Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Heart Huckabees

I've been quite under the weather the past few days, suffering from bouts of fever and a general lack of energy. So I've been lying low, resting a lot, listening to the radio and some talking books, and watching a few movies. One of the latter was recommended by my friend from HK, and called I Heart Huckabees.

She knows me well and knew I would LOVE this film. Why? Because it's all about coincidences and different philosophies of looking at life. The main character, Albert Markovski, is an environmental activist but one who is not succeeding very well. Then suddenly he keeps encountering a very tall African man. Puzzled by this strange series of coincidences that cannot be explained by random chance, he hires two "existential detectives", played by Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin, to solve this mystery for him. Along the way he encounters a wacky cast of characters, who help him sort out many issues in his life.

On the surface the film is a comedy, and I think a funny one. But it deserves watching several more times, because there's a whole lot more going on under the surface.

Canada: A Child Amongst Adults

Dateline: New Orleans
Hurricane Katrina has left a huge Wake of Destruction, killing hundreds and destroying almost all property in its site. Many residents may not be allowed back to what's left of their homes for at least a month.

Dateline: Baghdad
At least 953 people were killed when Shiite Muslim pilgrims stampeded on a bridge in northern Baghdad after insurgents attacked a nearby mosque and people were running in fear.

Dateline: Vancouver
A Vancouver woman was granted a divorce Tuesday after a B.C. Supreme Court judge decided the woman's husband had indeed engaged in an adulterous affair with another man, despite the current definition of adultery involving people of the opposite sex.

Like most Canadians, I've long wondered why my country has little importance on the world stage. I now understand why: We are so obsessed with the most trivial, esoteric aspects of life, but rarely, if ever, focus on anything of real importance. For if we did, we might offend someone, and that would be very unCanadian, wouldn't it?!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Live Coverage from the American South

I've been watching live coverage of the recent hurricane devastation here and here. The devastation is absolutely unbelievable, similar to what we saw after the Dec. 26th Tsunami in Asia.

Watch it for a few minutes and I think you'll agree with me that it makes our own little problems pale in comparison.

I hope this serves as a BIG wake-up call for my fellow Canadians. Many of you are adamant that we should get rid of our military "because they're unneeded in this new century" and "if something bad happens, the Americans will rescue us". I find this attitude completely unacceptable! Not only is it selfish and hypocritical, but it is also absolutely irresponsible.

Cindy Sheehan and the Star Wars Bar of Freaks

Have you been following the ongoing saga of Cindy Sheehan and those who have joined her in Crawford, Texas? Even if you've been against the Iraq War and hate George Bush, have her anti-Semitic comments made you a little wary of supporting her? If not, I'd be most curious to know what proverbial line she might cross that would make even you say "enough".

I've found it very strange how she has attracted both left-wing and right-wing extremists. That's quite a feat! But when I read this excellent article by Victor David Hanson, much became clear.

I initially heard Hanson talking about his article on my most favourite John Batchelor Show. There he drew an analogy that Sheehan is like a moth drawn towards the spotlight of publicity. She really does seem to crave the attention. Perhaps it's part of her healing process. But what's going to happen next month when the media moves on to other stories, such as the New Orleans flood and more international issues. Let's hope that all those hanger-ons will stay by her side to give her support. Somehow I doubt it.

Today's Canadian Taxes

I received this list from a friend. I don't know for sure that it's true but scanning the list, I have little doubt that it is!

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was prosperous, had absolutely no national debt, had one of the largest middle class in the world and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What the hell happened?

