Night Sounds – the Owl

podcast available

Hardly a frightening sound, but I thought with Halloween around the corner, I’d share my local owl with you.

One of the great things about living on the Ravine is the wildlife. Just last week we had a black bear completely trash the composter, and most nights the local owl wakes me up around 2am as it hoots its way through the night.

Pop this on the MP3 player, turn on LOOP, and patch it through the stereo for a nice little Halloween touch.

Owl is here

Brushes with Great Small Business

In any given week we all deal with small business. As a small business owner myself, I know the joys and the pressures that come with running your own business.

So, when I encounter exceptional service and dedication, I can’t help but jump with joy.

I had 2 such encounters in the last couple of weeks.

western imperial magnetics

Western Imperial Magnetics.
I had a last minute request from a client for a very specific media product that is rarely in demand anymore. Calls all over town resulted in ‘sorry’ answers from everyone. A sales rep at a local audio store suggested I try Western Imperial Magnetics.

Between rushing to meetings and juggling a busy day I got on the cell and found someone who listened to my request and came up with a brilliant response: SURE we can help.

What I needed, she explained, would required a custom assembly. The type of cassette tapes my client needed just aren’t stocked anymore. The time was 11am. I told Sue I was up against some tough deadlines to meet the courier, and she said she’d do the best she could.

Sue’s best was above and beyond. Within 7 hours, I had the tapes in hand, delivered to my home that evening. I couldn’t believe it.

second wave board shop

Second Wave – Surf, Snow, Skate.
These guys are the best. Last year, after picking up a used Burton snowboard for my 7 year old, I had to get some Burton plates for his existing bindings. Everywhere I went I hit a dead-end, and one service rep at a big sports store suggested I’d have to pay 20 or 30 dollars to get some. Another guy suggested Second Wave on Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver. Within seconds of arriving, I had the Burton plates in hand, including new screws and a few kind words of advice. Total cost, 2 bucks.

I’ve been in a few time since just to window shop, and everyone in the store is awesome. (I’m an old guy don’t forget) Most time when I go into a board shop I get the ‘look’. You know, like how did gramps wander in here ? Not at Second Wave.

This weekend we popped in again. Looking to take advantage of last year models, I got a too-good-to-resist deal on a Nitro board. They’re full of helpful advice, great attitude, and clearly love what they do. They’ll even wax my board all season, free of charge.

These guys have my business for life.

Jim Lynch and The Highest Tide

podcast available
One of the things we’re doing at At Large Media is custom podcast production. One of the companies we’re working with is Raincoast Books based in Vancouver.

Last week we produced a podcast with author Jim Lynch. He’s written a wonderful novel called The Highest Tide, which has been getting great reviews.

The Highest Tide tells the story of thirteen-year-old Miles O’Malley who lives on Puget Sound and knows everything there is to know about the sea and its creatures. When he becomes the first person to sight a live giant squid he is hailed as some sort of prophet. The media descend and everyone wants to hear what Miles has to say. But Miles is just a self-described “increasingly horny, speed-reading thirteen-year-old insomniac” who navigates the mysterious world of adults as the strange events continue over the summer, culminating in the highest tide in 100 years.

Jim was in Vancouver for the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival. I met him at Granville Island where he was staying, and we headed down to the water to create the podcast.

Our podcast productions are all broadcast quality and done ‘on location’. I carry one jam packed gear bag with the latest integrated chip recorders and a variety of mics. Part of our philosophy is to go to where the person is, rather than force them into a foreign environment like a studio. We sat out by the water and Jim talked about the book, his background as a journalist, and what inspired him to tell this story.

You can hear an excerpt here. I’ll post the link to the full podcast once it’s released.

Meter Reader Redux

Back on the 1st of October I blogged about a letter I got from my local natural gas company, Terasen.

I was ticked off because of a form letter I got regarding the meter reader having trouble getting to the meter.

Friday, Oct 14th, I got a call from a person who manages the meter readers. Apparently someone at Terasen gas saw the blog, which prompted Friday’s phone call.

The short story is that they plan to change their ‘form letter’ to include contact information, and there will be a revisit to my house to look into the meter reading ‘problem’.

It is true the meter is hidden behind this tree:

meter behind this tree

So, anyone trying to get to the meter by going to the left side of the tree is going to have problems. But the right side provides easy access.

go this way, not that way

here's the meter

I must say I’m totally impressed with the follow up – we’ll see what happens when the meter reader returns. I suggested he/she let me know when they are coming and we can both have a look.

Since everyone I’ve solicited in my informal focus group ( my kids, my neighbours and even passers-by) have been able to read the meter, I’m sure it won’t be a problem for a professional to do the same.

When Did It Become the 70's Again ?

Time to bust out my old bell bottoms. Better yet, maybe I should be finding that old rawhide choker I used to wear (ugh, please no).

As I awoke to news of yet another strike, I broke into a cold sweat. Why?

Because this is what the mid 70’s was all about. Everywhere you went in Canada there was a strike or lockout or some kind of labour unrest.

Fuelled by a totally different economic environment, Canada introduced Wage and Price Controls in 1975. I’m hardly a student of history, I just happen to be there at the time, a cub reporter no less, chasing stories in Calgary.

Most of you probably have no idea what things were like in 1975. You are forgiven. But just so you realize how utterly frightening this really is, let me remind you of something.

In 1975, the top 10 songs of the year were, in order:

1. Captain and Tennille – Love Will Keep Us Together
2. Silver Convention – Fly, Robin, Fly
3. Elton John – Island Girl
4. Dawn – He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)
5. Neil Sedaka – Bad Blood
6. Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy
7. David Bowie – Fame*
8. Elton John – Philadelphia Freedom
9. The Bee Gees – Jive Talkin’
10. KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s the Way (I Like It).

Now, if that isn’t enough to scare anyone into submission, I don’t know what is.

Please, we can’t live through 1975 again.

Please Please Please.

Besides, I looked like this in 1975:

robert in 1975

Need I say more ?

* I make an exception for David Bowie. He actually has a blog.

Trim My Rates and I'll Trim My Hedge

Here in BC, Terasen Gas plans on hiking our rates again this month, this time by 13.3%.

I don’t usually jump up and down about this kind of thing, I’m pretty much resigned to the notion that if the price of natural gas goes up, Terasen will pass those costs on to me as quickly as possible.

But in the mail came this ridiculous form letter, and now I’m ticked.

terasen letter

I wouldn’t be ticked if my bushes/shrubs/trees were in fact making it difficult for anyone to read the meter. The fact of the matter is, there is a spruce tree beside my house, and you can only get to the meter by going to the east of the tree, since the branches on the west side are thick. But dude – if you can’t get around that way, did you think about going around the OTHER way ? Besides, the tree’s been there for 15 years and this is the first time Terasen’s had trouble finding it’s way to the east.

terasen map

The other thing that ticks me off is there is absolutely no contact information on this letter. There’s a number and email if I want to start reading my own meter, but no follow up contact for the offending bushes/shrubs/trees. This is just plain rude and annoying. The letter is signed “Terasen Gas”. Ok, so the company is writing to me now ? True, the letter is ‘Per: szd”. But who or what is that ? They were good enough to include their file name in the footer though, like that’s helpful.

terasen letter

In any event, I think I’ll just post the map up by the tree for the next time Terasen Gas comes by. Or, if Terasen Gas wants to trim my bill by 13.3 percent, I’d be happy to trim the tree.