Sunday, February 29, 2004

Saturday night in Vancouver -- still staying at Lisa's. Nice to have the peace and quiet of living solo for a few weeks. Nice view, too.

I worked another 12 hour day after having breakfast with the boys at Bert's. Ah, the little things.

Tomorrow is Sunday and that means... work! A regular shift, however. 2-11. I am hoping to get the next piece written for the Straight in the morning... which would free up Wednesday as a real and true day off.

And that's about all for now...


Thursday, February 26, 2004

So this is what it is like to not have to go into a newsroom... wow! I like!

I am sitting in my friend Lisa's apartment, looking at a spectacular view of the city. She is in Mexico for 2 weeks, I am looking after her place and her cat.

There is no rest, however. I was capturing audio for a radio story until midnight... and I have been up since 5:30am, editing the story for CBC radio. I have a 2pm deadline. I am hoping to have things wrapped up by noon. I would like to enjoy just a little of this "day off."

I am back at CTV for 4 or 5 straight. So this is it for while.

The "Hockey in Belize" story appeared in the Georgia Straight today: Click here:

Well, I must get back to editing. More soon!


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The latest: Finishing off story for CBC Radio and working an extra day today. Will be out of touch for another few. Looks like a break is coming in the second week of March.

Cheers... zzz... zzz... zzz

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Friends in my old home of Halifax, Nova Scotia just endured a storm that dumped A METRE of snow. My buddy Patrick posted some pictures and videos here:

The video take a while to load, but is worth it.

Time flies when all you do is work!

Just after midnight... officially Sunday morning. Worked 12 hours today at CTV and another 12 tomorrow. Plus, I have to start work on my radio piece which is due Wednesday.

I am looking after a friend's place for a couple of weeks, so that should give me a little quiet time. It's too bad that I only have 3 days off (or 2) -- and "off" is relative -- referring only to going to CBC or CTV, not all the other stuff. Anyway 2 or 3 days off over the next 12 or 13.

The good news is that I can work off my debt and maybe go somewhere for my birthday. The better news is that it's nice to be working at all! And this is the slow period. It would be nice to have a little balance, though.

And so it goes...


Monday, February 16, 2004

Today's Headline:

An American woman was stopped at the Canada-US border crossing at Douglas BC-Blaine, WA. This is the main crossing, the one with the Peace Arch, on Interstate 5... which becomes BC 99.

The woman, who was driving her husband's SUV was coming from a military base just south of Seattle (about 2 hours south of the border)... Customs officials freaked and shut down the border when they realized that there was a live hand grenade in the glove box of the SUV.

The woman expressed surprise when confronted with the grenade, saying her husband, who is in the military must have left it there.

When asked why she was driving to Canada with a live grenade, she said she was going to Vancouver. Vancouver, Washington, a small city on the Washington-Oregon border. About 5 hours the other way from the border. She said she got mixed up, and didn't realize that Vancouver BC was not Vancouver, Washington.

Now, this begs me to ask a couple of questions:

1. Is she really that stupid? How could she possibly miss signs that say I-5 NORTH... or Last Exit Before Canada?... or the Peace Arch and its flags... or the big sign that says WELCOME TO CANADA... and then... CANADIAN CUSTOMS.

2. What the hell was her husband doing putting a grenade in the glove box. Certainly that can't be legal, even in the good 'ol U S of A.

3. Why did we instantly release her, when American officials locked up a Quebec hunter for months when he brought a shotgun into the US? Lord knows, if the situation were the reverse, the American officials would have blown up Canada with tactical nukes and thrown the woman in Guantanamo Bay without trial for the rest of her life. And her afterlife.

Liberal American Media report: HERE!

Less Liberal American Media report: HERE!

Canadian report: HERE! There is also a link to the CTV Vancouver TV story.

Oh, and one more question:

4. How long will it be until the Americans figure out how to blame the entire episode on Canadians? ("You foreigners shouldn't name your villages after our cities....")

It's a funny world.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

Sunday night in the CTV Newsroom... long day. I was up early and hooked up with a buddy (Steve) to have breakfast at the chosen weekend breakfast spot "Bert's." Since 1948, this Main Street greasy spoon has been offering up great, um, grease.