1 Accounts Receivable Tax
2 Building Permit Tax
3 Capital Gains Tax
4 CDL license Tax
5 Cigarette Tax
6 Corporate Income Tax
5 Court Fines (indirect taxes)
8 Dog License Tax
9 Federal Income Tax
10 Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
11 Fishing License Tax
12 Food License Tax
13 Fuel permit tax
14 Gasoline Tax
15 Hunting License Tax
16 Inheritance Tax
17 Revenue Canada IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
18 Revenue Canada Penalties (tax on top of tax)
19 Liquor Tax
20 Local Income Tax
21 Luxury Taxes
22 Marriage License Tax
23 Medicare Tax
24 Property Tax
25 Real Estate Tax
26 Septic Permit Tax
27 Service Charge Taxes
28 Social Security Tax
29 Road Usage Taxes (Truckers)
30 Sales Taxes
31 Recreational Vehicle Tax
32 Road Toll Booth Taxes
33 School Tax
34 Provincial Income Tax
35 Unemployment Tax
36 Telephone federal excise tax
37 Telephone federal universal service fee tax
38 Telephone federal, and
39 local surcharge taxes
40 Telephone minimum usage surcharge tax
41 Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges tax
42 Telephone and local tax
43 Telephone usage charge tax
44 Toll Bridge Taxes
45 Toll Tunnel Taxes
46 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)
47 Trailer registration tax
48 Utility Taxes
49 Vehicle License Registration Tax
50 Vehicle Tax
51 Watercraft registration Tax
52 Well Permit Tax
53 Workers Compensation Tax
54 GST on everything including your funeral

Monday, August 29, 2005

Job Application Psych Tests

This is a big long but I found it most entertaining and insightful!

Blog Spam

Well, as often happens with many things in life, it takes only a handful of selfish idiots to wreck something for everyone else. A few days ago I started receiving blog messages that were, in fact, nothing more than advertising. So I've been forced to turn on "word verification" to stop automated systems from publishing comments on my blog. I really wish I didn't have to do this but I consider such comments to be like graffiti on my house.

The most galling one was from a fellow who was advertising his fitness crap. When I wrote him to complain, I got an automated message back saying that he receives so much spam that he has had to implement a word verification system of his own! He also had the words "God Bless" in his response. How's that for being a complete hypocrit on several fronts!!!

I look forward to reading all non-spam comments. But please respond to the issues at hand. Don't disrespect my blog, as I won't disrespect yours.

P.S. To this very comment I immediately received 4 spam messages. :-(

Cooking for Engineers

I love this site. And strangely enough, though I'm an engineer and love cooking, I typically don't strictly follow recipes. I get general ideas and then embark on my own from there. Perhaps this is my artistic side breaking out?!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Exciting Things Are Happening!

If you were in the software business in the late 90's then you know the excitement that was in the air back then. It felt like anything was possible, and often was! But everyone got greedy and things came crashing down.

But I now feel that same electricity in the air again. There are a lot of different technologies that are coming together in some exciting ways. For two examples of how Google Maps has been combined with other databases then click here and here.

I don't know how long each took to put together but what is quite amazing is that someone can come up with an idea today, work ferociously at bringing it into reality in days/weeks/months, and have it available for everyone in the world to try instaneously. With the great tools now available to developers, that time is only growing shorter.

Now imagine the two examples shown above running on a mobile wireless computer in your car or in your hand. Exciting things ARE happening!

Indian Call Centres

Have you ever called a toll-free number and ended up talking with someone in India? It's easy to think that such folks are just anonymous voices on the other side of the world, but they are very much individuals just like you and me. Watch this!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Wonderful Reunion

I hadn't seen my friend, Mark, in over 20 years. Back in high school we were great friends, with a common love of computers and playing touch football most every day. But we went to different universities afterwards and lost touch.
Seeing him again was a GREAT pleasure for me, as it was so good to catch up after all these years. He has built an incredible life for himself, both personally and professionally. For this, and much more, I admire Mark a great deal!
What was very striking to both of us was that though we have lived very different lives all these years, our views on many, many issues are very similar. There's some profound significance to that, which I need to ruminate on some more.

Cool Electronic Card Site

This birthday card was sent from a woman in Perth, Australia to a friend of hers in Toronto, Canada.

