English Bay’s Bulk Carriers Revealed

Ever notice that Vancouver’s English Bay skyline is constantly littered with those, squat, red-hulled ships? Or maybe not. They’re  such an omnipresent feature of our surroundings, that we pay them little heed despite their importance.  Each of these modern-day merchant ships, or “Bulk Carriers”, doggedly cross the Pacific laden with Canadian commodities. In recent years, they amount to a ceaseless conveyor belt ferrying coal, potash, grain and softwood lumber to hungry markets in China.  So hungry in fact, that softwood lumber imports to China exceeded those bound for the U.S. this spring. Exports to China were up 157 per cent by volume over the same month last year.  Each of those sticks of wood was carefully stowed in English Bay’s bulk carriers.

While their economic usefulness to Canada and B.C. is undeniable, I am more interested in how the technology of these ships have evolved into the monsters we see today. Before the advent of steel, steam-powered ships longshoremen loaded the cargo into sacks, stacked the sacks onto pallets, and put the pallets into the cargo hold with a crane.

A lot has changed since then.Today, bulkers make up 40% of the world’s merchant fleets and range in size from single-hold mini-bulkers to mammoth ore ships able to carry 400,000 tons of deadweight tons.  A number of specialized designs exist: some can unload their own cargo, some depend on port facilities for unloading, and some even package the cargo as it is loaded. Most the ships loitering outside of Stanley Park are in the “Handymax” class capable of carrying 10,000 tons. They are part of a fleet of over 6,000 similar vessels worldwide.

I’m not sure what their direct contribution to community building is other than that, as we stroll the Seawall, we all enjoy looking out at them. To me and to so many others, they consistently evoke the romance of the high seas and of exotic destinations. No amount of sheer size and technological sophistication can change that.

Dear Brian Williams: You’re Welcome!

Recently, a thoughtfully polite thank you note from NBC Nightly News Anchor and Managing Editor, Brian Williams (pictured), has been making its way across the Canadian Twitterverse. Mr. Williams, after apparently stealing several dollars worth of items from his hotel room, passed along a heartfelt post-Olympic thank you note.

The Daily Gumboot’s online community, a veritable focus group and/or cross-section of Canadians – we do have ideas from everywhere, after all – is well placed to provide some you’re welcome anecdotes in response to Mr. Williams’s class-act of a thank you note. After all, we Hosers are a courteous lot, aren’t we?

Here is our new friend Brian’s note with my responses in italics

Thank you, Canada:

For being such good hosts. No problem, Brian. I mean, when you drop $8 billion on a party, you can be pretty confident it’ll go reasonably well – the rest of the “hosting” comes to us naturally; I mean, have you ever been to a Canadian kitchen party? We basically took that formula and applied it to the Olympics.

For your unfailing courtesy. You’re absolutely right. We even made mistakes – hydraulic-based ones as well as hosting a “winter” event in a rain forest during Springtime – just so other countries wouldn’t feel outperformed in the future.

For your (mostly) beautiful weather. Beauty is subjective, Brian. And some people think soulless gray drizzle is gorgeous.

For scheduling no more than 60 percent of your float plane departures at the exact moment when I was trying to say something on television. Honestly, this was a mistake. The plan was for the float planes to depart when CTV’s Brian Williams was trying to say something, not you. The intern responsible for this catastrophe has been fired.

For not seeming to mind the occasional (or constant) good-natured mimicry of your accents. Wait. Vancouver accents too? Wow. We thought you were making fun of Newfies and/or French Canadians. This mimicry will not be taken lightly, eh.

For your unique TV commercials — for companies like Tim Hortons — which made us laugh and cry. Oh my goodness I first saw the one with the immigrant family from Africa on a plane and embarrassed myself by sobbing and hugging the person next to me. Luckily, she was crying too.

For securing this massive event without choking security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon. What’s an automatic weapon? Just kidding. Vancouver actually has a horrible gang problem. Not kidding. Seriously, though, the police went above and beyond during the Games and, in many peoples’ opinions, changed their reputation within Canada’s cultural landscape.

For having the best garment design and logo-wear of the games — you’ve made wearing your name a cool thing to do. Agreed. Are you surprised, though? We’ve been toque-making for centuries up here.

For the sportsmanship we saw most of your athletes display. Again, we apologize for winning all those gold medals. Sorry.

For not honking your horns. I didn’t hear one car horn in 15 days — which also means none of my fellow New Yorkers rented cars while visiting. First, could you really hear anything with all those float planes flying by? Second, everybody got scared of potential traffic and took public transit into town. Third, many, many people honked when Team Canada won the hockey game. These people were probably not from New York.

For making us aware of how many of you have been watching NBC all these years. People from around the world really, really, really liked Seinfeld.

For having the good taste to have an anchorman named Brian Williams on your CTV network, who turns out to be such a nice guy. He says the same thing about you. And someone from this blog may or may not have started a rumour that Canada’s Brian Williams is your uncle.

For the body scans at the airport which make pat-downs and cavity searches unnecessary. We’ve all been to airports and we all know you probably don’t fit the profile of someone who gets their cavity searched, Mr. Williams – but it’s awfully nice of you to empathize with those who do as well as compliment these machines that go for $250,000 a piece.

For designing those really cool LED Olympic rings in the harbor, which turned to gold when your athletes won one. Fun fact: those “rings” were actually the different recycling bins from City Hall with the bottoms cut out and turned sideways. The intern who swam out to the barge and turned the lights to gold 14 times did a way better job than the float plane guy.

For always saying nice things about the United States…when you know we’re listening. Well, people up here really like this Obama guy. Could you tell your countryfolk to stop screwing it up, please? Thanks.

