Thursday, December 30, 2004

from the thank God it's almost over dept.

What a week. Start with the joy of Christmas. And then at least 125,000 people die.

So... do something nice. Send some money to one of the charitable organizations here:

See. Do.


Cheese and Crackers: Tsunami Video

Cheese and Crackers: Tsunami Video

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Gone: In more ways than one

It's the week before Christmas and all through my life is change and upheaval but very little strife.

It's so busy that I must revert to the dastardly point form. It may not be the world's greatest communication tool, but it gets the point(s) across.

- I am pretty much moved out of the Commercial Drive home I've been sharing for 2 months. The majority of my belongings are at the new place, but I won't follow until the early new year because...

- Beginning tonight I am house-sitting for friends who live around Main & 2nd. The only drag is...

- My car is dead. So I had to rent a truck to move ($) and now I must rely on cab$ to get the last bits of stuff (computer, et al) over to Don & Linda's (aka Main & 2nd)... but that's fine because...

- It means I will actually get some peace and quiet and the opportunity to sleep in. Not that there is a lot of time to do that....

- I am doing turn around tonight, then early starts Thur and Fri. Off Sat. Nights Sun. Then 6am starts next week at CBC, plus one double shift. UGH! But that goes towards...

- Debt reduction and the Central American adventure in Feb... where you can buy...

- Flor de Cana rum - but !ALERT! I have spotted it in the Cambie Street Liquor Store. Meaning the nectar that is like drinking the tears of angels is now available locally -- no long flight to Belize required. And that is...

- About all the point form news. More to come once I am settled.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Tons to tell, but time is fleeting.

3 days on Galiano. Now back.

All good. More to come.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

from the "There Goes the Retirement" dept.

It's official. Apple has opened the Canadian iTunes music store.

Now the question is: will the content be limited to Anne Murray, Crowbar and Rene Simard?

Time will tell!


from the "Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Dept.

I had a bad dream: George replaced Paul.

"My Fellow Canadians. We have put up with the threat of St. Pierre et Miquelon for long enough.

Effective immediately, we will take the islands over, and remove the threat of cheap French wine.

God Bless Me, and God Bless Amer... er, Canada."

Monday, November 29, 2004

from the "Why Am I Not Doing This Full Time" dept.

My item on tne American Museum of Radio and Electricity appears in the December 2nd edition of the Georgia Straight. But you can read it here first!



The Golden Age of Radio (and Electricity) is still alive and well in Bellingham
By Doug Murray

With the U.S. dollar falling like a stone against the Canadian dollar, American destinations are once again becoming affordable. Boston, Boca Raton, Bellingham.

Granted, when most people think of heading down I-5 to Bellingham, they’re either focused on Seattle or have designs on cheap socks at the Bellis Fair Mall.

But there is a not-so-hidden gem of a destination, just off the interstate in Bellingham.

The American Museum of Radio and Electricity is located in the centre of downtown Bellingham. Surrounded by small shops and restaurants, it makes a great day trip from either Vancouver or Seattle.

Bellingham (pop. 70,000) is a lot livelier than you might think. Improv guru Ryan Styles has just opened the Upfront Theatre and the Boundary Bay Bistro has been brewing great things since 1995. And it’s just an hour from Vancouver.

The first thing you notice about Bellingham is the bohemian flavour of the restored downtown core. You see so much long hair and hemp clothing that, if not for the lack of pot odour, you’d swear you were on Commercial Drive.

But the museum stands alone. In fact, it stands out.

The museum seems to take up a full city block. Out front, the art deco design announces the museum and large windows feature examples of the treasures that lie within.

I felt like I was going back to another time from the moment I angle-parked outside and dropped a quarter into the meter for a full hour of parking.

Inside, the history of both radio and electricity are presented as a storyline. As you walk through the museum, you see four centuries of really cool science.

The two driving forces behind the museum share not only a love of radio and electricity – they share the same first name.

Jonathan Winter and John Jenkins are the museum’s co-curators. Both have been fascinated with radio and electricity since they were kids.

The museum got its start when Winter settled in Bellingham to put down some roots. He decided to take his personal collection of vintage radios public and, in the mid-90s, opened the small Bellingham Antique Radio Museum.

John Jenkins was born Bellingham. He spent many years in the computer field, before retiring from Microsoft in 2001.

Like Jonathan, he spent his childhood playing with radios – ripping them apart and putting them together. He began to collect radios and also pieces from the early days of electricity – another subject that fascinated him.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago when Jenkins’ his mother told him a shocking secret – there was a small radio museum in Bellingham. He was amazed – how could there be one without his knowledge? He drove from his home in Seattle to Bellingham and met Jonathan.

“We realized that by joining forces with the two collections we could create a world class museum,” Jenkins says.

Bellingham may seem an odd choice for this kind of museum, but to them it made perfect sense. Winter still lives there and Jenkins wanted to give something back to the community he was raised in.

In this case, size does not matter. “It could be a major attraction in any major city in the world, the collection is certainly worthy of that,” Jenkins explains.

True – being located on I-5 is a good place to be: Vancouver just up the road, Seattle just down it. And two blocks away, the Whatcom Museum gets 100,000 visitors a year. “So there are plenty of visitors,” Jenkins says.

Walking into the 23,000 sq. ft. facility, you’re struck by just how big the collection is.

It is a unique museum, says Jenkins. “The breadth and depth of the collection – there really isn’t anywhere that tells the complete story of the development of radio and electricity from the beginning.”

Hundreds of vintage radios on display, as well as hundreds of artifacts from the early scientific exploration of electricity. Many of the pieces can only be seen elsewhere at places like the Smithsonian. Some are one-of-a-kind.

The Dawn of the Electrical Age features rare items from the 17th and 18th centuries. Much of the equipment comes from the study of electricity, and they’ve recreated the kind of lab that Ben Franklin might have used when he conducted his famous kite experiment.

Over in the Marconi wireless room the story of the Titanic is told. Built around an original Marconi wireless set, the display is an exact replica of the Titanic’s radio room.
It’s eerie to hear a description of the Titanic’s last moments as it clipped an iceberg and sank into the icy North Atlantic. Don’t worry, Celine doesn’t sing!

If design is your thing, the collection of radios from the last century will have you spellbound. Some of the radios don’t even look like radios – they’re cleverly disguised as statues and vases.

Turn the corner and suddenly you’re sitting in a 1930s living room, staring at the radio and visualizing the adventures of the Lone Ranger.

The museum takes the experience one step further. They have a special system of internal broadcasting that lets them feed six different stations through the electrical wires. Each station broadcasts different vintage content – so when visitors twirl the tuning knob on the big radio, they surf though the stations and programs just like in the old days.

Education is a priority at the museum. “One of the things we’re trying to do is expose the process of discovery,” Jenkins tells me. “One of the ways of getting kids interested in science is to help them understand that inventions don’t just happen in a single “Eureka!” moment. It’s a lot of trial and error and a lot of hard work. “

The hands-on approach means that kids – and adults – can learn by doing.

Winter points out some of what he calls the “Holy Grails” of the collection: one-of-a-kind and extremely rare pieces – like the Collins Wireless Telephone.

Built in 1909, it was billed as the first device to transmit sounds without wires. After the invention of the telegraph and the telephone, radio was touted as the next big thing and investors were looking to get in on the ground floor. Collins went on the road with his device, saying it was the future of communication.

In demonstrations, the wireless telephone worked wonders. Conversations seemed to be taking place across great distances. In reality, the other party was 6 inches away in the next room. The wireless telephone was just a scam used to sucker investors.

Another bizarre item is the Theremin. It’s the world’s first electronic musical instrument, invented in 1919. It looks like a preachers pulpit with two antennas sticking out. One controls pitch, the other volume.

To play it, you wave your hand over the antennas – this changes the pitch and volume. A lot of skill is needed to be able to play it correctly, otherwise the beautiful music that it produces sounds more like a handheld metal detector. Or Kraftwerk.

The museum is one of the few places that actually allow visitors to play the instrument.

In January, the museum will become a radio station when WAMR-FM signs on, featuring vintage newscasts, plays and music along with some original programming. The station will also stream to the world via the internet.

Not bad for what started as a little collection in a small city off the interstate – and much more interesting than buying socks at Target.


American Museum of Radio and Electricity
1312 Bay Street
Bellingham, Washington 98225

Take I-5 south to exit 253, Lakeway Drive. Then follow the signs.

Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 4pm and by appointment.
Admission: US$4, children $2.


Friday, November 26, 2004

from the "Get Offa Dat Bus!" dept.

I wandered down to the bus stop today, anticipating that I would cross paths again with the mysterious Sandra. I was there early - and I had a business card at the ready in case it was another brief encounter.

There was no encounter.

Does this mean I've blown it? Who know. Does this mean I'll be hanging around the 15th and Granville bus stop at 3pm again? Probably. Although it will be a little more difficult when I am back on Commercial Drive.

Still - it's kind of fun to let fate do its thing.

And - I might have a special greeting in the "I saw you" section of the Straight.

Other news: the writing of the radio story is going slow. Saturday I am working on a film for most of the day, so the time is really ticking down. It still doesn't have to be done until Tuesday... but I'd like to put it to bed now.

I guess that will happen tomorrow. Sunday I'm back at the plant and relocating to the Drive.