Everytime its the same thing -- bottomless coffee and the special. For me: 2 eggs over easy, sausages done in butterfly style (less grease, don't ya know!), and a couple of pancakes. All this for something like $5. But we tip heavy, 'cuz we're regulars!

Then I went a-writing at a place called "The Grind" on Main Street. This is a new place for me to hang out. The triple-Americano was friggin' strong. But only $2.75. I hammered away on my shortwave radio script for a couple of hours. And then it was time to get me arse into CTV.

Tonight I'm working -- and then up early tomorrow to get this writing finished before heading to CBC to write until 6:15... and then more writing. I can't wait until a week from Tuesday when I can NOT WORK and count my money.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Air Care:

Scam it is! Guess what the total for fixing my car was? $371! Only $29 under the maximum allowed.

What a crock!

Oh well, at least I will have wheels for another year or until the car dies.


Week one at the Corp (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is over. And, even though I was stress king prior to beginning the week, things went fabulously well. Vetting national reporters, writing international news, blah blah blah. It was actually a lot of fun... and I look forward to more.

Tonight -- either relax and read, or, if the creativity is there, I am going to finish some other projects. Tomorrow, I'm back to CTV for 2 days. And there is much more work scheduled... the tough times are definitely in the past. Hopefully, they don't return.

I am thinking of pitching several stories on the expansion of the EU on May 1. There is a big festival going on at the point where the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland meet. Near Gorlitz, Germany on the Niesse River. And I want to be there!

For those of you who read Polish, German or Czech, here's all the info about the EU event. There are pretty pictures for English speakers.

I'm in the middle of a book about Lenin's embalmers... so methinks I'll get back to that.


Thursday, February 12, 2004

Dumbcouver Volume XXIII:

My car insurance is due to expire. And because I live in Vancouver, where there are pollution problems, I have to take the car in for emission testing before being allowed to insure it for another year.

So... I took the car in this morning for repairs, after failing the government emission test (and paying $30 to do so).

However, the repair work has a $400 cap. So it doesn't matter if the problem is fixed. It just matters that I made the attempt and spent up to $400 to fix it. Then, after spending a maximum of $400, I go get the car tested again for another $30.

If it fails, I get a conditional pass. And then I can insure the car for another year, regardless of whether it's still blowing smoke. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I have that option. But it seems to make the whole idea of the AirCare program (to reduce emissions in Vancouver) rather pointless.

Cough, cough!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Get up.
Go to work.
Come home.
Watch "The Daily Show."
Dream about Belize. Or Europe.


Monday, February 09, 2004

Had a great hike on Bowen Island Sunday. It was quite the active day.
Then, took down many of my pictures at Caffe Barney. 6 remain. None sold,
but that's fine. It's all about market testing!

Off to work I go...


Sunday, February 08, 2004

This is less about creative writing and more about what I've been up to in the last 24 hours or so.

The weather has been decent -- so yesterday I did the morning coffee ritual at Turk's and then spent the day poking around stores on Commercial Drive. One food store, which I've mentioned before, serves the most eclectic selection imaginable. From curry to dolma to Croat biscuits. I asked the woman who runs the shop how they decide what to order -- and she laughed, saying the store started as a mexican foods only shop and sort of grew. That's an understatement! She's selling mango jam and Russian water and Filipino cookies. The family that runs the place is from India, so the Indian fare is quite diverse as well.

In the evening, I went to see Flamenco music at the Kino cafe with some friends. Four pints later, we were trying to hail a cab. Vancouver sucks for getting cabs. But the music and talk was great, so it was a small price to pay.

There was another price to be paid when I had to get up at 7 this morning and go fetch my car. A long walk to the bus, followed by another walk to the car later, I was headed to the west side of the city for a coffee. It was about 8:30. Then I went over to Spanish Banks and went for a long walk (and played with some dogs) as the yoga-clad runners began to appear in huffing groups. On the beach, it was quiet, save for the rare time that someone in this city will say "Good Morning." It is so rare, that it catches you off guard.

On the way home, I stopped into a cool bakery to get a loaf of the coolest nut infused bread that you can imagine. Dr. Atkin's be damned!

And now, at 10:07am on a Sunday morning, I am off to meet Steve and Heidi and Lorne and Katrina for breakfast at our favourite greasy spoon: Bert's.


Saturday, February 07, 2004

The Great Baltic Border Expedition article is coming along nicely. Here is the beginning, subject to change.

