Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Storm Pictures!

As you may or may not know, Vancouver barely has winter. It rarely snows. It rarely gets below freezing.

We had a nice dump of snow yesterday, and I found some pictures. They are news photos, and the links may not last very long, but check 'em out:

1. Snowman and Shorts!

2. Have a seat!

3. Great Late Night Stroll

4. Snow on the Palm Trees!!

Ignore the "usually rainy and damp" blather some Eastern caption writer added to the photos. They're just jealous!

It's 2004 in Nova Scotia now, byes. Yeee ha!


A little more on New Years Eve:

I just watched them ring in the New Year in Newfoundland. With my Satellite TV, its easy to watch the clock strike midnight in every time zone. Next up: Halifax.

This is also the time of year for lists. Lists of things to do (aka resolutions) and lists of things to be thankful for. I, then, present three lists:

--- Really Crappy Things About 2003 ---
1. War
2. America going bonkers
3. My finances
4. Freelancing
5. Lists
6. Um
7. Er
8. Not being able to think about crappy stuff
9. Maybe that's a good thing
10. The end.

--- Really Great Things About 2003 --

1. Freelancing
2. Drinking beer in Russia/The third border expedition
3. Turning 40 in Guatemala
4. Meeting Grandmaster
5. Going to Belize TWICE (and Caye Caulker)
6. Living in Vancouver
7. Doing radio and print pieces on my travels
8. Being healthy
9. Having lotsa cool friends all over the globe
10. Travel, travel, travel!

--- Cool Things About 2004 (or things to do) ---

1. Photography show (Cafe Barney, all January)
2. Potential travel to Halifax (or Calgary or New York)
3. Selling more stories
4. Reporting at CTV??
5. Spring! Summer! Cycling!
6. Allercards!
7. StockPhotosOnline!
8. Affiliate Marketing!
9. Eating less, getting smaller!
10. Living in Vancouver

Happy New Year!!


Happy New Year!!

2003 was pretty darn good (and pretty darn tough). 2004 will definitely be better!


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Sweet day off yesterday. Even watched the second Lord of the Rings film. Wow!

This morning, I was once again reminded of how neat this city is. I took Skytrain in to work (the elevated subway thingie)... and there were more people with snowboards than brief cases.

There was a light snow all day too.


Sunday, December 28, 2003

Sunday morning writing exercise.
Background music: Ben Harper -- Diamonds on the Inside.

Random thought: sadness at the closing (Dec 31) of the Sugar Refinery.

After an alarm-less waking at 7:30am, I set about to use my hours in the most efficient and relaxing way possible. Task #1: watch the final hour of the film High Fidelity. It was on when I got home from work late last night. I watched for as long as my brain would allow and then rolled tape in a preemptive move to counter falling asleep on the couch. Which I did.

I love that movie. I believe I shall own it one day when I once again allow myself to spend with the frivolity to which I am accustomed.

After the credits rolled, I realized that I need to lose of my Christmas lard. Positive thinking did nothing. A couple of eggs slathered in hot sauce (Marie Sharps from Belize) was a guilt-free start to the eating day. And then, after tossing in a load of laundry, I decided it was time for a 45 minute walk thorough this neigbourhood of mine.

I passed the kooky blossoming tree and snickered. I gave my best death-stare to a drug dealer standing at the corner. No bud today. Up Commercial Drive I strolled, past folks in the Italian coffee shops (I know this because of the large numbers of smoking Italians gathered outside in their Sunday best) and the nouveau-trendy in their berets (they're the ones who drive the Benz SUVs and buy coffee at Starbucks of all places. Note: Commercial Drive is the home to the best INDY coffee joints in the city. There are 20 of them and one StarYUCKS -- and people STILL hand their money over to the snobby barristas).

I also spotted people with snowboards, hippies eating organic breakfasts at Cafe Du Soliel and Cafe Deux Soliel, and even a clutch of homeless people in a makeshift room on top of a steam vent. They were discussing mad cow disease.

