Quebec City, this is how with a work contract you could then immigrate to Canada. It appears that he married Marie Coipel from the Parish of St-Jacques de la Boucherie in Paris but then his marriage is annuled in 1680 by the same Quebec City notary Pierre Duquet de la Chenaye who appears to be the notary of many other families in the area and who will also prepare legal documents for the other branch of my family the Hudon dit Beaulieu.
Jean Philippe Lebel dit Beaulieu will remarry in 30 July 1685 in Charlesbourg near Quebec City with Catherine Galarneau. He dies in Quebec City in January 1703. This is the ancestor who takes on the surname of Lebel dit Beaulieu, he will use both the family name of his father Philippe and add the family name of his mother Lebel and then a third surname Beaulieu. His children will drop the family name Philippe and keep only Lebel dit Beaulieu. Upon his death in 1703 his wife will remarry a man by the name of Savard who has 7 kids of his own. Her children from her first marriage will keep the name Lebel dit Beaulieu.
Our other ancestor Pierre Hudon dit Beaulieu of the village Notre-Dame de Chemillé, Cholet, Angers, Maine et Loire, is born in 1648, from the age of 15 in 1663 he works as a domestic for a gentleman named Nicolas Marsolet de Saint-Aignan, said to be a colleague of Samuel de Champlain. As for the Beaulieu surname which is the one that will become the family name, it apparently comes from a forest known as la fôret de Beaulieu, near the village of Beaulieu sur Layon in Maine et Loire and this is the reference Pierre Hudon dit Beaulieu will use.
He comes to Canada as a soldier with the Compagnie of Grandfontaine in the Regiment of Carignan (which is a Regiment whose original purpose was the protection of the King's person), sailing from LaRochelle on the French Royal Navy ship L'Aigle d'Or de Brouage on the 13 May 1665 and arriving in Quebec City on 19 August 1665, he is 17 years old. He will participate in battles against the Iroquois (Agniers), will participate in the building of Fort Chambly near Montreal. The Iroquois are defeated, 5 villages are burned and Albany is threathened, Peace is established and by the fall of 1666 he is a baker in Quebec City and then a farmer, he becomes wealthy, owning cows and bulls, has 2 rifles and land 10 hectares fronting the St-Lawrence river which at the time was considered a large piece of land. We also know that he distinguished himself in battle when General Sir William Phipps attacked Quebec City with a British Squadron in October 1690, Louis de Buade Conte de Frontenac is Governor General of New France at the time. The British are defeated and will not attack Canada until the 7 year war in 1759.
Pierre Hudon dit Beaulieu and Marie-Ange Gobeil will marry in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Quebec City in July 1676, they lived up to 1681 in La Bouteillerie, Quebec on land given to him by Sieur Jean-Baptiste François Des Champs de la Bouteillerie, who is a French Aristocrat and a Major of the Garrison of Quebec City. He will die in April 1710 at Rivière Ouelle. He and his wife will have 12 children and they in turn will all have many children.
On my mother's side of her family, their ancestor Pierre Gougeon was born in 1659 in Aubigny in Vendée this is the Pays de la Loire region near the Atlantic Coast and the famous Sables d'Olone beach, he was a master mason, he married in Montreal, Marie-Catherine Danis in 1686. I remember La Vendée, in 1969 my parents and us kids visited the region, it was very green countryside, the Loire river and very old French villages, local markets, etc.
So on my father's side of the Family, first names are usually Jean, Philippe, Louis and Laurent.
On my mother's side, Pierre is common. It is as if someone is keeping track of the names of the ancestors and is passing it along to the next generation.
The name Laurent is derived from the Parish church St-Laurent a reminder of their home parish in France. Strangely enough they settle in St-Laurent Parish in Canada. So my family has lived in Canada for 345 yrs.
Monday, 29 November 2010
When Voltaire went to England for the first time, it might as well have been to the moon, France and England were vastly different countries, England had a Constitution, a well established Parliament, the Justice system was well organized and there was Freedom of Expression, none of that existed in France.
The Roman Catholic Church controlled many aspects of life in France and any crimes against the Church was punished with extreme severity, cutting off limbs, tearing out of tongues, torture and burning at a stake was very common punishment for any slight against the authority of the Church. Per example failing to remove your hat when a religious procession passed was enough for a death sentence.
With the age of Enlightenment in Europe the idea of Freedom of Expression in France and elsewhere started to gain ground and with it came the idea that man should pursue Happiness. It was a fashionable idea. As of 1730 this idea appears in writings by many philosophers of the time in France and elsewhere.
