Dates

  • A week for now at this time, I will have been in Moncton for almost two days. Indeed, my entire family will be heading to the hometown to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. It won’t be a surprise; we announced our visit to her several weeks ago and she’s really looking forward to it. What she doesn’t know, however, is the schedule of activities we have planned. So, all this to say that I’ll be taking a plane around suppertime next Friday and returning to Montréal early Monday morning for a very long commute to work.

  • Of course, my mother’s newest son-in-law will be the only family member unable to attend the gathering. However, it’s clear that she — and everyone in the family, in fact — now see Esposo as being part of the family. The last time I spoke to her, she insisted that I tell him that she bought a new fall jacket that goes perfectly with the scarf he gave her in February (which, by the way, had belonged to his beloved abuela), and that she had worn it to mass that day. She was also wearing as we were speaking the silver medallion of Our Lady of Guadelupe he gave her at the same time. Although he hadn’t met her yet, he really knew her number!

  • The day I return from Moncton is also the day of my final exam for Level 2 Spanish. Yes, we’re ending Level 2 already! Once I finish this posting, I’ll be heading for the shower and then hitting the books for the rest of the day because I won’t have much time to study in the days leading up to the exam.

    I have to admit that, while the course is still going well, I am finding it gruelling. Six hours of classes per week plus homework on top of a full-time job and everything else life dishes my way is a lot. At one point last week, I wondered to myself if I should slow down the pace to three hours per week, but I think I’ll forge ahead until the end of December and only consider slowing down in January if, looking back at four months of study, I find that it’s really been too much too quickly and that I’m not learning as well as I could if I relieved a bit of the pressure.

  • Speaking of the end of December, in an attempt to be responsible during these uncertain economic times (among other good reasons), Esposo and I decided I won’t be going to Mexico for the holidays. As a result, my mom will be spending a day in Montréal when she transits through here on her way to my sister’s in the Ottawa area, which will allow her to see the new digs and to go visit her sister in Longueuil. As for me, I’ll go to Ottawa for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. With all the overtime I did at work in August and early September, I expect I’ll be able to take the Christmas/New Year’s period off, as it is traditionally a slower time of year anyway.

Astonishingly, by the end of October, it will have been seven months already since I moved to Montréal……

More of the Same

So! Canada went through another federal election — the third in about four years — and this one yielded essentially the same results as the previous: a Conservative minority government. But with 37.65% of the popular vote compared to 36.27% in the January 2006 election — a mere 1.4% increase nation-wide — the Conservatives managed to get elected in 19 more seats. In other words, having won 46.43% of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives’ overrepresentation this time compared to the popular vote is 8.78%, whereas, by winning only 40.26% of the seats after the 2006 race, their overrepresentation was a mere 3.99%, which made them at the time the weakest minority government in Canada’s history.

2008 Federal Election Results
Oct. 24 judicial recount
One seat from the Bloc Québécois has shifted to the Liberals.

Again, if we had a form of proportional representation like most democratic countries — Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. remaining the only standouts — the Conservatives would not have advanced as they did this time. In fact:

  • the Conservatives would be in the same spot, give or take a seat or two;
  • the Liberals would have gone down in standing to roughly where they went (plus maybe five seats);
  • the Greens, this time having well passed the generally accepted 5% threshold of the nation-wide popular vote, would have 20 seats instead of being shut out of Parliament, and
  • the number of votes that would not have yielded a seat whatsoever would have gone from about 1 million of a total of 13.8 million (7.22%) to a mere 64,000 or so (0.46%).

You can study the results at equitablevote.textstyle.ca, a site I developed (but still haven’t finished), which takes actual election results and recalculates what they could have been using the d’Hondt method that has been adopted in many countries. I personally have always favoured a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system over the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system because it’s mathematically and conceptually a heck of a lot easier to grasp.

