Holy crap in a Bundt pan... Due to the recent well-publicized shortage of
amateur websites produced by assholes who consider themselves to be clever, I
have been called into action. My name is Jeff Kay, and I’m an Ugly American living
on the cusp of a mid-life crisis, near Scranton, PA. And I’m here to serve, baby.

The View From Down Here
A journal of sorts, updated every once in a while.

Russian playgrounds kick ass

August 16, 2007

-- Did you know that in Canada milk is sold in bags? Yeah, I didn’t either. But it’s true. 

On Sunday morning I saw Toney’s sister using some sort of plastic apparatus that holds the milk bag, and turns it into a makeshift pitcher. From what I gather, you’re supposed to snip the corner off the plastic sack, place it inside the housing, and go to town.

You think I’m joking? Here’s a site dedicated to the Canadian Milk Bag, complete with photographic evidence. It’s almost like a foreign country up there.

After we oohed and ahhed at the spectacle of milk being dispensed from a pouch, everyone hustled downtown again for the Changing of the Guard. This, of course, happens at Parliament, and reportedly takes place every morning at 10, weather permitting.

And all I can say is, they sure make a big to-do about a shift change. At the factory where I used to work folks would just punch-out, and the new people would punch-in. 

There was no formal ceremony, or parade, or anything. Unless, of course, you count the playful verbal abuse one shift heaped upon the other, every day. Perhaps they should’ve set up bleachers and invited in spectators for the daily Calling of the Faggot? I just don’t know.

Needless to say, I’m joking. The ceremony was not only interesting, but also kinda moving. I’m a hillbilly from West Virginia, but began experiencing “proud to be a Canadian” feelings about halfway through. 

Here’s a webcam pointed at Parliament, in case you’d like to watch the ceremony yourself. It might not be the same seeing soldiers on your screen the size of Tic Tacs, but it’s worth a shot, I think.

Before all the pageantry kicked-off, two men walked out into the middle of the yard with microphones. They made a few announcements, welcomed the spectators, etc. The first one said everything in English, and the second one repeated it in French. And the second guy sounded like a full-on poofter.

So it got me to thinking… Was the guy really a poofter, or did the French language just make him sound like one? It’s one of those eternal questions, like the chicken and the egg. And I decided not to make myself crazy trying to figure it out.

We had lunch at the mall again. Apparently it “works for kids.” At least that’s what I was led to believe... This time I went to Subway, and didn’t have enough Canadian money, so I asked the guy if I could pay with American dollars. 

“Absolutely!” the dude hollered. Then he began peppering me with enthusiastic questions, as if he’d never before encountered a real, live American citizen before. He was a nice guy, built one hell of a turkey sub, and seemed to know more about the United States than most people who live here.

Pass the maple syrup.

During lunch our plans changed. We had an aviation museum penciled in for the afternoon, but somebody floated the idea of touring Parliament instead. Everybody except the youngest Secret thought this was a good idea, but he didn’t put up too much of an argument. No food was flung, or anything like that. Know what I'm sayin'?

So after we finished our traditional Canadian meals, we walked back to Parliament and visited a white tent in the side yard. There we secured tickets for a tour scheduled to begin in about 50 minutes. Cool.

We walked around and did some low-grade sightseeing while we waited. And over by the war memorial, a small group of protestors had assembled. And a scruffier gang of leftists I don’t believe I’d ever seen.

Many were holding signs I couldn’t read, and one was hollering something into an amplification device. As best as I could tell, he was yelling, “A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y!” Over and over again. I was just glad we were up-wind from them.

Before we were allowed into the Parliament Building, we had to pass through a full-blown airport-caliber security station. We walked through metal detectors, were asked to empty our pockets, and watched our belongings go down a conveyor, and through an X-ray machine.

Comedy ensued when the guy spotted the oldest Secret’s switchblade comb inside Toney’s purse. He was not amused, and neither were the people behind us waiting to get in. The last thing he said was, “Keep that thing inside your purse, eh?” Good times.

