CBC British Columbia
Bob's Blog

Stolen Rabbit?

bc-auction-nixon-100428.jpgEvery year, the Police department auctions all the bikes and other stuff stolen off the streets but for whatever reason not claimed by their rightful owners.  Several times, I have wandered the aisles during the 'media preview', looking for something, anything that somehow might warrant more than the single line "the police auction is on this weekend ...."  on the nightly news.  Although there's plenty of material up for auction, most is rather ordinary.   Tools, a few musical instruments, old computers, bric a brak. 

But then I always seem to come across something that makes me wonder, "who would want to steal this?"  And the story flows from there.  Police Auction icon_video.gif

Pink Streets

bc-cherry-nixon-100425.jpgA few decades ago, in a moment of madness, I agreed to go winter camping in northern Saskatchewan.  We slept in snow huts in minus 45 degree temperatures and huddled around the fire for days.  It was the most miserable time of my life and yet I look back on it fondly principally because I felt so wonderful when it was over.  The lesson was clear.  The longer one endures privation the more one enjoys its end. 

Maybe that's why when I came across streets absolutely cover in pink petals, the joy I felt was transcendant.  It was not just that the sight signalled a spiritual end to the cold and rain of the Vancouver winter.  It went right back to every every winter I have ever endured.  In that respect, my Winnipeg youth continues to pay big dividends as this sight was pleasure indeed.  Petal Power icon_video.gif

Kings Fan

bc-kings-nixon-100423.jpgI realize it is still early in the playoff and the high emotion that we might see during game seven of the final is still weeks away.  But when I ventured onto the streets of downtown Vancouver dressed as a Los Angeles Kings fan and proceeded to badger Canuck fans, I expected at least a little hostility.  Apparently Kings fans, desperate souls all, could be downright nasty about the Canucks, as Sporty Shane Foxman discovered when he travelled with team to cover the games in LA.  The Sedins got labelled the 'Ginger Twins'.  When the fans shouted Roberto's last name it came out "Lou-ser". 

Did we respond in kind?  I won't give it away, but I detect the Olympic sense of fair play - and maybe the memory of Canada's big hockey victory in February - lingers here still.

Go Kings! icon_video.gif


Door Crashers

bc-shoes-nixon-100421.jpgHave 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 icon_video.gif

The Dog Guy

bc-afghan-nixon-100420.jpgOwing to the hockey play-offs, our stories have to be a little shorter than normal, as our news show is only half an hour long rather than the usual ninety minutes.  That's why for this story I was unable to put in a key point about my main character. 

John Hall is well known to people on False Creek seawall because of his daily walks to Granville Island in the company of his pack of dogs.  But I almost did not get this story done in time when he told me he had been the keyboard player with the legendary Vancouver rock band 'Prism'.  As soon as I got back to the office, I was on youtube pulling up live 1970s performances of Starship Superstar and Armagedden.  Amazing stuff.  Winner of the 'Group of the Year' Genie in 1980, my mention of Prism drew blank stares from the younger CBC folk.  But listen to lead singer, the late Ron Tabak, sing and you'll see where Axl Rose might have got his sound.  (Surely the name Axl Rose wouldn't produce blank stares, would it?)

Anyway, the piece made it to air and did not really need the Prism reference.  Hall has moved on, plays piano at the Joe Fortes restaurant these days.  Besides, touring with a rock band would have made his dog walks pretty tough.  Afghan Man icon_video.gif

Look Waaaay Up

bc-bicycle-nixon-100416.jpgI often wonder if the world has more kinds of cycles than it has cars.  Unicycles, bicycles, tricycles, those quadricycles with the funny cabana style roof you find a beach resorts.  Within the bike category alone you'll find a whole range of options.  Tandem, mountain, road racing, triathalon, fixie, recumbent, cruiser, touring, BMX and many more can all be found on the streets of Vancouver. 

