Saturday, December 31, 2005

Inspiration For The New Year

This will be my last blog entry for 2005. I'd like to end the year by posting an e-mail I received from a mother in one of Vancouver's poorer areas. Hopefully it'll make you realize how amazing it feels to be able to help families like hers, thanks to the incredible generosity of individuals & companies in the Greater Vancouver community - donating their computer equipment and volunteering their time & talents. Together we're able to turn on those proverbial light bulbs and empower these children to achieve anything they set their minds to.

To those who have already stepped up to the plate I offer a big THANK YOU! To those who would like to join the great team we're assembling, please write to Let's make 2006 the best year this city has ever seen and show the world what makes Vancouver truly great!

Here's what she wrote:

My name is Annie. I read in the newspaper about what you are doing for families that cannot afford to buy a computer.

I am 41 years old, a single mother with 3 teens. I recently enrolled in the
Academy of Learning. I am taking the Business Management course. I am on a fixed income and cannot afford to buy a computer and was wondering if possibly you can put my name on your list of families.

I want to make a decent living for my family and that is why I am taking the business Management course. We live in a 1 bedroom apartment at the moment so with the 4 of us it is pretty crowded as you can imagine.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter,


P.S. I use the library computer when I can.

I wrote her back and then received this letter the next day:

Thank-you for answering my email in regards to the computer. My twin daughters are 17 years old and my son is 16 years old. All 3 of my teens are the ones that got me my email address. I recently enrolled in the Academy of Learning and took out a student loan but was put into the wrong courses. I have had no experience with computers until my daughters showed me how to get on messenger and look up things on the internet. I am taking up Business Office Skills starting January 3, 2006. I did have my phone on at home but decided to cut it off over the holidays because I get about $900.00 a month but $625.00 goes for rent. Then $75.00 for hydro. The rest goes to food. I was trying to put money away for a computer because I know it will help me with some of the things I need to know for my courses.

I just want to get a decent paying job so that I can once in awhile afford to do some things with my teens and move into a bigger place. But with what I get from my student loan at the Academy I cannot afford a computer. My teens will use the computer to help them with getting the information they need for the program they are in. My daughters are currently going to the Take Charge program and my son is in the Genesis program. I know they will all be using the computer for the work they are doing. My daughters have been accepted into the Chief Dan George centre but because of funding I heard it is on hold for awhile.

I have never been able to give my teens alot of things that their friends have and they haven't complained. Of which I am grateful that all 3 know that I am trying to do my best as I have been since they were babies. Yes I really do feel bad because they knew I wanted to put away the money for a computer but couldn't. Our holiday was spent just being together and we are a very happy family just having each other. When we read what you were doing we all thought that was the nicest thing someone could do for families. And we do really appreciate you taking the time to answer my email because we all decided together as family if I should email you. We may not have a lot of stuff but we have a whole lot of love and we make the decisions as a family the way it should be. I do so apologize for rambling on.

What you are doing is such a great thing. Would be so good if there were more people out there willing to help out others. I will be putting my phone on again in January sometime but for now all I have is a pay as u go.


Turning on the Light Bulbs

This afternoon I was talking with Chris, an I.T. specialist at Global TV, who's going to be helping me next year with the refurbishing of computers. I explained to him that one of my plans for the B.C. Digital Divide, beyond just equipping poorer families with computers, is to arrange tours for them to companies around Vancouver that are either involved in hi-tech or have a hi-tech component. My belief is that if these kids can see how working with computers, beyond just playing video games, can directly translate into an interesting and successful career, then there's a good chance they'll get inspired to focus their energies in such a positive direction.

Chris responded with a brilliant phrase that I had not heard before:

It's amazing how once you turn the light on, how bright that light will burn!

Delicious Egg Nog Recipe

I was given some of this over the holidays - Yummy!

Homemade Eggnog

6 eggs
1¼ c. icing sugar
1½ c. dark rum
1 litre whipping cream

Beat 6 egg yolks. Gradually beat in 1¼ cups icing sugar. Gently mix in 1 cup of dark rum. Cover and chill for an hour in the fridge. Mix 1/2 cup of rum and 1 litre unwhipped whipping cream into the egg yolk/icing sugar mixture. Cover and let sit for 3 hours, refrigerated. Beat the 4-6 egg whites until stiff. Fold into rum mixture.


An Amazing Survivor!

I'd like to introduce you to Bonnie Paquette. She's someone who put me in touch with one of the families who received a computer on Christmas Eve. I didn't get a chance to talk with Bonnie until this past week. When I heard the story of her life I was just floored. Up until six years ago Bonnie was living on the streets of Vancouver. She had done so for at least 18 years, sleeping behind a store very close to where I live. I'm guessing that I'd walked by her on some previous occasion. She explained that she finally hit rock bottom and only then was able to find her way past her dependency to drugs.
I can't even begin to imagine what her life was like during those years or what strength & courage it must have taken to finally get clean & sober. We have yet to meet in person but when we do so I'm going to give her a big hug and continue the discussion we started on the phone. You are a survivor, Bonnie, and it really is a great honour to have made your acquaintance!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Stanley Park Christmas Train

This evening my mom & I went to see the Stanley Park Christmas Train. The entire area is beautifully decorated with thousands upon thousands of lights, plus all the decorations you see in these photos.
She had gotten reservations the day before, which made it quite convenient for us. We arrived a little after 9pm and got to get in right away. The wait for us was only about 10 minutes, which was much less than when we saw the train at
Halloween. As always, the train ride was serene and wonderful. There was an eclectic collection of music playing and a variety of scenes throughout the 10-minute or so ride. Highly recommended to locals and visitors alike! My
only regret is that the farmyard closed at 9pm so we didn't get to see the assortment of ducks, pigs, goats and other furry little things. But next year for sure!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Building a Foundation

"Crazy Days" or "Crazy Daze" - That pretty much describes my life right now. But it's all good! I had a blessedly deep sleep until noon today and didn't feel guilty at all ... well maybe a little. :-) I'm now focused on bringing order & organization to the overwhelming response to last week's Xmas Digital Divide campaign.

