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Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday night: Chek off

Monday night, Victoria's oldest TV station will go dark. Chek-TV has been around for 53 years. It played host to decades of Ida Clarkson. Bruce Kirkpatrick's annoying slice-of-life profiles on cutesy stories. Worst of all: Gordie Tupper (or Tucker-- I don't care). Chek-Around was a show Tupper hosted for some time. How would get on that show? Usually, you'd pay. You'd call them and say you had something interesting to say: if your venture was commercial, they'd hand you a rate card. Pay up and you're interesting. This guy was reknowned for doing only one take: the producer or cameraman would ask to do a second shot or one for safety; confident Tupper would refuse. I was having really mixed feelings about the decline and fall of Chek-TV until last week: they had done a smarmy piece about their efforts to keep the station alive. For the last month, Chek-TV has done a lot of coverage of themselves. They broke from the news and went into ads. Gordie was huckstering some event. He hopped into a convertible car and drove down Dallas Road. The camera was in the backseat from the looks of it. Gordie was driving along with his head turned back to jabber at the camera while he was driving down the road. Who's idea was this? Why didn't anyone say "You can't do that!"-- it's because they're all drinking the same Kool-aid. They were all so disconnected from reality that having a moron drive with his head turned didn't raise any flags-- and no: this wasn't a case where the car on a trailer. Chek doesn't have that kind of a budget.
This disconnection from reality is what killed them. They cut back local programming and then wondered why people didn't watch the station for shows from the US. The station starved out its staff. While teeming with production people, most of them were part-time: always hungry for more hours-- always willing to jockey for favour. This starvation permeated through the whole station: newscasters would go through the nearby Wendy's drive-thru and their bank cards would bounce when they tried to buy a $6 meal. Which is worst: you don't know you're down to $6-; you're down to less than $6 and you can't brown bag it; or that you're forced to eat at Wendy's?

Several weeks ago, the staff came up with a great idea! They could buy the station-- just like the Harmac mill became employee owned. They forgot several things:
  • The Harmac mill deal took months to put together; and the mill had effectively folded up in the meantime.
  • The public has known that the future of Chek-TV were in doubt for almost a year. Maybe the staff knew it longer. They waited until the summer to begin to put an employee purchase plan together. Too late.
  • The transfer would be at the mercy of the Federal government-- the bureaucracy would tick through at its usual speed and take several months to resolve. While the deal churns, CanWest Global would still own the station and all the debt that came with its business-as-usual approach.
  • The Harmac mill closed when the industry hit bottom. It opened at the initial stages of demand rebound. Mass media has much farther to fall: the other CanWest artifact: the Times Colonist is circling the drain: knocked down by the Internet, Craigslist and internal rot.
I worked at CKDA and saw it circle the drain. We came up with ideas to give listeners something new and different. The station didn't go for it: in the battle between business-as-usual and taking a chance, they took the easy route. One of the owners would swirl into the station demand changes, flip out, fire people and then leave like a tsunami and its wake. If you kept your head down, you kept your job. What also did in CKDA was contra. Contra is basically barter. It's good for greasing the wheels, but when all you have is contra, you can't pay your bills with golf clubs.

After midnight, Victoria BC and Vancouver Island will go back to being a one TV station market. In the war of the mega-media, this is one element of the CanWest media conglomerate that is getting turfed from our region. To take back our media and local news delivery, shaking off CanWest is key. I will miss Chek-Six / Chek-TV / Chek / CH / CHTV, etc. but natural selection did it in.

After tonight, there will still be news sources you can use:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

VIHA and the Obvious

Here is the "latest" FAQ from VIHA:

What is the H1N1 flu (Swine Flu)?
The H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu) is a virus that causes respiratory disease in pigs. It may also make people sick. Symptoms are similar to the common flu and may include fever, cough, headache, general aches and fatigue. Some people have also reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In BC, patients with H1N1 flu have had symptoms similar to the seasonal flu.

How is the H1N1 flu spread?
The flu is caused by viruses, and is generally spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus in the cough/sneeze droplets can be passed to the next person by landing on them or on hard surfaces like counters and doorknobs, where it can be picked up on hands and transmitted to the respiratory system by touching the mouth and/or nose. This is why it is really important to wash your hands frequently.

What do I do if I think I am sick with the H1N1 flu?
Panic! If you have a fever or cough, regardless of whether you have traveled to areas known to have H1N1 Influenza, stay at home from work or school for at least seven days from the start of your symptoms. Limit contact with other people so you don’t infect them. Call HealthLink BC (phone number: 811) for information and advice.
See a health care provider only if your symptoms become worse. Call ahead before you go to a clinic or hospital to let them know you are coming in, and that you have a fever or cough.