This idea or concept will then be borrowed by American thinkers who were much influenced by both England and France's Enlightenment movement. This borrowed concept will finally be incorporated into the US Constitution as an idea that all men are entitled to the Pursuit of Happiness, an 18 century concept which has loss its meaning in our modern age.
Legal reforms in France only came about with the Revolution, during Voltaire's life he will write about the need to reform the law, for a separation of Civil and Criminal Law from Church Law. That judges had to be trained in the legal profession and not become judges because they could afford to buy a judgeship. That punishment must be a deterrent not a means to seek revenge.
That Justice is part of the Social Contract and the Law should apply equally to all, whether Noble or Commoner. The accused should have access to legal representation and should be allowed to cross examine witnesses against them.
Many of the ideas of the time were about shaking off the authority of the Church and its stranglehold on society. Allowing men, at first this meant people who had property and where educated compared to all of society as we think of it today, to have a social contract between the governed and the King, establishing obligations and basic rights. Voltaire or any other person, per example could not travel abroad without permission of the King.
Books which were denounced by the Church and failed to pass the Censors at Court could be burned publicly. Writers of such banned books could also face severe punishment. It is difficult for us to imagine today in our Western World where we can do and say pretty much whatever we want and have the freedom to travel and behave inappropriately and not fear any retribution what it must have been like to live in such a repressive regime. Of course such regime exist still today in some parts of the world.
The ideas of the French Enlightenment were denounced by the Church as the work of Satan and the Church used its enormous powers and influence to persecute anyone who dared challenge the established authority. After reading Voltaire's correspondence contained in this book, I understand better the ferocity of the Revolution against the old order and the Church in France in particular.
This month ARTE the French-German Television station is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. They are showing award winning movies from the film Festivals of Europe. Caramel is a Lebanese production and refers to the sweet which is used in Oriental cultures also as a hair remover. The Beirut beauty salon where most of ''Caramel" takes place is likely to be a familiar type of establishment, even to people who have never been to the Lebanese capital. What the shop lacks in sleekness and chic it makes up for in the kind of friendly, sisterly warmth.
Women of various shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds gather to bond and gossip. Their camaraderie is occasionally disrupted by a crisis, but you are likely to remember this charming film, directed by Nadine Labaki, less for its gently comic, mildly melodramatic plot than for its friendly and inviting atmosphere.
Ms. Labaki plays Layale, owner of the shop, which is called Si Belle. Like many unmarried women in the Middle East, Layale, in spite of her professional independence, lives with her parents. She is also having an affair with a married man and spends anxious hours waiting for him to call, ignoring the attentions of a handsome traffic policeman who is obviously smitten with her.
Layale’s friends and co-workers are supportive and tolerant of her, and also have troubles of their own. Jamale (Gisèle Aouad) is a recently divorced actress made frantic by the necessity of competing with younger women for work in television commercials. Nisrine (Yasmine Al Masri), a Muslim, is engaged and is worried about what will happen if her future husband discovers that she isn’t a virgin. Rima (Joanna Moukarzel), who cleans up around the shop and washes hair, develops a crush on an elegant client. And then there is Aunt Rose (Siham Haddad), a seamstress who lives down the street from Layale’s shop with her demanding, mentally disabled sister, Lili (Aziza Semaan).
I very much liked this movie because it shows life as it is and not as it is too often portrayed in the news. I know, for having lived for 8 years in the Middle-East, such charming people and their family, their stories and little dramas, hopes and joys. The movie touches on many topics, adultery, homosexuality, women's issues, marriage, family life. It brought back many memories of cities like Cairo, Amman, Damascus and Beirut, where I lived or worked or visited many times over.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
We will be sure to visit some market. In Rome Piazza Navona has a Xmas Market, but we have been to Germany who has great Xmas Markets, music, good food, specialties and all kinds of handicraft for Christmas. It simply beats any shopping you might do in a store.
Friday, 26 November 2010
China has started to dump US dollars and buying other currencies weakening further the US dollar and by creating its own consumer class in China (about one billion people) they will no longer need the USA for its own goods. For China trade partners now are Brazil and India, Russia the old ally of the cold war.
Leave the Americans to their troubles with war on terrorism, Afghanistan, Irak, North Korea and its Nuclear Program, Iran and the Middle East issue, and its economic woes, in other words enough on the US plate to exhaust completely the rival. The Chinese Communist never forgave nor forgot that the USA supported Taiwan and the Nationalists against the Communists nor the humiliation of years of being snubbed by the USA until Kissinger and Nixon finally decided they could recognize China. The recognition though came but not on American terms.
