Thursday, April 30, 2009

from the "I don't like Mondays" dept.

Remember me?

Canwest has announced that the National Post is going to take Mondays off all summer. In an effort to trim costs (they've already trimmed quality) the Post will be published 5 times a week. Not that it matters to many of you -- the Post isn't even available in large swaths of Canada.
"CanWest has $3.9 billion in debt and is negotiations with bondholders and lending banks in a bid to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection. It owns the Global television network and a string of daily newspapers from British Columbia east into Quebec, but those papers won't be similarly affected by the Monday black-outs, the report said." [MORE]
That leaves us with Toronto's national newspaper and, if you're lucky, the New York Times in addition to your local paper.

May I make a suggestion? THE INTERNET!

News, hot and fresh from the Interpherewebablogs!


from the "infectious music" dept.

La la la

Stephan Zielinski, an amateur music composer based in San Francisco, has created a song based on the swine flu (H1N1) virus.
"Using computer programs he created himself, as well as a commercial product, Zielinski composed his song by assigning instruments and musical notes to various properties of the protein." [MORE]
CNN has the story here. And you can listen to the infectious song here. No video, unfortunately -- just close your eyes and imagine a virus and your body attacking it.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

from the "love/hate" dept.

Why I love Julia Roberts:

Why I hate Glenn Beck:

from the "change we can see" dept.

The White House is releasing their official photos on Flickr. These photos offer a behind-the-scenes view of the daily goings on in Obama's house/office. Here's a couple of examples:

More cool stuff is HERE.

[h/t: KT]


from the "swine flu answers" dept.

Here's my handy Swine Flu infomation website:


from the "hope your insurance is paid up" dept.

In Russia, pothole drive you. That's the theme of this video that captures hapless drivers as they barrel into a ginormous pothole. Lookout!!

[h/t: Gadling]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

from the "we're all the same" dept.

What happens when the world comes together though music? Magic.


"As we made our way around the world we encountered love, hate, rich and poor, black and white, and many different religious groups and ideologies. It became very clear that as a human race we need to transcend from the darkness to the light and music is our weapon of the future. This song around the world features musicians who have seen and overcome conflict and hatred with love and perseverance. We dont need more trouble, what we need is love. The spirit of Bob Marley always lives on.

This is the fourth Song Around The World video released from the CD/DVD Playing For Change: Songs Around The World and the follow up to the classics "Stand By Me," "One Love" and "Don't Worry." This unforgetable track was performed by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it traveled the globe."

Buy the CD/DVD here:

Oh, and here are the first three releases:

Stand By Me

Don't Worry

One Love

And just for fun, because it so captures the spirit of travel:


from the "leaving a mark" dept.

I've always had a spot spot for animation. From big buck Hollywood fare to small budget indy creations. The time involved in staggering.

A case in point: This video for the band the Firekites. The song is called "Autumn Story" and the entire video was shot using chalkboard drawings. It's pretty amazing stuff:

Firekites - AUTUMN STORY - chalk animation from Lucinda Schreiber on Vimeo.

[h/t BBH]


Friday, April 24, 2009

from the "kick off the weekend with a smile" dept.

Let's get the weekend started with some inspiration:



from the "bordering on the absurd" dept.

The BBC has a story about the border between Armenia and Turkey that has, with the exception of a short period in the 1990s, been closed since 1927.
"Armenia has been commemorating the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks - and a Cold War-style closed border remains a symbol of that deep scar. [... MORE ...]"
Perhaps a border expedition to this part of the world is in order?

from the "hair today, gone tomorrow" dept.

Frump no more.

Susan Boyle, the Britain's Got Talent phenom is undergoing a radical transformation. Here's the stunning video clip of her as she burst onto the scene a week ago:

Susan Boyle Utube

And here's what she looks like now:

"A Britain’s Got Talent spokeswoman said: 'Susan’s a grown woman and can do what she likes with her hair.'"
If you want to read more about her makeover, the Britain's Daily Mail has the story HERE.

If you could care less, click on the video again. It's still pretty amazing stuff even if the marketing machine (of which I am a cog) is taking over.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

from the "it's a long tramp" dept,

As you well know, I travel. Usually it's motorized - bus, plane, trotro, pullman, taxi, collectivo, shuttle -- you get the drift.

