When It Snows


A laughably inaccurate perception exists that all Canadians embrace snowstorms with rugged practicality indicative of life above the 49th parallel. Misconception oblivious to geography or temperate zones, woefully misinformed generalizations held by those who haven’t witnessed mayhem unleashed by a Vancouver snowstorm.

Want to freak out British Columbia Lower Mainland residents? Mention snow. Want to watch a preposterous comedic symphony of incompetence? Let it snow, let it snow. Trust me, it’s hysterical.

Snow paralyzes our transit system, schools close, public safety warnings urge residents to stay home, highways & major arteries aren’t plowed, ice bombs falling from suspension bridge cables assault commuters – Canada’s third largest city grinds to a halt! Abandoned vehicles dot city streets, slightest inclines defeat motorists while sidewalks turn into ice fields. Snow-wise Canadians beyond our delicate rainforest bubble must be shaking their heads. I’m shaking my head, wanting to scream – take a run at the hill, don’t slam on the brakes gear down, take your foot off the gas and steer into the slide. It’s insane! A spectacle so un-Canadian all I can do is laugh.

Best laugh of the week came after a mid-week dump of 10 Cm or so – organizers of a snowball fight at the University of British Columbia called it off due to snow!

A video from 2017 cracks me up. Granted, there isn’t a salt shortage this year but worth a watch to put Lower Mainland winter circus act in perspective –

As I write snow flurries fall without regard for Vancouver’s inability to cope. Giddy local meteorologists embrace one last round of fear mongering before warm Pacific air overtakes Arctic outflow. By morning I could wake to mounds of fresh snow, freezing rain or a steady downpour.

2020-01-15 17.59.52

A day from now icicles under my back deck will surrender to the great thaw. We’ll spend a few days complaining about gargantuan slush puddles, exhale relief over return to familiar patterns of dreary West Coast rain, pat ourselves on the back for surviving the storm of January 2020. The city won’t acquire more snowplows, residents won’t consider buying winter tires, public transit won’t implement snow event improvements, people won’t buy salt or snow shovels until panic stricken. Life goes on. Nobody learns a thing, let alone feels sheepish for exhibiting such a poor display of winterization. Sigh.

It’s Gettin’ Tough


It’s getting tough out there. 2019 went down for the count in clutches of an impeachment maelstrom, ushering 2020 in with invitation to poke sticks at the Middle East. Tough indeed. Remember the adage “when things get tough, the tough get going”? Allow me to introduce Vancouver, B.C. cowboy surf rock band, The Modelos. Ponder the power of music to raise spirits. Allow The Modelos to plant an earworm and know you’re not alone. It’s gettin’ tough, time to get going.

https://www.the-modelos.com/about-us

Place Your Bet….


This Canadian considers herself informed, dare I say dialed in to global political affairs. Who knew dialed in included knowledge of novelty bets sanctioned by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. Novelty bets? In Canada they appear on the Lottery Corporation website PlayNow under “Sports Other”. Politics a novelty sport? Fine, I’ll play along. Canada’s lottery corporation lists eleven Trump “specials” open for wagers, everything from impeachment to Trump Mexico, Russia and North Korea. (See link below). If Trump were impeached (current odds are 6-4 for not impeached), a $4 bet is a $10 win. WTF?

https://www.playnow.com/sports/other-sports/novelty-politics/donald-trump

Right now, this very moment I could bet on Trump being banned from Twitter, Melania running against Donald in 2020, Trump building a wall along Canada/US border or any Mexican airport being named after Donald Trump. I’m not making this up!

Why Canada, why? Oh Canada, please explain when, how and why it became acceptable for government sanctioned political gambling to flourish under the category of novelty sport bets. Is there no end or limit to the lottery corporation’s absurdity? Politics aren’t a game. This Canadian resonates with disdain for your flagrant shenanigans.

Vancouver Street Names


This afternoon a friend sent a link to origins of Vancouver street names. Researcher Justin McElroy used City of Vancouver open data sets to eliminate numbered avenues/streets and duplicate names to arrive at 651 unique street names.

https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/streets

McElroy determined 90% of named streets had documented stories linked to specific events, persons or things. 62 street names had no discernable origin, names like Adanac (Canada spelled backward) or Little, a one block East Vancouver pipsqueak.  I live on the corner of a numbered avenue and Willow, one of 38 named tree/plant streets. To the east I cross 11 streets named for Canadian provinces, to the west a wave of 20 streets named for military battles. Explorers (31), royalty (20), dead Europeans (28), B.C. places (19), places in the United Kingdom (25), geography (56), industry (22),  B.C. landowners (46), prominent railway persons (27), B.C. politicians (27), golf courses (26), connection to George Vancouver (12), universities (6), indigenous names (11), North American places (8), ships (6), hotels or houses (7), characters in novels by Walter Scott (12), Canadian historical figures (11), civic politicians (28), city/government officials (13), B.C. pioneers (6), forestry (11), business owners (9) miscellaneous persons unrelated to other categories (11) and a police dog named Valiant round out the list.