Unfortunately no US politician will have the courage to point to the coming years of difficult economic reality at home, no one is willing to believe despite all the signals that this is happening. The sun is finally setting and in ten to fifteen years time, a short time really, China will be telling the USA what to do. By running after too many rabbits at once the US has exhausted itself. In the meantime China continues to invest massively in Africa, South America and Europe. It has already come to the rescue of Greece and is doing so in many other countries, eclipsing the USA. China has the money and loads of cheap labor, the signs have been there for years but no one paid attention. It is worth reading China Daily to know what is happening or where things are going.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
What I learned during this process is how men can develop specific male health problems with the weight around their waist area, the fat in that area can cause with age a lot of serious health problems. Now this week I had surgery for an hernia, it was large and more serious than I thought. What I learned from speaking with the surgeon and the resident doctor was that male abdominal muscles are very important and should not be neglected, they play an important part in keeping everything in place. Unfortunately too many men do not seem to be aware of this fact and have soft abdominal muscles and thus many problems with their back and with hernias etc... Lifestyles and drinking habits, lack of exercise and often deskjobs do not help.
I find that too often we are unaware as men of the dangers of poor habits, they are not discussed in the media and are not part of the general discussion in society. I for one was mildly aware of what I should do and also as you age needs change. The fact that the image we see is usually of young under 35 men and that programs of exercise or diet are focused on youth leaves anyone else older out in the cold, youth sells in the Marketing world, even with an aging population.
In North America it is a phenomenon of its own, you can easily find articles on women topic, from food to health, to fashion, education, work and career. Try finding anything about men, it is far more difficult and it is often very slanted. Same goes for medical or health information, information is not provided with the optic to grab the interest of a readership but is more focused on telling us about a problem without offering any solutions. If a solution is offered it is often a fad and will not last. So you need to get good advice from a professional.
So it is up to us individually to inform ourselves of what we should be aware, small things are often more important than we think.
Out of my hospital adventure I received these very nice flowers from my colleagues at the Office.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
I have to go back in a few days for a check-up and settle the bill, it is a private clinic, so it is not cheap.
But then again you do not wait and all is done in an atmosphere of calm, cannot say that about public hospitals in Rome.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
The chestnuts were good and hot to handle, delicious and on a cold night was just the perfect way to finish a meal, a luxury.
On Tuesday I will have a small operation in an Italian Hospital, being operated on by a Italian Surgeon all in Italian. I have been to Mexican and Polish Hospitals in the past and the service was always fine and
have really no problems with getting medical problems attended to. This time maybe because I am older I am a bit apprehensive, it is surgery, nothing complicated and the doctor is well recommended by everyone I spoke too. I suppose what bothers me is that with the stress of the operation is the fact that it will be in a foreign language. I speak some Italian and I do understand what people are saying quite well, it is just that I have to make an effort to pay attention, so I catch the meaning of it all. The hospital is a private clinic and it is well known. But surgery is always a little stressful no matter what.
Because of this medical situation, I missed yesterday a private visit to the Quirinal Palace, a real shame.
I will not be able to go for lunch and the opera in Florence next week. But I cannot put this off, it must be taken care of now.
So is life.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Unfortunately like many famous historical figures he has become a bit of a caricature. Popular culture sort of reduces everything to a cliché. So in Montreal I went into one of my favorite bookstore on Green Ave in Westmount, Nicholas Hoare, firstname.lastname@example.org , they always have the nicest collection of books. I saw this book, a biography of Voltaire by Ian Davidson, published by Pegasus Books. Davidson took over 1860 letters written by Voltaire during his life to friends, acquaintances, Kings and government officials. It's Voltaire speaking and talking about himself, his life, a very personal, intimate portrait of the man. He suffered from depression, he wanted to be recognized and loved, he was a syncophant, he suffered from erectile disfunction at 50, he had an incestuous affair with his niece Madame Denis who was 20 years younger than he was. He also lacked judgement sometimes and fancied himself a great spy, he was simply an amateur in diplomacy, especially when he wanted to reconcile France and Prussia. He spoke English well and also wrote in English. He became very rich early on in life, he had a very difficult relationship with his father and his brother Armand.
He became the epitome of the age of French Enlightenment, a new man who challenged by his writings the Ancien Regime and was hated by the Roman Catholic Church for exposing its hypocrisy and corruption. He never sought to become the leading figure of the Enlightenment movement nor the leader of anything for that matter, but in his life time he was famous and controversial all over Europe. He feared rivals or persecution by the authorities, he was intensely ambitious for literary success, his career was marked by feuds and crises. It certainly gives me a better appreciation for the man who in Canada is remembered for saying that '' Canada was nothing more than a few hectares of snow''. In his life time France lost North America to England to the regret of every French government since. This biography shows the man in his greatness but also as a human being, capable of folly and pettiness, who in the latter part of his life realized that he was part of a greater movement heralding a totally new age.