Once in my life I did it the hard way -- sans motor. Back in 1993 I, along with three good friends, cycled across Portugal and into Spain. It wasn't the Tour de France -- but it wasn't easy.

But there is an even more difficult way to travel: By foot. Check out this video by Christoph Rehage. He travelled across China by foot -- and recorded self-portraits along the way. He then cut them together in a video that shows his months-long journey in a few minutes. The video also captures his ever-changing locations and his own personal transformation.

Suddenly, the idea of walking across BC or even Canada seems kind of cool.



My Chernobyl piece appeared in the April 22, 2009 edition of the Yukon News. Screen capture from their website above.


from the "shameless self-promotion" dept.

My Chernobyl piece is in this week's edition of Edmonton's Vue Weekly (April 23, 2009 edition).


from the "internet never forgets" dept.

Woah! I just stumbled across my first less-than-successful attempt at building a website. From nearly 11 years ago. 11! And it's still online.

The good news: I'm young and thin. The bad news: That was was a long time ago.

There are lots of ancient photos of people from my Halifax, Winnipeg and early Vancouver days.

CLICK HERE to travel down memory lane.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

from the "no fun city" dept.

Vancouver is a funny place. It has so much going for it, yet something is missing. You constantly hear it referred to as No Fun City. And there is some truth to that. Every time more than three people gather in a crowd, the city goes on high alert -- terrified that a(nother) riot will break out. Sigh.

But after living here for more than I decade, I can tell you what is missing: Soul. Seriously. This burg's got no soul. It's got a lot of great things (beaches, mountains, the Olympics) but no soul. You want proof? Check out Cleveland: Now there's a place with soul!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

from the "I can't find it" dept.

Breaking news from the world of boundaries: the Four Corners marker that is supposed to mark the quad-point of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah -- doesn't. The U.S. National Geodetic Survey says the monument marking the spot is 2.5 miles/4 kilometres off.

"National Geodetic Survey officials say the Four Corners marker showing the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah is about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) west of where it should be, the Desert News reported.

The only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together was first surveyed by the government in 1868 during the initial survey of Colorado's southern boundary. The survey was inaccurate..." [...MORE...]


from the "shameless self-promotion" dept.

The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!

Ok, it's not the new phone book, rather it's the newly published "Media Discourse and the Yugoslav Conflicts" by Paal Kolste.

And that photo of Sarajevo's shattered Oslobodjenje newspaper building on the cover? I took that back in 1997. A little history is HERE.

Want to buy it? Here's the link:


Monday, April 20, 2009

from the "going around in circles" dept.

Ever wonder what it would look like if Benny Hill were involved in a high-speed pursuit?

Wonder no more:


Sunday, April 19, 2009

from the "you read it here first" dept.

I thought my piece on Chernobyl was going to run this Sunday (4/19) in the Philadelphia Inquirer -- but it actually won't run until next Sunday, April 26 -- the 23rd anniversary of the disaster. However, if you'd like a sneak peak, I have PDF files of the layout in all its glory.


If this does not work, you may need to ctrl-click and chose "save link as" (Mac) or right click on the link (PC), then choose "Download to Disk," "Save Target As...," or the equivalent.

If you do not have Adobe's Acrobat Reader, you may download it by clicking the following link: DOWNLOAD READER.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

from the "cram-it" dept.

Idiot of the Day:

from the "got work?" dept

We're less than a year away from the Vancouver Winter Olympics... which may seem like forever if you're out of work. However, the hiring has begun and there are opportunities a-plenty.

Check out these links for more:

NBC Vancouver Olympic Jobs
OBS - Olympic Broadcast Services

There are more links below this post as well. I'll update this list often, so check back regularly!

Cheers! And good luck!

from the "wrong place, wrong time" dept.

This isn't good:

Less than four months after being arrested in Iran, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has been convicted of being an American spy and sentenced to eight years in prison... [MORE/BBC]

Friday, April 17, 2009

from the "for a moment I thought this was another tea bag story" dept.


Not quite sure what happened here, but this is one of the best television bloopers ever!

Roger Millions, sportscaster with of Rogers Sportsnet says [ BLEEP ] on live TV when reporting from Chicago on the Blackhawks and Flames playoff series.


from the "free money" dept.

