Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Go Deep or Go Home

 One of my all-time most favourite things in the whole world is long and hard, goes very deep, and is full of seamen.  You'll forgive me if I also have a soft spot for submarines.

"Honest, devoted, hard-working with a great sense of humour... and what do you look for in a man, Sylvie?"
That one is near Pearl Harbour, but Canada has submarines, too.... ish.

So, in 1998, we paid $750 million dollars for four used, Victoria-class submarines which the Royal Navy decommissioned in 1993. Sounds like a great deal, doesn't it? And in the thirteen years we've owned them, the Canadian Navy has spent billions trying to make them seaworthy. The UK MP for Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock, says we got shafted, and suggests we ask for a refund.

The HMS Victoria was docked at Canada Place last weekend.

Isn't that a pleasant surprise?  I had no idea they actually worked. 

They all have serious issues. All sorts of things, including rust, which is never good under pressure.  And although only one has had to have the torpedo doors welded shut because of leaking, none of them can actually fire a Canadian torpedo. 

Fancy that. It begs the question: Who authorised such a bone-headed buy?  
It's a good thing we don't need to fire torpedos, 
but it's pretty hard-on taxpayers,
never the less.

Maybe I can interest the bone-head in charge in a slightly less expensive sub-marine vessel which is equally capable of firing Canadian torpedoes,
and equally useful in the face of our rapidly accumulating foes. 

That's the thrust of it.
$750 million is a bit much for four lemons, don't you think? We're talking serious inflation here,
seriously bone-headed and very bad.
Here's some seriously cool inflation for you:

Infinite Tires by Douglas Coupland.
Looks like the infinite tower of babble to me!
Long and hard and...
er... never mind.

Oh!  Did I tell you about the Masturbation cycle?  

Jeju Loveland
Yes, those are feathers for your fanny, and this is just one of the attractions at Loveland, where you, too, can climb a 33 foot penis.

Mmm... long and hard and.... er.  

Sigh... bit distracted these days.
In case it had escaped your notice, the stock market sucks these days, or at least it sure does in the world I've been working in.  Long and short of it is that I got laid off last week and now find myself re-evaluating things.  For example, is it possible to have a fun job where you get paid well to do what you love to do?  Yes?
Good, cause that's what I'm looking for,
that and happiness.

I've heard that you'll only find happiness when you go within,
deep within.

That can be arranged.
Where DID the man get to?

Friday, 26 April 2013

Park n Ride under a Pink Moon

 It was the first beautiful evening of the year, perfect for being tourists in our own town. The man and I were on our own for a bit, so we grabbed our cameras and went for an evening ride.

As we approached the Burrard St Bridge on our way to the park, 
I had one of those "Love at First Sight" moments. 
Meet the lovely and charming Buket:

 She's wonderful.
Check out her megawatt grin, and look at those SHOES!!! 
You've gotta love it... the girl has style with a smile. Not only is she wearing high heels, but they're colourful and stripy and fun and everything! She's a soul sister, bless her, and meeting her put me in a great mood for the rest of the evening.  I always get a permygrin-on when I meet another member of the tribe... it makes my heart happy! :D

Onward... our goal: to take the seawall around Stanley Park.

(The red stars are our various stops... note that we missed visiting Beaver Lake.  THAT's another day's adventure.)
After meeting lovely Buket, we rode over the bridge, straight up the Hornby St bike lane, and back across to Burrard St, where we started filming our ride:

Our route took us right past the Westin Bayshore,

which for the longest time was the place to see and be seen (or unseen), thanks in no small part to Howard Hughes. Local lore has it that he called one day to book the top four floors of the hotel, and when met with resistance he insisted, threatening to buy the hotel if necessary. 

