Saturday, December 27, 2008

It was a white holiday

The holiday season was a little hit and miss for us. We had plans to visit friends for Christmas Eve - they cooked a 20 pound turkey and everything. We never made it.

Our plan was to take the Skytrain over to their place as they are across town from us. Snow laden trees fell on the tracks and stopped the trains from running. Then, when they did start again, they were stopping intermittently due to snow and ice in the switches on the tracks. This meant lengthy delays and fewer trains running. At no time was Translink ever able to tell us simply when we could expect another train - they just kept suggesting that we find alternate means of transportation to our destination. I'm not sure how they hope to cope with the Olympics, given that it is also a winter event. This kind of performance is not going to make the world proud of Vancouver. But I digress. Being the day it was, we also were not able to get a taxi and the bus schedules were all notably off due to the weather. Our only option was to retreat.

Things were running smoother the next day (Christmas) although it still took us twice as long to take the train to our destination, due to mid-station stops. We were also able to get a taxi to the train station. We did have a great dinner, gifts were exchanged and the host decided to give us a ride home at the end, rather than dealing with the train again. (I'm sure it's fine now, by the way.)

So overall, we had a 'white christmas' like so many people always wish for. This year, I think people got a bit more than they thought they were asking for. Honestly, if the train had been able to keep running, I would probably not have been that impacted by it, and it is fun when the snow is coming down hard and fast. When people's kids have grown up a bit, I would warn them of all the stories they will hear about the 'Christmas of '08' and how the snow was 'up to here' (hold hand up to your chest) in Vancouver of all places.

At least, that's the outcome I hope for, because it implies that winter goes back to normal for us next year. If this becomes a regular event, Vancouver is in trouble.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two days before Christmas...

Greg and I were arguing over what street this building was on. While I took the actual picture, he was right on the location - I was off by a block. So much for walking past it every friggin day on my way into the office. 

But nevermind all that, just look at the orange lights and a semi-frozen water fountain! Now you know why the rest of Vancouver shuts off their fountains in late November. But I'm not condemning this bank, I think it looked pretty neat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A little late, a little early

A few days ago I met my buddy Phil for lunch. During that visit he gave me a belated birthday gift, one that he had been holding on to for the past few months. (We don't exactly see each other every day, if you haven't already guessed.) Phil works at Rockstar and the game was released around my birthday. I remember him being quite excited about it at the time. Everything about the meeting was typical Vancouver: we met for sushi on a rainy day over lunch at a place close by our offices. In other words, it was fun.

The irony here is that I do not (yet) own an xbox 360 so I can't actually play the game. In that sense, this late gift is somewhat early. Phil was hoping that this would finally push me to get said console. Only time will tell, I guess. Speaking of timing, as it turns out the PC version of this game is now also available. Based on reviews though, it sounds like this version is still better and has fewer bugs in it. On the plus side, whenever I do get an xbox this game is on the 'must get' list, much like Halo or Gears of War.

Phil, thanks for lunch and the gift. It was a good seeing you again.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holy Whack-a-mole!

We were out doing some gift shopping yesterday when we noticed a traffic slowdown. As we approached the scene, it became obvious why things were backing up. Normally I don't condone people slowing down to take a good look at accidents as it does hold up everyone else. But c'mon - look at how deep that truck crashed through this church. This had to be like a Ford missile launched by some drunk driving terrorist who.... oh wait, that administration has less than a month in office. I should probably update my rhetoric.

Anyway, the really fun part about all of this is that it happened a day BEFORE Vancouver got another small dumping of snow. Not a speck of the white stuff to blame this on. Real crazy driving. Oh, and thanks to my wife for grabbing these pictures, since I was driving. We weren't TOTALLY irresponsible, you know.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Strange Days Indeed

As a Canadian, all I can say is 'wow, 'eh?'

The political events of the past week or so have been nothing if not unprecedented, at least for our stripe of politics. I guess it just goes to show that our population loves nothing more than a good political fight, so long as it only goes as far as a war of words.

