Well I Never!

2 04 2013

I’ve driven in a few places in the States. Never in Florida though.

Turns out it was just as well! Until today, it was illegal to drive in Florida unless you had a driving license issued by one of the US States. Despite what some down there may think… that didn’t include our 10 provinces and 3 territories (one of the questions on the citizenship test, BTW.) Alternatively  you could get an International Driving Permit (which seems to magically make you a better driver).

Apparently the law was never meant to exclude the many Canadian snow birds who pour millions of dollars into Florida’s economy when it gets a bit chilly up North. Like the hardening of the border crossing to a maximum 90 days after 9/11 supposedly wasn’t intended to exclude them either.

Anyway, thanks in part to efforts by Canada’s Automobile Association, it was repealed today.

CAA Applauds Repeal of Florida IDP law.

Mind you… Canada is no better. It may have changed now, but in 2001 when we immigrated to Canada, BC required UK drivers to re-take their driving test in order to drive for more than 90 days. At the time it seemed to make sense. After all the UK drives on the left and the road rules are different here (turning right on red lights, it being perfectly OK to do 50kmh in “the fast lane” on highways while drinking your coffee, petting your maltipoo on your lap and smoking a joint, yada yada…).

But wait… if you emigrated from Japan you could just swap your license. They drive on the left too! Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Actually – Denmark I’m not so sure about. Austria and Switzerland though – they can drive for free. Weird. But, if we’d immigrated to Alberta, we could have swapped our UK license for a Canadian one there – no trouble. Moving between Provinces is a straight swap too. So hang on…

Moving directly to BC meant we took a test, but if we’d moved to Alberta then BC, we wouldn’t? How does this make me a better qualified driver?

It kind of reminds me of when I applied for my Brazilian visa a few years ago. I just checked – the anecdote is still true. A business visa for a Canadian citizen going to Brazil is $75. For American citizens it is free.


However… there’s a $200 administrative fee if you’re an American citizen! I’m sure this has nothing to do with the way Brazilian tourists were suddenly required to have their fingerprints taken when they entered the US after 9/11. Nothing at all…

17 years after world’s last airworthy Mosquito crashed, rebuilt Canadian ‘Wooden Wonder’ flies again

20 03 2013

As a kid, I used to have Airfix models of the WWII vintage de Havilland Mosquito. Such a beautiful shape. Second only to the Spitfire, in my humble opinion. Grace… with teeth. Powered by the distinctive RR Merlins too.  (See how the under-wing engines look like a pair of Spitfire noses?)


Read all about the rebirth of this little piece of Canadian history in the Vancouver Sun.

17 years after world’s last airworthy Mosquito crashed, rebuilt Canadian ‘Wooden Wonder’ flies again.

General background as ever on Wikipedia.

Got a mermaid in your life?

6 02 2013

A friend works in a print shop. They just finished a job making banners for this company. They’re Canadian. Looks like a great laugh for the little mermaid princess in your life.

3-Fins custom mermaid tails. – Home.

3-Fins custom mermaid tails. - Home


18 12 2012

No idea where “pish” comes from, but it was often used as a euphemism for “shit” or somesuch when I was a kid. It predates Shakespeare, as Othello attests:

“Pish! Noses, ears, and lips. Is ’t possible? Confess!”

Today I learnt something and I thought I’d share.

I came across an ad site. Not this one actually, but I can’t find the original. Anyway, this one will do: Rashers: Pish | Ads of the World™.

It displays the work of Illustrator Steven Hall for Ad Agency Ogilvy & Mather on their campaign for Rashers. Who are they, thinks I? Rashers.ca tells me a little more, but not much… they’re not up and running yet. Oo goody – I’m in at the start of something big! Of course it’s going to be big! (i) It’s Canadian (deduced from the .ca Sherlock, keep up) and (ii) it involves bacon!


But wait! Though I now have my suspicions from the “948 Queen Street East” on the pish, there are many cities of the world with Queen Streets. And there’s this Hogtown thing on the website. Abracawikipedia, via google, and the answer is some Canadiana history…

“Hogtown”, related to the livestock that was processed in Toronto, largely by the city’s largest pork processor and packer, the William Davies Company

The ad below is a pish, but follow the links or click on the picture to see my favourite – the picken. This is for those advocates of Agile software processes who can’t decide if they’re a chicken or a pig. If you’re fortunate enough to have not been exposed to agile methods (the software equivalent of having JWs beating on your door every weekend) just enjoy the art of Mr Hall and think yourself very lucky indeed…

Source: Ads of the World. “Pish” for Rashers

When all’s said and done, you can’t beat a good ol’ bacon buttie!

It’s irrational

15 12 2012

Just got back from watching Life of Pi.

It’s all backwards. I was aware the film had been released and remembered I’d always meant to read the book (which came out in 2001 I believe). Saw the book at Costco on Wednesday and bought it for a song. It’s still unread, but now I’ve seen the film which is by all accounts is very close to the book.

I liked it. Clever. I liked the twist (don’t we all?!)

I liked the little piscine jokes.

I liked that Gérard Depardieu was in it, contenting himself with a very minor part, but playing it with wit.