And you can also check out this, and this, and this.

What a great way to use one's artistic talent! I love the Internet!!!!!

Permanent Victim Society

The terms "synchronicity" and "coincidence" are very significant ones for me. For when different events with a strong commonality occur, I pay extra special attention.

The recent synchronicity concerns one of my least favourite topics but most common rants: Our society has clearly devolved into one where everyone is a defacto Permanent Victim. If you're not familiar with this term then let me rephrase it this way: Too many people in our society have chosen to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their actions, no matter how horrendous and damaging these actions may be.

A few days ago here in Vancouver some teenagers stole an SUV. In the early hours of the morning they encountered the police. Rather than surrender, the driver chose to ram the SUV against a police car, in which was a young rookie officer. Another officer, seeing that his colleague was in imminent danger, fired his gun into the SUV, killing the passenger in the front seat. The young deceased man already had several convictions on his growing criminal record. Yet, as was easy to predict, his father is now accusing the police of needlessly shooting his son, who he claims was a perfectly "good boy". And I bet you anything this will not be the end of the accusations against the police, as the usual suspects join the tirade.

Several years ago a young man visiting from India was drag racing on the streets of Vancouver and inadvertently killed an elderly woman. Sometime after that he was ordered deported but, of course, he is still here today. He just keeps on saying that he "doesn't want to go" and officialdom is doing nothing to effect the deportation order. He has never been apologetic or regretful for killing the completely innocent woman.

I'm convinced that this all starts at a young age. A [seemingly] growing number of parents decide that they will forever coddle and pamper their children, constantly excusing them of their inappropriate behaviour. In the same way that animals are trained to act a certain way, why do we think that human brains aren't programmed by the sum of their experiences?

So when these cute little children become terrible teenagers, why are any of us surprised? Especially when the parents of these evolving criminals immediately jump to their defence, lashing out at anyone who dares interfere with the lives of their precious little children.

The next time you see one of these little monsters in the news, remember this:

  • They do whatever they want, knowing that their parents will get them out of any jam.
  • If their parents are sensible enough to let them face the consequences, then they claim they're victims and a legion of social workers and psychologists come to their aid.
  • They never really try to reach their full potential, and sometimes don't even try at all, because they know that their parents or the nanny state government will eventually bail them out.
  • They go through life doing whatever pleases them, rarely if ever worrying how their actions affect others.
On talk radio shows, in letters to the editor, and in everyday conversations I constantly and almost consistently hear people expressing exactly the same feelings as what I've expressed here.

Yet when politicians listen to such programmes do they just convince themselves that the only people who say these things are radical nutcases who make up a small minority in this country? In point of fact, I'm convinced it is those who they take advice from that constitute the tiny minority. The rest of us just want some semblance of a justice system and an adherence to basic values. We want a return to a society where there are absolute "rights" and "wrongs" and people are held to account when they choose to violate them.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Powerful Movie

I just finished watching the 1994 film, Before The Rain. It's very powerful, set in Macedonia (ex-Yugoslavia) in the recent past. Where once there was law & order, a blood feud has erupted between Muslim and Christian neighbours. Much like the famous Hatfield & McCoy feud, a never-ending murder spree has begun, with absolutely no end in sight. In the film, at least, it got so bad that cousins started killing cousins if the latter tried to stop the revenge.
What struck me most were three things:

  • This situation happened in the recent past and is still ongoing today.
  • This is happening not in some far-off place but right beside Greece and Italy.
  • These people appear to be just like you & me. Their culture and lifestyles don't seem to be very different than ours.
But yet, murder & death are a regular occurrence for them but not for us. Several questions come to mind: How did things go so wrong there? Are we impossibly different from them? What separates our society from falling into a similar quagmire?

A powerful film, but I suddenly feel far less comfortable in my familiar surroundings.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

There Should Be A Law!!!

