Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Drives You Crazy?

The Scream
Edvard Munch
Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard
91 × 73.5 cm
National Gallery, Oslo

I love this painting. There are days when we all feel like this. Certain things drive us crazy, and we feel the scream slowly rising to the top. We contain it, of course, but silently, inside our heads, we are screaming. One thing that bothers me is noise. I cannot tolerate noise. Some noises are pleasant and have a music all their own, such as the sound of a lawnmower on a spring afternoon or the sound of children in a playground down the street. And for some strange reason, I love the sound of my clothes dryer or my dishwasher humming away in the background. But most noises are just unpleasant and annoying.

"A noisy noise annoys an oyster."

One of my co-workers drives me completely insane. I love her dearly, but there are days when I feel a scream rising in my throat, just like in the Edvard Munch painting. My co-worker wears her plastic access pass on a lanyard around her neck, and on it she also wears the key to her desk, which she locks at the end of the day. The problem is, my co-worker has a form of ADHD and she cannot sit still for more than a few minutes. She is constantly jumping up and running around the office with the key clacking against the hard plastic access pass.

Clack, clack, clack... run, run, run... clack, clack, clack...


Last Sunday Leslie and I went to the Boathouse Restaurant for lunch. We had a fabulous table next to the window overlooking the sailboats on English Bay (I snapped this picture from our table, and yes, we have palm trees in Vancouver...), the food was delicious, the company was wonderful. Leslie and I always find so much to chat about. The noise in the restaurant was indescribable. There was some awful 1980s music playing from a tinny stereo somewhere off in the distance. The music was indecipherable, loud, impossible to hear, and didn't fit the ambience of the restaurant at all. It was probably some cheesy remix that one of the servers had brought in from a homemade CD collection. I was dizzy by the time we left the restaurant.


Yesterday as I was coming home from work, I noticed everyone on the bus was talking on a cell phone. There were all different languages, English, Iranian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, and they were all using their "telephone voices". I could hardly wait to get home, close the door behind me, and put on some soft jazz. Today I have the dryer humming quietly in the background, the rain is pattering on my roof and on the trees outside, and it's wonderful. My ears are saying, "Thank you! Thank you!"

Am I neurotic? Probably. But, I would bet there are things that drive you crazy too. There aren't?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just When You Thought It Was Safe...

Feeding the Chickens
George Vicat Cole
Oil on canvas
10 by 14.1/2 inches

People are living longer than ever before and there are more healthy centegenarians now than ever. We don't have as many communicable diseases as our grandparents did because we have antibiotics and we know more about hygiene. But in spite of this, we are a nation of hypochondriacs and we are afraid of everything. If a disease doesn't exist, we make one up. (Fibromyalgia, anyone?) Today we received the following bulletin at work, and when I read it, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

You've heard about the chicken that crossed the road. But have you heard the one about the chickens travelling down the road? It's no laughing matter. Crates of chickens being trucked along the highway in the back of an open truck can shoot a bunch of nasty bacteria into the cars behind them, researchers have found. Drivers stuck behind such a truck should "pass them quickly," advised study co-author Ana Rule, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University. Even so, it's not clear that germy debris will make you sick. None of the scientists who studied this problem got sick. And the disease-causing bacteria in question are normally spread by food or water, not air. Rule and her colleagues at the Bloomberg School of Public Health focused on the so-called Delmarva Peninsula, a coastal area that includes parts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The region is a chicken mecca, with one of the highest concentrations of broiler chickens per hectare in the nation.

The researchers chose a 27-kilometre stretch of highway connecting chicken farms in Maryland to a processing plant to the south in Accomac, Va. They rode in four-door cars with all the windows down and the air conditioning off. They checked the cars for bacteria after driving when there were no chicken trucks around. And they checked for bacteria after 10 trips behind flatbed trucks carrying crates of broiler chickens. They collected bacteria from air samples, door handles and soda cans inside the car. In all the truck chases, they found high levels of certain bacteria, including some that are resistant to antibiotics. The study, released this week, is being published in the first issue of the Journal of Infection and Public Health, and it's billed as the first to look at whether poultry trucking exposes people to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. ... CDC

Oh, gosh. And here I thought the only time I should be afraid of chicken was when the Cafeteria Nazi serves it on her menu.

Monday, November 24, 2008


George Frederic Watts

I was watching a really assinine program on TV the other day called "The Real Housewives of New York City". I have never seen a more shallow, self-serving bunch of women. The series is described by Bravo TV as "Fearuring an elite and powerful set of New York socialites as they juggle their careers and home lives with busy calendars packed with charity fund-raising galas, the social whirl of the Hamptons, and interviews for elite private schools. These driven and ambitious women show everyone what it takes to make it in the upper echelon of society, where money and status are an essential way of life. The series takes an up-close and personal look at a lifestyle where private chefs, Au Pairs, front row seats at Fashion Week and Hamptons estates are part of everyday life. The Real Housewives of New York City follows five glamorous Manhattan women - Alex, Bethenny, Jill, LuAnn, and Ramona - as they balance motherhood, demanding careers, and a fast-paced social calendar, and shows what life is like in the most exclusive areas of New York."

It was horrible ... It was like watching a train wreck, but I couldn't tear my eyes away.

However, my favorite of the five women is Countess LuAnn de Lesseps. She's not quite the real deal; she did not come from an aristocratic background before she married Alexander Count de Lesseps of the Suez Canal Dynasty, and really, how many Countesses are named LuAnn? But she definitely is a cut above the rest of the women in the group, and she has an understated style and taste that I like. She is very involved in charity work, and particularly with young women whose lives have been derailed by drugs, alcohol and other bad choices. As Countess LuAnn de Lesseps says, "It's not how far you have fallen, but how you get back up."

