Friday, December 14, 2007

Breakfast at the Pan Pacific

Free breakfast at one of the fancier hotels in town - that is a phrase that almost always has me interested. It was a charity fundraiser where people had to bring new, unwrapped toys to be donated to needy kids at Christmas and in exchange, you could either eat a free breakfast, or at least get a coffee and donut if you were in a rush.

We opted for the breakfast. We always opt for breakfast.

It was a nice start to the day. From where we were sitting we had a nice view of North Vancouver as the clouds slowly started to lift, in typical West Coast fashion. I even made it to work on time afterwards.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Now we REALLY got the snow :(

Originally uploaded by Stephen Dyrgas all the wrong places - here in the streets. I did not take this picture, it was one I grabbed from flickr by searching tags for 'Vancouver' and 'snow'. It looks like the Kits area and the way the Porsche is sliding reminded me of our street. Slippery.

Oh well, it should warm up soon, right? Right?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We got the snow

Originally uploaded by iTripped all the right places. That is to say, the mountains are all nicely dusted but the grass is still green down by the water. This time last year we were buried under a foot of snow, at least at the place I was staying in Burnaby.

It's getting colder and definitely feels like winter now, but the longer the snow holds off, the happier I will be. At least for now the day was sunny and not quite warm, but not quite cold either. And the mountains do look cool with that fresh coat of powder. Which is just where it belongs.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can't blog from blogger but can from Flickr

Originally uploaded by iTripped
... on the iPod touch, of course.

The weird part is that the main text entry field on blogger has some error and does not allow entry from this device. Oh well, it will be fixed soon I am sure.

Today I found myself tackling one of many micro releases at the office. Hopefully it will let up with some of these new features (like data entry screens) - assuming that we test it well enough.

Well I think it is safe to say that this one-finger-virtual-keyboard is better than my palm pilot as I managed this post without hassle. It goes without saying that a physical keyboard would be ideal for this micro computer - especially for IRC or light blogging. Hopefully I don't have to wait too long for a good one.

Final notes: I did not proofread for spelling errors and if this post fails I will likely shoot someone since it is not saved. Here goes nothing!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fog, glorious fog

I am a Maritimer. I have a strong preference to live in a coastal area. Growing up, I always liked it when the fog would roll in, obscuring just about everything and deadening all sound.

It's one of the things I miss most about living on the East Coast.

This morning, I woke up and began my morning commute (after a fantastic American Thanksgiving dinner last night - but that's another story) and wandered toward the skytrain station. It was a pretty sunny morning and I remember thinking that I really need to remember to pack my sunglasses for the odd day when they are needed in Vancouver. The morning sun shines directly down Robson Street, blinding all of us non-awake commuters.

A few minutes later and I am on the train, heading toward Science World, when I look up and notice that False Creek is enshrouded in a thick bank of fog.

Instantly, my day improved about 100%.

The pictures here are pointed toward the site for Olympic Village as seen from Science World and I will put a few more up on flickr. But really, I'm not sure how interesting they are going to be.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lemme Up-grayd Ya

So yesterday, when I arrived at work there was a tidy little package waiting for me. Macy Gray's face was peeking out at me from under a thank you card and I was smiling back at her, for I could see that I was given a new iPod touch.

Everyone in the company got one and they are engraved with the company logo on the back, which was a very nice touch. Nicer still was that each of the thank you cards were hand written by the CEO and specific to each individual. You don't get that kind of personalized attention at larger companies.

Of course, now this means I really will have to start maintaining my other blog. Up until now, I have not been one to use an MP3 player, but a personalized one that also has wifi, well I have to say I was intrigued. More to follow as I figure this stuff out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This is Greg's happy face

Okay, so it was release day at work and we went out for lunch. Since it was on the company dime, we decided to be a little adventurous and try a new place. We settled for a little known place called La Fourchette, which as fancy as it sounds, looks kinda dodgy on the outside.

Here, I took a photo of Greg eating his appetiser. The nervous look had NOTHING to do with the food, honest!

Anyway, it was good food, I'd say better than the delivery we had at dinner time, and I will probably be back again sometime in the future.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Not the time to change the clocks

Last weekend we set our clocks back an hour as we kept in time with America. Changing the time now instead of three weeks from now is okay, but at least the old system was close enough to a holiday to help a person remember when to do it.

But enough about me griping - I was very happy to get an extra hour's sleep this weekend, so I really can't complain.

