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The Leeming Effect - stop dragging my timeline around · Sunday April 11, 2021 by colin newell

Man of mystery or guardian

Around two decades ago I was in the parking lot at the University of Victoria – likely on a Saturday – doing some extra chores.

I finished up about mid-day and was about to set off for some downtown routine to-do items when a strange man appeared in front of my car. He was quite distinguished and around 60 years old – give or take.

I tapped the brake to a stop and he stood by the drivers side window as I rolled it down.
“Hello…” I said, if offering some help to someone appearing very lost.
“Hello…” he paused, and continued. “Do you know someone by the name of John Smith?”
“Why yes, I do…” relieved that this interaction was about to start making sense.
The man looked up over the hood into the sunshine, squinting and paused for around 30 more seconds.
He then returned his very serious looking gaze to me. Another pause of around 30 seconds began. This time the seconds seemed to tick by much more slowly.
“You have coffee at the Finnerty Express most weekdays do you not?” he pointed out with crystal clarity.
I now felt like I was having a very cautious conversation with a CSIS officer.
“Uhm, yes… yes I do… and…”, I slipped back into the conversation.
He then addressed me by name, which surprised me. “Colin, you are Colin, yes? I shall see you for coffee next week…”
He turned on his heel and vanished as quickly as he appeared.

I had a funny feeling that his presence manifested itself at that moment to impede my progress downtown.
In some small (or profound) way he was interfering with the passage of time or my timeline, that if not interrupted, would have lead to some major or minor catastrophe.

These are regular (I guess if you can call them that…) encounters with regular people who, for the moment, are a form of guardian angel arriving just in a nick of time to prevent something really bad from happening.

And yes, the very next week, “David” appeared for coffee – and has appeared for coffee ever week (vacations occasionally interrupting) since that fateful encounter 20 years ago.

Today a young man stopped me at the Root Cellar farmers market in the very same fashion.
He was drawn to a very special sweat shirt that I was wearing. It was the classic blue sweatshirt from the very old and no longer in existence Victoria College from well before 1963! I won’t include the entire conversation (and for the record I was in no hurry…) but he had so many questions.

So this is what it felt like to be a pop star encountering a fan that I could simply not shake. But in this instance, the shirt was the attraction.

He was with his wife or girlfriend but it seemed that the Victoria College shirt took center stage.

Nothing mattered but the shirt I was wearing.

Within a minute or so of answering a barrage of questions, the answers to which he did not appear to be absorbing, I broke away to go through my grocery shortlist.

Within a minute he re-appeared and the questions began again. I quietly and calmly answered and then satisfied, he returned to his shopping… as if nothing had happened.

In an odd coincidence, the elderly man at the beginning of this story was a Victoria College student and a faculty member!

I could not help feeling that I’d just had some kind of alien encounter – but in a good way. I mean, I am, by and large, a science guy, but very occasionally, lost in the glint of bright sunlight or hidden in the shadows of a rainy Victoria afternoon, rests something very likely between science… and the Twilight Zone


Colin Newell lives and works in Victoria B.C. Canada and has been writing about coffee and food culture for what feels like an eternity…

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Long lost Gibson Guitar Les Paul Gold top stolen from ago · Saturday March 20, 2021 by colin newell

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

A very long time ago (1985) I was a Gibson guitar player – The Gibson Les Paul guitars are awesome for Rock, Blues, Jazz, pretty much whatever you want to play.

And I played this one in a few eighties bands… in a life a long time ago.

That said, I was not a big fan of this for some reason. It 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 -

The sound of the Gibson Les Paul is unmistakable – it snarled like a cornered tiger and effortlessly took charge of any musical performance it was involved with.

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

The new owner traveled the World with it – and the old Gibson took on a new life of its own. Click photo for bigger view

Long Lost Gibson Serial

Then one day in 1992, 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.

Click Photo for a bigger view.

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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Last call from Amelia Earhart · Friday July 27, 2018 by colin newell

Amelia Earhart 1937

Amelia Earhart waded into the Pacific Ocean and climbed into her downed and disabled Lockheed Electra.

She started the engine, turned on the two-way radio and sent out a plea for help, one more desperate than previous messages.

The high tide was getting higher, she had realized. Soon it would suck the plane into deeper water, cutting Earhart off from civilization — and any chance of rescue.

Across the world, a 15-year-old girl listening to the radio in St. Petersburg, Fla., transcribed some of the desperate phrases she heard: “waters high,” “water’s knee deep — let me out” and “help us quick.”

A housewife in Toronto heard a shorter message, but it was no less dire: “We have taken in water . . . we can’t hold on much longer.”

That harrowing scene, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes, was probably one of the final moments of Earhart’s life. The group put forth the theory in a paper that analyzes radio distress calls heard in the days after Earhart disappeared.

