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!


Saturday, August 07, 2004

Wheee! It's Saturday and I am free!

Last night I went to my pal Ted's to talk business, eat BBQ and meet a whole mess of Germans. Dunkles bier, bitte!

When I finally got home, it was time to chat with border freak Jesper, who, along with 3 other border freaks, are meeting in Prague this very day to go zipping around the borderlands of Central Europe.

Being here does not amuse. But, I declined to join this trip for many reasons.

- It is a smaller trip
- The whole gang is not going
- To do this would put the Great Southern European Border Expedition in jeopardy.

The GSEBE could be the best yet: Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Montenegro, and my personal favourite Albania.

How I long to hoist a pint of local brew in some dusty Albanian town.

[The town turns out to meet visitors in Kukes, Albania]

All is not lost, however. I plan to do some international travelling this very day. Off to the Radio Museum in Bellingham, Washington in a few minutes.

I'm thinking Daddy needs a Sour Dough Jack at Jack in the Box for lunch.

Ah, life's simple pleasures.

A full report coming up...


Friday, August 06, 2004

And now, a giant sigh of relief.

After 19 days straight, a chance for some rest. And it wasn't just 19 days, it was 20 shifts and a few turn-arounds thrown in for good measure.

I am pooped.

I finished the week as it began, working from home. We like this a lot. Especially the flexibility to do things like run to Ikea (yesterday) in the middle of the day.

Things slow down for two whole days. Somewhat. My 2003 taxes, my quarter 2 GST and a bunch of boxes have other plans.

I think I shall shoot them the finger and do none of the above. So there.

On Saturday, I think I will head south to Bellingham, Washington to visit the American Radio Museum. They have odd hours, and were closed the last time I went through (on the way to Yakima and Seattle for baseball, last spring). That certainly seems like a century ago.

Sunday is a day to do nothing what-so-ever. And I mean that.

Lots of work until Sept. 4th and then... it looks like I am retired.

Well... time to shut this thing down and zone out. Actually I have a BBQ to go to. Too bad its raining!



Wednesday, August 04, 2004

When friends who have known you for nearly 20 years (16?!) tell you that you're working too much - and I mean people who REALLY know you - then you should take heed.

Thus was the email from my friends Scott and Katharine way over on the other coast.

Reading Roadspill prompted the missive. And it struck me.

I do realize that I have been working a lot. And I realize that it all has a cost. So far, that cost is limited to a very dull personal life, a missed summer, and a constant exhaustion.

But it is such a conundrum: when you don't know where the next cheque is coming from, it's hard to pass anything up.

So again, last night, I worked until 12 and was nose to the virtual grindstone at 6 a.m. this morning.

Ah, but all for a reason: freedom.

For me, freedom is defined as debt reduction. Expensive computers and trips around the planet (to drink beer in Estonia!) are all good. But they come at a cost. And that cost is debt. And that debt is what I am attacking.

And the attacking seems to be coming along. Just yesterday I dropped $2000 on the monster. And this Friday I hope to smack it with another grand.

And then, when the monster becomes a tiny version of its present self, I will be able to live lean and travel large.

Which, for me, is the whole point of existing at all.

Cathay Pacific has a great deal: From Vancouver, one can fly to Asia and visit 18 cities (or less) in 21 days. For $1499 CDN.

Wow. Hello, Kitty!

And this is why I am working so much: so I can look at that and say, SOLD!

Elsewhere in this world of mine: I neglected to mention that on Sunday I was an actor. A friend from CTV is shooting a feature film on an independent budget. But it is 16mm, and not that shallow video stuff (ha ha).

My character, the main one, is a doctor who loses some family in a most gruesome way.

On Sunday we shot a couple of scenes where I am running (puff puff) though the woods and make the awful discovery.

Was it ever fun! And there is much more to do. On Aug 14th we're shooting scenes in a (my) doctors office...

Music tips: Josh Joplin Group, Eels and Carbon Leaf. This is a repeat of earlier tips. But do source these bands out... they are well worth the effort. And keep dialing in on your internet radio!

After a hard day of writing Saskatchewan news from Deep Cove, it is now time to pack away the laptop and go look at the beauty that surrounds. Sure, it's as noisy as a F1 race... but there are mountains only feet away.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Today was a first: I worked from home for the CBC.

I've been trying to get things set up so that I can do my CBC.CA work from home, instead of going downtown all the time.

This is especially important as I often start early -- 5am or 6am. And then there are situations where turnaround is involved.

Last night I worked until 11pm downtown at CTV and was due to work at CBC at 6am. Doesn't leave a lot of time for sleep.

So, I decided that I would attempt to work from home for the first time. And it worked fairly well.

Here's the deal:

The software I need to use - and the network connection to the CBC intranet are all PC based. I have a Mac. So...

I installed a program called Virtual PC that allows my Mac to emulate a PC. And then I installed Windows within that.

The next step was to install the necessary CBC software.

All of this worked... but the weak spot is my internet connection.

I currently do not have a dedicated connection. Rather, I am the wireless network from my pal Randy who lives 2 floors above me.

This is a great savings for me: no need for cable or a dedicated phone line to have broadband. I get it WiFi. So I save by only having a cellphone for chatting and I get basic cable for free (until they find out that I am getting it for free :) )

The network connection that the CBC software needs is pretty touchy. If the connection is lost, the server in Toronto will lock me out for four hours! Unless I call IT.

Anyway, long story short -- it seems that even my weak Wifi connection is enough. And today proved it.

I woke up at 5 to 6 and started working while I made tea and breakfast. Then after a bit, I popped into the shower. Worked some more. Took a 2 hour break and then finished my day. They like it when the web people work a split shift, as it means content is loaded over a longer period.

And I certainly didn't mind a long break today.

I have a night shift at CTV tomorrow, as well as a full day for CBC... so I will work at home for CBC and then around 3, I'll zip downtown and work at CTV.

Originally I was going to sleep at CBC tomorrow night, as I work at CTV until midnight and have to be back at CBC at 6am Wednesday.

But NOW I can work at home in a nice environment tomorrow, then go to work, then come home... and get up (still with only 5 hours sleep) but I won't have to get up an hour before starting work... just 5 minutes beforehand. And I can even take a nap!

I am booked with CBC for the rest of the month. And I have some double shifts with CTV that I am going try and give away... I will be spending a lot more time in Deep Cove.

And counting cars. ;)