In other autumn news, the leaves are falling, hence the photo of the covered sidewalk. My dog has really been enjoying the leaves (she chases them in the wind and likes to run through piles of them) and I am completely THRILLED to live in a condo, because that means I never have to clean them up. I see those poor schmucks in their million dollar homes breaking their backs raking up leaves into dozens of garbage bags - not my idea of a fun weekend. Especially when the leaves are wet and heavy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Late night uninstalls

I finally chose to uninstall Paint.NET today. I had it as the default program on my home computer for many months, but finally admitted to myself that it was just too slow for what I wanted. If you haven't noticed by the photos I use lately, I'm not overly picky about quality. I crop, play with contrast and a few other things and that's about it. The default photo gallery program in Vista gives me all of that and launches way faster than Paint.NET.

I'm sure it's a great program that does a lot of important photo editing features. I just don't need any of them.

On a side note, I can't sleep. I'm not worried or stressed about anything in particular, I think I just had too much sugar in my dessert and a few late nights this weekend. I'm sure I will be dragging my heels in the morning.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Recovery Weekend

With things wrapping up with this month's project at work, I was in need of a little recovery time. I fled the office a little early on Friday and did not look back. Instead, my wife and I headed out to a place called The Calling Freehouse, which used to be known as the Denman Street Freehouse. This is a great little bar across from one of Vancouver's best beaches. We slipped in to grab some appetizers and drinks and ended up watching some of a hockey game as a bonus. It was a nice night out and a great way to unwind. I even came away with another beer coaster.

Now it is the end of the next day, and I'm winding down for bed. I know that we made it out to at least eat lunch and do some grocery shopping, but really, it was a slow day for us today. Another hockey game (watched at home this time, our team won) rounded out the day. The weekend is only half over and I have no formal plans for tomorrow.

I love it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sun for Thanksgiving in Vancouver

We have had our fair share of rain over the past few weeks. In fact, it has been somewhat hurtful to watch the weather reports that show places like Chicago in a full blown heat wave while we in Vancouver are already breaking out our winter wet gear. So when the rain finally broke sometime yesterday and we got some real sunshine, it was more than welcome even if it was still pretty cold outside.

One of the things that Canadian Thanksgiving usually means for me is that I have to get my Christmas gift list in to my cousins, as they tend to head south for the winter so they need it early. Once again, I'm behind on that, but should get something to them shortly. Still, it was very nice to have a long weekend to get caught up on a few things and to eat turkey with some family.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Apricot Wheat Ale

Apricot Wheat Ale
Originally uploaded by iTripped
I remember seeing this apricot flavoured beer by St. Ambrose earlier this summer, but wasn't adventurous enough to actually try some. Well after a trip to Germany and then another to the US, I felt it was time to give it a chance.

Boy, I'm glad I did. This stuff is yum!

First things first: this still tastes like beer. Sure, it has a slight aftertaste of apricot, but no more than Granville Island's Maple Ale has a maple aftertaste. But where the apricot flavour is strongest is definitely in the aroma. To smell this beer is an odd sensation as it doesn't really smell like beer at all.

Still, the verdict is the same: I will be sampling more of this beer in the future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This has got to stop

Every day for the past 4 days I have either bit my tongue or bit the inside of my mouth. For the last 3 days, it has been in the same place, so it's starting to really hurt. Of course, now that it has swollen up, it's even easier to bite now too.

Don't worry, intrepid blog readers. I decided to not photograph my pain.

On a side note, we had our second French class last night. The required text book was about 40% off which was a nice surprise. We each had to bring in 'something French' to talk about in group discussion. While in theory this sounded like a great idea, in practice it went less smoothly, mostly because this is only the second class we have had and most of what we have learned so far involves adverbs and not adjectives. So anyway, I brought in a bottle of Dijon mustard (thanks to my wife for even remembering we had it, saving me a frantic last minute trip to find something) and the best I could come up with was reading the paragraph on the label. Or saying I eat mustard with bread. Sigh. The book has a CD with more language lessons so hopefully that combined with the class time will help.

My personal goal: to retain more French than I did with German. My personal confession: I never really tried hard to learn German. My admission: the bar to success on my goal is set very low here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yarr, mateys!

It be Talk like a Pirate day! All you scurvey dogs need to be in pirate regalia of some sort, and silliness should rule the day. One of the guys on my team in the office happens to be a true descendant of an official pirate, so we have an air of authenticity. It also helps that he looks like a pirate on a normal day too.

But here we have me (the one with slightly less fake facial hair) and the Dread Pirate Gandhi posing for the camera. It is a well known fact that all pirates love to ham it up for the camera. We were no exception

Le bien, le mal et villain

My wife and I started an Intro to French course last night. It's basically conversational French, which is good since neither of us knows much about it at all. The instructor teaching the course is a man with a sense of humor, which definitely helps with keeping my attention. In fact, he is the one who came up with the title for today's blog post as he was introducing words and noticed he already had good and bad listed and added ugly to capture the common phrase.