I think in some way all of us can relate to that. I have certainly gone through some low times in my life. Fortunately I never resorted to drugs or alcohol, but there have been times when I thought nothing would ever be right again. And like the "pay it forward" philosophy, sometimes all it takes is a small amount of encouragement and a kind word from someone else to get us back on track. It gives us hope. But I must confess, I am not as diligent about this as I should be. There is a lot (lot!) more I could be doing to help people who are less fortunate than I am, so I thank Countess LuAnn de Lesseps for reminding me of that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mystery Woman Contest

I haven't run a contest here on my blog for a long time, over a year in fact. So I think it's time we had one, don't you? I have quite a collection of tasteless lovely gifts that have been given to me by one of the doctors at work, who brings me something every time she comes back from one of her trips to somewhere exotic. I have in my collection a candle in the shape of something completely unidentifiable, with a scent that I don't recognize. It's yours if you can tell me who is the woman in this picture. She is dressed in the style of the 1970s, with bell bottom jeans, a comfortable blouse, a sun hat and sunglasses. No, it isn't me, and no I won't give you any hints. Give it a try. The wilder and crazier the guess, the better. Take a chance. Anything goes! You just might be right.

Leslie, you might want to recuse yourself, since I think you know the answer. :-)

We have a winner! Cedar from Cedarflame has won the ghastly beautiful candle by guessing correctly.

The woman in the bell-bottom blue jeans is none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith Sovereign of the Order of Canada, Sovereign of the Order of Australia, Sovereign of the Order of New Zealand, Sovereign of the Order of Barbados, Sovereign of the Order of Valour, Sovereign of the Order of Military Merit, Sovereign of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Sovereign of the Queen's Service Order, Sovereign of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of St. Andrew, Sovereign of the Order of Logohu, Sovereign of the Order of the Star of Melanesia.

That's not a bad looking little boat anchored in the background either...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Sexiest Man Alive?

Once again People Magazine has issued its "Sexiest Man Alive" edition for 2008. This year it's Hugh Jackman. Well, okay, I guess he's not bad. My problem with People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue is that their choices are all so obvious, and not really the type of man most women would choose. Well, let me rephrase that... There are many men who women would think are the "Sexiest Man Alive", but they may not necessarily end up the People Magazine issue. So, I always do my annual version of the "Sexist Man Alive", and after much discussion amongst the women at work today and after taking a poll which was accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 ... the following three men were considered to be the "Sexiest Men Alive". Here they are, in no particular order.

Jason O'Mara. Who, you ask? Well, if any of you have seen "Life on Mars" on ABC on Thursday nights, you just might have noticed Jason O'Mara. I first saw Jason O'Mara on a BBC production called "Berkeley Square". It was filmed about ten years ago, and shown on PBS. Like Hugh Lawrie in "House" and Rufus Sewell in "Eleventh Hour" Jason O'Mara is an import from the British Isles, and he has had to learn to speak with an American accent, rather than his Irish brogue. "Life on Mars" is one of the best shows I have seen in about a decade. It's edgy, funny and brilliant. And ABC has cancelled it. I guess people are too busy watching "Dancing With The Stars" and "American Idol".


Harvey Keitel. Oh, come on, you can't fool me. I know you have a secret crush on Harvey Keitel. He always plays tough-guy parts, and he has a reputation for being a tough guy in real life, but he doesn't suffer fools gladly. I think he is probably as street smart in real life as the characters he plays. He was in the U.S. Marines before he became an actor. When I did my scientific poll of the women in the office today, Harvey Keitel was their favorite, especially with Dr. A. who says Harvey Keitel makes her go weak at the knees. Harvey Keitel was also in "Life on Mars", and the chemistry between his character and Jason O'Mara's character was brilliant and funny. What a huge loss!

Paul Gross, Canada's very own. You might remember him as Constable Benton Fraser in "Due Douth". He is currently starring in a feature film "Passchendaele" which was one of the more infamous battles of the First World War and is also known as The Third Battle of Ypres. He not only stars in the movie, but he wrote and directed it as well, and it is getting good reviews. Paul Gross is one of those rare breeds - a good looking man with a sense of humor. He is also brilliant and doesn't mind making a fool of himself. If you have never seen it, rent "Men with Brooms", a spoof on curling, the traditional sport in every small Canadian town.

The general consensus amongst the group of women at the office today was that there is really no such thing as a "Sexiest Man Alive". It's all just a gimmick to sell a magazine. As Dr. A. said, "The Sexiest Man Alive is the man one loves..."

Whatever is in any way beautiful hath its source of beauty in itself, and is complete in itself; praise forms no part of it. So it is none the worse nor the better for being praised. ... Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. ... Kahlil Gibran

Beauty?... To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ... Pablo Picasso

The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not touched, but are felt in the heart. ... Helen Keller

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'll Be Back....

I am taking a short break for the time being. I will try to visit all of you as much as I can, and I will re-open my own blog again eventually.

I will be back, but for now I need to do other things. I need to get away from my computer and do other things for a while. I will be back.


ADDENDUM: Okay, Okay, I won't be away long. I just have a few things to do and to catch my breath... Phew! But I'll be back. I sit in front of my computer at work all day and sometimes when I get home, sitting in front of my computer at home is the last thing I want to do. Where do you all get the energy to blog so much? Some of you have upwards of 50 commenters! Holy doodle! It must take forever to visit all those folks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Books! Glorious Books!

Still Life With Three Books
Vincent van Gogh
Painting, Oil on panel (oval)
Paris: March - April, 1887
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

Willow at Life at Willow Manor has a wonderful meme going on at the moment, and she has invited anyone to join in.


List the following:

(a) Fiction book
(b) Autobiography
(c) Non-fiction book
(d) A fourth book of your choice from any genre.

Explain why the books are essential reads in no more than 30 words.

Here is my list.

(a) "Youngblood Hawke" by Herman Wouk. It's a fictionalized account of the life of Thomas Wolfe, who was one of my favorite authors, and who wrote one of my favorite books, "Look Homeward Angel". Oddly enough, "Look Homeward Angel" was loosely based on Thomas Wolfe's own life.

