The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
California Dreamin': Knox's Summer Sojourn To Southern California
Usually I hate to take trips during Canadian summers. What's the point? Summertime is one of only two bearable seasons in this sometimes grim nation and a guy might as well stick around for it in my view. That has been my traditional view. This year however, I was compelled to embark on a summer journey. A journey to sunny (usually) Southern California. San Diego to be precise. Promises were made to me involving great beaches, good food and drink, and a host of family amusement parks that while not usually my style, were said to provide countless hours of surefire delight for the little people making the trip with me - children that is. Not the Roloffs of TV fame. Sounded like some good 'ol family fun. The kind that conjured up visions of Clark W. Griswold and his ill-fated trip to Wallyworld. How could I resist?
Flights to San Diego are reasonable and are short, if you live in Western Canada. That is indeed a plus. The beaches, as promised, are nice - at least those such as Moonlight Beach in Encinitas or the various state beaches in Del Mar and Solana Beach. The sand is soft and fine and apart from the typical North American bans on open-liquor, they provided a nice setting for a sunny afternoon. Sure, the water is colder than in Hawaii or the Caribbean, but it's warm enough. Beaches are packed, but not body to body like Waikiki.
The food and drink however, was surprisingly average. In anticipation of my trip to California, I dreamt of endless restaurants serving the now well-known "California cuisine", centered around fresh, local ingredients and fantastic California wines, served by fantastic waiters under the watchful eye of a skilled sommelier. Man, was I disappointed. Much of the greater San Diego area, like much of the United States, is the land of box stores and franchise, fast food outlets (McDonalds to Chili's to Pizza Hut). My first couple of days had me wondering whether it was possible that "California cuisine" was nothing more than a sham (like North American "Chinese food") and that Californians really lived off of burgers, pizza and mexican food. Then however, I decided to try harder, and my efforts were rewarded.......sometimes.
The first legitimate restaurant we tried was Blanca in Solana Beach. The attraction was that it was close to our hotel, but also that it was specifically said by some to represent "California cuisine". Could this be it? Had I found it? Kind of. Blanca features new chef, Gavin Schmidt, formerly of San Francisco's Coi, which is, or at least was, a Michelin two-star restaurant. Promising. It also features a nice room, adorned with a ceiling full of lanterns and cozy, yet fancy, booths, that an obviously "new" couple was making full use of. I digress. For dinner, I started with the Burratta Agnolotti, a pasta (ravioli) dish featuring smoked corn, guanciale, and epazote according to the menu. I have to admit that I have no idea what those last two things are, but damn was the dish good. Bursting with balanced flavour, A great start. My dinner mate started with the Albacore Tuna Sashimi, which I sampled. Fantastic. Ultra-fresh ingredients (the pickled radish was unreal) made the dish. Then things went a little sideways. My entree, the Willis Ranch Pork - A Day At The Farm was, again, well-prepared, but was overly fatty (just the particular cuts of meat) and was enshrined in an overly French style of preparation. Well-prepared, good ingredients, but not my thing. My dinner mate had the Crab Porridge, which she described as "ok". Well-prepared, but just not her thing. All in all, great ingredients, great cooking, in a great room, but not consistently a mind blower. Maybe Chef Schmidt is still finding his way in his new environs. Great service by the way. Should have mentioned that.
Our second attempt at finding a great restaurant on the San Diego coast was aimed at Market - San Diego chef Carl Schroder's Del Mar outpost, said to be a "contemporary American bistro". Now this is a cool room. Half sushi bar and half bistro and full of beautiful people. We got right at it upon arriving. For me, the Organic Local Corn Soup. Probably one of the Top 3 soups of my life. Unbelievable. Fresh, fresh, fresh. Delicate, yet full of corny goodness. My dinner mate had an equally good soup and followed it up with a King Salmon and Asian Noodle dish that was featured that night. She loved it. Despite my pro-Alberta beef bias, I had a dynamite beef dish with a great glass of Washington Cabernet suggested by Market's amazingly friendly and talented sommelier, Elias. All in all, a great night, a great meal and a great expression of California cuisine.
