About Halifax and Folding Sidewalks …Sorta…

Halifax boasts the second largest natural harbour in the world. Two suspension bridges span that harbour, the oldest of the two — the Macdonald — was built in 1955 and has been illuminated at night since New Year’s Day 2000. It’s not a particularly apt illumination, but what makes it worse is that they would turn off those lights at 1 a.m. To me, that’s the equivalent of folding up the sidewalks at night.

Yet Haligonian like to think of themselves as sophisticated and cosmopolitan. At the same time and with far too much pride, the weekly (and free) entertainment rag in town once proclaimed Halifax “the world’s biggest small town.” Setting aside this odd sense of pride (or was it sarcasm?), I have to agree that this assessment wasn’t so far off the mark, though. It’s certainly more accurate than considering this place “sophisticated and cosmopolitan.”

Halifax is the home of more than one-third of Nova Scotia’s residents. But do the math: The entire province doesn’t have a million inhabitants. Now I grant you that “sophisticated and cosmopolitan” isn’t synonymous with “large population.” It’s more a matter of culture and manners. But what gets to me is how Haligonians try wearing one hat when they want to come across as “just a friendly bunch of people,” and another hat when they want people to consider Halifax a “world-class city.”

Suck or blow. You can’t do both at the same time.

If you want to remain the “biggest small town in the world,” then go on turning off the lights at night. Keep on revelling in tartans and one-too-many Celtic band. And keep on electing provincial governments — and I mean “provincial” in both senses of the word — that legislate against Sunday shopping for the sake of saving Families Values. But these AREN’T sophisticated and cosmopolitan stances, so don’t have a collective temper tantrum when outsiders give you that “aren’t-they-cute” smile when you claim that this place is a “world-class city.”

Oh, okay. I suppose I should be fair.

For about a month now, they’ve been turning off the lights on the Macdonald at 2 a.m. It’s a start, I guess.

Finally Taking the Plunge!

Me: Hi. My name is Maurice and I’m a reluctant blogger.

Chorus: Hi Maurice!

Nearly a year ago, someone by the name of Christine joined the Web hosting service I’ve been using since July 2001. She was a big-time blogger (so I gathered) and piqued the curiosity of a lot of us who hadn’t been bitten by the Blogging Bug. Perhaps the most intrigued among us was CrankyChick, who was almost immediately bitten. Cranky, who went by another moniker at first and whom I’d grown to know as someone who ALWAYS speaks her mind, turned out to be a remarkable blogger — and I say this even though the two of us are known for disagreeing on a lot of things. But those differences are balanced out by a healthy dose of mutual respect, I think.

As for me and blogging?

Well, honestly, I wasn’t convinced. Why would I want to have an online journal? Who would give a flying errr… you know?! And to what extent could I opine on issues — some mundane but some controversial — with complete integrity while not offending my clients who might stumble upon my blog? Could it be done freely, comfortably and responsibly, or would I have to accept some measure of self-censorship? And finally, how much time did I want to spend figuring out Movable Type when I’m already swamped with the development of my own Web content management suite, not to mention a steadly growing client base?

Well, shortly after CrankyChick started blogging, so did someone whom I hold in very high esteem: Annette, co-owner of my Web hosting service, launched The World Ate My Skull. In so doing, she demonstrated that it is possible to strike a balance between a personal weblog and a fantastically busy work life. Moreover, perhaps more than any bloggers, her wide range of interests and the manner in which she expresses her thoughts with that exquisite no-nonsense tone almost never failed to interest me. (I say “almost” only because it’ll take more than Annette to spark in me an interest in ANY sport. 😉 ) At the same time, as much as she invited me to comment as much as I wanted to in her blog (“Mi casa es su casa…”, she urged), I just didn’t feel right about monopolizing her blog — or anyone else’s, for that matter.

Then tonight came the banal event that made me take the plunge.

I was watching The National on CBC tonight. The Journal portion of the show consisted of a documentary by Brian Stewart on “The Bush Doctrine” — essentially the whole notion of the USA exercising what it believes to be its right to strike pre-emptively on what it deems “rogue nations,” such as Iraq. I couldn’t suppress this overwhelming feeling: “That’s the worst possible policy position the US could take because that’s EXACTLY the reaction their enemies expected!” But of course, I’m just this opinionated, proudly leftist editor, former part-time university prof and Web developer living in Canukastan, and that’s exactly the reaction that would be expected of ME…

Be that as it may, it sufficed to get me to turn off the boob tube and download MT. I’ve done very little to configure it just yet; I’ll get around to that as time goes on. But now I can feel comfortable to opine as much as I want without hoarding the comment area of friends and colleagues.

And I can’t help myself from paraphrasing (badly) the closing paragraph of Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God: “God’s mercy on reluctant bloggers. God’s mercy on fools. God’s mercy on God.”