Economy crashing. Layoffs. End of the world. 2009 is not starting off well. You need to get away from it all, but you're broke. Right? Well... you may have the extra coin you need for two weeks in the sun -- and not even know it.

Yaycations has a convenient little vacation budget calculator that lets you discover hidden cash in your daily budget. Money you might spend without thinking of the long-term ramifications. I found I could easily save thousands (if I didn't live in Guatemala!)... and those thousands equal a cheap holiday in paradise.

To see how much you can squeeze from your daily budget, click HERE. And post the results in my comments section.

Happy trails!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

from the "breaking tweet" dept.

I think I know why CNN is languishing in the ratings -- they've forgotten what news is.

Proof? This "Breaking News" e-mail alert from April 16th:
"Ashton Kutcher is first to reach 1 million followers in Twitter contest with CNN."
Yeah, CNN, you're breaking news alright.

Sigh. I hate television.

from the "grounds for divorce" dept.

You know the North American economy is screwed when Starbucks shuts down coffee joints in Vancouver only to open them in Poland. From the April 15th Globe and Mail:
"Known for having two Starbucks kitty-corner on a downtown street, the city is seeing outlets start to go dark as the company expands in more promising markets, such as Poland. [...MORE...]"
So what does all this mean for the concept of Fair Trade? Nothing good, I bet. A full report from Guatemala in May.

from the "when are you going to grow-up" dept.

"Immaturity? Take a left at Juvenile..."

When, like me, you travel a lot or live abroad, you hear two common reactions from your friends:

Reaction #1: Wow! I am so envious...

Reaction #2: When are you going to grow up?

An essay over at Vagabondish examines the reasons behind Reaction #2.
"Is the long-term traveler really nothing more than an immature child in others’ eyes? Not a curious soul seeking answers but rather an intellectual teenager, ignorant of the future and focusing only on the pleasure of the moment? [...MORE...]"
I have never understood why living in, say, West Africa for a year, would be considered immature. After all, isn't life all about learning new things? Traveling is simply the best education, period. New languages, new music, new cultures... and yes, the odd pint.

And in reality, the career traveler's life is tougher than you might think. You give up relationships, your home and it's really hard to make a living at it.

Personally, I would rather squeeze nickles than stay in a job I hate for 35 years... and then wonder, "where the hell did my life go?"

Where it all began: Portugal, 1993

I made peace a long time ago with the "responsibility" issue: I may not have a lot of stuff, but if I were to die tomorrow, I would go out knowing I had lived the life that I wanted to live. And I would have absolutely no regrets... except for the fact that I didn't start traveling until I was 30.


from the "stranger than fiction" dept.

The CBC is reporting that a woman was killed by her laptop last month.
A 25-year old Delta, B.C. woman died after the small car she was driving was hit by a tow truck. When investigators looked into the incident, however, they concluded she would have survived if not for her laptop computer. [...MORE...]
The moral of the story? Lock down that laptop.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

from the "fade to black" dept.

According to a piece on C21 Media's website, Canwest Global stock isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
"The perilous state of the Canadian TV industry has been driven home by a leading analyst's recommendation that shares in Canwest Global are now essentially worthless and should be avoided. [...MORE...]"
How the mighty have fallen...

[h/t: REW]

Monday, April 13, 2009

from the "fair and balanced" dept.

I've always thought that the only way to form an objective opinion about anything is to hear all sides. But in today's world of 24-hour all-news channels, Canadians are unable (for now) to hear one voice.

Why is it that we get right-wing talking points on FauxNews, endless celeb news on CNN, endless phoners on Newsworld, the endless loops of features on NewsNet and the global scope of BBC World... but we not offered Al Jazeera English?

I've seen it and it's fantastic. And if you're worried about hate, just watch Sean Hannity spew his vile right-wing rhetoric on Faux.

Interested in knowing more about AJE? Check out this interview from The Hour with Tony Burman, the Canadian who is now AJE's managing editor.

"Al-Jazeera offers a very international, global look at the world. It's a channel that is based in the south and focuses overwhelmingly on the developing world and regions very underreported in the mainstream media. Al-Jazeera English has now been broadcasting for more than two years, is available in more than 140 million households worldwide and in more than 100 countries.