Among the caveats to keep in mind when looking at these calculations:

  • it can be problematic to take results from a “First Past the Post” (FPTP) election because voters may have behaved differently at the polls in a “Mixed-Member Proportional” (MMP) election, where they could vote for different parties locally and regionally, so, as a corollary:
    • the recalculation at my website assumes no such vote splitting, and
    • it assumes there was no strategic voting (which there definitely was in this election);
  • the percentage of seats that should remain FPTP could be as high as 75% or as low as 50% (the website allows you to adjust that percentage to see various scenarios);
  • the percentage of minimum popular vote nation-wide to be eligible for regional seats has been set as low as 2 or 3% in some countries and as high as 10% in other countries (again, the website allows you to adjust that percentage), and
  • there might be a variance of a few seats if the formula were applied by regions instead of nation-wide.

Perhaps the only possible gain of this election, for which the voter turnout was the lowest in the modern history of Canadian federal elections, is that many woke up October 15 feeling frustrated by how over 937,000 votes (or nearly 6.8%) nation-wide can lead to one party (the Greens) obtaining no seat in Parliament, while roughly 442,000 more votes (or 10%) nation-wide can lead to another party (the Bloc Québécois) winning 49 seats. Or how yet another party (the NDP) can get 1.135 million more votes than another party (the Bloc Québécois), but find itself with 12 fewer seats despite polling just over 18% of the national popular vote.

While the highly negative tone of this lacklustre election campaign was likely the main contributor to so much voter apathy, the fact many voters saw first-hand the extent to which their vote can sometimes have no impact on the final outcome has, as well, certainly generated much more talk of electoral reform on online discussion forums. Indeed, a voter like me in the riding of Westmount–Ville-Marie knew all along that it would go Liberal even if that party had nominated Jackson as its candidate, while non-Conservative voters like Matthew in a riding like Guelph had to wrestle with the notion of strategic voting in order to achieve what they perceived as a “less bad” outcome. The fact a party that draws at least two per cent of the popular vote nationally or at least five per cent in a given riding receives $1.95 per vote is often not enough encouragement to vote with one’s conscience.

Looking Back, aMMusingly (Again)

I did it the last time aMMusing changed substantively, so I decided to do it again: a retrospective of posts that I like going back to, regardless of how many comments they generated. In a way, it should be a lot easier this time, since I have been a far less prolific blogger since April 2005 compared to December 2002 to April 2005.

April 8, 2005
Steph and YoshiOh. My. Gawd! I can’t believe it’s been almost as long as the last switchover at aMMusing that Stephanie has moved from Florida to Nova Scotia to be with her bewitching BeeGoddessM. In “Coming Soon to My Country,” I posted a delightful picture of the wonderful Steph with her cat Yoshi. Sadly, Ole Yoshi has gone to cat heaven about a year ago, but what a wonderful “poofster” he was! And he did manage to knock some sense into Tif, who’s now a relatively mild-manner tabby who’s still a little weird for being the only cat I know that actually LOVES lettuce. As for the crazy but happy Bijon Jackson, we think Yoshi resigned himself to the thought that he was irredeemably uncouth and puerile (for his taste), and therefore simply gave him a lot of dirty looks.

I said it before and I say it again: This crew is one of the few things I do miss now that I finally made the move to Montréal.

April 13, 2005
MonsoonWhile thinking back to being “Young in the ’80s,” I remembered days at the Kacho in Moncton with Sara (a.k.a. The Cat Lady).

Ever So Lonely (mp3, 6.0MB, 6:17)

I also brought three other clips to your attention to confirm that I was resolutely no longer a closet TechnoBoi.

Dreamed of You (mp3, 3.5MB, 3:39)
Life in a Northern Town (techno) (mp3, 12.2MB, 8:28)
The Beauty of a Witch (mp3, 3.2MB, 3:20)

Then, in a separate post later that day, I recalled, complete with Joshua Kadison’s Picture Postcards from L.A. (mp3, 5.5MB, 4:34), how “Rachel” had sent me a postcard from L.A.