What's absolutely wonderful is that dozens upon dozens of people from all walks of life are stepping up to the plate to volunteer some time in 2006. And when I need something that I don't yet have a suitable person or company to help with, then I go out & ask. I've always been embarrassed to ask others for help that I personally need, but am absolutely shameless when it comes to the Digital Divide Foundation I'm now on a mission to build. It only takes a few seconds explanation for people to realize it is an amazingly good cause. For not only does it help out Greater Vancouver's less fortunate children - both in the short and hopefully the longer term - but it also gives people an easy, environmentally friendly way to dispose of their older computer equipment.

Everyone who has helped out so far feels great about doing so. But we're still looking for more people & companies to lend a helping hand. Right now I'm just taking contact info, with absolutely no commitment required at this time.

Here's a preliminary list of where we could use help:


  • Admin staff - with great organizational & people skills and highly proficient at e-mail
  • Project Managers - For the acquisition, refurbishing, and distribution process and for special events we plan to hold
  • Writers - For a business plan (to get funding), for the various aspects of the forthcoming website, for PSAs, and for some hardcopy brochures
  • Board of Advisors - Individuals with an accomplished professional record to lend a hand in setting up and subsequently steering the foundation
  • General staff - to help with performing final checks on refurbished computers and helping with general installation of software
  • A bookkeeper or accountant (minimal work right now but someone with such skills is required)

  • Hardware techies - for refurbishing computers
  • Windows experts - for troubleshooting driver issues, etc.
  • Macintosh experts
  • Graphic artists - for both web & print layout work
  • Web developers - preferably with C# and skills
  • A Database Administrator - probably SQL Server

The following is a list of things that we're going to need help with. If you think your company could help out (in any capacity) then we're interested:
  • Temporary or permanent office and/or workspace - doesn't have to be large but must have good vehicle access, worktables, AC Power outlets, and Internet access
  • Transportation - Courier & trucking companies and passenger transportation too
  • Car rental companies
  • Bookstores - with computer books
  • Educational facilities
  • Software vendors
  • Any company that could offer tours of interesting facilities with some hi-tech aspect
As I've mentioned previously, my goal is to create a highly effective, well run organization that will do a lot of good work for the less fortunate children in our community. I understand that everyone has a "real job", just like I do. For that reason, we would never expect more from anyone than they'd be prepared to deliver. On average, I expect that our refurbishing days will be one Saturday per month, with each volunteer asked to just work 4 hours (or more if they want).

Besides the obvious good work you'll be performing, there will be great benefits for every volunteer:
  • Excellent networking opportunities you might not otherwise have
  • Tours to state-of-the-art facilities around the Lower Mainland
  • Mentoring opportunities to help out on a one-to-one basis
If you're at all interested then please write an e-mail to and write a little bit about yourself and where you think you could best help.

Santa Banned in Richmond Schools?

I spoke today with one of the moms whose kids received a computer. I recalled when her 8-year old asked about whether I knew Santa. I wasn't sure whether he still believed so I answered, "Yes". She told me that he still does very much believe in Santa. She then went on to relate what happened at his school. Apparently one of the teacher's aides told him that Santa doesn't really exist and instead it's more of a "Santa spirit" that he should believe in. Huh?! She complained to the principal but the principal supported the staff member. Double Huh?!?

I realize that Santa isn't a religion per say, but there is still a belief system involved with him. I don't know about you but I find this rather disturbing. I checked with two teacher friends of mine, one in Vancouver and one in Burnaby, to see if this was school policy. "Absolutely not", they both exclaimed.

There are two sides to every story but I'd be interested to see what reasons the principal and the teacher's aide have for what appears to be grinch-like behaviour.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Day

Finally I got a good sleep and had a much needed large breakfast. A luxury of late!

I delivered two of the last three computers my colleagues and I had prepared for donation. In some regards the families were quite different but in all cases there was a loving parent (or parents) that want the best for their kids. And in both homes I saw a bountiful of happiness, no matter what the family's current financial situation. Life can be very difficult at times but if you love your kids then you do the best you can with what you have.

In one case there was a problem with the sound card and I had also forgotten some Junior Hockey tickets they had wanted (thanks, Allen!). But I'll get back there soon!

I made it Xmas dinner at my mom's a bit late but had an enjoyable meall with old & new friends. Then Elf Dennis and I delivered the final computer to Jen, the woman you saw in the first BCTV segment. She was very, very nice, as was her daughter. And in a strange twist of fate, it turned out that there new cat may be the daughter or granddaughter of one that Dennis had donated a few years ago - long story! :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Another Touching Letter

I just received something to that both breaks your heart and warms it at the same time. Here's the letter:

I'm a single parent with a four years old daughter. I lived at at east vancouver with my parents. We've used to have a computer, which is pass down to me by my relative 10 years ago. Recently, the computer is dead, it won't start up again. I cannot afford now to buy a new one. Mostly i used the computer just to do simple task like school works or finding job. Now, my daughter is getting older, i play cd for her at the computer because our cd player is broken down for a year now. the computer hardwares are really expensive now, and i cannot afford a whole new one. I am hoping that you can provide me with a CPU, and i can recycle my old monitor and printer, since they are still workable. But honestly, if you have other families that are in greater needs, i appreciate and understand that you may not be able to provide for us.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

This Elf Needs a Recharge!

After exactly 2 hours of sleep last night, I just spent the 16 hours delivering computers to a variety of families around the Lower Mainland. And I'd spend another 16 if it meant experiencing what I've beholden this past day. I have so many amazing stories to tell on what was surely the most inspirational day of my entire life.