Speaking of that... its official. I am moving again. Jan 1 I will reside with Cheryl, Tom, Bryan and Misty the dawg.

And the expenses drop yet again!


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Fate II

Fate Chapter 1 occurred in the winter of 2001-2. It involved a leap of faith, a woman in Toronto, and affairs of the heart.

Chapter 1 is closed. A chance taken, a lesson learned.

Fate appears to be happening again. Fate II, I reckon.

On Wednesday, I was waiting for the bus at the corner of Granville and West 15th. Regular readers will know that I am house sitting at my friend Lisa’s place.

Wednesday was also a day off. The plan was to do some work at home, then meet up with Cheryl, Tom, Ed, and Millie and go see The Incredibles (my second time). We would meet at the Lennox Pub at 3 o’clock.

I knew we’d probably have a pint or two (it turned out to be many) so I elected to take the bus. Hence, standing and waiting for one at about 2:40pm.

I was wearing my iPod and listening to the Eels. There was a woman standing at the stop, and she turned to look at me as I strode up. She said something, but I couldn’t hear.

I pulled out the earphones and she repeated “Are you watching TV on that thing.”

Then she laughed and pointed to the VTV logo on my jacket and asked if I worked in the biz.

We had a short chat – I mentioned that I worked at several places and VTV – now CTV – was only one of them. She mentioned that she had been interviewed at one point – and that she was in the area doing homecare for a patient with MS.

A bus pulled up and we boarded. I took a double seat halfway up – she sat closer to the front.

Across from me was a fellow CTV employee – a part-timer whose name escapes me. He asked if I was going to work and I explained that I was meeting friends for a film. We then continued to chat about this and that. I noticed the woman looking back once or twice.

I got off at the corner of Granville and Robson… as did mystery woman and the guy from work. She wished me a nice day at the movies and said she was off for a swim. “Bye, TV Guy,” she said as she walked up the street.

I waked with my co-worker to the corner and he said he noticed that the mystery woman had been looking at me a lot on the bus. He thought she was definitely interested.

So today, Thursday – I was scheduled to work nights with a start time of 3:30pm. Curious about mystery woman I decided that I would take the bus to work today – in the off chance of seeing MW again.

At 2:45 I was standing there, waiting. No sign of MW. A #10 Hastings bus came by… and I climbed aboard. And guess who was getting off… MW!

“Hey TV Guy,” she said as she climbed off the bus. “Off to work?”

I said yes – and wondered if I should skip this bus… but decided that this was kind of fun. Or I was being stupid. We’ll see.

As I climbed aboard, she asked my name… and I asked hers, Sandra.

I thought again that I should wheel around and talk more. But didn’t. I paid my fare and the bus driver laughed and said “Thanks, Doug.”

This sort of thing never happens in Vancouver!

So… what next? Well, I work nights at CTV tomorrow, so I think I will head down to the bus stop a wee bit early… and I will definitely suggest a phone number exchange and a coffee this weekend.

And if she’s not there tomorrow… well… then that’s fate!


Monday, November 22, 2004

from the "I Was Sure There Was A City Here Somewhere" dept.

The weekend was a blessing: no work, my own place, and the Grey Cup.

It was rare to be able to just chill out on the weekend, though in reality it was quite busy.

Randy and I went for breakfast and discussed our love of secret cities and conspiracy theories.

Secret Cities

This is some very cool stuff. Good reading. And there is lots more out there!

I finally got to see Control Room, the doc about Al Jazeera. This followed dinner at 5 Point (Main Street) with Marsha. We then went to her place to see the film.

Sunday... I hung around the old neighbourhood (South Granville) and played with the camera. I intend to re-launch my "alphabet" project -- shooting all the letters of an alphabet in a neighbourhood and then creating a poster from it. ie: The South Granville Alphabet.

I hooked up with Ed and Millie -- who are visiting from London, ON. They're in the throes of buying a house, even though they plan on staying in London for a few more years. They have no doubt they want to return. And they'll rent out their purchase in the interim.

Then we were off to Cheryl and Tom and Bryan's to watch the Grey Cup. The big game was in Ottawa with the B.C. Lions the odds-on-favourite to stomp the Toronto Argonauts into dust.

The first few minutes of the game were great with B.C. getting on the board almost immediately.

And then it went downhill from there. B.C. just couldn't get it together. And a few hours later, we were crying in our beer, nachos and chili.

The idea of me moving into the C-T-B house came up again. And, I think that I will be moving yet again. For several reasons, but the big one is $. Living there for the short term means I can save even more money and that means more debt reduction or, conversely, more travel.

I think it will happen in December. I am house sitting for the final two weeks of December, so that is when I would begin to ferry stuff from the other place.

The location is more remote than the current place -- but it is on the major bus line and with my weird hours, commuting will be minimal. And its a $15-20 cab ride home on those rare nights out.

The bonus is that rent includes food. So, 2 days work at CBC will basically cover the lions share of my monthlies -- leaving the possibility of serious debt reduction. It also makes taking all of Feb (and then some) off as well as May totally doable.

It means getting sticking €300 in the bank (I finally found a Euro account at HSBC) every 2 weeks. At that rate, I should have plenty banked for May.

I still have my radio article to write (due in a week)... and CBC booked me for an additional day in December and there may be more to come. My little window of time off is rapidly disappearing.

I hope to be able to take a few days over the week of Dec 14th to chill out before the nutty Christmas period. If I'm not working, I'll be out at various bashes. I'll be one tired Vancouverite by Jan 3. So a few days in paradise would be most welcome before the craziness.

I'm still housesitting at Lisa's which has been a blessing. I only wish I wasn't working so much so I could enjoy it more. But better this than the opposite.

Here's a cool site for sending retro-telegrams. Have fun!


Thursday, November 18, 2004

The first sale!

The BorderFilmsStore has made its first non-Doug sale: someone in France bought a set of postcards. And I made US$4.

This is good...


The week winds down... the hopes are raised

Thursday. And it's a slow night in the newsroom.

It's been an interesting week.

On Monday and Tuesday, I was working days. In the evening, I didn't do much, but that doesn't mean there wasn't much going on.

In fact Tuesday night I was awoken by a little domestic squabble at the new place. Nothing major, but - wow - is this ever a change from having my own place to call home. It's all about cost reductions however.

Wed through Friday is nightshift. Last night was ok. Tonight is slow as hell. But there is good news: I am housesitting for my friend Lisa for the next two weeks, so I will get my own space again. This will be a nice treat.

I am also off on the weekend - and will be able to attend Grey Cup festivities at another friend's place.

This seems awful disjointed.

Anyway: I heard from the big art book published Taschen today. They want more info and samples of my border images. I've just started down this road, so who knows where it will lead. A book would be nice. :)

And there is a date for my next Georgia Straight piece: December 2nd. I have 1200 words to write about the radio museum in Bellingham, WA. And a little on Bellingham too. This is good, and some more cash to stick into the Belize or Europe account.

Or better yet, this:

or this:

If the links don't work, let me explain that both items are drool enducing lenses for my camera. One is $750 the other is close to $2000. Keeee-ripes!

Anyways... best go look busy!


Monday, November 15, 2004

It's official: the BorderFilms store is open!

A limited selection of clothing and border related items (including a swanky calendar) are up for sale.

That has taken up most of my time... all weekend, in fact. Now its back to the various newsrooms.


Friday, November 12, 2004

Friday.... aaaah.

It was a long week. 7am starts at, 6am yesterday. With the short days, I find the early starts take their toll. Around 8pm, I feel like its bedtime. Blame sunsets at 4:45pm. And we're still 6 weeks from the shortest day of the year.

On the flipside, its been warm. I'm done work early and that means I can catch sunset on the beach.

The last few mornings have been foggy, which makes for an interesting looking city.

The weekend has arrived. A good thing. Lots to do: border calendar, write article on Radio Museum, taxes (always the damn taxes), and maybe a little R&R.

Back to CTV next week... dayshift on Monday and Tuesday. Nights the remainder.

How exciting!

A terrible accident on a local freeway made everyone stop and think: live for today, because there may be no tomorrow.

That's nice, but I'm tired and going to bed.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Who's sorry now...

Courtesy Dean Allen and - Which you should check out, if for no other reason than daily Oliver!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

What George Bush Thinks of the Rest of the World

Time-lapse Commercial Drive

I wish I could take credit for this! Click on the above!

The New Map - If only it were true!

Sunday is a day of rest... but not for me!

Work beckons at 2pm. And there are 5 more days following.

The rain continues, although there is still a lot of green around. Some flowers too. Winter is here, but it really won't get much worse.

The sadness from election night lingers. The world hasn't come screeching to a halt, but there sure is a pall cast over it.

Pres. Goofball will be inaugurated soon. I only hope the scene of 2000 is repeated - but with more eggs and tomatoes.

If nothing else, history will judge Mr. Bush harshly. And one main reason: 9-11 happened on his watch. As many point out - if that happened on anyone else's watch, there would be no way in hell they'd be re-elected. They'd probably been tossed from office.

Not Georgie boy. I still don't get it...


Friday, November 05, 2004

Phew! The $500 car keeps on ticking and rattling and shimmying...


It turns out that the engine wasn't blown after all.

I popped the hood early this morning, not knowing what to expect. There, dangling before me, was a spark plug still attached to a spark plug wire.