Finally, we hit Kitchen 1540 at the L'Auberge Del Mar resort in Del Mar. A lot of hype about this one. As it turns out, undeserved hype. A room full of trendoid people desperate to be seen, a terribly paced meal (3 courses in 40 minutes), terrible wine service (glasses of wine took forever, such that they missed their intended courses - strange given the overall duration of the meal, but true nonetheless), a clueless waiter and cold, seemingly pre-prepared food (at the pace it was whisked out of the kitchen, it couldn't have been made to order - could it?) made for a disappointing last meal. Avoid this one and don't be sucked in by false praise.
Oh, before I forget, it might be worth airfare just to hit the Leucadia Donut Shoppe in Encinitas. Simply put, apart from a now closed donut shack run by a couple of Mennonite kids who lived across from the Pheasant Release Site in Millicent, Alberta, these were the best donuts of my life. Fresh and tasty enough to run naked through Encintas for. 1000 times better than the freezer burned "donuts" that Tim's is selling these days (more on Tim's later).
Speaking of Encinitas, if you were once a hardcore, old school skate punk like I was, check out old school skateboard legend Mike McGill's skate shop in Encinitas. Great shop.
In closing - the amusement parks. Apart from the San Diego Zoo's Wildlife Park outside of San Diego, don't waste your time. $80 per person to enter and unparalleled lameness once inside. The only highlight was the beer everywhere at Seaworld, driven by Anheuser-Busch's ownership of the park I presume. Damn, I love those new aluminum beer bottles.
Moral of the story? If you're Canadian, stay home in the summer, and don't waste your time visiting San Diego - even in the winter. There are many better places in this big old world of ours. Knox out.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
The Greyhound Canada Fiasco
When I was in my 20's I lived in Southern Manitoba. I was single, working a few part-time jobs and paying rent, money was tight, I couldn't afford a car. I grew up in Northern Manitoba, so the way I would get back there to visit would be on the Greyhound bus. To drive to my home town by car would normally take about 6 hours, but taking the bus would increase that trip to 10-12 hours, because they made so many stops in small towns to pick up passengers or parcels.
Greyhound Canada announced on Thursday that it was discontinuing service in Manitoba and parts of Ontario because adhering to "government regulation" had become too costly. The regulation in question is the mandate that they are to provide bus services to unprofitable routes to small towns, which can no longer be subsidizes their their profit making revenue sources.
"Despite numerous attempts over the years to adjust this business model in order to gain a profitable footing, Greyhound Canada has now run out of options," (Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart) Kendrick said Thursday.
Now Greyhound is asking for a $15-million subsidy from the provincial and federal governments so it can break even on these government-mandated routes.
Some people are suspect of Greyhounds true financial status, especially since they just built a new multi-million dollar bus terminal in Winnipeg.
Greyhound recently signed a 40-year lease on a brand new bus terminal by Winnipeg International Airport. Those aren't the actions of a company that had long-term reservations about doing business in the province, (Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton) suggested to CBC News.
The real problem is that the government got involved at all. I am not for government bail-outs or subsidizes, but in a situation where the government puts demands on a company to provide a service which causes them a loss, then perhaps they should be compensated by those people making the demands.
Yes, it's good that people have bus service to small towns, there is somewhat of a demand there. If those routes aren't profitable, then perhaps Greyhound should raise their prices to service those areas, but no doubt they would be accused of "gouging" and the government would step in at that point as well.
There are flight services to even the most remote of Northern Communities, business have found a way to make those trips profitable, but they aren't everyday and will cost you. In the absence of Greyhound going to every small town along a stop, perhaps another company could step in a fulfill the demand for that service, and adjust their rates accordingly, unless the government gets in the way.
I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Canadian Border Agents Recorded
The folks at the Motorhome Diaries are driving across America meeting with people to search for freedom. Unfortunately that trip won't include Canada, since they were turned away at the Canadian border about a month ago and banned from entering this country.
Last week they took a wrong turn at the border near Detroit, Michigan and had to turn around through Windsor, Ont., and once again had to deal with searches and delays. This time though they left an audio recorder rolling while Canadian Border Service Agents searched their Motorhome. You can listen to the CBS agents comments in this video, including joking about sexually assaulting people.
I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity and racism is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Hotel room human rights
There are different kinds of human rights, positive and negative;
- positive rights are those that require action of a third party to fulfill them; a right to legal council, a right to an education, etc.
- negative rights are those that extend out from an individual and don't require action on anyone else's part; freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom to worship, etc.
In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms set-out the rights that the government says you have. I looked through it, and nowhere did I see anything about a right to a hotel room in Neepawa, Manitoba.