May 11, 2005
Bea ArthurOne of the reasons I never want to abandon this blog is that, without it, I wouldn’t remember some of the little quirky details of day-to-day life. My most successful attempt at quitting smoking happened in 2005, and just like during previous attempts, I had done so using the patch. But the patch, for me, brings on the craziest nighttime dreams. In “Poof (not puff)! I’m Back!,” I took comfort in the fact the dreams weren’t as crazy as in previous attempts, with “the gayess [dream having been] the one where I was sitting next to (and chatting with) Bea Arthur on a New York City subway.” Which, you have to admit, is pretty gay.

June 17, 2005
I discovered the PostSecret website and have been visiting it every Sunday ever since.

November 3, 2005 & February 25, 2006
Two days after having dinner at my place with Ex Friend, some two-and-a-half months after turning 40 when I concluded that I wouldn’t survive my 40s if I continued as I had in my 30s, I referred in “No Promises” to how I had applied for “an outside job,” meaning I was reconsidering working on my own. Turns out, as I wrote on the following February 25 in “I Owe You a Blog Entry,” that this application led to my current day job.

December 27, 2005
Brokeback MountainI went to see Brokeback Mountain with Steph and BeeGoddessM, and it left me ambivalent at the time. After viewing the film, I wrote in “Them Cowboys“: “…this film, while good, should go down as the most overhyped of 2005. [Other films] managed as well if not better at addressing how it can be difficult, even impossible, to live in peace as a gay person or, more aptly in the case of Brokeback, someone who just happens to love someone of the same sex. Except that because Brokeback is a big Hollywood production, it’s as though the genre and storyline have just been invented.”

Looking back today, I’m remembering the film’s haunting tone and thinking about how Heath Ledger, who played Ennis Del Mar, is dead now.

January 14-17, 2006
What an interesting coincidence that I should be writing this retrospective two days before the 2008 Canadian federal election. In “The Likes of Who?” and “What Do You Make of This?” I reacted to a comment left by a “drive-by commentator” left in response to a post in which I wrote that “a Conservative majority is a very real and sad possibility,” concluding in my rebuttal that “if this kind of (non-)rhetorical tactic is any indication of what’s to come in a Conservative-run Canada, then ‘sad’ is taking a whole new meaning for me, and [the commentator has] unwittingly made my whole point.” Canadians went on to elect a Conservative government, albeit a minority, yet we still got to see how Stephen Harper is a nasty piece of work, standing as the only Canadian prime minister who, on the one hand, has sued opposition parties for slander based on things that have been said in parliamentary debate and, on the other hand, has stood in the House of Commons and read out of context a newspaper article in an attempt to slander a Liberal party member of parliament. And those examples are only the very small tip of a huge iceberg.

January 26, 2006 & June 11, 2006
Long an advocate of some form of proportional representation in the election of our parliamentarians, I posted detailed calculations a few days after the election to illustrate what the last two federal elections might have yielded under a PR system. Then in June, after railing against “Conservative Expendiency” for selectively taking a plank of a PR system (that is, fixed election dates, which was promptly ignored by Harper by calling the current election), I wrote about how I had started my “MPP Tallying Project.” Unfortunately, although I long completed the backend, I have yet to finish the frontend of that website so that anyone could look at numerous past elections and see not only how the outcomes would have been different (and fairer), but also that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how it could work.

July 3, 2006
I drove my (few) readers crazy by leaving “Boy’s First Toy” as my only post for one full month.

His First Toy

August 15, 2006
Off with their Heads!” was my passionate and very politically incorrect reaction to how Halifax drag queens had made porridge of that year’s Pride show on the Commons.

October 8, 2006 and July 29, 2007
TorontoAh, Toronto! “The City Canadians Love to Hate.” My new job brought me to go to a city where I hadn’t gone (by choice) for 19 years. I was glad to finally meet in person the people with whom I had been working. But still, I concluded that “it is clear that if I’m offered an opportunity to continue working at my day-job employer after my current contract ends, that better not be in Toronto. I would be very unhappy there.” In “Another Jaunt to Toronto” nearly a year later, I did soften my stance a little: “I’m not ashamed to admit that I appreciated Toronto more this time around.” Having left Halifax, I still think Montréal was the right choice over Toronto, plus, as it turns out (although I never blogged about it), I’m more useful to my day-job employer in Montréal than I would be in the Big Smoke.