One piece of information I want to get out there though . . . a wonderful family in Abbotsford received one of the computers. But I noticed that the boys of the single mom were having to sit in a horribly broken desk chair. If anyone can rise to the occasion and donate them a better office chair then I would so appreciate that. Please write me at if you can help.

Good night and may your Christmas Day be an amazing one for you!

Christmas Is Nearly Here ... And I'm Nearly Dead! :-)

Well, dead tired at least. There were some great moments in the day though, starting with the 24 Hours article that has already generated new people applying to get a computer, which is excellent. That photo shows a small glimpse of me being up to my eyeballs in computers. Thankfully there's no more incoming equipment and it's now going only out! Placing it all into the van is going to be a daunting task all on its own!

Another great moment was having Shaw call to tell me that they were going to give 12 families high-speed service for 6 months. That's an amazing gesture and one I appreciate very much. Kevin Younghusband from Staples is also helping out. I went over there to buy some software for one of the mothers who commented that one of her boys has problems with spelling. Well lo & behold, not only did this generous man give me this software, but he also invited me back next week to get even more for the families.
Yesterday's Guru Elf, Geoff, was drastically sick with the flu today. Undoubtedly he was sick already and pushed himself too far yesterday. But he wanted to help. Stepping into his shoes was a new Elf, Cornell. I had never met this great fellow before, but he came over and did great things with the Macs. Turns out that we went to the same high school, Eric Hamber. In fact, these ties are popping up in more than a few places ever since this got started.

Later in the day a friend & colleague from Seattle, Ahmed, came over to help. We were disappointed to see that more than a few of the machines had one thing or another wrong with them. Experience has shown never to give someone a machine in such a state as it only leads to frustration. So I had the unpleasant task of informing a few families that we simply couldn't deliver something to them by Xmas. But I in the longer term picture, they will be pleased to get a machine that works well than one that provides only frustrations. Thankfully we're able to fulfill our commitment to most of the families.

P.S. Does anyone want to help lift a thousand pounds of computer equipment into a van on the morning of Xmas Eve?!? :-)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Interested To Help Bridge The Digital Divide?

If you live in Greater Vancouver and are at all intrigued to be kept informed about what we're trying to do to bridge the Digital Divide then just send an e-mail to All that will happen is that your name will be put on a list and in several weeks - probably February - I'll send you an e-mail explaining how the vision is evolving and seeking input from all interested parties who have ideas and/or want to get directly involved.

From the start this is going to be an association of hi-tech professionals who want to give back to the community in a highly focused, highly effective manner. Though not every detail has been fleshed out, what I can promise you is that there'll be minimal bureaucracy, maximum productivity, and some amazing results. For the all important goal here is to eliminate the digital divide that currently exists in our community. We're not going to have endless meetings about what we'd like to do but rather we're just going to do it!

Not only will you feel great about what you're doing to help less fortunate members of our society, but the networking opportunties for you will be tremendous! And working with other top professionals, you will learn ... a lot! Just so you know, refurbishing computers is just Phase 1 of where I want to take this. Mentoring young aspiring graphic artists, software developers, project managers, etc. will be Phase 2. And setting up "small clouds" of free or low-cost WiFi in low income housing areas will be a possible Phase 3.

My life this past week has been the greatest, most exhausting, and absolutely most rewarding one of my entire life. I've met some incredible, generous individuals, and been inspired several times every day. It has been quite the thrill ride. Though I need to get back to my "real" life and launch a new company and new product, I am absolutely positive of what can be accomplished if a small team of bright, dedicated professionals all puts their focus in the same direction.

The overwhelming response from Vancouverites - 5 people willing to donate to 400+ in just 4 days - is proof positive that a spark of inspiration and can do willpower has been lit. Within the time & means I have available, I'm going to do everything I can to get this spark flourishing and burning brightly. But I can't do it all on my own. So if you are interested to learn more then do drop a line or two about yourself to Most important of all, you don't need to work in the hi-tech field to get involved!

A Big Thank You To A Special Elf

My friend and colleague, Guru Tech Elf, Geoff, devoted the entire day to getting the computers prepared for donation to the needy families. A few of the machines were ready to go "as is" but most were not. If you've ever had to reinstall Windows & all applications all over again then you'll get a tiny appreciation of what he had to do. And not just one machine! Computer after computer, almost always four at once, Geoff examined and evaluated and configured. Two sections of my apartment started evolving: Those computers that were ready to be donated and those that would have to be delved into further when there was more time. Though we've made many new friends the past few days, time was not one of them.
My friend is one of the smartest people I've ever met. He also has a heart of gold. I got the easy job today of being able to tell people they're going to be receiving a great computer for Christmas. He had the difficult, thankless one. But I was thankful, very thankful indeed!

What are these ribbons for? John Daly, the BCTV reporter who interviewed me, made an off the cuff comment about refurbished computers arriving under the trees of countless families, each wrapped in a red bow. I thought about this later and realized it was a brilliant final touch. So I recruited my mother to be Senior Gift Wrapping Elf tomorrow! An amazingly productive little team I've recruited so far. What I really want to do is pull together a larger team for 2006. In my heart & my mind, I know what the rewards are of this work are. Nothing financial, but something MUCH more valuable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Makes It All Worthwhile

Back on November 24th I posted some of the sample letters I had received, asking for consideration about getting the one computer I had available at the time. One of these read as follows:

Hello,My name is ------. I moved to Vancouver from Romania with my family (my husband and two twin bebies) a month ago. Tomorow we are moving to Port Coquitlam in a social house. For now we can not buy furniture or a computer, but a computer is the way to find a job, to find everything we need now. Write now we are staying at our friend -------, so I am using her computer. Actually, you decide if I we can be calified to get your gift for Christmas. If you want to talk with us call 604 ###-####. Thank you, what ever your decision is.------p.s. sorry for my mistakes. i still have to work to empruve my english.