A wheelchair bound woman who lives in Winnipeg, Arlen Ursel, was going to Neepawa to visit her ailing father, about a three-hour trip. The Bay Hill Inns and Suites in Neepawa has one handicap suite, which she tried to reserve, but was already booked.
As a result of this, she made a human rights complaint against the hotel and was awarded $3,000 for "injury to her dignity and self respect".
Hotel owner Tom Sung has said the only wheelchair accessible room was occupied every time Ursel tried to book it and there had simply been a miscommunication when she called.
Ursel was forced to make the five-hour return trip to her home in Winnipeg on the same day each time she visited her dad because no other wheelchair accessible rooms were available in the Neepawa area.
May I point out that she was not forced, there was no force involved. It was her choice to go to visit Neepawa, it was her choice to return back to Winnipeg the same day.
The second largest city in Manitoba, Brandon, is about 45 minutes away from Neepawa. Could there have been a possibility of finding a room there? Or in Gladstone (20 minutes east), or in Minnedosa (20 minutes west), or in one of the other three motels in Neepawa? Was there any effort made in having the personal responsibility of taking care of one's self?
The hotel has been given an order to restore wheelchair access to the room within 60 days, and the human rights commission will monitor the situation for the next two years.
What this sort of ruling does is give less incentive to other hotels/motels to provide rooms for people with special needs; if the result of them being booked full and having a conflict is a human rights complain and fine, then they may be discouraged from providing that service.
This growing sense of entitlement in Canadian society is disturbing.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
New passport requirements come into effect
New rules came into effect Monday requiring anyone crossing the Canada-U.S. border to have a valid passport:
Both countries used to boast about sharing "the longest, undefended border in the world." It's still largely unsecured (if the electronic listening posts, night-vision security cameras and unmanned drones flying surveillance missions are not counted). But an import changeover took place yesterday: Canada became just another country to the Americans, Canadians just another group of pesky foreigners. The special treatment we afforded one for the other is gone.
Surprisingly, former U.S. President George W. Bush had no idea the new regulations were put into place. "I'll be frank with you Frank, I don't know about the passport issue," said Bush at a recent appearance in Toronto. "I thought we were making good progress on using a driver's licence to cross the border. What happened to the E-Z card?" In fact, neither of the last two occupants of the White House were aware of the changes:
What makes this change doubly disturbing is that while it has been Canada's number one trans-border issue of this decade, the requirement to show a passport has gone largely unnoticed in Washington, at least at the highest levels. Speaking Friday to an audience of over 5,000 in Toronto, both immediate past presidents -- George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- professed to be unaware of the new passport requirements. Since this change was first announced in 2004, each of our ambassadors to Washington and each of Washington's envoys in Ottawa has insisted that "high-level lobbying efforts" were ongoing in both nations to resolve any possible impediments to cross-border travel.
Bush was in power when the regulations were drafted, but I don't blame him for being unaware of the changes. Presidents are notoriously busy and this one has the IQ of a monkey. I do, however, blame the two prime ministers who have been in power since 2004. It was their responsibility to raise the issue with the president, but they apparently failed in this regard.
Canada and the U.S. have historically had a "special" relationship and I see no reason why this should end. The new rules treat Canadians as if they come from some sort of banana republic that's crawling with terrorists. Canadians should find this offencive. The truth is that Canada is a western country with reasonably high standards when it comes to immigration, border security, and law enforcement. We also came to the Americans defence after 9/11 by providing active support in the war in Afghanistan, yet they still treat us as a security threat.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insists the Canadian and Mexican borders should be treated the same. However, with the number of Mexicans that cross illegally into the U.S. every year, it would seem more likely that terrorists would choose to use that border instead of ours.
The fact of the matter is that both Canada and the U.S. have homegrown terrorists. The 9/11 hijackers all entered the U.S. legally and they did not come from Canada. It is common to cite the 2000 millennium attack plots as a reason to strengthen the border, but Ahmed Ressam was apprehended at the border under the old rules. Way to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
Making it harder to cross into the U.S. from Canada makes about as much sense as putting guards on interstate borders. We should be working on bilateral efforts to increase the security of the continent as a whole, while simultaneously decreasing the barriers to free trade and free movement within North America. Unfortunately, we're going in the opposite direction. This move is sure to have economic consequences for both countries at a time when the economic activity generated by tourism and cross-border trade is badly needed.