I liked the idea that we need to come to terms with multiple sides of ourselves to get through this thing we call life.

I like the idea that Martel, the author, is Canadian (I didn’t know that) from back East.

Richard Parker, it seems, is the name of several real people involved in documented shipwrecks and cannibalisation events. Just sayin’…

If I was to rate it out of 5, I’d obviously have to give it
3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609433057270365759591953092186117381932611793105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011949129833673362440656643086021394946395224737190702179860943702770539217176293176752384674818467669405132000568127145263560827785771342757789609173637178721468440901224953430146549585371050792279689258923542019956112129021960864034418159813629774771309960518707211349999998372978049951059731732816096318595024459455346908302642522308253344685035261931188171010003137838752886587533208381420617177669147303598253490428755468731159562863882353787593751957781857780532171226806613001927876611195909216420198938095257201 065485863278865936153381827968230301952035301852968995773622599413891249721775 283479…

Or more rationally, maybe 3.5.

It’s got some stunning effects, thanks to Ang Lee. “You can’t see the join” as they say, when it comes to the CGI. And at the end, having enjoyed the visual spectacle, you have to rewind and think about it. Excellent.

Anyone for a hump?

14 08 2012

So last Thursday was our last full day in Victoria, and we went whale watching. Lived here 11 years now, and never been whale watching. Seen a few up the Sunshine Coast and off Point Roberts, but always at a distance.

We got up at a lazy hour and made our way downtown for brunch at Willie’s Bakery. The food was deceptively tasty for what is essentially a quick order fry up and waffle place. The servers were excellent, but unfortunately the cooking was  s-l-o-w. So much so that our “plenty of time” turned into “only just making it” by the time we’d been served and marched off towards Fisherman’s Wharf. There we were adorned with floatation suits and boarded our 12 seater Zodiac. We had a really excellent hour or so’s ride up to Henry Island, off the NW coast of San Juan Island. The water was mill pond smooth, and the ride was quite exhilarating. Once there we got to enjoy J pod, one of the resident Orca pods, chomping on the local salmon run. In Canada , one is supposed to keep 100m away from the sides of a whale, and 400m away from the front or rear of their direction of travel. Of course, being marine mammals, they’re not averse to the occasional “deep dive”, and it’s anyone’s guess where they’ll surface. This made for lots of “oo” and “ahh” moments when they suddenly appeared quite close to the boat.

After almost an hour of being awestruck with the majesty of these carnivorous beasts of the sea, the skipper asked if anyone was in a rush to get back. Being answered in the negative, he offered to take us to see some Humpback whales off the SE of Victoria, and off we went.

Now this hour of travel was not quite as smooth. Hardly what you’d call a swell, but when hit at speed, even a moderate wave felt like it would shake your teeth out. As we neared the destination, we entered a fog bank, and the temperature noticeably dropped. Out of the gloom there suddenly loomed three or four zodiacs from other whale watching companies, then suddenly the giant Humpbacks appeared. Three in all. If the orcas were majestic, these were truly leviathans. “Huge” just doesn’t do it. Unfortunately I only had my point’n’click camera with me, and the Humpbacks didn’t expose themselves quite as much as the Orcas, so you don’t really get the sense of size from these snaps. Go look on Wikipedia though… these gentle giants are amazing.

Not cheap at $95 a head, but we had a great skipper and we certainly got total value for our money with nigh on 4 hours of excitement and education. I’d recommend the company we chose (there are eight altogether in Victoria!) – Orca Spirit Adventures.

Just sayin’…

14 08 2012

Yorkshire athletes having strong Olympics – The Globe and Mail.

According to the Globe & Mail on the 8th August:

“If it was a country, Yorkshire would rank close to top of the medal standings and far ahead of Canada, at least in terms of gold medals.”

You mean it isn’t a country?! Since when, exactly? 😉

The Independent concured.

London 2012: Yorkshire – the county that’s trouncing Australia in the Olympic medal table – Comment – Olympics – The Independent.

Independent: Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis

By the end of things, Yorkshire had brought home no fewer than 7 gold medals, according to The Yorkshire Post. Not bad for one county!

Yorkshire Post: Campbell is Yorkshire’s last action hero as Hull fighter secures seventh gold for the White Rose

The Push for Change

26 05 2012

The Push for Change | The Push for Change.

Passions are amazing.

Possibilities are awesome.

But without action, we are only left to dream… and nothing changes.

Today I went to a retreat as a member of my local Scout Council leadership team (what can I say?) The keynote speaker was Joe Roberts. He is now a consultant, but draws from his own background as a troubled youth, living on the streets of Vancouver, a junkie. He speaks well. He’s careful to not ask for sympathy. He doesn’t need it. He’s a successful businessman. Now.

Instead his message is that there are many youth out there who have made some of the same poor choices he made, or who have by some other means been forced into living on the street. Having come through that and grown from it, he is keen to offer that illustration of positive change to others. Obviously this was a message that resonated well with the gathered Scout leaders. Scouting is all about offering positive opportunities for growth to youth.