In your community are there legions of women who drive around wearing what looks like welding helmets?!? Here in Vancouver it seems to be a fashion trend.

I don't know if I'm more aghast at the stupidity of this "look" or what surely has to be a violation of some driving law!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In Case of Emergency

I received this and thought it important to post:

Paramedics will turn to a victim's cell phone for clues to that person's identity. You can make their job much easier with a simple idea that they are trying to get everyone to adopt: ICE. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. If you add an entry in the contacts list in your cell phone under ICE, with the name and phone number of the person that the emergency services should call on your behalf, you can save them a lot of time and have your loved ones contacted quickly. It only takes a few moments of your time to do. Paramedics know what ICE means and they look for it immediately. It is better than counting on the number for HOME to suffice. ICE your cell phone NOW! Please pass this one along to folks that YOU care about.

Google Takes on the Telephone Companies

Google seems to be spreading its wings in a multitude of wonderful ways. The latest news is that they're now going to be providing free VoIP phone service, competing directly with the likes of Vonage and Skype ... and indirectly with EVERY phone company in the world! You can read the full story here.

The Ongoing Troubles With B.C.'s Education System

Yesterday the B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) announced that they'll be holding a strike vote Sept. 20 - 22, just a few weeks after students return to classes. Undoubtedly they'll get 90%+ support from the teachers of the province. They'll then go out on strike shortly after that and a day or so later be ordered back to work by the government.

How can I predict this with such certainty? Because this exact same series of events has gone on time after time for as long as I can remember. It doesn't matter which government is in power - left, right, or center - the same thing always occurs.

My favourite local radio station, CKNW, solicited opinions from callers this morning. The callers were clearly split into 2 camps:

  • Those who are teachers or are connected to teachers and seem to be willing to pay anything and everything to appease them.
  • The rest of us.
On this issue, I have one leg in each camp. I have several friends who are teachers and I support them wholeheartedly. I want the best for them, though "the best" has to be within reasonable fiscal constraints. What I do not support is Jinny Simms and her fellow ultra militant BCTF minions. These folks are as dysfunctional as two lesbians trying to have a baby without any 'outside' help. And Simms in particular is the worst thing to ever happen to B.C.'s Education system. From her accent, she clearly seems to be a graduate of England's "How to Destroy a Great Nation" union movement. Margaret Thatcher finally said "No!" to the likes of Simms and they left to work on destroying other parts of the world, such as B.C.

With that said, I also do not give blind support to the overinflated - and perhaps underqualified - school boards and other education management. The stories I hear from my teacher friends about management decisions are more than a little scary!

In the end equation, this dispute is really a fight between the BCTF and Education Management. Reminds me a lot of the NHL fight between the owner's group and the player's union. In that situation no progress was made because the head of the player's union was a hard nosed ass who was unwilling to negotiate. His ego became most important in the dispute. The players finally realized this, pushed him aside, and quickly came to an agreement with management. Most parents and students are probably wishing the same would occur here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

More Stupidity from the Vancouver Parks Board

I just learned about this. It is yet another example beyond the Spanish Banks vs. Spanish Bank fiasco that makes me wonder why the Vancouver Parks Board is determined to populate their workforce only with people with low IQs and a complete absence of Common Sense!

Vancouver simply doesn't have the population to necessitate such a permit/reservation system. Furthermore, do they have any idea what explosive confrontations they're potentially setting up?!

And at the same time they're wasting time on such a stupid system, they don't even have the wherewithal to replace all of the volleyball posts at Spanish Banks East. There used to be 8 courts available. There was a soccer tournament there one weekend and the Parks Board workers seemingly couldn't remember to put back all of the posts.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

How to make a Better Lemonade

I've long made my own lemonade with just water, lemon juice, and sugar. I would traditionally just put these ingredients into a glass, stir for awhile and that was it. But I recently discovered a little trick that makes it taste 100% better!

