article history

The Quebec Cannonball in a Tree

The other day I learned that the tourist attraction and historical artifact, an English cannonball in a Quebec City tree is no longer there. I also learned that it probably wasn’t a cannonball, although it was likely built to be a bomb (at one point).

CBC posted the article about its history and removal last year:

It took three days of hard work, but the famous “cannonball” trapped in the roots of an American elm tree on the side of a historic street in Quebec City has been removed without any booming surprises.

Below is a photo I took of the famous tree in 2010. I was told it is believed that the ball was a cannonball shot at the French from an English ship during the multi-year siege before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Historian Jean-Marie Lebel did his own investigation into the unmarked ball and published his findings in the June 2015 article for Prestige magazine which can still be found online.

He determined the cannonball is not a cannonball at all as those tended to be smaller and made of lead.

The ball is actually a bomb, he wrote.

Bombs like this one were hollow, metallic projectiles which were charged with an incendiary material like a cloth rag and ignited with a fuse.

So if it wasn’t a cannonball fired into the city by the English in 1759 in the siege before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, then how did this “bomb” get there?

The ball was likely there on purpose, installed as a wheel guard to protect homes from passing carriages, the article says.

These retrofitted bombs were affixed to a metal rod that was then inserted into the ground like the bollards of today that can stop trucks in their tracks.

A photo from 1908 shows bombs which have been transformed into wheel guards to protect the fronts of houses on Corps-de-Garde Street. (Courtesty of the Collection Gino Gariépy)

I liked it better when I thought it was fired there in the famous battle but I never should have fallen for it. For one thing, the “cannonball” would have had to have been there for 251 years when I saw it in 2010. Obviously the tree wouldn’t have been that old. Oh well, it’s satisfying to know the truth even if the fiction was more interesting.

news war

Russia Invades Ukraine

As you have likely heard, after many months of buildup, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Here’s news from Reuters, the NYTimes, AP, the Wall Street Journal and CNN.

From Reuters:

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday in a massed assault by land, sea and air, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

Missiles rained down. Ukraine reported columns of troops pouring across its borders from Russia and Belarus and landing on the coast from the Black and Azov seas.

Ukrainian troops fought Russian forces along practically the entire border, and fierce fighting was taking place in the regions of Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odessa and at a military airport near Kyiv, an adviser to the presidential office said.

I’ve been talking to some friends about this buildup and the question keeps coming up as to what Putin’s end game is in all this. I think it’s safe to say Putin is a psychopath with an obsession to reunite the USSR at whatever the cost. As much as this is a simple comparison, it fits — if you’ve ever done well in the board game Risk, you know the feeling where you just want to keep conquering. I predict Putin, with his victory in Crimea, will act just like he’s playing Risk. He’ll keep going until he’s captured the continent.

In the Second World War as he kept conquering country after country the news insisted Hitler was finally done. We know how that ended. I can’t imagine a scenario where Putin will just stop if he can keep going.


Daring Fireball

Daring Fireball is one of my favourite websites. Yesterday, I stumbled upon this post in which John Gruber explains the origin for the site’s unique name.

When I was very young, first grade/kindergarten or something like that, in the late 70s, Evel Knievel used to have regular specials on ABC. He’d jump overseas fountains or trying to jump over Grand Canyon or something. And I loved Evel Knievel. I thought that was America — just great. A guy on a motorcycle doing crazy stuff.

And the first thing I ever would answer ‘What’d you wanna be when you grow up?’ was I wanted to be a daredevil stuntman. I wanted to get shot out of a canon. This is my idea — instead of a motorcycle, I would do like Evel Knievel except getting shot out of a canon. And instead of just being in a tent in a circus and getting shot in to a net, I would do like Evel Knievel, go to landmarks around the world and get shot over them or in to them or shoot myself into an open window on the 47th floor of the Empire State building. And I came up with the name Daring Fireball.

article Politics

The True Story of Family Day

Vice News recaps the origins of today’s family day holiday. As the story goes, the creation of the holiday was linked to the arrest and conviction of one of Don Getty’s sons on cocaine-related charges. Getty himself, however, has said over the years that the two events were not related. I had heard this story before, but I had mostly forgotten it.