The Finn looks at me with a bemused expression. Before us, an Estonian farmer is wearing little more than a Speedo (and appears to be smuggling potatoes). The Austrian, the Dane, and the Netherlander are discussing something (me?) in a foreign tongue. And the Brit mirrors the Finn. Their looks say it all: “Is this guy for real?” Or maybe they're saying "Nice package!"


I am standing at the edge of Estonia, mere metres from Russia. There are no fences, no Russian guards, but there are ominous looking cameras perched on poles. Are we being watched? Probably. Would it be a good idea to make quick, illegal, visit to Russia? Tempting. Do I want potatoes for lunch? Definitely not.


Friday, February 06, 2004

Why today was a cool day:

I got up at 5 and started writing. At 6:30 I went to Turk's coffee and wrote until about 8:30. Then I went to work at the CBC all day. At 6, I stopped at the local Japanese store and loaded up on sushi, gomae (sp), and some sort of spicy yam stuff.
Then I came home and realized it was a dual payday! There were cheques from two of Canada's national broadcasters.

Life is good!


Thursday, February 05, 2004

It's been a while since I've posted. So let me post.

I've been really busy the last week. I had the shoot on Sunday, followed by having to shotlist and write the story on the ice climber.

Then I launched into the script for the shortwave radio story for CBC Radio. And up next is nearly 2 solid weeks of work here and there.

I have one print story still to do... and hopefully that will get done today.

Just in time for solid work out of the house.

See you in March! Hahahaha!


Sunday, February 01, 2004

It started as a normal Sunday morning.

Actually it didn't; after working until midnight and getting to sleep only at 1am -- the stage was set.

To get up at 5am.

Today I was producing the feature on a local ice climber. Cameraman X and myself headed out at 6am... destination Lillooet. A short 4 hour drive from Vancouver.

Highway 99 was good, despite there having been a 7 fatality car accident near Whistler only the day before. We had to deal with idiots trying to blast up to Whistler -- and doing things like passing on the inside. No wonder there are 7 fatality accidents on the Sea to Sky highway.

At Lillooet, we met our climber, Jeremy and his pal, Jay. We followed them to a small side road and parked. We changed into cold weather clothing -- thinking we were overdoing it a little because it was around zero degrees. We grabbed the camera gear, our extra clothes and headed up a snowy fire road that had not been plowed.

Jeremy said it would take 20 minutes. One hour and 600 vertical feet later, we were walking on the frozen base of a waterfall. We could hear the water below the ice. It was steep. It was treacherous. It is also beautiful -- tons of snow and high mountains all around. The sky is a deep blue with the occasional wisp of white cloud floating by.

It was a spectacular setting, and after getting our breath, it was time to work. We shot the interview and then Jeremy as he ascended the ice -- formed by the frozen waterfall. We'd been outside for several hours at this point, and the sweat that was created by the hike up the mountain had turned my t-shirt into something cold and damp. I was protected by some fleece and a toque, but the temperatures started to drop. And my feet began to get chilly.

And then the camera stopped working. After about an hour of trying to warm it up -- as we got colder, we gave up. Jeremy kept climbing, and then Jay followed. Huge chunks of ice fell as they attacked the ice with their ice tools. Two other friends of theirs came down -- and we decided to head back to the car.

Turning around, we could see how steep -- and how hard -- the descent would be. And carrying heavy gear was not going to be helpful. We decided to throw a rope down the steepest part -- just so we could grab onto something as we descended. At some points it was so difficult we had to slide on our asses -- which was safer than trying keep upright and balanced.

About an hour later, we were back at the truck. After a quick roadside change, we headed to town where we found a restaurant and filled up on coffee and steak sandwiches. The climbers joined us about 20 minutes later and we chatted as they ate poutine. Around 4:30pm we left.

This time we took a different route back -- along the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, eventually connecting up with the Trans-Canada. The scenery would have been stunning, except it was now dark.

4 hours later, we had driven through Lytton, Hope, Chilliwack and were cruising into Downtown Vancouver.

We checked the tape -- to make sure that at least there were some images -- and there were. Cameraman X headed off... and I grabbed a hot shower and started writing this.

I am now going to bed. Despite the camera problems -- it was a very good day. Too bad I forgot my still camera!