Is the cavalry coming?

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many New Orleanians fled to the Louisiana Superdome which was high and dry. They waited for help to come, and waited, and waited, and waited for the police, EMS, the National Guard. “When’s the cavalry coming?” they asked. The sad, tragic truth is, the cavalry never came.

Ottawans could be forgiven for feeling the same way. It’s not that the cavalry doesn’t exist. It’s that it doesn’t do anything, or hasn’t yet.  Time will tell us why the police in so many cities across Canada didn’t act.

For now, I’ll rely on Samuel Johnson’s letter to Lord Chesterfield who had refused to help Johnson finance his Dictionary of the English Language, until it was nearly finished and Johnson didn’t need support: “Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground encumbers him with help?”

So now…this weekend’s Omnium-Gatherum.

1. How to launder your reputation. They say the internet remembers forever. Not true, if you can afford to dry clean your reputation by hiring someone like Eliminalia whose motto is “We erase your past. We help you build your future.”  Here’s the story of the rise of an industry.

2. The Flying Train. This suspension train, first filmed in 1902 in Wuppertal, Germany, is still running today.

3. Beneath our feet. See the deepest man-made structures, from water pipes to gold mines. And the next time you cock an ear to the ground, listen to the sounds of the soil where “a handful of scientists have started to train their ears to the worms, grubs and roots underground. They were not prepared for what they heard.”

4. Fifty years of Doping Scandals – The case of 15-year-old Russian figure skater, Kamila Valiyeva,  recalls those other Olympic doping scandals, including our own Ben Johnson in 1988 in Seoul. Here’s all the others.

5. The weird old book finder. Clive Thompson, the New York Times tech writer, usually talks about the future. But he has another love: the past, specifically a site he created that finds weird old books. It’s part of his goal to ‘rewild your attention.’ Try it.

6. You, too, can track Russian military vehicles on the move. This could come in handy in the coming weeks. Our friends at Bellingcat have written a guide for amateurs to use open-sources to track Russian license plates, and hence Russian military vehicles. Drivers, start your engines.

7. The art of saying ‘no’. Shaun Usher began his Letters of Note website in 2009. The letters are wonderful, like Harold Pinter’s reply to Tom Stoppard’s entreaty: “Thank you for your invitation to host a fundraising dinner in the private room of a top London restaurant. I would rather die.” It’s part of a blog series entitled I hate everybody, including you. Usher also created the Letters Live series, with actors like Gillian Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Olivia Colman reading their favourite letters.

8. How situationally-aware are you? Not as in “What day is it?” or “What does he really want from me?” But bigger questions, universal questions, 34 of them. View your performance as a test of your earthly preparedness.

9. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! Problem: “This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it. It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Why is it unusual?” Solution: “E” is the most frequently used letter in the English language. But not a single “E” features in the paragraph above.

10. Who’s boosting the truckers from abroad? America? No, it’s Russia actually.  Their state-owned RT television is way ahead even of Fox News.

11. Age cannot wither. Carole King turned 80 last week, and John Williams turned 90. But the biggest birthday of all belongs to Zubin Mehta who turns 86 in April.

On January 30th he conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at the Philharmonia in St. Petersburg, Russia. Here’s the full concert for you to enjoy. Oh, and then Mr. Mehta (whose son Mervon heads performing arts at the Royal Conservatory) flew to Montreal to do a benefit for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, which he first conducted at the age of 24. Then last week he conducted a concert at La Scala in Milan, and he’s now on his way to Israel for the first time since he ‘retired’ in 2019.

Please forward to a friend.


You can be much warmer – and happier – than now.
We’ve all been sent to our rooms. Our rooms in cold, dark Canada. Not for the first time, either. COVID still has that power over us. But very soon the sun will shine, the days will be warm and our hearts will follow.
Next winter you’ll have a different choice. You can stay here or you can go south. That’s what we’re doing, and we’re inviting you to join us.
If you know about our trips, they don’t involve lying on a beach for a week, but doing adventurous things with fascinating people.
So from January 22 – 29, 2023, we’ll be aboard the 100-guest National Geographic Quest with 50 of our friends as it sails through the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Costa Rica.
This is with Lindblad Expeditions and we’ve been on two of their luxury adventure cruises before, to Antarctica and the Spanish-Portuguese coast. On board and on shore, we were in the hands of the most experienced experts and crew on earth. One evening during “Recap” with cocktails and appetizers in hand, we saw “The Monster of the Day” that our expedition divers filmed from the ocean floor. Oh, and it’s one thing to kayak on Georgian Bay; it’s another to kayak on the Antarctic Ocean. For one, it’s safer in the Antarctic because the Lindblad people are so on top of it.
All to say, we’ve come to expect the best in comfort, dining, adventure and safety from Lindblad, a view confirmed by Condé Nast Traveler, who last year declared them to be the #1 Small Ship Cruise Line in the world.
For more information on this and other RamsayTravels adventures, click here. And, please also forward to your like-spirited friends.

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