Monday, January 02, 2006

Haiku to a Naked Vancouver Polar Bear

Old man swimming nude
Out to sea and back again
Live for the moment

Hey, what’s with the unclad old-timer at the Polar Bear Swim? Has he no shame? With my wife and son, I watched a naked 60-something guy run into Vancouver’s English Bay and enthusiastically do about 50 breath strokes, before returning to terra firma and posing, in all his glory, for numerous photos.

He’s nuts.

He knows how to celebrate life, and doesn’t give a darn what anyone thinks.

In any event, I wish I were a little more like him - not much, just a little.

I'm pleased to report that our dog Shasta jumped in and was rightly awarded a Polar Bear pin.


Flying patio umbrella leaves windy West End in the dark

Vancouver -- Wild winds wreaked havoc on Vancouver Island and the South Coast yesterday as an intense low-pressure system moved across the province. In Vancouver's West End, a flying patio umbrella caused a power outage that affected an estimated 7,500 residents yesterday morning.

Test for sliding Canucks

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues should be the perfect holiday-hangover tonic for the Canucks.

The once-proud St. Louis franchise owns the worst record in the league, with just nine wins. And at the Savvis Centre, which draws about one-third-of-capacity crowds these days, the Blues are a miserable 4-12-3.

Overall, they've given up 46 more goals than they've scored. So, the Canucks should be licking their chops. Except the shame-faced Canucks enter tonight's game holding their heads no higher than any of the Blues.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Vancouver Council Meetings to Get Serious

Although Sam Sullivan wasn't my first choice for mayor, I must admit that he has been displaying some common sense lately. His recent suggestion that live entertainment at Vancouver city council meetings be discontinued was a breath of fresh air.

In a recent interview with the Vancouver Courier, he said, "It's my intention to recommend to the council that we not continue with that particular program. I would like to have the cultural affairs department [at city hall] make some recommendations on how we might best utilize those funds."

Good idea Sam. I don't know why no one else had the nerve to state the obvious until now. Council meetings are already slow and unfocused enough. They don't need scheduled distractions.

The city should support the Vancouver arts community however possible. Barber shop quartets and stand-up comics in council chambers, however, just aren't appropriate.


Games funds slow to arrive
Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics were forced to take out a $5-million line of credit this year because the federal government did not contribute enough to cover venue construction costs.

Heart surgery at St. Paul's a world's first
VANCOUVER A scar barely 10 centimetres long, about the width of a hand, marks Katalen Pataky's chest. Although it remains unseen, it reveals a secret -- that Pataky underwent groundbreaking heart surgery just seven weeks ago.

Mayor hands out kudos in wake of lowest crime rate in Greater Vancouver
Mayor Lois Jackson credits individual police officers and senior staff members for Delta recording the lowest crime rate in Greater Vancouver. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics released a report, Police Resources in Canada, 2005, Thursday which put Delta at the head of the class.

Gurmant Grewal Adds Madcap Diversions to Canadian Politics
Vancouver - Funnest City on English Bay
Vancouver Police: Not Pubic Relations Experts
Engine 374 Pavilion - Vancouver's Best Kept Historical Secret
I Like Mine Wild!
Canadian Government's War on International Education
Canadian Government Shoots Canada In The Foot - Same Old Story
STV: So Thoroughly Vexed
The Capitol 6 goes the way of its neighbors.
Selling the Farm in the Fraser Valley: Job Creation or Self Mutilation?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gurmant Grewal: Gone or Regrouping?

Well, like hula hoops, pet rocks, and the Three Stooges, the Gurmant Grewal story couldn’t last forever. Citing the great taping scandal of 2005, the Conservative MP said he won't be seeking re-election.

In a letter to Stephen Harper, he said "I am writing today to advise you that I will not be a candidate for the Conservative Party in the riding of Newton-North Delta in the coming election." He went on to say "Due to certain still unresolved issues, which I believe my political opponents would use against me and our party in the coming election, I have reluctantly decided to take this course of action."

I don’t think Gurmant Grewal will be out of the game for long. His MP wife Nina is the ace up his sleeve and it’s time to reshuffle the deck. I predict that he will use Nina to continue networking while he plans a quick comeback.

It would be a real stretch to think that Gurmant and Nina maintain even the slightest degree of professional political separation. After all, they are, well, married. Gurmant has a history of publicly coaching Nina, as well as negotiating for her. Of course, he shares his ideas with her over the dinner table.

If Svend J Robinson can bounce back so quickly, Gurmant surely can, too. As Svend pointed out, the House of Commons has been a second home to a number of even more colorful characters over the years. Hurry back Gurmant. It’s already getting boring!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Vancouver's Spectacular Off Season

One of the best things about Boot Camp is that it gets us out into different parts of Vancouver, regardless of the weather. This has reconfirmed my belief that Vancouver is more beautiful in the winter than most cities are at any time of the year.

