CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, drink and love...
like there is no tomorrow.
Because, hey, you never know!.

Book review - Chase of the Rising Sun - Colin Rink · Monday July 4, 2022 by colin newell

Colin Rink - author of Chase of the Rising SunI grew up out in the countryside listening to the national broadcaster of Japan, NHK, on the shortwave spectrum. In the 1970’s, international broadcasting was about to enter its peak before a swift decline in the 1990’s.

Inasmuch as I knew about Japan, from what I was taught in school, watched on television (with the requisite twisted stereotypes more typical of 1960’s television), I was always fascinated by this mysterious culture. A society, largely closed to the rest of the World, save for tourism. NHK radio opened up some of the secrets of this nation and I was hooked.

In Colin Rink’s debut novel, Chase of the Rising Sun, Colin crafts a tale of adventure, intrigue, romance and tragedy around one Mark Rasper, a newly minted 30 year old from Vancouver B.C. who is eager to break free. Rasper has tired of his job, the shallowness of his relationships and succumbs to a yearning for travel and a fresh start.

Obsessed with Japanese culture and traditions, Rasper pulls up all his stakes and heads to Tokyo with a small suitcase, backpack and the barest of minimums of Japanese fluency. Propelled by a solid job opportunity from his Vancouver employer, Rasper finds himself immediately over his head as if overwhelmed by the power of a Pacific tsunami.

For those that have bookmarked Japan as a future destination, Chase of the Rising Sun is as much a thriller as it is a tourist masterclass on what awaits the first time visitor. Attention to detail is exquisite. The sights, sounds and smells of the Tokyo culinary scene literally waft off each page as the reader is slowly drawn into the fray.

Rink leaves few aspects of Japanese daily life off of the table – which reinforces the solidity and believability of “Rising Sun.” Whether it is the almost insurmountable task of merely “fitting in” or getting a more complete understanding of the work culture, to the habit of “work hard, work long hours and drink impossible amounts of liquor late into the night…” Rink does not miss one rhythm of this nations mysterious heart beat.

I found Chase of the Rising Sun to be an immediately breezy read – with a familiarity to it that was more a byproduct of my preexisting knowledge of this cryptic and often contradictory society. For those seeking a culinary or cultural shockwave to Japan, this is a must read or must pack along. From the food and beverage aspect of the novel, the cuisine alone is a sufficient enticement to drop what you are doing and buy a ticket pronto! And by the way, this book is not a foodies guide to the land of the Rising Sun – but more an extension of the author’s literacy. And I loved it.

Chase of the Rising Sun would be a great first book with some tame adult content for teens – but enjoyed immensely by this 60 year old. There are some surprising twists and turns in the novel. If there was one bone to pick, I genuinely wanted more – and I was left not knowing – which made the denouement of the book… well, I’ll let you find out for yourself!

Chase of the Rising Sun is available in most reputable bookstores and on Amazon!

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and lover of coffee and cocktail culture – and occasionally reviews a book or two. Read? Me? You bet – and you should too!


Trust in life and you will see - The Movember series chapter one · Tuesday October 5, 2021 by colin newell

Way back in 2013, I was struggling with an assortment of things – as many people do.

Troubles: They come and go… in varying intensities for most of us.

That period of my life was particularly problematic with the loss of my dad, my mother-in-law, a brother-in-law and a close friend. Stuff like that can overwhelm. And the best thing you can do is talk about it to someone – seek professional help – or confide in someone you trust.

And from my circle of friends came some gentle and creative suggestions. One of which was to listen to (and watch) a few videos from a Jamaican-British spiritualist speaker by the name of Mooji. Many people have heard of him – and probably as many question the efficacy of spiritualist – new age – mumbo jumbo. That said, I gave one video a view – and then a repeated view – and it had me smiling. And it tweaked that “Hmmmm, is this video meant for me feeling?”

The whole point of my misery at the time was the fact that my World appeared to be spiralling out of control and there was nothing I could do about it – and yet at the end of each and every day during my personal crisis, things did seem “OK”. At least they balanced out as it were. The sky never fell. Nothing terrible befell me apart from that gnawing feeling of loss and constant unease.

When I combined my take away from this video and some similar to it – and added some meditative tools, like mindfulness and living in the moment, the darkness slowly started to ease and the skies cleared. Before long I felt joy again.

Now I know that one cannot feel happy all the time – it is no more complicated than looking around at the state of the Planet. It’s messed up. But each and every one of us have to live and keeping putting one foot ahead of the other. There are few other choices.