(Photo courtesy Arnold C/Wikipedia)
Monday, November 10, 2008
(Video) Tourism Montreal advertisement is pretty ritzy
While I was busy looking up more news stories about Proposition 8 in California--the proposition that banned gay marriage again after the California Supreme Court permitted it--I chanced upon gaywired.com. The website has a story about Roman Catholics joining with Mormons in defending the passage of Proposition 8.
But what caught my eye was an advertisement video in the top-right corner.
The advertisement is an official advert from Tourisme Montreal. Here's a YouTube of the surprisingly, uhm, "forward" (cheeky? brazen?) ad:
According to The Gazette:
A humorous 45-second viral video that clearly suggests a brief but intense bout of gay daytime sex between two male calèche drivers on a major Old Montreal street has attracted more than 4,200 views on YouTube - and a single e-mailed complaint calling it "inappropriate," according to the tourism-promotion agency behind it.
The English-language ad, shot on Notre Dame St. East and titled "Dave does Montréal," is part of an innovative Internet-based advertising campaign with a $50,000 budget launched Oct. 20 by Tourisme Montréal and expected to last one month.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Ric Dolphin Writes Again
Although loath to use another of those horrible words concocted by the geeks who, sadly, have inherited the world, there seems to be no avoiding it. I now have a "blog" which I shall endeavor to update at least every Monday and which you are
invited to visit at, ricdolphin.com
Be aware that, unlike when I wrote for Western Standard magazine, I am not being censored for language. I am also not specifically writing about politics, although the subject may be broached on occasion. Be assured, however, that I shall never use "blog" as a verb.
Posted by Ric Dolphin on July 9, 2008 in Aboriginal Issues, American History, Books, Canadian Conservative Politics, Canadian History, Canadian Politics, Canadian Provincial Politics, Crime, Current Affairs, Film, Humour, International Affairs, International Politics, Media, Military, Municipal Politics, Religion, Science, Television, Trade, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Western Standard, WS Radio, WStv | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Monday, March 31, 2008
If you ever wonder how a Marxist/Socialist workers' paradise could look like then you gotta either take a look at Cuba or in this case North Korea. North Korea and Cuba are the "Workers' Paradises" where people are kept poor, basic freedoms are absent and the masses are ruled by an iron fist and live in a strict police state.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
The not-so-friendly skies...
A massive police probe is underway at ultra-secure Pearson airport after a .22-calibre handgun and bullets were found in the washroom of a secure area.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
UN Climate Summit
All of those climate summits and meetings are super important. So super important, for the planet, that we can ignore the rampant irony-deficiency amongst the participants.
What's so ironic? According to this Bloomberg story, all those environmentally conscious activists and bureaucrats flying in to Bali, Indonesia for the most recent round of UN handwringing over the state of the environment, will generate as many emissions as 20,000 cars.
Said Artur Runge-Metzger, head of climate strategy for the European Commission: "It's very hard for the public to understand that you come together with so many people to a very distant place and cause a lot of emissions, and at the same time talk about emission reductions.'' Of course, he mentions that he had offset his own emissions.
Hard to understand for the public? No, we understand. It's about echelons. All the envirocrats are above the rest of us, you see. It's you and I, fellow enviro-prole, who have to reduce our emissions, and hide our contraband incandescent light bulbs, and recycle, and ride bicycles in the snow, and so on. The enviroisie, meanwhile, is exempt because they mean well. They have good intentions. They really, really care.
Like Al Gore. He gets to have a swell mansion that consumes as much electricity in one month as an average American home consumes in a whole year. And he gets to put out a movie that tells the rest of us to consume less electricity and drive around less and not have a private jet. Like Gore's jet. Echelons.
What can people like you and I do? We might buy some carbon credits for the bureaucrats at the Climate Summit. You might also want to buy some credits for Nobel Prize winner Al Gore while you're at it. (I needn't mention this, of course, but he did not receive the prize for economics.)
Then again, maybe you'd prefer buying some carbon debits. Yes, you read that right: debits. Irked by Gore? Pay a company to chop down some trees (or do it yourself. See N.B.). In their own words:
"We are on a mission to take away every one of Al Gore's meaningless carbon credits by simply providing carbon debits. Help us make this dream a reality by purchasing one of the packages below. Don't let Al Gore assuage his guilt with meaningless penance, heap it back on with carbon debits – every one of which we will let him know about."
