Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Calgary city council has voted to ban smoking in public buildings... mostly starting in January of 2007. Bars and restaurants that had already established separate ventilated smoking rooms will still be allowed to let people smoke in them until January of 2008. A huge step in the right direction for Calgary!

Friday, July 21, 2006

I have caved in an ordered pizza tonight. My apartment is stifling and the Safeway seems oh-so-far away. I have coupons from the Entertainment book, so I am getting 2-for-1, which is a pretty sweet deal. I will not have to plan meals all weekend now.

I always thought the Entertainment book was called that because the coupons are typically for restaurants and entertainment venues. Since I have been together with Joan, I have discovered an alternate reason for the title: the entertainment that comes from saving piles of money.

I had owned Entertainment books in the past and found that each year I was desperately trying to use enough coupons to justify the expense. With Joan it is like a game. We see how many great restaurants we can eat at and save. And we have saved piles. We have dined at some of the finest restaurants in both Calgary and Vancouver and paid little more than we would have if we went to Denny’s (not that there is anything wrong with Denny’s).

So a big thanks to the folk at the Entertainment book for taking care of dinner tonight, and a big thanks to Joan for teaching me the proper way of using the book. It is just one more item in the long list of reasons I love her so much.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

As you probably know, I have been spending quite a bit of time these past few months on the other side of the Rocky Mountains with Joan in Vancouver. There are many things that I love about Vancouver, in fact I could write an entire blog on the things I like about Vancouver, but there is one thing in particular that I want to talk about tonight.

Over the past month, between the World Cup and the Stampede, Joan and I have spent our fair share of time in bars, restaurants and clubs in both Calgary and Vancouver. We have enjoyed ourselves in both places, but here in Calgary our enjoyment always comes at the price of putting up with other people’s cigarette smoke. In Vancouver, smoking has been banned for years now in all workplaces, including bars and clubs.

Just yesterday, I saw on the news that Calgary city council will be debating moving a proposed smoking ban for this city up from January 2008 to January 2007. Bar owners are complaining that it will affect their bottom lines and that they will be forced out of business. I cannot believe that in this day and age, with so much evidence to the contrary, that city alderman give these concerns any consideration.

I remember when you used to walk into Tim Horton’s and be greeted by a wall of smoke. Everyone went to Tim’s for a coffee and a smoke it would seem. I don’t recall if it was legislation or a corporate decision that prompted the donut chain to go smoke-free many years ago, but I can tell you that despite the fact that you aren’t allowed to smoke there anymore, the lineups at Tim Horton’s are as long as ever.

In my hometown of Wolfville, and in my new favorite city, Vancouver, bars are full despite the fact that nobody can smoke inside. Bar owners in these, and just about every other city where bans have been implemented, expressed the same concerns as those here in Calgary. Years later, bars continue to thrive. People have not stopped going out just because they aren’t able to smoke at bars. Smokers in these cities dutifully go outside to smoke, and allow us to enjoy ourselves without needlessly risking our health.

For those who feel that bars are justified in their fears of losing revenues, there is something else that should be considered, that is the human cost of second hand smoke. A few months ago, the CBC reported the death of Heather Crowe, a long-time waitress who died of lung cancer despite having never smoked in her life. It is sad that bar owners would be so worried about losing a few dollars when their own employees are literally risking their lives to work at their establishments.

I sincerely hope that Calgary’s city councilors do take this opportunity to do the right thing and move the ban up. In fact, it would be nice if they would make it effective immediately. I cannot tell you how much better it is to be able to go out for a night on the town and not come home smelling like you have been fighting fires for hours. It is time for Calgary to follow the lead of so many other cities and make bars and restaurants safer for everybody.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

World Cup Update:



The Italians have won the World Cup!!!!! The teams were tied 1:1 after 120 minutes, so the game was decided by penalty kicks. Overall the game was not as exciting as the German semi-final, but the result was certainly not disappointing. It would have been sweet to be with Joan for this victory as well, and hopefully next time around I will be.

