The law of the land states that people cannot discriminate against others on the basis of sex, race, religion, etc. That principle of fairness has helped transform Canada into a much more fair and egalitarian society than existed when I was born in the 1950s. Yet, rules that prevent barriers to entry being erected have not necessarily changed certain occupations from changing all that much. Take auto mechanics, where women are as free as men to learn a trade that pays pretty good coin. Yet, it still remains pretty much a male preserve. Laws can change quickly, attitudes take longer. But increasingly schools play a role in nudging those attitudes along. Like this innovative camp for high school kids. Diesel Class
I love stories about bathrooms, if only to exercise my potty mouth. So when we learned that two Vancouver companies were in the running for having the best public restrooms in the country, I just had to check them out. Naturally, they are quite fabulous, though the idea of holding a contest about such things struck me as a tad odd.
It turns out it is not so odd, once I discovered that a company that makes products for washrooms in hotels, restaurants and other public venues, is sponsoring the contest. In fact, it was their idea. No doubt they hope this helps sell more urinal disinfectant and the like - though if they simply got more companies thinking about clean bathrooms that would be good enough for me. The places I've seen .... Best Bathroom
Interviewing people can be a tough job. Some folks are shy or they have something to hide. You have to coax them to tell their story, or ambush them with a hidden camera to confront them with their misdeeds. Others lead lives that on the surface seem unremarkable but as one prods with a question here, an observation there, out come the most amazing stories.
But then there are the Robbins sisters, the easiest and best interview subjects I have ever encountered. All I had to do was put a minimum number of questions to them and watch them go. Their responses, to me, were amazing - both what I heard and what I saw. After watching this piece, I think you will agree that they are very remarkabe people. Sisters, Sisters
Remember Hugh Griffiths? Probably not. But he was a Welsh actor with a slightly wonky eye that would have drawn your attention but for the man's amazing thatch of eyebrows. They were so long the man could have braided them like Pippi Longstocking and tied them at the back of his head. I do not know if this is a Welsh trait, but I've got a bit of Wales in me and have noticed that as the years go by my own brows have developed an unruly Griffiths like tendency. Generally, I combat this unwanted growth with a pair of scissors which usually ends in exposed brow flesh or bloodshed. That's when I ask my barber to do it.
Now I discover there is an ancient technique developed in India that can control my Griffithsitis. It's something South Asian women know all about - and other women too. But it's not yet mainstream - though could that change? Watch this and tell me what you think. Brow Beaten
Back before I gave up the demon rum in all its forms, I used to make my own beer. I read a book extolling its virtues with a line I'll always remember. "Beer, wine, bread and cheese - the very first processed foods. When I drink homemade beer, I commune with the ancients." Considering my connection to the makers of pyramids almost made the awful swill I produced drinkable, but after a while I gave up.
Others have not, and B.C. now leads the nation in so-called craft beer production, small breweries and brew pubs that oftentimes grew out of some ambitious home-brewers basement operation. It appears a growing number of people prefer craft beer to the stuff major breweries produce, even though it costs more. Witness the proclamation in Vancouver of 'Craft Beer Week'. That was the subject of my story and all I can say is that - like beer - it packs a punch at the end. Kegger
Have you ever felt the urge to release your inner Imelda Marcos. Remember her? She was the wife of the dictator of the Philippines and when he was overthrown in the 80s they discovered she had a closet filled with seven thousand shoes. It became a symbol of the excess and corruption of the Marcos rule.
In Vancouver every year, the Army and Navy store offers up an annual sale geared those who need shoes for every occasion. Sure some have an acquisitive, almost Imelda-like acquisitive streak. But most are just looking for a good deal - and know that this sale delivers the goods. Besides, what else would they be doing at seven in the morning, if not lining up? Shoe Sale
I got the idea for this story from personal experience. Friends from the Yukon called me up, oh, five years ago and asked if they could stay with us during the Olympics. I checked my schedule and discovered that, yes, we had an opening during that time. We put away all dreams of renting out our home for seventy-five million dollars, which probably turned out to be a wise move since there is no worse hope than a vain one. Besides, they are not just friends, they are good friends.
On the appointed day they arrived, the snow not quite completely melted from their parkas. They bought us gelato and paid for sushi and Thai food take-out which, we learned, is not as readily available north of 60 as you might think. They stood for hours in rainy line-ups for buses to take them up Cypress Mountain so they could spend one hour watching aerial skiers emerge from the fog, wandered about downtown to see people wander about downtown, gave us an extra couple of tickets that they had bid for on the 2010 sales site, but did not expect to win. In short, they had a great time and they were the perfect guests. Fun, friendly, generous. Boy, am I glad they're gone.
Out of that, I questioned people about their own guest experiences during the Olympics. Purely unscientific, understand, but perhaps represenative of what makes for a good stay. Guest Etiquette
I wandered around downtown Vancouver today going from pavillion to pavillion like the rest of the Olympic tourists. One couple I spoke to had waited in line for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to get ride the zipline in Robson Square. Was it worth it, I asked? "Best 30 seconds of my life," she replied. I suppose if you're dividing your life into 30 second chunks, there are not too many standouts that would compare to dangling above a crowd of a few thousand people.
Standing in line is a big part of this Olympic Experience. At the Canadian Pavillion, people waited for ages to get through security. Then once inside they got to look at some sports memorabilia. Most headed over to wait in another line - the beer garden. There are plenty of beer gardens to wait in line for.
So I notice an awful lot of people decide not to stand in line, but wander about on streets where cars normally rule. That is a pretty good 30 seconds, let me tell you. It just feels so strange, seeing so many people about. It struck me that Olympic crowds are mostly composed of people who are drawn to the action to see people drawn to the action. We're all thinking everybody else is going to be interesting. Once grouped together, we become mighty interesting. Curious, no?
So what interested me wandering one night amongst the crowds were the hats people wore. Some people have strange headgear - strange enough to be drawn to the action. Polish Cowboy Hats
I confess this is my second kick at this story. Last year, when Vancouver was digging out from all the snow, I decided that some souls must have seen opportunity in all the white stuff and decided to head to Porteau Cove, the nearest provincial campsite. I was wrong, it was completely empty even though it was a very romantic looking spot - though bloody cold.
So this year I headed up there once again, and discovered that yes - a few adventurous souls did think a waterfront campsite is the perfect place to spend the Christmas weekend. Watch this story and tell me if you'll be doing the same thing next year. Winter at Porteau
As a kid, we had a black lab named Skipper. She was so smart that when I told her to go get her dog food, she would race down to the basement larder and pick out the Dr. Ballards from amongst all the niblets, peas and other can choices. Could she smell the food through the tin, or did she recognize that German Shepherd on the label? I never knew - but neither did I ever reward her for her ingenuity.
Times have changed, apparently.
Now here's a story we got when a fellow called us from his hospital bed after one major, major operation. He wasn't looking for sympathy - he wanted us to know about someone he had met who was making life easier for people like himself.
And more than that, he now wants to help the fellow out, because that guy will soon be facing major problems of his own. Wheel Friends
Officially, this was my attempt at a scientific survey to determine which beach environment people in Vancouver prefer. Lake or Ocean? Unofficially?