(N.B. I'm not encouraging anyone to purchase carbon debits. Especially not the US$4,995.95 "Premium Carbon Debit Vacation Package" which will net you airfare to Arizona from anywhere in the continental U.S., a whole day of carbon debiting using some sort of monster machine that converts trees into chips at a rate of 100 trees per day, an "I took away your carbon credits" plaque mailed to Al Gore, a t-shirt, and some other perks. Like wood chips for your hamster cage, I'm sure. Because that would be heresy to Gaia.)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Say one thing, do another
How serious are Canadians when it comes to reducing their ecological footprint? Judging by the traffic at Canadian airports last month, not very.
StatsCan reports today that take-offs and landings increased a whopping 9.2% in July compared to the same month last year. That's a lot of extra carbon emissions from citizens of a country where global warming is supposedly such a pressing issue.
Although I personally know one retired biology teacher who, before flying to Borneo earlier this year, paid an outfit $70 for some carbon offsets, I sincerely doubt that any more than a handful of Canadians are doing likewise.
A conclusion: Canadians pay lip service to the great green god when the pollster calls, but are not willing to change their personal habits to solve a problem that is still theoretical.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
My Own Country
I've learned a lot by travelling around the world. It's enhanced my view of the world and its people. It has also taught me things you can't learn by reading thousands of pages of articles or books. Right now, I'm travelling in the States and you can certainly follow me through my weblog.
I did also write a long blog entry on how some immigrants perceive their new North American countries through two personal experiences that I recently had here in the States and in Canada.
The fact that many of these people have chosen freely to come to either Canada or America, really means that you'd also expect them to be more Canadian or American than the average native citizens when it comes to choosing between their old homelands and their new ones. Basically, it is this: You chose freely to come here so you ought to identify yourself with the new country and stop claiming to be the citizen of your previous country. You can read my entry here.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Back from a short trip to Europe and I've written a summarized conclusion of what I saw and heard there. There are great lessons in Europe for North America and we should not repeat their mistakes.
Europe is the sad example of letting "Liberals" running the place for far too long. Let's not follow their path...
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Travelling across Europe
I'm travelling in Europe these days and if you like, you can follow me at The Spirit of man weblog. I'll try to put pictures, give commentary on the state of affairs in western Europe and above all it is a great experience to get to know the world.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Trip to Ottawa
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Hard to Love
"Perhaps Iran's greatest tragedy is that it has become so hard to love"
A quote from the book "Poets & Pahlevans" by Marcello Di Cintio of Calgary, Alberta, talking about the urge among majority of Iranian youths to leave Iran due to economic or political pressures.
It's a good read for those Canadians who really want to know more about what is going on inside a country where people have lost their hope to live and love, yet they use every available opportunity to stay in touch with the civilized world. And it's also an important read for those Canadians who tend to ignore the suffering of other people.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Iranians Love America
Although written by a Liberal scholar from Chicago, the article has lots of great things about Iranian people's love and affection for America:
Iranians don't hate America. On the contrary, many of them envy Americans to an unrealistic degree and think of the US as a paradise, a land where no problems exist.
I personally disagree with some parts of it about the Iranians defending the Islamic regime in case of a foreign attack to liberate Iran, but you can definitely find positive things in the article too. It is a must read for those who want to know more about what is going on in a country where the next conflict may take place in a very near future.
Also an excellent interview with Iranian student leader on how to topple the Mullahs regime
Thursday, November 23, 2006
The Western Standard website may be blocked in China by meddling government officials censoring the Internet, but that doesn't stop our people from winning contests there. WS senior writer Terry O'Neill traveled to China in August, and reports that he has received notice that a photo of a bride and groom (posted here) he took while on his journey has won third prize in the Beijing--An Olympic City contest. He receives about $200, a certificate, and the photo will go on display in Beijing. Congrats, Terry.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I am about to leave Orange county for Los Angeles and before doing so, I'd like to tell you about the people I came across in San Francisco. People who hate their own government and even have no desire of working for, what they call it, their oppressive country. One thing you notice in cities like San Francisco, Bay area and other left wing cities, is the people's hatred for their own selves and the sense of self-victimization among the so-called intellectuals. You know, they feel the world hates the US and its people and it is their fault that the universe hates them.
It's just amazing to see people who were lucky enough to be born and raised in the US but hate the very country that has given them freedom to hate this or that.