For sharing Joannie Rochette with us. “Glowing hearts” was redefined in a the most beautiful way by her indescribable courage. This was a very, very nice thing to say, Mr. Williams. Thank you.

For reminding some of us we used to be a more civil society. You know, we don’t actually hug each other this much on non-Olympic days. Hey, you’re welcome. It’s not easy being so community-minded. But the hugs, friendly police and smug sense of Europeanish superiority help us get through it.

Mostly, for welcoming the world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us. Amazing. So, since we’re friends, can I stay with you in New York? And, um, do you know Jon Stewart?

To all the Canadians out there, I encourage you to let Mr. Williams know how much his thoughtful note meant to our national community! You can email your You’re Welcome note by following this link or send a hand-written card to this address:

NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10112

Now get out there, get writing and have fun with it!

- JCH

Canada’s Crush on Steve Nash

Are you like me? Do you love Steve Nash?

Sure, people said that he looked “confused” during the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies, but I’ll tell you where he doesn’t look confused: on the basketball court, where he is averaging over 11 assists and 18 points per game at the age of 36. As it turns out, he also isn’t really confused behind the camera (and only sometimes in front of it, too, like when hydraulics malfunction). For you see, it is this kind of multi-dimensional awesomeness that makes Steve Nash, well, one of the coolest Canucks there’s ever been.

nash

Steve Nash, in my opinion, is the greatest person on the planet a cool guy because of four main reasons. Here they are:

1. Athleticism across several sports. Basketball is certainly where he makes his mad chedda, yo, but Nash is also a world class soccer player, bicycle rider, runner, surfer, hockey player, and, yes, dancer of the robot.

2. Entrepreneurial Savvy. Fast Company’s cover story about Nash is called “Transition Game” and it outline’s the point guard’s uncanny ability to see and predict change in the most confident of ways. Off the court, according to Fast Company’s Chuck Salter, this wasn’t always the case: “Nash was a camera-shy and endorsement-averse pro even as he became an all-star; he now pitches ad ideas to Nike and Vitaminwater and relishes cameos on Entourage and The Late Show with David Letterman.”

3. Inclusively Humouristic Canadianism. Clearly, Steve doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he’s all about involving others in his projects, whether it’s on the basketball court or in the studio, creating superawesome films like this one about Terry Fox. Many people argue that it is Nash’s very Canadian “from-me-to-we” attitude that makes him so good. And basketball guru Bill Simmons claims that, in the NBA, there isn’t a more authentic leader out there.

4. Community Building. Nash’s message couldn’t be simpler: make an assist. His foundation assists communities through environmental stewardship, sport and empowering youth. Check out The Steve Nash Foundation and learn how you can get involved.

In order to fully comprehend the above qualities, I’ve arranged a three-video-evaluation of the above criteria with the help of Fast Company Magazine, which featured Mr. Nash in their February 2010 issue. The magazine celebrated Captain Canada,  one of our country’s greatest athletes, for his entrepreneurial style and swagger. All scoring is done on a five point scale. Check out his moves!

THE VERDICT:

1. Athleticism across several sports = 4/5. He runs and weight lifts, giving us an idea of his athletic depth and breadth.

2. Entrepreneurial Savvy = 5/5. Fun Fact: Steve Nash pitched this idea to promote his Trash Talk basketball shoe, which is the first sneaker made out of post-consumer recycled material, brought in his cousin, Ezra Holland, to direct the commercial and then split the production costs with Nike.

3. Inclusively Humouristic Canadianism = 3.5/5. He calls himself the 60 million dollar man because, well, the Phoenix Suns signed him to a $66 million deal just before the commercial launched. It’s tongue-in-cheek, I get it, but there’s a lot of people out there making some Forty Two Thousand Dollar Man movies. Savvy?

4. Community Building = 5/5. No surprises here. The whole commercial is about building things. And, as usual, Steve includes his teammates!

TOTAL SCORE = 17.5/20.

THE VERDICT:

1. Athleticism across several sports = 5/5. Basketball? Check. Bike riding? Check. Swinging on a swing? Check. Dancing? Check. Amazing? Double check!

2. Entrepreneurial Savvy = 4/5. Sometimes being a good entrepreneur means putting your spin on someone else’s idea, like Will Ferrell’s…

3. Inclusively Humouristic Canadianism = 5/5. I think my dad has that shirt…

4. Community Building = 5/5. People laugh, people watch, people ask questions, and, most importantly, people feel involved in this quirky community.

TOTAL = 19/20.

THE VERDICT:

1. Athleticism across several sports = 5/5. Come on! He nutmegs some of the greatest soccer players in the world, pulls off some sweet urban adventure moves and masters the game of espionage. Not bad, Steve. Not bad at all.

2. Entrepreneurial Savvy = 5/5. It’s a funny thing, using a reputation built on basketball and Canadian-ness to promote – ahem - soccer to the world. And yet, here it is…SNF_redux

3. Inclusively Humouristic Canadianism = 5/5. Getting beaten up by the Milan team takes a special skill-set and, well, the whole premise is playfully creative at the expense of superstars.

4. Community Building = 6/5. You have to have massive street cred to pull off a project like this. And, hey, it also promotes a very healthy and worldly cause. Of course, we expect nothing less of Steve Nash!

TOTAL = 21/20.

So there it is. A critical evaluation of a hero, Steve Nash. But, at the end of the day, this is just one man’s opinion. And I encourage you to be part of the YouTube frenzie (over 300,000 views to date) and check out the digital work of Canada’s superstar.

Be sure to have fun with it. Because we all know Steve will.

- JCH