(b) "Einstein, His Life and Universe" by Walter Isaacson. I have always been fascinated with Einstein as a person, and the book shows his human side. We all think of Einstein as the most brilliant man who ever lived, but he was really quite a lady's man, and the book publishes some of his love letters, which are very sweet.

(c) "The Outline of History" by H.G. Wells. Even though he was famous for his science fiction books, he wrote a history book that was wonderfully interesting. He wrote about evolution, religion and philosophy with the same beliefs and opinions that I have. He would have been an interesting person to know. "When I wrote the Outline of History I slowly gained the conviction which crystallized itself later on into a positive idea, that the great Roman Empire was ruined not only from outside by the storming barbarians; but also by the internal financial difficulties, by the indebtedness of all social classes, and by the heavy burden of taxation, until, under these financial burdens, the whole scaffolding of imperialism broke down." ... H.G. Wells

(d) This last category is difficult because I think I have read thousands of books, and each of them is a favorite of mine, in its own way. But I have a particular fondness for a book that belonged to my father called "A Treasury of Laughter". I used to read it for hours when I was a little girl, I still have the book, and it can still make me laugh.

In my enthusiasm, I think I went way over 30 words. Now I will probably wake up at 3:00 in the morning and want to change my list, or at least add to it.

Okay ... now it's your turn.

A Breath Of Fresh Air

I think it must be very exciting for Americans to look forward to having children in the White House again. I'm not the biggest fan of Barack or Michelle Obama, (...sorry) but they sure have two beautiful, adorable little girls, and I think having them in the White House would be like a breath of fresh air. The laughter of children, and especially the giggling of little girls, can blow the cobwebs out of any stuffy old residence, can't it?

On Good Morning American this morning someone was saying that when any new President and his family moves into the White House, they have free rein to make the house their own home. They can bring in their own furniture, and paint the walls any color they wish. Nothing is more exciting to a little girl than being able to decorate her own bedroom.

I just hope the world leaves them alone and allows them to grow up as normal little girls, out of the spotlight. They are both entering their teenage years very soon, and teenagers can be ... well ... teenagers. The press and the media can make a conscious choice to leave them alone, and I hope they do.

Bring on the Barbie dolls and pillow fights!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Welcome To Pottersville

Do you remember the part in "It's A Wonderful Life"? where the angel Clarence Odbody takes George Bailey around Bedford Falls to show him what it would be like if George weren't alive? Without George, Bedford Falls has turned into Pottersville, and it's horrible. It's mostly a slum with Main Street dominated by pawn shops and sleazy bars. Everything is crass and seedy, there is no spirit left in the town. Everyone is angry and depressed, and worst of all Christmas has gone away and it doesn't snow anymore.

Well, it's already started. Here in Vancouver, decorations have gone up in all the shops and malls, and the store fronts have painted-on signs wishing everyone "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays". Magazines in the supermarkets have their "holiday" issues on display, and commercials on television are advertising "holiday" gifts. Well, first of all, it's way to early for my liking. And second, there is no reference - anywhere - to Christmas. It feels like Pottersville. Everything feels crass and seedy, and not at all like Christmas.

What has happened to Christmas? Why have we allowed it to be taken away from us? I have celebrated Christmas all my life; not "holiday", but Christmas. It is a tradition with deep roots in my culture. But, in order to be all-inclusive, rather than inviting other cultures into sharing our celebration of Christmas, we have homogenized it down to something that we hardly recognize anymore. How the hell did Christmas become politically incorrect, and why have we permitted that to happen?

It feels like Pottersville!

In Vancouver we celebrate all the cultures. We celebrate Chinese New Years with a wonderful parade and all kinds of parties and dinners; we have two large parades celebrating Vaisakhi, the Sikh holiday; we celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which is the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. During Chanukah our Vancouver Art Gallery erects a large menorah and the lighting of the menorah has become an annual tradition.

Nowhere does anyone mention that dreaded "C" word - Christmas. Nowhere!

How did this happen? If other cultures, in the spirit of all-inclusiveness, are permitted to celebrate their traditions openly and with joy, why are we not permitted to celebrate Christmas? Not "holiday" - Christmas!

This year I vow I am going to visit every mall and every store, armed with my can of spray paint, and the paint the word

wherever I find that offensive word "holiday". And then it won't feel so much like Pottersville anymore.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Your Mother Wears Army Boots...!

Yes she does! I have been wearing my pedometer every day, trying to get to my goal of 10,000 steps per day, and I vary between 8,000 and 9,000 steps so far. But I have been wearing my niece's boyfriend's Nike Pegasus hiking shoes. He bought two pairs for the price of one and gave one pair to me, and I loved them, they were so comfortable. But they're not very ladylike, so I decided to buy a more ladylike walking shoe. I tried on this pair of Privos made by Clark, and they felt like walking on air. So I bought them, walked out of the store and felt wonderful.

Until I looked into a shop window and saw my reflection.

As I walked along the swanky, upscale shopping area known as The South Granville Rise, I kept catching glimpses of my feet in the store windows, and I realized my shoes looked exactly like clown shoes, completed with the round, turned-up toes. *sigh* I felt as if everyone was looking at my feet and laughing. There were all the Shaughnessy matrons in their Gucci and Prada shoes, and their expensive designer handbags, and there was I, in my clown shoes.

Oh, well, they're comfortable and they were on sale for half price. I wonder why...?

Homeless In Vancouver

When I first saw this photograph, I thought it was a painting. The theme of the photograph, the colors, the composition, the feeling and mood are so powerful. It is a photograph of a homeless woman in Vancouver. Our city has been named the number one city in the world in which to live, many times, and indeed it is beautiful. But we have a serious problem with homelessness here. A couple of years ago a young couple gave birth to a baby in St. Paul’s Hospital. They were homeless, and when they were discharged from the hospital, they were released back onto the streets with their newborn. How could something like that happen? Well, it did.