This evening I arranged for one of the donors to directly deliver a computer to this woman and her family. This is something I normally wouldn't do but I made an exception for reasons I won't get into here. Anyhow, from the donor I just received the following e-mail:

Hi Robert

We delivered the computer to ----- this evening and she was truly very grateful. She said she cried after I called her to let her know we were coming by.

She wanted us to come in and visit but unfortunately we had to go to our daughter's place which is very close by so had to turn her down.

Her husband is an engineer (working in construction now) so he should be able to get the computer up and running and hopefully get good use out of it. We are very pleased to have our computer go to this lovely family - they have 14 month old twins that are adorable. What a strong young couple to come here to start a new life. Her husband doesn't even speak english!

Thank you for all your efforts - you gave us a good match for our computer!

Keep up the good work.


Just amazing. You know, us Canadians tend to be a non-emotive lot compared to many other cultures. But strip away that outer defensive wall most of us keep up 24/7 and you can find some pretty amazing human beings!

The Generosity Keeps on Coming!

Another absolutely incredible day! It started with 87-year old Nick puttering up in his car and offering a fairly new computer & monitor. This was followed by Jim & Richard & Ronald and their incredible donations. Then Mike, a young fellow from Toronto stopped by and donated a keyboard, several games, and even some cute mouse pads that any kid will love!

Later in the day, Allen & Maggie came and unloaded a full carload of equipment - I was just speechless in gratitude. Later Dennis & Shawn brought more items. Throughout the afternoon my #1 techie guru elf, Geoff, was turning on computer after computer, to get a clear picture of what we had available.

Around 6pm, one of my reindeer, Dennis, brought in an amazing system from Steen in Delta. Then we got in Dennis' 4-wheeled sleigh and went to pick up donations from Peter and more items from Richard. We then went over to Suzi's. Wow! She was donating an amazing Mac computer that is going to give a teenager some unbelievable capabilities to express their creativity in countless ways. We ended up the journey by picking up a custom built powerful computer from Santa Bob.

To end out the night, Kelly and her husband, Jeff (pictured above), made their way in from Richmond through what seemed like torrential rains, dropping off a potpourri of items including a countless number of printers. They had also kindly stopped by Stan's to bring in a Mac from him. Thank you all. Your kindness WILL make a difference in the homes of many families this coming year!

Seeking More Needy Recipients

Well, I asked for donations ... and I certainly got them! As of this minute there are 355 people who have contacted me to donate something. And 22 of them have already donated something. It's just amazing! But with the equipment I already have and that I've already committed to get in the next few days, I simply have more than enough items for the 14 families I've committed to helping.

So ... I need to find more families who could legitimately benefit from a computer donation. If you know of someone, please visit the web page I've setup. It now explains what to do to contact me regarding this. I don't know if I can get the equipment to them by Christmas Day but almost certainly by year's end.

I've put off sleeping until 2006 anyhow! :-)

CBC Radio 1 Interview

This morning I woke up at 5am and got myself downtown to the CBC building by 6am. Anyone who knows me knows that mornings are not my friend. So I made a VERY necessary stop at the Starbucks across from the
Library. I entered the building around 6:30am and met the security guard. He gave me a visitor's pass and sent me up to the 3rd Floor. There I was greeted by several staff members and waited for a few minutes.
I was brought into the studio around 6:40am where I was interviewed by Stephen Quinn. I had so many inspiring things to say but I don't think the coffee had kicked in yet! I wanted to talk about the great generosity of the people who
had donated something over the past 24 hours: Richard donating a flat-screen LCD monitor, beautiful Yuki and her wonderful laptop, Marshall and Ron and Sylvie and their complete systems, Mike and his laptop & monitor, Henriette and Manny and their monitors, and more! I wanted to mention Amy at Richmond Centre and her arranging 3 computers to be delivered to the cause. And Ateesh Roop & Mary Wharton of Golder Associates committing to donate several computers on a continuing basis. There are so many more amazing stories of generosity! But as these things go, I had little time to say all that.

Stephen started off calling me the "Computer Santa". I corrected him by saying that I preferred "The Accidental Elf". For the true Santas out there are those who are opening up their hearts and being so incredibly generous to less fortunate in our community. I even had a great political analogy that I had thought of: "If more politicians tried to act like elves and less wanted everyone to treat them like Santa then wouldn't things in our country be a whole lot better?"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Seeking Help from Macintosh Experts

A gentleman wants to donate a Macintosh Performa 5200CD. He says it works perfectly except that he can't get the browser to work. Since I know nothing about Macs, I wouldn't even know where to start to resolve this.

If there's a Mac guru out there who would be willing to take a look at this for me - and preferably someone in the Vancouver area - then please leave me a comment here or e-mail Thank you!

Some Misconceptions

It's 5:37am and I just examined each of the 200+ e-mails I've received from prospective donors. What an amazing cross-section of people there are out there! Why did I stay up so late? Because I deeply appreciate everyone taking the time to write and offer what they did. They deserved a response and not just because Xmas is so near, though that's a factor too.

