Monday, November 09, 2009

Armed robbery with a screwdriver

Last Friday, someone held up the government liquor store by threatening the clerk with a screwdriver.


Several years ago a series of holdups victimized clerks in convenience stores ("convenience" in the Canadian sense --- you can't get any beer there) and gas stations.  That perpetrator was also armed with a screwdriver.

It didn't take me very long to figure out that if I was working nights in the 7-Eleven or the PetroCan station I'd totally  want to have a Black & Decker power drill under the counter.  But I guess that's just because I am an American, and prone to over reacting to the "need to do something --- anything --- in my own defense.  (Or "defence" as they say here.)

This is what happens in a kinder, gentler country where people are horrified at the notion of owning handguns: You have teenagers in touques (say "tewks") brandishing screwdrivers, holding up night shift clerks for a carton of smokes and a packet of fried pork rinds.

The local SpokesMountie at the time said that there just weren't enough Mounties to have much hope of catching the guy, but after the video tapes aired on the local news, the kid turned himself in.

Oh. Canada.  It takes some getting used to.

This time, the Mounties were in pursuit, even bringing the K9 unit.  Unfortunately, Constable Fraser and Diefenbaker were busy, and the guy got away.

No word if the bad guy was using a Robertson screwdriver.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Play ball, eh?

Yesterday there were three ball games on TV, all of them divisional playoffs for major league teams trying to get to the World Series.  I watched the Cardinals - Dodgers matchup.

In the US, the game was carried by TBS, but up here, Rogers Sportsnet takes the TBS coverage and drops in their own commercials and their own game updates.  So during the 7th inning stretch, they go to the studio for an update...on the hockey.

It takes some getting used to.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Go 9ers, eh?

So I'm here in Canada on a Saturday night, watching a pre-season football game.  It's my beloved San Francisco 49ers playing at home.  They are playing the Oakland Raiders, and I am watching the game on KTLA - TV out of Los Angeles on our digital cable.  It takes some getting used to.

I'm thinking, "Wow, this is kind of weird." And then, who should show up for the Raiders at quarterback but Jeff Garcia!  Former 49er, yes. But also --- and this closes the circle --- former Calgary Stampeder.

Garcia didn't disappoint: he went right out there and threw an interception on third and long.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I feel like a real Canadian now!

I was working my way through my first cup of coffee and my RSS feeds this morning when I came upon this article:

CNET story

And I thought to myself, "How did the Inuit manage to hold off Microsoft?"

In fairness to me, I HAD just finished reading a curling feed that mentioned Paul Gross, and "Due South" is one of my favo(u)rite shows. But wow. "Inuit" instead of "Intuit" --- It takes some getting used to.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Was He Thinking?

An article on the CBC website informs us that Canada hired two public relations guys to represent Canada's interests to the United States.

"While this isn't the first time Canada has hired lobbyists to launch an American media campaign, it's the first time the government is being open and transparent about it, [PMO spokesperson, Kory] Teneycke said, though he refused to discuss how much the lobbyists will be paid or how long they will be retained."

This is what passes for openness and transparency in Stephen Harper's Conservative government. It takes some getting used to.

The story actually gets better.

It turns out that the publicity flaks the Canadians hired are Mike McCurry, former White House Press Secretary for President Clinton, and, of all people, Ari Fleischer, who played the same part for President George W. Bush. Fleisher, apparently, "helped organize interviews" during Prime Minister Harper's visit to the US last month. I guess two of those were his own and McCurry's job interviews.

The vitriolic comments following the story are about what you'd expect:
  • Harper and the Conservatives are in bed with the Americans, and Canada is about to become the 51st (and 52nd, and 53rd, and 54th, and 55th, and 56th, and 57th and 58th, and 59th, and 60th) state(s). (Personally, I think you have to be either an American living in Canada or a Canadian living in the US to understand why that's so funny.)
  • Ari Fleisher is a big, fat liar
  • Mike McCurry is a big, fat idiot for believing that Bill Clinton "...did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski."
  • Americans are big, fat idiots, period.
Well, Canadians, who would you rather have representing Canada to Americans? Maybe Rick Mercer? Be careful what you wish for.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's the economy, stupid.

The local community internet site had this report today:

This is the thing about Canada.  You just don't have people running around with handguns like at home, so now that times are really getting tough, we have people holding up Subways with a screwdriver.  It takes some getting used to.

And no, we don't have an underground train here in Kelowna.  They mean the Subway sandwich shop.

The local reaction to this is to compose Letters to the Editor, complaining about people who are not just exactly like the letter-writers, and complaining that the RCMP is too busy using radar on the side of the road to stop robberies in shops.

Tell you what.  If I was working alone in a Subway, a gas station, a convenience store, or anyplace that had cash on hand, the next guy that came in with a screw driver better rob me before I can get to the cordless drill I would keep stashed under the counter.

A screwdriver, for crying out loud.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Canadian Kitty or American Kitty?

There's some kind of rule here that allows Canadian television stations to take over an American TV station if they are broadcasting the same program.  So even though I tune the cable box to the Fox station out of Spokane, suddenly I am watching "24" on the Global channel, with ads for Tim Hortons.  It takes some getting used to.