The crowd in Calgary was a little more subdued during the game than the people at Cafe Roma, but they are still parading up and down the "Red Mile" as I write this entry, undeterred by the torrential downpour that has started since the end of the game.

I am so glad that I have been able to enjoy this World Cup, and especially glad that Joan's team won! Hopefully they don't have to wait 12 years for another chance!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Today was the opening day of the “greatest outdoor show on earth,” the Calgary Stampede. I live a few short blocks from the grounds, and you can feel the excitement in the air here and throughout the city.

My first stampede experience was in 1988 when my family was in Calgary for the meeting of the Canadian Baptist Federation. I don’t think we made it to the grounds, but I do recall experiencing a few stampede breakfasts. The most prominent memory is seeing pancakes with strips of bacon baked into them for the first time.

The first summer I lived here, 1999, I watched the parade on television in my apartment. At night I could see the spotlights at Cowboys piercing the night sky, and I could hear the fireworks that closed the grandstand show every night. Despite the buzz in the city around the stampede, it would be a few years before I ventured to the grounds.

Once I started working downtown, stampede breakfasts, lunches and soirees became quite common for me. Finally, after years of being in the city, I decided to venture to the grounds with a few friends. The plan was to see the band Collective Soul, who were playing the Coca-Cola stage that year. After paying our gate admission and setting foot on the sacred grounds for the first time ever, my friends and I were severely disappointed to discover that we were one night off, and instead of being treated to the new rock stylings of Collective Soul, we were instead going to spend an evening with the more geriatric stylings of Chilliwak (the only song I recognized was “been gone, gone, gone so long, long, long…). This disappointment was quickly erased by a few rounds of Caesars, and we ended up having a good time despite the band.

Last year I took it one step further and checked myself into Nashville North on a Friday afternoon. This time it was with a crew from the office, and we even had the line-up right! We all had such a ball being entertained by the likes of Shania Twin and Aaron Lines while consuming more Budweiser than any human should in a lifetime. It was a fun night and I will always remember the good times with good friends.

I am beginning to realize that this is what the stampede is all about. In the beginning, I was an outsider and like many, I thought the stampede was “redneck” and garish. Over the years I have discovered that all the breakfasts, the rodeo, the people dressed as cowboys, everything about the stampede is about real people having real fun together. It is 10 days where everyone can relax and live the country lifestyle.

This year Joan will be coming into town for the last half of the stampede and we will be enjoying the experience together. Every year I have gone, I have taken it one step further, and this year will be no exception. In addition to evenings at Nashville North and the Coca-Cola stage, I will be taking in the grandstand show for the first time ever. This year, I am looking forward to more good fun, more happy memories, and if I’m really lucky, mastering the two-step with Joan.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

World Cup Update:



Joan and I just got back from our second trip to the Cafe Roma this weekend. Once again we were not disappointed as Italy triumphed in a close-fought game. In the final minute of extra time, Grosso, an Italian defender, scored on the Germans, endings Germany's hopes of advancing to the finals. Italy added one more before the end of the game to seal the deal. The crowd was insane again at the cafe, and once again spilled onto the street, stopping traffic for the celebration. This time Joan and I were prepared, and a took a few pictures to share with you all!

The most beautiful Italian fan in the crowd :)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

World Cup Update:


Yesterday Joan and I went to see the Italy game at the renowned Italian World Cup viewing venue, Cafe Roma on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. We were there with a few hundred other Italian fans and a handful of brave Ukranians. It was sunny and hot outside, and even hotter inside. The Italian team did not disappoint, scoring only 6 minutes into the game. After that they never looked back. The keeper made a few amazings stops, and the strikers added 2 more goals to the tally before the end of the game. The mood in the cafe was jubilant to say the least, and after the game the crowd spilled out onto Commercial Drive, shutting the street down for a few hours. We joined the crowds for some time, and then drove around Vancouver for hours waving Joan's Italian flag from the car. Tuesday Italy plays Germany in what should be one of the most exciting games of the World Cup so far. We will join the crowds at the Cafe Roma once again, and hope for another successful match!