Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Now Pronounce You...

Catherine had a strong fascination with her bridal bouquet and spent most of the ceremony destroying it.

Officially man and wife!

Zack and I after the ceremony. What a sweetheart!
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More of the Procession

Although this wasn't Dad's first wedding, I think he was the most excited person there!

Here he is against the lovely backdrop of the lake.

Here comes Denise Antle, the Maid of Honour and my new Aunt. She was so happy to see her sister finally settle down!

And last but most certainly not least, the blushing bride Nadine, and her daddy Wayne. Isn't she pretty?

Maria was so happy that she'd successfully made it down the aisle that she went around high fiving people!
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Coming Down the Aisle

My Dad got married this weekend!

Doesn't he look handsome coming down the aisle?
Zack got some great pictures!

The boys wait for the ladies to arrive. I think dad is the only one comfortable in his suit.
(From Left: Mark Lamontagne, Rick Stuckless, Paul Zammit, and Nicholas Burgers-Lamontagne)

The junior bridemaids (Charlotte and Maria) proceed down the aisle. Little Maria is very excited!

Juliana and Catherine round out the junior bridesmaid section.
More wedding pictures to come!
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Monday, August 17, 2009


It was Carnavale in the city. Check out the tricked out cycles.

The costumes were fantastic!

I liked the one in pink.
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Cycles in the City

There are some pretty cool cycles in New York.

The turquoise one is my favourite!
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Pictures of Tourists

One of my favourite hobbies is to take pictures of tourists.

Most of the time they look a little lost.

Some of them look up at the buildings.

Some of them look kind of nervous.

And sometimes they look at each other.
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Warning: Contains Adorable Content

Yesterday I was lucky enough to snap a picture of this little guy.

Not only is he adorable, but clearly very dignified.
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Did they just break up?

Sitting in Washington Square Park yesterday, I came across a lovely, happy couple. At least, I thought I did. Watch the man's expression as the two chat - notice how he goes from happy to angry and hurt? I think we just saw them break up!

See how much happier than her he looks in the first two pictures. Perhaps she knows something that he doesn't.

She's touching her hair, pulling herself away from him. Clearly, she's uncomfortable.

She's gone in for the kill. Look how deflated he looks - and he's dropped her hand! How sad to see a relationship go that way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On Health Care Reform in the United States

As a Canadian citizen, I'm a big fan of universal health care. I've been to hospitals all over the country - in both cities and towns - and I've also received medical treatment in New York. For the most part I've found Canadian hospitals to be cleaner, faster, and friendlier than hospitals in the States, even though they're run by the state. Of course, one could say that's simply subjective, but when it comes to public service, public opinion is everything.

That said, not everyone is happy with Northern health care. Many Canadians are upset about the lengthy wait times in hospitals, shortage of doctors, and waiting lists for surgeries that come with socialized medicine. Though I have not personally encountered any of these problems, they do exist and have pursuaded some Canadians that universal health care isn't worth the trouble. However, for the most part, Canadians are more satisfied with their health care, even though wait times may be longer. A survey done by the New England Journal of Medicine on wait times for orthopedic surgery has shown that while the average wait time for initial consultation was two weeks for Americans and four weeks for Canadians, more Canadians seemed happy with their wait times than Americans. They also found that wait times for surgeries were not nearly as long as some might have expected. You can read more about that here.

While Canadians won't deny that the biggest problems with our health care are the chronic wait times, universal medicine is still considered one of the greatest things to ever to happen to Canada. It is generally the case that the only people to dispute this fact are only the ones who can afford otherwise. As a country, however, it seems like universal health care is the best fiscal decision. Even though Canada's universal health care is often declaimed by American conservatives as a drain on our finances, a recent article in the NYTimes Econimix blog says otherwise. While Americans currently paying 16% of their GDP on health care, Canadians are only paying about 10%, and our life expectancy continues to be higher. Most Canadians who are dissatisfied with their health care, although constituting a minority, seem to agree that a two tier system is best, guaranteeing health care for all while giving an option for extra, private benefits that may lead to quicker access for those who are willing to pay for it. This seems to be exactly what the Obama-Biden plan is proposing.

According to the plan, "The Obama-Biden plan both builds on and improves our current insurance system, which most Americans continue to rely upon, and leaves Medicare intact for older and disabled Americans." In addition, the Government plans to guarantee eligibility for those with pre-existing conditions, who would be otherwise unable to purchase health insurance, to create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance or enroll in the new public plan. The plan will also work to end the monopoly on insurance and drug companies and allow for more competition in these fields. You can read more about that here.