In 1988, Dale Getty tried selling an ounce of coke to an undercover cop in an Edmonton motel room, and Family Day was born. Seriously.

Happy Family Day.


Understanding The Milk Crate Challenge

Seems like he could be a little stronger on the “don’t try this at home, kids” part of the video… But maybe the video speaks for itself. I don’t understand why people get caught up in these trends, but then again I’ve never felt the urge to eat a Tide Pod either.

(Via Cynical-C)


Dated New Yorker Cartoons of People Doing Normal Things

I tried showing Ange these and she got hung up on the fact that these couldn’t possibly ever have been funny. I mean, she’s not wrong.

(Via Waxy)


Dusty Drive

Wind gusts were up to 110 km/hour today. The highway was closed on my way home from work. The dust was so bad I could barely see the cars ahead of me. An RCMP officer blocking the road told me about a collision ahead and to take the side roads instead. She was irked that people were driving so fast in such poor visability.

After all the detours, the winds had died down, visibility was returning, and then as I approached Coaldale, I found myself behind a “freedom convoy” of protesters. Farmers in their tractors protesting… I don’t know what — that they are tired of people being mad at them for not wearing masks? Anyway, luckily for me, they were only blocking one lane.

What would normally be a half hour drive took a full hour.

games Math


Mathler is like Wordle, but with math. It’s trickier than it first appears and, just like Wordle, gets exponentially easier with each guess.

life pandemic

Covid Continues

Earlier this week I implied that Covid was a breeze but with all the sleepless nights and harsh cough burning in my lungs — the most succinct thing I can say now is, this sucks. After 13 days I’m really starting to wonder when I’m finally going to get better.

After missing 5 days of work my admin explained that she was going to need medical documentation that I was still sick. I made a phone appointment and started explaining the situation to my doctor and how I had taken another test but it still showed me as being positive when she cut me off saying it doesn’t matter because I was STILL SYMPTOMATIC. She kindly wrote up a note saying I would be off “until symptoms cleared.”

I feel guilty for being away from work for so long but I can’t imagine showing up to my grade fives all stuffed up and coughing and explaining how I had Covid but because enough time had passed (and the guilt was getting to me) it was just time for me to return. I’m mad that these thoughts are even going through my mind. It’s dumb for a person sick with Covid to even think about returning to work before they are better; yet, here I am, doing exactly that.

games mobile gaming

What is Simply put, it’s a collection of open source party games for phones. You choose a game and invite your friends to join.

Here are the descriptions from a few of the games:


In Drawphone, there are no winners… only losers! Players take turns drawing pictures and guessing what those pictures are. If you guess correctly, nothing happens! If you guess wrong or draw like a toddler and ruin the chain of drawings and guesses, rest assured that you will be mercilessly mocked for your honest mistake (which ultimately doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of the world).


Wavelength is a social guessing game where two teams compete to read each other’s minds. It’s a thrilling experience of TALKING and THINKING and HIGH FIVING that anyone can play—but it also has some of that deep word game sorcery, like Codenames, where your decisions feel tense, strategic, meaningful.

Fake Artist:

Everyone is drawing one picture together…and one doesn’t even know what they draw. There is a Fake Artist hiding among the real artists – can you find out who it is? The Fake Artist has to be careful not to be give himself away and guess what is being drawn while the real artists have to signal the other artists with their drawing that they know the word, without making the drawing too obvious for the Fake Artist. The catch? you only get to draw one line.


Two warring factions are trying to send secret messages to their comrades, but their communications are broadcast for the enemy to see. To keep their messages secret, each faction “encrypts” their messages using 4 keywords, known only to their comrades. Meanwhile, the enemy tries to intercept their messages by listening to their clues and figuring out the enemy’s keywords. The first faction to intercept 2 messages from the other faction wins, unless a faction loses by miscommunicating 2 of their own messages.

Based on The Resistance, Snakeout:

Out the snake, or be outed as a snake! ?
Snakeout is a game in which a team of loyalists is infiltrated by a group of snakes. The loyalists must try to figure out who the snakes are, and the snakes must try to keep the loyalists from figuring out their identity. The game is separated into five missions. The first team to “win” three missions wins the game.

And more… They’ve even got Secret Hitler, Code Words, and One Night Werewolf.