Put these same ingredients into a food processor or blender and let it go at full speed for at least 3 minutes. What'll happen is that the lemon juice will start to turn into a delightful foam. Then add enough ice to cool it and crunch this for a minute or so.

After pouring into a glass, I like to toss a little salt onto the drink to give it a margarita-like sensation.

La Provence - Vancouver Style

Yesterday I was invited to a wine & cheese party at the lovely home of some friends in Kitsilano. They had recently visited the Provence region of France and wanted to recreate the ambience one would find over there. The party was "caz-glam" (casual glamourous), with every littledetail done just right. The centerpiece of the party was the culinary spread, that was absolutely amazing! There were at least a dozen different kinds of cheese to choose from, plus a variety of sausages, bread, and a splendid selection of fresh fruit. A wide variety of wines from around the world were provided, somewhat matching the international flavour of the attendees. It was a glorious event, one that I will fondly remember for a long time to come!
Merci Beacoup, A & A!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Google Video - The Next Evolution of the Internet?

I just discovered a new service from Google:

You're presented with 20 random video clips from around the world. You do have to install a Google Viewer but it's just as simple as installing the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. Here are some of the most interesting ones I've seen so far:

- The entire film (yes 90+ minutes) of the Cary Grant film, "His Girl Friday.
- A Japanese beer commercial featuring a completely nude woman
- Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love", with scenes from CSI
- Le Tour de France bicycle race
- A video personal ad from a Venezuelan woman named Yohana
- A music video from the Latin singer, Thalia
- Highlights from a football match between Hungary & Armenia
- Chuck Norris fighting Conan O'Brien
- A music video from "Bond" called "Explosive"

Let me know if you find any interesting/quirky/funny videos!

Mystery Couple from Japan

The other day I was setting up a volleyball net at Spanish Banks when this couple came by and asked me to take a photo of them with their el-cheapo disposable camera. I obliged, of course.

But having my digital camera with me, I suggested that I take some photos of them with it and then I could e-mail them the photos. So I took 3 shots and gave them my business card with my e-mail address on it. But as of yet I have not heard a word.

So I'm wondering if you know this couple? :-)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Best Out of Office Replies

I just received this funny and thought it was one of the better ones I've seen in a while. Enjoy!

Best E-mail 'Out of Office' Replies

1. I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. I will be unable to delete all the unread, worthless emails you send me until I return from holiday on September 4. Please be patient and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

4. Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first ten words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

5. The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection and is unable to deliver this message. Please restart your computer and try sending again.'(The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see how many in-duh-viduals did this over and over).

6. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

7. I've run away to join a different circus.

8. I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as 'Margaret' instead of 'Steve'.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Kiss Seen Round The World: Then and Now

Have you seen this photo before? I was born in 1964 but even I am quite familiar with it. If not then you can read more about it here.

This year was the 60th Anniversary of this photo. It was taken on VJ Day (Victory in Japan Day) in New York City. The sailor and the nurse didn't know each other whatsoever. But they were both so full of euphoria that a passionate kiss was just a natural release of energy ... for both of them!

This week on the radio I heard an interesting discussion about what would have happened had it taken place today, rather than back then. The commentator said, and I happen to agree, that the sailor would have been vilified by the media and women's groups and probably charged with sexual assault. The same evening that it occurred, Paula Zahn on CNN would have been interviewing the nurse, portraying her as either a poor victim or as a tramp; in the latter case as a horrible example for women everywhere.

Can you honestly say this would NOT be the case?! I strongly believe it's EXACTLY what would happen!!!

I do believe in women's rights and abhor sexual predators but that clearly is not what was occurring here. But don't take my word for it. Read the story about the nurse herself. I applaud certain aspects of the feminist movement but in some cases I think it has gone much too far and killed many aspects of romance and spontaneity in the modern man.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cascadia, Cascadia, Cascadia . . .

