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Posts Tagged ‘Kelowna’

F You, Jenny Craig: The Fatburger Food Fiasco.

October 21, 2009 10 comments

All of us North Americans got the memo a few years ago that we’re facing an obesity epidemic.  So between the Atkins’ diets, wraps, smoothies, yoga, sushi, pilates, weight-loss based reality shows, low-cal, low-carb, and all the other health fads we could steal adopt from other countries, we’ve made a valiant effort to “shape up.”

It’s natural for new businesses to pop up in cities.  But one recent addition to the restaurant barrage my hometown of Kelowna seems to fit into the healthy lifestyle landscape like the one thing that was different in the “One of these things is not like the other” Sesame Street song.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZIvgQ9ik48

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Yes, the newly city approved and built food dispenser is none other than “Fatburger.”

I mean, come on. For one, give yourself a chance; and for the other, help us out.  In name alone, I don’t see how this restaurant chain can survive.  Until I noticed this:

 fatburger beer

There’s not a salad in sight, 1200 calorie shakes, and burgers that look so terrible on the nutritional sheet that they’re probably the best in town.  (Nutrition Info: http://www.fatburger.com/menu/Nutrition_Facts.pdf) Oh, and they also serve beer.  The one element that has eluded the fast-food industry for so long has finally come to fruition at Fatburger.  Beer and Burgers?  This place might have a chance after all…

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I guess if you’re the kind of person who has given up on diets and flipped the bird to exercise, then you may have found your haven.  This place is a Weight Watchers Cheat Day disaster den.  And with people like Magic Johnson, Pharrell, and our old friend Kanye West backing the chain, it looks like Lovie Yancey’s (founder, lived to be 92, somehow) eatery lovechild (along with all the other chains, mind you) will continue to trip up all the people making an honest effort to eat healthier.

I figure writing about this place probably means I have to go eat there, at least once (market research, right?).  Has anyone else eaten there before?

FatBurger

H-O-V? Not for Me: The Ongoing Ordeal that is Kelowna Traffic.

September 21, 2009 1 comment

My hometown of Kelowna, BC has decided to adopt HOVHOV_lane (High Occupancy Vehicle) Lanes, aka carpool lanes. It’s the stupidest idea our local government has come up with in a long time.

On paper, in an ideal environment, HOV Lanes are a good idea. They
promote carpooling, which theoretically sees less cars on the road, which theoretically leads to less traffic congestion and less pollution. I get that. It’s a great idea. On paper.

It works in big cities like Vancouver; they’ve got a zillion highways for an equal amount of residents, and plenty of places to divert traffic to. Kelowna simply does not have the extra space on its ONE main highway to allow only a select group of people to occupy 1/3 of the traffic space, not to mention in the area of the highest traffic volume in the city. If we had a 4 or 5 lane freeway complete with exit ramps, this might work, but we only have 3 lanes with normal traffic-light controlled intersection turn-offs. Every HOV Lane I’ve ever seen is located in the far left lane; Kelowna decided that the far right lane was the best option. This forces drivers to make potentially dangerous lane changes into the HOV lane to make right turns before crossing through an intersection, amidst the absurdly short distances between our lights.

Citizens watched, waited, and anticipated all summer while construction crews built an additional lane onto Highway 97. Everyone believed there was relief in sight for the gridlock traffic that resides on Harvey Avenue. I have not encountered one person in the city yet who was happy when they heard, “Suprise! Only some of you get to use the extra space! And if you dare use it without having people in your car, or you’re not a bus or semi, we’re going to give you a ticket! Oh, and also, we’re introducing a new tax called the HST! Enjoy!”

Everyone who gets up early to go to work on their own, who doesn’t live anywhere near anyone else who they work with, and lives too far away from their place of employment to bike, and doesn’t have a bus system near them better leave some extra time in the morning to get to work. Wait, that’s pretty much everyone in the city? Oh. Better get to bed early tonight then. Like I said, it’s a good idea on paper, but our city simply isn’t accessible enough by means other than our cars to allow for such drastic changes in our commuting schedules.

HOV_lane 2A problem once easily fixed by a simple lane change now becomes an 8 block headache if you’re driving alone. Sweet.

Another feather in the cap of the cluster**** that is Kelowna infrastructure and traffic. They better not use taxpayer money to buy the staggering amount of paint thinner they’re going to need to take the white paint out of that lane in a few months.   On the lighter side, I can’t wait to see the first person driving with a dummy seatbelted into their passenger seat to avoid a ticket.

“Aces and Asses,” Volume 1. The Heroes and Zero’s of the recent Kelowna forest fires.

July 22, 2009 6 comments

Welcome to my first instalment of “Aces and Asses,” where I take some time to point out some top notch people (aces), and some that I currently don’t think so highly of (asses).