Canada is in an odd, and also unique, position in regards to Al-Jazeera because Canadians currently don't have the right to choose to tune in to Al-Jazeera - Canada is one of the few countries in which our channel is currently not available. Even in the U.S., where Al-Jazeera is certainly reviled in right-wing Republican circles, Al-Jazeera Arabic is available nationwide." [...MORE...]

I want, I want, I want my AJE...


Monday, April 06, 2009

from the "six candles" dept.

I feel bad. I missed a good friend's birthday. On March 25, 2009, Roadspill turned... wait for it... six!

Is it possible that I've been blogging since I was in my 30s? Apparently so.

So, in honour of Roadspill's 6th, let's hoist a pint with the original #6.


from the "lessons of history" dept.

The BBC World Service broadcast today part one of an excellent radio documentary on Guatemala's civil war.
In Guatemala four years ago, 80 million documents were discovered in a warehouse. They contain evidence of police atrocities during Guatemala's 36 year long civil war. Gerry Northam investigates the story of the archive’s chance discovery.
The Atrocity Archives (part one) runs 23 minutes. Listen to it HERE or download it HERE.

from the "you stay classy" dept.

Broadcasting & Cable is reporting the death of Ron Burgundy-type news anchors. Those big-contract meat puppets are being replaced by multitasking reporters who actually work and work for far less.
"With the local TV economy wheezing, the mega-million-dollar anchor, tasked solely with reading the Teleprompter, is going the way of the LP record and the thriving daily newspaper.

In an era where content, not talent, is king, that giant salary is being put to better use in hiring a batch of hungry multimedia multitaskers. Those all-star anchors who have been able to avoid the sack thus far are often compelled to take on a wider range of duties and, with an “economic gun pointed at their head,” in the words of one industry watcher, do it for significantly less money
... [MORE]"
The times they are a changing.


from the "you stay classy" dept

Sunday, April 05, 2009

from the "Bloodcouver" dept.

Oh, this isn't good.

An article in the UK Independent throws light on a subject that the champions of Vancouver would rather you didn't know about.

The headline:

From heaven to hell: 18 die as drugs war rages on streets of Vancouver

Not only does the civic PR machine have to counter such brazen journalism, it also has to deal with the homeless, the heroin and Vancouver's returning to the status of "no fun city."

But first, the blood:
"As it prepares to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, what it's got now is not cuddly, eco-friendly publicity, but blood-spattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses... [MORE]"
Man, I am so proud of my city. But wait... I live in Guatemala, where it's much safer:

Street gangs target and kill bus drivers in Guatemala

"In a country as bloody as Guatemala, the last two weeks have stood out. In the last several years, bus drivers have became targets for street gangs seeking extortion money. But the thugs are not breaking the drivers’ kneecaps — they are blowing their heads off. The number of bus drivers killed was around 80 last year.... [MORE]"
Jeez. Can you tell the difference? I can't tell the difference.

from the "blah blah blah" dept.

I've always thought that the annonymous comments on online news stories are stupid. And I'm not the only one.

Victoria Times-Colonist columnist (a Colonist columnist?!) Jack Knox hits the nail on the head with his piece entitled: "Technology gives voice to those with nothing to say"
After last week’s awful care-home shooting in Gibsons, users of the CBC’s website were invited to add their comments to the posted version of the story.

This, dear reader, is what a correspondent who identified himself only as Bad To The Bone had to contribute to the on-line discussion: “Bummer.”

Which is the point at which I jammed a sharpened pencil in my eye, repeatedly. [MORE]
I couldn't agree more.


from the "retro-tech" dept.

Dark Roasted Blend has a groovy photo-laden feature called "The Cutting Edge of Retro Tech." Lots of cool things to decorate one's home with...

It's a great subject; there is something passionate in contemplating retro technology - a strong nostalgia factor, of course, but also a "freedom of design" factor: there were no cast-in-stone design rules yet, and consumer electronics could be as wild and woolly, as consumers wanted them to be... [more]

Saturday, April 04, 2009

from the "travellers lament" dept.

This is a brilliant traveller's lament by Paul Kelly. If you don't like the F-word, don't watch.


from the "click aqui" dept.

My new, homemade business website is up!


A better URL is coming soon.

Please stand by.