In this series of blog posts through the end of November, we are going to talk about emotional health, self care, smiling during a pandemic and growing a moustache for mental and physical wellness – something I have been doing for 12 years!

Stay tuned!

Some music – One of my favourite cover tunes is from my home studio – I’m singing and playing the guitar and piano and everything else… this epic old Rolling Stones songs resonates on so many levels and reminds us – sometimes exactly what you need is right in front of us. Enjoy! Be at peace… and find your own wellness.

You can’t always get what you want…

Download – You-Cannot-Always-get-what-you-want-v11.mp3


Book review On Borrowed Time by Gregor Craigie · Thursday September 30, 2021 by colin newell

On Borrowed Time - Gregor Craigie

Broadcast journalist Gregor Craigie has been on the radio; CBC Radio 1 Vancouver Island, CBS, the British Broadcasting Corporation and Public Radio International in the United States as well as CBC Television as a political reporter…

Audio snippet – the thinking behind the book

Vancouver Island’s largest historic earthquake was a magnitude 7.3 event that occurred at 10:13 a.m. on Sunday June 23, 1946. The epicentre was in the Forbidden Plateau area of central Vancouver Island, just to the west of Courtenay and Campbell River.

This earthquake caused considerable damage on Vancouver Island, felt as far away as Portland Oregon, and Prince Rupert B.C. and brought down 75% of the chimneys in the closest communities, Cumberland, Union Bay, and Courtenay and it inflicted damage in Comox, Port Alberni, and Powell River. Bricks and chimneys were shaken down in Victoria. Remarkably only two deaths were recorded, one due to drowning when a small boat capsized in an earthquake-generated wave, and the other from a heart attack in Seattle.

In 1973, I spoke to a neighbourhood couple who were eye witnesses…

“My boyfriend (and future husband) were 19 years old at the time and working on a farm near Cumberland. We had just wrapped up some morning chores when the ground started moving back and forth and then up and down. My first instinct was to drop to the ground. It was difficult to stand. The ground (and we could see a mile or so in every direction…) was undulating like a Northwest wind pushing waves on a lake. In a minute, maybe two, the worse was over…”

No one, ever, forgets the sensations, sounds and smells following or during a calamity. Earthquakes have that unique ability to wipe away everything we believe in and rely on in the World around us.

My personal experiences with ground shaking have been largely limited to Richter scale 6 temblors on Vancouver Island and in the Hawaiian Islands (during volcanic activity…) – and without exception, these were amongst the most frightening physical experiences of my life.

In Gregor Craigie’s debut book, “On Borrowed Time”, he takes us on an unrelenting journey through the physics and geology, topology and psychology of the earthquake. From San Francisco (1906 and 1989), Christchurch (2011), Alaska (1964), Indonesia (2004) and Japan (2011) and more.

Christchurch, New Zealand, a city that eerily matches Victoria, B.C. in layout, architecture and seismic vulnerability, takes centre stage…

The quake struck in the noon hour, when many office workers in Christchurch’s central business district were out looking for lunch. As earthquakes go, the February 2011 temblor was a relatively moderate magnitude-6.3 event, but that number hid the true terror. Accelerometers near the epicentre measured the peak ground acceleration at more than 2g, or twice the force of gravity. That’s roughly four times the peak ground force acceleration recorded in the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti and roughly twenty times stronger than the force a passenger in a typical commercial airliner might feel during takeoff.

On Borrowed Time - Paperback

Gregor’s tireless research, natural curiosity, and experiences with calamity help shape this masterclass in the consequences of deferring the necessary improvements to infrastructure – action that will, without any doubt, save lives and bring peace of mind to residents of seismically active regions.

A decade in the works, Gregor interviewed scientists, engineers, researchers, disaster victims, civic leaders and city planners on the peril that faces over 100 million citizens in North America alone.

On Borrowed Time is not a breezy read. It is an exhausting and sobering treatise on the very nature of the Earth beneath our feet and the peril of neglecting the individual and collective community preparedness that must take place – if not now, then soon. In example after example (The Christchurch, New Zealand versus Victoria B.C. Canada comparisons for instance…) Gregor reminds us West Coast residents, “You see that place over there? Well, that could be just as easily here…”

The overarching point of Gregor’s work is: “Don’t lose hope or live in fear. Be prepared and take steps for you, your family and community. Earthquakes are inevitable. Staggering loss of life is not.

