(I hereby promise that this will be the last automotive/motorcycle-related post for a while)...
So, I'm selling my wicked touring bike. This is the motorcycle I rode on my 12000+KM trip through Canada and the U.S. last fall; a 2005 Victory Kingpin.
Details copy-pasted from my Kijiji ad after the jump.
Late last night, as I was driving back to my new apartment from yet another boardgame nerdfest, there was a large foreign object jus' chillin' rite thurr, in the middle of my lane. At first I thought it was just a snowball, but as I got closer, I soon realized that it was actually a near-bowling-ball-sized chunk of rock. I couldn't maneuver around it into the next lane because there was a white Mazda 3 with an "ARMENIAN PRIDE" sticker on the bumper, windows down, playing loud Armenian music, with two young, cute but overly made-up (make-upped?) dark haired girls - presumably Armenian - talking on their cell phones, completely oblivious to my plight. So, I decided to slow down as much as I could, and swerve away from it as far as possible without careening headfirst into the Armenian rave party happening in the next vehicle.
My dad was, in most ways, a creature of habit. In his later years he took some chances and let himself explore outside of his comfort zone a little more, taking up swing dancing, travelling more, making new friends, and trying new foods. It was only later in life that he'd let me start taking him for lunch, settling on an amazing little Indian restaurant in Laval as our go-to lunch place. Growing up, on the rare occasions we'd head out to restaurants, I always knew what the choices were: Bill Wong's [RIP], Harvey's or, on a really special occasion, Le Biftèque. On Sundays, after church, we'd all head over to the Montreal Pool Room on St-Laurent - comfortably nestled between a shady army surplus shop with blacked-out windows and a busy all-day strip club [sans blacked-out windows] - and impatiently wait in the car while my dad went inside to purchase hot dogs, fries and soda. He'd return with a big carton of the stuff, and my sisters, parents and I would sit in the Chevy Impala / Buick Century / Buick Century / Buick Century, parked right there on St-Laurent in the sweltering Sunday afternoon sun, eating greasy fries and steamed hotdogs, doing our best not to squirt ketchup or drop onion chunks onto the brown / burgundy / grey velour seats. After stuffing our faces with unredeemingly unhealthy junk food, we'd head up to St-Viateur Bagel to get a dozen (or two) freshly-baked bagels. Today, fresh Montreal bagels are at the top of my favourite foods list, but back in those days, the combination of the aforementioned greasy fast food and the raging sea-sickness induced by the yacht-like ride in my dad's car left me with a distaste for those fresh, warm, delicious bagels. Of course, the next morning, I would beg for them for breakfast.
"Hey, Chris, isn't that your dog?" asked the scruffy-looking guy to his even scruffier-looking friend.
His friends' gaze turned away from his grilling chicken breasts and towards me and Ryu. "No, wait... well, one second now... hey hold up man, where'd you get that dog? Is that my dog?"
"Nah man," I replied, gripping Ryu's leash tighter as I sensed him sensing my apprehension, "this ain't your dog."
"Chris, I think that's your dog, man." The less-scruffy dude started to approach us.
"Listen, guys, I can assure you that this is not your dog," I replied, my tone growing deeper. "He will be more than happy to convince you himself if you get any closer." That, of course, was an outright lie. Ryu would sooner roll over onto his back and offer up his tummy for rubs than defend me from brigands.
"Nah nah, that's not my dog, let'em go Bryce." He turned to me as I continued to walk away; "Sorry man, it's just that I've got a dog just like that."
Of course you do. Two mean looking brothers dressed in parkas and running shoes, grilling their dinner at 8pm in the parking lot of the Extended Stay Hotel here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have a dog that looks exactly like mine. I was tired after a good 10 hours of winter driving from Steven's Point, Wisconsin - 8 hours of meandering around the Great Lakes, through Chicago Traffic, and getting hoplessly lost in Fort Wayne in that Hemi Dodge Charger with nothing but quick pit-stops. I was exhausted, impatient, and my tolerance for bullshit was near its all-time low - and I was certainly not going to get jumped, scammed or mugged.