This summer (1st of July) he’ll be pushing a modified shopping cart from Calgary to Vancouver. Symbolic of the carts pushed on the streets of Vancouver by people collecting cans for recycling to feed their habits. This one has been engineered for the event, and will collect money for the charity Roberts has co-founded. But this is only the start. A trial run for his May 2013 goal of walking coast to coast – finishing up in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where he had his epiphany and turned his life around. He is careful to acknowledge others who helped in that rebirth. His mother, and a kindly old gent called “Gus” in the DES who not only gave him the cigarette and toonie he was bumming off him, but also a pearl of wisdom: “you could be something great”.

His pitch to Scouting wasn’t for money or access to our membership as fundraisers. He’s confident of his organisation’s own ability to do that. What he was looking for was engagement with Canada’s youth. He’s aware that unless youth engage with his cause he’s largely just some old bloke pushing a cart across Canada to no great purpose. Kudos to him for that.

I wish him well, and look forward to the YouTube awareness he expects from his trial run from Calgary.

His “day job” as motivational speaker can be followed at Skid Row CEO.

A tale of two cities. Well three, I suppose

13 05 2012

So today I got back home from a week in Europe. I was attending a trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany, but staying in a hotel in Venlo in the Netherlands. I already posted photos of the lovely hotel I was staying in. If you missed them, look here.

I spent a little time on the Canon booth. Mainly drooling over the high end cameras and lenses on show, but also in awe at some of the industrial uses their printing equipment can be put to. I also checked out some packaging software vendors and was amazed at the complexity of designs that are possible with rigid packaging such as corrugated cardboard. I was in an amusing conversation with my Canadian born boss and a Southern UK employee. At one point I used the idiom “as bent as a nine-bob note”, which caused the Brit to ask how I knew such an obscure English term.

I looked him in the eye, as my first assumption was that this was a subtle ironic joke. Realising it wasn’t, I pointed out I was plainly a Yorkshireman, and though having been absent from said hallowed ground for a few years, was still fairly well acquainted with the language. He was amazed, and claimed that he’d assumed I was a “proper” Canadian from my accent. This made my boss laugh, as to his ear I sounded exactly like the Southerner. This made both myself and my British colleague give him the Paddington “extra hard stare”, and we all left in separate directions.

Around 6:30pm we headed out of Düsseldorf for London on a Lufthansa flight. The generously proportioned lady next to me complained bitterly about the tea being served with cream rather than milk. Having had it served to me that way several times in Canada, and also in the Netherlands and Germany, I gave her the polite version of “suck it up, Buttercup”, with my mind following with something along the lines of “if you like everything the way it is in the UK… why not just stay there?”

We over-nighted in the Park Inn at Heathrow, to catch the morning flight back home today. I was treated to a proper “Full English” breakfast, which incidentally, is never eaten by English folk except on holiday or at hotels. It turned out the hotel was temporary home to no less than 14 rugby teams, which I have to say behaved so impeccibly I would never have known. On leaving for the airport, I noticed one of the groups there was from Yorkshire. Small world.

I managed to sneak a quick trip to WH Smiths at the airport, and snagged a bag of Twiglets, Cheese and Onion crisps and a packet of Jaffa Cakes. I love BC dearly, but some things I do still miss from the UK. On the plane home, a middle-aged couple sat next to me turned out to be originally from Doncaster. We all agreed it was a good place to be from. They now lived in Nanaimo, here in BC… and the world noticeably shrank a little more.


49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts Opening At Main & 13th : Scout Magazine

6 05 2012

Another great piece from Scout magazine for Vancouverites. They pose the reasonable question: “Does Main St. need another coffee shop?” Read on for their opinion, but I might posit that if you are perhaps peeved at the casual custom that takes up the bandwidth (seating and WiFi) in your favourite other café in the area, then at the VERY least this addition to the offerings will relieve some of the strain…

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts Opening At Main & 13th : Scout Magazine.

DINER: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts Opening At Main & 13th : Scout Magazine

And for those perhaps not from Canada, the 49th parallel is the line that by and large splits Canada from the non-tea drinkers to the South. (I still shudder at the thought of all that tea being wasted in Boston in 1773!)

There are a few kinks in the line, such as when BC moved its provincial capital to Victoria in the South of Vancouver Island to make sure that Canada got the whole island, and not just the top bit (look how well that went for Ireland or Cyprus, just as an example…)

However, the flip side is a local peninsula (Tsawassen – try saying that after a couple of beers. Actually – at all!) with about 2 square kilometres below the line. This tiny plot is technically Washington State and goes by the name of Point Roberts. The rest of it is BC. There are a few folk living on the end, and so when they get jiggy, there are inevitably a few kids. Enough to build an elementary school even. Too costly to have a secondary school though. So guess what! The poor teenagers have to make the daily trip via school bus across two international borders each way and travel all the way to Blaine in “proper WA state”. The more logical alternative of sending them to one of the several Canadian high schools they pass on the way, or even – dare I say it, making Point Roberts Canadian – seem to have been passed over. It’s handy for getting a US mailbox or cheaper petrol though. Just sayin’…

Check it out on Google maps here.