Past more dealers and trendoids I strolled. At JJ Bean, my other favourite coffee joint, I nabbed an Americano Misto and read Cleo Paskal's travel column in yesterday's National Post. This woman has my career!!!

An about face brought the sight of the North Shore mountains into view. The snow from yesterday is thick -- and covers much of the lower part of the mountains. Beautiful. And a nice contrast to the hundreds of car accidents last night, caused by the very rare snowfall (which was very very little down here at sea level).

A hobo held the door for me as I popped into the bank to sneak another $20 for my wallet. And before I knew it, I was snickering at the cheery cherry blossom tree and almost back home.

The sun is shining, and it saddens me that I must go into work at 2. But if I want to buy High Fidelity, its what I must do.

Hoo hoo!

Saturday, December 27, 2003

My border freak pal Jesper was just in Cyprus. While there, he was at the border between north and south, when the President showed up. The next day, Jesper appeared in the local paper in the background (with map and hand on hip).

Snowing this morning in Vancouver, but warm enough that it turns back to liquid upon hitting the ground. And there are more blossoms on the kooky cherry tree!

Friday, December 26, 2003

Boxing Day -- the day when fools line up to save a dollar or two on a CD. Bah!

But lets go back to last night: after work I had a lovely dinner with my pals Cheryl, Tom, Misty Moo, and more. It was nice to chow down on a traditional meal. And lots of stuffing. We watched the fireplace channel and talked about this and that. Winnipeg and the Whiteshell came up a lot as there were at least 4 people with those roots -- in addition to the other prairie folk. Just like being in Winnipeg, but warmer.

Today I was up early to finish watching Lord of the Rings (long boring story). While walking back from the video store around 9am, I happened to notice my favourite crazy tree -- a little cherry tree in Grandview Park -- already had blossoms. It did the same last year, but I think it was able to hold on until the first week of January.

Then it was off to another day in the newsroom. Can you say Iran earthquake?

Tonight -- drinks and festive fun with more pals... and then a nice sleep in... I don't work until 2 tomorrow.

You should have seen the crowds on Robson Street today -- more shoppers than I've ever seen in Vancouver and similar to the scene in New York on a normal day.

Gotta run!

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas!

And Merry Everything!

Today is the big day -- and the sun shines brightly here in Vancouver. The only snow is in the mountains, and the palm trees sway gently in the breeze. Hard to belive this is Canada.

The day started with a bit of a sleep in -- followed by a mad dash to open a few gifts ($, gift cards, instant breakfasts) followed by another mad dash to get to work. And now it is all plane crashes, suicide bombings and toxic gas clouds killing hundreds.

Ho Frickin' Ho! The calendar says joy to the world, yet the world says -- whatever!

Anyway, back to the death. At least at 6 I can walk away from all this depressing shit.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

T'was the night before Christmas;
And all through the day;
I sat writing news;
When I wished I could play!

It was a day of terrorist alerts, car accidents, mad cows and dead dogs. Boy, am I full of spirit!

Ah, its not that bad. The night will be quiet: a film and some dinner and some chats on the phone. Tomorrow, Christmas, I work. But only until 6 and then I'm having the standard dinner with friends.

Tonight, while walking up Commercial Drive, I thought of all the places I've been and the people I've met. Pretty lucky, all in all.

Would I change anything? Maybe some small things, but in general, nope. Not at all.

And thus, a little introspection on a Christmas Eve.

And to all, a good night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

There are no words for this.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Thus, we begin a festive link-o-rama.

Up first: some old friends from a galaxy far, far away....


One of the biggest complaints I have about radio is the lack of anything cool to listen to. So many stations either play shit or, they play the same shit that all the other stations are playing.

Luckily, there are some notable exceptions. My new favourite station is in Victoria, BC. It's on the campus of Camosun College... and branded as Village 900. It is available off-air in the lower mainland on 900am. The station also streams. Go to and click and let your ears feast to world music.

