RSS Catch Up

A few days off the grid and suddenly I’m a bit behind in my reading. In my case, that means RSS feeds. Five days in Tofino results in just a few articles to catch up on…
Ouch. Time to do some power skimming, that’s for sure.

Of the hundreds of feeds I subscribe to, the biggest output, not including wire services, was from a group of feeds at the International Herald Tribune.


Air Travel – 10 Bucks Goes a Long Way

I’m super impressed with WestJet. I wish they were paying me to say this, but they aren’t.


My two kids traveled on their own from Vancouver to Winnipeg to visit their cousins. They were treated like VIP’s on both legs, but you pretty much expect that (particularly since you’re paying extra for them to travel un-accompanied).

On the way back from Winnipeg, one of my guys left 10-dollars in cash in the seat pocket in front of him. He was pretty bummed hours after getting home when he remembered what he’d done.

Later that night, the phone rings, and it’s WestJet on the phone. They were calling to check to find out if we could identify the object left behind in the seat back pocket. Sure enough, they’d found the 10-dollar bill, and were calling to arrange to return it !

Unbelievably, their ads about pride of ownership seem to be true.

I’m now their biggest fan – way to go WestJet. Not only are you backing up your hype, you made a 12 year old very very happy.

Pandora Founder Asks for Help


Pandora is one of my favourite music site.applications. And it will be greatly affected by recent copyright tariff decisions in the US.

According to Read/Write Web, Pandora founder Tim Westergreen is asking for help from users, encouraging them to sign a petition in hopes of getting congress to do something to help…

Understand that we are fully supportive of paying royalties to the artists whose music we play, and have done so since our inception. As a former touring musician myself, I’m no stranger to the challenges facing working musicians. The issue we have with the recent ruling is that it puts the cost of streaming far out of the range of ANY webcaster’s business potential.

An appeal launched by NPR has already been turned down, and it looks like the new tariffs will go into effect as planned.

No Reprieve for Internet Radio Stateside


Looks like there’ll be no last minute call from the proverbial governor’s mansion – internet radio operators in the US will soon be facing big bills…

A panel of judges at the Copyright Royalty Board has denied a request from the NPR and a number of other webcasters to reconsider a March ruling that would force Internet radio services to pay crippling royalties. The panel’s ruling reaffirmed the original CRB decision in every respect, with the exception of how the royalties will be calculated. full story at Ars Technica

New Magazine for Vancouver

One of our clients has a new print magazine coming out and you can get a FREE subscription.

This city magazine is contemporary and sophisticated, but with a distinct difference:
everything has a focus on sustainable living.

Granville explores all the qualities we love about Vancouver and the West Coast,
while at the same time asking, how can we ensure that those qualities endure?

Every story brings sustainability to the foreground.

Canada Wide Media, the publishers, are offering a free 1 year subscription for a limited time only to select people.  And guess what – because you’re reading this article, you’re one of those people.

To sign up to get your free 1 year subscription just use this form on their web site. 

Joe's Hot Doc


I like the fact that people underestimate me. You know, they pat me on the head, then I rip their throat out. 
– Sam Sullivan in Citizen Sam

Vancouver’s Joe Moulins’ documentary on Vancouver’s mayor Sam Sullivan has been selected for this year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto. 

It’s showing Wednesday April 25th at 9:30 at the Al Green Theatre, and Saturday April 28th at the Bloor Theatre at 2 pm.  Tickets at 416-588-8DOC or visit the Hot Docs web site.

I first met Joe in the late 80s’ when he was still doing freelance radio pieces and I was producing an arts show for CBC Vancouver called Art Beat. 

Joe was one of those guys you could count on to bring pack a nicely formed item, always bringing in more than promised. Guys like him are a producers dream-come-true.

Joe’s created an amazing doc – it’s a wonderful story and captured in a way that will surprise you. 

Here a trailer at YouTube. Watch it and you’ll know why you have to see this doc.

If you’re in Toronto, make sure you see it at the festival. 

Put Dollar Signs Next to the Reply Button

In the early 90’s I was a professional yachting instructor and I worked for a charter company on Granville Island.

At the main sales desk, all the phones had big red Letraset dollar signs on the hand set, a reminder that every call was a potential sale.

It’s pretty simple. You can’t answer a potential customer’s questions if you don’t answer the phone.

