Props to @londondrugs VP


Very cute and takes great images of the shenanigans on my street. See

This isn’t a commercial.

Rather a shout out to (Canadian-owned) London Drugs for resolving a problem I had with my new Olympus OMD camera. Micro four thirds (MFT) and mirrorless. Smaller and lighter than a DSLR. Interchangeable lenses.

Bought for my upcoming trip to the Galapagos. Ground level photos – the descendants of the beasties Darwin saw. (My underwater camera is a Canon G16 point and shoot in a FG-16 Fantasea housing.)

Long story short, Clint Mahlman, COO and senior VP of London Drugs, stepped in personally to ensure my defective camera was replaced in a hurry – like the NEXT DAY.

No shipping it off to a black hole at some Olympus factory for a fix under the warranty. A fix that could take months.

Nope, Mahlman made things happen because I’d owned the camera for only about a month. And, it sat at home for most of that period because I was travelling for work.

I made contact with him after a less than satisfactory experience in the store. No fault of the camera manager, who was only following procedure. A bit too strictly perhaps.


Mahlman followed up with me shortly after the exchange. He could have forgotten about it after that. Only he didn’t. He contacted me a few weeks later to inquire about camera. A camera I love.

That’s excellent customer service from one smart, sincere and PR-focused executive. I won’t forget it next time I need to make a purchase.

In fact, I’ve already purchased an additional lens … at London Drugs.


Don’t fail me now #Rimowa


Okay, so this is scary. I can’t get the combination lock on my suitcase to work. It just won’t open.

My wallet is in there. So is my camera, IPhone, computer.

I’m in Mexico, more than an hour from an airport and a customs officer with a TSA lock key. There are no suitcase places in town.

The only remedy is to have my extremely resourceful Air BnB host sever the lock. She has the proper hardware. Files of some kind. Says she has done this in the past for guests. It takes her less than two minutes to cut the lock.

I’m pissed. Not with her. She’s terrific. I paid $650 for this Rimowa suitcase three years ago. The lock shouldn’t have malfunctioned.


The only thing I can think of is damage done from baggage handling, or the suitcase being opened and fooled around with by security at one of the three airports I travelled through to get to Mexico.

(I opened the lock and suitcase once after I arrived to retrieve my scuba gear and put away my valuables. I noticed the lock was a bit finicky but didn’t think it was an issue.)

I’m freaked. I know there’s a five year warranty. The fix should be covered. Where the hell did I put the receipt? I’m usually very organized with receipts (photo to Evernote and original in a special file folder). Surprisingly, I can’t find it when I return home a few weeks later. (There’s a chance I did the ultimate safekeeping and put it in my safety deposit box at the bank. Didn’t check there).

Go to the MEGO store. Where I purchased the suitcase. They don’t keep records from that far back.img_0884

An email to Rimowa customer service tells me to take it to the local repair place in Vancouver. The serial number will determine whether the suitcase is under warranty.

It’s going to the repair shop this week. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve got a trip planned for the end of October. Hoping the fix is quick and painless.

UPDATE. Weston Luggage in East Vancouver fixed it while I waited. Covered by warranty. Very happy.

Crap the #airlines make us do



Photo I took from zone 3 lineup.

It happens with every flight I’ve taken in recent years. Ever since airlines introduced the zone system for boarding.

Nowadays, folks line up long before their zone is ever called. The reason: access to precious overhead bin space. At least in economy.

I detest the airlines for making me do this. But, I do it. Every time. I want my bin space. I need my bin space.


Line extends way back.

Dog eat dog. It’s a shit show. Boarding a plane is painful. And nasty. I’ve seen passengers report other passengers to airline staff for contravening the carry-on limits on size and number of bags.

The only way one can extricate oneself is to pay for premiere boarding access. Or premium seats. Which most of us cannot afford.

The greedy airlines are raking it in these days and always on the lookout for more ways to gouge us. I hate them for this.

I hate the way people in business and first class look down their noses at us behaving in such an undignified manner.

I also hate being the person in that lineup, right near the front. But, there I am.