For some reason, the spark plug had been blown out of the engine.

I attempted to screw the spark plug back in, but was only able to turn it a couple of times by hand. I gave up, replaced the wire, and prepared to drive to Port Moody for a 8am shoot.

The car started and ran OK. And then: BANG! I assume the engine spit out the spark plug again.

Not to be dismayed, I put the bucket of bolts into gear. It made a hell of a racket - but it worked.

And, in no time, I was bombing down the Barnett highway at 150 decibels per minute.

I even arrived on location early!

The shoot went well - and by 3pm we were finished.

After we struck everything, it was back into the car - and off to Canadian Tire for a new spark plug, spark plug wrench, and some hand cleaner!

I installed the new plug - and voila! - everything was as good as new.

The $500 car keeps ticking... this months payment: $14.


Death of the $500 Car?

Oh oh...

Later today (or tomorrow, depending on one's point of view), I have a shoot out in Port Moody.

Thur/9:45pm - At work, my pal Gary (who is shooting Friday - I am doing sound) joked about picking me up along the Barnett Highway should my car die.

Friday / 12:14am - As I crossed the Georgia Viaduct on the way home -- BLAM! -- something serious let go. Not sure what, but it sounds like a blown muffler. Except it now runs rough and a loud chugga-chugga blares from under the hood.

Friday / 12:20am - Make it home, car does not stall. Smoke (exhaust?) appears from under hood. I go to check under hood, but noise is too loud. Fear disturbing neighbours. Kill engine. Try to restart - it starts.

So... either my $500 car has kicked the bucket, or I have blown something in the exhaust system (pipe? manifold?).


Dilemma: Try and drive to Port Moody tomorrow... or... ?

Must... sleep... now....

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Night Disaster

I have never been so happy to call Canada home.

It is not a perfect country, but it is my home and I love it.

I have just returned from 24 hours of a roller coaster adventure in Bellingham, Washington. I wanted to experience the US election first hand. And I wanted to see George Bush and his war mongering isolationist get their asses kicked out of office.

It looked like it would happen. And then it didn't. And then it did. And then... well, you know the rest.

Around noon on election day, my pal Ted Shredd picked me up. He runs a website called Discover Fun and he wanted to do a piece for the site (which has an international audience) on how to have fun during an election.

I had a secondary reason for going south - to do a story on the American Museum of Radio.

12:00 - Ted pulls up in his Honda Accord, emblazoned with Discover Fun logos.

12:05 - We're headed south through heavy traffic to Bellingham, which is only about an hour away.

12:45 - US Customs: We take the truck crossing because the line-ups are usually shorter here than the Peace Arch crossing. I had checked some of the online border cameras before we left, and there didn't seem to be much volume.

There wasn't.

We pulled into the customs plaza which has about 6 lanes open for cars headed south. There is all sorts of weird new security stuff here too... scanners and sniffers and liberal detectors.

But there were no cars. The entire plaza was empty. No traffic what-so-ever. Did the rest of the world know something we didn't?

The woman at customs was friendly - and we joked about the line-ups. Ted says the way to get through customs with a minimum of hassle is to ask a question first... that creates a more conversational environment and reduces the chance of a Texas-style anal probe.

Within seconds we had crossed the 49th and were heading straight into election day hi-jinks in America.

Washington State leans heavily Democrat, so we didn't expect a lot of pro-Bush signs. And there wasn't a lot of signs anyway. Little pockets of support here and there, but nothing crazy.

1:00 - I-5 Southbound: I call Jonathan Winter at the American Museum of Radio to let him know that we've made it into the country. The plan is to meet with at the museum to do an interview and snap some images for my story on the museum.

1:45 - We arrive at the museum and I proceed to interview the two Johns about the facility. I snap a few dozen pictures - trying to learn how to use the new camera to produce publishable pictures.

3:00 - The interviews done, Ted and I head to the Best Western Lakeside Inn. This is not only our hotel for the night, it is also the site of the local Democratic party.

3:04 - We pass many people waving signs - mostly Democratic. Ted remarks that he doubts signwaving on election day would convince someone to switch their vote.

3:07 - We discover a massive puddle in the parking lot of the hotel. Ted drives through this several times while I snap photos.

3:10 - Check in to hotel, discover that we cannot get FoxNews or Comedy Central. But we do get CTV Vancouver, which will show the Daily Show election special.

3:20 - Head to conference room and make contact with local Dems. Not much dressing in the room, but a few big screens. Organizer promises lots of signs. Appears to be a buffet too.

4:00 - Food! We need food! After goofing around will hotel staff, we head out in search of food.

4:03 - We find a place... it'll be a NAFTA meal: Canadians eating at a Mexican joint in America.

5:00 - Bueno! Good skoff.

5:05 - Roll out of eatery with American-sized bellies, return to the hotel.

5:10 - Pass a group of female Kerry supporters dressed up in tight fitting Stars and Stripes and Union Jack outfits. Stop. Chat. Take pictures. We are told that they plan to join the party at the hotel.

5:15 - Flake out and digest.

7:00 - Daily Show election special starts. Very funny.

7:30 - Head down to the big party room. There is still a lack of flags, banners and signs. But the buffet looks like it has potential. There is just one bar, and a long line of hopeful Democrats has formed behind it.

We start to wander around and meet people. There is Joe, from the local news-talk radio station. He's a one-man band - setting up to do live reports from the party. He talks about the current state of radio and how politics has polarized talk radio. His station has a conservative bent, but he seems reasonable on most issues.

The place is filling up fast - and there are few seats left. Ted and I decide to join a table of young folks. One, Gabriel, is a dead-ringer for an 18-year-old Beck. His politics are definitely left, as are all the others at the table. This should come as no surprise, considering where we are.

We have a level headed chat about America and the world today. It is heartening to meet and talk to Americans, who are proud of their country - but also have a world view and clear thinking. You'd be hard pressed to tell these guys from a table of Canadians.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's election day in the USA.

And, it is really an election for the entire world.

In reality that last statement may be a little strong. I think when you peel back the layers, there isn't much difference between Kerry or Bush. But on the surface, it seems like the difference between good and evil. In reality it's more like Coke or Pepsi.


The world perceives Bush as a war mongering, dumb, isolationist tyrant, puppet whose strings are controlled by the unseen forces of darkness.

And Mr. Kerry is seen as the Vietnam vet (volunteer, no less) who believes in his country, but not blindly in it's politics. A man who speaks up and challenges wrongdoers.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

But - as someone who is as American as you can get with out being an actual American - I think that they are lost down there. Scared. Lied to. Wondering why the world hates them.

"What did I do? I'm just a soccer mom who watches E.R."

No wonder they get kookier everyday. US news is nothing but a smorgasbord of fear, disaster and death. There is no BBC. No CBC. It's all polarized. And it's all frightening.

And today, they - including the soccer mom - have a chance to change things. Like I said, the leaders aren't that different. The parties aren't that different. But the perception is.

And the world needs to perceive that America is ready to change its ways. Even if it's a smoke screen.

Things are going to get worse. There will be more bombs, more deaths, more craziness if you know who gets in for another 4 years.

It's too bad there isn't a viable 3rd candidate. Someone like Crusty the Clown or Bender.

But alas, in the cradle of democracy, that is not to be.

America IS a great country. Look at all the music, the books, the films. They gave us The Simpsons! How can you hate a country with that sort of sense of humour? Sure, they also gave us Extreme Makeover, but that's another story.

In just moments I am heading to America to be an unofficial observer. I'm going to a small town in Washington State called Bellingham. It is only an hour from the border... but a world away.

I'll be with the Democrats as the results pour in. I hope Kerry wins. But I doubt we'll know tonight. With all the talk about cheating and discounted votes... it may be a while before we know if the election is stolen again.

For great coverage, check often. There is actual news there that is found no where else.

A full report tomorrow!


Monday, November 01, 2004

One day left

It's been a crazy couple of days... and my blogging has been falling behind. Here's a bit of a summary:

Friday 10.29: Bought the Nikon D70 digital SLR. Pretty amazing. As of today I have taken more than 1000 images. This could be problematic... taking too many images and keeping too many images. I'm going a little nuts, simply because I can - and I am experimenting. I'm pretty sure that in a while, it'll be back to shooting with film in terms of quantity of images -- but I will be shooting more often.

I am trying to figure out a way to post pictures online easily and without filling up my .mac account. It's time to find more resources for this. Like StockPhotosOnline! Ha ha... sigh...

Saturday 10.30: It was time for my 4th annual Parade of Lost Souls party. It was fortunate that I had moved back to the area... as it just wouldn't have worked in Deep Cove.

The Parade of Lost Souls is a large community hallowe'en bash... quite amazing in that it is a great family event (meaning no mullet topped drunks around to spoil things) and that the police stay away and that everyone has a great time. Thousands were out this year... and I have plenty of images to share. Soon.

We started out by meeting at my place, and then 10 or so of us went to take part in the procession of costume clad folks through the streets of East Vancouver. Lots of fire, drumming, and positive vibes. Best event of the year, hands down.

After the parade, we headed to Nick's to pig out on pasta. And then back to my place to wind the evening down. My costume? King of Evil, although I wish I dressed up like this:

As an added bonus, the rain stayed far away...