But let's notice something here: Jean Cretien and Ed Broadbent had to be called in because the leaders of the opposition parties were not up to the task. While everyone except Jack Layton can agree that a change in leadership is required tapping the shoulders of the guys from the last round was the wrong direction to go. I think it is long overdue for Ben Mulroney and Justin Trudeau to enter politics so they can fight it out. We need new blood, not old. I will be surprised and disappointed if at least one of them does not join a party soon.

Okay, enough political rant. The guy photographed today was standing on beams as the building next door was being erected. We are on the 4th floor, and this guy was standing taller than us, apparently unsupported. I guess you have to be born with that ability, as a couple of us in the office were commenting on how being in that situation would either make us vomit, assuming we didn't just fall off and die.

Somehow, I just love ending on a morbid note. So much so that I am not going to do a haiku today.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A photo from the best day of my vacation

yarmouth beach
Originally uploaded by iTripped
So I finally got around to putting this photo together. I took a series of pics from this spot to capture the surf coming in and then put them together as an 'animaged gif' sort of like what Greg does.

The primary difference between his gifs and mine is that he takes two photos from slightly different angles to simulate a more 3D viewing experience, whereas I was merely hoping to animate the motion of the waves on the beach. It means less shake in mine.

To see the animation, I suspect you are going to have to click the photo and go to flickr, where you can see it full size.

I say this was the 'best' day of our vacation because it was the one time we got out to do some exploring. My dad took us out to do some beach combing, where we collected up some smooth pebbles and took the photos from my last post too. One last thing: the black specks in the picture are actually some of the flies we encountered on the beach and not birds. I was kneeling, which is why they appear so high in the frame, although I do remember they were a bit of a nuisance even while standing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My mother has lost her marbles

I did not take nearly enough pictures. It seems I rarely do. But we did have a good visit with family this trip, and did manage to get my parents set up with a new computer, which was one of the goals I had when I left.

I've already seen my mother on facebook, which is a milestone in itself. My father figured out by himself how to watch a TV show on the computer too. They like the show but usually miss it because it is on Sunday nights, when they are out.

The first picture here is of a section of coastline we visited. I wanted to take pictures of this scenery, my father wanted to comb the beach for plastic bottles and my wife wanted to explore and have some fun. Since it was deer hunting season, we all dressed in bright orange sweaters and headed out. Along the way we saw some very typical sights in Nova Scotia, including many of the lobster boats that were getting ready for the start of the season (it starts today, exactly one day after I returned home. sigh)

This was perhaps one of the most enjoyable days we had, in part because the weather, while a bit windy, was very nice. The cows were grazing on a field directly behind the beach and weren't too thrilled to see us. The metal things on the horns are to prevent serious injury in case that particular bovine decided to use them. Since they weren't on all of the animals, I suspect that this one had a tendency to use it's horns once in a while. We gave it a little extra space.

We spent a couple hours on the beach before returning to visit with more family. I'll post more after I have had time to go through the photos I did take.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I got the sickness!

I have been trying to shake this cold all week. I'm not really complaining about it though because as far as colds go, this one is tolerable. But it would be nice to be done with it before returning home, where I am sure there is a whole host of other virii waiting to infect me.

At the very least, maybe I can pass it along to my fellow passengers on the plane. I'm sure they will love me once I start coughing.

One of the purposes of making this trip, aside from seeing family (that's really the primary reason) is to help get my parents set up with a computer that works for them. If all goes well, they might actually be able to read this before I return home to Vancouver. When I left the east coast back in '95 I rather naively assumed I would be able to keep in touch with folks back home with my computer. Turns out, I was about ten years too early by the most optimistic estimates. It will be exciting to get my parents hooked up - they already have internet and a digital camera so really all they need is a stable platform to connect it all together. Well that, and some typing skills, but that's another story. Sorry Mom, but it's true.

Homecoming visit
How much colder is it there?
That is the question.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Time change is always best in Autumn

Here we are on the eve of another election. Not just any election, but the biggest presidential race in the world. Make no mistake America - the rest of the world is going to watch with great concern. After watching the last couple races I am not able to let myself get my hopes up too high. I have a training course tomorrow so by the time I get out of there things should largely be decided. Probably for the best, as I would have been watching the results pretty closely.

My wife was able to vote in this election through absentee ballot. The form arrived in the mail today which was the absolute last day that it could have arrived and still be valid. We mailed that ballot off and then went out for dinner in an impromptu mini-celebration over the fact that we made it. Knowing how the postal service works between countries, we had practically given up hope.