On Borrowed Time is a runaway train that has to be ridden to the end of the line. My impression after two thoughtful reads is that this is a book that you are not going to want to read – it is a book that you must read – It’s a book that belongs in every school, in every workplace… on shelves that are well secured to the wall. On Borrowed Time is available at all book stores and online.

Colin Newell is a life long resident of Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia.

Shake rattle and roll your thoughts to me

Sea to Sky series Chapter 1 - with Bush pilot Ryan from Papua New Guinea · Monday September 7, 2020 by colin newell

I’ve often thought that God has to have a sense of humour. Moments after creation, the supreme being paused for a moment, and during a millisecond of pique, created Papua New Guinea as an exercise in extremes.

For Papua New Guinea is a land of unapologetic beauty, impossibly isolated mountain ranges, with waterfalls emptying into valleys of inexhaustible fertility.

Bush Pilot Ryan with happy passengers

Ryan Farran was fascinated by aviation while growing up in Papua New Guinea. The child of missionaries, it was during adolescence he decided that a life of service to the people of PNG, from sea to sky, would be his career choice.
His work for Ethnos360 Aviation, a non-profit organization, assists tribal church planning missionaries, running MedEvac missions and supplying safe water projects, to name a few.

We asked Ryan where his interest began, “I have had the itch to be a pilot since probably first grade. It’s always been an interest, but it wasn’t until about 11th grade that I made the decision that being a pilot is what I wanted to do. More specifically, a missionary pilot. Flying with the airlines looks too monotonous and boring. I like the fast pace, single pilot aspect of my job.”

We reflected, how “a kid from the United States…” would adapt to a cultural mosaic that could not be more diverse and separate from his own.

The actual answer is likely more complex. Papua New Guinea is, on geography alone, a place so exquisitely secluded, that a 25 minute flight between villages is a 4 day trip through impenetrable jungle. This is where the benefit of bush flying comes in. However dangerous this job might be, and not without a myriad of challenges, a skilled pilot makes the difference between getting supplies to an isolated community a reliable option versus, well, not at all.

Ryan continued, “I was born in Missouri, but grew up everywhere. My parents went into missions when I was 5, so we moved around a lot for that. We lived in Papua New Guinea in the late 80’s and early 90’s for 4 years. That is where I got my first introduction to bush pilots. From 6th grade on, we lived in the States, mainly in Michigan where I finished off high school and started my flight training at age 19.”

Ryan discovered, early on, that the people of Papua New Guinea are easy going and friendly. Guests in this country must be mindful that this is a paradise where time and distance are not measured in quite the way we are familiar with.

Today, tomorrow or next week all can mean the very same thing. On some primordial level, this is simply the way things get done.

For Ryan, this sense of time suits him just fine. His greatest joy is planning out his day, making all of the important decisions and completing his mission safely, “on time” in a World where time is often meaningless.

Ryan again, “We live, on a missionary center, and it’s kind of like raising your kids back in the 1950’s in a small town where everyone knows one everyone else. We live on a 35 acre village with about 250 other missionaries.
There are a ton of kids for our kids to play with, and a school that has K-12. It really is great when one finds his purpose in life doing what he loves, and having eternal value while doing it. It’s definitely a rewarding and fulfilling life.”

Bush Pilot Kodiak Cockpit - 2020

Ryan’s company aircraft is the Kodiak. Purpose built in Sandpoint, Idaho, the Kodiak is considered one of the more robust STOL (Short take-off and landing) aircraft seemingly destined for the most efficient humanitarian workloads. With a cargo capacity approaching 1000 kg, it’s a lifeline to communities that are separated by the most rugged of countryside.

For those seeking a career in bush pilot flying, be advised, the training is a long haul, 10 years or so according to Ryan. If our readers think there is anything routine about this line of work, Ryan offers…

“Yes, my most memorable flight days have been usually linked around bad weather.
Coming to the field with Very little IFR (instrument ) experience, it has made me learn it very well and fast.
PNG’s weather can change in a blink of an eye, keeping you on your toes at all times.
That aspect of the ever changing weather can be challenging at times, and fun other times.

Even though we fly a lot of the same routes to different bush locations, no two flights are ever the same. Cloudy or rainy weather can make the area look completely foreign.

I wind down with my hobbies. I love riding my dirtbike through the local mountains. I’ve probably put on 8000 miles over the past 4 years. I’ve always had a passion for photography, and it’s only been in the past 6 years that I’ve started getting into videography, and actually enjoy it even more.”

Ryan’s Missionary Bush Pilot YouTube channel is a delight to watch if you are interested in aviation and rugged terrain.

Comment [5]

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.


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