Many people told me that president Bush wants to hurt Iran and when I told them no, he doesn't wish to do so and he is an honorable man, many started yelling at me or asking me if I live in this planet. I asked them would it be okay for you guys to see people of Europe under the rule of Nazis or Iraqis being tortured or killed under the rule of Saddam and all I heard in response was that Bush lied, we invaded a country that never hurt us and the most funny thing they told me was that they need to see more evidence of Nazis crimes or Saddam's crimes against their own people to be able to justify crimes of the US in other countries. To them, America is the world's biggest oppressor since the US is oppressing Cubans, Mexicans, Iraqis, Iranians and even Europeans. To them, Sept. 11th terrorist attacks could be an inside job and the US is fighting the terrorism for more oil and natural resources. They are for illegal immigration from Latin America to the US. They are for appeasing the Mullahs of Iran and little dictator of North Korea. These people don't understand what a weak US means and when I told them that a less strong US won't be able to stand against the communist China or Islamic militants, they seemed not to care. They have been raised in such a safe and free country that they can't fathom what real oppression means or does.
These people's mentality is sick. I have no doubt about it. They hate themselves to a point where they can't see others at all. It was incredible to see how they dislike every thing about themselves.
They couldn't understand when I kept telling them most of the world's hatred for the US is based on jealousy and historical animosity but they were really unable to comprehend it. It's really unfortunate that these people have closed their eyes on reality and live in their miserable land of dreams in which they have no sense of honor and understanding.
Cross-posted @ The Spirit of Man
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Visiting the US
I am in the United States right now, blogging from my little cozy hotel room in Washington DC.
I am posting more as I travel through the US within the next few days and you may want to read my first experience in the US on my weblog.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
From Key West to Central Florida . . .
I know, I know . . . "Key West." But it's on the list for what, I think, Christie Blatchford calls WASP tourism -- southernmost point in the continental United States, etc. And the food was pretty good, too.
I dined on a restaurant patio fronting the main street of Old Key West when I saw it. A t-shirt worn by a 50-something, owlish looking gentleman that read: "Buck Fush." Funny guy.What gets me is that if a conservative were to wear something so sophomoric, he would be called on it. Yet this is what passes for "legitimate political commentary" (TM) among the left. Ugh. Driving north toward Central Florida, I saw a roadside sign in Florida ranch country that read: "God bless George and Jeb Bush." There is more than one Florida. There's the Florida of those who have been the beneficiaries of generations of hard work directed toward building the infrastructure of education, roads and causeways, and the freedom to enjoy these things. And then there's the Florida that pays for it with their hard-earned tax dollars. You guess among which crowd the t-shirt and the sign belong.
For more "Florida wrap-up," go to Burkean Canuck . . .
Saturday, February 11, 2006
On "the Beach" -- Miami Beach, that is
With apologies to Foghorn Leghorn. The South Beach is like a boneyard for 1930s Art Deco architecture -- especially, apartment buildings -- except that they are very much alive, mostly reincarnated as high-end, boutique hotels with ground-floor restaurants. The streetscapes are lively and the streets themselves are like parking lots that occasionally jolt along the cars. Tonight, there was a parade of Harleys -- hard to miss -- up the strip, and down the strip.
Found a "Cuban music" club -- made the mistake of asking for "a Latin jazz club." Seems Cuban is a musical genre all its own. Those Cuban men and women know how to dance . . . and dress! Fulgencio Batista can't have been all bad -- any regime that is capable of supporting a musical culture that produces Cuban jazz must have had SOMETHING going for it. And it surely was better than what succeeded it. (Rent Buena Vista Social Club, "if you care").
Litmus test: Have you been -- or would you ever go -- to Cuba while Fidel Castro is dictator, er, President of Cuba?
Friday, February 10, 2006
In "the other Naples" -- on the Gulf
Note to self: Do NOT take a 6:30 a.m. flight that requires rising at 3:00 a.m. to catch a shuttle after taking phone calls till midnight.
Flew into Fort Lauderdale on a plane that must have seated practically every senior citizen from north Toronto. We pulled away from the flightway and were cleared for take-off, but five minutes later we were called back so they could rebalance the load of luggage. The captain of the plane instructed the flight attendants to prepare for arrival . . . in Toronto!