Today's photo was taken from the roof of our office building at sunset. While this photo does not show it, the sky had a vibrant colour that contrasted nicely against the skyline. The other thing I noticed, which you can see in this photo, is that the local mountains have received their first snowfall of the season. These two things (the sunset and snowfall) signify changes - hopefully ones reflected in tomorrow's polls.

Yeah - I bet you were wondering where I was going with that one, didn't you? Okay, time to close this out with a haiku

America votes
With the world as it's witness
Hopefully for change.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend to recover

Let me just say one thing real quick: rum does not go well with root beer. Nasty.

Last night we rented another PS2 game, Lego Indiana Jones. Once again I seem to fail spectacularly at playing cooperatively but somehow we still manage to have fun struggling through. Of course, this morning I find myself humming the theme song, which plays throughout the game. My wife was surprised at how many details from the movie she still remembered since it had been years since she saw it last.

I would have had more fun if I wasn't fighting with a controller that was not working well. Since I normally play games on the PC with a mouse and keyboard, I had forgotten about issues with gamepads and joysticks. To say I was getting frustrated with it was an understatement.

I know this haiku doesn't have a nature reference, but here it is just the same: I call it neo-haiku.

When playing a game
of the console persuasion
try to keep your cool.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Haiku for You

Sometimes I commute
with headphones in, but no sound.
Hear a city breathe.

One bad habit I have is that I will sometimes artificially limit myself. I do this in subtle ways in most areas of my life and most times I don't even notice. One example of what I am talking about can be found right here on my blog. I often have ideas that I could post about, but don't for one reason or another. Sometimes they are valid reasons, such as the idea is not complete or well formed, but at other times, it is because I don't have a photo to go with the post. This is an artificial requirement I placed on myself. Often, the photo I include has absolutely nothing to do with what I am talking about, so why is it essential that I include one with every post? It isn't.

Another thing I have been thinking about is including a haiku poem with my posts. I often have little bits of verse floating around inside my head, so I am hoping this is at least one possible outlet for that. Today's poem came to me as I was walking into the office. I usually listen to podcasts from the CBC - it's the closest I can get to news radio on an ipod and overall it's an enjoyable experience. But a lot of the time my podcast ends before I make it into the office. Sometimes instead of switching to music (which is always available on the ipod) I just listen to the surrounding noises from traffic, the harbour, etc. I suppose I could always take the headphones out to hear things better, but somehow, leaving them in helps to remind me that I am 'listening' to something.

Maybe I should leave my headphones in when talking to my wife...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Avian street performer works the waterfront crowd

I don't know if it is because I truly like birds or if I just like finding things to take pictures of. But when I take Louise for her walks, I tend to notice a lot of the birds in Vancouver. Including this fellow, who was fishing in the fountain in front of the Westin Bayshore.

He was surprisingly close to pedestrian traffic and was not bothered by us at all. It kind of felt like being at a zoo. Keep in mind that my compact camera only has a 3x zoom, so I had to be closer than about 10 feet to get photos like these.

You know, I just realized that after getting the photos of this heron, I really didn't notice any of the other birds on the rest of that walk.

I was really hoping to catch him in the act of spearing a fish, but maybe that was too much to ask for. When the dog and I returned ten minutes later (after visiting the dogs hanging out at the newest Starbucks in town) I was a little surprised to see the bird still there. Crowds of people would gather for five or ten minutes and then just as quickly disperse. I'm sure if this bird had an upside down hat near the pond he could have made enough to buy a fish dinner.

I guess it's just another one of the cool things about living in Vancouver. It's not quite urban enough to prevent nature from dropping in.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Election Season

We are having an election this year, just like the Americans. I saw an interview of Stephen Spoonamore from back in 2005 on youtube and it left me disheartened about what might yet happen later this year. He basically suggests that election results can easily be fudged by whomever is able to hack into the electronic voting systems widely used today. Of course, he's completely right as well.

The ramifications are plain to see for the American contest, especially in light of the fact that the last two presidential elections were contested. But it made me think - is this also a problem we would face here in Canada? While I have not seen the touch screen voting system often criticized in America, I have seen Diebold voter card counting machines, etc. - all of which are equally non-transparent.