Now, I understand the tendency of the American people to be wary of government involvement in health care. The federal government doesn't have a great track record with social programming. Since it decided to become involved in the education system, the quality of America's public education has drastically declined. In 2002 Congressman Dr. Ron Paul wrote that, “Fifty years ago, before the federal government became involved in public education, American grammar and high schools were the best in the world. […] The stark contrast between our public schools then and now shows that federal control of education has failed.” The "bureaucratic black hole" which Dr. Paul claims is the federal government's involvement in education is quite possibly the same one which a government-run health care reform system would fall into. However, the Obama-Biden plan has an interesting escape hatch for states unhappy with the new system. According to the plan, "states can continue to experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan." Rather than closing the door to individual state-run health care, the federal government plans to encourage the states to experiment and improve upon the federal plan, provided they meet the basic federal expectations.

One must also note that the proposed federal plan advocates publicly funded access to health care, rather than publicly run health care. The government cannot and will not deny anyone health care, nor deny them access to private services of any sort. The plan promises only to subsidize and make readily available access to health care that does not currently exist, providing not the health care itself, but rather the means to receive it. When republicans like Sarah Palin claim that the plan waves itself in the face of human dignity and is a danger to the lives of innocent children, they demonstrate a dire misunderstanding of the plan, especially the portion which requires all children to have health care coverage.

To speak about basic human dignity and then to deny even the possibility of universal health care is absolutely ridiculous. Ms.Palin claims that "government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost." This seems rather unlikely, given that the government already spends approximately 16% percent of the annual GDP on health care, and these massive reforms are only estimated to cost around $120 billion of America's $48,000 per capita GDP, or 0.8%. Moreover, the disease prevention programs included in the plan are likely to reduce health care costs over the next few years. Not a huge increase, given the positive consequences.

All of this considered, I for one am a strong advocate for the Obama-Biden plan, as long as measures are in place to ensure that it doesn't become the bureaucratic black hole that the education system has. Since it seems that they are, I am simply happy that all of my American friends will finally be able to enjoy living without the financial stress of getting sick. I believe that by allowing private companies the same place in health care they always have while providing a public alternate and by promoting competition to improve the quality of medicine, the Obama-Biden plan will improve health care for everyone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Chronicle of the Spaghetti Rapist

Back story: I met this fellow at a Renaissance Fair. Now, he seemed fairly nice and fairly normal, and we made plans for a date. Well, my rehearsal ran long and, because I was feeling a little dangerous that week, I made plans for a date at his apartment in the wee hours of the morning where he would cook me spaghetti (a cream sauce by hand). He assured me that there were people staying over from france and that he had some extra rooms, so it seemed legitimate enough to deal with and, lo and behold, it was.

Well, the date went well, the spaghetti was great, and we were chilling in his room. Now, I've dated gamers before, so I ignored the everquest posters and all other indices of social ineptitude.


We're hanging out, and he asks me if I'm seeing anyone. Always the honest one, I tell him the truth. "Yeah, a couple of people," I tell him. S.R. freaks out. "Oh, I can't take this shit anymore. I mean, I'm not looking for marriage... *grumble grumble*" I awkwardly evade the subject, and sooner or later things are back on track. THEN he pulls out the Warhammer RPG for computer and shows me the war boar he rides (who knew there was such a thing)... Aaaaaand I procede to bed (in the other room).

Now, I'm not hating on gamers. But KEEP THAT SHIT HIDDEN. Or, if you're proud about it, just understand that inside, deep down, I am losing my shit laughing at you.

So, off to bed. Enter Spaghetti Rapist, who asks me if I have everything. He then proposes that we sleep in the same bed together (no sex or anything, he assures me, it's just been a while since he'd had the chance). Well, the spaghetti was good, even despite the warhammer the date had gone well and the fella was cute so I agreed. I'm not exactly naive, but I figure the boy could use some makeouts before bed, and then I could go to sleep. I go to brush my teeth, come back and find him changing in the dark. Bad sign. The following conversation ensues:

Him: Don't Look at me!
Me: Wha... What?
Him: Stay there. Don't look at me!
Me: Oh, fuck. Goddammit. I knew this was a bad idea. This guy is going to eat my skin. Thankfully there are people that are not his close friends in the other room so if I do scream, they will come a runnin'. Okay?
Him: Just get into the bed!
Me: Oh, fuck.

So, we get into bed and he starts spooning up on me, and then takes a big sniff of me and goes "Mmm... you smell delcious." What. The. Fuck. I'm lying there shaking a) because he's going to eat my skin and b) because I am paralyzed with laughter at how absolutely ridiculous this situation is. I am being spoon raped. And smelled. Never a stranger thing has happened.