However amongst some people, there did seem to be some misconceptions of me and my little project:

  • There is no "organization" with branch offices, colour-coordinated uniforms, a company theme song, and charitable tax receipts. I'm just a guy who wanted to do something good for one family with one computer I was given. This blossomed into 10 families and now possibly 2 more.
  • Even if I give up sleep altogether this week - and it's sort of looking like that might happen - I'm just one person trying to make as much of a contribution as I can.
  • I am not an eccentric millionaire with unlimited time on my hands. Hopefully one day at least two of these three traits will be true, but not yet!
  • For this project I'm looking to get working components, not things I'd need to fix. That may change in the future, if I can get a group of fellow techies to meet every few months to help refurbish newly donated computers, but not right now.
  • I don't own a fleet of delivery vans that can pick up anything in the Lower Mainland at the snap of my fingers. I realize that no individual e-mailer had any idea of how many others were also writing ... though they do now! :-) But it goes without saying that the more a donor can do to prepare the equipment they're donating, the more time I'll have to coordinate more donations. (I think I used "more" a few too many times in that last sentence!)
  • Printers are always nice to donate, if they're functioning properly. A nice touch would be if the donor paid an outfit like Island InkJet to top up the current cartridge to full. Though a few standalone cartridges have been offered, the chances of getting ones that match the donated printers is very slim. For a family on poverty to find $50+ to get a new printer cartridge is a very large burden.
Anyhow, as I've said before, there are some incredibly generous people out there. And they're giving me the ability to help put bigger smiles on the faces of a whole lot more children this Xmas. That's what this little project is all about.

But now it's time for me to get some much needed sleep! Good night ... or good morning, depending on how you look at it! ;-)

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Computer Donation Project Takes Off!

What an amazing day! Yesterday John Daly's segment on my project was broadcast on the 6pm and 11:30pm news at BCTV. When I checked this morning there were about 30 new people who wanted to donate something. I had to head out by 9:30am but managed to answer most of them. But when I got back in the afternoon there 173 new messages awaiting my attention. I nearly fainted!

I immediately knew I had to do something to better control the process because I simply won't be able to properly answer and coordinate every one of these e-mails by this weekend. How does Santa do it?!? So I constructed this web page. As I state there, I am truly grateful to everyone who has contacted me and offered to donate something. Up until now I was more than willing to accept most any computer that would run Windows (or any newer Mac). But some of the donations now coming in are fairly modern machines. Ultimately it's my responsibility to get for the families the very best equipment I can so I just can't accept everything.

This evening my longest time friend, 'D', and I drove around Vancouver picking up all sorts of computer equipment. The woman you see pictured above is named Elspeth. I was overwhelmed by her incredible generosity and her determination to get her powerful computer to a bright & curious student who would truly benefit from it and be inspired to achieve greater things. I was also incredibly honoured that she has placed her trust in me to make this happen. Her trust is well placed.

Later we met this gracious gentleman, Shamash, who was donating a somewhat older computer, but still one that will bring great benefits to the child who gets it. And a big thanks also to Jan and her husband and Harold and Benny, four other amazing people we met on our journey this evening.

This afternoon I was contacted by CBC Radio 1. They want to interview me on their morning show on Wednesday. With the prospective donator count now at 205, my first inclination was to say, "Nooooooooooo!!!" But I thought about it and hope to use the occasion to see if some of the following might be offered by individuals and companies alike:

  • Use of a van or mini-van this Friday & Saturday
  • Donation of software from Microsoft and others; educational games would be terrific
  • Donation of 6 months free Internet service from Shaw and/or Telus
  • Donation of printer cartridges
Hint, hint, nudge, nudge. I'll leave it at that.

I am completely exhausted but absolutely alive with the Spirit of Christmas! Though I grew up here in Vancouver, I've had great challenges with certain aspects of the city over the years. Vancouverites are often accused by newcomers as being cold, aloof, and superficial. And I think we all encounter examples of such behaviour on many days. But I must tell you that today I was shown a glimpse into the true heart & soul of Vancouverites and saw something more incredibly beautiful than even the majestic scenery that surrounds us.

Computer Donation Project

As you may be aware, last month I initiated a project to get people to donate their older computers, monitors, printers, etc. to needy families for Christmas.

To date I've identified 10 families and have commitments of 5 complete computer systems. It would sure be great to get the other 5 in the next week.

John Daly, from BCTV News, just interviewed me, which should hopefully generate some more donations. But if you have something - and it doesn't have to be a complete system - then please know that I'll definitely find a needy family who could use it!

To read more about the project, please click here. There's also an article in the local Vancouver Courier newspaper too. You can read it here.

Just a Typical Rainy Day in Vancouver

This photo exemplifies why I always carry my camera with me . . .

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rare Sunny Winter Day

I took my dad's dog for a walk today and on the way back home captured this photo. It was glorious in Vancouver today with bright blue skies and not one hint of rain.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas Is Near

The other night I attended a very nice dinner at the Pan Pacific Hotel. It's beautifully decorated for Christmas and I captured this photo, which I really like.

I Just Fired Ujjal Dosanjh!!!

This afternoon Ujjal Dosanjh, Canada's Health Care Minister, was on CKNW's David Berner program. In the 4 - 5pm hour he stated that it's impossible for anyone in the public health care system to determine what the costs of a given medical procedure are. Let me repeat that: The man responsible for the health of all Canadians has absolutely no idea what ANY medical procedures cost and furthermore, said that he'd never be able to determine them.

I waited about 45 minutes to get on air, but shortly after 5pm I was able to talk with Dosanjh. I pointed out to him that the #1 priority of getting a handle on reducing the exhorbitant waiting lists is to figure out where efficiencies exist and where they can be improved. In order to do this, one needs to understand what the costs are. This is taught to first year business students and project managers on the first day of their education!

I pointed out that Vancouver's Dr. Brian Day and Paul Martin's private doctor, Dr. Sheldon Elman, who runs several private clinics in Quebec, could provide such costs in a millisecond.

I finished with the following: "Mr. Dosanjh, if you were running one of my two software companies and told me that you had no idea what the breakdown of costs were and/or blamed your project managers for not giving this information to you then sir, in my best Donald Trump voice, I would say, 'Ujjal, you're fired!" And I'm confident that most Canadians would agree with me wholeheartedly.

Mini High School Reunion

Last night I got together with two of my old friends, who I attended high school with between 1977 - 1982 [Eric Hamber]. We went to Shabusn, where you can have all-you-can-eat Japanese & Korean food. Yummy!