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Some 30,000 men and 6,000 Chinese migrant workers built this railway which is clearly a symbol of Canadianism linking the Nation from Sea to shining Sea, across several time zones and thousands of kilometers. With the Maple Leaf, the Beaver, the railway is an iconic symbol for all Canadians.
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
What has also changed is the restaurant scene in Ottawa, a city not known in the past for fine dining, people use to go across the Ottawa River to Gatineau for fine French restaurants. On the weekend the city was basically dead and on Sunday's you could not even buy gas. In the last 10 years the restaurant scene has been totally transformed. Some very good restaurants have now opened with creative chefs and innovative menus. Gone are the cheap eateries and poor service in mediocre decor. The restaurant scene has certainly matured, to the great benefit of the city.
What I also notice is the number of monuments which have sprouted all over the centre of the Capital.
It use to be that most monuments were concentrated on Parliament Hill around the Houses of Parliament, now you find them around the War Memorial on Confederation Square and along the great avenues.
It is also interesting to note the number of streets which have been transformed like old Wellington Street near Richmond Road, Bank street, King Edward, there has been obvious investments and urban renewal. Not to mention the new Convention Centre twice the size of the old one.
Now if only the new Mayor and City Council can solve the problem of the rapid transit system through the centre of the city, it should make for an interesting improvement to the Capital.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Great changes amounting to a revolution took place, the left wing politicians stepped in and the Church lost all the influence it had enjoyed becoming a marginalized institution and disappearing from people's lives.
This week in Ontario several municipal elections took place, in Ottawa an incompetent mayor was tossed out after just one term and a former mayor who is a good guy with no vision and thinks of the National Capital as a small town, was elected, steady as she goes politics in Ottawa. The big change came in Toronto, Canada's largest city at 4.5 million in population.
The City elite who in Toronto is educated, liberal and left wing had decided that their candidate George Smitherman would win and the other candidate Toronto City Councillor Rob Ford would loose.
The newspapers endorsed Smitherman and dismissed Ford, however what was not reported and largely ignored by the press was the amount of anger at the level of the common man at high taxes and no services and incompetent big city management. Also the common man is sick and tired of being told by the elite and by the newspapers in this case The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star what to think and what is good for him. All the common man sees is that he has to pay for it all while he does not get invited to the party. The Toronto left wing or liberal elite suffers from the Marie-Antoinette syndrome, let them eat cake and forget about it. What is interesting in the weekend papers is how pages after pages are filled with Cassandra like warnings that the common man by electing Rob Ford, the raw populist, has made a terrible mistake.
One article tells us that the morning after the victory of Rob Ford, the CBC National radio show As It Happens with Carol Off interviewed Mr. Ford. He, at that moment, was coaching his football team all the while answering Carol Off's questions. The interview did not go well, Mr. Ford was busy with the team, a practice was on, he showed that he did not care much for the CBC, the national broadcaster, and he hung-up on her abruptly. Next morning Mr. Ford gave another interview this time with Talk Radio AM 640 and it went very well, why, well the ordinary man listens to AM radio and not to the CBC.
The elite is offended how can this man ignore us and give more attention to a local station then the National Broadcaster.
Predictions by the press are that Mr. Ford will be a terrible mayor and papers like the Globe have turned their backs on him. Mr. Ford it turns out was elected by immigrants and the ethnic vote in Toronto who are more conservative and are now the new common man. They are the new majority displacing the old traditional elite of the city, we knew this was coming, Canada is changing rapidly and is far more multi-ethnic now than it ever was, the majority of our immigrants come from the Asian sub-continent. Ford represented Ward 2, Etobicoke with a 48% immigrant and ethnic population, as a City Councillor Ford has been re-elected in the past with very large majorities.
Margaret Wente in her column put it best when she writes about the masses revolting, with good reason.
She describes the elite in Toronto who did not see the Tsunami Ford coming as people who live and work in downtown Toronto and rarely leave it. Few have ever met a person who voted for Rob Ford.
The editors of the Toronto Star describe people who voted for Ford as people with pointless rage, who are deluded, to explain why the common man ignored editorials telling them who to vote for, in this case George Smitherman, the darling of the left wing elite and the Liberal Party of Canada. The problem as she explains is simple the Toronto elite believes it knows what is best for the masses, even if the masses massively disagree. The problem is simple, people have a lot more government than they can or will pay for, Mr. Ford knows that and he promised to scale down city government in Toronto.
