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Jetpacks

Jeezum Crow: you leave town for a few days and what happens? You come home to find people flying around on personal jetpacks, that's what!

Well, I'm back from Canada. I had gone there to attended a five day Datafax Users Group Conference, which was colloquially referred to as "DFUG," which sounds to me like a mid-century dance or a word a junior-high school student would use in place of an expletive. Essentially, it's one of those deals where a company sells you a product, and then they hold these conferences where you pay to go and learn how to use the product. Good work if you can get it.

The conference was held outside of Montreal. I'd love to give you the low-down on what life is like in Eastern Canada, but, frankly, I haven't the slightest idea. Upon arriving at the airport we hopped in a shuttle and drove straight to the conference site, which was tucked away in the countryside surrounded by number of ski resorts numbering roughly one infinity. Our hotel was one such resort, the Fairmont Tremblant, and was a literal snowball's throw away from a skilift. Nice for the skiers in the crowd, no doubt, but a tad brisk for those of us convinced that we mammals evolved war-bloodedness for a damned good reason. The upshot to all this is that the atmosphere of the joint was much more ski-lodgie than it was Quebecian, so any report I tried to give on the lives and habits of Eastern Canadians would conclude that they have a brewpub on every corner and a serious Gore-Tex fetish.

Still, French was the first language almost everywhere you went, so that was an interesting change from my norm. I'd walk into a restaurant and the host (or, as they say in Quebec, "maitre'd") would approach and say "bonjour". And then I would point to myself and say "AMERICAN! NO PARLAY FRENCH!" and he would say "Right. Table for one?" and that would pretty much end my cross-cultural experience. Although I did still have the option to watch tv in French. They had, like, a dozen stations: a third in English, a third in French, and a third originally in English but dubbed. This last category was actually the most fun, as you could watch "Tout le Monde Aiment Raymond" or listen to The Simpsons banter in French. (Marge: "Ce n'est pas un singe."; Homer: "Le D'OH!").

The accommodations were guilt-inducingly sumptuous. My room was so large that, had pushed the two twin beds against the wall I could have played raquetball in there. And the housekeepers had apparently been trained by the Special Forces, because I couldn't go get a Coke from down the hall without returning to find the beds made, the towels restocked and the end of the toilet paper folded into a lethal point. Plus, I also had the best of all possible views: right outside my window was the beginner's ski hill. It was like having a 24/7 feed of "Quebec's Funniest Home Videos" at my disposal.

Anyhow, I had a good time. But I'm glad to be back in a state where most thermometers have no need for a minus sign.

Posted on February 07, 2002 to