They brought their lovely wives and I brought my lovely mom! A good time was had by all.

Note: You're not seeing things. The face of one of us has been blurred out as per a court injunction he has taken out against me. It also requires that I call him "Mademoiselle", but that's for a future blog entry! :-)

The Dumb Lead The Dumber

If you'd like a small glimpse into what passes for illuminated commentary in Canada these days then read this article about one of our resident socialists, Maude Barlow.

I laughed out loud when I read her ridiculous comments that David Wilkins' recent speech means that American conservatism is creeping into Canadian politics. How quickly we forget how many Canadians concerned themselves with nothing other than trying to defeat George Bush in the last U.S. presidential election. What's good for the goose clearly has to be good for the gander.

Furthermore let's not forget what started this whole war of words. Paul Martin asserted that the U.S., unlike Canada, is failing to do enough to control CO2 gas emissions. Afterwards it was revealed by all major media sources that in fact Canada's increase in such emissions are nearly twice as large as that of America!

If such lies & hypocrisy exemplify the so-called "Canadian values" that Barlow says are at risk, then let's hope that David Wilkins and other foreign ambassadors will speak up more often!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Canadian English Debate

Tonight's federal debate was interesting - not exciting, but interesting. No real winner in my mind.

But there was one thing that stood out: Jack Layton never failed to finish every answer with some variation of: "and I'll ensure that happens if you send more NDP members to the House of Commons". Over & over & over again he uttered this tagline.

It reminded me of the times I looked into buying a used car. Almost every single response from the Used Car Salesman ended in: "and what can I do to put you into this car today?".

Jimmy Pattison has a good record of hiring ex-NDP leaders. Maybe Layton should leave his business card with him before he departs Vancouver!

Friday Lunch

Today I went out for lunch with two friends of mine and two friends of theirs. It was downtown at The Keg, which is a great mid-priced chain of restaurants throughout Vancouver and elsewhere. It
was a crisp, sunny day and I caught these two photos before the meal. I especially like the first one!

Is Anti-Americanism The Only Thing That Binds Us?

There's an important editorial in a prominent U.S. newspaper that all Canadians should read. I've been sadly amused when a foreigner would ask one of my fellow citizens, "What exactly constitutes being a Canadian?" Without fail, the answer always involves some derogatory comment about Americans. It's easy to say that this has only been the case since George Bush came into power but such a statement is a lie; such sentiments have existed much longer than that.

As we all settle in to the Christmas season, I wish more Canadians would take the time to reflect upon what they want Canada to be and then focus on doing their part to make this vision become reality.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Just one of those things you gotta laugh at!

Canada is a BIG Country!

Whenever I'm travelling in a foreign country and tell someone I'm from Canada, more often than not I quickly learn that they think that I live in a snow covered community 8+ months of the year. Well, it just ain't so.

This time of year is an interesting one for those of us in Vancouver and Victoria because when we see photos from the east they look much like the upper photo from Montreal.

But where I live, it more often looks a whole lot like this photo!

Jib Jab is Back!

Though I don't often agree with the political bent of these infamous Internet animators, there's no doubt that they have some incredible talent. You can watch their end of year animation by clicking here.

Best Line of the Day

Mark Steyn, being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, was asked why the American media is mostly ignoring the historic Iraq election today, where Sunnis are turning out in record numbers.

Steyn responded, "The Washington Post was more interested in featuring a gay cowboy movie on their front page than the Iraq election. I mean, I like a movie about men in chaps like any other chap but . . . ."

Absolutely brilliant!

More Info on Mr. Beer & Popcorn

I found this article from Erin Airton very enlightening.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Open Memo to Ontario Voters

All polls indicate that Ontario, especially Toronto, will once again be voting en masse for the Liberal Party of Canada. Do any of you understand why this makes Westerners question your sanity & intelligence?

Listen online to any Western Canadian talk-radio show and you'll hear an endless stream of irate Westerners ranting about separation. It's easy to dismiss such folks as redneck yahoos but I do feel they're much more representative of the majority than one might realize. Take me for example. I'm a well read, well travelled Vancouver-boy who has lived in several locations in this country:

  • Lynn Lake, Manitoba (2 years)
  • Sudbury, Ontario (5 years)
  • Victoria, BC (3 years)
  • Montreal, Quebec (18 months)
Yet my views about separation are very similar. It's not the preferred option for me, but it is an option if some fundamental things don't change soon.

Call me naive, but I've long thought that there's an unwritten contract between the people and the government we elect. Forever and a day the people have held up their end of this agreement, but for decades the federal government simply has not - at least not from the perspective of a typical Westerner. The fact that many in the Liberal party no longer seem to recognize that they're only in power at the privilege of the people is going to come back to haunt the future of Canada. I'm positive about this.

Out here in the West, the call for separation will almost certainly come from Alberta first. If/when this occurs, I for one will be pushing for B.C. to join them. I am not anti-Canadian but I am against all governments that have absolutely no semblance of accountability.

Modern Nativity Scene

Were you aware that the baby boy of Britney Spears will be playing baby Jesus in his own nativity scene? Read more here.

Does this make Ms. Spears the Virgin Mother? My God, we truly are near the end of the world as we know it!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Most Condescending Woman in Canada!

Here's a photo of one of the stupidest people in Canada. She also happens to be my Member of Parliament. What a pathetic joke. Her name is Hedy Fry and she is so clearly representative of all that is wrong with my country.

This evening she appeared in a debate on CKNW, along with her opponents, Svend Robinson and Tony Fogarassy. Because of Svend's entry into this race, my riding will be the most watched one come election night. Everyone knows how I'll be voting but even if Svend gets in I'll be content.

And if/when she loses, watch out for a senate appointment soon after. Wither Canada!