Why is it such a stretch for a company that builds ABM machines (such as Diebold) to apply the same standards of openness to certification? In the banking case, every part of the machine and code is scruitnized by both a third party analyst as well as a customer appointed one. No such practices are put in place for the voting machines, however.

If the Canadian election was to be stolen, that would be very bad in an ideological sense. But for the American election to be stolen, possibly again, well that would be a tragedy that has far larger ramifications for the rest of the world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Woot! New Video card Installed

Once upon a time I bought a new computer. At that time, the selection of video cards was kind of sucky, so I decided to use the onboard video that came with my computer. The plan was, once a decent card arrived, I would then get it.

A lot of time passed by. Good cards came and went, I was busy rebuilding a patio, finding other ways to procrastinate. It took me over a year and a half to finally get a video card installed.
Getting the card was one thing. Getting it installed into my computer was a completely different adventure that fortunately has a happy outcome. But I was a little nervous at first. This is because like most cards these days, this one is substantially larger than any other card I had installed before. The fact is, video cards today are about 4 to 8 times larger in volume - so much so that the makers of my motherboard did not take it's size into consideration when mapping out where to put connectors.

As a result, I had to get special SATA cables that would fit underneath the video card housing and still do the job. On one end of the cable the plug is at a right angle which allows for more clearance, but also means my cable blocks the second SATA port. Luckily I only have one SATA hard drive and one SATA optical drive. I had to move my hard drive lower in order to make room for the card too.

It took me two days to get the card installed, but that was mostly because I had to run out to get the custom cables in order to do the job right. Luckily everything works and I was able to install the vista drivers with little effort (who knew!)

I booted into linux briefly and did note that my video drivers have been reset to default ones, but the install still works. Reconfiguring that will be an adventure for another day - probably soon though as I won't be able to use that OS with a resolution of only 800x600 - that would drive me nuts. But before I was to do that, I really wanted to see what my current games look like with the new card.

Wow. I now know what people with glasses feel like when they get their prescription updated and it is better. Thief 3 used to play, but I had to turn down the resolution and the people still walked in slow-motion most of the time. Now, it is as the developers intended. Test Drive Unlimited is now responsive, crisp and beautiful. Before it was so slow that I could not play it - just trying to accelerate would force the game to stutter. With the xbox controller I got from Chris last year, driving is smooth and precise, which is just what I wanted. Titan's Quest played pretty well on my onboard video but now I was able to bump up the resolution and turn on all the special effects. It just looks so much prettier now.

And of course, now I can finally try BioShock. It's one of the best from last year, which is the closest to playing a current video game that I have come yet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

IKEA Overdose

Over the past month, we have been making multiple trips to IKEA as we attempt to put some organization to our small space. We have been there so often that our routine has shifted. We rarely go through the store as IKEA intends - now, instead of going through the maze showroom like obedient customers, we usually enter through the exit, or at the very least take all the handy shortcuts they have to bypass at least part of the store. I figure doing that alone cuts out a solid half hour to hour of time for us, but even so it is rare to have a stay shorter than a full hour. I really wish IKEA was a store I could quickly drop in for a single item, but they are geared to keep you in as long as possible.

The multiple trips are in part to return merchandise that looked great on the showroom floor, but not so great in our living room. Or kitchen. Or bedroom. You get the idea. Luckily there are two locations in the Lower Mainland, as the Coquitlam guys were starting to recognize me in the returns lineup. I was the one who had the receipts and packaging all in order because I already knew what they would need for the fastest processing possible.

Our place is by no means 100% IKEA styled, but we do use a fair bit of their stuff. Especially the organization solutions, as we have limited space. But neither location is 'close' to us so I am looking forward to when IKEA trips can once again be a novelty and no longer a part of our routine.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First signs of autumn

We all have our own ways of noticing the change in seasons. Spring can often be heralded in Canada with the start of the Tim Horton's Roll up the Rim contest, for example. Today I happened to discover another way to tell when autumn is fast approaching: emptied water features downtown. 