Tank travels 2 blocks – witnesses birth


Pew, pew, pew. Turtle/tortoise mama digs hole, drops babies.

Ah, the miracle of birth. Not what Tank expected to see today when she took her new camera and 45mm prime lens out for a spin. Was expecting the usual: used syringes and people sleeping rough.

I’ve lived two blocks from Sun Yat Sen Gardens and park for more than a decade. Run past it a bazillion times. Never been in. Not even to the park, which is free and lovely. Who knew? Not I, til now.

So, today I went in. Wow. Lots of great things to photograph. A turtle laying eggs, a Koi being coy and lots of greenery.

Very exciting. A great place to practice my photography.

Tank needs to travel more at home!

Fool fails to board airplane without ID

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“Hey dude, where’s my ID?”

So, here I am at YVR waiting to board an Air Canada flight. Heading to Edmonton. It’s 6:45 am.

Electronic boarding pass is on my phone and “government-issued photo ID” is tucked into a pocket in my purse.

Tank is nothing if not well-organized. Other travellers, not so much.

Can’t help but notice the ‘Dude’ seated behind. What I picture a 62-year-old former roadie for Uriah Heep to look like. 

As the flight begins to board, Dude realizes he has no picture ID. Gets his buddy on the smartphone and says, “hey, you forgot to give me back my ID last night.” 


Who lends their ID to someone, except when you’re an underage teen and your older sibling lends you his/her ID to get into the bar?

Next, Dude is at the counter in search of something ID-ish in his wallet. Found nothing. 

Next, he asks the nice Air Canada lady if he can get on the plane without photo ID. Nope to that.

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Being told he’s NOT getting on the plane without photo ID.

So, Dude never makes it on this flight. Dude is a dud. Methinks this could be a teachable moment for Dude. On second thought, maybe not. To his credit, he never raised his voice to anyone. Didn’t freak out on airline staff.

I’m always surprised people this incredibly stupid travel. I suppose I shouldn’t be.

Remember Andres & Black Tower?


Remember when B.C. wine sucked? When you joked about how spectacularly awful it was? When you gagged on Baby Duck, but bought it anyway because you couldn’t afford champagne? When Black Tower and Schloss Laderheim were the go to ‘party’ wines?

Who’d have thunk B.C. wine would become so awesome? In my lifetime.

Just back from a few days in Osoyoos-Oliver. Mission to bring home a couple of cases of wine accomplished. Only my budget prevented a larger haul.

I’m no lush, really, but could drink wine from this region exclusively.

My faves wineries are: Desert Hills, Gehringer Brothers, Burrowing Owl and Tinhorn Creek. Mostly dry whites, but the odd Pinot Noir and Gamay.

Also, a good place to play with my new camera, an Olympus mirrorless micro 4/3, I bought for my Galapagos trip in December.

I now have a presence on 500px, where I’m posting some of my better pics, above and below ground. Might even try to sell a few.

Meantime, I’ve got good wine to sip. Planning a return trip to wine country, maybe later this summer.


Living on stilts – Mabul Village, Malaysia


Playing, washing and snorkelling. Local children in Mabul Village.

Getting around to posting some of the pics from recent trips. Pics without tales of horrid travellers or other stories.

The images are from Mabul Island, in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. They depict local housing, tourist accommodations and new construction aimed at mostly Chinese travellers.

Travel by mainland Chinese is a HUGE moneymaker for places like Malaysia, Indonesia and Palau. So much, that tour companies and specialized services are being created with them in mind.

The big draw in this area is scuba diving in Sipadan, an island close by that offers some of the world’s best diving. Probably the best diving I’ve ever experienced.

Workers in the service/tourism sector here work long hours. Many live in housing supplied by the resort in which they work. Some never really know when they’ll get their next day off. If they’re on a regular schedule, they will work six days a week. I met a cabbie in Kota Kinabalu who slept in his car, and saw his wife and children only monthly for a couple of days. My wilderness resort guide lived on site and visited his family on a irregular basis. Incomes are low and workers depend on tips.

Those of us fortunate enough to travel should be grateful, respectful and generous.