Sunday, April 29, 2007

Flesh vs Aluminium: at War with the Automobile #2

I don't know if this is because i've quit smoking (a year now), but i feel like pollution is getting much worse. Walking along Sherbrooke, i sometimes find it really difficult to breathe. Inhaling exhaust, my throat's reflex is to close the esophagus. What i don't understand is how it's legal to have exhaust pipes point toward the sidewalk, which many diesel trucks seem to have.

How is it that this person who is sitting in their car, directly affecting my health, is allowed to do this? Many people choose to walk, and yet they are the ones suffering. I try to avoid breathing while passing through the clouds of dark blankets, but why should i? I say:

Shouldn't clean air be a right?

As these words resonate in my mind, i realise they sound awefully like anti-smoking rhetoric. You know, the old "why should non-smokers be exposed to second-hand smoke?" It only seems logical that the recent smoking ban lead to pollution as the next health rights issue. Hopefully this does indeed happen (I'm still waiting for it to be legal to marry a llama since gay marriage was legalised).

I've only asked someone to turn off their idling engine once in my life (minus all the times i got paid to do it for a summer job). It felt great, after i felt safe that the big burly truck driver wouldn't beat the shit out of me. The drivers may not be inhaling carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds but we obstaining from automobilism sure are...

Of course, maybe i'm just being as asshole, as someone has commented. But maybe we should start thinking of the polluters as the assholes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I haven't had internet or cable for the last 4 days or so (I've just become a Bell customer, and i'm already teeming mad), so i have been doing many other things to occupy my time. This involves feeding, taping and talking to squirrels in my backyard, and then trying to use the video-editing software i bought many years ago but never used. Here's a very amateur video of the events. Enjoy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

New York City Congestion

New York City is thinking about introducing congestion pricing, similar to what is done in London's downtown. This would be the area of Manhattan below 86th Street. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it involves charging drivers and cars to enter a certain area (like a downtown). It is considered a success in London, but i hear there are still kinks that need to be figured out.

I'm not sure how effective this would actually be since cabs would have a special status in such a system and most of those driving through Manhattan are those that can absorb the 8$ a day fee. It may just further segregate the poor and rich.

The article mentions the booming population growth in the city, but i question how fast it really is growing. I haven't heard of any North American city truly growing in the last decade...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Daryl Hannah is My Friend...

Since i quit reading The Gazette, my news is usually acquired piecemeal throughout the day. What does this leave me to do in the morning? With my café latte in hand i read other people's blogs, my e-mail, and most importantly surf wikipedia. And don't pretend like you have no idea what that is.

Don't ask what chain of information led to Daryl Hannah, but it turns out she has quite an intriguing life. The star of the 1980's Splash, and my favourite character from the Kill Bill series lives off-grid in the middle of the Rockies and drives a car fuelled by used cooking oil. I guess it gets a little boring up there, so she regularly updates her blog, which is mostly videos about green technology and such. She descends back into civilisation (or rather cruises down with a trail of french-fry scented dust in her wake) to interview people in the environmental industry.

I haven't had time to watch her videos extensively, but it is worth watching for the opening sequence. This has her strolling through nature around (what i assume is) her eco-lodge, and rolling around in the grass.

Amazing what guilt Los Angeles' hedonistic self-indulging lifestyle can conjure.

Friday, April 13, 2007

This is Enough!

Global warming has been linked to many phenomena, and we are told that there are many more events that are likely to occur and are largely unknown. Now it's coffee. Yes people, go and hug your coffee machine, because it will have to go.

Cafés will be hard hit, as less and less people will be able to afford this black gold. No longer will you be able to serve yourself to roasted coffee beans in bulk. As a result of too many people filling up their bags and dashing without payment, coffee roasters and grocery stores will have to serve you from behind the counter, much like cigarettes and Tylenol 222's. You'll have to order your coffee from the man or woman behind the bullet-proof glass.

For me, i have already sprouted my coffee plant seedling. I'm waiting until Montréal's climate becomes warm enough that i can have my own backyard plantation. I urge you all to prepare yourselves for this grim future... a grumpy, sleepy and cranky one.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

An Urban Planner's Wet Dream

I woke up this morning, and discovered thanks to the Montreal City Weblog, that the reintroduction of tramways and the 'boulevardisation' of the Bonaventure Autoroute is closer to becoming a reality. The entire 12th floor of Concordia University (save for the Poli-Sci kids who occupy the smaller section of the floor) just has a spontaneous orgasm.. i could hear it. Okay, maybe i'm the only one in that respect, but this is the type of stuff we urban planning students dream of.

The first proposed tramway is to begin at Dorchester Square and loop around to Berri-Uqam metro. All the while passing the Cité Multimedia, Griffintown, The old port, and the new CHUM mega-hospital. It's a great first step for the city, but this line would seem quite short and not that beneficial to Montrealers, catering mostly to tourists. The benefits of tramways is that they have large capacities and are extremely cheap per-passenger when compared to metros. The city should take advantage of this and have the first proposed line strive for something a little more extraordinary.

One again, thank-you to the Montreal City Weblog, you've helped make my day!

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Thanks to Hugg for referring the article.
It would appear that forest-fires no longer contribute to global warming, using the logic of Canadian government scientists. Afraid that the occurrence of forest fires from now until 2012 will prevent us from reaching our goals (versus, let's say actual policies), they have decided to completely omit the role of forests in our CO2 levels. Oh- except for the harvesting and replanting of trees because that actually helps reduce CO2 levels.

Now i am hopeful that we can actually meet our Kyoto goals. A simple re-tooling of the calculations seems more effective than policy that would destroy our economy. Why should we then count the emissions of the Alberta oil fields, i mean, we export most of it the U.S! We should also omit emissions from essential automobile trips like school, doctors appointments and Ikea.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I pass by Holt Renfrew almost everyday on my to school, and cannot help but look inside their window displays. They always have something interesting that makes me think of things i know were not intended. Here are the pictures of their last display, which they just recently replaced. I'm not sure what their intentions are, but there is definitely a message. I really don't know what to call it (maybe just post-modern, or post-post-modern) when advertisements critique the pervasiveness of advertising... Which is what i see in this display on the left. I mean, you open the door only to be greeted by a giant ad? I like it though. I think Holts' displays are creative, and begs to question where art ends and marketing begins...

I guess i'm trying to create some sort of discussion on this. Is it corporate art? Is is art? Or is it just ad space? What do you think of it?