A lot of condos in my neighborhood have elaborate fountains. Some keep them running close to year round somehow - I'm not sure if they heat the water, or what. But there are others who for whatever reason, shut theirs down earlier in the year. 

Here in Vancouver we might get a lot of cherry blossoms in the spring (another informal signal that spring is near) but we do not get much in the way of leaves turning colour, at least not like I was used to back in Eastern Canada. What we do get though, is about 2 days of very strong wind and then the temperatures average about 10 degrees lower after that. 

Anyhow, what signals do you notice that indicate fall is 'in the air'?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Resetting Patio Tiles

Last weekend I had a setback with my patio and had to lift up the pavers I had set down, to redo the job with more care. This seems to be a trend with me and home projects. When we were in Vernon we lifted up the carpets and put in laminate flooring throughout the place. We were about half way done then when we realized we had to undo and redo the job in order to straighten out the tiles. 

I wasn't pleased then. I wasn't pleased this time either.

But I will say that having spent this weekend restarting the job, things are looking much better. Or more specifically, the tiles are more in line with each other and closer to level (but with a slight grade for rain runoff.) I didn't take a photo of my progress so far because in general things always look a lot worse than they are until the job is done. It's just how it is. Don't believe me? Take haircuts as an example. It's not quite right until the hairdresser is done.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Birthday post for 2008

Another year older, I suppose. I can't say that I am one who is overly concerned with my calendar age as I firmly believe that both my physical and emotional ages are significantly lower. Some would say especially so to the latter, to which I might be inclined to agree.

I took these two photos on my way into the office this morning, after my wife and I grabbed breakfast at Denny's. It's a little tradition we started a few years back have but it had an unintended side effect of having to get up earlier than usual, in order to make it into the office on time.

As you can see, it was fairly peaceful this morning. We had a major release on the weekend and I was happy to find that things were still peaceful in the office this morning too. (If the release was of poor quality, we tend to hear about it from our customer pretty quickly. While it is too early to rule this one a success, it is a good sign that there are no early complaints.)

Noel continued my tradition of free food on my birthday by treating me to lunch, which was also quite nice. The Sweet Basil Cafe makes a super tasty clubhouse sandwich that can be a challenge to eat if you aren't able to dislocate your jaw. The sandwich is just that thick and the cafe is just a couple blocks from the office.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to help make the day better than normal for me. At this point my day is barely half over so I am sure there are more surprises in store for me still, but I have to say that year thirty nine is off to a great start.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bikes Named After Beer

There is a local bike shop in town called Rain City Bikes that happens to be located close to where I work. They happen to sell bikes named after beer, which blends two things I really like.

Naturally, I had to go take a look.

SE Bikes is a BMX bike manufacturer that has come out with a new line of single speed bikes designed for urban riding. The model names are Draft, Lager, Premium Brew and Stout. But it's not as simple as picking your favorite type of beer to select your ride - the bikes vary quite a bit. For example, the Stout is more of a mountain bike, with 29" tires - it reminds me of a trials bike without the serious brakes.

The two models I really liked were the Lager and the Premium. These are the two road bike models. The Premium has a very nice lugged steel frame in 'Irish Green' that looks very nice, especially when matched up with the saddle, bars and cranks, all in a light tan scheme. Where it goes wrong (in my mind) is with the yellowish gold rims.

The Lager is very similar except the steel frame is welded instead of lugged and it is painted in a medium brown (beer colour!) One of the coolest parts on this bike has to be the bull horn handlebars which are very comfortable. Another added feature is that it does not have the unfortunately coloured wheels of the Premium. I know that's the style these days, but I think it looks gaudy. And well, Lager is apparently cheaper than Premium brew too, by several hundred dollars. It's interesting to see how new bikes are being made to look like old ones.

In a perfect world I guess I would like to have a Premium bike with the handlebars and wheels from the Lager. Either that, or a Lager with the saddle from the Premium, just because I liked the colour combination. Most bike dealers, this one included, are more than willing to mix and match a bit to get things just right. But alas, it is near the end of the cycling season and stock is hard to come by. This shop no longer has my size of frame in stock. Still, it's nice to know that there is a local shop that sells reasonably priced bikes that I am interested in, given how particular I can be about these things.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Self Directed Blogging

I have resigned myself to the fact that of the two blogs I maintain, the one for my dog is immensely more popular. There are many reasons for this I suppose, including the fact that the dog blog topic is just more accessible to people as compared to the less frequent posts I make here on whatever comes to mind.