For the second time in six years, my hometown (Kelowna) has been subject to home evacuation level forest fires.  This time is was West Kelowna that was subjected to threat.  After learning how to deal with such a disaster in 2003, our city really pulled together and got through the worst of 2009’s version, which featured not one, not two, but THREE simultaneous forest fires; all in danger of connecting with each other and causing a single fire that could’ve enveloped our whole city, if it hadn’t been attended to promptly (inaccessibility for firemen, water bombing cut-offs at dark, overnight winds, and unrelenting summer heat all could’ve made that happen, luckily it never got to that point).

Kelowna Fire 2003

an actual picture of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003 (photo by Steve Devries, used by permission. http://www.sayvee.com )

Who I’d like to recognize as Aces are quite an easy selection: the Firemen. Ever since our society redefined the “hero” after September 11, the fireman has gotten a lot of spotlight. I believe they deserve every watt of it. The civil servants that work on a volunteer basis, are on call at all times, answering 4 am calls to rescue cats in trees, constantly training for that one big fire that no one hopes ever comes. When it inevitably does, the grounds crews lug around heavy, sweaty gear and equipment, into dangerous environments conducive of death on multiple levels, literally putting their lives on the line so that Johnny Bravo, driving a $100,000 car, looking out for number one, living in his million dollar home on the mountain, won’t lose his abode. Granted, there are many other very kind people and their homes that are saved too that are much more deserving of such service. The air crews drop water and fire retardant from planes and helicopters thousands of feet up in the air with pinpoint accuracy. And NONE of them go home until the job is done. Good on ya firemen, and thank you, you’re Aces in my books.

Now, onto the Asses. First off are the idiots who still haven’t figured out that lighting a campfire in the middle of a forest that has been subject to heat levels that have dried the trees out to resemble a matchstick factory, is a POOR idea. “Sure,” they say to themselves over a campfire, “we might cause a blaze that could burn down the ENTIRE forest, spread to a residential area, burn down homes, destroy or damage property, maybe kill people, and incur millions of dollars in fees for the crews to put it out, also put said fire crews in mortal danger, and possibly get fined ourselves if we’re caught, buuuut I really do need these marshmallows toasted.” Nice going morons, accidental or not, you guys can never repay the debt to society that you’ve generated by your ignorant and idiotic actions.

Second are those who have decided that a home evacuation epidemic is the ideal time to loot the homes of the evacuees. This is the absolute lowest level of humanity that I’m aware of. The selfishness, greed, and desensitization of the people who decided to do this is absolutely staggering and appalling. It really takes a special kind of individual to take advantage of people in this manner. Not only are the victims already homeless, but now when they return home, they will find themselves possession-less as well. I hope that if these people are caught, they are charged the same, if not more, than the people who started the fires in the first place. Despicable.

In a time where a community has really come together, shown it’s true colors and helped each other to overcome such distress, it’s just plain unfortunate to find out there are such lowly people are among us. But on a side much more worthy of attention, there are still some incredible, selfless people, who really show what it means to “love thy neighbour,” and to have real pride in one’s community. From the fireman on the front line, to the lady who goes around her neighbourhood and knocks on doors to make sure everyone knows there’s an emergency and to help them prepare, to the guy who gets out of his car and helps direct traffic for the thousands of cars trying to flee, there are still plenty of good people left around here.

The Great Gretzky Debacle: Meeting my hero, Wayne.

July 20, 2009 1 comment

I told this story in person the other day, so I decided to re-release it, ala Greatest Hits style.  As a wordpress special bonus, check out the photographic evidence to verify the story! Enjoy.

(originally posted February 18th, 2009)

August 19, 2005.

In preparation for the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team was having an “orientation camp(still not clear on what that meant, or why they didn’t just call it ‘practice’)” in my hometown of Kelowna BC.  The Executive Director for Team Canada at the time was none other than my boyhood (and if anyone was, I guess current as well) hero, Wayne Gretzky.

Now, let me help you to understand what I mean when I say “hero” here.  I mean from the age that I was aware Gretzky was really good at hockey and played for the LA Kings (circa 1990), I owned jerseys, hockey cards, posters, Halloween costumes, books, shoes, officially endorsed products and equipment, and attempted haircuts in likeness… I was a advertising field day for this man. 

It became my goal to come full circle, and meet my hero.

The tickets had sold out nearly immediately, without my inclusion in the possession or purchase of any of them.  I was working for the Okanagan Hockey School at the time, a school that boasts many NHL alumni as instructors and/or part owners.  They happened to have an in with the orientation camp, and were able to get some of the instructors free passes to the practices.  I immediately snapped 2 passes up to the sold out event.  After work, my brother and I zipped down to Prospera place to take our seats, my old Gretzky LA Kings jersey and Sharpie marker in tow.  We managed to catch the players just heading out onto the ice, so we decided to see if a few of them would autograph some stuff for us.  First out of the gate was Martin Brodeur, pretty much the best goaltender in the world at the time, and pretty high in the all-time record books.  When we asked him to sign, he shrugged us, and the other people standing by the gate, right off.  I didn’t think much of it, thinking, “well it’s just a practice, no big deal.  He’s got all that goalie gear on anyways, it’s probably going to be a huge hassle for him anyways. ”  Following up Brodeur were Ed Jovanovski, Todd Bertuzzi, and the other TWO goalies, Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo.  ALL of which put down their gloves and sticks, and signed stuff for a few minutes until everyone was content.  I decided to think less of Martin Brodeur after that moment.