Sunday 10.31: Officially hallowe'en, I had to get together with my CTV collegues to work on an independent film. We shot at a downtown office building for several hours. It was an amazing day... cool but clear. Even though we're well into fall, many of the trees have yet to turn colour. And, of course, there are still plenty of flowers blooming. It's an odd place.

At 2, I had to get to work... another day of local news. It was nuts -- Halloween typically brings out a million arsonists - so the scanners are a constant stream of fire calls... portapottys, pic nic tables, garages, cars, schools, houses, trees... you name it. But most of the fires are small and are doused quickly -- making it hard to capture video of the mayhem.

I was thankful by the time 11pm hit.

Today: Well, the big news is that it is one day before the US election. The plan is to head down tomorrow morning. I have to do some interviews at the American Museum of Radio... and then my pal Ted Shredd and I will be partying with the democrats... and hopefully celebrating a Kerry win.

Kerry better not be the devil in a blue dress... that's all I can say.

As for the rest of this day, I am off, but taking care of business. It's pouring outside... so I reckon I will remain inside...

If you want the best links to US political news, check out:


Friday, October 29, 2004

Capsule Review:

Xavier Rudd & Spearhead
Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC
Oct 28, 2004

Change of tap means only shitty beer available... very disappointing! Russell Cream Ale becoming very hard to find. Okanagan Spring is crap. Forced to pay exorbitant prices for Sleemans.

Still... the Commodore is the best place on the planet to see a band!

Crowd was made up of short lesbians who can't dance. Actually, the general height of the crowd was surprisingly and noticeably short.

Sounds was ok.

Xavier cooked, thanks to lots of Aussies in the crowd.

Spearhead had the place jumping... especially the bad lesbian dancers.

Not a mallard to be seen.

It's bedtime....

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Well... it's turned wet.

The battle with setting up my room continues. Too much stuff!!

Instead of creating my own costume this year, I decided to buy. Hit the racks at Value Village and $50 later I am the King of Evil.

And no, its not a George Bush mask.

Tonight I finally get to see Xavier Rudd and Spearhead. Free tickets courtesy of CTV. They are playing two sold out concerts at the Commodore. This is the second night.

Xavier is from Oz, and all my Aussie friends rave. I have some of his music, and he's truly original. And they say he's awesome live.

Spearhead will be a gas too: funkified hip hop doesn't come close to defining them.

Tomorrow the gloom continues. On my agenda: GST. Barf.

It's nice to have some time to chill and not even *think* about the news.


Second day off in a row.

I had a list of things to do that was as long as my arm. The sun forced me to disregard.

After spending last night building shelves and moving and removing boxes in my new abode, it was obvious I needed at least one more shelving unit.

So I hit Ikea, and then because it was so nice I went to Steveston for a several KM walk. Amazing place, this. Lots of blooming flowers, blue sky, warm sun, and snow on the mountains.

On the way home I went via the university (UBC) and spotted eagles hanging out in a tree...

And then I stopped again at Spanish Banks for a walk along the beach. Too nice.

Later in the night we were treated to the big lunar eclipse. Summed up as Ho Hum.

It's a great place to live...


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wheee! I have 5 days off!!

So I did the only thing one should do at the head end of a break: I went shopping!

Bought some crap at Ikea. Bought some crap at Futureshop.

I like crap.

And the crap was necessary. Shelves and a chair for my room.
A media card reader for my iPod ( so I can clear my memory card on from the digital camera by dumping directly to my iPod - no computer needed).

The sun was shining, and the last thing I wanted to do was put up shelves. But the shelves won.
And its done. And my hovel is less hovely.

Finally found the party for the Washington State Democrats in Bellingham... and it happens to be at a hotel where there is room at the inn. Perfect!

It's going to be a kooky day!

Anyway, I think I'll go have a beer in the warm sun... before heading off to another SPOL meeting.

Yes... it continues...


Monday, October 25, 2004

This is from a friend of mine who is currently living the dream (so to speak) and building a radio station in Afghanistan...

From: Leslie Knott
Date: Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:08:27 AM Canada/Pacific
Subject: Chicken Street Blast
Attachments: There are 5 attachments

You may have heard that there was a suicide bomb in Kabul on Saturday. Just to let you know - I am safe. And still living far far away from Kabul.

I am in Maimana. It is a small village in the northern region of Afghanistan...It's 1 hour and 45 minutes by plane from Kabul, and probably 24 hours driving from Kabul. It is peaceful and quiet. There have been no reports of violence or danger. Think Little House on the Prairie - Afghan style. The weather has changed, it is biting cold, and we're stocking our cold storage with potatoes, carrots and onions for the coming winter. Each morning we have fresh milk from a local cow.
There is no cell phone coverage. When you want to talk to someone you really have to go knocking on their door...It's kind of nice though...

And I am working on this radio station that IMPACS is building from scratch. It is a HUGE task. Especially for me, who just recently graduated from broadcasting school. I must admit I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of it..and I am just taking it day by day. Because if I think about the enormity of the task - I get freaked out.

There is so much to do. We are doing massive renovations on a building that was being held together by tattered straw and mud plaster. It is an exciting project to be involved in. And I feel the anticipation of creating something from nothing. Seven women are working with me as the founding journalists of '88.5 Radio Quyaash' - Maimana's new music mix..Well - actually I will take a couple of steps back. So far we're on the air for three hours a day...and that is just the women playing around with Cool Edit, playing music and recording their voices. The equipment is supplied through another NGO - and for all of you reading this from BCIT - it surpasses our equipment by leaps and bounds.

Today we started planning our programs. This Sunday we will launch two two hour programs: Matters of Women for one hour - and Youth Voice for the other hour. I spent the afternoon breaking down the segments that should be a part of each show...intro, music, interviews, poetry reading, and community announcements. We're installing mailboxes around the village so people in the community can have their voice heard as well.

Radio is huge in Maimana. With an 80% illiteracy rate - it is the medium of choice for entertainment. Small handheld radios are everywhere. But right now there is only one state run station to listen to. And they only broadcast for two hours a day. So Radio Quyaash really is the buzz of the town. Or village....

This morning we woke early to attend the Monday bazaar. The people I am living with are looking for a certain type of cow to distribute to widows who need some sort of income generation project. We didn't find any of them..but we did see a whole bunch of other animals...I have enclosed in the first batch of photos Market Day this morning. I will send another bunch of pictures from what life in Maimana looks like.

Hope you are doing well. Thinking of you often...but feeling like my time here is passing by quickly! Also the election period went by peacefully, except for this latest blast in Kabul...The ballots are still being counted - but the US has already declared the winner. - Funny how they are able to do that?

Take care, miss you,



Sunday, October 24, 2004

Still enjoying The Drive and happy as hell to be out of Deep Cove!

Not much going on to report. Working a lot, although I have 5 days off in a row beginning Tuesday. Lots of stuff to do, however. Buy a D70, put together my border calendar, and a multitude of other odds and ends.

I still have a 5 week work hole coming up, but that hopefully will change.

I sold another piece to the Georgia Straight... on the American Museum of Radio and Electricity in Bellingham, Wa. I intend to do the interviews and shoot the stills on Nov 2, U.S. election day.

I had planned to go to the U.S. regardless, but now, I can double the fun - and make a few bucks.

A vacation would be nice right about now, but February isn't that far off. And then there is May. I've already been planning that trip and preparing the story pitches.

Next week I will finally check out Australian music god Xavier Rudd. He's playing with Hip Hop funk-soul artists Spearhead. Can't wait!

So life is good. And it will be infinitely better when I am clutching my D70 next week....


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Busy working at CBC this week. Still need to set up my room, but its a long week and I am little time for such things... maybe on the weekend.

I still have a 5 week hole in Nov/Dec with no work. I'm sure that'll change, but if not, I will see if I can find a cheap charter to somewhere warm and sandy.

I also need to write more here... but that won't happen tonight!


Busy working at CBC this week. Still need to set up my room, but its a long week and I am little time for such things... maybe on the weekend.

I still have a 5 week hole in Nov/Dec with no work. I'm sure that'll change, but if not, I will see if I can find a cheap charter to somewhere warm and sandy.

I also need to write more here... but that won't happen tonight!


Friday, October 15, 2004

It's Good to be Home

Last night I hit the sack around 11pm. It was a long day of moving and cleaning and wanting to get this whole episode behind me.

It is.

Today I woke up to the sound of silence at 8:30am. First time in a very long time that I have had that much sleep at once. I did wake up a few times, but this is probably due to the new surroundings.

The whole exercise yesterday went well. The landlord gave me back half the rent for October - so I now have more thab 2/3 of the cash needed for the Nikon digitial camera I am drooling over. I am expecting 100% of the damage deposit too. That will push me over the edge of saving for the camera.

The Ahsoeasy people took my stuff away. And I left the place as I found it - empty.

The carpet cleaner came in the afternoon. Originally from Halifax, we had a long chat about following your passion...

Today, my first day back home was spent following absolutely no schedule.

I read a bit this morning, then wandered off to Cafe Deux Soliel for my "Eggs in the Hole." Then to Magpie for the Globe, The Times, and Vanity Fair (don't laugh - there is some great Anti-bush stuff in it this month). Then I wandered to a used bookstore and chatted with the owner, played with her dog, and bought a pre-1989 road atlas of Europe.