June 2007
Donna SummersAlthough they yielded no comment, some of my June 2007 posts remain among my favorites or most seminal of aMMusing. In those posts I linked you to 30 MP3s, which I’m listing here in order of presentation:

Guilty (and Not-So-Guilty) Pleasures, Take 2(June 17)
I commented on music from the late-’70s to the mid-’80s (either in fact or for me) that I consider having marked me the most.

  1. Love to Love You Baby — Donna Summers (mp3, 5.2 MB, 5:29)
  2. Far Above the Cloud — Mike Oldfield (mp3, 7.7 MB, 5:30)
  3. Köhl Concert, Part I — Keith Jarrett (mp3, 29.0 MB, 26:01)
  4. I ekdromi — Vicky Leandros (mp3, 2.8 MB, 2:59)
  5. Un jour mon rêve — Vicky Leandros (mp3, 2.6 MB, 2:44)
  6. Après toi — Vicky Leandros (mp3, 3.3 MB, 3:29)
  7. Rhoda — Belle and Sebastian (mp3, 3.1 MB, 4:28)
  8. Piano Trio in B Op 8 — Brahms (mp3, 14.1 MB, 10:18)
  9. Charging Fort Wagner — Glory Soundtrack (mp3, 2.7 MB, 2:52)
  10. Gabriel’s Oboe — Morricone (mp3, 1.8 MB, 2:40)
  11. Adagio, Sym. 5 C-sharp-min. — Mahler (mp3, 8.4 MB, 11:18)
  12. At Seventeen — Janis Ian (mp3, 5.3 MB, 4:40)
  13. Ride Like the Wind — Christopher Cross (mp3, 3.9 MB, 4:16)
  14. Wishing — A Flock of Seagulls (mp3, 5.0 MB, 5:31)
  15. Africa — Toto (mp3, 4.6 MB, 4:56)
  16. Say It Ain’t So, Joe — Murray Head (mp3, 4.3 MB, 4:39)

Adieu, Boule Noire(June 19)
George Thurston lost his battle with cancer.

  1. Aimer d’amour (mp3, 3.3 MB, 4:18)

Franks Tiger in the RainMy 25th Anniversary(June 19)
Realizing that it had been 25 years since I “came out”…

  1. Living on the Inside (mp3, 5.3 MB, 5:39)
  2. Sanpuko (mp3, 4.0 MB, 5:39)
  3. Anthony’s Song (mp3, 4.8 MB, 5:05)
  4. The Lady Wants to Know (mp3, 4.4 MB, 4:44)
  5. How I Remember You (mp3, 5.3 MB, 5:11)
  6. Abandoned Garden (mp3, 6.3 MB, 5:24)
  7. Dragonfly Summer (mp3, 4.7 MB, 5:03)
  8. When Blackbirds Fly (mp3, 3.1 MB, 3:17)

Time to Say Farewell to Nova Scotia?(Five-post series, June 25-29)
I finally argued with myself that there was no reason for me to remain in Halifax any longer and I had to finally get off my ass and move to Montréal. A month later, in “I’m Going to Have to Do It,” I speculated that this series of post was meant as a personal antidote to inertia, where I would finally do what I’d been talking about doing since 1999.

  1. Part 1: Farewell to Nova Scotia (mp3, 2.3 MB, 3:20)
  2. Part 2: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — U2 (mp3, 4.3MB, 4:38)
  3. Part 3: Marcia Baila — Rita Mitsouko (mp3, 5.2 MB, 5:34)
  4. Part 4: Touch — Joy (mp3, 5.8 MB, 5:24)
  5. Part 5: Le soleil noir — Sash! (mp3, 3.6 MB, 3:51)

August 5, 2007
A Mixed Bag of Confused Thoughts” was my reaction to the town of Truro’s ruling against flying the Pride flag in front of Town Hall. By the end of that post, I realized just how much I harboured a “yearning for that little something that has nothing to do with appendages and orifices.” I wrote this exactly five days before meeting he who would become my husband…

August 20-September 23, 2007
Future EspososI wrote about first meeting Esposo 10 days after the fact, that is, shortly upon my return from a vacation trip to Montréal. In Part 3 of “What I Did on My Summer Vacation,” I was already referring to him as “mon beau prince aux cheveux longs” and “El Poema” after he said in response to my speaking about my late father, “Your father is still living in your eyes.”

