Saturday, April 30, 2005

from the "monkey off my back" dept.

They're done! They're done! The goddamn taxes are done as of 11:45am Saturday, April 30, 2005.

2003, 2004, GST.

Done, done, done.


Unfortunately, Quarter 2 GST is due at the end of July.

But until then....




Friday, April 29, 2005

From the "I hate taxes" dept.

It's been a busy week. It started with coming home from California, and heading right into work. And then, two of the three days I had earmarked for working on my seemingly endless taxes disappeared when I got called into work.

Not that I mind the money. In fact, it makes me feel less ansty about the costs of the upcoming border expedition. Even though I have almost 1000 Euros on hand, I will still need another 500 or so. And that is nearly $800.

And then there are all the added expenses in Western Europe. I've decided to take a hotel near Heathrow during my one night layover between Copenhagen and Vancouver. Luckily I have found a number of them for about $100 plus tax. It probably works out to be the cheapest and most convenient option. And I will still get to visit my pals in Hamstead Heath -- and go for Ethopian food! But I will also be by the airport, and ready to go at 6am. No cabs or anything to deal with.

I spent Wednesday dedicated to taxes (I've got some catching up to do). More on Thursday, then worked Thur night. Today, Friday, is more of the same. I hope to have the lions share done by dinner time. Although I've been slow in getting at it this morning. It doesn't help when the weather is beautiful and I have the house to myself. I just want to chill.

I work all weekend, and Monday. And then have 2 days off before leaving for Europe (Vienna!) on Thursday. One hell of a long flight -- something like 12 hours, not including the plane change in London.

I am seriously considering BOSE noise cancelling headphones for the journey. I hear they do wonders -- and I have little time to adjust after landing. We drive to Hungary the next day.

The Macedonian visa is in my hands, and really, there are no concerns about the trip. Other than safety in Albania and Kosovo. Let's see what the Canadian Government says about Albania:

Security problems exist in some areas. Canadians should not travel to the northeastern border area with Kosovo, or to Bajram Curri or Tropoje, where government control is limited. Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a problem along the Albania-Kosovo border. Use caution in areas bordering Macedonia (FYR), as security is very poor.

The crime level is high. Economic hardship and easy availability of firearms increase the risk of violent incidents. Street crime, such as pickpocketing and mugging, occur, especially after dark. Pickpocketing is more frequent on buses than on city streets. Do not show signs of affluence. Ensure personal belongings and travel/identity documents are secure. It is advisable to carry a photocopy of your passport at all times. Avoid travelling after dark. Car-jackings and armed attacks have been reported. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are frequently targeted. Criminal gangs operate along roads in remote areas. Northern areas (Bajram Curri, Kukes, Tropoje) are still considered dangerous. In Tirana, dial 129 for police. Police assistance and protection are not consistent with Canadian standards.

Gee, that's comforting. I think I'll skip looking at the Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia warnings.

It's going to be an interesting trip... that's for sure. And the laptop will stay in Vancouver!

Best get back to the fiscal crap...


Sunday, April 24, 2005

from the "back in the saddle, again" dept.

As per usual, time is fleeting. A summary, then:

After checking into what it would cost to remain in California, we decided that it was too much. At this point of the doco funding, the money is coming directly from our pockets. And when Alaska Airlines wanted several hundred more US$, we decided to stick to the initial plan.

And that means I am now back in Vancouver.

Friday we drove from Sacramento back to San Fran. Traffic was a nightmare and we wasted hours and hours stuck in gridlock. Eventually we made it to Haight-Ashbury for a late evening wander about. A few dollars were dropped at Amoeba Records - the best used record store on the planet.

Then it was a quick jaunt to the Motel 6 near SFO. After a greasy meal at a greasy spoon, it was off to slumberland.

The alarm went off at 4:30am... and we headed to return the car and then dragged our asses to the airport.

The flight departed at 7:40am and we were in Vancouver a few hours later. Randy got to go home. I got to go to work.

It is now Sunday and I am off to shoot more of the indy film I've been working on. Then work.

Tomorrow, I'll begin sifting through the wealth of material we came home with. Christa's story is amazing... and will make for a great film. Actually it could be several films.

The pressure is on to do a bunch of other business related things before I head to Europe in less than 2 weeks. I've got GST, taxes, an article to write for the Straight, and a job interview lined up over the next 5 days.

There was good news on the Macedonian visa front: it arrived Saturday via FedEx. I am now set to ramble around the last remaining bits of undiscovered Europe.

And with that, it's time to go.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

from the "arnie town" dept.

Greetings from Sacramento!

Randy and I met with Christa, the main person in our potential documentary. We talked for 4 hours, looked at photos, and got an english copy of her aunts journal about Auschwitz.

Christa is AMAZING!

We also are quite taken with Sacramento. Clean, beautiful, calm... its nothing like I had expected.

Thurday we do some more interviews, and attempt to delay returing to Vancouver by a day or two.

What we're geting is far beyond our expectations!


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

from the "twist of fate" dept.

If you've noticed that I've been quiet again, it's due to a million billion things going on. Lots of work over at CTV, plus a ton of other things to deal with.

I've also been taking time out to stop and smell the cherry blossoms. The weather of late has been down right summer-like. I was off on Monday and Tuesday, and decided to get out with the camera and take in some sun. I ranged all over the Lower Mainland, snapping snaps and soaking in soleil.

