All’s Fair

When I was 10 years old, in 1976, I had a radio in my bedroom that, in addition to receiving on the regular AM and FM bands, also picked up the audio of TV broadcasts. And so, perhaps unbeknownst to my parents, I would often go to sleep with the radio under my bed, a single earphone running up to my pillow, listening to whatever TV show it could pick up.

The show I remember most was All’s Fair, a politically-themed sitcom starring Bernadette Peters and Richard Crenna. What’s most remarkable, looking back, is that I never actually saw the show on a television: I only listened to it on the radio: I had no idea what the actors looked like, or where it was set. And, at 10 years old, I likely had little idea of the dynamics of “she’s a liberal, he’s a conservative” relationship at the core of the plot. But I was, nonetheless, a regular listener.

1976 CBS Ad.

The show only lasted a single season; apparently it wasn’t remarkable enough to others to have made it into syndication or a Netflix revival as other shows of that era have. The only video evidence of the show that survives digitally is the opening credit sequence on YouTube:

Halifax Highlight Reel

As is my habit, here’s a review of what’s hot and exciting in Halifax (see also 200620082010, 2012, and 2013).

  • We has an excellent sashimi lunch today, inventively prepared, at Alex Oh Sushi & Rolls, just up the street from Pete’s Frootique on Dresden Row. It’s hard to describe the presentation, but it involved twigs. Recommended.
  • After finding a depressing selection of eyeglasses frames in Charlottetown — it proved almost impossible to find anything that wasn’t rectangular and brown — I followed the recommendation of my friend BJ and dropped in to Gaudet Optical on Quinpool Road this morning. Personable optician Chris Ross was my guide through their dizzying selection of frames — “from functional to outrageous” is their tagline — and he helped me winnow things down to two pairs, one to house my everyday bifocals and a second pair for computer use. I ended up spending more than twice what I would have paid in Charlottetown, but I’m very pleased with the results, which should be posted to Charlottetown next week. I was guided in my selection by the eyeglasses worn by actor Alex Jennings in The Lady in the Van. And, according to my friend Dave, by Costas Halavrezos. So rectangular and brown are out and round and blue are in. I’ll either be the most fashionable man in Charlottetown, or a cartoon-like laughingstock. Stay tuned.
  • The ferry to Dartmouth continues to be one of my favourite activities in the city. For $2.50 you get a 15 minute trip across the harbour and, if you’re lucky like we were, you get to witness shipping traffic up close. On the other side is an outpost of The Wooden Monkey and the original Two If By Sea, so you can eat and drink before heading back.
  • The basil rice we had on Sunday night at Thai Ivory Cuisine on Quinpool Road was almost as good as I remember having in Thailand.
  • Inkwell is celebrating 5 years in business soon. Who would have thought a shop selling letterpress-printed creations would last? But it did. And that’s a good thing. All credit to Andrea Rahal for her perseverance, especially amidst the chaos in the neighbourhood while the behemoth Nova Centre goes up across the street.
  • Last summer Upstreet in Charlottetown had a party for the neighbourhood and it featured a pop-up barbershop operated by Sailor Bup’s from Halifax. Oliver got his sharpest haircut every that day, and so we made sure to book him in for a cut on this visit. We were not disappointed: Cory Murphy gave him an excellent cut on Tuesday afternoon and he’s looking as sharp as ever.
  • I hadn’t been in Point Pleasant Park for more than 20 years, but Ethan wasn’t getting the exercise he needs so we resolved to fix that with an afternoon hike in the sun today. I had no idea what wonders awaited us: there are great gobs of history around every corner in the park, and every significant feature is sign-posted with a QR code that leads to a SoundCloud-hosted audio commentary. Ethan got a long walk and we learned more about batteries (the military kind) than I thought possible.
  • We’ve been staying at the Best Western Chocolate Lake, a hotel I’d never heard of until it showed up as an option for using my Airmiles. To picture where it is, imagine that you’re coming into the city from the airport, and you turn too early at the Armdale Rotary, heading up the hill to the right rather than around the bend to Quinpool Road: the hotel is about 3 minutes up that road. The hotel goes to great pains to advertise its dog-friendliness (to the extent that Cocoa, the house dog, lives in the lobby); this turned out to be a mixed blessing for us: Ethan was, indeed, welcome. But so were a lot of other dogs, which meant for more-than-usual stress during morning and evening pees in the back yard, and an incident with a yappy dog in a neighbouring room barking incessantly when it smelled Ethan. All things considered, I think we do better when Ethan’s the only dog in a hotel. Our wing of the hotel, the low-rise one along the side, is rather tired-looking: the rooms are clean and bright, but nothing to write home about. Otherwise, though: the location can’t be beat, it’s minutes to anywhere in town; there’s plenty of free parking (always a $20/night ding at the downtown hotels); the wifi is included and is reliable and fast; and there’s a serviceable breakfast buffet included. And, even with the competing dogs, having a patch of grass along the lakeside was nice.
  • The Dutch Licorice tea at Humani-T on South Park Street (just around the corner from Spring Garden Road in the same building as Plovers) was just what we needed after a day of around-and-about. So much so that we stopped by twice this week. We also had supper at their second location, near the Hydrostone; while the downtown location is airy and welcoming, we found the North End one cramped and tatty. But that licorice tea (only available downtown), man that was great.