Can you imagine?
March 14 From an article by Aaron Chapman, published in the CourierDecember 16, 2004: “On an early and rainy Tuesday morning, March 14, 1972, an older man in an old bathrobe, pajama bottoms and sandals walked into the side lobby of the Bayshore Inn in Vancouver. Surrounded by a half-dozen bodyguards and staff, the tall, oddly dressed gent casually strolled around the nearly unoccupied lobby, commenting, ‘This is pretty nice.’ He moved into the elevator with the men and up to the penthouse suite where he would remain unseen, never leaving his single room for the duration of his six-month stay. Howard Hughes had arrived in Vancouver.”
A few minutes after his arrival he stood at his penthouse window to watch a seaplane land. The last time Hughes had viewed the harbor was in 1945, when he piloted Vancouver actress-turned-Hollywood star Yvonne de Carlo on a flight over Vancouver. This time, local photographers began a stakeout, but without success because Hughes was soon ensconced in a blacked-out bedroom.

What a guy.
He sure loved his aeroplanes, didn't he?  
I love these planes cause they're Beavers:

There are a few guys in the hood who pay $90 a pop to ride the wet beaver in and out of work every day.
(That's the way, uh huh uh huh, they like it, uh huh uh huh.)
You can see why someone who likes planes might want to hang at the top of the Westin and enjoy the view, even if only for a moment.  It's a pretty sweet spot if you like to fly. 

I like to fly on my bike. 
This was a perfect evening for a ride, too.  It was quiet enough that we got a good head of steam going a few times. 
That's the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it.

Mmm, Beaver.  What's that?  You don't like beaver?  Don't worry, there's always BC Faeries.
(Beaver tails are beautiful things, even if they are a bit noisy sometimes. Just across the way there lies Deadman's Island and its haunted barracks. Apparently they get quite noisy sometimes, too.)
 Oh ho, and here's a noisy place guys often appreciate, especially on a warm summer's eve, at nine pm:

What is it with guys and guns, and things that go off with a bang, anyway?
Is it a primal thing, some kind of link which transcends time itself?

Who knows? In this town you can always set your clock to the noon whistle and the nine o'clock gun, and on a pleasant evening any time of year, you can count on company if you're there to watch the cannon go off. 

After the gun we rode up to Brockton Point, and from there to the Lion's Gate Bridge.

How different the character of the city would be without this landmark.  And suddenly West Vancouver would be far, far away.  Even though I am not fond of being suspended hundreds of feet in the air over great weathered girders on a structure which sways and moves with traffic and the wind, I love this bridge.

One of the many reasons I was still smiling as we made our way from the bridge to Siwash Rock:

Legend has it that Siwash Rock stands as a monument to "fidelity to a generation yet unborn," which seems an appropriate reminder in this day and age.

Isn't it pretty?  From Siwash Rock we made our way back toward English Bay again.

With a stop or two along the way to capture the flavour of the ride for you.

Just as I had my camera lodged in the spokes, taking this not-quite-there photograph

the heron behind me caused a bit of a spectacle when he did an awkward face-plant into the water.  Here he is trying to collect himself and fly under the radar of the avid amateur photographers on hand.

This was the backdrop for the heron's misadventure, mirroring the setting sun:

Round the next bend we'd catch sight of the Burrard St bridge again, solid and reassuring under the warm rosy light of April's Pink moon. It was the perfect evening for a Stanley Park adventure. Soon enough tourist season will pack the seawall with strollers, rollerblades, longboarders, runners and rental bikes, but for now it's peaceful, quiet even, and thus our lovely ride was nearly over.

 Refreshed and revitalised, we head home again.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Taking the high road: what's the dope on marijuana?

Saturday, the weather was fine, and we caught a whiff of a commotion on the commons in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  The man and I grabbed our cameras and decided it it was high time to check out what all the Four Twenty fuss was about.

You do the maths. I'm such a square, I get all addled.  All things being equal.
But I'm off on a tangent... where were we?

Over the weekend, doper pjt shared this:

Babble Bakery Busted? CBC Headline:"8000 suspected pot cookies found in White Rock home". Excerpt from body of story: "Just before noon, RCMP were called to a house near Earl Marriot Secondary School on North Bluff Road after reports two males were trying to break into a home. Police say the intruders fled by foot, forcing the school into a brief lockdown."