But I have not seen many in the class known as Tall Bikes.  In fact, the subject of my video story, Lyle Vallie (sorry about the misspelling in the piece) figures only ten such curiousities exist in the city.  His is probably the most remarkable.  It's lightweight abd engineered to position the rider in a normal cycling position, not the easiest thing to do when your seat is close to two metres off the ground.  Lyle is an engineer who, when he's not at his day job with the high end bike shop "Mighty Riders", designs and builds high end bike components.  So this is a pretty special bit of work.  But how does it ride?  Check it out, he said.  That was where my trouble began.  Tall Bike icon_video.gif


By the way, if you're into bicycle technology, Lyle's website is worth a gander.  Here's the LINK

Crime Scene Class

bc-bodies-nixon-100413.jpgI love a good corpse as much as the next guy.  That does not mean I want to pour over the possible reasons why a live body became a dead one.  But apparently many people do and not just professional forensic investigators.  To satisfy that desire the Vancouver Police Museum has scheduled a series of workshops on some aspects of crime scene investigation.  Open to the public, no need to wear rubber boots. 

Even if you do not plan on attending these workshops, a visit to the Museum is quite interesting.  Oh the stories 15-thousand dead people can tell.  Forensic Workshop icon_video.gif

Family Willow

bc-tribute-nixon-100411.jpgIt's been windy lately.  I was woken twice in the past few weeks by that ominous sound of branches wildly brushing against my windows and debris flying down the street.  My wind chimes played a crazy tune.  All the while I worried about the old cherry tree in my backyard, wondering if this would be the storm that ended eighty years of magnificence.  The tree was spared.  So was I, because no one wants to deal with something you love falling to the ground. 

Not everyone was as lucky as I was, and I came across one fellow in East Vancouver slowly cutting away the branches from his unfortunate willow.  He told me about this tree, and why it meant so much to him and his family.  It is quite a story.  Favourite Tree icon_video.gif

New Role

bc-hanomansing-nixon-100408.jpgIt is always a big story inside a television station when a news anchor you have worked beside for years suddenly gets a new role.  That's the case now with Ian Hanomansing, who for more than a decade has been, with Gloria Macarenko, the face of CBC News in Vancouver.  He is returning to his first love, as a reporter with the CBC flagship program 'The National'.  Bright, witty, with a professionalism and deep knowledge of almost any subject you care to name, I have long harboured a deep resentment against him.  Kidding!  In fact, Ian is as likeable a colleague as they come and we have spent many hours together in sun-dappled conversation.  But hey, when a guy's going through a career change and I get to do a story about it, I have to have my fun, right?  National Ian icon_video.gif


Blue Whale

bc-whale-nixon-100407.jpgOver the past few years, I have been lucky enough to make a number of stories about Andrew Trites' efforts to bring a blue whale skeleton to UBC's new Beaty Biodiversity Museum.   As a marine mammal expert, Trites usually focusses on the mystery of why the Stellar Sea Lion's numbers are dropping on the west coast.  But anyone who has visited the Biodiversity Centre at UBC can see all manner of remarkable whale, seal and sea lion skeletons suspended in the most strangely lifelike poses.  Now he and his colleagues have succeeded in bringing this amazing acquisition to the now completed Museum.  It has been a journey that has taken this unfortunate whale - apparently the victim of a collission with an ocean freighter more than 20 years ago - from coast to coast.  Skeleton Arrival icon_video.gif

100 Year Old Mountie

bc-mountie-nixon-100404.jpgThe RCMP gets lots of criticism these days and, as the force admitted itself recently over the death of Robert Dziekanski, some of it is deserved.  It is a tough, demanding calling, keeping the peace in an increasingly troubled world and the Mounties sometimes struggle to do the job according to their own standards. 

Those standards have roots extending back more than a century - Maintain the Right is the time honoured motto and generations of Mounties have tried to live up to it.  I was fortunate enough to meet one former Mountie recently, who had just celebrated his 100th birthday.  Looking back, he knew exactly what was expected of him and he says he followed those rules throughout his life.  Musical Ride Man icon_video.gif

Aquatic Astronauts

bc-astronauts-nixon-100331.jpgAnyone remember the Tom Swift books for boys?  They gave the Hardy Boys a run for the money back in the 60s space race.  All kinds of Grade Six lads read them and watched Johnny Quest and Lost in Space on TV, dreaming that one day they too could become astronauts. 

I never joined the craze and do not know why.  Maybe it was because I realized that it would never happen to me and even now am one who would rather canoe a river than stare down at it from outer space (though if I could do both....).  Still, when Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield popped into town to learn how to drive an underwater rover, I admit to slight excitement.  He is, after all, a Canuck who has spent 14 hours walking in space outside the shuttle.  And like all things space related, his current project is high tech and really cool.  Watery Rocketmen icon_video.gif