That is okay, because I have realized that I'm not blogging for others, but for my own benefit. I guess I have still been thinking of the Spark interview that Derek gave a while back concerning digital executors. While I may not feel I need an executor yet, just knowing that I have a few year's worth of photos and thoughts has a similar value to me as I suppose a diary would have for someone in the previous generation. I mean, do people still keep diaries in the traditional sense? While I don't keep a physical book I am making dated entries on a web page which amounts to basically the same thing.

While Derek had posthumous concerns, mine are more immediate: I don't have a really sharp memory. I admit that this is more due to laziness than any pre-disposition to mental failing, but the fact remains that I don't recall a lot that has happened in my life, so having a record like this is something I place value in having. Just knowing it is there and that I can look it up is reassuring. As an example, when I discovered that Blogger uses Picasaweb to handle the photos uploaded here, and that I could see all the photos in one easy spot, I was ecstatic. I spent an hour or two right then just looking at the various photos I uploaded, enjoying the memories that came with each one. Suddenly the power of flickr faded as the photos there were often not related to the 'diary' of the blog posts. They still have their place but I think that because they were always searchable and available, the novelty wasn't there.

Anyway, if you find yourself in the habit of reading my blog, congratulations. You're sneaking a peek into my diary and I hope you enjoy it. I certainly don't mind you reading (I'd have made it private if I did) but I've realized that the focus behind the writing is more directed at recording my thoughts and collecting my photos in an online scrapbook.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Movie Rain!

I once saw a site that showed budding young film directors how to make a machine that created 'movie rain.' This machine was needed because real rain was notorious for not showing up on film.

While this photo doesn't prove things to be otherwise, it does show that it's not an absolute. If it rains hard enough, it will show up, as can be seen if you view the larger version of this photo.

Anyway, I was just surprised to see the raindrops. Nothing else special about it I guess.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


As I continue to play with my camera, I find all sorts of things that are different from the broken Kodak. For example, the Nikon will offer a panorama assist mode for taking photos, but will not actually stitch them together. Bundled software was provided to do this on my computer though, which does get around the problem. The camera does offer a semi-transparent layer on the LCD viewfinder to help with lining up the shots though, which is a nice touch. The Kodak though, would automatically stitch the photos together and save them as one file right on the camera. I suspect that the results were less sophisticated, but it was nice to have it done at the time the photo was taken.
Having said that, you can see by the included photo that even more sophisticated stitching algorithms aren't perfect. Note the extra ripples in the water below Olympic Village. But still, the overall photo is a smoother match than what I used to get on the Kodak.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I was introduced to a new web game being developed a few days ago, and am slightly addicted to it now. The game is called Quarantine2019 and it's loosely based on an earlier game called Urban Dead, which I have never tried.

This game is in beta, so it's not yet polished. But that can be kind of fun too, as one is bound to stumble across the occasional bug or exploit. Signing up is free, and you start by creating either a Citizen (human) or a Zombie player. It doesn't really matter because at some point you are going to switch sides.

And that is really the fun. Citizens can be infected and Zombies can be cured. Your ally today could be your nemesis tomorrow. Your character accumulates experience independently as either Zombie or Citizen, so really deadly Zombies might be sorta wimpy people when cured. The game does encourage teamwork though, as your character persists in the game even when you go away from it. So it's usually a good idea to hide in a building that has other players to defend you if need be.

The screenshot is kind of tongue-in-cheek, since it's the screen I see a lot of the time: You are Dead. Lucky for me, death is a figurative term only in this game. If you feel like trying it out, come try to find me. I'll either help you out, or well, feed on your brains, depending on how I'm doing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fireworks American Style

We put our patio woes behind us and set out to see the fireworks this evening. Tonight was America's turn, and they certainly raised the bar. After a somewhat average performance by Canada the other night, we were much more impressed with the American show.

I brought my mini-tripod for my camera and even though I had to set it up on the ground, noted that I got significantly better photos with it (as expected.)