We’re off back again home tomorrow; it’s been an enjoyable four days here in the big city.

(You can also read Oliver’s own summaries of our days here: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Oliver at Work

Tonight we’re learning about maps…

We’ve been Mountain Equipment Coop members for years and years; we’re by no means in the target demographic of rock climbing kayakers, but I’m a big believer in cooperatives, and on the occasion that a new winter hat or bicycle lamp is needed and we’re in Halifax, it’s nice to be able to shop there.

Tonight we raised the bar and participated in a “Backcountry 101” workshop at the store, a basic introduction to topographic maps and their use in nearby places like Kejimkujik. We were a small determined group of 5, led by an intrepid MEC staffer who schooled us in the ways of scale, datum, contour lines and orienteering. It was a quick 60 minute introduction, but we emerged smarter, and bought our own map of Kejimkujik on the way out so as to be able to exercise our new skills.

The Genius Bar

I was all wrong about the Genius Bar.

I was never quite sure what you would do there, but I imagined it had something to so with asking questions about shortcut keys or backup strategies or the right gardening software. Like a public library reference desk, but limited to question about Apple hardware and software.

I’n sure some of that is true, but today I learned that the Genius Bar can also diagnose – and possibly fix – your Mac.

Oliver’s mid-2012 MacBook Air developed a sound issue last week: no sound through the speakers, no sound through the headphone port, no sound input or output devices showing up in the settings.

Oliver was able to patiently hold on, silently, until our trip to Halifax today when we had an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Halifax (easy to make online).

We showed up at our appointed time, were ushered to the bar — it really is a bar — and our “genius” introduced himself. He was a Joey Jeremiah look alike and he knew why we were there from the form I filled out when I made the appointment, so he was primed and ready.

He had Oliver login to his Mac and shut it down, then plugged in a USB Ethernet adapter and booted up to a diagnostic tool that accurately deduced that it was a hardware issue. He excused himself for a moment, went into “the back,” and emerged 10 minutes later with a working computer: turns out that the cable that connects the sound system to the computer had become loose. He cautioned Oliver to try to avoid giving the upper-left corner of the computer — the section around the power socket — a knock to mitigate against this happened again.

We were in and out in 20 minutes. No charge.

The entire experience was handled quickly, professionally and with good humour.

So that’s what they do at the Genius Bar.

Oliver’s MacBook Fixed!

All it took was 15 minutes at the Genius Bar to get the sound working on Oliver’s MacBook Air (it was simply a loose connection inside). No charge.