Last night, I wanted to watch "Life" on NBC.  But Global hijacked the station, and showed the first half hour of a dreadful show called "Lie To Me" before showing the last half hour of "Life" just as if nothing happened.  Well, I guess they tried their hardest, so it's ok.

So here is this, courtesy of another American Girl in Canada.  Thanks, Brittney!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Finally, a decent burrito in Canada

In Canada, people go out for "Chinese Smorg." It takes some getting used to.

Finally, in Vancouver, I found Adobo Burrito, two blocks from the hotel.

finally a decent burrito in Canada
They have a big sandwich board outside that says "Mex Burrito." Everything is fresh, and you can see them cooking the chicken and "meat" on spits. I'll even forgive the kid who works there for asking me what kind of "wrap" I would like, that's how good this burrito is.
Eat there or take away. Cheap, filling, fresh, hot. This is the the only decent burrito I've had since the last time I was back home and went to La Cumbre.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blogging from Vancouver, BC

We are in Vancouver, BC live blogging the 2009 World Wheelchair Curling Championship. The event goes for eight days, and we got here a day early just to make sure everything (high speed internet, press credentials, hotel room) was ready.

"It's good to be back in a real city," I told myself the first day as I walked to the nearest Starbucks.

view from the hotel window

It's a city, for sure, with noise and traffic and places to eat that stay open after 9:00PM. But "real" might be overstating it. I have lived in real cities, and I have traveled to real cities, and my experience has been that in real cities, people live to get things done. In contrast, here in laid back Vancouver, people live expecting that things simply can't be done, so when they are not done, well then uh oh. The motto of Vancouver should be "It's not my fault. So."

It takes some getting used to.

Here in Vancouver, population 580,000, they are preparing to host the Olympic and the Paralympic Games in 2010. The streets are torn up, there is construction everywhere, and there are several new buildings for the games. You can't pick up a newspaper or watch a tv newscast or look at an online portal anywhere in BC without being bombarded with stories about the facilities being finished on time.

Unless, apparently, you are a Vancouver Taxi driver.

We have taken a cab every day to the new Olympic/Paralympic Centre. Every day, we have had to direct the cab driver, except on the second day, when the same driver as the first day showed up at the hotel.

Ok, fine. That's not the problem. The problem is that when we try to get a cab back to the hotel, it's a giant negotiation with the Vancouver Taxi dispatcher, because they can't find this address on their maps. And they just don't seem to give a damn about fixing that.

There's a world championship event going on. The place is full of Handi-DARTs and wheelchair users. We need a wheelchair accessible taxi, and we will need one every night at about the same time. "Could you let your dispatcher know where this is? We'll need a cab every night about this time."

We either get a grunt in return, or a card with the cab company's phone number, or both. Talking to the dispatcher is like talking to the wall.

I've never been in a city of any size where this was normal.

In Chicago ("The City That Gets Things Done"), the drivers were not only required to know where everything was, they took great pride in it. In San Francisco ("The City That Knows How"), if you needed to know where ANYTHING was, you just needed to ask a cabbie. (And by anything, I mean a good Italian restaurant that's not touristy, where you could get breakfast in the middle of the night, and what the baseball scores were. Anything.)

Even in Atlanta ("The City Too Busy To Hate"), even in the runup to the 1996 Olympics, cabbies knew where the new facilities were, how much they cost, and what used to be there.

But not here in Vancouver. Here in Vancouver, the VANOC representative is amazed that the American wheelchair curlers brought their own shower benches, and that they are so self-sufficient. "Of course they brought their own stuff, they're not expecting to wait around until someone provides them with something," I did not say out loud.

Vancouver's motto is "By sea land and air we prosper"

Just not by taxi.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another bunch of bleeding hearts

It seems that Canada is an attractive destination for former Guantanamo Bay detainees. According to this story:

Many Guantanamo Bay detainees cleared of terrorist charges and slated for release have expressed a desire to live in Canada, and refugee organizations are calling for sponsors.
Canadians think of themselves as tolerant, and they think Canada is racism-free, especially in contrast to the United States. I hear this often. I also heard a guy yell, "Run like you're carrying a watermelon!" while watching a football game on tv in the curling club lounge. It takes some getting used to.

When I started this post a few minutes ago, there were 244 comments on this story. Now there are 255. And despite the popularity of the CBC Television show Little Mosque on the Prairie ("Small town Canada with a little Muslim twist"), many of those commenting do not like the idea. The entertaining part is watching them complain about "terrorists" AND about Americans. Here's one:
Another bunch of bleeding hearts coming to the rescue of "presumed terrorists at some time anyhow". Of course people they are not going to say they are possibly still terrorists simply because they want to get rid of them!!! Especially, the Americans who have been critized to high heavens about that place, what a nice gesture from them to let them come to Canada with all our social programs. Probably they will land in Toronto and help our deficit get even higher? Only a few you say? Dream on, they will get all their families with the great great grand-parents and the 90 or so relatives from each family come here, go on welfare, get Medicare, some will be sick, etc, and you are saying you still want to sponsor them? Get your heads examined, now.
Well the radio call in shows should be pretty interesting for the next little while.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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