Today, potential customers are more likely to send and email. It’s simple, it’s fast, and you can send the same inquiry to a number of different companies.

Incredibly, it seems that many companies are actually worse at getting back to those customers today than they were a few years ago.

An American consulting firm, Hornstein Associates does an annual survey of e-mail responsiveness. It shows a steady decline in customer response rates since 2002…

Hornstein’s research (and common sense) says that almost everyone sends an e-mail to a company at some point and that all of us expect a response within 24 hours. In 2007 only 33% of companies responded within 24 hours, down almost half from a high of 63% in 2002.

Remarkably, only 51% of the companies responded in any time period — down from 86% in 2002.

full story at

Vancouver Gets the Zipcar

Just by chance, while checking out the T-Rex, I saw a hybrid Toyota “Zipcar” parked on Burrard Street near 2nd Avenue.

I’d never heard of them, but after a quick check online, it turns out, Zipcar has moved into town…

Beginning today [April 5th], Zipcar will place 100 vehicles in many locations throughout the Downtown, Kitsilano, Fairview, Commercial Drive and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods of Vancouver. Zipcars industry-leading selection of 11 makes and models of vehicles in Vancouver will range from standard sedans to small SUV’s and luxury vehicles.

I really like the sound of this service – you can do everything online and by using a wireless key system, you simply walk up to the car, flash your Zipcar card, and you’re on your way. From their web site:

Reserve one of our hundreds of cars – for a couple hours or the entire day. Do it online or use a phone. We’re easy. Walk to the car, then just hold your Zipcard to the windshield. The doors will unlock, and it’s all yours. Drive away… and return to the same reserved parking spot at the end of your reservation. It’s that simple. And remember, gas and insurance are included too.

We live on the North Shore, so it isn’t too likely we’ll be able to take advantage of Zipcar since all their cars are downtown, the West End, or Kits. And we can actually rent for cheaper than the Zipcar daily rates, but that’s only because we don’t have to pay the rental insurance rates (thanks to ICBC’s Roadstar service). But I think this will be a great option for a lot of people.

So Zipcar – welcome to Lotus Land.

In the Pink

One of my mom’s aunts bought a new Cadillac ever year. It was her way of proving she was a city girl – strong, independent and in charge.

In the summer, she’d drive out to Manitoba from Montreal to visit her sister, my grandmother.

A shiny new Caddy showing up on dusty Red River Valley farm was a sight. My grandmother didn’t drive and she’d look disdainfully out the kitchen window at all that chrome and fins parked under the yard light. She’d never say it, but I knew what she was thinking, “useless for taking the lunch out to the men working in the fields”.

For us kids, it was a glimpse into another world. We’d circle the car like it was alive. From the kitchen we could hear my aunt’s exotic big city French, her sentences punctuated with bursts of laughter. We’d press our faces to the car window, marveling at the sights unseen, the world as viewed from those plush leather seats.

Later my aunt would come out and we’d pile in for a crazy drive down the line roads, windows wide open and the radio turned way up. My aunt would toss her head back and smile her city girl smile, as if to say “you don’t get one of these from shelling peas and canning peaches”.

Though they lived very different lives, when they were together, these two women would positively shine. My aunt was proud of her sister, proud of how she’d left the comforts of a wealthy home in Montreal to be a farm wife. Proud that she’d given birth to 14 children, all of them delivered upstairs in that very farmhouse.

And my grandmother gushed with admiration for her sister, a self-made woman, rich in fact, who was not afraid to spend her money on cars and travel and life. “Look” she’d say, “this is how we live in Montreal, this is what I came from”.

Those summer visits taught me volumes about family, choices, and values. Not in words, but in actions.

A Frog on the Skids

It’s terribly sad to see someone so successful fall so low.

Obviously there were signs.  In hindsight,  “It’s Not Easy Being Green” was a serious cry for help.

We knew him, but we didn’t know him.   Sad Kermit

Sad Kermit

Soon after the death of Jim Henson, Sad Kermit the Frog turned to a life full of drugs, alcohol and sex. His fall to rock-bottom was quick and unrelenting. These songs document Sad Kermit’s pain during these years…and years to come.

Sad Kermit‘s acoustic rendition of RadioHead’s Creep won’t leave a dry eye in the house.

Our thoughts are with you little green guy.