However, one of the things I am noticing is that I have to stop trying to appear as a know-it-all, especially when clearly I know-it-not-at-all. I was acting this way toward my wife more than a few times last night.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tomatoes from the Farmer's Market

Yes, those are ALL tomatoes in this picture. The farmer's market had some special treats for us last weekend and we were quick to sample as many as we dared.

They taste fantastic. Really.

I am not one who is normally excited about tomatoes, but the variety, colour and differences between these ones definitely made it a fun experience. We got a lot of other tasty treats there too, including some multi-coloured mushrooms and as usual, Louise got lots of attention from strangers. So overall, a good morning.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

From Bells to Statues

You just know I couldn't see the Liberty Bell without also taking some time out to see the Statue of Liberty. So that is just what we did. After a day's rest, we headed into New York City for a brief drive by some of the more notable sights.

Actually, that's not how it went at all. We already had to go to New Jersey for some other business, so we figured that since we would already be that close, we might as well drive through the Holland Tunnel to Manhattan. Along the way we stopped at Liberty Park to catch a view of the Statue of Liberty. We got to see her from behind.

The Empire State building is a very tall building indeed. Rather than show you the traditional view from a distance, I thought I would show what the ESB looks like from street level. Speaking of street level, I also got a typical view of traffic on Manhattan streets. Note all the taxis. It did not take long to realize why traffic is so heavy in Manhattan - everybody is funneled into just a few lanes to cross the river either by tunnel or by bridge to get in or out of Manhattan. Our choice was to use Holland Tunnel, which was much brighter than the tunnels I am used to driving through in BC.

Overall, it was a fun day trip. We got out and walked around in Greenwich Village, which was nice. We saw the 'brownstones' and some fun shopping areas. After that, we drove across the Brooklyn Bridge so that we could visit Coney Island. But that will be another post on it's own as this one is getting too long already.

Bad picture of Liberty Bell

Bad picture of Liberty Bell
Originally uploaded by iTripped
While visiting family in the US, we managed to take some time to tour some of the American landmarks. One of the days had us drive into Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, among other sights.

The security put in place around such landmarks is starting to feel like an airport in a second world country. You still get searched, but it is manpower driven instead of machine driven. Four guards sit at a table, and you pass them your bags so they can search them (for pocket knives, forks, laundry detergent or anything else that can be considered a weapon of terrorism.)

Moving on from there, we got directions on how to get to Sonny's - a restaurant that was recommended to us by several of the locals for their Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. We arrive in this empty little take-out styled sandwich stop, order our sandwiches, endure the expected bad service (not just poor service) and ate our food. Good news: none of us suffered from food poisoning, so I guess I can see why the locals still recommend the place.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cars in Vancouver

I like the cars I see downtown. For me, cars can be like an art form. Having said that, I notice that some cars are priced like that too.

There is also some pretty crappy art driving around these days.

But downtown, well that's where people come to show off their nice cars. So I see more than your average number of shiny rollers. Some cars, like the Maserati pictured here are much more impressive in person than anything I see on the internet. Just one more thing I like about living where I do, I guess.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Long distance shopping trip

Now that we have no car, making a trip to another city to do some shopping takes a bit of coordination. Like learning new bus routes, and bus schedules. Like learning to be on time for said busses.

Oh well, we made it afterall, and the bus was much faster than we expected. (yay for the 98 B-line!)

So this friendly fellow pictured here was at the mall which was our destination. On a side note, I am noticing that the more distracted I am, the more poorly worded my sentences become. Please bear with me!

Well the distraction is gone, but so is any semblance of what I was going to write. Hey look! Dinosaurs!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Alternate sleep schedules

I was reading an article online regarding alternate sleep schedules, or more importantly, research being done on sleeping less and getting away with it. Time had one article on 'Dymaxion Sleep'. While the article was interesting, I was immediately put off by the name.

The thing is, anytime someone 'invents' a new word, it immediately becomes a distraction from the topic it was intended to describe. What made it even worse was that according to the article, this guy likes this word a lot: many of his inventions are titled 'Dymaxion' this or that. I guess this person cannot think of unique names and is limited to this one in particular.

Most fields of discovery, like biology or astronomy have rules regarding the naming of new things found. Often, it has to be according to rules (ie, must be in latin, broken down by genus, species, etc.) or is ultimately voted on by committee. This prevents things like Planet 'Retard Number 3' from being named or a new species of wild hoobie jaloobies from being discovered.This is a good thing. (As soon as I typed this, I realized that I better google for said planets and creatures, just to be sure.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts on that. The photo is one from a few weeks ago when we took the dog down to the beach. That was a good day, but I did learn that the stroller was not built for sand.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Third day is the charm for Ubuntu

Yes, the novelty is starting to wear off on posting about ubuntu. But I had to say that I found a solution to the whole 'Adobe has yet to get around to releasing a 64-bit version of Flash' issue.