Also, check out KCRW in Santa Monica, California for cool new "modern" music. And KPLU in Seattle for some great Jazz. And harder edged stuff on KEXP, also in Seattle.

Cool-FM in Winnipeg is pretty decent too.

If you're looking to kill some time, try this:


Doug Murray becomes:


Fun, no?

Thanks to Randolph Eustace-Walden for the tip.

Monday, December 22, 2003

It's the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. Here in Vancouver that means sunny and +10. Perhaps I'll go for a bike ride. Or, at the very least, walk the Drive and get a nice Americano.

This is a rare day off... lots to do, but I think I will relax instead. I work 6 straight beginning tomorrow, and then one day off, followed by another 5 or 6. Great money, but tiring. It's been a good run at ol' CTV.

There isn't much else to blab about...

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Oh no! It's worse than we first thought!


The US has raised the terrorist threat. It is now:
Terror Alert Level

Last one with their head in the sand loses.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The fight with the hard drive continues. I ran a recovery program through the night, and while I can see a lot of files, there is a nasty bit of corrupt media that prevents access.

However, I am able to pull some of the files off the drive, but unfortunately most of them seem to be system and program files. That stuff I have backed up or on CD. I seem to be unable to find or retrieve any photos, documents or financial files.


I am running the program over and over again -- as I seem to get more access each time. In addition to that, there is a huge cluster of files that I can't get at. Methinks that they are all my documents, photos, and excel files.

It's Saturday as well -- and I am at work. Here until midnight and then -- back again tomorrow. The early part of the day was spent getting Christmas decorations, groceries, playing data retrieval man, and doing this and that. Not the most relaxing Saturday. And certainly not the most interesting to write about.

I shall stop.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Friday night in the newsroom... lots of Christmas stories. Lots of accidents on the scanner. Ah, the most wonderful time of year. Retail down! Flu up! Run and hide from the terrorists! Yikes, nothing is safe. Put down that fruitcake and run for your lives....

Wow. Am I tired.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Up, down, up, down.

The Bad: As much as it pains me to say this, I just received an email from National Geographic. Seems they think the EU border thing is such a great idea that they're doing a full blown story. And that means they're assigning a photog and that means that they're not going with my image(s). The discussions continue, and since there was a deal -- they may pay part or all of the fee. However, the money is not the important thing: the credit of being in the magazine is. Bummer, sure. But completely beyond my control. Maybe positive thoughts will make something better come of it.

The Good: CBC just called and I am to go in training in the newsroom the first week of January. We're still working out the fiscal details, but seeing as though my run at CTV is ending Jan 4, it's perfect timing.

The Ugly: Still without my computer -- so I am at the library catching up on business email (and catching God knows what from this keyboard).

The Christmas shopping is finally done. And shipped. I no longer have a concern in the world regarding the festive holiday non-gender specific season. Other than decorating the house and getting a tree.

And so it goes...

My Powerbook remains in the shop... this means that I am internet deprived at home these days. Not that this is a bad thing. It's given me a chance to spend more time with the kids.

Wait... I don't have kids.

Oh oh!

I must access the net via work... and I often have very little time to check mail and surf porn without someone looking over my shoulder.

The latest news is that my photos are going up in Caffe Barney (South Granville St., Vancouver) for the month of January. They certainly have the right clientel. Hopefully some (or all) of my framed work will move.

12:15am here in the newsroom at CTV -- I must run and get the bus. I feel soooo successful.


Saturday, December 13, 2003

Pandy finally aired! After recording the elements in April, it was nice to hear the piece being broadcast across our great Dominion. I listened to my feed of CBC Halifax and heard the broadcast 4 hours earlier than in Vancouver. God love satellite television (and radio).

If you missed it, and want to hear it (and have a PC), go to the CBC DNTO ON DEMAND website (click here) and then hit "load this weeks selection." Then click on the 6th item from the left (2nd documentary icon), drag to the player and click play. And you should hear it. After December 19th, it will be archived somewhere on the same site.