While officers were at the home, they discovered 8000 cookies believed to contain marijuana.

Story ends: "On Saturday, thousands are expected to gather in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery for the annual marijuana smoking event known as "4/20."

See?  The numbers are starting to add up.
This is so much more than just a tokin' event.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the size of the joints they lit up in front of the Art Gallery.

They're bigger than me!
Here's Four Twenty, Vancouver style:

And within moments, a cloud of marijuana smoke blanketed the gallery. 

(Would government regulation bring stricter controls for young people, or easier access?)
Hippy heaven.

  Mind you, this town is sort of pre-disposed to that sort of thing.  Pot is BC's biggest cash crop, netting an estimated $6 Billion dollars a year.  If it were taxed it would provide a healthy revenue stream for the government coffers.  And who is going to argue that it's not a healthy industry?  It certainly appears to be a more benign substance than alcohol.  Just look at the difference it makes on large public gatherings.  In 2011, alcohol fuelled the Stanley Cup Riots.  

Vancouver Sun
If marijuana had been the crowd's drug of choice, the worst we'd have seen is a bit of sparring at the hot dog stands.  As it was, the vendors revelled in munchies heaven.  The numbers were talking to them for sure!

And there's no doubting that legalisation is a popular idea amongst the populace, either.  Huge numbers of people showed up to toke up on Saturday.

All around the gallery, filling up Vancouver's high street, from Georgia to Robson, Hornby to Howe it was a sea of hemp-happy humanity, a real grass-roots movement.

Here's a glimpse of what we saw:

Of course the police were out in force

...on motorbikes and bicycles alike.

Technically they're not the boys in blue in this town, so much as the boys in high-vis yellow, but it's all good. At least in this role it's more serve than protect, which is nice. It means they get to hang out on bikes and chat, instead of getting all geared up and cracking heads for an alcohol-fuelled, public event:


Even if there had been trouble the police weren't necessary.  There were plenty of storm troopers about.

 I saw Darth Vader more than once, too, and I even caught a glimpse of him, sans helmet, chatting it up with Leia, like it was Christmas or something.  It's the calming effect of that Wednesday weed, I expect.  
And would you look at that?  Everyone is so open to suggestion!
That's handy.

"These are not the 'droids you are looking for."

It's surreal.  Not the storm troopers.  It's bizarre that Washington state has more relaxed marijuana laws than British Columbia, don't you think?  After zero tolerance and the War on Drugs?
That's irony.

What you resist, persists

Is Marc Emery still in prison?
Is that irony, or is it more like "smoking, but not inhaling?"

I dunno.  When you tally it up, it looks like the writing is on the wall.
Pot is part of the equation here, and  who knows?  Maybe that's not such a bad thing after all, but for now it's still a divisive subject.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cycling: as a way of life, it's got legs, and that's the naked truth.

It was cold, windy, and just chucking it down on the ride home after work today.  The man had deliberately left his warm layer at home in the morning, wearing just his waterproof shell, knowing the storm was heading in and thinking he would get too hot in the whole kit.  It is the middle of April after all.  He was pretty cold coming back in his wet jeans even though the shell kept his trunk dry, and I was feeling snug and smug in my suit and hosiery, so of  course I went on to wax euphoric about the benefits of riding in tights and wellies, carefully pointing out how comfortable I was and how quickly I would be dry when we got home.

"Yeah, but I can't wear panty-hose," he said. "They're very expensive and they tear so easily I would ruin them putting them on.  That would make me angry, and then I'd be a cross dresser."
I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my bike.

If he ever does want to cross-dress he can do so quite comfortably on Vancouver's new Bixie Bikes sometime soon. The upright, step-through frames mean anyone can ride in a suit skirt and heels as easily as walking. Even easier.