The solution: install 32-bit Firefox instead of the default 64-bit version.

What sounds simple is not always so. Take a look at these instructions. They work, but it took me a while to puzzle out just what I was supposed to do, or how. But the good news is that at least I was able to get a solution for my problem I guess. I ended up installing a browser with an even crazier name than before. I now have Swiftweazel32. As if a weazel is ever slow. Just crazy talk.

I also managed to install Vendetta Online, just in case I wanted to shoot up some space ships, or test out the 3d capabilities of the onboard video card.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ubuntu Day Two

Okay, it is not really the second day for linux but it's the second day that I have had a chance to be on the computer long enough to address a few things. Most notably, I no longer have my black window issue I complained about earlier. Much thanks to 'spuck' from a chat room who was helpful in his own way. Much more thanks to the rest of the room for us dominating the conversation about linux basics for about an hour. I have also managed to get my work applications and sites configured, so I can now function fully from home. For the record, the way I addressed the black window bug was to switch from compiz to metacity. This means none of the glitzy features like wobbly windows, etc. until I upgrade my video card. Functional wins over pretty - not sure if I have heard that before or not.

Next on my to-do list for linux: uninstall 64bit firefox so that I can install the 32bit version instead. Also, I will probably want to install another browser like Opera, etc. From there, who knows - I may get crazy with what I install. But for now, back to work.

On the prowl for a bike

Ever since I moved back to Vancouver, I have been itching to get my butt onto a bike. (Yes, I worded it that way on purpose.) I used to own a nice road bike but left it back in Ontario and now seriously doubt I will ever see it again. My other ride is a typical mountain bike but it needs some work to become rideable once again.

For a while now I have been scouring craigslist to see what I can find for cheaper, yet non-vintage (ie. something better than heavy, crappy parts) road bikes. I haven't quite found what I want at a price I want to pay. My new plan is to take my mountain bike and re-work it into a road-hybrid. The more I think about this plan, the more I like it. I have a lot of memories with this bike - riding it again would be a good thing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Day one with Ubuntu

I had been meaning to install linux on my computer from even before I bought it. The computer came with Vista Basic preinstalled and it took a while before I could free up a secondary hard drive. Having said that, I managed to get a copy of Feisty Fawn installed and did not torch the Vista operating system in the process.

I noted a couple odd things about the process. One, if I booted off the CD, it tended to launch with a resolution of only 800x600. That would have been fine, but when I attempted to install, the windows used were larger than that, and I could not get to the actual buttons at the bottom of the screen. Eventually I figured it out by using tab to cycle through but that was almost a deal breaker. One nice thing though is that most everything is automatically detected and configured. Gone are the days of setting up internet, etc.

Of course, once I had installed (on my second drive) and rebooted, nothing happened. Of course, the computer was reading the boot record off of the first drive and totally missing the fact that linux was ready to go on the second. Like I said, I really did not want to mess with the Vista drive so I decided to check the bios settings on my computer. Thankfully they had evolved as well. Both drives had been detected in bios, and there was a setting which let me specify the boot order. This worked, which meant I would not have to try copying boot record files and stuff over to the other drive.

Additionally, when I booted from the installed version of linux, it correctly guessed my resolution and things appeared to be working. But then I discovered that I also am affected by the 'Black Windows bug for nVidia cards'. I haven't had time to sort through those instructions and update my computer yet, but at least now I know where to begin.

Next up will be to start customizing it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ramen noodles

Recently, I ordered some Ramen noodles from a local noodle cafe. Overall, I was really pleased with the food and the overall look of the place. It was clean, bright and fun despite the small size.

Although I have had ramen noodles before (my wife has made them from time to time) I really had forgotten what they tasted like, or what kind of variety I could expect. The stuff we ordered came in a rather large bowl (we got take out, so the bowl was plastic, not styrofoam and had a proper lid) and I thought it tasted good.
I think I would like to dine-in one time though, because the place is dominated by this wraparound bar that you can sit at. The server can walk down the center of this bar, serving the customers easily.

I am not sure if it is obvious by the photo or not, but I had my ramen noodles with chicken and vegetables. Next time I might try adding the egg, although I am not sure if I should get a traditional boiled egg, or the pink and white striped egg-like thing I see in the pictures.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pride Parade 2007

This morning I assumed that I was going to be posting about the Vancouver Pride parade and how I regretted missing it. However, after getting into the office and seeing what work I had to accomplish I realized that attending the parade was easily within the scope of what I wanted to do today. So after a brief chat with my wife (determining when/where we would meet up) I set out of the office.