I'm working on a little photography project called the Amazing Adventures of Hula Girl. Images to come very, very soon. In fact, I think she will get her own website.

Nothing much new in the world of AltNewsJournal. Still waiting for the Maclean's article. And we're finding it hard to keep up. Ah, perhaps biting another piece to chew wasn't a great idea?

I'm off to San Francisco and Sacremento today. I'll be interviewing a woman whose uncle was entrusted by the Jews of a German town to take care of their valuables as they were carted away to the death camps.

Eventually they came for him, and just before the knock on the door, he buried the valuables.

The story is much more complex than that -- involving rocket scientists, Nazis and the US space program.

It has the makings for a great documentary, so I'm throwing caution to the wind and heading down to chat with the woman at the centre of the story. She wants to return to the town (now in Poland) and find the loot.

I'll be back on Saturday!


Thursday, April 14, 2005

from the "Blue Rodeo redux" dept.

I'm a bit short of time this morning, so here's a cut-and-paste "review" of the Blue Rodeo show last night at the Orpheum in Vancouver that I emailed to Brent down in Belize:

I saw the Blue Rodeo boys for the umpteenth time last night.

It was their second show at the Orpheum, and the place was packed. I went with Leanne, an old pal who moved to Toronto, but is now back in Vancouver.

The first thing we noticed was the crowd. Lots of bald spots and paunches. Average age? Mid-30's. Which, of course, makes perfect sense. People brought their kids too. Although kids conceived to Casino would be teens, and not interested in old peoples music. These were 5 year olds. What album was that?

The stage set-up was typical for B.R.: a big carpet, some lights, some Marshall stacks. Up first was a Dartmouth, NS band called Matt Mayes and the Torpedos (or something like that). They were very reminiscent of Blue Rodeo in the 80's. The lead singer has a hell of a voice, and the tracks are worth seeking out. Unfortunately their stage presence sucked. Most of the time, they would turn to face the drummer, backs to the audience. I've never noticed this sort of thing before, but the crowd sure did. After a while we were waving to the backs of the band, mocking them, saying "over here! Hello! Audience this way!"

After a break, the boys came on. Basil hiding in the corner. New folks on drums (I think), slide, and keys. They kicked it off with a bunch of tracks from their new CD (released last week). Then they dipped into the archives with classics like Five Days in May, English Bay, Diamond Mine, etc etc. No Try, however. It must be hard for them to choose a set, given they have such a big catalog of amazing tunes.

Basil hung back for most of the show, with Cuddy and Keelor joking about that. Then, Basil was called up front and actually did lead vocals on a tune (!). Never seen that before.

Unfortunately the dancing was curtailed either by a typical low-key Vancouver audience or the seating in the Orpheum. It wasn't until the encore (one only) that people actually stood. At least 3 lighters were spotted ( effects of no smoking laws? ). Matt Mayes came out and they did a familiar sounding Dylan song.

So it was a good show... Cuddy looked the same. Keelor looked old, sporting a grey beard. But they rocked, and sounded great.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

from the "still here" dept.

It's been busy since coming home. Lots of finance juggling, bill paying and sleeping.

Big news: going to California to do research on a story that could make for a great documentary.

More on that soon.

Working much of the rest of the week, save Wednesday -- when I go to see Blue Rodeo.

Found out Monday that I need a visa for Macedonia. That turned into a big crazy day... and today I spent two hours on Skype with Jesper -- making sure we haven't missed anything else.

Potential problem areas for the border expedition are Turkey and Kosovo.

Work beckons... more soon.


Friday, April 08, 2005

from the "home for a rest" dept.

So this is Vancouver, eh?

Well -- compared to Winnipeg it's cold. Sure, the sun is shining, the flowers are out, and it looks like summer. But, damn, that breeze of the water sure makes it chilly.

But, that said, it is good to be home.

Last night I had a de-brief with the roomies over a couple of drinks. Then slept like a log until 10am. It was wonderful!

The day was filled with catching up on things, like getting a double americano with steamed milk at Continental Coffee on Commercial Drive. And a half-pound of beans to boot.

Then it was lunch with a buddy from CTV. Then it was off to see the new born of other friends. Awwww.

Then some expensive grocery shopping - mmmm, SPA gassy water!

The weekend will be filled with much the same. I'm not back to work until Wednesday, so there is lots of time to take care of things like my 2004 taxes. Ugh.

Winnipeg pictures soon!


Thursday, April 07, 2005


Originally uploaded by
If you're a regular reader, you've probably noticed a lack of recent posting.

Easy to explain: I have been slacking when it comes to Roadspill.

I've been in Winnipeg for a spell, and have been run off my feet visiting family and friends. I was also working. Which is why I am here in the first place.

It's been a good visit - and the first one in 2 years. That will certainly change in the future. It's too much fun here.

Sure, it's the grimy time of year as winter gives way to spring. But it's been great visiting old haunts, finding new ones, and hanging out with old pals.

I return to Vancouver today (Thur), but I won't be there for long. I head to Europe on May 4.

In the interim, I'll be working on the podcast, taxes, and hopefully getting some exercise.

I've also decided to start a goofy new journal: the adventures of Hula Girl.

I was introduced to Hula Girl by friends who had HG on the dash of their car. I was struck by her curiosity and adventurous spirit. And decided I needed my own Hula Girl.

So off to Canadian Tire I went, and now, I have a HG to call my own.

More on this soon.