Animated Music

I just discovered one of the most interesting and fascinating things I've ever scene on the Internet. Animusic is like watching a concert except that the instruments are the musicians. A very original use of computerized graphics and sound!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Canada's Fork In The Road

It is very fitting that high-level Liberal spokespeople like Scott Reid are clearly speaking their minds on how childcare should best be provided to Canadians. What he said was not an accident, for other high-level Liberals have echoed his thoughts precisely.

The discussion that has now ensued is about much more than just childcare. It's actually a strong metaphor for how Canada moves forward as a country.

Voting for the Liberal plan means that you agree that Canadian parents, on average, are not yet mature enough to spend the money wisely and are still in need of guidance and direction from the nanny state. Otherwise all havoc might just break loose and the social fabric of this country may fall apart. Who knows, maybe it will.

Voting for the Conservative plan is an acknowledgement that we, as a society, have grown up somewhat and no longer need to have every part of our lives run by Nanny Gov. Those of us who think this way don't want 'her' to disappear but just to back away some and give us more freedom to make our own decisions. We know she cares about us but it's time we left the nest and started flying on our own.

The vote on January 23rd is a pivotal moment in Canada's history. In many ways it is a referendum about Canada's maturity level as a nation. Entering that polling booth, each person needs to make up their own mind about where they stand on this. Change is never simple and sometimes it's downright scary. But change is an inevitable fact of life and one that responsible adults accept and deal with; most often very well indeed.

Latte Art

Here's something that folks in the Pacific Northwest will really appreciate: Latte Art. This comes out of Holland and they even have actually competitions with judges and audiences! Do you think this might be coming soon to a cable channel near you? I just can't wait until the image of Jesus appears ... you know it's going to happen!

Funniest Quote of the Day

In a fake PSA (Public Service Announcement) an 8-year old kid says, "First my parents told me that Santa was real. Then they told me not to smoke crack. I just don't know what to believe."

Hope your day is going well!

Radio Appearance

This morning I woke up at 6am (actually got about about 20 minutes later!) so that I could appear as a guest on Roy Green's show at 7am. There were other invited guests from Edmonton, Winnipeg, and two from Ontario, though one of these had recently moved from Quebec.

We discussed a whole range of issues, including childcare, gun control, and taxes.

Not a single person was happy with what Martin & co. have been doing or saying, but looking at things objectively, this panel obviously did not represent a cross-section of Canadians; otherwise we'd have had 35 - 40% Liberal supporters. These are the people I'd ideally like to talk with, for me to get some reasonable idea of how they can possibly be voting this way.

As I said to Roy in a post-show e-mail, I hate to continue being realistic (a nicer word than 'pessimistic') but nothing about what's going on in government gives me even a tiny slice of optimism. Right now it looks almost certain like the Liberals will once again get another minority government, but that will provide a strange scenario because they were just defeated in a vote of non-confidence. So if essentially the same crew is returned into power then how can any of the opposition parties support them?

Direct Comparison of the Conservative & Liberal Daycare Plans

We've seen lots of numbered thrown around in regard to the 2 prominent daycare plans. Here's a quick guide to help you sort them out:


Per child per year:

$ 1,200

Provided via:

Direct tax rebate

Weeks per year:


Per child per week:

$ 25



$11 Billion over 11 years

Provided via:

New bureaucracy

Per year:

$ 1,000,000,000

# of Children:


Per child per year:

$ 1,600

Weeks per year:


Per child per week:

$ 33

Important Note: With the Liberal plan, the $33 per child per week is being provided to a bureaucracy first so you have to ask yourself what percentage of this amount will be consumed in the operation of the bureaucracy - 20% ? 30% ? 50% ?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Further Proof of the Liberals Disdain for Canadians

Today, senior Liberal strategist, Scott Reid, said, "Canadian parents could blow any extra child-care money they get from Ottawa on beer and popcorn." Click here to read the full story.

This should be no surprise to readers of this blog, for its exactly the same sentiment expressed by a Liberal supporter regarding a previous blog entry.

If you consider yourself to be a fool, one who needs the government to control your spending habits, then please vote Liberal, because they're your party!

Is Iran The Next Big Threat?

Almost certainly, but our leaders are too intimidated to do anything about it. You can read more here. As the author, Mark Steyn, writes, the American administration would like to do something but their hands are tied by ultra-naive UN and European leaders (plus Canadian ones but nobody listens to use anymore so our opinion doesn't matter).

Anyone who studied Hitler's regime in the 1930's leading up to World War 2 will see great similarities with what's going in Iran now, with their run-up to getting a nuclear bomb. God help us all because we're so clearly unable to help ourselves!

Funny Take on Santa and All Those Letters He Gets!

Ever wonder how Santa gets through those millions of letters he gets every year? Here's a new take on it ... definitely not for young kids: Santa ad

And more funny ads can be found here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Humourous Take on the Federal Election

Further to looking at the election campaign with a smile on one's face, here's a great article by National Post columnist, Don Martin. Let me share one paragraph from the article:

The first dozen days of this Christmas campaign have featured big promises without price tags, grandiose policies without substance, bitter attacks without much justification, cute photo-ops without actual voters and a partridge in a pear tree. No, wait. Scrap that last bit.

Friday, December 09, 2005

4 Explanations for the Recent Poll Results

Leger Marketing, a polling firm with questionable independence, has just released a poll that supposedly has the Liberals with 39% of support of those Canadians polled (2006 people polled by the way - very cute number, huh?!)

I've scratched my head, trying to apply some sanity & logic to these numbers. Haven't found any yet but I'll keep scratching.

With that said, since this is the end of the week I thought I'd offer these four reasons:

  1. 39% of Canadians are morons and want politicians to lie to them.
  2. The polling company is corrupt and has been paid off by the Liberals.
  3. People are deliberately lying to the pollsters.
  4. Poll respondents are drinking spiked egg nog way too early this holiday season!
Maybe a little of each!

Go See the Stanley Park Xmas Train!