Sorted out some luggage issues in the Lauderdale airport and edited one last piece for Friday publication before grabbing a car rental. Then, off to Naples on "Alligator Alley," er, I-75 bopping to "The Mix" on satellite. To pull into Naples is to realize how great the disparity between American and Canadian standards of living has grown . . . it's not just a gap, it's a chasm. The cars, the homes, the yachts -- and the sheer critical mass of wealth. It's as though a whole whack of the American middle class took a quantum leap in net worth. When I first saw it, I was shocked. Now, I just shake my head.
And then, there's the Ritz-Carlton of Naples. A sign of a really good hotel is their ability to make anybody willing to pay the price of a night (whether full or discounted) feel at home. It's that old WASP ethic of hospitality at its best that dictates making people feel at home -- not intimidated or the object of condescension. (They may consider themselves superior, but true WASPs never show it, even if they do).
Spending a day on the water's edge, watching the huge dredgers gulp up sand to be used in grooming the beaches, with all that bleached-out skin seeking a respite from even a mild winter in the north, it makes one wonder about exit strategies . . .
P.S.: If you must be, there are worse places to pass an afternoon than the Ritz-Carlton cabana bar when you've been stood up! :-)
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Please obey the seatbelt sign
According to Pravada, "Russian scientists design an aerospace passenger plane, capable of flying at the speed of 30,000 km/h". The headline claims "Spaceflight from Moscow to New York to take less than an hour." That's around 7480 km (4650 miles), just about the same distance from Montreal to Istanbul (4,789 miles). Hey Terry, wouldn't it be fun to follow a campaign in one of these fancy new aerospaceplanes? Vancouver to Gander in 15 minutes!
Monday, August 15, 2005
New For 2006
Options: Air, Cruise, Semtex*.
Monday, July 18, 2005
When Will P.E.I. offer subsidies to Air Canada?
Air Canada is upset that the gubmnt of PEI has offered subsidies to WestJet and Northwest to provide service to Charlottetown from Trono and Detroit, respectively.
"Despite numerous discussions and meetings with PEI officials, including the Premier, over the past few months, we were unable to come to an agreement that would have levelled the playing field and enabled Air Canada to maintain its year-round service between Charlottetown and Toronto," Air Canada spokeswoman Laura Cooke said.
Now that the gubmnt of PEI has begun subsidizing WestJet and Northwest, Air Canada wants to belly up to trough, too. I don't much blame them, especially since the provincial gubmnt is subsidizing their direct and indirect competition. Too bad the gubmnt of PEI didn't use some basic economics before offering the subsidies.
The likely outcome is the after negotiations, PEI will also offer subsidies to Air Canada. It could, of course, withdraw the subsidies from WestJet and Northwest.... [fat chance].
Friday, June 24, 2005
The New York Times had an interesting piece, yesterday -- okay, okay, sometimes I read the Old Grey Lady . . . it was free, alright? -- on the lengths to which people are going to avoid being held up going through the post-9/11 security regime between check-in and boarding their planes. The gist of Eric Wilson's piece (E1) of the title I've quoted in the header to this post is that passengers are going without belts, wearing flip-flops, donning draw-string pants, and so on -- all to avoid lighting up the metal detectors or to be exempted from any additional screening.
When I first started flying, I quickly learned to follow the example of experienced flyers who dressed well enough to be presentable in the airport lounge but casually enough to be comfortable and to keep from raising red flags with customs agents for additional checks. The post-9/11 security regimen has streamlined since those early days after 9/11 -- chemical contamination checks, now, of lap-tops instead of "power checks" (Would you please turn on your lap-top, sir?) -- but having to undo one's belt and shed shoes? I know, I know -- it's all for our safety, and some people think there's no humiliation that cannot be endured in the name of security.
Um, I can take the lap-top and carry-on inspections. I can bear up under the belt and shoe checks. But I've gotta say it: Toronto's Pearson airport must hire some of the most obnoxious gate security staff anywhere! They're not just occasionally awful, they're consistently and unfailingly so. It doesn't happen like this in any other major or not-so-major airport I've been through in Canada, nor does it happen like this in O'Hare, LAX, Atlanta, DFW, Salt Lake, and Dulles or Reagan. I haven't been to either of the New York metro airports, recently, so I defer to others' experience of those.
So, why the
hassle in Toronto? Does world-class city have to mean world-class . . .
well, you fill it in as you see fit.
(Cross-posted to Burkean Canuck).