What should I do if I’ve been in contact with someone who has the H1N1 flu?
Watch for symptoms, including fever and a new cough, for 10 days. If you’re not feeling sick, you do not need to see a doctor or take medications. If you begin to feel sick, follow the steps outlined above. Make sure to track the time and location of the contact. If you survive, remind them again and again that they gave you swine flu. Milk it.

Is there any treatment for H1N1 flu?
Generally, only people who have moderate to severe symptoms of the illness will receive treatment with medications such as Tamiflu. Severity of symptoms is determined through a medical assessment. It is also not necessary to test everyone even if there is a suspicion that they might have H1N1 Influenza.
If you do have a nasal swab taken, this will be sent to the laboratory in Vancouver. It generally takes 48 hours to receive your results, but this can take longer if the laboratory is dealing with a large number of swabs at the same time. If your results are positive, the BC Centre for Disease Control will notify your physician, who will notify you.

Do I need to wear a mask?
If you are not ill and you are not ugly, you do not need to wear a mask in public areas. If you have symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing), you will be asked to wear a mask in places such as doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics and emergency rooms. The mask should cover your mouth and nose, with the straps looped over your ears to hold the mask in place.

How do I stop the spread of the H1N1 flu?
• Stay at home when you’re sick or have flu symptoms.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze, then throw the tissue into the trash.
• If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm or sleeve.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after you cough or sneeze.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread that way.
• REALLY avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth of others, especially strangers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Launch Tubes Are Supposedly Not Cool

When I was a kid, I watched all sorts of crappy TV. At drama class, the kids talked about how much TV they used to watch in a week: "none", "two hours", "five hours". I sat there, doing math on my chubby fingers and said, "40-50 hours" Everyone's jaws dropped. Well, screw you, you wouldbe mimes and interpretive dance performers!

Of the many things that stuck with me was the crappy show, UFO. I used to get gunned when the team would get into their ships by lifting themselves into these tubes shooting themselves feet first into their launch vehicles. It was all a source of excitement: they're getting into tubes, they're going into vehicles-- it was awesome for a six-year old. I was floating home renovation ideas to the Wife. Because we have a peculiar shaped house, we have some odd dimensions to contend with. I suggested that have access from the proposed new workshop into the basement via "one of those launch tubes like in UFO." She didn't understand. That said, everyone likes the idea of the Bat pole for access from one part of the house to the other. You have to pick your battles.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The News-- Gone Horribly Wrong

I like these, the dialogue/editorial is NSFW, though:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Isn't Thrifty's Corny?

Back on Earth Day, Thrifty Foods announced it was discontinuing its use of plastic bags. It felt like greenwashing and I was skeptical. Plastic bags are made from petroleum by-products. They don't use oil-- they use the discards from the oil refining process. For the last couple years, plastic bags have been on par with devil worship or kitten juggling. Most people use plastic bags multiple times. While they are demonizing bags, SUVs are causing masses of pollution. All of the work re-road to accommodate traffic crippling and bicycles consumes massive amounts of asphalt made with (you guessed it), petroleum products. But let's pick on the plastic bags.
Thrifty's began selling durable plastic bags for less than $1 per. While the hated plastic bags occupy almost no volume and will eventually breakdown into general filth, these durable bags are built to last. Once they get into the landfill, they're going to be there, dotting the rubbish for years.
A few weeks ago, Thrifty's discontinued their plastic bags. They continued to offer paper bags which is a joke: they use 50 times more water per bag than plastic bag manufacturing and produce many more greenhouse gases than a plastic bag. To rub it in, with every purchase over $50, Thrifty's gives you a box of polyurethane garbage bags. What kind of message is that? We're discontinuing the practice of plastic bags but we're giving you a box of plastic bags? It's the Cleveland Steamer of customer incentives.
Last week, I was at the Red Barn market. They took my purchases and put them into a plastic bag. A WHAT? They used a plastic bag made from corn that decomposes and becomes organic fodder. Why didn't Thrifty's do this? Money. Thrifty Foods spent $600,000/year on plastic bags. Corn based bags cost approximately nine cents per bag. Plastic bags cost three cents per bag. They likely feared that tripling this budget item just to save the planet Earth was too much of a commitment. Thrifty's bet that they couldn't talk people into spending ten cents per bag so they went the other way. The upshot of the situation: no more lines at Thrifty's. Where before the beloved grocer had line-ups six customers deep at every register, now they have two customers per register or less. The aisles have a lot less bustle and day-old specials are easier to come by. If they surive this absence of customers, maybe Thrify's will take a more holistic view of their commitment to Green: abolish paper bags because of the envirnonmental damage they bring; stop pushing their environmentally intensive re-useable bags before the Hartland landfill looks like a sea of boxy duffle bags; and adopt corn-based bags like other local grocers.

