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Book review - A Strange Little Place - the haunting and unexplained events of one small town · 2 September 2016 by colin newell

A stranger place - the hauntings and unexplained events of one small town.

Revelstoke: Where the worlds of the living, dead, and extraordinary collide.

Brennan Storr, of Revelstoke, British Columbia, a rustic, rugged and alpine town in Western Canada, considers his hometown something of a magical place. But that was not always the case.

Brennan was not a believer in much of anything in the spirit world apart from what he could see in front of him and hold in his hand. Slowly but surely he would be converted to a new reality.

On the rare occasions when Brennan Storr’s family, on his mother’s side, would get together, they would tell ghost stories about the house where they all grew up.

He did have a few personal stories of the unexplained. Nothing dramatic, really, apart from a small collection of inexplicable things that had happened throughout his life. Brennan offered “Understand, I didn’t believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but I got a lot of mileage out of those stories – both my family’s and my own – at parties.”

But in his debut book, A Strange Little Place – the haunting and unexplained events of one small town – Brennan reveals, in 33 succinct chapters, the unusual fabric of time and space that permeates Revelstoke.

“I’ll be straight with you – If you believe that UFO’s, Sasquatch and the like are all nonsense of the highest order, I have no intention of trying to convince you otherwise. Before starting this book in April 2012 I was in the exact same boat.”

Revelstoke, an internationally recognized destination for winter sports and becoming increasingly popular in the spring and summer for its cultural and outdoor activities, harbours something of a dark secret. If the examples within this 240 page paperback hold any greater meaning, it could be that this little town lies in the focal point or nexus of some mysterious force.

The history and progress of Revelstoke plays a very important role in this tale and Brennan thoroughly documents this relationship while unveiling 70 years of the town’s paranormal fabric. In A Strange Little Place Brennan offers several explanations for these odd events. There are a lot of unusual phenomenon here. There may be some inexplicable connection that links these events together. Clearly, Revelstoke has a quantity of spiritual baggage because of its very colourful and, initially, optimistic future.

Tales of missing time, shadow people, spectral light and sound, UFOs and ghosts spill from the pages in a jaunty kind of way that will leave you questioning your own reality and looking over your shoulder a little more often.

“Assuming he had fallen asleep without turning off the kitchen light, Nelles sleepily rose from bed and returned to the kitchen where, sitting at the table in front of him, was none other than the recently deceased Louis Bafaro.”

Brennan’s style is at once charming, folksy then gritty with a 1940’s gum shoe sensibility.

Perhaps coming from a similar upbringing to the author, I found his stories of the unexplained resonated with me. I was left reanalyzing some of my own experiences. I was opening chapters of my own life that I had often dismissed as “false memory”. I liked Brennan’s book because it made me think about the world around me – and had me squinting more objectively at things I might have not given a second look.

The author - Brennan Storr

A Strange Little Place is a frisky and fast paced read on a subject that I have always been fascinated with. These stories left me wanting more and asking more questions.

Brennan Storr, now a Victoria area resident, is an active story teller, researcher and journalist who has written on many subjects including pop culture, pro wrestling, his own itinerant life and his fascination with dark places. He works in a haunted office building in one of the most haunted cities in North America. His book is readily available on Amazon online (in Canada) and a growing number of small book stores in Western Canada.

You can meet Brennan in person and buy an autographed copy or two of his book at Chapter’s book store, 1212 Douglas St – downtown Victoria on Friday, September 30 from 2 to 4 pm.


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time writer of non-scary stories about coffee and pop culture.

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Social media 101 - 10 things about todays internet · 23 August 2016 by colin newell

Get back to the basics - of the internet

25 years ago the World wide web was born. In the beginning it all seemed simple enough: Web pages were 100% information. Eventually they would include photos and multi-media. At that point the entire resource became limitless as a medium for knowledge deployment, information sharing and instant global communications.

I am fortunate enough to have been born before the internet. To have lived at a time where I did not have instant access to everything, I think, was something of a developmental benefit. It was a valuable experience. Like growing up without electricity or television… not that I was one of those people! It gives one perspective.

At this 25th anniversary juncture, I have some thoughts and questions about where we are at right now – and yes, it is going to come across as “you kids get off of my lawn…” Here are 10 thoughts:

10.) When did content on the internet become all about search engine ratings? Everywhere you look, you see rubbish, junk content and click bait. This article, for a refreshing change, is 100% information. There is nothing for you to click on, no sensational content, no mass reloads of pages to see one simple article. You are not forced to load 10 pages of ads to see a 300 word article. It respects you and does not treat you like a fool. This is actually the top thing that gets me fuming. Because I am fuming, I put it at the top of the list!

9.) When did the internet (our greatest knowledge resource) become so dumbed down and assume we are all stupid? We are not stupid. The average person functioning on this planet is quite smart. You have to be to survive. So why does the “internet media” feel that we are all idiots?

8.) Where there is potential for so much more we see endless quantities of junk or rubbish content, scandal sheet articles, click bait and pointless advertising shills that pose as meaningful consumer reviews. It’s everywhere. This article has no hidden agenda. There are no surprises. No insults.

