What a strange week

Not for me, for my municipal region. Two general-aviation airplanes land on roads, one more successfully than the other.

And today, you probably know, a man with a gun invaded Dawson College and shot 20 people, killing one young woman.

I don’t have anything pithy to add. The incident occurred a couple of blocks from Child One’s high school, but I never worried about her. The traffic on my carpool run was only an inconvenience.

Thank goodness the prick was incompetent. He had a long gun that witnesses described as a SWAT-style gun or as machine gun. I’m not sure what that was. I know guns, but I’m no connaisseur. It could not have been a typical assault/automatic rifle, though. The guy killed only one of 20 people he hit. One kid with a head wound survived. M-16s and AK-47s are more deadly. He apparently also had a handgun, or several.

The gunman was firing single rifle shots, which helped the victims. Automatic fire would also have proven more deadly, regardless of the power of the gun.

The gunman’s identity or motive remain a mystery, at least to the public.

Montreal is a safe city. We’re three million people, more or less, and 1.7 homicides per 100,000 – about 50 a year. I’m not sure why every ten years, someone here goes nuts with a gun. Marc Lepine, Valery Fabrikant, the Dawson shooter….

The population of the city offers kudos to the Montreal Police, who stormed the school immediately and cornered the gunman. They didn’t wait for the SWAT team. The officers went after him with nothing but pistols and bulletproof vests. They probably saved lives and definitely saved injuries. Kudos, too, to the men and women who learned lessons tragically taught by the similar events in the past, and who passed them on in theory and training to the blue line that saved young lives today.

Bonus info on Dawson College:

Dawson College is actually a CEGEP in the unique educational system of Quebec. We go to high school until Grade 11, then do two years of CEGEP, then three years of university. CEGEP is sort of like mandatory junior college. You choose a school of concentration – science, humanities, etc. – rather than a major. In the end, we get the same number of years in school. (I prefer the American system. I went to one year of CEGEP, then attended Rice University in the US.)

Dawson is an English CEGEP – CEGEPS, like all schools in Quebec, are divided by language of instruction.

Hard contacts, hooo!

I have in my eyes my first set of hard contact lenses. I now have 20/20 vision in both eyes but, as my brother described it, it feels like I have fingernails in my eyes. The lenses irritate my eyelids. That feeling is supposed to go away in a few days, but in the meantime, the trade-off is a net zero.

There’s still a bit of astigmatic double-imaging in my keratoconic eye, but not enough to drop my vision below standard. Cost was $250 (Canadian dollars).

Other than that, my out-of-town family is returning home in drips and drabs. I’m on top of school and freelance work. I’m doing regular bouts of shoulder exercise as prescribed by my physiotherapist. Outside of life as a writer, all is well. That darned writing part is the anchor I’m dragging, however. I need to get something done there, and read Alex’s latest, a week after I promised to.

With any luck, by Friday, it all will balance.

Help me play a playful prank

I’ve been friends with my good buddy Bram since fourth grade. Bram will be celebrating his 40th birthday on September 12.

I’d like all visitors to 101 to e-mail birthday wishes to Bram on his birthday. It doesn’t matter whether or not you know Bram or not – in fact, the less you know him, the better a prank this is. I’d love to see him get a few hundred e-mail messages.

You can reach him at bram22(at)videotron.ca. Don’t tell him where you heard about his birthday. I want to see if he figures it out.

Bonus whine of the week:

Who decides to tear up 700 or so linear meters of sidewalk in front of Concordia’s Loyola campus, and eliminate the associated 700 meters of parking, the week that classes start? Genius at work in this city, I tell you what.