October 28, 2007
Hot!Making a deal that’s a must with a Mexican…

November 12, 2007
I Laughed, I Cried” is a little raw and totally compromising. A lot like this retrospective, I looked back at more than a decade of e-mail messages I had sent and found that, indeed, I had changed a lot over time. While I laughed at the acidity of my prose, I wasn’t entirely proud of some of the things I had thought and written. At the same time, just like with this blog, how would I have remembered thinking those thoughts if I hadn’t written them down?

December 2007-22 February 2008
Puerto EscondidoMy posts for December 2007 were my countdown to Mexico, all the while knowing — but unable to blog about — how I intended to propose to El Poema, now Esposo. I was fully prepared to return to Halifax with a “No,” but that was the risk involved in my new m.o. of not accumulating regrets.

But as you know, he said “Yes.” And in “Days of Engagement,” I reflected on how this was the climax of two years of change for me — from a struggling Web developer and bachelor to a steadily employed guy married to a most wonderful man who hails from Mexico City. And although we initially planned on marrying in May in Montréal, we ended up doing so on 22 February in Halifax.

13 March 2008
My late father came to visit me on the exact anniversary of his death.

April-June 2008
April 2008 was the month of the move to Montréal …AT LAST! While the actual move went smoothly thanks to Cleopatrick‘s help, settling in and officially becoming a resident turned out to be a major trial. But by the end of May, upon writing “This City They Call Sin City,” I knew that I had moved precisely where I was supposed to at this time, even though I had not yet seen the worst part of Québec bureaucracy.

And that takes us to just about now, when I’m going to Spanish classes two nights a week and, generally, just working my tail off, with my esposo guapo still in Mexico City, but only for now…

aMMusing 3.0!

Most of you probably thought that I fell off the face of the Earth — or at least the Web — with that last post from September 16 remaining there as my last musing. Now that you’re back (and I’m back), you can see that the look of aMMusing has changed.

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg?
No, don’t bother answering that existential question. I’m throwing it there simply because it somehow encapsulates the reason for my disappearance. After September 16, I did get quite busy — too busy to blog much. But about 10 days later, when I decided I needed to post something new, I couldn’t get to the sign-in page of my installation of WordPress. In the end, a whole federal election has gone by and I haven’t offered my usual commentary on those vile Conservatives!

I looked around the Web to figure out how I could fix it, but quickly I had to come to the conclusion that it was hopeless because I was using version 1.5 of WP, which is up to 2.6 today. Indeed, it was back in March 2005 that I moved from Moveable Type and adopted a whole new look for aMMusing, and frankly (and typical for me), I haven’t changed much “under the hood” since then.

So, I had no choice. I had to upgrade. But the backend of WP changed considerably in three-and-a-half years. I certainly didn’t want to lose my postings since December 2002, so I studied the code carefully to figure out how each posts gets stored in the MySQL database and developed a PHP script to facilitate the transfer. (By the way, I *HATE* how each tiny edit adds the whole post over in the database. That just needlessly increases the size of the database.) As you can imagine, with about 1,170 entries over the years, the transfer process was slow and tedious and required that I fix all the internal links among posts, although I stopped short of getting rid of likerot to outbound articles.

This exercise made me think about how I should take advantage of the switch to do another retrospective as in April 2005. But, with work and Spanish classes as only a few of my on-going commitments, time is at a premium. Still, I think a retrospective of the last three-and-a-half years would be fun.

Now, though, I have to run to attend Thanksgiving dinner at Cleopatrick‘s parents up in Lanaudière. But welcome to aMMusing 3.0!