In typical fashion, I would be arriving mere moments before things would get started, so finding that ideal spot to view the parade really was more of just finding ANY spot where we were able to see the road and still be in the shade. My wife did find a spot and we were able to enjoy most of it before I eventually had to start heading back to the office.

The parade started slow, I thought. Basically just a bunch of motorcycles running up and down the street at first. Still, they got the crowd started and it definitely added to the grass roots flavour of the event. Later the more substantiative floats passed by, including ones representing various public institutions such as public transit, police, firefighters and more. The mayor was in attendance, spinning circles in his wheelchair. I found it amusing to note that virtually EVERY union in town was also in the parade, almost immediately following Sam the mayor. In case you haven't put the two together yet, we still have that city workers strike underway, yet here we had most of the parties required for the negotiations off gallivanting in the sun instead of settling matters of business. Oh well, at least the unions were following Sam's lead.

This was my first chance to attend a pride parade and I am glad that I did. One of the things that make Vancouver such a great city to be in is its tolerance. Even though this was a fun celebration, there were still hints of sadness, like the float that was holding a moment's silence for those lost to AIDS or the other group highlighting the persecution of homosexuality in other countries where it is often punishable by death or torture. So long as stuff like that is still a reality, I guess we will still have a need for parades like this.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Best fireworks yet

Last night was China's turn to display their talents with fireworks. China did not disappoint. Based on my unscientific research, I would say that China is going to win this competition this year. (research was done by talking to people in the office, people at home, etc. to see how they felt the show was. Unanimous results (well, all but the spouse of one person I spoke with) were that China did the best. Hey, I said UN-scientific.)

Once again the harbour was filled with boats. Once again people were generally happy to be out and pleasant to get along with. Once again, trash crews came along afterward to clean the beaches. Seeing Vancouver pull off an event like this gives me hope for some of the events coming up. People are going to love this town in 2010.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And so it begins

Last night we were running to the beach to catch the fireworks, which overall, were a lot of fun. I said I would take some grainy, blurred photos of the event and I did. But only this one was really worth using. Well that, and this photo I took this morning - remember I said that we have a city worker strike on right now? Let's all watch together as Vancouver becomes stinkier and stinkier. Of course, now that Richmond has signed a deal with their city workers, I hope things get resolved quickly. At least our building trash is still being collected - we (like most other condos in the area) have arrangements with commercial trash disposal services and do not rely on city workers for this sort of thing.

In other news, our cats have informed us that a crow has decided to make a nest in a bush on our balcony. This has been a *BIG* deal to them, except when the crow is sleeping. I managed to get a photo of Sassy as she attempted to get a better look at the intruder.

At first I was thinking this was cool. We would get to see little crow babies hatch from eggs right from our living room window, as the nest will only be about six feet from the window. But at some ungodly hour this morning all I could hear was the 'caw caw caw' of a crow that was altogether too close to our bedroom window. I'm not sure what time this all started because my eyes refused to open enough to read the clock. I swear, that bird better eat it's body weight in insects or it won't last long in my yard.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Getting ready for the fireworks

So tonight is the first night in the Celebration of Light in Vancouver, where we see a few nations compete in an event that combines fireworks with music. For many years, this used to be called the Festival of Fire, sponsored by some cigarette company, until that became unpopular (the sponsor, not the event.)

I haven't actually attended this event in many years, in part because I was out of town and also due to the challenges with parking. But now that I live close by, it will be fun to attend, and then to walk home afterwards. At least it isn't supposed to rain.

Today's photos are totally unrelated, of course. The first one is the front of my computer case, complete with the glowing power button. The case is actually quite nice, but one complaint I did have was that it was larger than I anticipated. Having said that, I am very happy with it and the desk we got for it houses it just fine.
Next, is another shot of the Vancouver Library. We decided to head over there last night because the rumor is that Librarians will be the next to go on strike. Best to check out books before that happens.

I have always liked the building design of the library, so I opted to hang out front with Louise while my wife went in to get the material she was looking for.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forgot to take pictures (probably best)

On the weekend I finally got around to getting a proper desk for my computer. This involved my wife scouring craigslist for I don't know how many weeks until we found the right size/shape/colour/price of a desk. It also involved me moving some furniture around as the book case that was holding my computer before was to be moved to the other corner of the room.

Of course, the book case was already full of computer related stuff, and had to be emptied.

We were able to get it all done in a day and overall I am very pleased with the new desk. Of course, there are still things that I need to find places for (mostly displaced items out of the book case) but at least my computer is now off the floor.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More fun at the Go-Kart track

Raman and Sumant
Originally uploaded by Liezel&Ed
We had another outing to TBC Racing in Richmond as a work-sponsored outing. As usual, it was a lot of fun, and overly competitive.