The tour was good, except for the predictable asshole who kept asking stupid questions. There’s one in every group... And somebody kept easing out silent farts during the whole thing, and that didn’t add much to the experience either. I knew it wasn’t one of the translucents, because it didn’t smell like an electrical fire. Everybody else, though, was a suspect.

We were asked to remove our caps as “a sign of respect,” when we entered the Senate chambers. But they apparently didn’t give a single craplet what we did in the House of Commons. That’s just where the people are represented, after all. Or am I reading too much into it?

For dinner we went to a place called the Clocktower Brew Pub. They make their own beer there, and I had two pints of their pale ale. Very tasty.

When we first arrived the Secrets said they needed to go to the bathroom. Or, as they call it up there, the washroom. There was only one stall, which was occupied, and a urinal. 

I said something like, “Looks like we’ll have to take turns.” And a really deep voice, like the This Is CNN guy, came from the toilet stall: “I’m sorry.” Then there was a bloop sound, and I had to run out into the hall to laugh.

After dinner we took the younglings to a park, and they all ran around and acted like maniacs for an hour or so. And I noticed basketball courts, and a football field with goal posts, and all that stuff. School kids play American football in Canada? It’s something I’d never contemplated.

While we sat and watched, Toney’s sister asked if it felt like we were in a foreign country. And it didn’t. Certainly, there are differences. Like the milk bags, and the flashing traffic lights (at first I thought they were shorting-out), and all the French talk. 

But there are differences in Oregon as well, and Alabama. Heck, I was even getting used to the strange money by then. In fact, I wish we’d adopt the two-dollar coin down here. That thing is surprisingly handy.

Toney’s sister said their mailman walks into their house, and lays their mail on a table. That freaked her out at first, she said, and I can only imagine. I don’t think I’d care for that, and I KNOW Andy wouldn’t. Is that something that’s done in Canada, or did they just get a rogue mail carrier, or something? What the heck, man?

One thing that would get on my nerves if I lived in Ottawa, is all the bicyclists. I was only there for a couple of days, and was already spewing venom in their direction. (What is this, freaking Bangkok?!) They’re everywhere, just peddling along at a leisurely pace, and acting all superior and pleased with themselves. By Day Two I was fantasizing about throwing Frosties on them. Is that bad?

But overall, I enjoyed the city. It’s pretty and clean, and seemingly safe. The people couldn’t have been nicer, and I came away with a real fondness for the place. Of course, I haven’t been there in the winter…

On our way home, I realized we hadn’t had a cup of coffee from Tim Horton’s yet. There seemed to be one on every corner, and a very important part of Canadian culture. I felt obligated to visit one of their restaurants before crossing back into the USA. 

So we got off the highway at an exit (interchange?) where a Tim Horton’s was supposedly located, and drove forever. We went way out into the country, made several confusing turns, and finally found the place in a small village that looked like England.

And it was PACKED. We waited in line for a long, long time, and Toney was getting irritated with me for having such a brilliant idea. The coffee was pretty good, though, and the donut was, well, edible.

But I don’t think businesses should be allowed to advertise on official highway signage, unless they’re located within a hundred miles or so of the exit. Ya know?

Our last stop in Canada was the duty-free shop at the border. There I purchased another tin of Quality Street candy, and got rid of all my remaining Canadian money. I was kind of sad to see it go. Bye loonie, bye toonie…

We had lunch at an Arby’s somewhere in upstate New York. And as we were walking up to the front door a Pugsley puddin’ child came waddling out, with a face so fat his eyes were nothing but slits. He was still chewing something, and carrying a soda the size of a bathroom trash can. 

Ahhh, it was good to be home.

And I’ll get back to the regular stuff next time. Here are the pictures I took, once more, to close out the category.

See ya tomorrow.


Last updated
01/17/12 12:14 PM

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