I had the dog out for a walk a couple hours before the event and noticed that by that time there were already thousands of people starting to gather. One of my favorite parts of events like this is the gathering of boats in the harbour. I used to really enjoy watching the show from the bow of my cousin's boat, even though it often took an hour or two to just to get back into port, and there was always some jerk in too much of a rush, speeding his boat past the other boats. Somehow, that was all just part of the excitement of the night for me - but then again, I was usually not piloting on nights like that.

So once again, the city had fun and while I can still hear the helicopters buzzing around, I have to say that the crowds have been pretty good this year. For the first event the reports were that there were only eight fights out of the approximately four hundred thousand people. Tonight felt like the same

Friday, July 25, 2008


I was all set. I took a half day at work, I booked a truck with the auto cooperative, I called to confirm that Home Depot had enough stock for my renovation job. So I leave work, get the truck, BUY the paver stones and discover while they are loading it that they are the wrong style. They had to go back because the supplier changed product but not the SKU. After sorting this out it was 3PM and we were no further ahead. A quick trip over to Rona confirmed the worst: they also had no stock despite having it on sale this week.

By this time the truck had to go back. The afternoon was shot and I would not be setting pavers this weekend. At this point I still haven't been able to find the size and style stones I hoped to use. I may have to rethink my design.

So that is why I was frustrated. The photo is here because I saw Ooze for sale on the menu. Between that and Toxic Waste flavored slurpees at 7-11, I don't understand marketing these days.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fireworks set to Monster movie music?

The Celebration of Light kicked off with a bang last night. We bundled up the dog and headed down the hill to see the show but weren't really all that prepared. (My wife wanted to pack more, but I was more interested in just going as-is.) So we arrived a little later than most and managed to find a spot in a not-too-crowded area.

The dog was liking all the attention she was getting from the other people, as well as the fact that I decided to sit on the lawn. This meant she could climb on me every now and then, which seemed to suit her just fine.

I also forgot to bring my tripod, so virtually all of the photos I took look like the above one - which is great if that is the look one is going for, but I think I would have liked to see a non-shaken picture. Maybe Saturday night will prove to be better.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Newer means Smaller

Today was the day I replaced my camera. Showing no brand loyalty whatsoever, I selected the Nikon Coolpix S210. It happened to be the last one in the store so I didn't really have a choice in the colour, which turned out to be okay, since I probably would have chosen the one I got anyhow. As far as a comparison to my last camera, it has about the same features as the Kodak, but offers fewer megapixels (8 compared to 10).

The trade off is that the Nikon is significantly smaller than the Kodak and is supposed to have a better quality lens. Having only spent half a day with it, I can only say that it does seem to take a picture I am happy with, but I really like the small size. It was important to me to have something truly 'pocketable' as this is a camera I like to take with me. I have no room for SLRs and the like in my jeans.

One final note: I broke my informal rule slightly - this camera was a little more than the $150 I was planning to spend. I'll call it 'inflation' and leave it at that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Peas in two pods

I find myself down by the local marinas quite a bit with the dog, which means I get to see a lot of different boats. Usually they are much larger than the two pictured here, but the sight of them stuck with me as I continued my walk. The simplicity of sitting barely on top of the water, able to paddle into the shallows seems relaxing and enjoyable to me. If I ever do manage to get a boat, I would hope that I have a couple kayaks like these lashed to it to better explore the little places that a larger craft cannot go.

The only problem with kayaks (as I see it) is the storage of said boats when not in use. We don't have a car, and even if we did, finding a place to keep them in our limited amount of space would be challenging to say the least. Well that, and the risk that we stop taking them out on the water because of the hassle in getting them there. Thinking of all of this reminds me that I really need to get my bike back on the road before summer is over for another year.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's nice down by the water

I was born in Nova Scotia, but I do not pretend to be a sea dog, sailor or old salt. Having said that, I have always been drawn to water, especially the ocean. When I moved from Nova Scotia, I came to Vancouver. Being new to the area, I noticed that the 'ocean' around the Lower Mainland was not the same as the Atlantic from back home. It didn't smell the same. It wasn't nearly as wild and unpredictable. It was close in the same way that a knockoff product isn't quite the same as the original. I was left disappointed.

