Sunday, December 31, 2006

An End-Of-The-Year Analogy

Right vs Left

I just discovered this on a fellow blogger's site and laughed my head off:

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a good NDP-er, and was very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Conservative, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father.

Read the rest.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tail End of Christmas

I was up at Oakridge Centre mall visiting some old friends when I saw this magnificently decorated reindeer and just had to take a photo.

Friday, December 29, 2006

David Berner is Online!

David Berner, the best talk show radio host in Vancouver, if not the continent, is now online with his blog, soon to contain audio commentary too. His departure from CKNW earlier this year was a great tragedy for Greater Vancouver. You can check out his new online presence here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Chicago Jazz Singer

I met an interesting woman, Michele Thomas, during my recent visit to Chicago. Turns out that she has a good friend from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, a small town in the north of the province. I complimented Michele for visiting the real Canada, unlike what most Canadians have done!

She's an accomplished jazz singer and has a performance on December 30th:

7:30p - 10:30p
Gigi's Jazz and Supper Club
0S100 Winfield Road
Winfield, Illinois

This is directly West of Chicago, on the 290 Freeway and then Highway 38. Go see her, you'll enjoy it! Here's Michele's website:

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Stylish Technology Design

As I detest crowds I don't usually do the "Boxing Day" thing but I stopped in at London Drugs and picked up a pair of cool products from the Dutch firm Boynq.

The first is a 4-way USB expander. I like it because it doesn't require a separate power supply. The other is a really cool tubular speaker called a "Vase". It's also powered from a USB port. Though it has a stereo input plug I'm not clear how much stereo quality one can get from a single audio device. But the sound is quite good, definitely rivaling the two large speakers I used to have in its place. The treble sounds come out of the top and the bass sounds come out of the bottom. It sure freed up a lot of space on my desk!

Each are just $9.99 this week during London Drugs' Boxing Week Sale.

New Vancouver Photos

Soon after I arrived in Chicago the persistent cough I had here throughout November disappeared. Then within a day of returning home, I've started coughing again. This makes me suspect that there's some allergent in my apartment that's causing it. So I spent $100 at Canadian Tire today and bought a Honeywell Air Purifier. It's on turbo mode right now, about 3 metres away from me. We'll see if it does what I'm hoping!

On my way over there I took these two photos:

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Morning Back in Vancouver

Phone circuits are funky this morning so I had to use Skype to make a local call! Arriving back home last night, there's little to no food in my apt. and today's not exactly king of availability. So my mom and I are going to go out for Dim Sum at Szechuan Chongqing. She was shocked they're open but I was pretty sure they would be. Yum, yum, yum in 15 minutes!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Leaving Chicago

It has been a good 2 weeks here ... really good. There's something about this city that I connect with on so many levels. Ten years ago I thought my destiny lay here. I cannot deny that I still think my future and Chicago's may be intertwined.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Great Fun in a Polish Supermarket

With my sister, Kristi, sharing a private joke:

Quizzical Patty:

Winding Things Down in Chicago

I've had so much fun here in Chicago the past 2 weeks. This culminated yesterday with a frenzied, fun-filled day with my friend,Kristi, that included:

  • A noisy, frenetic lunch with 7 kids under 8 yrs old.
  • A forced march of sorts with my friend, Kristi, through one of the nicest areas of Chicago.
  • A shopping extravaganza (during which I did no shopping) where Kristi and I performed our Bickering Siblings act and entertained countless retail staff.
  • A nice stroll, tea, & chat with Kristi & another friend, Patty, during which I referred to some embarrassing "small" incidents in my life with women. They ladies misconstrued my words in a diminutive manhood sense but this was simply their comical imagination!
  • A great dinner at a Polish ski chalet, where you have to ring a bell to get in. There may ... *may* have been some Russian gangsters dining at the same time.
  • A shopping experience through a wonderful Polish supermarket called Bobak's that featured K + P posing with assorted sausages and an unrelated discussion with an interesting Polish-American gentlemen named Richard who mentioned an interesting 17+ mile pilgrimage in SE Chicago every August.
Feeling good and looking forward to a good Xmas back in Vancouver ... if my plane makes it out on Xmas Eve.

Wishing you and your family a Wonderful Christmas too!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness

Last night I saw Will Smith's new film, "The Pursuit of Happyness". It's based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a bright, well spoken African-American man who struggled through poverty in the early 1980's in San Francisco to raise his young son on his own.

This film will make you laugh and make you cry. But more than anything it will make you think - about adversity, about modern-day poverty, and about how relatively easy so many of us have compared with those amongst us who don't. This film has motivated me to forever stop feeling sorry for myself and take advantage of the huge benefits that have been given to me in this life. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Divergent Patterns

I was walking over to the post office on North Milwaukee Avenue (in Chicago) and saw the back of this building. I love the contrast between the smooth, perfectly aligned orange brick and the many angles of the black fire escape.