I was much better behaved than last time.

It was a personal goal of mine to drive 'clean' which meant no bumping my way past the others, no ramming them into the corners and definitely NO black flags or warnings for me. For the first half of the evening, it was pretty easy. I either had open track ahead of me, or the scraps for position I had were brief, fun encounters with others.

However, on the last race (the non-competitive one) I encountered Chris the Blocker. I know he was only having fun and yeah, it was fun, but he was driving slower than me and would NOT let me by. Multiple times he would ram me out of position rather than let me pass him. Each time he would sprint ahead, only to have me catch him within a lap. I would then tailgate like nobody's business until he gave me another opportunity. Rinse and repeat until the end of the race. Needless to say, my times were not so great for that outing. But it was still fun.

Monday, July 09, 2007

One more for the road

Ok, this is probably my last post about Germany. On the first night in Flensburg, we met with the other wedding attendees at a place called Hansen's Brewery. (Obviously, this is the English translation - I'm not about to butcher more German). They had this amazing way of serving beer - they had these long serving boards that held about a dozen small-ish glasses of beer that they would slide along the center of the table, so that everyone could easily grab one. Pure genius! Of course, I was not a fan of their pilsner - in a general sense, I wasn't a fan of any of the northern pilsners. But they had a very tasty dark beer (pictured here) that was just the ticket.

This was a quaint little brewery that was actually a brewery, and not just some restaurant built to showcase beers that are brewed elsewhere. I remember that after we ate here, we were taken outside to the harbour area so that we could experience drinking openly in public. Seems the Germans in the area were quite proud of the fact that they were allowed to do this.

Friday, July 06, 2007

We interrupt German posts for an important announcement

Tomorrow is an important day. Tomorrow is Live Earth Day. But that is not why tomorrow is an important day. Sometime today I must convince my wife that we need to go to Thunderbird Stadium on the UBC campus. This is going to be a tough sell, since she is barely recovering from being sick.

You see, tomorrow is the 2007 Canada Cup of Beer event. That's right folks: Saturday, July 7th from noon to 7:00 pm at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. Tickets are $25 at the door and that includes 5 beer tokens.

So who is there? About 35 vendors serving up roughly 150 varieties of beer. There are microbrews, import and domestic beers. About 4000 beer lovers are expected to attend. Oh yes - and sunshine. The forecast is for a great day. Wear sunscreen just in case you drink too much and fall asleep in the sun.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

German culture (not yogurt)

The glass pictured today holds a very nice wheat beer that I had with a plate of spaghetti. What was I doing having an Italian dish in Germany, you ask? Well this dish featured crab from the North Sea, which made it a local dish. Or should I say, a very tasty local dish.

Skipping back to Frankfurt, we also toured the Schirn Art Gallery. They had two exhibitions on at the time - the first one was for A. R. Penck, a German artist who has a habit of stripping his art down to basic forms. Within the first couple minutes I decided the man was a raving lunatic. But after continuing to observe his work I started to see beyond the primitive forms. By the time we had seen the whole exhibit I was converted. But still, it's a matter of taste, and not everyone will appreciate the work of Penck.
Which brings me to the second exhibit - that of John Bock. Like the first exhibit, I concluded that Mr. Bock was also raving mad after only a minute and a half. Unlike the first exhibit, my opinion on this matter did not change with further viewing of his material. Mr. Bock is a film artist and featured at the Schirn were several of his early film shorts. If it is gross, silly or metaphysical - or ideally all three - then Mr. Bock would be all over it. The first short we saw featured a man spilling various breakfast foods on himself as he attempted to cook. Extreme closeups, mock expressions and lots of 'sizzling sounds' made up this film. We left that theatre thinking that there surely must be something more to what this man had to offer.

We were right on that score.

Another film - called the boxer - featured two gentlemen dressed in what I can only call 'unusual costumes' where they appeared to have random appendages. They beat the stuffing out of each other until one of the opponent's brain opened up (producing broccoli and green goo to represent his brains.) A third film featured all sorts of metaphysical conversation (subtitles in English) and a silver alien stumbling through a field with cows. Images that will haunt me for a while, I'm sure.

I once heard that the point of art is to get people talking about it. If that is the measure of success, then I would say that both exhibits were successful. However, if one was to ask which of the two I preferred, I would certainly go for A. R. Penck as at least when I left his work I felt like I learned something.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More german reflections

Kulmbacher. My first beer in Germany. It was a good one, and the mug size was very generous. I had this beer after touring one of the many museums in Frankfurt - there was a restaurant attached to the museum and we ate there.

Naturally, I had schnitzel as my first meal in Germany.

