Life in Black and White


There wasn’t a lot to be found on my late-night expedition to Villeray. I did, however, find something useful in these bags containing moving “leftbehinds”.


Inside was a perfectly functional camera tripod. I found another tripod a couple of weeks ago when I was in VSL but this one is a bigger model that extends to almost my height. It’s nothing too fancy but it’s still worth decent money. I’m thinking though that it might come in handy for my own purposes.


I felt compelled to test it out when I stopped by some trash on Esplanade near de Liege and saw the moon hiding behind some clouds. Having a tripod really helps with night shots, as usually I need to summon the super-steady hands of a sniper to pull off even a merely okay shot in the dark. I didn’t realize before how much of a difference it made.

I may go out tomorrow morning. I’ll set my alarm and see how I feel when I wake up with 5 hours of sleep!

11 thoughts on “Life in Black and White”

  1. You must have good eyes to have spotted the tripod in the dark!
    Love all the shadows in the night photos.

    1. Sometimes it seems to work on a subconscious level. “That looks like an oscilliscope [a piece of electronic test equipment]”, actually a specific brand, but it can’t be since it would rarely be seen in a home, let along thrown out. But when you get closer, it is. ON the other hand, you can think you see something specific from a distance, and you really are imagining it.

      Boxes often are a giveaway, since if they are from products, they have the image and name printed on the side. Sometimes they contain the original item, more likely actual garbage, but sometimes it holds what has been replaced by the new item. I found what was clearly a box for a motherboard sitting on a garbage can next to a bus stop (that’s not uncommon, finding private garage in a public garbage can). I look, just in case. There’s no motherboard, but there were some cables and connectors that would be useful, when I find some other bits in the future.

      It’s complicated because where you go can often be random, yet when you find neat things, while it seems luck that you find them, it doesn’t seem like luck to have gone that way rather than down another street.

      Why did I look i that stray box on the sidewalk of crowded Decarie Blvd? Because I do things like that. You hear about the things that are found, the boxes looked in that are empty or full of actual garbage don’t get reported. So what seems like spectacular finds is really intermeshed with lots of looking and coming up blank.


      1. That’s about right. I stop at a lot of places and find nothing at all, and even if I find something it’s often not interesting enough to put on the blog.

        At night I bring a little flashlight to help me see inside the bags. The tripod was inside a bag, so it was just the fact that I stopped to open the bag in the first place that I found it.

  2. If you o to Ville St.Laurent,try to check out the trash in Cartierville.Visit streets like Dudemaine,Louisbourg,Michel Sarrazin,Alfred Laliberte,etc.I lived on Dudemaine until five years ago.

  3. Do you pick up and save magazines like Nation,Men’s Muscle,Men’s Fitness,New Yorker,GQ and Esquire from recycling bins and trash heaps?There is a market for them.There is also a market for very old,defunct magazines.In moving season and just before Christmas,a lot of old magazines get thrown out.

  4. You have a very wise message for readers of this blog;To keep their eyes open around moving day July 1,to forage the trash and rescue good stuff.However,one must not take anything from people who are actually moving and leave their stuff on the sidewalk for half an hour during the day.Lots of people are waiting for moving trucks that show up a few hours late.Foraging must be done from stuff that people actually throw out or abandon.Please stress this to your readers.

    1. And people aren’t stealing stuff, unless they are thieves.

      What should be talked about is why people are leaving stuff unattended. or unmarked. It sometimes can be really hard to tell whether that pile of stuff on the sidewalk is garbage, or someone moving. The reality is there often isn’t a lot of difference. I’ve passed things by because I sometimes can’t tell. Something seems too good to be true. Yet other times I’ve found equivalent items and they are indeed discards. I have no interest in stealing stuff, but neither do I want to miss something that is interesting. People toss out really good stuff, so the quality of the item isn’t the determining factor. Quantity isn’t either, some of those piles can be big, and look like someone is moving.

      If someone leaves a pile of stuff out, people aren’t generally hovering to see if they can run off with stuff, they are hovering trying to determine if the pile is abandoned or not. If people aren’t staying with it, or leaving a note at the very least, how can anyone really tell? Besides, there are real thieves out there, who don’t care whether someone has abandoned it or not, that’s why people should be guarding their own stuff.

      I once found something interesting, someone else came along and made a motion like “give it to me” and I did. And he walked off with it. I handed it to him because I thought “okay, this isn’t discards and this is his stuff”.

      Or there’s the story when I helped a friend move, and we put two children’s chairs out on the street to save a parking space. The neighbors were moving too, they used the space, then loaded up the chairs and drove off. Some one in their group assumed the chairs were theirs and the parking space waiting for them.

      Meanwhile, I do see people sitting out with their stuff, often till late in the day. A truck that came really late apparently. And that’s what should be happening, and if you get stuck, make sure there’s someone to stay with you so one of you can go off at a time for a break or food. If you have already moved out, and the truck hasn’t come, where would you be but waiting with the pile?


  5. Thursday morning is garbage and recycling pick-up day in western Verdun before Douglas hospital.This is the wealthier part of Verdun.I advise you tto go there to find good stuff.You might have to open a lot of big plastic bins on wheels with lids,but your hard work could be rewarded.I think you must go to faraway places more often to find interesting stuff.You did find great stuff in Outremont and Ville St.Laurent.You could also visit your sister more often,sleep overnight at her place occasionally just before garbage pickup day ,then wake up early in the morning and check out the streets there.Just encouraging you.

  6. I read Michael Black’s postings with avid interest.Often I agree with him,but not always.I agree with him that there are too many book sales and that some of them should be canceled.However,I do check out the outside of Atwater Library on many Wednesday mornings,thanks to the ad on Craigslist.Some weeks I do not find many good books,but other weeks I have salvaged very good books from destruction.I do not even get a chance to go there many Wednesdays.Over the last six months,I have retrieved a great book from Winston Churchill,a great book from Rudyard Kipling,books from travel writer Paul Theroux,great cookbooks,wilderness books,autobiographies and mystery novels from the trash.Only some discarded books are old textbooks ,old computer guides and outdated science books,which are understandably junked.But many of the other books deserve to be rescued.Kudos,kudos to all those who go there on Wednesday morning to save the books.

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