Western Separation [in Canada] is being talked about again with great interest. Though I'm only 40, it's clear that the feeling of alienation amongst the people of Western Canada has been present for a long time. But in the past two decades this alienation has been growing at a fever pitch. Being peaceful, law-abiding people, there was never any talk of a revolution. Instead we sent en masse to Ottawa the Reform Party, which tried in ernest to effect some of the changes we Westerners wanted. But they were laughed at and not a thing changed. Even simple changes like an elected senate were completely ignored.

When I ask my eastern friends whether they would ever vote for a Prime Minister from the West, they just smile and say, "Nope".

We've now had at least 12 years of complete corruption at the federal level. Yet, the same party has stayed in power and is more popular than ever in the province of Ontario. The icing on this foul-tasting cake of corruption and incompetence has got to be the appointment of a Governor General who was so clearly affiliated with Quebec FLQ separtists and to this day has not given up her French citizenship.

I sometimes feel like Canada is in the middle of a Monty Python skit. But the punch line never comes and the skit never ends. It just goes on & on & on & . . . .

After the next federal election, when the federal Liberals are once again elected into power, then I do believe that most British Columbians and Albertans will finally wake up to the reality that things will never get better for us. They will finally realize, as I have, that it is not us in the West who are leaving Canada but the rest of Canada that has long ago deserted the West. We just need to formalize this reality through a peaceful referendum.

Cascadia! Bring It On!!!

Wither Canada

A Hollywood screenwriter couldn't have done a better job of writing a script with more irony than that of the evolving story of Canada's new Governer General, Michaelle Jean. For it's now being revealed that both her and her husband were strong supporters of the Quebec Independence movement, including rubbing shoulders with some violent FLQ terrorist types. What's most delicious of all is the clear fact that the Prime Minister's office did not check this couple's credentials. So in one fell swoop, Mr. Dithers et co. have confirmed what a farce the Governor General's position is and how completely incompetent the federal government is, even at the smallest of tasks. This woman got appointed because she had all the right politically correct credentials:

  • She's a woman
  • She's a minority
  • She's an immigrant
  • She's a single mother
  • She's from Quebec
  • She worked at the CBC
And yet, quicker than you can say, "Oh Shit!", her true political allegiances have been revealed, and they're not flattering. The fact that she was an immigrant to Canada and then spat in the face of the country who welcomed her is particularly telling!

Yet the voters of Ontario, like the sheep they are, will continue to keep voting these same corrupt MTs (Mindless Twits) into power. When the vote for Western Separation comes up, guess how I'll be voting. And my conscience will be clear because I know that this country I was born in has deserted me, not the other way around.

And People Are STILL Supporting The UN ?

Any organization that is not accountable to anyone is ripe for corruption. This is an undisputable fact. Have you been following the growing revelations concerning the UN's Oil For Food Scandal? If not then read this.
Yet with all this evidence not only has Kofi Annan not resigned, but barely anything has changed in the organization.

This reminds me of the Star Wars movies. The Galactic Republic is very reminiscent of the UN. While all high & mighty on the surface, it was also corrupt to the core beneath the polished veneer.

How so many people keep on supporting the UN is beyond belief. I think they choose to stay ignorant to the facts or use the new line offered by many Canadians about our corrupt ruling Federal Liberals: "Oh sure they're corrupt, but isn't everyone corrupt?!" I wonder if this is the way that 3rd World Banana Republics began their great march downward?

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Little Question About Terminology

Are you familiar with Godwin's Law? If not, take a moment to read about it. I first learned about this "law" from my friend from Philly. She pointed out to a very hateful man in an Internet discussion that choosing to call her a Nazi or another Hitler meant that he had just lost the argument.

I've noticed in recent weeks that the use of the term "neocon" or "neo-conservative" is on the rise. In almost all cases, this term is not used in a positive or complimentary way.