There was so much to see in Frankfurt. From what I hear, most people fly in here and then quickly move on to other places. Not us - we completely did the tourist routine, visiting museums, shopping eating out, learning the train system, learning how to not get run over by traffic and so much more. I really wish I had blogged each day because so much happened and I am already forgetting so much of the little stuff. Honestly, if we hadn't taken pictures I would forget even more.

Oh - did I mention the bread? The German people certainly know how to bake up some tasty treats. If I was to ever move to Germany, I would probably gain a lot of weight.

The buildings pictured here are somewhere around five hundred years old. Probably renovated many times, but still - to think that way back then they had buildings that stood six or seven stories tall - or taller for cathedrals. When we walked into this area my wife and I stopped and just said 'wow' at first. I grew up in Halifax, which by North American standards is a very old city. It has cobblestone streets, it has a historic waterfront section, it even has an old fortress in the center of town, surrounded by cannons. But by any standard, the 'oldness' of Halifax is a dim reflection of what we experienced here.

Some may note the irony of me talking about how 'old' Frankfurt is, especially since it is one of the more modern cities in Germany. Skyscrapers line the sky alongside cathedral towers. Wifi hotspots were virtually everywhere we went. But from my perspective, there were certainly parts of Franfurt that stretched back further than anything I had experienced before.

And to think that some people said I should have tried to see more of Europe during my short stay.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mein Gott! Das bier ist serr gut!

Yes, I know the title is in very broken German. It is somehow appropriate, since my European speaking skills never improved in the short time I was there. But I did learn how to order beer well enough to choose the variety I liked best.

Our vacation was just what I needed. We had good times, we had confusing times, we were stressed out to our limits (when my wife was sick and I was frantically trying to relocate her passport that we left behind at the wedding reception the night before) and we had moments of pure awe. In short, it was just the change of pace I needed to shake me loose from the complacency I was feeling before the trip.

We took lots of pictures so now my thoughts are to how to organize them. I don't really want to give them away to Facebook so I guess I will have to decide to either commit to Flickr or to choose another online site. Reccomendations are always appreciated. I am sure I will post a few of the better ones here as I continue to digest all that we experienced.

The reason we took the trip to Germany was to see our friends get married. If for no other reason, I am glad I went for that. The wedding was very nice, in a beautiful setting (a chapel in a castle) and the reception was fun, crazy and inviting. Both families got along very well and everyone was there to celebrate, so a good time was had by all. Some, more than others.

Well, those are my first thoughts. I have lots of stories and many more fond memories from the trip. But one post at a time, I guess.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Need a vacation

I have never left the North American continent before now. Soon that will change. Many of my friends are accomplished world travelers. For me, I did not have a desire to see the world until much later in life. So now that I find myself preparing to go to Germany, even if only for a single week, I have few points of reference.

Everybody mentions culture shock and predicts that I will have a lot of it. I have no way of really knowing before hand so I guess I will have to wait and see. All I know for sure right now is that everything is booked, but we somehow still have a lot of things to do. I have dreams at night that have a general theme of me forgetting something very important, but not remembering until it is too late.

This is pretty normal for me. My stress levels tend to build leading up to a trip, and somehow evaporate the moment I arrive at the airport - generally the moment when it becomes too late to return home to grab 'one more thing.'

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yes, so like the rest of the online world, my blog has suffered inattention due to me trying out Facebook. But now that my account is set up and my current friends have me added, etc. I find that my activity there is substantially less. Which is good, since that was really just a method of re-establishing social connections - at least for me.

Facebook is actually the tool I was looking for about 10 years ago when I moved out west. (Okay, it's been longer than that, but c'mon.) To see it now is nice, even if half of my old friends and family will never use a computer. Even those who strongly resisted Facebook have succumbed, which is entertainment in itself. Too bad there is still that 'kids-only' perception to this web application.

Moving right along: this morning when I got to the office I was quite tired, due to not getting to bed early enough. But that's ok, since Noel seemed to be way worse off than I was. Being so tired, I figured that I would have a cup of coffee, despite the earlier problems that forced me to give it up for a while. This is when I noticed that we got new coffee cups at work - glass ones. This would have been totally unremarkable if not for the way the coffee looks when being brewed in the office coffee machine - it looks like a freshly built Guinness beer!

Good old coffee. Now I get to give it up all over again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Red Tide in False Creek

Red Tide
Originally uploaded by iTripped
So I probably should not eat fresh, locally caught shellfish for the next week or so. During yesterday's trip in to the office, I noticed that we have a red tide in the creek. At first I just thought the water was all churned up by the development going on for the Olympic village site, but the ferry operator informed me otherwise.