PostLostRadioAnalysis.pdf

In the summer of 1937, she had sought to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Instead, TIGHAR’s theory holds, she ended up marooned on a desert island, radioing for help.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, could only call for help when the tide was so low it wouldn’t flood the engine, TIGHAR theorized. That limited their pleas for help to a few hours each night.

It wasn’t enough, TIGHAR director Ric Gillespie told The Washington Post, and the pair died as castaways.

But those radio messages form a historical record — evidence that Gillespie says runs counter to the U.S. Navy’s official conclusion that Earhart and Noonan died shortly after crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

On July 2, 1937, just after Earhart’s plane disappeared, the U.S. Navy put out an “all ships, all stations” bulletin, TIGHAR wrote. Authorities asked anyone with a radio and a trained ear to listen in to the frequencies she had been using on her trip, 3105 and 6210 kilohertz.

It was not an easy task. The Electra’s radio was designed to communicate only within a few hundred miles. The Pacific Ocean is much bigger.

The searchers listening to Earhart’s frequencies heard a carrier wave, which indicated that someone was speaking, but most heard nothing more than that. Others heard what they interpreted to be a crude attempt at Morse code.

But thanks to the scientific principle of harmonics, TIGHAR says, others heard much more. In addition to the primary frequencies, “the transmitter also put out ‘harmonics (multiples)’ of those wavelengths,” the paper says. “High harmonic frequencies ‘skip’ off the ionosphere and can carry great distances, but clear reception is unpredictable.”

That means Earhart’s cries for help were heard by people who just happened to be listening to their radios at the right time.

According to TIGHAR’s paper:

Scattered across North America and unknown to each other, each listener was astonished to suddenly hear Amelia Earhart pleading for help. They alerted family members, local authorities or local newspapers. Some were investigated by government authorities and found to be believable. Others were dismissed at the time and only recognized many years later. Although few in number, the harmonic receptions provide an important glimpse into the desperate scene that played out on the reef at Gardner Island.

The tide probably forced Earhart and Noonan to hold to a schedule. Seek shelter, shade and food during the sweltering day, then venture out to the craft at low tide, to try the radio again.

Back in the United States, people heard things, tidbits that pointed at trouble.

On July 3, for example, Nina Paxton, an Ashland, Ky., woman, said she heard Earhart say “KHAQQ calling,” and say she was “on or near little island at a point near” … “then she said something about a storm and that the wind was blowing.”

“Will have to get out of here,” she says at one point. “We can’t stay here long.”

What happened to Earhart after that has vexed the world for nearly 81 years, and TIGHAR is not the only group to try to explain the mystery.

Washington Post Link

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Reader's Digest Canada rant chapter two - seniors under siege · Tuesday June 27, 2017 by colin newell


Readers Digest Rant – You’re naughty, naughty, naughty!

or click here for the mp3 if you cannot see the above widget.


This is a reboot of one of my favourite blogs (and rants) from gasp 2009! Enjoy.

I spoke with a rep from Canada Post today…
and he said (from his post office in the Oak Bay village)…

“We get 10 to 15 citizens that come into this little post office every day of business that are returning materials to Reader’s Digest!”

10 to 15 folks. Every day. Most of them seniors. From one Post Office!

I have been on the phone to Reader’s Digest canada twice in the last week and I get the following scripted dialogue from their service partners…

“It is not the policy of Reader’s Digest Canada to send people unsolicited materials or products.”

Canada Readers Digest Rant 2009 Seniors hassled

Okay then. What the heck is happening when 10 to 15 citizens are appearing at each Canadian post office daily?
Here is my theory.
Canadians, by the droves, are returning “pieces of mail from Reader’s Digest Canada” that, according to Reader’s Digest, are no-obligation entry forms for their $500,000 sweepstakes.

What our Canadian seniors are failing to do is read the fine print.

Because with every “win $500,000 now” sweepstakes shills is, very likely, a piece of fine print that states – in exchange for your no obligation entry into the Reader’s Digest $500,000 contest, you agree to purchase X quantity of books at market value.

Market value huh? I am looking at a $700 invoice for my dear old aunt. She has a stack of books on her Reader’s Digest mail strewn coffee table – that she claims that she did not order. So what happened? I suspect that she did not read the fine print… over and over and over again.

Today I returned a 4-CD set of elevator music to Reader’s Digest Canada that one could, arguably, buy at Shoppers Drug Mart for $22.
Reader’s Digest cost: $79

Is Reader’s Digest breaking any Canadian laws? In short, no.
Are they doing anything unethical? That is out there for debate.

I think we are going to be hearing way more about this Reader’s Digest Canada issue.

Because the bottom line, for me, is:
Protect our seniors from scam artists… whomever they might be.

Have a listen!


Readers Digest Rant – You’re naughty, naughty, naughty!

or click here for the mp3 if you cannot see the above widget.


Colin Newell gets mad when our elderly are exploited in any way. And when he gets angry, he gets blogging!

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Book review - A Strange Little Place - the haunting and unexplained events of one small town · Friday September 2, 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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