7.) Whither integrity? I may not believe in the same things that you do, but I have stood for some things all the years I have been online and have not really changed my perspective that much.
Websites that try and pass off rubbish for pure profit – or legitimate media sites that include rubbish content (like our local Times-Colonist newspaper) leave me feeling kind of cold.
In their favour I imagine that the life of newspapers is a pretty tight one right now and maybe their very survival depends on this strategy.

6.) Too much information. Yea, I use Facebook and Twitter. When did the curtain of a reasonable expectation of privacy fall away with everyone (quoting a dear Hawaiian friend…) “Drop their panties for the camera…” Is it because we all want to share every moment of our lives and all our desires OR have we been conditioned to do so. I think it is the combination of the two.

5.) Is this a lost opportunity. I think every day we are given the chance to make a small contribution to the greater good of the Planet. The power of the internet and access to information could help us do this. But we waste our time running around after junk content, passing off jokes and gags as a meaningful use of our time and chasing phantoms in the street as a game (Pokemon…) Yup, full on old man rant now!

4.) I’ve still got hope. Actually, I think during a crisis situation the net becomes an awesome tool for coming to the rescue and marshalling a response really fast. Examples include the devastating Earthquakes in S.E. Asia (Indonesia, Thailand), Japan and Haiti. There is no question that people can pull together when they need to. And who knows, maybe the greatest global challenge is still ahead of us.

3.) Why all the eggs in one basket? I worry about the centralization of media and information on the internet and the abandonment or neglect of traditional forms of media, like newspaper, TV and radio. When you think about it, for the consumer, radio is one of the most economical mediums to reach a very large audience at little cost to the end consumer. TV used to be like that in the day we had TV antennas. Truth is, you can still put up a TV antenna and pick up a lot of good stuff – even HD. Most people don’t know this. For most of us, our cable bill (often bundled with internet) is often the priciest of utilities that we have little or nothing to show for our expenditure at the end of the month… apart from wasted time maybe.

2.) Spam is still king. It takes many forms but by and large, unwelcome e-mail is still the bane of the internet that has been with us every day the internet has existed. If anything, our laws and tools against spam may actually be improving. Ironically perhaps, we have grown to trust online commerce for its robust nature, selection and time-saving capabilities and it might just be that we don’t even need spam anymore – of that it might be completely ineffective anyway.

1.) There is hope. I just told you a bunch of different things. Perhaps they may have been laid out in a haphazard manner without the best grammar or punctuation. What I have tried to do is challenge my readers on some level, getting them to stop and think for a few minutes. This content is simply that. Content. No more. No less. So on this 25th anniversary of the world wide web, I offer you this. A single page of words with no music, no photos, no links, no promoted content, no rubbish or bullshit.

Take this knowledge freely. And in your internet travels, keep a watch out for the truth and integrity – two things often in short supply.


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident, writer, technical analyst and a bunch of other things who has been writing on the internet for an awful long time.

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Social media 101 mad as hell and what are you going to do about it · 21 August 2016 by colin newell

Prisoner of Social Media

I heard a TED Talk not too long ago on CBC radio and I would like to track it down and listen again.

It was all about how social media (as good as it appears to be on a surface examination) has robbed us of creativity and productivity.

How our addiction or dependance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like has separated us of from our true potential selves.

But how is that even possible? I think of myself as a smart person, an engaged person and a person who is making a contribution to society. But am I, as an avid user of social media, really making a difference or the best possible contribution that I possibly can?

Let’s talk about one contribution that I make to the World around me that I am kind of proud of.

It is the website that I have been writing content for, for over 20 years.
A site that has been suffering from a degree of neglect over the last few years. But can we say definitively that this is the actual issue? Perhaps I have said everything I need to say about coffee culture or that it is time for younger voices to be heard. Fact is, when I started writing about the culture of caffeine consumption 20 years ago, I was relatively alone in a very finite field of coffee writers. That has changed. But could I be doing more?

Well, here is my truthful observation. In an average day, I may dedicate 45 minutes to “social media” or the “internet”. You know, checking e-mail, posting a couple of tweets or photos and updating my “Facebook” status. In that 45 minutes I may flip over to one of my web projects, like this one, and have a quick look see to make sure everything is ship shape… a couple of seconds of my time.

The reality of social media is that we are now all working for “free” for giant media mining companies like Facebook and Twitter. Many of my friends post on twitter like it is their own personal blog, not realizing that every word they are writing is being “exploited” in some fashion or another. They share their lives, their birthdays, the very minutiae of their earthly existence. I am often astounded by the sheer richness, the overwhelming quantity of words and thoughts that people post to their Facebook space is if it was a private personal journal. They update their profile photo’s with every change of hairstyle or mood. Outwardly this would appear to be pretty darn harmless. But is it?