While the look is definitely different, I cannot wait for the waters to clear up. Something about clear water just looks better to me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Interminably slow day

Ever have one of those days that feels like it just won't end? I'm having one of them now. Things are just dragging along at a pace that is too slow to maintain morale. It's not that I am bored - I have plenty to do, be it work or other. But holy crap, today is just plain old uninspiring.

At least tomorrow is a Friday.

UPDATE: Funny how a song can change one's mood. No sooner did I post this when a favorite song of mine came on and now things are fun again.

I'll try not to whistle while I work. And yes I added this photo of a Corvair I took in Halifax just because.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cambie St. Bridge

Cambie St. Bridge
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
It's been a while since I blogged from my flickr account. I almost forgot how to do it. Anyway, coming into work today I noticed that the water was very calm - it was a really nice morning. Days like today remind me of why I like living in this city.

The reason I was on the water was because I had Louise with me. That meant I was not able to take the skytrain like usual, so we took the aquabus instead.

For two days I have smelled nothing but cigarettes, even though nobody is smoking around me. I think I might be coming down with something. So far I feel okay though, so hopefully I can beat this with some healthy living and vitamin C.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pirate treasure in Halifax

One of the few things I miss about living in the Maritimes has got to be the food. Well, it would probably be closer to the truth to say that I really miss just a few dishes in particular. There is a whole lot of stuff available there that I have lost my taste for, and an even greater amount of things available here in Vancouver that I really could not get back east.

One of those things (other than lobster, which I can still get here) that I really do miss would be deep fried pepperoni. It is served as an appetizer in some pubs and we used to get it quite often while going out on the town in Halifax.

So on Saturday I found myself with some spare time between visits. I spent the later part of the day visiting many of my favorite spots in Halifax. I had several goals to accomplish: I wanted to visit my favorite park, I wanted to do a little gift shopping, and I desperately wanted to find a place that still served this dish. I had to inspect the menu on about a dozen places before I found a venue that still served it.

But it was worth it. Or, to say it in a more Nova Scotian way, 'Boy, I tell you - it was some good!'

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sleep deprived in Shubenacadie

My flight was uneventful, but I was not able to sleep. Luckily I brought a good book to read on the plane, since I wasn't really in the mood to pay $5.00 for a pay-per-view movie (and another $3.00 for uncomfortable headphones). At least the selection they had was somewhat current.

My flight arrived ahead of schedule, but I still had to wait until 7:00 am to get the rental car as the rental agency didn't open before then. Again, the book to the rescue. At this rate, I'm pretty glad that I brought two books since it is looking like I will get through them both.

I arrived at my sister's place early enough to visit with her two children before they headed off to school. It seems I get back just often enough for them not to forget me entirely. After the whirlwind of activity, the house seems strangely quiet - in a nice way. I find myself posting here while my sister gets ready. I expect this to be a rare moment, since most of my family go without computers.

Oh yeah - I stole one of her pictures from Peggy's Cove for today's post.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Unscheduled trip to Nova Scotia

My grandfather passed away on the weekend, so I will be making a hasty trip across the country to attend his funeral. I really wish that I had been able to make the trip back while he was still alive, to see him once more at least. I suppose this is a lesson for me to learn. If anything, I suppose it is a small mercy that I did not see him while his health was so poor. My memories of him will always be fun and silly, which is just the way I want to remember my grandfather.

Because the trip is last minute, I will be flying solo. It is amazing to me that airfare from here to NS is more expensive than airfare from here to Germany. I'll try to post updates if possible, but I can't make any guarantees about net access while visiting relatives who don't own computers.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thank you, Vancouver Canucks

Okay, first things first: last night my wife came to the conclusion that the Canucks obviously lost their game against Anaheim the other night because I did not drink beer while watching. You know what? She is absolutely right. Every time the Canucks have won, I have had beer while watching the game.

Tonight, I remedy this.

Seriously though, I have had a lot of fun watching this team play this season (and into the post-season too!) There have been frustrating nights to be sure, but there have also been nights where we see some of the fan favorite players come out and perform. I don't need the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup to consider this season to be a success. They have already done that for me. My desire to have them win stems only from the fact that I don't want this post season party to end any sooner than it has to. I just hope that the players are having as much fun on the ice as I am in front of my TV while I watch them play.

Anyway, my lucky beer is already being chilled in the refrigerator. I'll be doing my part to ensure a win in Anaheim tonight! Go Canucks Go!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cops and Robbers

I saw this scene as I was driving home one night last week. The men in blue were out doing their jobs and had their suspect sitting on the curb. His car was parked just outside the picture and is what the one officer is walking toward. One thing about living downtown - the police presence is much more visible. As a non-criminal, I like that.

Later in the week we sold a dining room table and chair set - to another cop. She was an officer who worked in the Delta area and was saying that even out there, they noticed increased activity whenever the Canucks won a playoff game.