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Papier-mâché critters can’t replace missing raccoons and skunks

Even this egg-cellent alley-gator can't make up for the missing skunks and raccoons.

Even this egg-cellent alley-gator can’t make up for the missing urban wildlife.

Today (August 28) in a back alley just northeast of 12th Avenue and Yukon Street, I encountered some critters that were not squirrels.

They weren’t dogs or cats either (well, one of them was sort of a dog) but most importantly, none of them were squirrels.

Some sort of papier-mâché can-ine.

Some sort of papier-mâché can-ine.

Actually the trio of seagull, alligator and puppy, which I saw nestled in a bunch of ivy atop a masonry wall, were fashioned variously from cans, boxes, egg crates, paper, Styrofoam, glue, feathers and paint.

A sightly foul-looking shore bird.

A sightly foul-looking shore bird.

Being largely made of papier-mâché, as they were, these creatures weren’t even animals per se but all the same, I have to say, they made a nice change of pace from you-know-what. Read more…

Rumours of bombs and VPD with assault rifles surround my storage locker

An assault rifle-toting VPD officer guards my locker at Guardian Storage.

An assault rifle-toting VPD officer guards my locker at Guardian Storage.

I’ve known something was potentially up with my storage locker since late Tuesday afternoon, when a binner told me that Vancouver Police had cordoned-off the alley-side entrance to the East Vancouver building where my locker is located. I immediately emailed the storage locker company but no reply was forthcoming.

So at 11:10 a.m. today (August 24) I found myself standing on one side of a yellow caution tape barrier and yelling at a Vancouver Police officer who was standing on the other side and cradling a rather dangerous-looking assault rifle.

The officer yelled back that no, he couldn’t say what was happening with my storage locker. A media release would be issued soon, he shouted at me politely.

The place where I was standing was in the alley on the north side of the 100 block of 7th Avenue. The caution tape I was pressed up against was blocking off the alley-side parkade entrance to Guardian Storage, where I’ve had a locker since 2004. Read more…

How to cook without a pot (hint: you make one)

boxed-msr-stove-with-propane-canister

August the 15 I was gifted with a new backpacking stove (and one propane canister).

Earlier I had posted on my Twitter account how I was saving up for such a thing and another Twitter user generously offered to buy it for me and I didn’t refuse.

In essence, the tiny CDN$44 MRS Pocket Rocket is little more than a high-precision adjustable brass and steel valve for dispensing compressed gas from squat little $8 screw-on propane canisters. The “little more” would be how it’s designed for igniting the dispensed gas and cooking things over the resulting super hot, ice-blue flame. There are three swing-out steel vanes to support a cooking pot just above the business end of the stove.

Therefore, on Sunday evening (August 21), armed with my little stove and a squat canister of propane, I had almost everything I needed to take advantage of the unopened bag of hard-frozen heat-and-serve perogies that I found in the topmost strata of a Fairview dumpster; everything, that is, except a pot to heat them up in.

This post is actually more about how I conjured up the pot that I needed, in less than a third of the time that I spent using it to heat up the perogies. Read more…

Tomatoes on a burn, coffee for cuts? Sounds un-Canadian

You say tomato I say ouch!

Give the woman a hand; tomatoes really are good on a burn.

This morning I was distressed to see that one of the crew at the McDonald’s location in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue had accidentally poured boiling hot water on her left hand. The distressing thing was just how bloody and disfigured the top of her left hand looked through the thin plastic of the disposable glove she was wearing.

But what looked, at first glance, like a raw red wound was actually three or four slices of tomato that she’d laid over the burn.

This, she explained, was a home remedy she’d learned growing up in the Philippines.

For my part, growing up in the developed and enlightened country of Canada—specifically in Saskatchewan, the home of medicare—I learned no such thing. I was taught to put butter on a burn.

In this case, the Philippines knew far better than the Canadian Prairies. Read more…

A box of “street” that I found

box-of-street

What’s the story with this box of garbage on West Broadway Avenue?

Prior to reading William Gibson’s 1986 science fiction novel Count Zero, my only exposure to the art of assemblage was a shoebox diorama of the Cretaceous period featuring an obligatory triceratops dinosaur, which I made in grade four, using cardboard, paper, white glue, tempera paint and Saran wrap.

Part of Count Zero is a meditation on—and an appreciation of—American artist Joseph Cornell, the man most responsible for making the creation of box assemblages a fit task for fine artists and public school students alike. Read more…

Payphones still have something smartphone users want

My assistant the Green Guy shows the electrical wiring of a payphone, exposed by vandals.

The Green Guy shows the electrical wiring of a payphone, exposed by vandals.

Overnight apparently, a crack team of…well, crackheads possibly, assailed one of the last payphones in the Fairview neighbourhood and put it out of commission—for, like, the 8,oooth time.

In the course of the vandalism, the pedestal base of the payphone was targeted and the front facing sheet of aluminum, held on by four tiny bolts, was ripped free at three points. This exposed some of the phone’s highly-sophisticated 1970s-era electrical system and further revealed a hidden secret that some people, at least, might get a charge out of knowing about. Read more…

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