Then to Continental for a double Americano and a window seat to watch the Commercial Drive freaks parade by.

Then home to read some more.

Tonight (Friday) I am house sitting at Lisa's place -- tomorrow too. Then back here for the long haul.

I am certainly happier to be on this side of the world again. Deep Cove is nice, but it's just not me. I'm more of a bohemian than a soccer mom!

It's good to be home.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

This was the last morning where the Deep Cove Expressway will wake me up.

For the past several days, I have been preparing to vamoose. The hard part is over. The stuff is boxed. And tonight, my storage unit gets loaded... and the Deep Cove experiment ends.

It's another beautiful day here... but I have to clean and make a run or two to the new place to drop off stuff.

I technically have possession of the suite until Friday... but I just wanna go.

More updates from back on the Drive.


Friday, October 08, 2004


Moving continues. Big stuff out tomorrow. Everything else into storage on the14th. Home in the new place that night.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Gettin' Closer

The weather has been so nice that I am actually a little sad to be leaving the paradise that is Deep Cove. But, as we all know, the paraside ends at my front door - where there is a long drop to the pit-of-hell apartment I live in.

The landlord, being a really nice guy, is showing the place while I work today (Sunday) at CTV. My hope is that someone has taken it - and for the 15th - meaning I can get half my rent back for the month.

We'll see.

In other news, Border Freak #1, Peter Hering has issued the latest itinerary for the Great Southeastern European Border Expedition (GSEEBE) -- the fourth one. It is scheduled for May 8 - 21, 2005. Which means I will be planning to take the entire month of May off to travel to my beloved Euroland!!

The highights:

- The adventure begins and ends in Vienna. I will probably fly to London, Dublin, or Copenhagen first - and then to Vienna. This will be the most expensive part of the trip. But I already have 500 Euro kicking around and I will start buying 100 more per payday. They're only $1.56 each. Yikes.

- From Austria we head to Slovakia and Hungary (Gyor, Budapest Szeged).

- Then Romania (Arad, Timisoara)
- Serbia (Belgrade)
- Nice drive along the Danube in Bulgaria (Vidin, Stara Zagora)
- Edirne, Turkey
- Kavala, Greece
- Skjopje, Macedonia
- Triana, Albania
- Podgorica, Montenegro
- The Adriatic Coast
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Rural Bosnia (4th visit!)
- Trieste, Italy
- Nova Gorica, Slovenia
and back to Vienna.

The stats:
12 or 13 countries depending on time. 5 or 6 tri-points (places where 3 countries touch), 16 border crossings and visits, and 4500 km of driving.

And for me, it will mean that I'll be adding some new countries to my hitlist:

#40 - Serbia and Montenegro (I was there when it was Yugoslavia)
#41 - Bulgaria
#42 - Greece
#43 - Turkey
#44 - Macedonia
#45 - Albania

Which will mean that by age 42, I will have visited 45 nations. Yay!

This reduction in rent also means that I can count on go on my Guatemala and Belize adventure in February.

It's a busy week ahead: lots of work, lots of packing. If I move on the 15th, there is a crapload of stuff to get at. I almost hope its not until the end of the month... but saving $600 is a good thing too.

Back to the local news grind...


Thursday, September 30, 2004

Hello, I must be going. Redux.

It's even more official now.

I have given notice on the Deep Cove hell apartment and I am moving back to the drive. This little experiment in frustration cost only a few grand. But there were some rewards - like living in the most beautiful area of the Lower Mainland.

Still, I miss the gittiness and handiness of the Drive.

Notice has been given and the landlord has the ads starting this weekend. It looks like it will be a smooth transition, but I have my doubts about getting the damage deposit back. We'll see.

The new place is basically a room in a house with a cool couple. It's going to be quite a change, but the rent is halved. And there are no utilities. Plus, I should be able to sleep once again.

A dream come true.

I've taken the new place for Oct 15th. Although most of my stuff will go into storage, it will still be nice to be able to move at my convenience.

I'm hoping the current place gets rented for Oct 15. That would be even better.

But at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This is the first and last time I will move twice in the same year!! At least with most of my stuff in storage, any further moves will be easy.


Friday, September 24, 2004


It's been a while since I've posted. Lots of reasons - the end result, no time.

I took a couple of days off and went in search of clarity. And I believe I have found it.

The current equation:

high rent + unhappy + debt reduction doesn't equal travel.
low rent + happy + debt reduction = travel!
So I am moving. Finally.

Either October 1... which will be a (doable) challenge or Nov 1.

I would almost rather moving next week - just to get it out of the way. I've found a couple of potential places that are reasonable (half) rent - although they are shared.

Both are back in Vancouver. And one is near the old place on Commercial Drive. But away from the bongos. I miss the lesbians, addicts, and general riff raff. I am *so* not a yoga wear, rich folks neighbourhood kind of guy.

I've found some reasonably priced off-sire storage too. And, I've found someone to take the big stuff so I don't need scads of storage.

All good.

There is more too, but I have to go get some boxes before rush hour starts...

More soon!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Got a bit of a break from Vancouver on the weekend. Friends offered up a free place to stay and a free ticket to the Victoria Beer Festival... How could I say no?

The highlight of the beer fest? Hearing people cheer each time Team Canada scored in the World Cup of Hockey game against the Czechs.

Or maybe it was the streaker.

Or maybe it was wobbling out of there and going to real estate guru John Hircock's basement of Scotch and Cuban cigars.

Oh! It's a hard life.

I worked at the CBC today -- doing the Winnipeg website. Up at 4am, downtown at 5. And then the phone rang.... a week of work here, a couple of days there, and an interesting call from video game manufacturer Radical Entertainment. We're not sure what the deal is yet.

CTV also called for me to come in today, but I was already booked.

It always works out.

Sleep calls.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Saga of the $500 car

I bought my 1987 Mercury Tracer for $500 just under two years ago.

At the time, I needed a car because I was shooting a lot of CBC items in places where public transit was nonexistent or wasn't convenient.

Chris Holmes, my editor at I was working with at The Corp. mentioned he had an old car that he'd let go cheap. No guarantees, he said.

My thinking was: a new car would cost at least $250 a month. If I could get 2 months out of a $500 car, I'd break even. Any more than that would be a bonus.

And what a bonus. With more than 380,000 KM on the odometer, it's the Timex of beaters.

Another concern with a beater is maintenance costs. It's great that the purchase price is low, and that there are no monthly payments. But if maintaining it costs hundreds a month, then there's not much point.

But the Tracer has been amazing.

During year one I didn't put a cent into it, other than for fuel, tranny fluid (more on that follows) and oil.

Then, at the end of my first year of insurance coverage, I was forced, like other BC residents, to get my car air cared. This is ostensibly to keep cars that spew off the road. But in reality, its a way for garages to make some money.

Here's the deal:

Take car to Air Care. Pay $28. If it passes, you can re-insure your car for another year.

If it fails - you got to get it fixed. But there is a limit. You only have to spend a max of $400. If the problem isn't fixed - you get a conditional pass. And that's good for a year.

So - in this scenario - the spewing car still spews. The provincial government has made 2 x $28 (2 tests) and the garage has made $400. And there is absolutely no benefit for the environment.


So... I failed. I paid my $400. I passed. The $500 car needed only $400 in maintenance.

This year there were some more problems. I needed 2 new tires, so I bought used ones (new to me!) and that was about $150.

Then the carb was being weird. That cost $50. And the thermostat went. That cost $50.

And then, I decided that leaking a litre of tranny fluid every few days was not a good thing. I took it in to the Deep Cove garage...

A seal was gone, and some tranny switch was hooped.

I figured that this would mean a huge expense. And, if I had to remove the tranny to fix it -- then it probably wouldn't be worth it.

The garage estimated $300! Shocked, I said, when can I bring it in?!

It went in today. And a few hours later, the phone rang. Uh oh!

I expected the worst. And I got great news.

The car was done, and the damage was $160! Cheap! I happily paid up.

The old beater is still going strong. And after having put in only $810 in the past 2 years makes me smile. It may not be pretty, but it works. And, $810 divided by 24 is just $33 a month.

Pretty decent payment plan, I'd say.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

It always works out...

The short version.

Today was the last scheduled day of work for me. After working non-stop for most of the year, it looked like I was going to have a long break. Not necessarily a bad thing, but income is important too.

Still seeking that ever elusive balance.

I was calling today my retirement day. And just this morning, I was wondering this morning how long it would be between finishing my last shift and booking my next.

It didn't happen.

First CTV offered up a couple of days later in the month.

Then CBC offered up two days next week.

And then CTV offered up a day in early October.

This is all good. A little work, a little time off, a little balance.

It always works out.


Sunday, September 05, 2004


I just realized that today, September 5th, is the anniversary of the day we signed on MITV in Halifax... in 1988. 16 years ago! 16!!!

16... 16... 16...


Happy Anniversary!


It's amazing how you can live in a place for seven years and still find things about it that surprise and amaze.

I'd heard of Buntzen Lake, but I'd never been there.

As the crow flies, it's very close to Deep Cove. But to drive there you have to navigate around Indian Arm... it takes about an hour.

The reason I had to go there was that I was working (acting?!) in a film that a friend of mine is shooting. It's low budget, but is being shot on actual film stock (16mm).

