Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Tree Cam is (probably) live!

I think we finally wrestled all the technical issues to the ground.  Here’s our 14th Christmas Tree Cam.

Watch live streaming video from christmastreecam at

You’ll mostly see the tree, sometimes Sandy Dog, and every so often Cate or Eric.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stop the Presses

Former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chr├ętien is quoted as having said, “Canada is like a big canoe…”.
Canadian Voyageurs, Walking a Canoe Up a Rapid - Currier & Ives, c1860 
Canadian Voyageurs, Walking a Canoe Up a Rapid - Currier & Ives, c1860
I have come to realize that in fact Canada is like a small town.
Canadians make fun of Americans who say things like, “You’re from Canada!  Do you know my friend George?  He’s from Canada!”  Yet more than once I’ve sat in the curling club and heard someone discover that the guy she lived next door to in some tiny town in northern Ontario 35 years ago has a son who is married to her best friend’s niece in Vancouver.

It takes some getting used to.

Canada is really like a small town when it comes to the CBC, the national subsidized English-language broadcast network.  (My French is not good enough to know if that is also true for the French-language network.)

It must have been a slow news day indeed when someone at the CBC in Saskatchewan decided to put a story about a Saskatoon man stuck for five hours in a hole into the Canada-wide RSS feed for the CBC news website.
A rescue crew carries a man out on a stretcher after extricating him from a hole at a construction site.  (CBC) 
A rescue crew carries a man out on a stretcher after extricating him from a hole at a
construction site.

In some of the laziest reporting I have ever seen, two stories on the website and a video do not give the man’s name, do not say how he got into the hole in the first place, and do not press the local police on what they mean when they say it was "not believed to be accidental."

As is often true of stories on the CBC website, the best part is the Comments.  Although we don’t often see Godwin’s Law demonstrated by the posters on CBC forums, sarcasm abounds.  One comment reads:

My condolences go out to the family and friends of the hole in these difficult times.
So close.. after digging all that way from China, to get stuck at the end..
In that apocryphal story about the canoe, when everyone concentrates on doing his own job to the best of his ability, the canoe glides swiftly on the water --- no matter how troubled.  So thanks, CBC, for a job well done.  You’ve provided valuable insight into the Canadian Identity, if not into the identity of this man in particular.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Take Me Out To the Ball Game

Kelowna Falcons Logo

The Kelowna Falcons play ball here.  The team is part of the West Coast League

Most of the players are American kids who play for NCAA schools during the school year.  Some of these kids go on to sign with MLB Teams.

I love going to the Falcons home games.  It’s the only place I can hear the National Anthem in public.   

This is minor league ball.  I refer not only to the standard of play, but to the atmosphere as well.  The Falcons owners have done an outstanding job of securing sponsors for little events that go on during the games.  The PizzaWay pizza eating contest is always a hoot. So it the TD tire roll-off. There are base races and cup-of-water races.  The bat spin is sometimes more exciting than the game itself.  It takes some getting used to.

All the home games are broadcast by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guy called Ryan Watters.  The games are live on the Falcons home page and on AM1150.  Because I’m 57, it makes more sense to me to take a transistor radio to the ball park than an iPhone to listen to the game.  But people here don’t seem to get that part of the experience of the ballgame is listening to the home team announcer, so I also bring an earphone.

Of course, the games are on an AM station, the radio is mono, and plugging in a “regular” set of ear buds means sound in just the left ear.  I got tired of the right ear bud dangling and getting in my beer, so I went into The Source looking for a cheap mono ear bud.

The Source used to be RadioShack in Canada, and then it was known as The Source by Circuit City.  Now it’s not even that, it’s just The Source.  To give you an idea, one of my customers went to The Source to get a replacement CMOS battery for his computer.  The battery cost $6.99 CAD and they offered him an extended warranty for an additional $1.07 CAD.

I only go there for things that I need and can’t get anyplace else, like a really cheap mono ear bud.  I found one in there for $4.99 and took it to the counter.

The young lady at the register (or “till” as they say here), picked up the item, looked it over and said, “What are you going to do with this?”

I tried to explain to this maybe-20-year-old that I need to plug it in to my mono transistor radio so I can listen to an AM station while I am at the ballgame.

Blank stare.

She didn’t get “mono” or “transistor” or “AM station” and I am pretty sure she didn’t get “ballgame” either.  (She did, of course, want to sell me an extended warranty.)

The entire baseball experience is underappreciated by most people in Kelowna, it seems to me.  If your only knowledge of baseball comes from watching a couple of ex-Blue Jays do the commentary on Canadian cable TV, maybe it’s hard to relate to watching minor league baseball live while listening to a decent play-by-play man.  Maybe trying to bring baseball to Kelowna, in Canada, is like trying to bring hockey to San Jose, in California… Hang on a minute.

An evening at the ball park is a great evening, win or lose.  Thank you to the Nonis family for bringing quality baseball to Kelowna, and keeping it here, against all odds, for ten years.