Of Alta's new Bixie Bike share program rolling out over the next few months, Pete McMartin in the Vancouver Sun said  "So, if eager Uyghurs can embrace bike-sharing, it’s hardly visionary that Vancouverites do, too.

Despite this, there will be the usual gnashing of teeth. We’ve heard it all before and will hear it all again ... Mayor Moonbeam, the war against the car, the foolhardy government subsidization of bicyclists, etc. It won’t rid the city of two-wheel transport, nor should it. Bikes deserve space on our roads."

I had to include that first line in the quote cause I really liked the way eager Uyghurs rolls off the tongue.  Eager Uyrghurs.  Nice. Aaaaaand... did you catch that?  BIKES DESERVE SPACE ON OUR ROADS.  He said that. Pete McMartin said it in black and white. Publicly.  In a real newspaper and online and everything.

Happy dance. :D Know what else makes me happy? Beaver. Beaver with a full helping of hard wood, that is. This lovely specimen of Canadian beaver moved into the pond at Olympic Village for a bit. Howzzat for a neighbour?

And how about this?  How awkward would it be to find this big fella cat-napping on your deck? 
Er... nice pussy.  Only in Canada, eh?

Do you know what else is awkward?  Wicker baskets on ten-speed bicycles, that's what. I do understand the impulse.  Now that I have a basket I don't like to ride without one, either, but...

In February I mentioned how the bike falls over and the basket disintegrates, so that I have been through a number of baskets in the two short years I've owned the bike. Then this showed up in the comments:

...a limerick-ial poem of common sense & physics - by bikesgonewild...

..."...a tisket, a tasket,
babbles got a brand new basket.
but laws of physics be damned,
in that basket she'll have crammed,
too much stuff which will ultimately trash it..."

...okay...the wicker looks great on your daily electrababe but study that side photo & think of the 'lever principal' & how any weight in your wicker creates serious stress at the point(s) of contact... 

...for eons, old style baskets had two leather straps that directly attached the basket to the handlebar & a third point of contact might be the back edge of the wicker riding against the frame...

...so, without belaboring the point, your electrababe needs some type of rack-like support from beneath which could be simply fashioned & attached to the lower portion of the stem (thus turning with the bars n' basket) & ergo, thus relieving the lever principal & the ensuing stress...

Cheers, BGW.
It's a waaaay better solution than this option!

Does it still qualify as a bicycle if it has five wheels?
One kind reader asked "What are the three best things the bike gave you?"  To which I replied "Happiness, horniness and legs."  

C'mon.  Who can argue with something that makes you happy, makes you horny AND gives you legs? 
Give it a go.  It's a great way to live.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

News Flash!! Spanish Banks exposed for all to sea.

Oh no!  Are we all washed up?

Seriously.  It's been a tough week for humanity. If you were the sort of person who believed in a vindictive God, well, this might be the kind of week that caused you to throw your arms up to the sky to demand "WHY??  Why have you forsaken us?  Why have you left us high and dry?"

Er... and if that is you, please accept my sincere condolences.

Sooooooo? Did you feel it? Was it good for you? There was a coronal mass ejaculation  followed by a geomagnetic particle jizzstorm here on Earth. The harmful radiation is (mostly?) blocked from reaching humans by the protective shield provided by the atmosphere (probably less so now that we're burning off the ozone in great swathes) but even so, an event like this does disrupt certain frequencies here on ground level.  Everything is connected, even our blood and the tides.  Is it any wonder that mankind's moment of genius, the peaceful, prosperous seventeenth century, the age of the scientific revolution, of  Newton, Pascal, and Galileo coincided quite nicely with the Maunder minimum, a time of drastically reduced sunspots.  

So this week...
you already know man's inhumanity toward his fellow man was on display again, this time in Boston.  (Bless all those traumatised by that nasty little bit of work.) The whole world is a mess... food systems, energy systems, biosystems.. you know the song and dance. And to top it all off, bits and gold fell right through the floor of the stock exchange. Now everyone in this town is in a tizzy. 