I play the main character - a Doctor - who has discovers the death of two people. In today's scene, I was canoeing on the lake with a little girl (Brianna, daughter of CTV graphic guy Al Moody).

Buntzen is surrounded by mountains. It is long and narrow, and stunningly beautiful. It's amazing to think that it is so close to the city - because it feels like being far up in the interior.

There is a massive beach, and today, there were lots of families and groups out BBQing, boating and fishing. There are canoe rentals on site as well.

We shot for several hours as I paddled around. The scariest moment was when Steve the director and DOP hopped in the canoe with his gear to shoot POV shots of me. Can you say tippy?

It was a shame to have to leave! But now that I know about this piece of paradise, I can see loading up a chair, a book, and perhaps a laptop.

And with lots of free time on the horizon, I will be back!

This evening I am off to Richmond for a meeting of the Night of Artist folks. It's $400 for another year... and while it's not good timing money-wise, I think it is important to continue with the project. Sales can only go up!

Labour day will be labour day - 18 hours of newswriting at both CBC and CTV. Then a couple of night shifts at CTV on Tuesday and Wednesday... and that's it! Retirement!


Friday, September 03, 2004

Things are looking up!

It's been a busy week... doing this and that and working at night.

Which, in fact, is where I am now.

Working, at night.

Today was another double payday - and I managed to slap another massive amount on my dwindling debt. It's cost a lot in terms of missing the nicest summer ever in Vancouver, but it also takes me closer to something even better: freedom.

It's still going to take a lot of work to pay for all those trip in the past 3 years. But eventually, I'll get there.

I've been joking that I am retiring on Wednesday. Sort of - at this point I have 3 days of work left and then the great unknown.

But I am mentally and fiscally ready for that - and I need the time to work on my own projects... so I can travel and make money at the same time. That is the key.

Well, the fires and motor vehicle accidents are calling...


Monday, August 30, 2004

Weird day today:

I had an email from a national Canadian network (Vision) inquiring about the Great Central European Border Expedition film. Totally out of the blue. Totally unexpected.

I am chatting with my peers about how to proceed. An interesting and exciting development.

Then, later, when I went to check my snail mail - another surprise (although expected): a nice fat cheque from National Geographic for some of by border photography.

Very nice!

And then... I had a great motivating chat with friends in Toronto who are making good returns on their website projects. More on that soon. But do check out.

It has now moved from the back-burner to the front burner.

One more day off tomorrow before heading back to CTV for 3 days.

Oh, did the hike again, too.

Nice stuff... on such a summers day.


Sunday, August 29, 2004


A day off. Aaah.

Worked last night at CTV... same old, same old. Stayed at Lisa's last night - the final night of housesitting and hanging out with "Kitty."

It was nice not to have to get up this morning... and then to have the luxury of nothing on the agenda.

Today was Deep Cove Daze, so I did want to get back to my home before too late in the day, which I managed to do around 2pm.

It was a cloudy day, but dry. Lots of activity at DCD... but very kid orientated. I spent the afternoon doing more of nothing.

Then Lorne and Katrina and another Lisa came over and we hit the Raven for a dinner.

Now it's 23:30 and time for some rest.

I have no work scheduled Monday or Tuesday - so my attention will turn to taxes and house work.

Not very interesting stuff to report...



Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wise Up...

Save Me...

Takin' Care of Business...

These are just three of the tunes that Aimee Mann played at the Commodore this evening. She is SO underrated... and despite her melancholiness she has the voice of an angel. And she covers BTO (a kick ass version too, I might add).

Her contributions to the Magnolia soundtrack are but a small example of how great she is. And I heard that Magnolia was actually based on her songs!

It was a busy day again, of course. Writing the CBC North site all day (6am until about 3pm)... then I had to get my cellphone replaced. And what a battle to get a discount. After 7 years, you'd think your cellphone company would appreciate your business. Guess again!

After that joy, Lorne, Jazz and I went for a feed of sushi. And then Lorne and I went to see Aimee Mann.

It's now midnight - and I have to be at work at 6am. But John Kerry is on the Daily Show. How can I miss that? Exactly.

Later in the week I am going to be doing some housesitting -- that will be a nice change of scenery.

It's also monsooning again... love the cool and the sound... aaaah... it seems to be scaring the traffic away.

We'll, Jon's on -- until the next time...


Monday, August 23, 2004

After the monsoon this past weekend, I've been itching to get back into the woods and hike to the look-off.

The day was flying by today, so around 6pm I threw on the shoes and off I went.

What a difference! First, it wasn't oppressively hot - it was cool and damp. But what struck me was the smell of the forest. It was amazing.

And then the greenness. It was like a someone injected all the plants with some Leprechaun steroid. I don't think I've ever seen so many shades of green. And just from some rain.

There were only a few other hikers on the trail. Many of them had seen bears and cubs, but I didn't notice any. All I know, is I don't want to come across any cubs!

The view was spectacular. The TV ads call BC "the best place on earth," and I would have to agree. It still blows me away - even after seven years.

The KatKam, which faces west from Vanier Park (just west of Downtown) has undergone an upgrade. The images are absolutely stunning - have a look!

If you read my posting about Americans watching CBC coverage of the Olympics, I have some more on the subject.

Globe and Mail TV critic John Doyle takes the opposite view to mine. I'd think him an idiot if not for the fact that he's Irish and he is usually bang on.

In fact, he wrote about the endless repetition of inane Canadian commercials during the Olympic broadcasts. One, for Tim Hortons, shows a young backpacker galavanting around Europe, a Timmy Ho's mug swinging from his pack. "I met so many Canadians..." he writes in a letter to mom and dad.

Here's Doyle's take (click on his words for the full article):

"Here's the message: Meet some foreign people! I mean, the geek's going around Europe getting excited about meeting Canadians who recognize his coffee cup. How dorky is that? Enough with the coffee mug. Go have an espresso and chat up some Italian girls."




A day off. Following 7 days of writing news, one whole day to... gee, write my Blog? Do my taxes?

Sort of. More like sleep 10 hours... and laze around all day watching the Olympics. I sort of feel like I'm wasting a day - but I think it's deserved after 7 straight. And I don't get another one until Sunday.

But then things slow down. Not necessarily a bad thing. I do look forward to more than a single day or two away from the world of news.

It's still rainy, which is also a nice break from the blast-furnace summer we've had. I was going to hike to the look-off, but the rain has forced me to delay my ascent. I will do it later this avro.

I've noticed that it is very dark in Deep Cove when it rains. Being surrounded by mountains doesn't help, and the clouds hang low.

Locals tell me that in the winter it is really dark. Because there are mountains to the west, the sun disappears early. And in the winter it is really early.

We'll see.

No firm decision about staying here or moving. I have the opportunity to move in with a friend of a friend back on the Drive. The money savings would be substantial, but the cost and time and effort of moving again is hardly attractive.

I've come to accept the traffic noise, and really have no desire to relocate. Although saving $500+ a month would be nice.

That's enough blogging for today.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Thank God for Canadian TV!" - American Olympics viewer

More on that soon...

Sunday morning. How exciting!

I'm working at CTV this weekend - 2 to 11, cranking out the local news. Today is day 7 in a row, but I am off tomorrow. And not having to start until 2 is like a holiday.

The heat has finally broken. And with a vengeance. Yesterday it rained so hard it was like a monsoon. It was great.

Today is cloudy and damp. Clouds hang low on Mount Seymour. The look-off beckons, but I think I'll save that for tomorrow.

I still find myself watching the olympics all the time. I've had a chance to watch NBC's HDTV coverage. It's not a great looking as you would think. Lots of quality issues due to compressing the signal. And NBC can only cover certain sports. And they're at least a day behind. HD hasn't really arrived.

I've discovered articles in the Seattle and Detroit papers praising CBC coverage. Only the border states get CBC and Seattle and Detroit are the only major US cities to get access to CBC off-air or on cable.

In the Aug 22. Seattle Times, a reported actually made the trek all the way to our Great Dominion to watch live Olympic coverage. I guess she doesn't have cable at home.

Other articles raved about CBC's coverage compared to NBC's:

"Once again Canada's CBUT-TV network offered a more-sophisticated live broadcast, while NBC aired a seriously edited prime-time program fit for "Mystery Science Theater 3000," considering all the wisecracks veteran announcers Katie Couric and Bob Costas made," said the Seattle Times after the opening ceremonies.

One US viewer emailed the Times his feelings: "Tom Morgan of Puyallup said it best when he wrapped up his e-mail this way: "Thank God for Canadian TV." Yep, that alone is worth the skyrocketing cost of living in the Emerald City. "

And over in the motor city, the Detroit Free Press noted, "The usually superb, more internationally aware and less hyperbolic CBC Olympics coverage begins at 7 p.m. on CBET-TV, Channel 9 in Windsor."

They like us, they really like us!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I heard from National Geographic today... the cheque is in the mail!

Copy to appear here soon.

You know those days where a million things come at you all at once?

That was today.

I've been writing the CBC Saskatchewan website news content all week - and it's been going well. But today, it was one thing after another after another. All at the same moment.

But it's all over. Phew.

Another hot and sunny day here. They just keep coming. I don't think the forecast has changed since March.

It's weird too, because I'm writing stories about frost warnings in Saskatoon.