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. Most global conspiracies are merely that: the product of someones overly fertilized imagination. If there was a conspiracy of global domination driven by a handful of evil doers, I think word would get out. And yet, here we are, sharing our whereabouts, our birthdays, our holidays and our most intimate feelings to an online behemoth. Relationships germinate, develop and coalesce and often die miserable deaths on social media. We use social media, like Facebook, as if it was some tangential communications form as reliable and without strings attached as a casual conversation or a binding agreement between strangers.

We often worry about an overly nosy government or police forces that want more power to surveil, ostensibly to save us from ourselves or terror threats, also imagined and otherwise. And on one hand we fight excessive police powers while revealing our destination, location and desires every hour and minute of each and every day. What happened to the essence of our private selves?

I have had this conversation with many, many people about this phenomenon of “social networking” and how much we all “need” social media. Parents and grand parents insist that they would not be able to connect with their children and grand children if it was not for social media APPS like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Seriously? What did we go before electronic social media? We picked up the phone and put pen to letter.

I do not wish to be a luddite but I cannot help but look in the mirror occasionally and ask myself, what kind of contribution could I have made today if I wasn’t spending so much time naval gazing and looking for that perfect, funny, witty or perfunctory tweet that will, I assure myself, change the World.

My mother once told me two stories that have hung with me my entire life: after I spent an evening in front of the TV glued to a sitcom with my dad and sisters that the World could crumble around us if we did not occasionally “self assess” our devotion to pop culture (at the time television entertainment).

And while standing at a bus top in the early 70’s she overheard two young women talking about a TV celebrity as if they they knew the characters personally. And one of the girls said to the other one, “Hey, isn’t that you brother across the street sitting on that park bench?” And the girl squinted and said, “Yea, I think so… haven’t talked to him in years…”

Perhaps what life in the 21st Century should really be about is balance. It takes work to achieve balance and sometimes it’s just easy to go with the flow. And that’s what scares me.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and writer, often with a mug of coffee in hand – looking for the truth or something that passes as truth.

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Long lost Gibson Guitar Les Paul Gold top stolen from ago · 2 June 2016 by colin newell

Lost (Stolen) Gibson Guitar from Victoria B.C. 1992

A very long time (1985) I was a Gibson guitar player – they are awesome for Rock, Blues, Jazz, pretty much whatever you want to play. And I played it in a few pick-up bands and a couple of outfits that played a few shows… in a life a long time ago.

That said, I was not a big fan of this for some reason. Might have been the colour or the weight.

Ah, the weight! It was like carrying around a large dog draped around your shoulder – like a Lab or a Bull Mastiff -

And the sound of the Gibson Les Paul is unmistakable – it snarled like a cornered tiger and commanded any musical performance it was involved with.

But the weight got me down… literally… and one day I sold it to a notable and currently successful musician. That was in 1990 or so.

The new owner traveled the World with it – and took on a new life of its own.

Long Lost Gibson Serial

Then one day: It was in the locked trunk of of the owner, “Sean’s” 1980 Buick in underground, gated parking beneath the Seagate Apartments on Esquimalt Rd. He came home after an afternoon practice and had left it for around two hours before he had to head out to another practice. Two hours in a locked basement garage. It could have been an inside job, an unscrupulous neighbour… someone that clearly did not appreciate the fact that this particular guitar playing fellows livelihood depended on those 6 stringed instruments. Guitar be gone.

Anyway – occasionally I make a shout out to the World about this missing guitar – likely in the wrong hands, maybe getting played, maybe not or in the hands of someone that is not aware that it is hot.

Anyway – here is the picture of the guitar stolen years ago – and somewhere out there, this guitar is waiting to come home to its owner. If you see it, please send it on its way.

The original owner thanks you!

This was a 1971 or 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe with hard case stolen from the Seagate Apartment parking lot in 1992. The serial number is 171568

Any intel on this item would likely be rewarded with cash or whole bean coffee! Or both!

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Moving, moving, moving... · 30 March 2013 by colin newell

Linode getting it on

If you have noticed an absence of activity around these parts for the last month, it is because I have been prepping numerous websites for an “experimental” move off of Islandnet.com (after almost 18 years with them…) after many technical hiccups, slow downs, the occasional Ddos attacks etc – it was simply time for a change.

Do not get me wrong – Islandnet has been great – it has been puzzling to me why (for me) that are the slowest loading pages on the internet. My customers and readers simply cannot wait 10 to 20 seconds – sometimes minutes for the pages of my sites to load. Additionally, I will be keeping my Islandnet accounts very much alive as instant back up for my own new ISP that I have created – I do still believe in product loyalty and keeping “largely good” relationships intact.

So, I have moved over to Linode.com where I am my own ISP maintaining my own virtual cloud servers – 10 times the firepower and arguably 5 times the speed – for around the same coin – with tons of space to spare.

My bottom line folks is keeping my websites fast and accessible to my readers – no excuses, no technical foul ups, no mysteries…

I do not “do the web” merely as a pass time. I have a message and lots of media to share – and if there are black-outs, I want to be the one responsible for it.

Enjoy the new experience on DXer.ca and Coffeecrew.com for starters. More to come.
And now I can concentrate on getting some new content out there. Thank you for your patience!

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