If you own a Mac, forget it. DNTO is not Mac compatable. I will post the file on my homepage (file sharing) as soon as I get up and running at home.

And speaking of the broken Powerbook -- the drive is dead, but I'm getting a new one under warranty. However, it may cost about $60 to recover the data. I'll try and get that discounted if I can.

Well, local news calls. The life of a freelancer on a Saturday night. Woo frickin' hoo!


PS: And check out the Christmas tree in the Estonian city of Narva -- on the Estonia-Russia border. We were there drinking beer this summer....

Friday, December 12, 2003

The latest on the Powerbook is not great. Its in the shop. The problem is still TBA.

Not having internet access sucks. Really sucks.

Other than that, things are swell. The Pandy radio piece FINALLY airs on CBC Radio 1's Definitely Not The Opera -- tomorrow, Sat Dec 13 -- around 3-4pm LOCAL time anywhere in Canada. Except The Rock.

I will record it an paste a link eventually.

Work continues. Recorded another CBC Radio interview this morning. At CTV tonight. Tuesday I am meeting with Caffe Barney, a cool place to eat and hang on Granville Street. The purpose is to try and get my photos in there. That could be as early as January. I have many that are framed, and I might as well start selling them!



Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Where the hell have you been?

I can hear you asking that. Well, I have been in computer hell.

This is nothing new, of course. I have been in and out of computer hell since I owned a VIC20. But now, my youthful Powerbook seems to be on the fritz. More specificially, the hard drive seems like its either a) really corrupted or b) really frigged.

Luckily I have an external drive and I've been able to get the computer up and running with that. But, I might have lost everything on my internal drive -- photos, emails, music, porn. The whole gamut. Luckily, I backed most of this stuff up at the end of October, so its not a total loss. But still, I've downloaded a lot of porn in the past 30+ days. Most of my footage, webstuff and other bits of data were backed up on another drive. Whew.

But there is still a lot that could go poof! Like all my programs. The results of this failure will be revealed here in the coming days. Cross those toes.

On a positive note, my friends at CTV called me in for two extra days this week. This means a grand total of 6 this week. Can you say overtime?

The BC Ferry workers are on strike... bastards. Today they've shut the entire system down. Gee, who pays the price for that? Management? No. The poor folks that have to deal with a rotten ferry system in the first place. When will unions realize that they get absolutely no support when they screw over the public?

On that note, I'm off to get some Christmas cards... what a life!


Friday, December 05, 2003

It's winter in the greatest city in the world.

Ok, the second greatest. This is the greatest.

The end of the week. Wow, does it ever go fast!

Tonight is the annual Vancouver television media's blooper party. Basically, all the new folks from the television stations get together for dinner and drinks -- and to watch each other's blooper tapes. It is a really cool event -- because it is the one time of the year that everyone can get together and laugh at themselves. And others. Last year, there were also police spokespeople and others in attendance. We'll see who has the best bloopers...

It's another rainy and gray day. I spent much of the morning in Turk's revising the Hockey in Belize story for the Straight. Next I have to write about the Great Baltic Border Expedition. I hope to have both put to bed by the middle of next week. I will need too, as I begin a long stretch of days at CTV News.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the CTV Christmas Party -- though for politically correct reasons, it is called something like the Holiday Festive Season Party. Whatever. I have to work all day, but the bash is basically across the street from the station, so it will be easy to get to.

Getting home will be a little more difficult. Although we are being provided with taxi chits, it is often impossible to get a cab at this time of year. The City of Vancouver has a finite number of cab licenses and on rainy nights, the holiday season, and whenever there is a big event downtown (like a hockey game) -- cabs become scarce as brains in George Bush.

I'm sure that the cab companies love the artificial demand created by the limit on the number of cabs. But when you're trying to hail one, hammered, in the rain, in December -- it sucks!