Late in the day I decided I had to get some exercise. I did the hike up to the look-off and actually met someone I know - Pam Newton, whom I used to work with at CTV. Small forest, no?

After the hike, I was hotter than hell - so I had a Belize shower - cold water only.

I ain't cold no more.

Time to go read more about Bulgaria.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Can it be true? Yes, if you're on Doug's American adventure!

[Something is wrong with this picture!]

But before we get to that... let's go back to the beginning. In this case, about 60 minutes after leaving Deep Cove.

Not wanting to totally miss summer, I am taking every opportunity to get out on the road. When Randy suggested driving back down to Washington State, I jumped at the chance.

So we headed south, visions of Chuckanut Drive dancing in our heads. But first, this:

[The waiting is the hardest part]

We had a pleasant enough Customs Officer who waved us through in short order - we had arrived!

[Welcome to America!]

There isn't much as you cross the border other than duty free shops, gas stations, and line-ups. But, in just a few kilometres - wait! miles!! - south lies the quiet community of Blaine. Blaine is a town-on-the-move. And like all towns-on-the-move, it has a great slogan: "Where America Begins"

[Where America Ends must've been taken]

Now, being a normal person, you might visualize two things when I say Washington State: Seattle and mountains. Ok, and maybe Curt Cobain. Get over it! He's *so* dead.

Chuckanut Drive was great. Twisty and turny - it hugs the coast and is enveloped by huge trees. Driving this is a ragtop is a blast. And that's what we did.

I remembered back to 2000 when Angela Wade decided to cycle from Vancouver to Los Angeles. She would have ridden along here.

After a lengthy drive, we're deposited in the middle of flat farmland. The flatness stirs up memories of Manitoba.

The now nap-inducing drive has a couple of rewards. One is Edison, a small town made up of nothing but bakeries (so that's where BC Bud goes)... and reward number two is La Conner.

La Conner is kinda touristy, but it's still quaint - like any touristy town in New England. As a bonus the La Conner brewing company has excellent salsa, spinach salad, and a hoppier than hell beer. Man, there is good beer down here.

[La Conner - French in name, excellence in beer]

La Conner has all sorts of cool stores too. Antique shops are big, and have great stuff at reasonable, but not cheap, prices.

I bought 4 musty old magazines: Life magazine from the week of the 1968 chushing of the Prague Spring (amazing), an issue with a story on escaping East Berlin via a tunnel (1965), an issue of the Saturday Evening Post with a cover showing a painting of a US-Canada border crossing, circa the mid-60's. And an issue of Look magazine from 3 days before I was born. I now have Life and Time issues from the day of my birth, and now the Look. Geeky, but I think it's neat.

Randy picked up an issue of Life from the week he was born. Am I a trend setter or what?

After a couple of hours of poking around, it was time to head home. I wanted to stop at mall in Bellingham to return something I bought last week. But first, we had to figure out where we were going.

[Traffic circle? In Washington?!]

As we were leaving La Conner, we spotted a big 'ol Bush sign. You've seen the picture above... but here's the rest of the story:

We're posing and taking pictures of each other, acting like little kids... when a passerby looks at me giving the thumbs up - shoots a dirty look - and spits towards me! I kid you not!

I wonder if La Conner leans a little towards the left. I was going to say something... and then I thought... heck, this is what democracy is all about: spitting.

I've been searching for a George Bush 2004 t-shirt, but I still haven't found the perfect one. All I want is something with a big logo on the front, so I can wander around Vancouver and see how people react. I think it would be very interesting. And make for a great story.

Traffic was heavy and it took forever to get to I-5. It was getting late by the time we reached Bellingham. I did my stuff at the mall, but we were disappointed that we could not find the Republican office or nor the larger Democratic office. I hope that I am able to get down to the US again before the election.

I enjoy these trips to America. I think it's a good thing to get in touch with the real Americans - not the annoying TV Americans that dominate Canadian cable.

We headed north to the border and waved goodbye...

[Waving goodbye]

At the border there was only a small line-up. Some images...

[Line-ups are the same in either nation]

[The Line]

Now here is something weird: some sort of strange sensor thing that points downwards towards cars entering Canada. Is it a Target purchase detector?

[A Canadian Zap-o-matic]

Customs were a breeze, although the officer poked fun at my CBC hat, wondering if I worked in Iraq or somewhere like that. And no duty on the musty mags!

Traffic was light and we made it back to Deep Cove before the Sushi joint closed.

It was a good Sunday.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

I've been tinkering with the blog. The old look had gotten old, and I thought I would try something new. Trouble was, I didn't like anything new - and then it was too late to go back to the old look.

So this one will have to suffice for now.

*** NOTE ***

You can now leave comments.... !

*** END NOTE ***

My pal Brent has started his own blog - should be an interesting one. Visit it often!

This morning was amazing. I was able to sleep in until after 7am. After dragging my ass out of bed, I threw a cap on my tete and headed to Honey's for the requisite Americano and quickstart muffin.

Armed with the Globe and Mail, I walked in the early morning sun (yes, yet another sunny and warm day) down to the public dock at the end of the street.

It juts about 100 metres into the waters of Deep Cove. There were no people around, so I planted myself and took in the view. A single kayaker broke the water as he headed off into Indian Arm. The mountains were shrouded in a morning haze. But they took on a layered effect, almost like a painting. Rows of overlapping mountains, the most distant ones a little softer.

It was another day to play actor. I met up with Steve, the director, at Dr. Rhonda Low's office. We shot one scene... and that was it. I am playing a doctor who, in todays scene, was off in another world while he saw a patient.

After the filming, I called Lorne. He and brother Steve Murray were having breakfast at Bert's. It's been a long time since I've dined there... so I blasted over right away.

After breakfast, we went to the East Side farmer's market. I loaded up on cherries, corn, and local peaches. YUM!

The three of us had the luxury of being able to kill time. We hit Commercial Drive. Steve bought a whoopie cushion, which we used to great effect.

Then we headed to the Jericho Sailing Club out at Jericho Beach. There we sat and watched all the action on English Bay as we enjoyed a pint in the sun.

Later, we were heading home when we ran into Cheryl and Tom. After a quick visit to a book store (I bought 2 books: Rough Guide Bulgaria and Microcosm.

I also looked for some Albanian tour books, but found nothing exciting. I did find a map, but it was expensive... so I will wait.

We had a pint with Cheryl and Tom in Kitsilano at a place called Hell's Kitchen. They have a patio on 4th Ave, so it was a good place to watch the world go by.

And then it was time to go our separate ways. I came home and worked on the blog and ate corn.

I've had a digital camera for the last week, but still have not found an easy way to put the images here. Stay tuned.

Sunday is another trip to America...


Friday, August 13, 2004


Long day at the home office. I am glad it's Friday.

There might be some light at the end of the no-work tunnel. I had a call from a friend of mine at Global News. Apparently they have a desperate need for writers for their national newscast.


Meeting up with friends tonight. Shooting a movie tomorrow. America on Sunday.

There ya go.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

All this writing for the CBC sure makes it hard to write here. And write other things, too.

After 8 hours of writing, to try and write creatively is a real struggle.

So this will have to suffice.

It's been a great week working from home. Taking breaks down by the water. And enjoying Deep Cove. It's hot, though. Nearly 30C today. And so is the apartment.


Working at home seems to make the traffic less annoying. And, as mentioned earlier, I am going to stay. In fact, I told the landlord that today.

It is looking like Sept is definitely going to be without work, but I think that's ok. There are many things that need my attention. And after working nearly every day since... what? November? I think some time off is definitely earned and needed.

It will allow the development of other things too.

Yup. There you go. I'm off to Safeway.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm enjoying this working from home thing more and more every day. But before I get to that, this:

Last night I went strolling around and ended up at the neighborhood bistro/bar where I shared a pint with my buddy/neighbour Randy.

While there, friends/colleagues of his arrived. In tow, National CBC Reporter Lynn Robson, whom I had vetted but never met. She's based in Montreal.

After a spell we went down to the water to watch the sunset.

Randy's friends are freelance TV folks. Lisa is a director and Doug is a cameraman. They are living the dream. After years of working for the CBC - they are freelance. They live in Deep Cove. They own a place on little-known Gambier Island.

And they travel. A lot.

But it is hard work, doing television on the road. At one point they found they were working all the time with little time off to enjoy the freedom self-employment offers.

So they refocused: they would make sure they had a block of time booked for themselves. Four weeks to go somewhere and swing in a hammock doing nothing but nothing.

This sounded all-to-familar. And it reminded me of the importance of balance. Meaning, of course, that I should freak if it looks like I am going to have time off in September. I should embrace and enjoy it.

Sure, I can't go anywhere, but I live in an awfully nice part of the world. And there are many things on my plate that I would like to get to. Things that might provide a reasonable answer to my question: How the hell will I ever retire?

Good thing writers can always write.

It turned out that both Lynn and Lisa had worked with the University of Manitoba's radio station. Kind of cool, because I used to listen way back then. It probably explains why a 17-year-old was buying records by Brian Eno and Harry Chapin.

A good night.

Today, Tuesday, I worked from home. I got up at 5:55 and started working around 6. The commute/stumble to the office/living room is wonderful.

I tired something new today... I worked for a couple of hours and then went to hike the 4km trail up to the look-off.

There was not another soul around. This could be because of signs warning that bears had been spotted in the area -- and on the trail.