"The solution to homelessness will always be a home. A home is a safe place to sleep, a permanent address that helps secure a job, and a place to rebuild and rejoin our community. But the crisis can’t be solved just by building homes. We must also ensure that there is adequate treatment for addiction and mental health, access to temporary shelter, and action to eliminate poor rental conditions."

… Gregor Robertson, Vision Vancouver

Recently, folks living in rental properties in the West End have been evicted so the property owners can make basic cosmetic repairs and then hike the rents up to unaffordable amounts. Anyone who can't afford to pay the higher rents, or who can't find another place to rent, ends up living on the streets. There is something just so wrong in that. The West End is already an outrageously expensive area of the city, and the Provincial and Municipal governments have taken away all renters' rights.

When my daughter was only four years old, her father was killed in a plane crash. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, stole our insurance money that would have purchased a home for my daughter and me. In fact, we could have purchased a house for cash, in Kerrisdale, but that is a story for another day... As a consequence, we were at the mercy of landlords for many years. So affordable housing for everyone is something I feel very strongly about.

There but for the Grace of God...

In an in camera (secret) meeting recently, Vancouver City Council agreed to lend up to $100 million to bail out the financially troubled development company building the athletes village for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. When the Olympic Games are over, these condominiums will sell for upwards of $3.5 million dollars per unit, and the developers will pocket a ton of money.

Big mistake. The people of Vancouver were disgusted, and yesterday in our Municipal election they voted in Vision Vancouver and Gregor Robertson as their Mayor. He won by a landslide.


I'm extremely happy we have elected a Mayor who has made affordable housing the first issue on his platform. No more bailing out fat cat developers, in behind-closed-door meetings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

... By Any Other Name

Throughout my life, I have been called by many nicknames. When I was a little girl people called me Johanna Banana or Jo Jo. As I got older, I was called Josie or Jo. Often people never got my name right, and they called me Joanne or Joanna. I had a grade nine teacher who used to call me Johann. I tried all year to explain to her that my name had an "a" at the end, but she could never get it right. She was a teacher, for goodness sake, what was so difficult about pronouncing my name correctly? Needless to say, she will not be remembered as one of my favorite teachers. A nurse where I work calls me Yohanna, but I like her too much to tell her that my name starts with a "J", not a "Y". But I must admit, I have never cared for nicknames, and I love it when I hear my name pronounced correctly.

My name is sort of unusual, so there aren’t many songs named after me. I like to think Bob Dylan was thinking of me when he wrote this song. Of course, the fact that we had never met would have nothing to do with it, ... well, except once when I saw him perform in person.

Could it be…?


Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin' you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there's nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind

In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman's bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the "D" train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it's him or them that's really insane
Louise, she's all right, she's just near
She's delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna's not here
The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He's sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I'm in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it's so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn

Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, "Jeeze
I can't find my knees"
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel

The peddler now speaks to the countess who's pretending to care for him
Sayin', "Name me someone that's not a parasite and I'll go out and say a prayer for him"
But like Louise always says
"Ya can't look at much, can ya man?"
As she, herself, prepares for him
And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev'rything's been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

As with most Dylan songs, I have no idea what the song means, but I love to hear Bob Dylan say my name.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hold The Elevator....!

About once a year I like to do a blog post about my pet peeves. You know, we all have them - those things that annoy us to distraction. Last year two of my pet peeves I wrote about were colored paper clips and balloons. I hate them. They should be banned from the planet, the ghastly things. This year I have a few more. Well, I have a lot more, actually, but I won't bore you with all of them at once. Here, in no particular order, are three things that annoy me beyond all reason.

1. My first pet peeve is when people don't hold the elevator door open when you're just a few feet and a few seconds away from it. They can see you, they know you're there just outside that closing door, and worst of all they're someone you work with, and they know they are going to see you again in a few minutes ... upstairs. When you finally get an elevator and get up to the office, you walk past them and give them the look. You know the one, "Why didn't you hold the elevator door for me when you saw I was rushing towards it with my hands full?" They look away, but do they feel any shame? No. Would I do it to them if the tables were turned? In a heartbeat.

2. My second my pet peeves is the person who sits next to you in the cafeteria, and just as he is finishing his meal, he whips out a Kleenex and blows his nose - loud, long and productively. He then scrunches the offensive Kleenex up and leaves it on his table, just inches away from where you are still eating your meal. Or at least, you were still eating your meal. Any appetite you had is now long since gone.

3. My third, but by no means last pet peeve is synchronized swimming and ballroom dancing. They are the same thing, aren't they? One is done in the water and one is done on the dance floor. They both involve a lot of grotesque flailing of arms and legs, and they both look extremely painful and unattractive. And they're both really, really cheesy. Any relationship they bear to either swimming or dancing is purely coincidental.

Thank you for allowing me to vent. Stay tuned ... I have more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Girl Talk

I had a couple of days off work this week, and I managed to sit down in the afternoon today to watch some TV. What the heck is going on with daytime television? All I could get were soap operas, cooking shows, decorating shows, Martha Stewart, more soap operas, Bonny Hunt, Oprah Winfrey, more cooking shows. And what is it with those women on The View? They're ghastly! Has Joy Behar ever actually heard herself speak?

So, I sat there with the remote, clicking on every station to find something to watch, and according to the schedule, for the whole afternoon there was nothing but "women's programming".

Someone should do a sociological study of daytime television. It would be very interesting. Not having watched television during the daytime, I didn't realize the mentality is still deeply rooted in the 1950s. According to the programmers, the male of the species leaves the cave home and is out doing something productive, while the female of the species is home bonding with the girls on afternoon television. I wondered about any of the fellows who happen to be at home during the day. What are they watching? Well, I suppose there is always Jerry Springer, but no one really watches that, do they?

So, this afternoon on the Martha Stewart Show I learned how to make philo pastry; on the Young and the Restless I learned that Heather told Paul that she and Adam are engaged; on Home and Garden Television I learned what colors to paint a large room to make it look smaller; and I learned that if I watch Oprah Winfrey every day, I will have a perfect life.


We've come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go.

