Sunday, January 31, 2010
Randy, my business and creative partner in our Wanderism travel blog has been busy. There are two new posts for you.
#1 is about his work on the travel show Word Travels. Click HERE.
#2 is about remembering travels past. Click HERE.
There will be much more content on Wanderism in the coming weeks and months. Please stay tuned...
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
I didn't get much of a chance to see Toronto and Ottawa as our training schedule was packed. However, the chance to connect with colleagues across the country was great. And I feel revitalized.
Meantime, February looms. And with the new month comes another trip -- to Vancouver for the final week of the Olympics. I'm looking forward to that. And by the time I'm back in Edmonton, spring should be ready to bloom. I'm very much looking forward to the end of winter.
And so it goes...
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
As the Winter Olympics are coming to the city I refer to as home (Vancouver) and I currently work in broadcast marketing and promotion, I'm interested in seeing Olympic graphics and openings from different world broadcasters. Today: The BBC. I love it!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Lonely Planet just printed their 100 millionth guidebook. Here's co-founder Tony Wheeler talking about travel and the reasons for it. Inspiring stuff:
Friday, January 22, 2010
PS: This is a test. But you can buy it, because it is likely awesome!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
January 19, 2010
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).
Actually, it's January 18th. Anyway -- arrived in Toronto last night. Stayed with friends in Oakville. Now in downtown Toronto. Training starts tomorrow. I think I'll take the subway up to Yonge and Eg. Exciting!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
January 16, 2010
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).
The photo of the day also represents my feelings today. Another work week done and travel on the horizon. I'm off to Toronto on Jan 17. A night with friends in Oakville followed by several days in the Big Smoke. Then to Ottawa (via Via train) for more training. Train-tacular! After 7 days of that, I fly back to Edmonton. And then it's almost another weekend. And then February. And then just 3 weeks until I head to Vancouver for the Olympics. And then summer... and then... ?
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
It's all in the curds: Quebecois mainstay poutine making culinary inroads in US
By Sheryl Ubelacker
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Here's a source for poutine and recipes for traveling food lovers.
Unless it's maple syrup, it's unlikely many Americans could
identify an example of truly Canadian cuisine. But it seems one
national dish, a belly-busting concoction born in La Belle province,
is creating a buzz south of the border.
Poutine -- a mixture of French fries, cheese curds and hot gravy --
is making it onto menus alongside typical American fare like
cheeseburgers and chili dogs.
Thierry Pepin, an actor and model who moved to New York from his
native Quebec six years ago, opened a restaurant last summer
dedicated to the hearty dish. T-Poutine (the T is for Thierry) is
located in the Lower East Side, close to bars and the club scene,
and offers 12 different variations of the item on its menu.
"It's great, but it's not easy," says Pepin of the reaction to
the calorie-laden creation, often described as a "heart attack on a
"A lot of Americans haven't heard about it, are skeptical about
it. But the ones that come to the restaurant open-minded, they want
to try it. For the most part, they all love it."
The rib-sticking dish is believed to have originated in rural
Quebec in the 1950s, and several communities lay claim as its
birthplace. One such tale involves Fernand Lachance of Warwick,
Que., who was asked by a customer to add cheese curds to an order of
fries and deemed it "une maudite poutine (roughly translated as
"an unholy mess"). The addition of gravy came later.
Pepin says many of his customers are New Yorkers who attended
McGill University in Montreal and got hooked on poutine. Canadians
living in the Big Apple are also regulars, he says.
Now, it seems, poutine is going mainstream. T-Poutine and Pepin
were recently featured on ABC News, which took a lighthearted look --
replete with Mounties and lots of frozen tundra -- at the invasion of
this most Canadian of foods into the heart of its southern
Poutine is also a big hit in south Florida, where the Grenier
family has been serving the dressed-up french fries at their Dairy
Belle ice cream parlour/fast-food outlet in Dania Beach for the last
Francois Grenier, who runs the outdoor restaurant with his
parents and sister, says most of their customers during the winter
are Canadian snowbirds, many of them from Quebec.
"During the season, with the Canadians down here, we go through
about 200 pounds (90 kilograms) of cheese a week," says Grenier,
explaining that the restaurant has that all-important poutine
ingredient shipped from a farm in Wisconsin.