The Joys of Digital Photography

I started taking photos as a kid, in the early 1970's. Back then, you'd take your film in for developing and it would take 1 to 2 weeks to get the prints or slides back. Digital cameras have changed all of that. Mostly I keep everything digital but periodically I'll take a memory card into a photo place and get something special done. Such is the case with this photo, which I had specially "framed".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Chicago Revealed - Part 3

Chicago Revealed - Part 2

Chicago Revealed - Part 1

I love walking around The Windy City with a digital camera. There is just soooooooooooo much to see. Here are some new photos.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chicago's Millenium Park - "The Bean"

The official name is "Cloud Gate", but everyone I know calls it The Bean.

Chicago Photos

Downtown Construction

Marshall Fields store window

Early stage of the new Trump tower

Chicago Weather

I'm in Chicago right now and the weather is horrible ... grey & cloudy & rainy ... just like back home in Vancouver! When I've said to some locals that I'd like some snow so that it would enhance the appearance of my photos, they give me a dirty look. Go figure!

Here's a webcam of the city.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Funny Moment

I was standing at Belmont & Clark, a busy intersection in Chicago when a man carrying a series of yoga and meditation books crossed the street. Like any good salesman, he sized me up and said, "You look especially calm." I paused for a moment and then said, "That's because I'm a Canadian."

He burst out laughing, as did I!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bond, James Bond

I finally saw "Casino Royale", the new Bond film. For the first time in several decades, a good movie has come from Albert Broccoli's legacy company, EON Productions. When I was a kid all the Bond films seemed great. The first Bond film I ever saw was The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974. Back then, a good plot didn't matter. Action and cool gadgets were far more important in the mind of a 9-year old!

But as I got older, it became increasingly ridiculous how Bond could kill every villain in sight with just one shot and yet he and his perfectly tailored tuxedo would remain spotless. The producers clearly went down the comic book route and I have to wonder if revenues have steadily declined.

Prior to seeing the film, I was very skeptical of [Bond] newcomer, Daniel Craig, but he was perfect for the role. Remember that first & foremost, Bond is a highly trained mercenary, who kills others on a regular basis. This surely must shape a person's personality in a direction that would make most of us hesitant to be his best buddy.

If, like me, you've also been turned off by the Bond series in years past, then give this one a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Coup D'etat in Fiji

As I often do late at night if I'm working, I listen to the "Today" show on BBC Radio 4 - an absolutely excellent program. On one segment this evening (morning in the UK), one of the hosts interviewed the prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, regarding the recent Coup D'etat in Fiji.

The army chief, Frank Bainimarama, said in a nationally televised broadcast that he was taking control because the current government had become exceedingly corrupt. While this is probably true, it's still sad to see a democratically elected government removed in this way. Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was under house arrest and had asked Australia for military support but Aussie PM John Howard said he was not getting involved in the internal machinations of Fiji.

Let's hope this all gets resolved peacefully.

Bet You've Never Heard Of This Before

I'm not surprised by much anymore but something I saw this afternoon definitely through me for a loop. I was walking along the street and saw a car with the following business name emblazoned on the door: "Superior Kosher Tofu".

I didn't know that tofu was a big thing amongst orthodox Jews but I guess it is. Thinking it might just be a joke I checked. It's isn't: Superior Tofu. The owner's name is Rita Cheng and she's had this business since 1982, thus making next year their 25th Anniversary.

Back in the 1970's there was a detective drama called The Rockford Files, featuring James Garner. Sometimes to get into places he'd make up some fake business cards in his car. I bet that any fellow with a "Superior Kosher Tofu" business card has a leg up with the lovely ladies in a bar!!! Pilot? Met 3 of them last week. International spy? That's passe. But superior kosher tofu salesman? How many of them do you meet in a lifetime?!? :-)

Studio 60: Funny, Touching

On the most recent episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", entitled "The Christmas Show", there was a hilarious line uttered by the head writer of the show, played by Matthew Perry: "How is it that I'm the only Jew in a comedy writers room?"

If you don't "get" this line then you need to do some reading on the history of television comedy in America.

Later in the show there was a very touching segment featuring musicians from New Orleans, showing sombre black & white scenes of their city a year and a bit after Hurricane Katrina.

Well Done! I sure hope this show gets the great ratings it deserves!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Is Vancouver a Multicultural City?

Sunday morning I was looking for some discussions on the aftermath of the federal Liberal leadership vote yesterday. There was a good half hour of it on CBC Radio One. Then in the 10:00 - 10:30 time slot I tuned into Toronto station CFRB via the Internet. Host Kelly Cultrara had an open line of callers presenting their views of whether Stephane Dion will be an asset or detriment to the Liberals.