Valiant Street was named for Valiant, the first of eight Vancouver Police Service Dogs that have died from injuries suffered while on the job. (VPD)

Valiant was Vancouver’s first police dog to perish in the line of duty, shot in 1967 by an escaped prisoner on the run from authorities.

McElroy determined over half of Vancouver’s unique streets fell into 5 categories –

I’ve always taken street names for granted, history didn’t unfold until pausing to ponder nomenclature of the place I call home.

Cuba Calling….


Ah vacation, weeks of planning, simmering expectation and promise about to become reality. This time next week we’ll be in Havana at Mercure Sevilla (pictured below)

Three nights in Havana, a flight to Santiago de Cuba later, four nights at Casa Granda to experience Carnival.

Next we hire a driver to take us to Trinidad de Cuba, a distance of roughly 600 Km. The fact we have to spend 3 nights at “all inclusive” pictured below, is over shadowed by adventure of driving there.

Time to hire another driver, back to Havana for two nights at Estancia Bohemia –

From Havana, a flight to Toronto for Caribana –

Home on August 4th.

Words fail to describe how much Notes needs a vacation. I’m exhausted, Cuba promises to put everything right.

Do You Mind If I Play Through?


Well known Canadian political cartoonist Michael de Adder found out the hard way where Canada draws the line. More accurately, where employer Brunswick News butters their toast. Brunswick News is owned by the Irving family, 8th richest Canadian dynasty whose billions are credited to Irving Oil. Their oil, gas, shipping and transportation interests rely heavily on cross border good will.

Canada’s Richest People: The Irving Family

de Adder was “let go”, his contract terminated when social media took flight with this image –

Seems Canadian billionaires are no different than America’s filthy rich. Huffington Post political cartoonist Wes Tyrell tweeted –

Wes Tyrell @tyrell_wes

Whether the powers that be in America would make the connection between de Adder’s cartoon and Brunswick News doesn’t matter.
It seems that the Irving’s don’t want to take that chance. So they cut all ties.

An oil company has no business owning newspapers.

Anyway you slice it, this Canadian agrees with growing public sentiment sparked by actors George Takei and Mark Hamill – de Adder’s cartoon is Pulitzer Prise worthy.

Water, No Ice


Last night a client asked for water, no ice. Seems she disapproved of Pellegrino served at the bar. No problem, I’ll be right back. Oh, you want to come with me? Have it your way. Following me to the kitchen, she watched as I turned the faucet to run cold water. Her jaw went slack, unable to support quivering lips on a face now drained of colour.  Horrified, she mustered “you only have tap water?”. “Excuse me” I replied, handing her a glass of water, no ice. “I can’t drink that” she sputtered, “I need bottled water”. Propriety screamed “easy now, be cool, you’re a professional”. Rather than snap “are you thirsty or not?”,  politest admonishment ahead of “what’s wrong with you”, I smiled, shrugged and replied “there’s bottled juice at the bar”.

Water, no ice lady’s delusion isn’t unique. Convenience, accessibility, marketing and collective apathy sustain bottled water dependency. Why no ice, because it’s made from tap water?

Society resides in a plastic bubble. Insulated from common sense by convenience, consumers take the path of least resistance. Bolstered by marketed delusions, society dwells on plastic bottles and deems the contents crystal clear. Water, no ice lady doesn’t know 93% of all bottled water contains micro-plastics. Nor is she aware of Canadian law as it pertains to drinking water.

Canadian tap water is regulated by Health Canada which sets guidelines for potentially harmful contamination. Municipal water sources are tested constantly to assure quality. Bottled water is another matter – legally defined as “food”, it falls under jurisdiction of the Food and Drugs Act. Translation – “Aside from arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria, the act does not set limits on specific contaminants but says simply that food products cannot contain “poisonous or harmful substances” and must be prepared in sanitary conditions.” Bottom line, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspects water bottling plants – on average once every 3 years. Bottled water producers claim strict adherence to testing practices, legally they’re not obliged to make results public.

With the exception of “spring” or “mineral” water printed on labels, water producers aren’t required to reveal their water source. The Canadian Bottled Water Association claims less than 8% of water bottles in Canada contain municipal water sources. In the United States roughly 45% flows straight from the tap.

“In the U.S., Nestlé’s Poland Spring water, which is not sold in Canada, was the subject of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company was mislabelling the water as “naturally purified” spring water from “pristine and protected sources… deep in the woods of Maine,” when it fact it was groundwater being drawn from man-made wells, some of which, the lawsuit alleged, were at risk of contamination.” – Kazi Stastna, CBC News

Ponder the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bottle-vs-tap-7-things-to-know-about-drinking-water-1.2774182

Water, no ice lady is a cautionary tale. Bottled water is unregulated, unethical, unhealthy and undeniably unscrupulous.

In plastic bottle news – earlier this week Justin Trudeau held a press conference to announce a nation wide ban on single use plastics by 2020. All good until a reporter asked what Trudeau’s family did to reduce plastics. Ponder his cringe worthy response –