But that's a dame
They're all the same
It's just a game
They call it
Girl Talk
Girl Talk...

The Mysterious Shoes

A Pair of Shoes
Vincent van Gogh
oil on canvas
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Like something out of a Stephen King novel, another foot has been found washed ashore in Richmond. It is the seventh one so far in the past couple of years.

Another running shoe with what may be a detached foot has washed up along the banks of the Fraser River in Richmond, B.C., according to the RCMP. A New Balance runner for a woman's left foot apparently containing human remains was found in Finn Slough in the south arm of the Fraser, near the end of Garden City Road, Const. Annie Linteau told CBC News.

Police have not released any further description of the shoe, but a woman's right foot in a size 7 New Balance running shoe was also discovered on May 22, 2008 on Kirkland Island, which is also in the Fraser River.

... CBC Canada

I have a feeling someone knows more about this than they are disclosing.

Someone wrote on the CBC website: "Let this be a warning to you B.C. joggers that in a warm humid climate like yours you should change your socks every month or two whether they need it or not."

Someone else wrote: "Maybe the owners of these feet had really long hair and a very bad barber... they asked him to cut a foot off and well... the rest is history!"

Yet another person wrote: "They need to work faster on this case. Progress should be measured in miles rather than feet. Clearly to get this case solved, detectives need to step up to the plate and toe the line rather than walking around flat-footed thinking that success is a shoe-in or a 'feet accompli'."

My favorite: "Good sneakers float, expensive leather Gucci's sink, particularly when encased in Mafia cement."

Sigh … Everyone’s a comedian.

I tend to agree with the person who wrote: "Man... we smoke waaaaaaaaaaaay too much weed here on the West Coast."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Nine O'Clock Gun

Vancouver has its share of oddities, and none is more odd than the Nine O’Clock Gun. Vancouverites actually set their time by it. When my daughter was a little girl, we lived in the West End and she knew as soon as she heard the Nine O’Clock Gun, it was time for her to go to bed.

The 9 O'Clock Gun is a cannon located in Vancouver, British Columbia that is shot every night at 21:00 (9 p.m.). The crests of King George III and Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave, Master-General of the Ordnance at the time the cannon was cast, are on the barrel.

The gun is a 12-pound muzzle-loaded naval cannon, cast in Woolwich, England in 1816. Seventy-eight years later, in about 1894, it was brought to Stanley Park by the Department of Marine and Fisheries to warn fishermen of the 18:00 Sunday close of fishing. On October 15, 1898 the gun was fired for the first time in Stanley Park at noon.

The 21:00 firing was later established as a time signal for the general population and to allow the chronometers of ships in port to be accurately set. The Brockton Point lighthouse keeper, William D. Jones, originally detonated a stick of dynamite over the water until the cannon was installed. The cannon eventually had an electronic trigger installed and is now activated from the harbor master's perch on top of a building near Canada Place.

The 9 O'Clock Gun has been silent for at least four periods: once during World War II, in 1969 when it was stolen and held by University of British Columbia Engineering students until a "ransom" was donated to BC Children's Hospital; in 2007 during a work stoppage; and in 2008 when UBC Engineering students painted it red. After the 1969 theft, the cannon was surrounded by a stone and metal enclosure as shown in the photo.

The gun was restored and new pavilion designed by Gregory Henriquez of Henriquez Partners Architects in 1986 and built as a centennial gift to the city from Ebco Industries, Chester Millar, First Generation Capital, and the Hudson's Bay Company.

… Wikipedia

I live relatively close to Stanley Park, but not close enough that I can hear the Nine O’Clock Gun anymore, except perhaps on very still nights when the condition is just right for the sound to carry across English Bay. In a future post I might tell you about the building that blasts "Oh, Canada" across the city every day at noon. Oh, yes, we are an odd bunch.

At the 11th Hour

Suffer the Little Children
Bernard Joseph Steffen

Today is the 90th Anniversary of Armistice Day, or as it is now known in Canada, Remembrance Day, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Today at 11:00 a.m. we give two minutes silence as a sign of respect for the members of the armed forces who served in the war. The original Armistice Day was intended as remembrance for everyone who lost their lives in “the war to end all wars”. We all know, however, that World War I was not the war to end all wars, and World War II was far more deadly, not only for members of the armed forces, but for civilians.

20 million people were killed in World War I – 10 million military and 10 million civilians. The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II is roughly 72 million people. The civilian toll was around 47 million, including 20 million deaths due to war-related famine and disease. The military toll was about 25 million, including the deaths of about 4 million prisoners of war in captivity.

It is estimated that during his regime, Stalin killed 20,000,000 of his countrymen, and Hitler killed approximately 6,000,000 Jews, Gypsies, and other people he considered “undesirable”. Almost 2,000,000 of them were children and babies.

During the Vietnam War there were approximately 58,000 Americans killed, 1,100,000 North and South Vietnamese killed, and millions of civilians.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there were approximately 151,000 civilian deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2007. However, according to research done by Opinion Research Business, an independent polling agency located in London, there were 1,220,580 Iraqi civilian deaths in the Iraq war. I work with Iraqi doctors, and I think this latter number may be closer to the truth.

My arithmetic is not very good, but that is a heck of a lot of innocent civilians who have died because of war or philosophical differences. How many more millions of people have been wounded, disfigured, displaced, or suffer illness and other hardships because of war? How many children have been orphaned? And it is still happening. Who will be next? What can we do about it? Not a thing. When I watched the start of the Iraq War, live and in living color on prime time television, March 20, 2003, and I watched the tanks driving over the beautiful bridges on the Tigris River, all I could think about was how frightened the children of Baghdad must have been at that moment. I was heartsick. To me, it was as devastating as watching the World Trade Centers falling. Why was any of it necessary?

So, today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when we remember the veterans who served and who gave their lives, I think we should also remember all those millions of innocent people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who got caught in the cross-fire.