I love trains. Always have, in fact. And Vancouver is blessed to have a magnificent smaller scale train that one can actually ride. It's located in Stanley Park and is a big hit with kids and adult kids alike. During the Christmas season they decorate the entire route with over a million brilliant lights. If you get a chance do go see the train this year. Your admission entitles you to ride the train, plus to go see the Children's Farmyard. I don't know if the ducks will be dressed up in Christmas wear though! For more information click here. I have 2 pieces of advice: Dress warmly and know that you will likely have to get tickets about 3 hours ahead of time; yes, it's that popular! What I have typically done is get the tickets and then go have a nice dinner on nearby Denman or Robson Street.

Paul Martin's Lie of the Day #2

I've begun to wonder if Paul Martin tells the truth to anyone - his wife, his children, his friends? Imagine meeting a person who never told the truth. Would you become friends with this person? Would you go into business with this person? Would you buy a used car from this person? I wouldn't. I'd dump them faster than yesterday's news.

As impossible as it might seem, our prime liar ... errr minister, has exceeded his lie that banning guns will keep them out of the hands of criminals. If this previous one was a 6/10 on the Lie Detector scale then this new one is surely a 9/10 (we need to leave room for the gold medal 10/10 lie that surely is to come!).

Lie of the Day #2 was actually a two parter:

  1. That Canada will reduce its pollution to meet its Kyoto commitments.
  2. That the United States should be chastised for not signing on to the Kyoto agreement.
There are a couple of problems with what he's said:
  1. Canada will NEVER be able to meet its commitments.
  2. The much hated U.S. has actually reduced its pollution much more than Canada.
Don't believe me? Then read here and here ... articles from two newspapers that are usually huge supporters of the Liberal Party of Canada. But even they couldn't let this lie pass.

Here's a brief snippet from the 2nd article: Under Kyoto, we, (and all other signatories) are pledged to reduce our emission by the period 2008 to 2012 to 6 per cent less than our levels in 1990. Instead of going down, our emissions have gone up — by a whopping one-quarter (24.2 per cent), by the end of 2003.

In a nutshell, this exemplifies why I am challenged to say that I'm proud to be a Canadian these days. Honour and truth and responsibility used to be important virtues in my country. They've been replaced by dishonour, lies, and permanent victimhood amongst so many of my fellow citizens. This is why, I have little doubt, that Martin's Kyoto pronouncement will generate all kinds of increased support for him & his party in the polls. For he seems to be the perfect politician for the citizenry that constitutes the majority in Canada today.

Yahoo or Yohoo?!?

This morning I read this. Looks like there's a new company in the VoIP market! :-)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Paul Martin's Lie of the Day #1

Long ago I naively thought that an election campaign was all about each side expressing their policies and then the electorate deciding which one they liked best. Then I grew up. And I sadly learned that many politicians avoid talking about any real issues and instead just go around and lie, lie, lie! Paul Martin has got to win an award for this ability. Today he outlined a plan to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

The best comment on this I just read on another blog:

"Don't be so tough on Martin. He's got a big plan. This week he bans hand guns. Next week he bans robbery, then murder. Then, just before Christmas, he invokes a total and complete ban on criminals. It's brilliant I tell you. Sensible, logical and doable. Thank god for the Liberals. No one could ever love us as much as they do."

Accident at Midway Airport in Chicago

Around 7:15pm CST Southwest Airlines 1248 from Baltimore skidded off the runway at Midway Airport in extremely snowy Chicago. It went off the airport grounds and smashed into two cars. All 90 people on the plane are okay but a 6-year old boy in one of the cars was killed. Others in the cars were injured.

This story hits me close to home because some dear friends of mine who live very close to Midway have provided me with a Chicago home on countless occasions. I'm thus VERY familiar with this airport.

If you'd like to see what the weather is like in Chicago then take a look at this live webcam.

Can A Canadian Politician Get ANY More Cynical?

Newsflash: Liberals announce new policy to ban handguns.

I thought I knew everything about the Canadian electorate but today I learned something new. I've long known that the strong doses of Liberal Kool-Aid given out to the electorate, especially in the Greater Toronto area, have had a significant mind numbing effect, especially in the Logic & Reasoning section of the brain. But what I've realized today is that it must effect any memories older than say 6 weeks ago.

For today's announcement is a typical Liberal policy: Lots of big words at a fancy press op. Unfortunately they mean absolutely nothing! Any person who doesn't see us going down exactly the same path as the absolutely useless Gun Registry should either be pitied for being born with an abysmally low IQ or should be driven by their loved ones to the near drug rehabilitation clinic; just tell them it's not heroine they're addicted to but LKA (Liberal Kool-Aid) they're consuming in large doses. Damage is probably permanent but perhaps one day a cure will be found.

I will cry next week when the polls from Ontario report back that popularity for the Liberals has gone up because of this announcement. Citizens of that province should be renamed Con-tarioans because they so clearly love to be conned!

Better Web Tracking

In the future Google will make available free web tracking technology. I use another service now but am going to try theirs as soon as its available. If you click on the image you can go to their website and sign-up to be notified when it'll be available.

Back on the Roy Green Show

This Monday, December 12th, I will be reappearing on Roy Green's radio show in Hamilton, Ontario. Joining me, will be guests from Montreal, Winnipeg, and Hamilton. I'll be on between 10 - 11am EST. Should be interesting!

Still Seeking Computers for Donation

As you may be aware, last month I initiated a project to get people to donate their older computers, monitors, printers, etc. to needy families for Christmas.

I've identified 9 families and to date have commitments of 4 complete computer systems. It would sure be great to get the other 5 in the next 2 weeks.

Sandra Thomas, a reporter for the Vancouver Courier, interviewed me today for an article that will appear in this Sunday's edition. I hope it generates many more donations!

To read more about the project, please click here.