I highly recommend Queen Elizabeth Park in November. The colors of the autumn leaves are rich and varied. As leaves fall, more views are opened up. On a clear day, the view of the city and the North Shore mountains is great, especially when there is snow.

Recently, we were at Spanish Banks on a rare snowy day. We regretted not having a camera because the scenery was dazzling, wherever we looked. The sky was bright blue and the mountains were frosted with fresh snow. In Pacific Spirit Regional Park, we trotted past a shady brook surrounded by snow-capped bushes and stumps.

Today, we strolled the banks of the Fraser in Richmond, while big wet snowflakes dressed the ground in a fresh white coat. Various buds and flowers were poking through the thin layer of snow.

In most parts of Canada, winter is associated with brown lawns, lifeless gardens, cold, wind, and ice. In Vancouver, it's just a brief interlude, more like a very late autumn or an early spring.


Federal tourism agency opens here Monday
Months of political wrangling over the location of Canada's most important tourism marketing agency will end Monday when the Canadian Tourism Commission officially opens its new head office in downtown Vancouver.

Provincial jobless rate hits 30-year low
British Columbia's booming economy produced more than half the new full-time jobs in Canada last month.

Robinson faces his toughest fight
OTTAWA - Svend Robinson's extraordinary skills as a siphon of public attention was obvious from the day he, as a young MP in 1980, sneaked a large pop bottle into the House of Commons at a time when consumer advocates revealed that the new 1.5-litre glass containers might explode at any moment.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Boot Camps: Vancouver's Dirty Little Secret

You've heard the stories about the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Grabe Prison, and now reports that the CIA is maintaining secret prisons in eastern Europe and Asia to interrogate al-Qaida suspects. Then, there are the allegations that the Canadian government occasionally ships its citizens off to Syrian prisons for a little tenderizing. Judging from the latest media reports, the art of torture seems to be enjoying a revival.

You have always thought, however, that you were safe from systematic physical brutality in our quiet little city of Vancouver, right? Nothing really bad ever happens in Vancouver, right? Wrong, my friend; dead wrong.

Recently, I have uncovered a nest of "boot camps" operating overtly in the Vancouver area. These boot camps are managed by people who appear to be youthful, healthy and energetic. They attract new recruits by promising improved physical fitness. This promise seems so appealing that recruits actually pay money to join.

Then, reality hits them. They soon realize that nothing short of torture is used to achieve results. Don't believe it? Let me explain, gentle but naive reader.

Without my prior knowledge, Yvonne registered us in one of these boot camps five weeks ago. Three times a week, we are now at the physical and psychological whims of our trainers.

One of the more dastardly techniques they use is the "crunch." This actually seems like a versatile term that refers to anything that makes us feel that our inner organs are being crunched by a large vise. Their favorite approach is to put us on our backs and demand that we repeatedly raise our shoulders, legs and hips simultaneously.

They also enjoy forcing us to run for unbelievably long periods of time. As we run past them, gasping like dogs, they heckle at us with remarks like "Tight abs" or "Just one more." Tight abs? Hell, we are lucky if our abs will just stay under the Spandex!

Boot camps apparently avoid detection by continually changing locations. Every day, we are instructed to meet at a new rendezvous point. One day, it’s Kits Beach. The next, Spanish Banks, or Vanier Park, or Queen Elizabeth School.

Even worse, we are forced to participate rain or shine. Recently, we were lying on our backs in the rain. We were in the middle of the usual crunches when a seagull flying overhead "made a deposit" on one of my comrades. Instead of shooing the bird away, our trainer just laughed. Is this humane treatment? Let’s just say that I haven’t heard anything about seagulls at Guantanamo Bay or Abu Grabe. Our boot camp seems to have a monopoly on that little trick.

The trainers make light of our predicament by continually offering glib comments, usually under the guise of humor. This appears to have a motivating factor on the "campers." After all, when your shoes are full of water and you are doing push-ups in the wind and rain, with your nose stopping an inch from a visibly injured earthworm you recently did sit-ups on, you will seize on any shred of support you can find.

Strangely, people seem to find themselves enjoying these boot camps. It might be a cult sort of thing. It could be due to the fact that we feel more fit after every workout. Some people might even have a dream of getting back to their ideal weight. Whatever the reason, some campers voluntarily return after completing their first term.

