Haunted Montreal: A Dozen Ghostly Places


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by Manuela Dohmen

Everyone loves a good ghost story. Camping wouldn't be the same without a gang of story-tellers huddled around the campfire roasting marshmallows on sticks, trying to out-scare one another. But here at home, if we're in the mood to hunt down ghosts we don't have to pack up the tent, the canned food, and the sleeping bags and head for the boonies; Montreal has its share of ghost stories and haunted places. In fact, Montreal is considered the most haunted city in all of North America. It is not surprising. With our 300 year history, we've had our share of tortures, executions, and hangings.

Russian Tweets: Hacking in Social Media


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by Manuela Dohmen

What do Barack Obama, Britney Spears, and Fox News have in common?  They've all had their Twitter accounts hacked.  Even the rich and famous can't always protect themselves against intruders, physical or cyber.  Everyone is at risk, and these days, with 72% of all internet users active on social media, that risk is greater than ever.  With every site we view or account we create, we become more vulnerable to infiltration.

Happy in McIntyre: A Review of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo


Honey Boo Boo Holiday pic resized with source.JPGReality shows are all the rage these days.  They cover many topics:  surviving on an isolated island or in the Siberian wilderness in the winter, racing around the world, selecting a mate, or just living as a group of strangers in the same house.  Then there's    Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, a spin-off of the TLC reality television program Toddlers and Tiaras.  It follows the life of Alana Thompson ("Honey Boo Boo"), a children's beauty pageant competitor, and her family.  Alana's not your average participant, lacking grace, rhythm, and polish, and is known for her brash behaviour.  She gained notoriety in 2012 following an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras where she drank "go-go" juice, a concoction of Red Bull and Mountain Dew intended to give her energy for the competition, but threw her into a frenzied state.  Mother and daughter wound up on the talk-show circuit defending the use of the caffeine-loaded drink


It's the question that has been on everyone's mind this last month: Why is it so cold? While Montreal and Canada as a nation has never experienced what could be described as a warm or even mild winter, this season has certainly been pulling the proverbial.

Our retail sector has certainly suffered with the bad weather and ice storms, with Dollarama providing the latest signal that the fourth quarter was severely negatively impacted. The chain was forced to temporarily close 80 of their stores amid storms and power outages in Eastern Canada.

Aside from the economic damage the chill has caused us, the impact on the residents of our fair city has also been negative, with the harsh outdoors causing many of us to hibernate indoors until the bright days of Spring are upon us once again. If you're struggling with the ongoing chill, here are a few ways of keeping the festive cheer going personally - long after the festive season has left us.

To Grandma's House We Go


Ah, a day out!  A visit to the grandparents in the country.  Sounds lovely, but organizing a multi-generational family of five and the family dog can be a bit trying.

We all have things that we need to have with us.  Some medical, some for comfort, and others for distraction.  Each home runs differently and one never can tell what will be missing when we arrive at our destination, so we better be ready.  A usual scenario in my house goes something like this:

  1. Determine how long the visit will be.  The longer the time spent away from home, the more items that will be necessary. 
  2. Determine a departure time.  This is usually early morning; never welcomed by anyone.
  3. Once you know long you will be away, determine what everyone will need in order to be comfortable for the period involved.  Even a day-long trip can require a multitude of items.  Medications, slippers, sweaters, special foods, and drinks are pretty standard.  Prepare a checklist of things taken.  Believe me, it will come in handy when you prepare for the return trip.
  4. Have everyone begin gathering their necessities and packing what they aren't currently using so that only last-minute items need to be gathered immediately before departure.  Have them make a list of what they are taking with them.  Ignore any and all grumbling from the teens.  It is just their way.
  5. Don't forget the dog:  food, treats, blanket, leash, and car harness.  It might be best to leave the harness for last because that's a sure sign that she will be going along for the ride and will send her into a frenzy.
  6. Set the prepared bags by the door ready for last-minute items in the morning.
  7. Charge critical electronic items such as cellphones, ipods, and games.
  8. Get to bed early that night.  Of course only the adults will be in bed early; the teens will be up until all hours, claiming they can sleep in the car.  And they will.  There will be much bobbing for apples in the back of the van, believe me.
  9. Rise early the day of departure.  Put on a pot of coffee.  The smell usually helps to rouse everyone.  The teens who didn't get to sleep before 3:00 a.m. will require a little extra encouragement, often involving at least six wake-up attempts - the last of which will be rendered at a louder than usual volume and sterner tone of voice.
  10. While the teens are in slow-motion rousing mode, prepare your travel basket of drinks and snacks for the ride.  Be sure to include paper towels and moist towelettes for spills.
  11. Once everyone is up, dressed, and washed, have them pack the fully charged electronics.  Include back-up chargers just in case.
  12. Double check your checklist and be sure that everyone has what they need, especially medications.
  13. Load up the van and begin to pile in, starting with grandmother, who will need a little help climbing in.  Tuck her cane in securely beside her.
  14. Last, but never least, the dog.  She's been sitting there quietly watching and waiting.  Grab her car harness and watch her go berserk!  She'll race you to the van, of course, and jump in herself.  You can then secure her to her seat.  She's ready for the country!
  15. Make one last sweep of the house, making sure you've left nothing behind.
  16. Lock the front door and you're off for the day - most likely at least an hour later than planned.

Drive carefully and have a good visit.

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