Archive for January, 2006

$10 for a lion dance

Oakridge Mall is offering stores the services of a lion dancing team that will be travelling through the mall, dancing and blessing stores on Chinese New Year. Or at least those stores that pay the extra “protection” money. Their letter to merchants reads:

If you wish to have the Lion Dance Team stop at your store… We will distrubte a red “li-see” envelope to your store on the day of the event, which his (sic) to be hung in front of your door/storefront with some lettuc as the lion Dance Team approaches your store on Saturday, February 4, 2006.

What sort of religious protection racket is this? Do they sell pieces of wood to represent parts of the cross Jesus was cursified on for $15 during Easter? Do they threaten to have the Frankenstein monster rough up your store manager if you don’t pay $30 during their Halloween drive?

Also have I spent my life misunderestimating the sheer size of Chinese New Year? In the interior it’s mainly ignored or at most seen as another day to buy illegal fireworks from native lands and shoot them off when you can’t see any cops.

Another interview with a blogger

Gerald Bauer has done another in-depth interview with a Vancouver blogger for his Vancouver 2.0 Blogger site [vb]. His first interview was with me, perhaps buttering me up so I’d promote the bejezzus out of the rest of his interviews, and this new one is with Steffani Cameron. I must admit that I’m not familiar with Cameron or her blog but the interview is definitly worth checking out [vb].

Hang on to your purses, folks

According to the CBC, China has issued a warning to tourists “about the dangers of being robbed while taking a vacation in Vancouver.”

I find it interesting how relative the assessment of a city as “safe” or “not safe” can be. Compared to the rest of Canada, Vancouver’s crime rate is allegedly the highest (so perhaps this warning should be coming from the mayor of Saskatoon to its residents instead). However, compared to any comparably sized city in the US, for example, Vancouver is extraordinarily safe (even small city acquaintances are amazed at the fact that I regularly walk through the East Hastings area without feeling like I need a concealed weapon or mafia protection). I’m sure the other countries in the world fall somewhere on one side or the other as well.

Having spent time China, I know that it’s one of the world leaders in bicycle theft rates. I don’t know where it stands for wallet snatchings and that kind of thing, but I was as cautious as I would have been in any big city and foreign place, so it’s kind of interesting that anyone in Beijing would consider Vancouver significantly much less safe. I consider the two cities roughly equivalent, at least as far as larceny is concerned.

At any rate, as they say, perception is reality, so if people even feel that Vancouver is dangerous, there’s definitely room for improvement.

That being said, whoever of you in Vancouver keep stealing the nice Chinese tourists’ purses, please just KNOCK IT OFF, okay?

If you have to steal something, steal the New Yorkers’ purses instead — at least they’re used to it, and they won’t tell their mom and dad on us.

Conversations with Retired People

I’m finding that talking to my relatives isn’t quite the traumatic and awkard ordeal it used to be. For example, I’ve got three sets of retired aunts and uncles and they are avid about traveling since they are still very spry and nothing sparks my imagination more than mention of a tour of Asia.

Living in Vancouver, we are still quite far from our Pacific Rim counterparts in Asia but with the host of airlines that fly out of Vancouver competing with each other, you get far better deals than those offered by Air Canada or WestJet – is there a difference?? – and for the distance you have to cover, it is remarkably inconvenient to travel across just one country and just 4,000 miles.

For example, there is no such thing as a direct flight to the Maritimes from Vancouver, it costs about $600.00 if you’re damned lucky when booking, and takes at least seven hours because of a necessary layover in Toronto or Montreal. Compare this to a direct flight across 9,000 km to Shanghai that takes ~10 hours and can cost as little as $800.00.

I’ve got my eye on an $1,200 5-day package to Shanghai (including flight) offered by Vancouver’s Silkway Holidays or the $800 14-day package to Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong (no flight) offered by Toronto’s Tour East Holidays.

Last Christmas, I ended up in Halifax and the logical travel destination was to head onto Europe. But when you’re in Vancouver, the deals are best to go east and by that, I mean to Asia.

(Don’t get me started on how it’s not that hard to get from Europe from here either but to go from Halifax to Asia… not an analogous situation.)

Port Mann Bridge Glee Club

Now that I work a second job in Surrey, I have joined the dreaded Over-Bridge Commuters Club.

