R.I.P. Colin Dexter

March 21, 2017

It is with sadness I read this morning of the death of Colin Dexter, one of the true masters of the English crime novel. He was 88.

His 13 novels about Inspector Morse are erudite studies of murder, police work, and the particular lifestyle of Oxford and its colleges. They spawned three TV series — Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour — that were (and still are) hugely popular.  Morse had a passion for beer, Wagner, and difficult crosswords — not unlike the author, I suspect.  For me, Morse shares an intellectual heaven with P.D. James’ equally literate Adam Dalgleish: both authors pushed the genre into true literature.

From the several obits I have read, Colin Dexter seems to have been a jolly fellow, well liked by all who knew him. He will be missed.


Getting Heated

March 15, 2017

We just got our second Hydro bill of the winter — and it was just as high as the first one!

I reckon the everloving and I could put five dollar bills on the end of short sticks and set them alight over and over again, hunkered around the tiny flames for warmth all month, for less expense than Hydro charges.

The $5.5 billion dollar debt forced on BC Hydro by the Province, which they use as their own private bank, combined with really expensive and really dumb decisions, like Site C and the vast overpayments for private power, are really biting now.


The Dumbest Idea In The World

March 10, 2017

Close-up of a clock showing the words "Time For Change". Shallow depth of field.

Tomorrow night is that ridiculous twice-annual nonsense of changing the clocks — something we are obliged to do just so the powers-that-be can see us scramble to do something completely inane and stupid and pointless just because we have been told to do so. It is the one time of year when living in Saskatchewan makes perfect sense. When they make me God, there will be no more of this malarkey, believe you me!

This idiocy also shows that I am barely connected to the Internet of Things. The computers, the telephone, and the TV cable box all have the times switched automatically by central systems. But my coffee maker, stove, bedside clock, the battery clock on the wall, and even my swanky Bose radio all have to be re-set manually.

Who has time for all this?


Why Supply Is Clearly NOT The Problem

March 10, 2017

Early last year I wrote a piece about how the City of Vancouver is approving about twice the number of housing units that we need to manage our population growth.  Now we have the latest population statistics from Stats Can and we can check my arguments against reality.

Between 2011 and 2015, the City of Vancouver population grew by 27,984 people.

Even today, with all the sociological changes in the way we live, most of us still do not live alone (who can afford it?) — we live in households, traditional or otherwise. Households here average a little over 2 people. That means that we grew by approximately 13,000 households. This figure represents the genuine need for new housing.

According to the CoV’s own figures, we approved 25,341 housing units in that same period — or about twice the number we actually needed to meet the growth in households. The development industry has tried to tell us that household size has fallen and so the need is greater. However, the Census figures do not agree with them.

These latest figures confirm that we are building for greed not need, and may go some way to explaining why we have 25,000 vacant properties in the city.

 


Cabrito — A Review

March 2, 2017

Last night, the ever-loving and I joined some friends at dinner at Cabrito restaurant at 2270 Commercial. It has been open about a year and this was our first visit.

It is a small space, although that is now typical on the Drive – a standard 25′ store frontage running to the back of the building. A lot of the available area is taken up with a bar (?) along the north wall which was not used at all while we were there.  That means the maximum number of patrons is about thirty (if you all breath in at once) seated mostly at communal tables. The decor is bright and Spanish; I liked the feel of it.

Most of the dishes are served as tapas. However, that wasn’t clear to any of us until the waitress explained that each of our choices might be smaller than we expected, and perhaps we should order more, which we did after more time spent with the menu. Maybe we should have known, but we didn’t.

We ordered beet salad, chicken Basquaise, a burger, a chorizo hot dog, Brussels sprouts, and the lamb. It was almost enough for the four of us.  The white beet salad was tremendous and, arriving first, kept us in happy anticipation for the balance. The chorizo was also excellent, and the sprouts were good.  The chicken had an interesting earthy flavour that wasn’t bad, but I got bored with it quite quickly. The burger was full sized, but came without any sides. I didn’t try it, but our friends thought it was “OK”. The lamb came as three very small chops and was overcooked, though the sauce was very pleasant.