The weather in Saskatoon has been rather cold over the past few days, even by Saskatoon standards. Cycling to work is getting more challenging due not only to the drop in temperatures but also the lack of any snow-clearing infrastructure in the city. This morning, Ryu and I stumbled upon an unfortunate casualty of the city and its freezing temperatures:
This poor coyote was found behind a building in Kinsmen park, peacefully curled up for warmth but frozen solid. I called animal services and they said they didn't do that sort of thing, so I was referred to Saskatoon sanitation services instead, who said they were on their way to take care of it. I don't think Ryu knew what the dead coyote was; I hope he didn't. He likely assumed it was just like all the other stuffed animals / inanimate objects that bear an uncanny resemblance to his own kind but don't move. To him it was just an artifact. To me, it was beautiful, tragic, and very real. Scores of animals die all the time, especially here in the national parks, but here's one, tangible, immediate, unavoidable, apparent, flawless, right in front of me. Somehow, it mattered more because it was here and now and in my face. At any rate, it was an odd way to start a Monday morning.
Biking to work, I also saw a taxi blow a red light and T-Bone a car into a lamp post. After making sure everyone was OK, I got to the office, where I was the only person there because everyone's away on meetings or vacation. This has been a strange day in a strange month in a very strange year. "May you live in interesting times", though not a real Chinese curse, definitely carries weight with me these days.
I'm a tech, new media and web person with 10+ years of development and project management experience. I'm in pursuit of new opportunities in web content development, social media marketing strategy or interactive project management, in the Montreal, QC area or elsewhere (I'm currently based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan).
Things I know:
- Web content development, writing for the web, technical writing
- HTML5, CSS, mobile web development, some other programming languages
- Content management systems (Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla, SiteCore)
- Social media strategy, crisis management, community gardening
- Linux, Windows & Apple hardware, servers and software, Office Suites, Photoshop, InDesign, Gimp, Premiere
- Wired & wireless networking, network security, penetration testing, system hardening
Things I am:
- Fully bilingual French/English (Federal Gov't testing level "E"), conversant in Spanish.
- A strong leader
- Adept at finding solutions to complex content and media issues
- Autonomous and independent
- Skilled at explaining technical concepts in layman's terms
People & places I've worked for / at:
- Parks Canada Agency (Saskatoon, SK)
- My own consulting firm (Montreal, QC)
- MeasurementLab / New America Foundation (Google, Inc. -supported project) (Washington, DC)
- World Association of Young Scientists (UNESCO - supported project) (Paris, FR & Budapest, HU)
- Acorn Active Media Foundation (Urbana, IL)
- McGill University Health Centre (Montreal, QC)
- Hôpital Ste-Justine (Montreal, QC)
- Groupe Uni-Spec (Saguenay, QC)
- Colubris Networks (Laval, QC)
Things I've learned:
- Park & Historic Site interpretation, Web & PDF Accessibility (Parks Canada workshops)
- Navigating the murky N.G.O, funding and non-profit waters (various)
- Working in the medical field (MUHC / Ste-Justine)
- Dealing with strict governmental standards and policies on web and social media (Parks Canada Agency)
- Some engineering, marketing, accounting & management (Concordia University)
- Pure & Applied Science (CÉGEP Vanier College)
Ways to get in touch with me:
- Email at myfirstname [at] thisdomain [dot] com
- Skype at stevenmansour
- Gtalk at firstname.lastname [at] gmail [dot] com
- MSN Mess at steven350 [at] hotmail
Well, that certainly took a while.
The update to Drupal 7 was quite the pain, but seems to be mostly working now. The theme is still busted and most other things are not working, but hopefully I can be back up and running within a week or two. In the meantime, I post tidbits to a Google+ account. We'll see how long that lasts.
I'll admit it - I haven't lived a perfect life. I've said some things I may regret, and remained quiet at times when I should've spoken up. I've made some wrong decisions, some missteps, and in hindsight, haven't always handled things the way I should've. Hell, just a few weeks ago I 'accidentally' took a liberal bite out of a cashiers' lunch at a local food market, mistaking it for a free sample. I once wore this sweater to a blind date:
That's mustard yellow. It was definitely purchased at either Kmart or Zellers, probably on sale, and - if memory serves - is possibly one half of a two-piece jogging outfit.
