14 February

The Journey Begins.

On the way out of Westbank the driver pulls off the road and goes to the back of the bus. When he returns he says that the alternator light is on. I think it will be a long wait until help arrives but after a phone call to his company he decides to continue and we have no trouble on the way to Vancouver.

I realize that the amount of information I have added to my web site is extensive and the manual management of links has become too great a chore so I have resolved to write a script to automatically include them in the pages. How long shall it take me to complete this task?

I embark on the sojourn to China with a degree of excitement and anxiety. I have my flight arranged but my visa is not yet available and I'm hoping it will be issued without complications. I am leaving for Vancouver one day early just in case there is a problem.

(Just a remark on grammar - please remember as you read that I will take literary license in the use of tense and other gramatical rules in order to take you along on what may be considerd stream of conciousness at times. The rules will be unemployed.)

I arrived in Vancouver and called Pat Peck who has picked up my visa from the Chinese Consulate. I am relieved and very grateful to her for this favour.

With all the necessary documents now in my posession I am feeling fine.

15 February Vancouver

It's a Bright sunny but brisk day on Tuesday.

I got up and went out with the intention of going to Chinatown to see about the price of tickets for both the possible trip for Lindea during spring break and for Robert in April. When I got to Campbell Travel the lady at the service desk recalls issuing my ticket and nearby I see Romany Tang, the man I met last year at the Chinese Consulate when I was applying for my visa. It was a pleasure to have a moment to speak with both.

I find that the price for a flight will be a little higher in March and then higher again in April, but the price they quote is clearly the best I can hope to find.

I then depart and head towards the Dalian Maple Leaf School offices to speak there with the representatives about the possibility of teaching English in the future. I decided to walk and head up south on Main Street. I know that there will be plenty of time to get there as my appointment is scheduled for 1:30 pm and I leave the travel agent around 10:00.

The most striking feature of Vancouver come clearly to me as I head along Main. The city is inundated with street people, most of whom appear to be destitute. Occasionally one will appeal to me for money. The poverty is obviously far beyond any possibility of improvement I can make and I mull over the fact the I'm a citizen in one of the most financially blessed countries on earth, yet the people with the means and resources appear to have the attitude towards the poor as though they should be shunned and gotten rid of. Where, I wonder, do they expect the poor to go, and what means do they expect the poor to use to live with? Don't they know, I contemplate, that poverty is a natural fact of life? Don't they comprehend that it is an obligation of the wealthy to ease the suffering of the needy? But enough moralizing. I continue on towards Broadway.

As I walk along I realize that I should have a breakfast and begin looking for a desirable place. As I turn the corner onto Broadway I see the sign in the window of a cafeteria style restaurant advertising a breakfast special of eggs, meat, potatoes and toast. With the dollar for a cup of coffee the total cost comes to less that $5. The food is good and the conversation with the waitress and a few of the patrons is enjoyable. (See, Lindea, I've changed grammatical tense, as I'm prone to do; but doesn't it bring you more into the thoughts I share?)

When I finish breakfast I realize that there is yet much time before the appointment and I decide to go early and find out if the gentlemen there will have the time to see me before lunch. I go into a computer retailer on the way to see if the proprietor would be interested in the Pocket PC with GPS that I got at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He agrees that a price of US$400 each would be very agreeable, as long as it came with full manufacturer's warrantee. It's a price that I believe would be profitable for someone to import them into Canada. Oh well, maybe I can include the project in my future activities.

When I have the early meeting all goes well except for the simple fact that I don't have a university degree. Isn't it amazing that a young person fresh out of University with a degree is held in higher esteem as a learned person that one who has read uncountable books of knowledge; demonstrated beyond question that the knowledge can be put to practical use; is capable of conversing with all who he encounters with an understanding of English, most often in a meaningful and enjoyable fashion; yet is told that the absence of a document of formal recognition from an established institution means that the position of such a person is relatively worthless to the institutions of learning. Oh well, again! I'm sure that I shall go onward and discover some means to be included in the improvement of life on earth. I resolve to put every effort possible into the task at hand of finding a position to teach in China.

I leave the meeting and since it is only about mid day and there are no pressing responsibilities I decide to walk, via St. Paul's Hospital where I may chance to see Dr. Javer, to the sea bus.

As I pass by a Persian carpet store I give in to the desire to go in and look. As I am looking at the beauty of the artistry and incredible craftsmanship of the products the owner comes out of the back and engages me in conversation. He informs me that he is from Armenia and we share a few minutes of enjoyable philosophy before I continue onward.

I next become fascinated by the items in a store of interior design and notice a woman struggling with the removal of a vinyl "J" on the window. Since I am confident that my skill with such a task would make her day somewhat easier, I volunteer to remove it for her. I do so and then after assuring her that removing the other one on the other side of the door would be as easy as the first, I quickly remove it also (if slowly pulling the adhesive of vinyl from a window can be considered quick). She extends her welcome for me to fulfill my desire to look around her store.

As I head down Granville towards the bridge, I see another damsel in distress. This one has pulled over to the side of the road with a flat tire. I convince her that I can change the tire for her much more quickly than she could have it done by the auto club. In a few minutes and with a profuse expression of gratitude from both her and her mother who is in the car, we are all happily on our ways.

As I pass over the bridge I stop and gaze into the sky to watch an eagle soar overhead and off into the distance. I continue on by St. Paul's Hospital where Dr. Javer isn't (he's at the False Creek Surgical Centre), but I leave my expression of hello and good bye with the receptionist. As I meander by Robson St. I am pitched to by a fortune teller and consider that if she truly is a fortune teller why ask me if I want my fortune told? Doesn't she see that I will not be a customer? It really is a chilly day so I offer to buy her a cup of coffee. She accepts and when I return she tells me it is not a good day for her business. I wish her the best and continue onward. As I was returning with the coffee I had noticed an older girl huddled against a building with little but a blanket and a few light garments on her body. I thought there may be some way to alleviate her suffering if only for a moment, but when I returned she was gone.

I turned the corner back onto Burrard and further on I see a destitute man sitting on the sidewalk and stop to talk with him. I am surprised at how well spoken he is and invite him to share a meal with me. We spend almost an hour together and I know that we will both remember the occasion for a very long time.

Driving a loader to grade the driveway and excavate
for a retaining wall in the back yard

Laying blocks for the retaining wall

Elder daughter Lesah painting wood for the porch steps

Building a wall under the back porch