Personally, I have seen my blood pressure improve since becoming a camper. Inwardly, I remain smug with the knowledge that this is actually improving my health. It might even help me avoid a stroke or heart attack in the future. Those trainers can do what they want to me. I’ll be laughing last, at a ripe old age.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tourism Industry in Vancouver has Missed the Boat

In case any faithful visitor(s) noticed that I haven't posted lately, I apologize. I've been particularly busy over the last month or so.

Among other things, we went to London. It was my first visit there and I was pleasantly surprised. Although London is no paradise, it wasn't as congested or old-fashioned as I had expected. I found it interesting that the pubs and restaurants we visited seemed to be managed in a modern, business-like manner, even though some of them were in buildings that were hundreds of years old. The restaurant in a church crypt reminded me of the cafeteria at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

What really impressed me, however, was the cosmopolitan atmosphere. It's not just that there are a lot of people from other countries. In some parts of the city, foreigners seemed to be in the majority. Near Piccadilly Circus, we stood in a line of foreigners to be served $7 ice-cream cones by foreign workers. That's the beauty of the British system. They have foreigners serving foreigners. I don't know where all the Londoners are but they must be enjoying themselves.

While in London, I attended a workshop, which was attended by agents from around the world. There were people from Nigeria, Slovenia, Russia, and many other exotic places. These were language travel agents who arrange outbound study abroad trips for clients from their countries. They told me about all of the students they have been sending to London. Many were actually looking for new destinations because London is becoming saturated with students from their regions. If that workshop were held in Canada, many of those agents would not have attended because their visa applications would have been rejected.

Spending some time in London really opened my eyes to the huge financial and social benefits a country can enjoy if it has a fair and efficient immigration system. Tourism is a huge business in England but not just because it's a good place to visit. In many ways, Vancouver is a lot nicer than London. The fact is, however, that a family from Moscow or Warsaw probably couldn't get Canadian visas. Some might try but they are almost sure to be disappointed.

Our government defends our dysfunctional immigration system by claiming that we need to be protected from refugees and terrorists. Let's face it. They can't tell a terrorist from an insurance salesman anyway. Given a choice, I'd let some more tourists in and take my chances on the terrorists.

Vancouver Council Meetings to Get Serious
Gurmant Grewal: Gone or Regrouping?
Vancouver's Spectacular Off Season
Boot Camps: Vancouver's Dirty Little Secret
Vancouver Residents Should Have Access To Vancouver Golf Courses
You Don't Want Wal-Mart in Vancouver
10 Vancouver Headlines in 2010
Thank You Vancouver!
Warriors Want Rifles Back

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Vancouver Residents Should Have Access To Vancouver Golf Courses

We went for a nice brisk walk around Vancouver's Fraserview Golf Course today. Other than the traffic noise from Marine Drive, it's a great trail around a gorgeous golf course. I especially appreciate the spongy trail surface, which helps joggers avoid shin splints. Although Fraserview is a 15 minute drive from home, we go there often.

We also frequent Langara Golf Course, which is closer to home. Like Fraserview, Langara is surrounded by a good trail that is heavily utilized by joggers and walkers. I suspect that more people at Langara use the trail than the golf course.

Then, there is McCleery Golf Course. Like Fraserview and Langara, it is owned and operated by the city of Vancouver. Unlike other city-owned golf courses, McCleery does not have a trail. In fact, people walking along the Fraser River are greeted with "Do Not Enter" signs when they get to McCleery Golf Course. It's a shame to use a valuable public asset like McCleery Golf Course for only one purpose.

I think the public should have access to public golf courses. Hopefully, someone with more spare time than me will some day establish a "Give the public access to public property" movement.

Fraserview Golf Course
7800 Vivian Drive

McCleery Golf Course
7188 MacDonald Street

Langara Golf Course
6706 Alberta Street


Mayor thinks tall ship festival will return
Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell thinks the Sea Vancouver Festival will be back next year, despite the event's financial problems.

The festival has filed for bankruptcy protection and still owes performers and suppliers more than $200,000.

B.C. considers pesticides to fight West Nile virus
The B.C. government is prepared to use pesticides to keep West Nile virus out of the province. The government has issued a call for suppliers of malathion, a chemical used to kill mosquitoes. The Ministry of Health is seeking suppliers with up to 500 litres of malathion available on demand.

Everyone's Raving About The RAV
Gurmant Grewal Adds Madcap Diversions to Canadian Politics
Vancouver - Funnest City on English Bay
Vancouver Police: Not Pubic Relations Experts
Engine 374 Pavilion - Vancouver's Best Kept Historical Secret
I Like Mine Wild!
Canadian Government's War on International Education
Canadian Government Shoots Canada In The Foot - Same Old Story
STV: So Thoroughly Vexed
The Capitol 6 goes the way of its neighbors.