Eventually I made a trip over to Tofino on Vancouver Island, and I found what I was missing. Here was my wild ocean, the strong salt odor undiluted by the Fraser river being forced into me by unobstructed winds. The Pacific was in fact just as great as the Atlantic, at least to my senses. Once I understood why Vancouver's waters were different, it no longer seemed to matter. I was no longer away from 'home.'

Now, when I am out walking the dog, I tend to walk along the shore line, and spend time looking at the boats going by. I can feel the breeze, and even smell the diluted smell of salt from the water, faint as it may be. I can see the sea life growing on the rocks just under the water surface and watch the light from the sunset glint off the water. It's the perfect backdrop to my life. I may not be a sea salt, but I definitely am a coastal boy at heart.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Better late than never

This has not been a spectactular summer for Vancouver this year, at least as far as the weather goes. Having said that, the last couple weeks have been getting warmer, which is nice. But even with that, I can't remember a year when I have needed a sweatshirt in July.

I suppose it is for the best, with my patio under construction the last thing I need is a solid heat wave that makes indoor living uncomfortable. Yeah right, I can't see that happening in our place.

In other news, I was walking along Denman street when I noticed this Smart car parked sideways. I was really surprised not to see a ticket on it, I thought that sort of thing was illegal. Of course, if you are going to park that way, that is probably the best car for the job. It's also probably the best car for the Downtown area in general too, but that's another topic.

These photos were taken with my broken camera and have been subject to heavy cropping and rotation. I suppose if I had to break something, breaking the LCD was the best as it is still useful as a camera.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shooting Blind

Somehow I managed to break the LCD panel on my camera. It's one of those point and shoot ones that doesn't have an old school viewfinder like you would find on an SLR or film camera. So breaking the screen somewhat limits the capabilities of this model.

For example, if I wanted to change the shooting mode, I now would be guessing since all the feedback was displayed through a menu.... on screen. Oh, and I broke it but good - I'll take a picture of it later and upload it, but the screen doesn't display anything meaningful at all anymore. So without the screen, I am left with a camera that still takes a decent picture, assuming I can line it up correctly, and assuming that the camera's auto settings happen to work for the shot. It's a lot of guesswork, but at the same time, the kind of shots I tend to take aren't really that difficult.

So at this point I'm mulling it over. I can limp by with the camera as-is for a little while, I think. A replacement panel can be had on ebay for about $60 plus another $10 shipping after exchange, and that still leaves the job of ripping it open and swapping old for new. That would come in at roughly half the cost of getting a replacement camera, since I would try to keep the price around $150 or so. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to some that I'm probably going to take a while making up my mind on this one.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Testers report bugs for dead frogs

Once again we find ourselves testing software later in the day as we attempt to meet a self-imposed deadline. It's not all bad though - to keep morale high I picked up a few drinks for the crew. While it was generally well received, it did not arrive until the bulk of the work was already done which is probably good, because there is only so much value to be had from a tester 'simulating drunk user' testing. Not that we imbibed anywhere near that amount. And we would know if we did, because people would start looking like this. Fortunately, that was not the case, at least not today.

Oddly, one of the things I like best about the first photograph is the newsprint on the paper that was hastily used as a backdrop. The article talks about the reaction people had when Fox News used a banner graphic about Barak Obama that came off as racist. For me, it's like embedding a little time capsule into the blog. Okay, maybe that's overstating it a little bit, maybe in 5 or 10 years I will not care at all. Only time will tell.

The second picture of course, is of a real dead frog, or as Greg likes to call 'em, dead dead frogs.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No longer sharing our laundry

For the past while, we have been using the laundry facilities in our condo building because our clothes dryer stopped heating up. Tonight we decided to replace the old with the new and got a replacement dryer. Bonus feature: we don't have to use the shared facilities any more.

Seriously, you see the worst side of some people when you have to share laundry machines.

I'm going to let it go though, since we can once again return to doing our laundry in-suite. In a totally unrelated note, today's photo was taken while out walking the dog and is of a condo on Bayshore Drive, I believe. The wooden dory reminded me of home, although I suspect that a boat like that would still be put to use and not simply a decoration if it was near the Atlantic. Still, they did a nice job with it, so I'll just admire it for what it is.