Archive for November, 2006

Common Sense Rule of Vancouver #0004 – Finding Fault

Oh what a month we have had, dear sweet denizens of Vancouver! November started rather meekly, and then turned into a Shakespearean drama of tempests, squalls, and social disintegration not seen since, well, The Tempest

I was with you, my brothers and sisters, as you stepped over (or into) backed-up overflow pipes. I was with you when nobody followed Rule 0002 of the Common Sense Rules of Vancouver and started inadvertently poking people with your umbrellas. And, I was with you, during the water shortage of ’06.

And wouldn’t you know it…..common sense went out the window.

Photo by Roland

Vancouver’s Fifth Gift to the World: Hollywood North

Image courtesy of Charlie Brown

For the next seven days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Metroblogging Vancouver’s Fifth Gift is Hollywood North.

New York City’s first gift to the world (or seventh, depending on the direction you count) may have been that it’s been the home of so many great movie scenes, but like the old saying, “Behind every good studio, there’s a great backlot,” (or was that “Behind every good man there’s a. . . .” — nevermind — it’s close enough), for all those times when New York was too busy, or Los Angeles was too expensive, or Chicago was too windy, or London or Paris too far away, there’s Vancouver, ready to take up the slack.

Vancouver’s fifth gift to the world is its thriving, albeit undercover, television and movie industry.

Private health care is here to stay

The Canada Health Act is dead.

Canada’s first “urgent care” clinic is opening in Vancouver this week. Twenty-four doctors who would otherwise be working for the public system will be employed there. This isn’t a threat to Canada’s public health system – it’s just the latest sign that the system is already rotten and finally the private sector is being allowed to plug in the holes.

In case anyone was wondering what private health care costs, the Urgent Care Centre will charge $199 for a basic evaluation and various charges for other procedures such as blood tests for $50 and X-Rays and $70 for an arm cast. If you just waited in a public hospital’s emergency ward, they’d take care of those things for free – just as long as you’re willing to wait around.

Mutant Toy Workshop

Checking out our sister annoying little brother inbred cousin neighbouring city’s 7 gifts (coffee, art, cupcakes), I came across this, nestled among the Santarchy stuff:

Santa Ivan says it’s, “that special time of year when Santa’s helpers gather to rend, tear, saw, cut, fold, spindle and otherwise mutilate boring old toys, then patch, splice, glue, hammer, nail, sew and seal them back together in MUTANTOUS COMBINATIONS! The wonderful, twisted toyspawn that result are then thrust into the glad hands of HIDEOUS CHILDREN and DRUNKEN FRAT BOYS during Santarchy.

If you are coming, BRING: toys, tools, pornography (for frat boys only), power tools, hot glue, staple guns, stuffed animals, sewing kits, and more toys. (Buy them by the baggie at Value Village.)”

Mutant toys? Communal toy frankensteinization? I wish I wasn’t working on Wednesday nights or my deformed toy-loving heart would be there. Therefore, a plea to our local craft collectives – Seamrippers? Blim? Some unknown gallery in New Westminster about to come on everyone’s radar? – please start Vancouver’s own mutant toy workshop! (Suggestion: when you do it, play that 60s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the background – love that yeti.)

Snow Trick

Like all the poor people who went through this yesterday, I could not get my car out of my parking spot yesterday morning. I slashed away at the snow in front of my tires and wrangled a neighbour into helping me push the tin can. My neighbour shook his head and said I need to find three men who could push my car. I looked up and down the empty street and realized my man-finding prospects were dim. The neighbour suggested I find an ice pick and chip away at the five-centimetres of ice underneath my tires. One very strained arm later, I gave up.

Surely there’s got to be a trick that uses brains instead of brawn, I thought. A quick phone survey of friends and family came up with the easiest of solutions.

Courtesy of Matt, here’s the little trick next time you can’t get your car out of a snowed-in parking spot:

1. Find two towels that you meant to throw away.
2. Wedge a towel under each front tire.
3. Drive over the towels.

It took me less than thirty seconds to extricate my car from its prison.

P.S. It works in mud too, according to Matt.

Vancouver Fourth Gift to the World: David Suzuki

suzuki.jpgFor the next seven days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Metroblogging Vancouver’s Fourth Gift is David Suzuki [wiki].

I know this man from the clips of his TV series our science teacher used to play in elementary school. His program on the CBC, The Nature of Things is one of Canada’s longest running, most award-winning and well respected but his achievements go far beyond the realm of Canadian television.