"They're the real thing -- real cheddar white curd cheese."
Americans' reaction to their first sight of poutine is mixed, to
say the least, concedes Grenier, who moved with his family to the
Sunshine State from Victoriaville, Que., in 1992.
"By the window when you order there's a big picture of poutine
... And there are people who will just look at it and they're like,
'What is this?' And they'll tell you it sounds disgusting or it
Those with more adventurous palates who try poutine either
"totally love it or they totally hate it," says Grenier. "But we
have expanded our clientele with that. A lot of Americans now have
come to it. A lot of Hispanics are eating it, because the Hispanic
culture loves cheese and they love it."
Poutine aficionado Ronna Mogelon of Dunvegan, Ont., sampled the
Dairy Belle's offering last year on a trip to Florida and pronounced
The artist, who grew up in Montreal, began penning a blog called
the Poutine Chronicles, asking North American followers to send in
their favourite spots for the sinfully rich dish.
"There's something about poutine that just sort of calls your
name," says Mogelon, whose quest for the ultimate poutine draws her
inexorably to roadside chip stands.
"I thought it was a summer dish because it's sort of fun to sit
outside and have a poutine. But there's something also I
unfortunately discovered -- that when it's cold out and you go for a
poutine, it's almost like your grandmother rubbing your tummy or
something. It's warm. It's all cosy and melty cheesy."
"It's like oatmeal with a bit of tooth."
That poutine is considered a supreme comfort food -- and reputedly
an antidote for a night of heavy imbibing -- is a fact not lost on
Lee Seinfeld, owner of the Dive Bar in New York's Upper West Side.
"I put it on my menu because my son went up to Canada eight
years ago (on a school trip) and he came back raving about it. And
he's a kid that was just such a fussy eater."
"He just fell in love with it, so he convinced me to try getting
it," says Seinfeld, who has had some trouble finding a reliable
supply of cheese curds.
And how did his customers react to this foreign food?
"Well, you know, it's funny, the Canadians or people who have
had it before seem to get it," he says. "But sometimes Americans --
the cheese is cold and you pour the hot gravy on the cheese, so they
wonder why the cheese is not melted. So sometimes they're a little
"When they try it, they usually come back and have it again. I
sell a lot of cheese curd, a lot of poutine."
Pepin of T-Poutine hopes the dish could one day be as popular
with Americans as Mom and apple pie. He's thinking of opening other
T-Poutines and perhaps franchising.
"There are still a lot of places in New York City I think I
could open ... I would like to open a couple more, in Brooklyn and
around. Places like Vegas would do really well or anywhere in the
South. People love cheese. And it's something new."
"All around the U.S., I think if I can put it out there and
bring it, I think we'll have a huge crowd who's going to be very
Sunday, January 10, 2010
ON THE MEDIA
Freelance writing's unfortunate new model
With many outlets slashing pay scales, the well-written story is in danger of becoming scarce. The hustle is just beginning for new and seasoned freelancers.
January 6, 2010
The list of freelance writing gigs on Craigslist goes on and on.
Trails.com will pay $15 for articles about the outdoors. Livestrong.com wants 500-word pieces on health for $30, or less. In this mix, the 16 cents a word offered by Green Business Quarterly ends up sounding almost bounteous, amounting to more than $100 per submission.
Other publishers pitch the grand opportunities they provide to "extend your personal brand" or to "showcase your work, influence others." That means working for nothing, just like the sailing magazine that offers its next editor-writer not a single doubloon but, instead, the opportunity to "participate in regattas all over the country."
What's sailing away, a decade into the 21st century, is the common conception that writing is a profession -- or at least a skilled craft that should come not only with psychic rewards but with something resembling a living wage.
Freelance writing fees -- beginning with the Internet but extending to newspapers and magazines -- have been spiraling downward for a couple of years and reached what appears to be bottom in 2009.
The trend has gotten scant attention outside the trade. Maybe that's because we live in a culture that holds journalists in low esteem. Or it could be because so much focus has been put on the massive cutbacks in full-time journalism jobs. An estimated 31,000 writers, editors and others have been jettisoned by newspapers in just the last two years.
