July 2009


Let’s Get Moist!

No Ego Here, Just Books.

No Ego Here, Just Books.

Today is Canada Day, so to my Canuck Friends, and almost-Canuck Friends, let me wish you the very best.

Although I am from the States, I have to confess that I really like Canada. It wasn’t one of the listed options on my vacation suggestions post, but I have put Calgary on my short list of potential destinations for a fall vacation.

Canada has few of the disadvantages of the United States but with most of the advantages. About the only disadvantage I can think of is one I covered a few years back: limited freedom of speech. On the other hand, gun control is better, people are more polite, and the money is infinitely prettier.

Alexander Wood: Honoured Gay Canadian

Alexander Wood: Honoured Gay Canadian

On that last point: I went through my current reserves of active global currency (US, UK, Armenia, South Africa, Swaziland, Mexico, and the Euro) and as far as I am concerned the prettiest piece of active currency is the Canadian Five Dollar Bill. There is something incredibly nice about it, with the face of Canada’s first Prime Minister on the front and, more importantly, the recognition of ice hockey on the reverse side as Canada’s most important pastime. And it’s not the only nicely thought out Canadian currency: the ten features war remembrance in a field of poppies and the twenty emphasizes the importance of art in communicating culture.

About the only downside to Canadian currency is that all of it is the same size and that the coins are seemingly interchangeable with US currency:

50 Guilders

50 Guilders

I got more US pennies in change than Canadian pennies, and I got at least one US nickel back instead of a Canadian one at some point.

As an aside: while the Canadian 5 is the prettiest active piece of currency, the most beautiful piece of currency I’ve ever used was the Dutch 50 Guilder note. Actually, the entire set of Guilders were pieces of art that one could admire.

Surprisingly, Stuff I Want!

Surprisingly, Stuff I Want!

But as I noted at the end of my last Canadian post, while in Canada I started downloading a number of CBC podcasts—mainly because I’ve been in the market for an English language news podcast that I can listen to on the way to work in the morning. I subscribe to the Guardian Daily, but it comes out at 8:30 CET, which is about an hour too late for my daily commute. The CBC’s daily offer, CBC News World Report is interesting but comes out in mid-afternoon CET, which isn’t especially helpful. (CBC’s biggest advantage over the Guardian: it’s exactly 12 minutes and 30 seconds every day. The Guardian’s podcast is not time constrained and can range from 20 to 35 minutes.) Ultimately the quest for an English language newscast updated between 4 and 7 CET is still ongoing.

Seriously Canadian

Seriously Canadian

However I have found a number of excellent CBC podcasts: Canada Live from CBC Radio 2, Comedy Factory from CBC Radio, and CBC Radio 3 Podcast with Grant Lawrence. The first is a weekly podcast that picks out concerts that are featured on a daily radio show and puts them into mp3 format. For me it’s hit or miss so far. Some of the music I have skipped because it’s not me, but then there have been a couple that I have really grooved out to. The Comedy Factory is a weekly show of humor, some segments of which require knowledge of current Canadian News and politics—which CBC News World Report provides.

1 Every Block

One Every Block

The last podcast, the CBC Radio 3 Podcast with Grant Lawrence is the real gem here: it’s a weekly themed podcast featuring Canadian music—and the back files can be downloaded. This week’s themed podcast (#211) is, apparently, an annual Canada Day feature: Sing for your song, where callers request their favorite Canada songs by singing for them. I would describe the ephemeral qualities of the music, but I, sadly, lack the vocabulary to adequately describe music so I can only say that it was an excellent hours worth of music—and one that I listened to multiple times.

However, for the expat community, it’s time to come full circle: the podcast is moist; none more so than the September 7, 2007, episode #120, “Let’s Get Moist!” I downloaded this episode because it brings back such fond memories of the Bremen Whiney Expatriate Blogger Meet-Up last fall. Not only is the podcast all about getting moist, it is moist in that special way.

4 comments to Let’s Get Moist!

  • Canadians the world over, including those marooned on the northern coast of Germany, salute thee! It’s true: the world does need more Canada. 🙂

    About our currency: We used to have a $1,000 bill until about 10 years ago, when, probably under pressure from our neighbours to the south, we were asked to discontinue it because it was a favourite of drug dealers and money launderers. That honour is now bestowed on the 500 euro note.

    If you like bills, that Canadian $1,000 was gorgeous, Adam. It was pink and showed a pastoral scene of a covered bridge in Quebec on the reverse. The only time I ever had one in my pocket was when I took three of them from Hong Kong to Canada when times were flush and we were going on holiday. In a bank in small-town BC I had to sign a form saying who I was and where I lived before they’d break one for me!

    One final tidbit: our much-detested Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney received 250 of those bills in envelopes from a German named Karlheinz Schreiber, who is now awaiting extradition from Canada to Germany on a variety of fraud charges.

  • Ahh, thanks for this post. You get to be an honorary Canadian for the day.

    Thanks also for the CBC podcast links! Never really occured to me until now.

  • Happy Canada Day! Let us know if you’re going to Calgary as we might be able to make recommendations re: places to go, etc.

    There’s also an excellent piece in the NYT Op-Ed today re: things that expat Canadians living in the US miss about their home country; contributors include Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Moranis. See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/opinion/01canadaday.html?em

  • Ed

    Speaking of currency, the U.S. used to make a 10,000 dollar bill. It was discontinued in the 70’s when electronic transfers made it unnecessary. The largest U.s. currency today is the one hundred dollar bill. Franklin never looked better.
    Overheard in line at McDonald’s: I was behind an elderly gentleman who looked and smelled like he was homeless. He read the sign that said “sorry no bills over 50 dollars accepted”. He turned to me and remarked, “if I had a bill over 50 dollars I sure as hell wouldn’t be eating here”. He then ordered from the dollar menu.