Monday, November 10, 2008


About a million years ago when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I worked as a docent for the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was a volunteer position, so it did not pay a salary, but the rewards were far greater than any paycheque. Every Sunday I would trudge off to the Art Gallery for a few hours, and in return I was permitted to take home some of the works from the Art Rental department to hang in my home. It was a wonderful experience.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is currently housed in the old Vancouver Courthouse, which is a beautiful Edwardian building designed by the notorious architect, Francis Rattenbury.

In November, 2007 the gallery announced plans to move to a new building at a former bus depot on the corner of Cambie and Georgia streets, next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The new building would have been about 30,000 square meters, almost 10 times the current building size, and would include more gallery space for the permanent collection now in storage, a larger exhibit space for visiting international works, more children's and community programming and an improved storage and display environment.

The gallery planned to approach city council soon in early 2008 for official handover of the site. Construction would have begun after the 2010 Olympics with an opening tentatively scheduled for 2013. The gallery was expected to cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the gallery hoped to secure funding from provincial and federal governments as well as private donors.

In May 2008, however, a different site was designated as the chosen site for the new gallery. The VAG will move into a new building on land occupied until now by the Plaza of Nations in Vancouver near BC Place, and will double its size to 320,000 square feet (30,000 m2). A call for designs for the new gallery will go out to architects in the fall of 2008. Construction is expected to start in 2011, with an opening likely in 2013.

… Wikipedia

The Arts in British Columbia are not not particularly well-supported. A few days ago City Council held an in camera meeting and decided to give a $100 million loan to the 2010 Olympic Village Project. If only the Arts in Vancouver could get a fraction of that money.

Next weekend is Vancouver’s Mayoral election. There is a new candidate, Gregor Robertson, and a new party, Vision Vancouver, running for office. Robertson's platform includes the word “change’ but I won’t hold that against him. He and his party support the Arts.

Our funny little mayoral election here in Vancouver is generating almost as much controversy as “that other election”, but it is important to our city, especially with the 2010 Winter Olympics on the horizon, and the costs escalating. I hope there will be a "landslide" to boot out the old guard and to get some fresh blood onto the City Council.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Judgment Seat

Starry Night Over the Rhone, Arles
Vincent van Gogh

One of my favorite authors has always been W. Somerset Maugham. He was from a different era, but as with all classic writers, his work still holds up today, and many of his stories continue to be made into movies, such as "The Razor’s Edge" and "The Painted Veil".

Somerset Maugham understood the human condition almost more than any other writer. His stories were tales of individual frailties, transgressions and ultimately redemption. He believed we are all capable of making errors in our lives, and we are all capable of forgiveness, not only of other people, but of ourselves. When I was a teenager, I used to read my father's collection of Somerset Maugham short stories, and one of my favorites was a story called "The Judgment Seat". It left an impression on me. I had been raised in the Anglican Church, and our Minister, Reverend Horsefield, had put the fear of God into me. As a child I thought, "How can I possibly live up to God's expectations of me?" And then I read "The Judgment Seat" and it gave me a whole new understanding of God and His expectations of the human condition. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do.

They awaited their turn patiently, but patience was no new thing to them; they had practiced it, all three of them, with grim determination, for thirty years. Their lives had been a long preparation for this moment and they looked forward to the issue now, if not with self-confidence, for that on so awful an occasion would have been misplaced, at all events with hope and courage. They had taken the strait and narrow path when the flowery meads of sin stretched all too invitingly before them; with heads held high, though with breaking hearts, they had resisted temptation; and now, their arduous journey done, they expected their reward. There was no need for them to speak, since each knew the other’s thoughts, and they felt that in all three of them the same emotion of relief filled their bodiless souls with thanksgiving. With what anguish now would they have been wrung if they had yielded to the passion which then had seemed so early irresistible and what a madness it would have been if for a few short years of bliss they had sacrificed that Life Everlasting which with so bright a light at long last shone before them! They felt like men who with the skin of their teeth have escaped a sudden and violent death and touch their feet and hands and, scarce able to believe that they are still are still alive, look about them in amazement. They had done nothing with which they could reproach themselves and when presently their angels came and told them that the moment was come, they would advance, as they had passed through the world that was now so far behind, happily conscious that they had done their duty. They stood a little on one side, for the press was great. A terrible war was in progress and for years the soldiers of all nations, men in the full flush of their gallant youth, had marched in an interminable procession to the Judgment Seat; women and children too, their lives brought to a wretched end by violence or, more unhappily, by grief, disease and starvation; and there was in the courts of heaven not a little confusion.

It was on account of this war, too, that those three wan shivering ghosts stood in expectation of their doom. For John and Mary had been passengers on a ship which was sunk by the torpedo of a submarine; and Ruth, broken in health by the arduous work to which she had so nobly devoted herself, hearing of the death of the man whom she had loved with all her heart, sank beneath the blow and died. John, indeed, might have saved himself if he had not tried to save his wife; he had hated her; he had hated her to the depths of his soul for thirty years; but he had always done his duty by her and now, in the moment of dreadful peril, it never occurred to him that he could do otherwise.

At last their angels took them by the hand and led them to the Presence. For a little while the Eternal took not the slightest notice of them. If the truth must be told he was in a bad humour. A moment before there had come up for judgment a philosopher, deceased full of years and honours, who had told the Eternal to his face that he did not believe in him. It was not this that would have disturbed the serenity of the King of Kings, this could only have made him smile; but the philosopher, taking perhaps an unfair advantage of the regrettable happenings just then upon Earth, had asked him how, considering them dispassionately, it was possible to reconcile his All-Power with his All-Goodness.

“No one can deny the fact of Evil,” said the philosopher, sententiously. “Now, if God cannot prevent Evil he is not all-powerful, and if he can prevent it and will not, he is not all-good.”

This argument was of course not new to the Omniscient, but he had always refused to consider the matter; for the fact is, though he knew everything, he did not know the answer to this. Even God cannot make two and two five. But the philosopher, pressing his advantage, and, as philosophers often will, drawing from a reasonable premise an unjustifiable inference, the philosopher had finished with a statement that in the circumstances was surely preposterous. “I will not believe,” he said, “in a God who is not All-Powerful and All-Good.”