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Careers In Canada
Monday, January 17, 2005
Just what the flying public has been clamouring for - a 308 ton excuse for losing your luggage.
Though - no one has yet tried to actually fly the thing. There's a remote chance that Airbus has invested $10.7 billion developing the worlds largest taxi.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
The Bessborough Hotel, Saskatoon, SK. at about 9:15am Jan.5
And the Broadway Bridge.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Photos From Libya
A comment on Michael Totten's photographs from his trip to Libya. "What does it say about a country when the Roman Ruins look to be in better shape than 'modern' Tripoli.?"
If you're on dial-up the page takes a long time to load, but it's worth the wait.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Times Online reports on efforts to solve Zimbabwe's food crisis :
The so-called Obesity Tourism Strategy was reported last week in The Herald, a government organ whose contents are approved by President Robert Mugabe's powerful information minister, Jonathan Moyo.
Pointing out that more than 1.2 billion people worldwide are officially deemed to be overweight, the article exhorted Zimbabweans to "tap this potential".
"Tourists can provide labour for farms in the hope of shedding weight while enjoying the tourism experience," it said, adding that Americans spent $6 billion a year on "useless" dieting aids.
"Tour organisers may promote this programme internationally and bring in tourists, while agriculturalists can employ the tourists as free farm labour. "
"The tourists can then top it all by flaunting their slim bodies on a sun-downer cruise on the Zambezi or surveying the majestic Great Zimbabwe ruins."
I can't believe Scott Ott hasn't thought of this.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Saskatchewan Puts Out The Not Welcome Mat
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Alberta, Everyone's Favourite Destination
Dean Esmay makes an interesting point about world population, and population density. To illustrate his argument, he moves everyone on the planet to Alberta.
Living in Saskatchewan, I have no problem imagining how this would look.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Air Canada Emergency Plans
Canadian Defense Minister David Pratt admitted late Wednesday evening that they military has been caught off guard by the possible failure of last minute negotiations to rescue Air Canada from liquidation.
"Without the agreement of the Canadian Auto Workers, the possibility of the airline ceasing operations is very high. If that happens, there will be a lot of planes stranded up there. We're going to have to find a way to bring them all down.
Pratt admits this is problematic, as the aging Sea King helicopters are not equipped to fly at the altitudes of commercial jet liners. If pilots can bring their planes down a few thousand feet before the deadline arrives, the heavy duty helicopters may be able to pull some of the smaller ones in to local airports. A high-ranking defense official admitted that military jets are unsuitable for heavy duty, but was quick to point out that though "military cargo planes don't generally serve as tow vehicles", they can be quickly outfitted with rescue equipment "in a pinch".
"It's not every day we are called on to pull planes as large as 747's back down to the ground, but we've got the best training in the world. Canadians should not be concerned. We won't leave anyone up there."
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Upon arriving from an international destination, one must then take a shuttle bus to reach the World's Most Expensive Collection Of Air. There is a long tunnel for most of the route under the runways. Most. Upon emerging, buses must still stop to allow planes to pass.
As we surveyed the vast emptiness and extravagence of the white cavern, employees outnumbering passengers, I remarked to another traveller that Toronto might take a breather from trying to be "world class" and aspire, for a change, to be world smart.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
In Kate's not so secret life she is an artist and her gorgeous photos are hardly the work of an "amateur photographer". In my secret life I can't draw a recognizable cat - as my three year old delights in pojnting out - and these really are just digital snapshots.
I think, though, that Kate has a really good idea. Perhaps Kevin you might want to set up a side page for photos of Canada and anything else which catches Shotgunners' fancy. Type pad has a very cool little thumbnailing option which would mean we could post thumbnails to the mainblog leading to the larger photos.
Sasatchewan - Opportunities Missed
I do a lot of travelling by road, and being a shortcut enthusiast, I see backcountry Saskatchewan that most people don't. It's unfortunate that most who transverse the province do so on the TransCanada or Yellowhead. Neither are very entertaining.
Yesterday I took a few pics on a secondary highway that zigzags between Asquith and Maymont. There are larger versions at my own blog.
|"Main street", Arelee, Sk.|
|View from the Maymont Bridge approach.|
As an amateur photographer, it's difficult to drive the 50 or so miles of this route without stopping every few minutes for shots. I often wonder why Sask tourism hasn't exploited these out of the way routes for what they are - promoting "one tank trip" tours could bring a little badly needed revenue to tiny communities.