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.