It was not then perhaps without relief that the Eternal turned his attention to the three
shades who stood humbly and yet hopefully before him. The quick; with so short a time to live, when they talk of themselves, talk too much; but the dead, with eternity before them, are so verbose that only angels could listen to them with civility. But this in brief is the story that these three recounted. John and Mary had been happily married for five years and till John net Ruth they loved each other, as married couples of the most part do, with sincere affection and mutual respect. Ruth was eighteen, ten years younger than he was, a charming, graceful animal, with a sudden and all-conquering loveliness; she was as healthy in mind as she was in body, and, eager for the natural happiness of life, was capable of achieving that greatness which is beauty of soul. John fell in love with her and she with him. But it was no ordinary passion that seized them; it was something so overwhelming that they felt as if the whole long history of the world signified only because it had led to the time and place that had brought them together. They loved as Daphnis and Chloe or as Paolo and Francesca. But after that first moment of ecstasy when each discovered the other’s love they were seized with dismay. They were decent people and they respected themselves, the beliefs in which they had been bred, and the society in which they lived. How could he betray an innocent girl, and what had she to do with a married man? Then they grew conscious that Mary was aware of their love. The confident affection with which she had regarded her husband was shaken; and there arose in her feelings of which she would never have thought herself capable, jealousy and the fear that he would desert her, anger because her possession of his heart was threatened and a strange hunger of the soul which was more painful than love. She felt that she would die if he left her; and yet she knew that if he loved it was because love had come to him, not because he had sought it. She did not blame him. She prayed for strength; she wept silent, bitter tears. John and Ruth saw her pine away before their eyes. The struggle was long and bitter. Sometimes their hearts failed them and they felt that they could not resist the passion that burned the marrow of their bones. They resisted. They wrestled with evil as Jacob wrestled with the angel of God and at last they conquered. With breaking hearts, but proud in their innocence, they parted. They offered up to God, as it were a sacrifice, their hopes of happiness, the joy of life and the beauty of the world.

Ruth had loved too passionately ever to love again and with a stony heart she turned to god and to good works. She was indefatigable. She tended the sick and assisted the poor. She founded orphanages and managed charitable institutions. And little by little her beauty which she cared for no longer left hr and her face grew as hard as her heart. Her religion was fierce and narrow, her very kindness was cruel because it was founded not on love but on reason; she became domineering, intolerant, and vindictive. And John, resigned, but sullen and angry, dragged himself along the weary years waiting for the release of death. Life lost its meaning to him; he had made his effort and in conquering was conquered; the only emotion that remained with him was the unceasing, secret hatred with which he looked upon his wife. He used her with kindness and consideration; he did everything that could be expected of a man who was a Christian and a gentleman. He did his duty. Mary, a good, faithful and (it must be confessed) exceptional wife, never thought to reproach her husband for the madness that had seized him; but all the same she could not forgive him for the sacrifice he had made for her sake. She grew acid and querulous. Though she hated herself for it, she could not refrain from saying the things that she knew would wound him. She would willingly have sacrificed her life for him, but she could not bear that he should enjoy a moment’s happiness when she was so wretched that a hundred times she had wished she was dead. Well, now she was and so were they; grey and drab had life been, but that was passed; they had not sinner and now their reward was at hand.

They finished and there was silence. There was silence in all the courts of heaven. Go to hell were the words that came to the Eternal’s lips, but he did not utter them, for they had a colloquial association that he rightly thought unfitting to the solemnity of the occasion. Nor indeed would such a decree have met the merits of the case. But his brows darkened. He asked himself if it was for this that he had made the rising sun shine on the boundless sea and the snow glitter on the mountain tops; was it for this that the brooks sang blithely as they hastened down the hillsides and the golden corn waved in the evening breeze?

“I sometimes think,” said the Eternal, “that the stars never shine more brightly than when reflected in the muddy waters of a wayside ditch.”

But the three shades stood before him and now that they had unfolded their unhappy story they could not but feel a certain satisfaction. It had been a bitter struggle, but they had done their duty. The Eternal blew lightly, he blew as a man might blow out a lighted match, and, behold! where the three poor souls had stood – was nothing. The Eternal had annihilated them.

“I have often wondered why men think I attach so much importance to sexual irregularity,” he said. “If they read my works more attentively they would see that I have always been sympathetic to that particular form of human frailty.”

Then he turned to the philosopher, who was still waiting for a reply to his remarks. “You cannot but allow,” said the eternal, “that on this occasion I have very happily combined my All-Power with my All-Goodness.”

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Indigo Horizon
Vern Broe

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you feel that, if you carry on the way you are for just one more day, you are wasting your precious time? Sometimes we operate on auto-pilot, going to work by the same route, doing a day's work, going home by the same route, getting up the next morning and doing it all over again.

"She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing."
— W. Shakespeare [Macbeth]

Yesterday at work I had what a lovely friend of mine so eloquently referred to as a "tipping point". It was only the manifestation of a deeper problem, and that is I am friggin' bored with the humdrum routine. I was blessed with certain talents that I have not had the opportunity to hone, one of them being drawing and painting. I am too exhausted at the end of the day, after doing my boring, mundane job, to pick up a pencil or a paint brush.

How sad is that?

Phinnaeus at the Tide Pool

I would love to be able to have time to take some art classes and to see just what artistic abilities I do possess. I would love to be able to dabble, and draw, and nourish the artistic part of my brain that keeps calling out to me, "What about me? What about me?" We all do what we have to do in order to maintain our lives, and in do so, we forget to nourish our spirits. It becomes all about taking care of business. I don't even have time to blog anymore. How sad is that?