Today's reality is that much of freelancing has become all too free. Seasoned professionals have seen their income drop by 50% or more as publishers fill the Web's seemingly limitless news hole, drawing on the ever-expanding rank of under-employed writers.
The crumbling pay scales have not only hollowed out household budgets but accompanied a pervasive shift in journalism toward shorter stories, frothier subjects and an increasing emphasis on fast, rather than thorough.
"There are a lot of stories that are being missed, not just at legacy newspapers and TV stations but in the freelance world," said Nick Martin, 27, laid off a year ago by the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., and now a freelancer. "A lot of publications used to be able to pay freelancers to do really solid investigations. There's just not much of that going on anymore."
Another writer, based in Los Angeles, said she has been troubled by the lighter fare that many websites prefer to drive up traffic. A new take on any youth obsessions ("Put 'Twilight' in the headline, get paid") has much more chance of winning editorial approval than more complex or substantive material.
The rank of stories unwritten -- like most errors of omission -- is hard to conceive. Even those inside journalism can only guess at what stories they might have paid for, if they had more money.
Media analyst and former newspaper editor Alan Mutter worried last month about the ongoing "journicide" -- the loss of much of a generation of professional journalists who turn to other professions.
Writers say they see stories getting shorter and the reporting that goes into some of them getting thinner.
A former staff writer for a national magazine told me that she has been disturbed not only by low fees (one site offered her $100 for an 800-word essay) but by the way some website editors accept "reporting" that really amounts to reworking previously published material. That's known in the trade as a "clip job" and on the Web as a "write around."
"The definition of reportage has become really loose," said the writer, also a book author, who didn't want to be named for fear of alienating employers. "In this economy, everyone is afraid to turn down any work and it has created this march to the bottom."
One Los Angeles woman who also requested anonymity writes frequently for women's magazines and fondly recalls the days when freelance pieces fetched $2, or even $3, a word. Though some publications still pay those rates, many have cut them at least in half. And story lengths have been reduced even more drastically.
The writer, who once could make $70,000 a year or more, said she is now working harder to bring in half that much. "It's just not a living wage anymore," she said.
Los Angeles freelancer Tina Dupuy gained acclaim last year when she posted a YouTube video to shame editors at the Tampa Tribune into paying her $75 for a humor column on the "birthers" -- the political activists who contest President Obama's U.S. citizenship.
Up for a challenge
She said many other papers have stopped paying for opinion columns altogether --narrowing op-ed contributions at some papers to those already in syndication or those with day jobs at chambers of commerce, corporations, think tanks and the like.
"These corporate-sponsored pieces threaten to push people like me out," Dupuy said.
That's not to say that she is getting out of the business. After an earlier career in stand-up comedy, Dupuy has learned to hustle and to be "psychologically very adept at rejection."
It can be challenging, but Dupuy makes a living. "For someone who had to drive for hours to get to a gig -- to get $100 and a beer bottle thrown at them -- this is heaven," she said.
Indeed, relative newcomers like Dupuy or those who have spent their careers as freelancers -- like Matt Villano of Healdsburg, Calif. -- sound much more resilient about the revolutionary changes in publishing than the former staff writers and longtime freelancers.
The 34-year-old Villano -- whose outlets include the San Francisco Chronicle, Fodor's travel guides, Casino Player and Oceanus magazines -- said some writers struggle because they have fuzzy, arty notions about their work. They need to act more like small business people, Villano said, diversifying their skills and the outlets they write for.
Despite the endless hustle, Villano said he would not give up a career that has taken him from whale watching in Maui to the baccarat tables of Las Vegas. "I like the diversity," he said. "I like doing it on my own terms."
Villano strikes me as considerably more resilient, and sunny, than most people who write for a living. To make a go of it, the majority will require not only his flexibility, but a return of a more stable financial base for journalism.
With the advertising-driven income in a state of disarray, the source of future freelance dollars remains in doubt.
Philanthropic, nonprofit sites (ProPublica) will take up some of the slack, while other new models (Spot.Us) ask consumers to make micro-payments to put writers on specific local stories. Other websites (True/Slant) pay bonuses for stories and commentary, with writers getting paid more as they deliver bigger audiences.
It's hard to say if any, or all, will succeed. But the sooner they can take the free out of freelance, the better. Until they do, we can only imagine what we'll be missing.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times