So, I give him the ol' "Right, so I'm pretty tired," desperately escape a kiss and then finally make it clear that the line between makeouts and no makeouts was crossed (really, it was crossed the moment he screamed "Don't look at me!"

So THEN, realizing he is getting none of this he gets all pouty and the following occurs:
Him: Why do you find me attractive?
Me: Oh, Goddammit I dunno. Because you're cute?
Him: Is that all?
Me: Well, you're nice?
Him: Nice enough to get me into bed with you?
Me: Well, you did make me dinner.
Him: And that lets me sleep in the same bed?
Me: Apparently.


Him: Why would you have sex with me so fast?
Me: Oh, fuck. I wouldn't have.
Him: But you made it seem like...
Me: Well, you said you didn't want any.
Him: So if I had asked you if you wanted to, you'd have said no?
Me: ... Right.
Him: (Rolls over in a huff) I HATE women.

I am now terrified. This is mad creepy. I mean, there's awkward, and then there's this. I just don't even know how to react, especially when I few minutes later he leans back, gently touches my leg (as I am shaking in fear and hilarity and desperately feigning sleep) and goes "Oh good, you exist." He then goes back to sleep. WHAT THE FUCK? I finally kicked him out, and then spent two hours lying with one eye open.

Bright and early he walks me to the subway station, passive agressively complaining that no one will touch him and that everyone changes around him. Right. I avoid the topic, and when we hit the subway I assume that this is it for good.

Then I get the messages.

heya babe,
Sorry about the other night, i just wanted to get to know you better. You're a really interesting person and i want to hear more about you, including both the Canadian woods and the runaway barnyard characters that populate them..
The fact is i just don't come across chicas like you very often and i would love to see you again. Perhaps in a more nuetral setting? A museum like the Met or MOMA or perhaps central park, its lovely with the changing of the leaves.


Is he insinuating that the fiasco occured because he wasn't into it? Let's find out.

Hi Karl,

I had a great time the other night, but I just wasn't feeling the chemistry. It also seems that you're looking for something more serious than I am, and you mentioned several times that you were rather disturbed by the fact that I am by no means monogamous. so I don't think we should see each other again.

Well, this is true, the chemistry is lacking and this is something ive found a problem with myself lately. A lack of chemistry with everyone, perhaps why im looking for something a bit different. Yes, i was a bit turned off by your polygamous lifestyle, but thats only because im struggling with the same thing myself. I saw in you what i dislike in myself.

Im a bit of a nutter and i just came back from a massive euro experience involving more then a few bottles of wine or shiny cans of beer. ive screwed and whored to a degree probably unparalleled to most people my age and im sure we could swap some good stories.

Im sorry you feel that way. I was talking to a friend the other day and she said exasperatedly to me, well, what did you expect? Thats when i took a moment to think and sent you the letter.

Again, im not looking for mariage, and im not apart from doing you in a parking lot surrounded by a circle of cheering onlookers, but im testing the waters of something i havent yet experienced, a comfortable monogamous experience. Soemthing i envy you for having had, the warm feeling of someone familiar next to you as you wake up each morning.

Um, what? Cheering onlookers? WHO ON EARTH would be into that? And how does "I'm seeing a couple of people" turn into whoring? I decide not to respond.

Listen, ill send you a message when my libido returns. We'll see how polygamous you really are, call your friends, guys or girls. :)

Um... no? I again do not respond.

Cmon, stop being so conservative, now you got my blood boiling, my heart racing. Gimme another shot. This time no well-planned dinner, no well planned anything.. Just whatever, the normal stuff i do. Bars, drinking, live music, a club or something. One of my new tenants works the bottle service at webster hall, we could go check it out on a banging night.

You gotta understand, im a fool and terribly abusive, i always try to probe out weak spots and poke them till they bleed. I'm game for fun, lets have some fun. no thinking allowed.

Terribly abusive, eh? That's a real way to win a woman. Wow. I should not have mentioned dating gamers in the past. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just going through some rather tough times. I myself have a past filled with awkward messages. Finally I respond.

Hi Karl,

I thought I was being clear when I said that I really wasn't interested in the same thing you are. It seems that you might have misinterpreted me, so I apologize for that. I'm not looking for anything right now, and I think you may have misunderstood my character. I'm firm in my decision, so I would appreciate it if you would stop sending these messages or I think we should cease all communication whatsoever.
Well, apparently I still wasn't being all that clear. Even defriending him didn't help.


Hey chica!

My libido has returned with a vengeance, and the blood sings in my veins. If you want to grab a beer in billyburg one night i'm more than game. On a slightly different note, I'm also going to be modeling for the art students league, so i could use someone to practice sitting for. Either or, life is good. Bring your paints, i have paper.