Yesterday one of my ex-coworkers came to visit me at the office, and she asked, "So, how is everything?" and I replied, "Same old, same old..." and then I realized how awful that sounded, and how true it was. It takes courage to make a transition, especially when we are in a comfortable rut groove in our lives, but I think I'm going to do it. A little voice in my head keeps asking, "If not now, when?" So be prepared to see more of my attempts at art little drawings and paintings here on my blog, starting today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Where Am I ... You Ask?

Well, that's a good question. That's one of those existential questions like, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it..." If Johanna hasn't had a chance to visit her favorite blogs lately, does that means she still blogs? Well, yes, as soon as time permits. And with the advent of Pacific Standard Time, and darkness falling earlier, I have rediscovered that wonderful, amazing, indescribable thing known as sleep...

I'm planning to spend some of my weekend rebuilding my blog, reconnecting my blog roll, and going to see all of you to find out what kind of trouble you have been getting into in the past few days. Oh, I know you - you have been up to something, I'm sure.

I am slowly building my blog list back up again, but it takes a while, and right I am going to watch my new favorite program "Life on Mars". If you haven't seen it, you should check it out. The chemistry between Harvey Keitel and Jason O'Mara is just amazing, and very funny. Take care, and I will be visiting you soon! Be sure to have the coffee ready.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Balmedie Beach

When my daughter and I were in Aberdeen, Scotland visiting friends, our hosts took us on a tour of a remote area of Scotland along the North Sea. The area was called Balmedie Beach, and it is as remote and wild as anything you will see along the coast of British Columbia. Balmedie Beach is particularly famous for its magnificant sand dunes, which stretch along the beach for 15 miles. It is the fifth largest sand dune system in the British Isles, and is of special scientific interest, in addition to its exquisite beauty. We stopped to have tea and sticky toffee pudding at a wonderful little inn overlooking the beach, and I was gobsmacked by the beauty of the place.

Close to the beach is a property called Menie House, a 14th century country property surrounded by over 200 acres (0.81 km2) of private land, collectively known as the Menie Estate. Donald Trump purchased a large part of the estate in 2006. And wouldn’t you know it, what does he plan to build there? Of course, two 18-hole gold courses, a 450-room hotel, conference centre and spa, 36 golf villas, 950 holiday homes, accommodation for 400 staff and residential developments comprising 500 houses. Although this would substantially damage native sand dune habitat at a Site of Special Scientific Interest, according to analysis by Scottish Natural Heritage, planning officials from Aberdeenshire Council have recommended approval of the development.

The "great vistas and majestic dunes" had a "magical quality", Trump gushed earlier this year. With a neat twist of logic, he declared his course would "save" the dunes by arresting their movement, fixing them rigid with artificially planted grasses.

Environmental experts - including his own - disagree. His plans to place the back nine holes of his main 18-hole course here would decimate the links, designated a site of special scientific interest for four types of dune habitat: shifting dunes, fixed or grey dunes, decalcified fixed dunes and humid dune slacks, or hollows. They are home to what Trump's own expert described as an "excellent mosaic" of lichen-rich grasses, dune willow, sand sedge, common bent-grass and sheep's fescue, with soft rush, sweet grass and creeping bent-grass in the swampier areas.

In turn, the habitat supports wildlife such as skylarks, otters, pipistrelle bats, badgers and toads. The dunes are also periodic nesting sites for migratory pink-footed geese using the Ythan estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch 3km to the north.

Yet despite its stark beauty, locals remain unconvinced that Trump can build a millionaires' paradise there. It is, after all, on the same latitude as southern Alaska. As Michael Forbes, the local salmon fisherman who refuses to sell Trump his unsightly 23-acre plot right next to the proposed course, put it on Monday after the news was announced: "Who in their right mind is going to come to this cold place and play golf? They'll come once and they'll never be back again."

... Guardian.Co.Uk

It is said there is a ghost at Menie House, known as "the Green Lady". I hope she haunts Donald Trump and scares him the h*ll off the property. There are places on this earth that are meant to be left alone, and the wild coast of Scotland is one of them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When Ya Gotta Go....

Pis·soir (pe-swär ) n. A public urinal located on the street in some European countries. [French, from Old French, from pissier, to urinate; see piss.]

Just when I thought I had seen everything there was to see, something else comes along, and I invariably greet it with shouts of laughter and "I don't believe it!"

In an effort to handle its nighttime public urination problem, Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is considering installing urinals that disappear below street level during the day. Unlike the automated, self-cleaning toilets planned for Toronto and Vancouver, which are enclosed booths with doors that that automatically open after a set time period, the Urilift system is a two-meter high stainless steel cylinder with three alcoves, each with a urinal, and no doors.

By day, the Urilift is lowered below street level for a nice clean look. Then at night, an operator comes by with a remote and the Urilift hydraulically lifts to sidewalk level in about two minutes. Then the unit is ready to serve all the nighttime party animals who don’t mind peeing in a very exposed public urinal.

Because there are no doors, there is little danger of any unauthorized or illegal activities. San Francisco and Seattle’s auto-toilets have been derided as dens for drug dealers and prostitutes. In addition, the presence of an attendant nearby to lower the system in the morning means it’s unlikely a drunken reveler who slumps over the Urilift will wake up under the street. The urinals are designed exclusively for men, and more specifically, for male drinkers. The $75,000 system has been installed across the Netherlands, and have spread to London and Belfast, but Victoria will be the first North American city to try them out.

John Chow Dot Com

I used to live just around the corner from Kits Pub, a popular Kitsilano watering hole. Every night as the bar closed, fellows used to make it as far as the bushes just outside my living room window before they felt the call of nature. I used to stick my head out the window, giggle and say, "I can seeeeee yooooo...." That would send them scurrying off in a hurry.

Thank goodness it rains a lot in Vancouver.

Well, this seems to be the answer. Where's Clark Kent when we need him?

Monday, November 3, 2008


Don't worry, folks. I had a bit of a crash and burn here, leading to a nuclear meltdown and my blog was blitzed as a result. It's only temporary and I will be fully operational again in a day or so. I hope you will continue to visit me until I get everything stabilized.