Thursday, December 04, 2003

Not in the festive spirit yet? Let me assist:


Be patient! It takes a bit to load.

ho ho ha ha

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Weird day today.

It started at 6:30am. Due to self-imposed delays, I was feeling the pressure to get my CBC Radio piece on Hockey in Belize finished. I planned to sit back, laptop on lap, and cut away all morning. Simple, right?


The Gods had different plans.

First, I had lots of weird things happen in the editor -- Final Cut Pro. These are new, and methinks they are due to upgrading to Mac's new OS: Panther. Growl!

After Jaguar, I was hoping for Cougar. Suppose that's next, and it'll be kind of attractive after a couple of beers.

Anyway, after the software weirdness, I was able to get to the point of dumping the edited story to disk. Except my CD writing software will not even load up. More OS problems with Fluffy. After much grumpiness, I was able to find a way around the problem -- but the CD burn wasn't a sound file -- it was a data file.

Next attempt was an actual sound file, but in mono. Ugh!

Finally I was able to output the damn story and then, as a reward, I went for a feed of Salmon Sashimi at Sushi Garden, in beautiful Burnaby, BC.

Later, I had to go to CBC to drop off the disk, and then run up to CTV to get my tickets for the Christmas party. On the way, (it's only a 6 block walk), I happened upon an odd scene. In front of the telephone company building, an older man with a cane and a younger man in a nice coat were screaming at each other. A small group had gathered to watch the show.

In short order, the screaming turned into wrestling. And then into blows being exchanged. And then, finally, the old guy started whacking the younger guy with the cane. The scene was quickly going from amusing to scary.

All of a sudden the old guy whacks the other guy in the head with the cane. He delivered the blow with such force that the cane (a big thick wooden model), broke. It's a wonder the young guy's head didn't also break. But talk about blood. It was a truly festive scene, all this red stuff on the sidewalk. A little cotton, and it would have looked like a chalk drawing of Santa.

Several people called 9-1-1 and I continued my odyssey to CTV, thinking about the two free drink tickets I was about to snag.

On the way back, the old guy was on the ground, handcuffed by one of several officers now taking statements from witnesses. Paramedics were attending to the younger guy.

I have no idea what the whole scene was about, but it made me thankful that the worst thing in my life this day were the frustrations with my computer. I certainly didn't have anyone whacking me with a cane.

The evening ended with a Night Of Artists meeting. We sat around planning our big show this summer, and discussing potential sponsors for the event. There were 3 dogs and lots of snacks and wine. And no canes.



Monday, December 01, 2003

December 1st -- this is the day that most of us realize that Christmas is actually on the horizon. It is not another mall display, set up far to early. It is not the blaring blandness of Christmas FM. Nor is it the duplicated blaring blandness of CISL Christmas Hits 650. (Yes, sad but true, Vancouver now has 2 all Christmas Music radio stations -- with a Bremerton, Washington station offering yet a third option! ) God rest our souls.

But back to where we were a paragraph ago. It is December 1st, and that means that I have suddenly become aware of the Canada Post deadlines to mail cards to foreign lands. And we're not talking about Bremerton! We're talking Denmark, Australia, and Abbostford.

So, I decided that it was time to run off and get some cards, in the hopes of getting them in the mail today, and thus hoping to gave them delivered before Chaunaka Harry's dreidel deliveries. (I am attempting to be inclusive and diverse).

I went to Urban Empire, a funky store on Commercial Drive that sells all kinds of goofy stuff and really cool cards. And while I was there, I experienced one of the funniest things this month: the owner was ordering new stock. She was on the phone to her supplier and her conversation went something like this:

"Yes... that's 6 Jesus. Or Jesusi. Or is it Jesuses?"
"And a dozen pig catapults."
"A dozen Bendy Hindus."
"And only 2 penis cake forms. Just 2. They're not selling that well."

Needless to say I laughed my ass off...