I called in to add my 2 cents. I mentioned that our fear out here in the West is that the Liberals could have a sock puppet as their leader and still the majority of Ontarioans would vote for them! As for the fact that Dion's command of the English language isn't great I commented that I don't think this is an issue for most people in Vancouver because we're such a multicultural city.

Ms. Cultrara thought about this and then said [paraphrasing]: "Having lived in both places, it's interesting to me that you describe Vancouver as a multicultural city. I don't think it's multicultural at all as compared to Toronto."

No one had ever challenged the multicultural nature of Vancouver before and in point of fact, I really can't disagree with her. Sure, Vancouver has large Chinese and East Indian communities but beyond that we really don't have large numbers of other cultures . . . or do we?

I'd love to hear your comments on this!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

PM Stephane Dion in 2007?

Here's something I just sent to Mark Steyn:

After the Canadian Liberal leadership campaign you wrote, "So it will be Stephen vs Stephane at the next Canadian election. Stephane Dion snuck from the back of the pack to play Monsieur Neither of the Above to Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. M Dion will be the third consecutive Liberal leader from Quebec, and my sense is that voters are not in that much of a hurry to return the Dominion to rule by Canada's own Sunni minority."

Your comments are interesting but I think you've discounted a significant factor that I pleasantly call "The Absolute Stupidity of Canadian Voters" (or TASoCV for short). You like stats, so let's look at some. In the 2006 election, after an endless barrage of corruption stories and a horribly run campaign, the Liberals still ended up with 103 seats. More telling, their popular support only dropped from 36.7% to 30.2%.

For me the past year has been one in which I've once again felt proud to be a Canadian. Our prime minister has stood firmly behind our troops, defended Israel rather than a terrorist organization, told China that their human rights violations aren't acceptable, and dramatically reduced the volume of anti-American rhetoric. But the Canadian media has been solidly against him every step of the way.

So I fear I'm going to have to soon put my pride back up on the shelf again. For it won't take that much effort for the Liberal Propaganda Department (aka The Canadian Media) to convince the minds of many that the Liberals brief absence from power has been a "stern price to pay" and they're now ready to be returned to the reigns of power, lest "Scary Stephen Harper" does something irreversibly bad to the Fabled Land of Tru-dope-ia.

I even have a prediction: Celine Dion will be recruited by the Liberals to add her voice to the campaign commercials or maybe she'll even join Monsieur Stephane on the campaign trail. Goodness knows she'd have her own bus though!

BCDD in Chicago

A few weeks ago I published this item in the Chicago area of Craigslist. I did it on a whim, though I was sincerely interested to see if there was any interest. Well, much like what happened last year in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the response was tremendous. So this evening I published a follow-up item.

We'll see how things go, but I'm optimistic. Ultimately I'm not looking to franchise Digital Divide, at least not at this time. But to the group of people I'll be meeting with, I can bring a wealth of experience and suggestions, plus we're more than willing to donate our website. But ultimately they have to "run with it".

Interesting comparison: The population of Vancouver's metropolitan area, more commonly known as "The Lower Mainland" is about 2.2 Million. This is where 90% of our computers are donated to. The population of Chicago's metropolitan area, more commonly known as "Chicagoland" is about 9.5 Million! And from what I've seen, the economic disparity between rich & poor is much more significant there. So they'll have no shortage of recipients for some time to come. But IMHO Chicago is also much more community oriented than Vancouver so if we can get the word out then I'm convinced the donations will start flowing in beyond their wildest dreams.

Friday, December 01, 2006

CKNW Orphans' Fund Pledge Day

The first week in December signals the start of the Christmas season but more importantly, it's the week when the annual Orphans' Fund Pledge Day is held. If you're not familiar with it, the Orphans' Fund has a long tradition here in Vancouver, raising money for a variety of charities. What I like most about it is that 100% of the donated money goes to the charities. How is that possible? Because Corus, the parent company of radio station CKNW picks up all of the administration costs. I think this is excellent and is a prime reason why I keep donating year after year. Even though the Pledge Day is now over, you can still donate. Just visit the Orphans' Fund link above and donate what you can. It's very, very worthwhile!

Cozy Propaganda

Friday morning I periodically tuned into CBC Radio 1 to get some news from the Liberal Leadership Convention in Montreal. What I heard though was not "news" but was more akin to pro-Liberal propaganda courtesy of our publicly funded national broadcaster. The host, Julie Van Dusen, was just fawning lovingly over every single Liberal she interviewed. There were NO tough questions. Instead, every element of the discussion was in the vain of "God's chosen party has been accidentally bumped out of office. What can we, the propaganda wing of the Liberal party, do to get you back to your rightful place ... and get rid of those horrible, bigoted, unprogressive Conservatives."

I'd long given up hoping for a modicum of evenhandedness when it comes to CBC but this was so extreme it actually became funny.

P.S. Mademoiselle Van Dusen even confessed that the "hospitality suites are killing me". She's actually admitting that she's letting the Liberals liquor her up. So incredibly professional!