As I started climbing, I heard what I thought were kids screaming and yelling and being kids. They were far enough ahead that I couldn't see them.

I found this mildly annoying, as I like the peace and quiet of the woods. And that is why I hike early in the day.

When I reached the look-off, I expected a group of little hellions. Instead there was a small woman. I've seen her before. She hikes the trail daily and is very friendly. And very fit. And very noisy.

She was the source of the noise. She was scaring off bears! She said that at one point she scared herself when a bird came fluttering out of a shrub - no doubt freaked by her wailing.

The turned heel and headed down, as I walked to the edge and sat down to enjoy the view. Only moments later more odd noised. A younger woman arrived with her pug. The pug was making some very disturbing noises.

We chatted for a bit, and then off she went. Singing to scare off the bears.

I decided it was time for me to go too. And I clapped and laughed aloud. To scare off the bears.

Back at work, I hammered away at Saskatchewan news. The top story: a train derailment in Estevan.
Believe it or not, this work is very busy. Proofing takes forever as CBC is extremely particular about thier style. Not a bad thing, but I am constantly consulting the style guide. And my system is very slow because I am emulating Windows on my Mac.

I spent the rest of the day cranking out the news... pulling the pin just after 3:30. Then I went down to the waters edge and spent an hour reading the Globe and Mail and staring off into the fjord that is Indian Arm.

I'm starting to feel motivated to write my Deep Cove story for the Globe. Something about I live in paradise/I live in hell.

Speaking of hell... the one thing that did happen regarding my living here (I actually am not as bothered by the traffic these days) -- the landlord said he'd let me out of the lease.

Now I must waffle like John Kerry.

Should I go when I don't have any work booked in Sept. and spend another $1500 to do so. Or just stay put.

Methinks staying makes the most sense at this point. And if I get to work from home more, then all the better. I haven't driven my car for two full days!

Life is good...


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Saturday was a kick.

It began with hopping in Randy's Miata (roof down) and heading south to America.

We decided to avoid the I-5/Peace Arch crossing from hell because it is the crossing from hell! Massive line-ups are the norm. And the road reports on the radio assured us that massive line-ups waited for anyone foolish enough to take that route.

Luckily, there are 4 different crossings one can use. We chose the "truck crossing" which is only a few km east of the Peace Arch. There was a line-up, but it only took about 30 minutes before we were flashing our passports and explaining our business to the nice Customs officer.

And then, Welcome to America.

There is a sign that says exactly that, and has pictures of iconic American things: Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty (how ironic that it was a gift from France). I joked that the floods of terrorists that stream south into the US will look at that sign and say: "Got it, need it, need it, got it."

Yes, poor taste reins when travelling with Randy!

We headed south along I-5 to the booming town of Bellingham, Washington.

[60 miles south of Vancouver lies Bellingham]

Our goal: to visit the American Museum of Radio.

[Even cooler in reality]

We'd been here before, but it was always closed. This time, however, we checked to make sure it would be open for our visit.

American towns are certainly different. The architecture is very distinct - sort of mid-western railway town motif which seems to be common throughout the west. It looks much older than Vancouver. Lots of squat brick buildings at severe angles to each other. Broad boulevards, mostly going one way. Lots of trees and shoppes. And, surprisingly, few people.

I have never understood this. Where do all the people go? The suburbs? The big mall? Downtown Bellingham on a Saturday afternoon is as quiet as a church on a Friday night.

Bellingham isn't small, it's nearly 70,000 folks. It is also very white. However, there are sizable Russian and Korean communities, but they apparently keep a low profile.

We parked the car and walked into the museum. There weren't a lot of people there. The staff was super friendly and we met one of the two curators - both named John. The John that we didn't meet made a fortune with Microsoft and is bankrolling the museum.

It is an amazing place. They have a huge collection of not only radio stuff dating back to the turn of the century, but also all sorts of Edison, Volta, and Tesla stuff too. The rich John has a big interest in electricity - and he combined his private collection of that stuff with the other John's radio collection. If you like old radios, this is the place for you.

The other cool thing about the place is that everything is touchable. This won't last forever, I fear. But you can actually play with anything on display.

John told us that they just received approval for a low power FM radio station: WAMR which will play old newscasts, plays, and music and also produce some old-style content.

[The John (Winters) we met]

After a couple of hours of drooling, it was time to head off. On our way out, we chatted with the woman at the front entrance. She welcomes visitors and takes their $4 entrance fees.

It turns out she was from White Rock, BC. I asked her why she worked at the museum and she explained that several months previous she had been caught for speeding. One of the options to paying the huge fine was doing community service. She chose that option and was told to spend a couple of half-days at the Radio Museum. She liked it so much, she stayed on as a volunteer.

You never know where life will lead...

We were getting a powerful hunger on by this time, so we walked around looking for a place to eat. There were all sorts of small coffee joints and taco places - but nothing fitting our needs. Again, there were few people out.

One of the things we wanted to do was visit either the Democratic Party office or the Republican office. The Dem office simple to get some Kerry stuff. And the Republican office to get a Bush t-shirt, with which to cause arguments back in Canada. Heh heh,

And, suddenly, we stumbled across a small Democratic office. We popped in, chatted with a very nice Democrat... and laughed because there was a sign for a US Senator with the same name as my mom!

[Vote for Mom!]

We bought some Kerry bumperstickers (Dump Cheney! Flush Bush!) and a nice Kerry for President window sign. The woman told us that there was a bigger office nearby, so we decided to head over there, but after getting some grub.

One thing about Bellingham, is that the people you DO see tend to be young hippie types. Odd.

We finally stumbled upon the Boundary Brewery and Bistro!

[Beer! Food!!]

They had a great tap and the perfect menu. We ordered some Bitters, plus a burrito for me and a yam-enchalada for Randy.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited.

The service was brutal. And just as we were getting ready to be grumpy about it, the make-us-waiter bought us a round. And then discounted the meal by 50%. Wow.

We paid and then headed off in search of the Democratic office. While crossing one particularly broad avenue, Randy was tagged by the side mirror of a bad (and high) driver. The hippies that witnessed this got quite agitated at the driver... who apologized profusely and drove off in a cloud of dope.

One other amazing thing about downtown Bellingham: no McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bells or Jack in the Boxes. In fact, very little in the way of overt commercialism. Just a cool downtown core with tons of great shops. And no people.

We never did find the bigger Democratic office, and we decided to go to the big mall to investigate satellite radio.

We found a Circuit City and test drove the two satellite systems. One had a better channel selection and the other had better hardware. Both versions were in the $150 US range.

I hummed and hawed and for whatever reason decided to get the XM system. The main reason was so I could get radio signals that are unavailable in Canada. And yes, it's yet another toy.

We also noticed that DV video cameras are incredibly cheap. There were at least 10 that were in the $350 US range. Sheesh!

After buying the radio, we headed to the car where we ripped it out of the package. And then we realized that it needed to be authorized. You have to sign up - at a cost of about $10 a month.

We went to a nearby Radio Shack and I used their computer to authorize the receiver online.

Back in the car, we plugged in it and left the mall, heading north on I-5.

Several minutes later, the radio came to life, and we were listening to incredible quality music and spoken word (Fox News!) channels.

It worked well, except when passing under trees. In open areas, it is amazing.

My plan is to use it at home, so I can listen to channels that I can't get at home.

We decided to take another route home. When we came down there was a huge line-up on the US side of people trying to get into Canada.

As we headed to the Sumas-Huntingdon crossing, we were pulled over by the law in Lynden, WA.

The officer had tagged us going 40 in a 25. He decided to make a game of it.

"I have two options," he said. "What do you think they are?"

"Uhhh," we both replied. "Give us a ticket?" Randy asked.

"Ok, and the other option?"

"Give us a warning?"

"Yes. You're quick learners. So now the question is - what option should I use?"

"A warning!! A warning!!!"

Then officer friendly paused. Smiled. And gave us a warning.

When we mentioned that we were looking for the border, he drew us a map and wished us a nice day. And off we drove.

At the border, it was obvious that we had left all the nice people behind in America, because the Canadian's were going to be dicks.

The customs guy at the crossing was nice enough, after I declared the radio, he said I'd have to go pay duty. Fair enough.

Inside a bunch of customs people were sitting around joking and one guy was at the desk. There were no other people around.

When I walked up with my paperwork, he barked at me to wait. OK, Mr. Tiny Penis... how long do I have to wait until you feel like an important and manly man?

Long enough that another agent came over to deal with me. He asked dumb questions like "what kind of radio is this."

A broadcast radio.

"$26, please."

I fail to see why when I buy something outside of Canada I have to pay GST. What a crock.

Anyway, I paid up... and away we went.

We drove home via Zero Ave. as Randy had never seen it before. And then, once we hit the Peace Arch, blasted back to North Van, tunes cranked.

Once home, I discovered two things:

1. I had a very red face. Convertibles are BAD!

2. I face the wrong way for the Satellite Radio to work.

Luckily the burn will fade and the radio I can take back within 30 days. It's too bad, because its a great little item. But I face north, live in a concrete building, and there is no way to see the satellite. And I don't drive enough to make it worth while.

Damn! Another dumb purchase.

But at least I have a Kerry/Edwards sign proudly displayed in my window. Take that George Bush!