What are we supposed to do?
Sometimes it just helps to remember that every breath is a miracle. It's healing to breathe mindfully and well. When fear threatens to set in it's the best way to come back to the heart.

It's time to check another kind of chart
before we head to the beach to gear down for a few. 


Time to enjoy the sea's assetsFrom Kits to Jericho,
Jericho to Locarno:

 Locarno to Spanish Banks.

It's a new moon, and the tides are their lowest ebb.  
It's a good time for a whole new beginning, don't you think?

Breathe in, fill the belly with light, breathe out, let go of anger and resentment at those nasty, parasitic banking practices. Someone please tell me how is it that banks are posting record profits, and yet at the same time the whole world seems to be teetering on the brink of financial ruin... hmm? Coincidence?

And while we're at it, how is it that so much of that profit seems to migrate offshore

Ask what anyone is doing about it, 
bring up all those shell funds and what happens? 
Everyone clams up. 


Sometimes it's just too easy to get carried away in current events.

Yep.  The Canadian banks have made enormous profits off the backs of private citizens, so much so that that personal debt is considered the banks' greatest liability. Much of the general public is highly leveraged and very susceptible to market fluctuations. Now what happens when "Joe Public," who bailed out the banks the last time around, is suddenly hit by a change in interest rates?  Do the boys on Bay Street, who have, after all, taken home handsome profits off the back of Joe public, extend a helping hand and offer him some time as a courtesy?  

(My kinda Bay Street)

HA!! :D

Banks sometimes have a twisted definition of a sound investment.  

 And yet the funny thing is that in a real sense, the banks don't have much money on hand. Oh don't be silly. It's called fractional banking, not Ponzi. Yes, they just manufacture profits for themselves out of thin air, at the expense of everyone else, but don't call it Ponzi. For some reason we allow it.  Does that make us criminally complicit in our own downfall? 

The thought of it hurts my brain.  

Wait!! Listen....  What's that?
  Can you hear it?  There's a voice floating across the sands of time... 

"...eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake..."


(Spanish Banks, English Bay, Vancouver, 1891.  I can't fathom all those numbers.  It's too deep for me.)
Not the voice on the wind, either. History always speaks to those who will listen, that's not spooky.
 I meant the banks.  In the vernacular I am most familiar with, "They're creepy."

(Is this what the world looks like before a Tsunami hits?)
I'm an apocaloptimist, convinced there's got to be hope for us yet. 
It's time for a magnetic pole reversal of the heart, mind you, a re-thinking of our priorities, hopes and aspirations. We don't have to start trading in sand dollars to get rid of the rot, but we do have to change. Yesterday-ish.  

  The best companies, the ones we should reward the most, are the ones building stronger communities, putting profits back into the place they were derived from, and ensuring everyone has a good standard of living. When it comes to banking, well, there's a long way go go, but don't despair.  

There are signs of life everywhere, and Hello! Would you look at that?  You're still breathing.
What a gift.  Notice the beauty all around you, enjoy nature when you can.

  If you're lucky, you might even spot the Great Goprogopolus Turtle!

It's a fearsome wee critter, and a paradox of sorts. 
It allows you to see tremendous detail even from far away, and yet it also makes everything appear far, far away. 
 The world is full of small miracles, isn't it?

It's a good idea to step back a bit and take a long view of things once in a while.

Money is good.  Money buys solutions.  I love money.  Everyone should have enough money.

Banking as we know it? Mmmm... not so good.

Once again, necessity will be the mother of invention.  Our financial system is in need of an overhaul:
as consumer confidence ebbs it's going to be hard to keep the banks afloat.
But why should we?  What about the people who own the banks?  Why don't they have any liability?
What's to be done?
Turn the tide... maybe it's because I'm not of sound mind... maybe I'm out of my depth here, but I remain convinced that there is a way out of this mess, a solution.
There is always a solution, even if it takes some dosh to come by it.
For now?
Remember, this too, shall pass.
Then seas the day!