For all my lapses in judgement, however severe they may have been, there is one thing I've been steadfast about, never compromised or wavered on:
I HAVE NEVER SIGNED AN EMAIL WITH THE NAME OF THE DEVICE USED TO WRITE IT.
Well, not willfully, at least.
Early this morning on my way to work from my sister's apartment, I stopped at the dog park so that Ryu could have a little r&r before a thrilling day of sleeping, chewing on his toys and watching me work on my laptop. When I got to the park at the corner of Notre-Dame and Montgolfier streets in Laval, I saw that there were two dogs inside already playing with each other. Some mornings there are none, and other days there are 4 or 5. There was only one person in there with them, so I assumed he was the owner of both.
I'm not as social as some of the other people at dog parks; I don't go there to 'mingle' with other dog owners or meet people, but simply so that Ryu and I can get some sunshine and exercise while letting him make new friends. I usually let my dog in, find a bench, and watch him chase and be chased by other dogs. When they get too rough for my liking I bark at him to back off, and he does. Once he gets into the park, he usually sprints right away to the nearest dog to greet it. There was this one dog today, though, that was whimpering sadly the whole time Ryu was trying to play with him. He was a good-looking German Shepherd mix, neutered, friendly and docile, in seemingly good health but not very well groomed (his fur was matted and his nails were very long). He also did not have a collar.
I assumed he was the other man's dog, but he asked me first if it was my dog. We quickly assumed that someone had just dumped him here, and after finding a bowl of food and some water in the corner, we sadly realized that that was the case. The man was a very friendly, older Italian gentleman, and mentionned Le Berger Blanc, a rescue service for animals in need. I looked up the coordinates on my phone and called their number, giving a description of the dog and its location. They replied they would send someone in this morning; I couldn't wait around because I had to get to work but the other guy said he's retired and he'll stick around with his dog until someone arrives.
At an earlier point in my life, I might've just taken him home, advertise him in the lost and founds, and probably get him checked out and kept him if no one claimed him. I have the unfortunate "weakness" - instilled in me by my parents - of wanting to help / save everyone and everything I come across, but lately I've learned to let go and accept that things play out the way they do because of the choices we make. Compassion has a dangerous tendency to veer into [liberal] paternalism when it manifests itself for the wrong reasons. Especially in my generation, there is this counterproductive trend to think of oneself as a "fixer", going around and telling people what they're doing wrong and what they should be doing instead, then going back home and sipping on $4 lattes while setting up a Wordpress install. It's the kind of armchair solidarity that diminishes the value of what we perceive as empathy - which is supposed to be a shared emotional experience, and not a top-down pitying of those less fortunate than you.
It's not so much a question of pity or even empathy that would make me want to take in a stray or abandoned dog; but rather a [perhaps skewed] perception of social justice - yes, even for animals. If this dog did something to deserve being left behind - aggression, biting a human, etc - there are different and better ways to deal with that sort of behavior than leaving it alone and scared in a park to fend for itself. Odds are good, however, that the owner(s) simply got bored, tired, or fed up of caring for another living being and gave up on it. This other fellow at the park was reassuring, and nice enough to stay until someone came to pick up the dog. He says that it's not the first time he's seen this sort of thing happen.
Needless to say, I don't think too highly of folks who abandon their friends this way. Caring for a dog is a responsibility, and if it's one you can't handle or afford, then you shouldn't commit to it - or at least bring the animal to a shelter or rescue where they can have a better chance at a new life. Leaving your dog in the park with some food and some water early in the morning is pretty cold by my scale, and goes a long way to defining what kind of person you are. If you drop your dog out of your life like it's nothing, the chances are that you probably aren't that good of a friend to people around you when the chips are down.
Hopefully, the dog has already been picked up by Le Berger Blanc, and will be cleaned up and taken to a rescue, where he'll wait his turn in adoption to find a new home - one where, with any luck, his new owners will show a bit more maturity, love and compassion.
Safe travels, white dog.