We will see now what actually happens, stay tuned. His brother Doug Ford replaces him in Ward 2 as the new City Councillor.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
I am now hoping to conclude by arriving at my goal which is 70 Kg. I am only 3 kg off at this time, I have lost about 14 Kg. or 25lbs. My goal of 70 kg is what I call my Asian weight target, in China most men weigh between 60 to 70 kg on average which is far less than Western men.
Another discovery I made while in Ottawa at the old By Ward market, I found this new apple called Honey Crisp, they are not very common on the market yet but very good, bigger than a Mac Intosh and certainly more juicy and sweet.
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
I feel like E.T. and I want to go home, but where is home? Coming back to Ottawa, the Capital of our Dominion, the city has changed, but it remains a small town. Now urban growth sees condos grow like mushrooms and the price is anything between half a million to several million dollars, the University of Ottawa, my alma mater, has grown with many new faculty buildings, obviously many rich alumni have given to the University. The Rideau Canal built by Colonel By and the Royal Engineers in 1834 to move troops rapidly in case of American invasion has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The capital is also cosmopolitan now, much more so than a decade ago.
I know that if we return to Ottawa, where we have many friends and were we have had a home in some fashion since 1976, there would be a big adjustment. It is all a question of optics, I suppose. Rome is a small town in many ways and it is also Rome the Eternal City. The same can be said of many other cities, there's the image and the myth about a place and then daily reality.
It is nice to return and to meet so many old friends, the people we know here, we have known for decades.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
The flight to Ottawa was quiet, I did notice on board Air Canada, that the food served is heavy on the bread and sauce and heavily salted and sugared. In Ottawa I notice the same thing on menus in restaurants, lots of breading, dips, sauces, cheese and cream, people love their foods to be heavy. So I have to read menus and order what is less heavy and healthier, difficult to do in this culture. Canadians are not as obese as Americans but they are not far behind.
Again Air Canada has much older on board personnel than other airlines, on average I would say that most cabin crew is over 55 years of age and testy and not necessarily happy.
Ottawa has changed in 7 years, the airport has expanded and is a lot bigger though the international arrival still has only one luggage carousel, we also now have a Hilton hotel at the airport, a first.
Other changes, new congress centre, lots of new big towers, condos, hotels, many condos now sell in the 2 to 7 million Canadian dollar range, again another first for this city.
Though there is still no decent public transport system and this weekend the mayoral race will probably see a new mayor elected. The city is still very quiet, little traffic after hours and fewer people, it is also very clean and tidy and Sunday is still a day of rest and everything is closed.
There is also a lot of cultural differences with Europe, you notice how people in Ottawa are low key, polite and courteous in a small town kind of way, people do dress down, very casual. Even on the flight I notice lots of jeans and T-shirts, you can easily overdress in Canada. There is an overwhelming concern with protecting children, the hotel has prominent displays about parental supervision and blocking internet and TV channels to protect children, to give parents peace of mind. Against what exactly? It seems that there is a huge concern with inappropriate influences on children, the attitude is the world is an evil place, a puritanical, Calvinist, the nanny approach to life. On Air Canada, every film shown came with an advisory about bad language, nudity and violence, the movies on the programe had none of it, the movie's contents were all quite inoffensive. Same with television, always the advisory message, a little too anal for my taste.
I do not find Ottawa to be a very affordable city, many food prices and other items are more expensive than Rome, I have been doing conversion from dollar to euros and am surprised to see, contrary to popular belief, that Canada is more expensive than Italy at least, items like a restaurant meal, parking, public transport, groceries, a simple coffee are all more expensive. As for real estate it has now reached to my surprise the same level of any European Capital in terms of prices.
I have a lot of people to see in Ottawa, I am going to make a big effort to see as many friends as possible.
Tomorrow the training starts, will we have to return to Ottawa in 2011, will see what HR says.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
He gave me a jar of his home made jam as a gift and it is wonderful. Have a look at his blog
Very interesting blog, beautiful photography.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Friday, 15 October 2010
Keramikos metro station in Gazi. I have been there several times and always enjoy my visits, so different
this area of Athens is compared to the Plaka, Monasteraki or Psirri.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Oia remains one of the foremost tourist attractions of the Aegean Sea. The famous Oia sunset, considered by many as one of the most beautiful in the world, keeps tourists flocking down to the castle, waiting for the moment when the sun slips down on the calm sea of the caldera. Tourists are often told that the fishing docks at Oia are the oldest continually used docks in the world, supposedly being in service for 3000 years.