Archive for the 'Canada' Category



Golden Olympics

Logo of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games

A week before the start to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, I had the temerity to wonder whether the experience would be fun for the city and its visitors. At the time, there were few tell-tales to be seen on the city streets. Now the games are concluded and I have absolutely no difficulty declaring them a resounding success.

VANOC put on a superb show, not only for the world’s best winter athletes but for Vancouver as well. The experience was inclusive, inspirational, and delightful. Much has been made, and will continue to be made, of the economic costs and benefits that go into hosting an Olympic Games. That accounting will play-out in the years to come and the ultimate judgment cannot be predicted with any certainty, one way or the other. But only the most Grinch-like observer, pushing an ulterior agenda, could say that these games were anything but marvelous.

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No Fun Olympics?

Rain-Soaked Olympic Rings in Vancouver

Last summer, in the face of the fabulously successful Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, I raised the question: Could India host an impressive Olympics? With the Winter Games now a scant two weeks away, that same question must be asked of Vancouver. Though I write this from my Vancouver home, I cannot say that I have a clue what the answer might be.

I assume than the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) has the infrastructure and logistical matters well taken care of. I’m sure the events will go-off in decent venues, visitors will find themselves well accommodated and transported, and that they’ll even overcome the snow shortage occasioned by the rotten luck of an Olympic year El Niño in the Pacific. But will it be any fun?

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Care

Face painting at the Vancouver Art Gallery during a Fuse event, October 2009

While America ties itself in knots in a farcical debate whether it will make health care available to all its citizens, here in Canada I am enrolled in the provincial Medical Service Plan, which covers all my basic health needs: emergent, urgent, preventative, and elective care. It costs $48 per month. Paperwork? My doctor’s office simply swipes my Care Card when I arrive, hands it back to me, and we’re done. Ask a Canadian what a deductible or co-pay is; they’ll just look at you with a blank stare.

And lucky thing I’m covered. Just look at that gash on my forehead!

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America Dreaming Small

american dream

What’s in it for me?

That’s the way Americans debate health care, just as it is the way we debate everything these days. What will it cost me? What will be my options? What will be the effect on my taxes? This is not an entirely absurd or venal approach. Self-interest is an appropriate prism through which to evaluate public policy. But this narrowness and solipsism illustrates the way in which America has personalized, and thereby stunted, what used to be called the American Dream.

The American Dream represented the idea that the United States was a place where any person could accede to whatever life their talent, ambition, and diligence would allow. It was about universal, common opportunity. Today, it is about my opportunities. It is the notion that I can succeed, I can acquire; and it’s every dog for themselves.

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Riding the Rails

All Aboard

All aboard!

I love train journeys. In India, where I reside half of each year, I make long-distance rail trips whenever I’m not pressed for time, generally snoozing-away most of the miles from a top berth in a second class bogey. I’d never traveled long distance by train in North America, however, until this week. On Thursday night, Yoo-Mi and I boarded Amtrak’s Coast Starlight Express at Oakland’s Jack London Station and headed north to Seattle, from which we’d jump the border to Vancouver on a connecting bus.

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Vancouver International Fireworks Competition

Vancouver International Foreworks Competition

Each summer, Vancouver hosts what they call the Celebration of Light, International Fireworks Competition, in which teams from three countries (this year: Canada, USA, and China) ignite the sky on four different nights over two weeks. Last night, Team Canada fired the opening salvo.

As always, we wandered down to the beach to watch from across the bay and snap a few photos.

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Salmonberry Jam and Other Acts of Domesticity

Salmonberries, Rubus spectabilis

Summer has been slow to reach the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and the natives have been getting restless. While we are sweating our asses off in India all winter, they are slogging through cold, grey, short days. The folks here seem relived and excited, in equal measure, that the cloudless skies of summer finally seem to have arrived.

My major disappointment about the unseasonably cold June is that the blackberries, which grow in such profusion here, will be slow to ripen. Fortunately, the fabulous salmonberry is now ripe for the plucking.

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Nightfall on English Bay

Downtown Vancouver from Across English Bay at Night

We had no camera with us as we slipped onto the water under a cloudless twilight, still pink in the west toward Vancouver Island and intensifying to a midnight blue over the city. The photo above, like the one at the foot of this post, was taken more than an hour after our moonlit paddle had concluded — after the kayaks were carried back to the house and the boats, our gear, and we had been properly showered. Only then did I return to the beach to capture what remained of the drama of the nightscape; and by then its crystalline perfection had melted to a lovely, if less breathtaking softness. The glassy surface of the water had become pocked by the slightest whisper of wind and a gauzy haze obscured the late-rising moon in the east. So you’ll just have to close your eyes and imagine.

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Yet Another Reason Vancouver Rocks

Arriving at the Public Dock at Granville Island

This afternoon, under cool, grey skies, Yoo-Mi and Ellen rolled out the driveway on bicycle; and I launched a sea kayak from the beach in front of the house. Roughly an hour later, we rendezvoused on the dock at Granville Island, and began combing the aisleways of the Public Market for the makings of dinner.

Not a bad way to “run to the store.”

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And You Think America Has Problems

CBC Hockey Night in Canada Logo

Sure, America is facing international isolation, an economic recession, a declining dollar, a crumbling infrastructure, incessant constitutional crises, a military stretched too thin to advance its objectives or act as a deterrent to the whims of rogue states, and Hillary Clinton. But that ain’t shit compared to what’s hitting the fan in Canada!

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation looks to be abandoning the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada, after declining to pay the license fee demanded by the copyright holder. Canadians are duly outraged.

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Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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