So, the food was moderately all right. However, the various dishes arrived with great time gaps between them. The burger arrived last, perhaps 20 minutes or more after the beet salad. Tapas is sharing food, and it becomes difficult when there is only one dish at a time. The waitress was cheery, but that didn’t help the food come in any better order. And $25 a head without any drinks also takes it out of the cheap eats category.

Finally, it was very busy. The noise level was high enough when we arrived and somehow became even louder as the evening progressed.

I am afraid this place isn’t going to make it to our list of favourite and regular haunts. The Zomato rating site gives it 3 out of 5 which sounds about right.

 


Oscars Schmoscars!

March 1, 2017

It is hard to express in words just how bored and angry I am with the fuss over the ending of the Oscars. Bored perhaps isn’t the word; disgusted is better.

Someone handed someone a wrong card; the mistake was noticed and corrected immediately; no-one died, no-one was injured, no-one lost money. It was a boring error ending four hours of different boredom that has led to literally thousands of hours of television around the world and seemingly endless columns of print. I bet that compared to the famine in Sudan, say, or the latest atrocities in Syria, this dumbass envelope has received 1,000 times the coverage or more.

A great many people have wasted a great deal of time, energy, and resources on something that is absolutely meaningless. And that shows what a screwed-up celebrity-obsessed world we live in where such resources can be wasted on such trivia while Canadian First Nations and Flint Michiganders (let alone those in the less developed world) don’t even have real water to drink.

Bread and circuses.


Changes On The Drive #67

March 1, 2017

It was a typical February/March day this morning; cool and grey — pretty good for walking!  There were very few changes this month.

South of First, there were no changes that I could see, except that The Drive Smoke Shop at 2064 is now open.

2277 (1 month), 2240 (19 months), 1801 (1 month), 1740 (5 months), and 1735 Commercial (1 month) are all still vacant.

1706 Commercial is also still vacant (3 months) with the Bubble Tea shop still not yet open. Around the corner at 1706 E. 1st, that too is vacant as the cupcake store has not yet re-opened there.

North of First, in Il Mercato Mall, the former Strawberry Bakery site is still vacant after 26 months. There are still offices for rent upstairs, too.

Nothing much has changed at 1608, the Libra Room. The place is still papered over and the Opening Soon signs are still there, but the fact is it has been closed now for 7 months.  However, upstairs, some of the apartments look like they are now tenanted.  The Roma at 1510 is also still closed, after 4 months, with Opening Soon signs garlanding the windows but no other signs of life.

The Charlatan bar at 1447 Commercial is closed, too, but this is for renovations and they will be back open “in the spring”.

Across the street, there is a lot of activity. The former Bikes On the Drive double storefront at 1376 (vacant 2 months) is being completely rebuilt inside.

bikes

So too is the Pagoda at 1408: after sitting idle for 7 months, workman are hammering away inside and I saw new appliances being delivered today — a hopeful sign.

The small store next to Renzo’s Cafe at 1303 Commercial is vacant (5 months).

Having only opened in August, the ramen restaurant at 1179 is closed once again, but signs are hopeful they will “open soon” (seems to be this month’s refrain!)

The REACH rebuild in the 1100-block is moving ahead steadily. They had the back lane closed off this morning for some heavy-duty work.

reach

At the northern end of the Drive, 1104 (34 months), 952 (6 months), and 902 Commercial (22 months) are all still vacant. With regard to 1104, I called the agent and he tells me they are looking for $4,000 a month for that tiny store. When I suggested that might be why it had been vacant so long, he gave me the telephone equivalent of a shrug.

Finally — after all these vacant notices — I want to say that at least five businesses have “Help Wanted” signs in their windows which must be good news.

 

Previous Changes on the Drive editions are here.