February 21, 2017

Cathedral Grove ~ with snow

It's a magical kind of place anytime, but with freshly fallen snow....

Cathedral Grove was quiet when we arrived last week, between two snow storms.

A person, even a shorter person, has to bend slightly to accommodate the snow-heavy branches along the footpath.

The largest tree in the park, still standing, despite assurances from our fellow traveller and legal advisor, BT Mendelbaum, LL.B.(disbarred), that it had been toppled in a windstorm is over 800 years old, 76 m in height and 9 m round.

It is a magical place. Especially in the silence of the snow.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

February 19, 2017

The spin on public education funding

A new budget is coming to British Columbia on Tuesday and Christy Clark will smile, and hope that voters will smile too.

But wait a minute... All is not as Christy would have us believe. Just a few months ago we heard that "110 million extra dollars" would go "to education this year." This year meaning 2016. The idea suggested in the the remarks of MLAs and the Minister of Education himself, was that 110 million new dollars would find their way into public education in 2016 (exclusive of capital spending) over funding in 2015.

Sounded like a great deal at the time.

In truth,  Christy Clark's Liberals didn't mention that 48 million dollars of that extra money would actually go to private schools. Nor did they mention that 36 million dollars of that extra money would to to "other partners" which included public libraries. Now let's be clear: private schools are not really public education. And as nice and wonderful as public libraries might be, they aren't really public education either.

What sounded like a great addition to the funding of public education in this province in 2016, turned out to be an additional 28 million dollars. That was less than a 1% increase over the previous year, and that, in truth, was actually a cut because inflation was 1.9% at the time. Through these revelations, Christy kept smiling.

Then there's the 3 million dollars Christy Clark and her Liberals spent fighting the BCTF ~ all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. 3 million dollars of our tax dollars spent... for nothing. Maybe Christy and her Liberals should pay the 3 million back to the taxpayers of BC.

So what happens to public education on budget day 2017? What will the numbers really mean for schools and our children? Will the numbers even add up? Christy will be smiling of course.

There's an election coming and we have a chance to send a message.

Get involved. Get informed. Vote on May 9th.

And aren't we all just a wee bit tired of that dumb smile?

Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

Phở Tintin in Nanaimo

Phở places have become ubiquitous in MetroVancouver and Jeem and G. G. Blynn were pleasantly surprised when friends from the John Harris Gallery took us to one such establishment in Nanaimo.

Phở Tintin is located in a strip mall somewhere in this Vancouver Island city.  On the day of our visit the snow was piled up and much more was on its way, but not before Jim and Sherry made their escape to a more westerly locale.

The restaurant is delightfully pleasant and inviting, on the inside (on the outside, not so much). The clumsy clutter and kitschy-ness of most Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver is not present at Phở Tintin. Not at all.

And it's exceptionally clean.

On the day of our visit Phở Tintin was not busy, due to snowfall warnings, but it's normally busy through the day and especially for lunch.

Phở Tintin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There's the usual menu with some local variations on the traditional theme, and a good number of vegetarian, or near-vegetarian dishes. The soup was hot and fragrant, though hot chili peppers were not initially provided with the sprouts.

The spring rolls were smallish to what I'm accustomed, and possibly a wee bit over cooked, but flavourful and delicious just the same.

All in all, Phở Tintin is a wonderful place, and unlike many phở  restaurants, it takes credit and debit cards for payment. We'll return if ever we can find it without our friendly guides. But then again, that's what friends are for.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.