So here's my question: Why do the same folks who paint people with the neocon moniker never use the equivalent term "neolib" or "neo-liberal" ? Surely the likes of Michael Moore and Barbara Streisand would be appropriately labelled with these terms?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mid- August Sunset

Sometimes I have lots to say. Tonight I'll just let this pair of photos do all the talking . . .

Handy Fuel Converter

If you're a Canadian and travelling to the U.S. then you may be interested to know how the prices down there compare to what you're paying back home. I've created this handy fuel converter, which is just an Excel spreadsheet that you can load onto your laptop or Pocket PC.

If you have Excel loaded on the computer that you're now reading this then clicking on the above link will load the spreadsheet right into your browser. If you want to save it permanently then right-click and choose "Save Target As" or "Save Link As".

Let me know if you can envision any improvements!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I Love Law & Order, But Just Can't Stand Government

I am a very law-abiding person but with each passing year I have more & more disgust and less & less respect for governments ... most all governments. In my country of Canada we have reached, or are very close to, a tipping point, which will signify an Ayn Rand'ish nightmare of entering a bureaucratic abyss that we'll never be able to get out of. In such a world, honest people are forced to break the [so-called] laws on a regular basis in order to survive.

This piece by Mark Steyn succinctly sums up many of my feelings.

The Spanish Bankssssssssss Saga Continues!

Yesterday I received a call from a reporter of a local newspaper. She interviewed me about the "Spanish Banks vs. Spanish Bank" revisionist stupidity that I recently uncovered. You can read the article here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Grass Volleyball

Here are two of my friends playing volleyball at the Western edge of Spanish Banks. This evening was on the grass, which is much easier than playing on the sand. And as long as it's not too windy, it's a lot more fun than playing indoors, especially on a glorious day like this one.

Now here's a little quiz: One of these two smacked me in the face. Guess who?! :-) Fortunately there's no bruising yet!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Disappointing Restaurant at Kits Beach

I went to the Watermark restaurant with great anticipation but was very disappointed. I actually don't expect much from a restaurant except reasonably good food and decent service. What I hate is paying top dollar for average food and crappy service. Here's my full review.

The Future of TV?

Most people prefer surfing the Internet over watching TV because they control the content rather than letting someone else do it for them. For the same reason, this may be the future of TV.

Weekend BBQ & Fireworks

What an amazing weekend I just had! It started with my [now] regular Friday evening beach volleyball. The skill level was good and the play was all fun. But this day I realized just what a workout it is on the legs to play on the beach. By the end I was absolutely pooped, and still had to cycle home! Though after a hot shower and few minutes to catch my breath, a friend picked me up and we met the group at Daimasu, a large Japanese restaurant with inexpensive beer and sushi after 9pm. A great choice indeed!

By the time I got home at midnight I was completely exhausted. I melted into my bed and was asleep within minutes. I didn't wake up the next morning until well after 10am. With no milk to make any coffee and a full agenda for the day, I screamed, "#$%*&!@)*^$#"!!! But a quick stop at Starbucks on my way down to the Granville Island Market had me feeling better in no time. I visited several shops down there, buying an assortment of different items for the BBQ that was scheduled later that day ... and for which I had insisted I would provide the food for!
By the time my friend got down to English Bay at 4pm, the beach was already quite full. I joined him about 30 minutes later. The others didn't arrive for another hour or so. Then we started cooking. There was an eclectic assortment of food - chicken, beef, prawns, marlin, sausages, and Waldorf salad - which I think everyone enjoyed. But the piece de resistance was a chocolate fondue experiment.

As I was leaving home I spotted a little fondue pot that I had been given long ago but rarely used. I packed it, along with 5 tea candles, matches, and several small blocks of chocolate. To the pot I added much of the chocolate and 3/4 of a container of whipping creme. Underneath I was able to fit 4 tea candles. At first we didn't think it would melt but slowly it did. And the result was most magnificent. There was one very memorable scene where 4 cute little Asian girls walked by and saw us dipping fruit into the chocolate. I wish I had taken a shot of their jaws hitting the sand!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Stupidity of Governments

Recently I was browing a local government website and saw that the name of one of our local beaches was misspelled: "Spanish Bank" instead of "Spanish Banks". So I sent them a short note to fix it.