David Suzuki was born in Vancouver in 1936. During the second world war, his family was forced out of the city and to a remote location in the interior of BC as a part of the Japanese Internment [wiki]. As David himself was 3rd generation Japanese-Canadian and could barely speak a lick of Japanese, he was also discriminated against by others in the internment camp. His family would have to stay until the war ended (3 years later), then they were forced to leave BC and head East of the Rockies – it was that or head back to Japan, a nation that Suzuki was not familiar with, Vancouver was his home.

He spent the rest of his childhood years in London, Ontario and after University, Suzuki returned to Vancouver where he became a professor at the University of British Columbia in 1963. Only a few years later he would embark on a broadcasting career that would span decades, reach millions, and impact well, the planet really. He hosted various radio programs until The Nature of Things came to fruition in 1979.

…it has featured in-depth documentaries on such topics as the birth of the human mind; the language of animals; the pathology of psychopaths; medical marijuana; the growth of big business farming; and the future of the Arctic. A groundbreaking 1987 episode focused on the emerging AIDS/HIV epidemic.. [CBC]

Since then, aside from writing books, traveling the world and raising awareness for global ecological causes, he’s created the David Suzuki Foundation.

Survival of the Fittest

What used to be a sidewalk

Vancouver’s recent turn for the colder may have accomplished a number of things (especially if you were one of those who scored some free time away from work or school because of it) but an unexpected side effect has been what I can only optimistically describe as “a strengthening of the lower mainland’s arboreal gene pool.”

I suppose it’s a testament to just how long it’s been since the city received this volume of snow and ice, but it’s amazing to me how many fallen trees there are — at least one per block in residential areas, and far more in parks and forests.

It seems our rain-loving moisture-spoiled local trees don’t invest much in the root system segment of their portfolio.

The results (aside from the effects to the poor trees themselves, of course): downed power lines, the occasional crushed car parked on the curb, blocked roads and sidewalks, and I’m sure a few woodland critters who’ve found their high-rise condo suddenly converted into row houses.

I’m curious how the cleanup is going to work. Perhaps after the towing companies catch up on their backlog of stalled cars, they can earn some extra cash by hauling off upturned tress as well?

Coupland: What’s next, a breakfast cereal?

lifeaftergod.jpgIt’s that one Coupland book that sits awkwardly on the shelf at Chapters because of its tiny size. Life After God [wiki] is a collection of short stories that has been adapted into a play [lifeaftergod] that ran this month at UBC, the Telus Studio Theatre and the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

Adapted from the short story Life After God by Douglas Coupland, and inspired by his bitingly funny book City of Glass, this new play takes a penetrating look at a generation raised without religion. Both funny and moving, Life After God is a free-wheeling, theatrically spectacular examination of our quest for transcendence in the city of seismic shifts – Vancouver. [touchstonetheatre]

This comes after Souvenir of Canada: The Movie, another Coupland work that made it to film [mbv].

Apologies, as this post is a little late and the play is all over and done with now. If anyone did get a chance to attend the play, feel free to write thoughts, reviews etc. in the comments, cause that would be great.

If you are a fan of Coupland’s work you might also be interested in the talk of JPod coming to the small screen. The Inside the CBC blog reports that “JPod is currently in production for a potential series.”

Or you could also enjoy the Coupland blackberry ads if you’re really jones’ing for more Doug [mbv].

Opus Hotel Blog

Via Darren Barefoot, the Opus Hotel’s General Manager’s blog! General Manager Daniel Craig writes it, with occasional help from the Director of Sales and Marketing Katrina Carol-Foster. From what I suspect is a posh place that would never admit the impoverished peasant likes of me except as hired help, the blog occasionally reads like a reality tv pitch:

From May 17, 2006:

A woman – a seemingly rational, articulate, sane woman contacted me to ask if it would be possible for her to check into a room and, um, give birth in it. She explained that she wanted to have a “natural” childbirth, but needed to be close to a hospital in case something went wrong.
From August 11, 2006:
The immature, spiteful side of me sometimes wishes there was a website for hotels to rate guests. I’d give a “not impressed” rating to the guest who trashed a room last weekend and was found naked, drunk and bleeding from the you-know-what in the hallway after getting a Prince Albert (look it up at your own risk!).
From November 24, 2006:
[A] guest had a steady stream of, um, “rentals” (an industry term) to his room whom he claimed were his “nieces”. One got off on the wrong floor late in the night and knocked on another guest’s room to offer her services. The couple politely declined, and promptly called the front desk.
But the blog predominantly veers toward the hotel industry itself – what exactly is a boutique hotel? What is a perfect fill and what is relocating? What do silent shoppers do for the hotel industry?

The blog is now seven months old and presumably out of the bored-already-with-blogging woods.

Vancouver 7 Gifts III: Freeriding

Photo: andy_c

In the beginning was the mud. And it was a mess. From that simple fact of life among North Shore trails was born a revolution in mountain biking: freeriding.

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