After heading back to our ticketed seats, a friend who we had ended up sitting near advised me to look to my right.  Heeding the advice, I turned my head, and who would I see, but “The Great One,” himself.  Yes, by all modern calendars, I was 22 years old at the time, but in that moment, I was no more than 10 years old again.  Wayne.was.here.  And I could see him.  I could have thrown something at him if I wanted.  He was sitting in the stands, with his cronies (Kevin Lowe and company), taking notes or something.  Realizing the current environment was no place to make a scene, I decided to keep a watchful eye on his every move, as to not be eluded ( for those wondering, I do not enjoy being eluded).  The ice-session came to an end, and so did Wayne’s viewing.  I really had no ideas as to what to do.  They were sitting in a roped off area, and exited through the back.  Wayne was escaping, and my already small window of opportunity was closing.  I had nothing.  I accepted it, and decided to take off, at least being happy I saw him, however unfulfilled I was truly feeling.   As we made our way out, I took I noticed the “backstage” area, all roped off, with black curtains and everything.  People were surrounding the guard rails, hoping to catch a glimpse of their heros.  I also noticed people walking into the area with the same passes around their necks as ours; the only difference being theirs has “All Access” Sharpie marked on the bottom.  I looked around my neck at my pass.  I looked in my left hand containing a Sharpie marker.   I realized I had one shot at his.

My brother and I ducked behind a corner and I quickly scribbled “All Access” at the bottom of our passes, in the closest handwriting facsimile I could muster.  I managed to catch the attention of a lady heading in, and acted bewildered about the direction I was supposed to go, showing her my pass.  She took a look at it, at me, and said, “come on, I’ll take you in.”   My mouth said humble and appreciative things, and my mind stood in awe of what it had apparently just pulled off.  

normal pass + Sharpie = meet your hero.

normal pass + Sharpie = meet your hero.

I tried my best not to act like an idiot and to try to make it seem like I was supposed to be back there.  But it was tough.  Everyone was back there, Iginla, St. Louis, Lecavalier, Yzerman, Bertuzzi, Sakic, Heatley, Nash, Smyth… everyone.  It was incredible.  Part of my blend-in technique was to see what catering had to offer.   I noticed Ken Hitchcock at the table (cue the jokes), and decided to ask him how he could possibly narrow down this amount of talent to one team’s worth, over some veggies and dip.  He didn’t really give me a straight answer.  I asked Stevey Y how he liked Kelowna, to which he responded he wished he could live here.  He, Iginla, St. Louis, Smyth and Lecavalier all signed my hat, all with smiles on their faces, all classy guys. 

I found a place on the wall and decided just to hang out for a bit.  That’s when I was again advised to turn my head, this time to the left.  Wayne.  I was back in the hunt.  He was signing some sticks for some people.  He finished up and was heading our way.  I immediately started to draw up a mental game plan as to what my move was going to be, not that dis-similiar from the Mr. Bean episode were he meets the queen.  I didn’t want to go into a thing about telling him he was my hero for all these years, yada yada… one part because surely he hears that everyday, another because as aforementioned I was trying not to look like an idiot, and another simply because of time.  I was going to have mere moments to make contact.  I decided on the handshake and autograph request, hopefully with coherent speech.  Again, I knew I was only going to get one shot at this as well.  Wayne ducked into a hallway.  My heart sank momentarily, but then he came back out and was again headed in our direction.  My heart was functioning again.  This was it.  I was in range.  I made eye contact.  I remember at that moment thinking I pictured him being taller.  I stuck out my hand.  Suprisingly and incredibly, he returned the shake, I think a little bewildered himself.  I muttered, “Hi Wayne, can you sign my jersey?” or something of the likes.  He replied, “um…hold on,  I’ll be right back.”  I agreed to the terms and faded back into the wall, hoping to reconvene in the near future.  We waited.   And waited.  We hung out for a little while longer and started to get antsy.  I found Pat Quinn and asked him haphazardly if Wayne was still around.  Pat said Wayne took off.  My heart nearly broke into a million pieces.   

My brother and I took a de-briefing as to the events that had just taken place.  We snuck into somewhere we weren’t allowed.  We met the best hockey players in the world.  I saw Wayne Gretzky, shook his hand, said something to him, and he even replied with a partial sentence to me.  All in all, not a bad day.  I went home all smiles.  Sure Wayne blew me off, but I accomplished my goal and did meet my boyhood hero. 

And that’s how I met Wayne Gretzky. 

Ask my brother Rob if you don’t believe me.

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