I once vowed never to work over a bridge, ignoring jobs in the North Shore, on the south shores and in Pitt Meadows. Once before I broke my rule and interviewed for a position in Richmond. After a two-hour wait along Marine Drive to get on the Knight Street Bridge, I just barely squeaked into my interview a scant five minutes early.

The Port Mann Bridge into Surrey is not as hellish as it is getting out of Surrey. From the 176th entrance to the #1 until the last call at 152nd Avenue, traffic inches forward at about 5 km/hour as the workforce streams out of Surrey and merges painfully into the line of commuters.

I’d be demanding the twinning of the Port Mann with the rest of them except that I’ve found a solution to bridge crossing woes. Ive turned my tedious waits into intellectual adventures, all thanks to the public libraries of the GVRD.

The Burnaby Public Library allows borrowers to take out up to ten books on CD for two weeks. So far this week I’ve listened to replays of CBC shows, comedians and Noam Chomsky. I’m onto the Vagina Monologues. While everyone else around me clutches their steering wheel in agony, I chant vagina, vagina! with a chuckle.

Live from Yahk, BC

The Tri-City News’ sweet young reporter, the bubbly Sarah Young, interviewed Belcarra’s Kyle Macdonald for last Friday’s edition of the Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam newspaper.

When we last met Kyle he had traded his way from a paperclip to a snowmobile. Looks like he’s made it to a cube truck. Kyle will now make his way back to our province to trade the van in Yahk, BC, live on The Hour.

(His mom has a blog too, with lovely pictures of Vancouver. Who knew our soggy city had that much snow?)

Lions Gate Entertainment will sell its Vancouver studios

I just found this Globe and Mail article. Apparently Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. plans to sell it’s Vancouver studios to Bosa Development Corp. for $41.6 million. The deal is set to close in March.

Shootout closes Peace Arch Border crossing

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The Peace Arch border crossing into the United States was closed today after a high speed police chase and shoot-out ended a few metres from the border, as American police chased two armed men wanted for murder in California. According the the CBC [cbc],

“They [drove] through the border and they almost struck two uniformed officers,” said Bill Elf of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department.

He said Ishtiaq Hussain, 38, and Jose Antonio Barajas, 22, continued northbound into the grassy park that straddles the border and even struck the Peace Arch itself at one point.

The Canadian entry into the US was closed as well, when most of the border guards walked off the job when news of the armed murders making their break to for Canada and our socialized medical system reached them.

The officers have long complained the Canada Border Services Agency ignores their safety. But Customs and Excise Union spokesperson Dan Leibel said politics had nothing to do with what some members did yesterday.

“They were genuinely concerned that two murderers were coming into Canada, one with a machine-gun the other with a 9 mm handgun, and there they were in the booth – your first line of defence – with a bulletproof vest and a can of pepper spray.”

Understandable. The Conservatives have promised to arm border guards as part of their push to make Canadians feel safer without actually making us safer. This might be an instance that a supporter of arming border guards might point at, as an argument that they should be armed but really why couldn’t the RCMP have been on hand in case the bad guys did get into Canada?

Arming American border guards didn’t stop 9/11, the Mexican army crossing into the southern US [ladn] or the making of Big Momma’s House 2 [bmh2].

Oakridge, working at

Our store in the Oakridge Mall is very small. There’s not much room to move, and I’m constantly having to squish between other employees and the counter. The mall isn’t as busy as Metrotown, where I’m used to working, but the people who do buy things seem to be buying higher end products and are less interested in trying to haggle about prices. This probably has a lot to do with the location of the mall and the fact that at Oakridge our store isn’t beside a dollar store.

I like Oakridge, though I’m thinking I’ll be glad when my time here ends. There’s no trouble parking, unlike at Metrotown where despite parking in designated employee parking areas (which change constantly) I keep getting tow-away warnings threatening to impound my car which is one of the reasons I tend to take the Skytrain there.

From Oakridge with love: With my luck I’ll end up in Richmond

For the next few weeks I’ve been transfered from Metrotown to the Oakridge store. Since Oakridge isn’t on the Skytrain line I decided to drive to work today, and since I always have a bit of trouble figuring out how to get on the Cambie Street Bridge from Richards I left early. The trouble was that out of habit I began driving to Metrotown, and didn’t realize my error until I was well down Kingsway. After a few frantic phone calls to people who know the suburbs of Vancouver better than me, I headed down Knight Street and ended up in Richmond by the Richmond Auto Mall.

Good news, I finally made it to work on time, though I’m feeling a bit foolish.

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