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Fundraiser for a new Canadian from Ukraine · Sunday July 24, 2022 by colin newell

This is an urgent plea, from a friend of mine, to bring a Ukrainian to Canada due to devastating war.

“I am trying very hard to raise money to bring a Ukrainian person, whom I know well, to Canada as she has lost everything in the war in Ukraine.
Loss of income, husband, home, possessions and family.

She is destitute and barely surviving. I really need your help to help her get here and begin a new life in Canada. I need your one-time donation please.

My name is Noel Crawford of 4000 Malton Avenue.
I am urgently raising money for a critical need and therefore am asking for your immediate assistance.

My friend, Larisa (49 years of age), from Ukraine, is in a very desperate situation and needs help.

She is destitute. Her city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, has been extensively shelled and bombed throughout this war with Russia leaving her with no home, no possessions, and now a deceased husband.
Nothing has been spared. As the shelling and bombing worsened, she and her husband, Bill, left for Poland where they sought refuge with a small suitcase each as their city came under intense bombardment and their apartment was destroyed. A month after their arrival in Warsaw, Poland Bill became ill and unexpectedly died suddenly in a Warsaw hospital.

Photo right – Larisa and Bill in happier times.

Help this lovely lady via the GoFundMe

Larisa was devastated as they were the ideal couple. Larisa has had to move as a refugee to a very unsatisfactory temporary communal living environment sharing with families to survive.
She has one bedroom and shares a bathroom and kitchen with families. Now she is located approximately 400 km from Warsaw in a location outside of Gdansk, Poland. She has only $800 and has lost her entire income stream directly due to the war and Bill’s passing. Therefore, I am trying to help her get to safety and a life in Canada. Larisa applied for a Canadian Visa and a working VISA in April as a “Displaced Person” but has no funds for airfare, relocation costs, food, clothing, and everything else!

She is still in Poland while awaiting the Visas and her departure to Canada.
I have secured two years of guaranteed temporary living arrangements with friends in Campbell River with good employment and support potential.

My Member of Parliament has been contacted and greatly assisted with suggestions and ideas. We are asking for donations to help Larisa in her time of dire need. Any donation is sincerely and urgently appreciated. Imagine ourselves in the same situation!

A little history of my knowing Larisa and her deceased husband Bill.

I travelled to Ukraine for various periods amounting to 22 months over four years.
While in Ukraine, I met Bill and Larisa and worked with them in Mykolaiv in their tiny, superb English Language School that they had to close in 2018.
I knew them very well. Each trip to Ukraine brought me to Mykolaiv, and seeing them daily between my extensive travelling within Ukraine.
We have regularly communicated since my last trip to Ukraine and have followed their lives there. They have been close friends. Sadly, with the loss of Bill and the war Larisa has lost her entire income stream and it is now a very dire situation while sharing a single bathroom and communal kitchen with families she does not know.

We would help Larisa ourselves financially without asking for donations for her. However, we have been financially helping to support my wife’s sister and bedridden mother in Ukraine for the past ten years and are financially stretched to the limit.

I have set up a GoFundMe account for this purpose. Please copy the link below to donate.

Alternatively, simply go to your online bank account, click on “INTERAC e transfers” and send to my email address

Your donation is then directly sent to the bank account set up specifically for this purpose. I am notified immediately. You may also leave cash or a cheque in our mailbox including your name and address. All donations will go to help Larisa get here to Canada.

If you do not wish to donate that is your choice of course. I am simply doing my best trying to help someone who is an excellent, hard working individual who has lost everything, in order for her to be able to help her get to Canada and start a new life in Canada. Her life has been destroyed as direct result of this terrible war.

An accounting of all donated funds will be sent to every contributor when the Larisa arrives in Canada and is settled. Please ensure that you leave your name and address when donating in order that I may thank you and provide an accounting of the funds at a later date. Thank you ever so very much for donating!! Please do donate!”

Noel Crawford 4000 Malton Avenue.


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.

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