Photoshoot Gone Awry

Photoshoot photo
Originally uploaded by dewolfe0001
We went to friend's birthday party on this secluded beach in Gordon Head. It was nice and it was hard to get to. We noticed a couple of people tinkering with photographic equipment. Later the guy set-up more elaborate equipment and the girl stripped down to a bikini. He started to take photos despite the number of families in our cluster. A short time later, a couple of surfer types showed up to skid around in the shallow waters. I thought, "Hey-- they shooting the cover for a porn video." I had other ideas that went through my head: "that guy doesn't have any film!" and "Geez-- I can't believe I got a girl to take her clothes off!" and "golly-- I thought no one would show up here,"
Twenty minutes later, a bunch of party monkeys showed up to drink and smoke up. One of them stripped off his top and and mugged for a photo with the girl in the bikini. Poor photographer dude: he totally pwned your vibe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Science World: Avoid It

Science World hit its pinnacle after the National Socialist Credit Party (aka the Liberal prequel) spawned Expo 86. Since then, the quaint 1980s interactive science exhibit has aged. Many of the exhibits are broken or non-functional. Now the Telus World of Science has become very expensive and largely run by volunteers of varying capacities. One of those volunteers humiliated a woman who was breastfeeding her child while her other child was playing in one of the functional exhibits. In response to the conduct of the volunteer (who is getting paid what he is worth), Science World has rewritten its orientation policy for volunteer staff members. The volunteer told her that breastfeeding her newborn baby on site was "immoral." I love the idea of calling breastfeeding immoral. I'm sure this spastic either feels dirty when he pees; or feels shame at what his mother laughingly called his "nub."
The irony of this incident is still to come: breastfeeding activists are planning a Feed-In in the coming days to protest. The women will pay over $20 a head to draw attention to the conduct of one pathetic moron; and give the ailing tourist trap a financial shot in the arm.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chubby Man Thrown out of Tim Horton's : Film at 11

Last night I was at the Tim Horton's in Esquimalt. All Tim Horton's are refuges of the damned: deep fried dough, black bile that a double-double can never fix, and some of the stupidest people alive behind the till. No? I can't how many times I ordered a tea with sugar only to receive a double-double coffee. Little Esquimalt has two Timmy's:
Little Timmy's: where drug addicts shoot up, so they have to lock the bathrooms and close early.
Big Timmy's: where people go to sober up after the Carlton Club. The local hero is a Doug: a pimp who recruits girls from the popular smoking side of the donut shop.
My friend loves Timmy's coffee. I think it's swill. While I continue to go there to allow him to get his coffee, we now depart and go to Serious Coffee or settle for a Starbucks so that I can get coffee. Last night we did this and travelled around town. Later, my friend wanted another Timmy's. We went back to the Sarlac pit in Esquimalt. I bought my friend a coffee. The place was almost empty: two girls, a man having coffee with one of the staff, two scabby women behind the counter and a lanky moron. I had my delicious Serious Coffee in my hand while ordered the coffee for my friend and handed it to him. My friend was saying something to one of the girls. The lanky chimp called to the me, "EXCUSE ME SIR! YOU HAVE TO COVER UP THAT CONTAINER OR LEAVE." Seriously? There was no one there to see that there was an alternative the shitty Tim Horton's coffee. I replied that I was happy to leave and that I could understand that they don't people to see that there is "an alternative to your shitty coffee." In the universe at that moment there were people saving lives, experiencing joy or making a productive contribution to the world. The moron in a black polyester shirt was using his time on this precious Earth to preserve the branding of Tim's Horton's in the eyes of three customers-- two of whom had their backs turned to the cash register. Bravo, moron. Bravo.

Mmmm... Timmy's....

The Amazing Diet-Ray!

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
I like using them to sell my miracle "Diet-Ray": I put Minnie in a box. Then I huckster to the yokels. I heft Max around and say that with my Diet-Ray I can restore his youth and lower his weight. Then I put him in the box with Minne, turn on the Diet-Ray and lift out Minnie to the amazement of the crowds.

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