Today I received the following e-mail from Vancouver City Hall:

Rest assured that this is not a typo and we, like you, were under the impression that the "s" was correct as it had been used for many generations.

However, several years back, one of our Engineers was researching the area and reviewed the original naval charts where it was clearly named Spanish Bank- and there is only one bank-

In the interest of being correct we are changing signs and references as we need to and dropping the "s".
For the first while it sounded strange to say but now, even I can say Spanish Bank and feel comfortable.

Hope this answers your question.
Terri Clark

Here's how I responded:

Dear Terri,

Oh no, don't tell me it's so. It may very well be the case that the original name "generations ago" was "Spanish Bank" but common usage for eons has been the plural version. It is commonly accepted practice that common usage of a term makes it perfectly acceptable over time.

Spanish Banks covers a very wide area. From the perspective of an airplane or satellite, perhaps there is just one bank, but to anyone walking or boating along the seashore, the plural version make a whole lot more sense.

And you've indicated that you're going to spend precious tax dollars to change all the signage from "Banks" to "Bank"? What a complete waste of money! While I appreciate you writing me back about this, it is just more proof that those of you at city hall - elected and unelected - have little to no respect for where this money comes from.


Robert Werner

Vancouver's Mayor Larry Campbell Is Appointed to the Canadian Senate

I have little doubt that Campbell's appointment to the Senate is going to be spun by many as "proof positive" that the Federal Liberals care about us in The West. But let me assure you that rather than assuage our alienation of Ottawa, this ridiculous appointment has only made things worse in the minds of many.

For what exactly has Larry Campbell done to deserve such a prestigious appointment? In effect, not a whole lot of anything. He has continued forth with a drug policy that absolutely does not work and, in fact, has made things MUCH worse in Vancouver. And what else has he achieved? Hmmm, I honestly can't remember a single thing. Oh, he seemed to get in a lot of shouting matches with reporters, the public, and fellow politicians. If he had been a mayor in the U.S., perhaps he could have written his ticket as an obnoxious promoter into the world of mainstream wrestling.

If these are the qualifications to become a Canadian senator then it's yet more evidence why the whole assembly should be abolished; tomorrow wouldn't be soon enough for me!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Bet You've Never Seen This Before!

Though most days are pretty normal and uneventful for all of us, once in a while something happens that's so strange, it leaves you stunned. Something like that happened to me this evening at volleyball.

A woman in fishnet stockings, a formal jacket, and top hat, suddenly came onto one of the courts and started singing to one of the players. I wasn't 100% sure of the occasion but it sounded like he was leaving his longtime job. Kudos for originality to whomever thought up this memorable stunt!

Thankfully I had my digital camera with me and I captured a number of photos, along with one short video. You can view them here.

Inspirational Thought

"We don't stop playing when we get old, but rather we get old when we stop playing!"

This is something I just heard on the radio and I find most inspiring to think about. Though debilitating diseases can make the decision for us, the fact is that most of us are blessed with pretty great health, especially in the first 50 years of life. But what each person does with the gifts of life and good health are a different matter entirely.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Superb Spanish Music Experience

This evening two friends and I attended a magical musical performance by a Venezuelan born, Toronto musician named Eliana Cuevas. She has a magnificent, powerful, and melodic voice. And like David Letterman would say, she's also very easy on the eyes!

The concert was in the small, intimate venue of the Rime restaurant on Commercial drive. The place was packed so we could only get seats in the back. The sound was still good, but it was more difficult to see Ms. Cuevas past all the other patrons. So for a few songs I snuck up to the front against one wall.

What a great way to end this year's B.C. Day!