Monday, February 22, 2010

3 Strikes in Olympic Curling

We went to see another Olympic event last night - this time it was Women's Curling. I already had a passing interest in this sport so when Holly suggested we get tickets for it, I was on board. Since there are quite a few games to be played leading up to the medal rounds, the event was structured to show three games at a time - this meant we got to see the US play against Sweden, Germany play against Japan and Canada take on China. Someone to cheer for in each contest.

Or, in our case, we had the opportunity to see our three teams lose, each in a different way.

Admittedly the US team isn't really in medal contention this year. That's ok, they are already cleaning up on lots of other medals in other sports so nobody feels too badly for them. They played until the 9th end at which time they conceded defeat. The final score: 9 to 3 for Sweden.

The Japan vs. Germany game was a lot closer. Japan played to the end, using up every last second available (the clock ran out during the final shot). They played well but ultimately lost during regulation play.

China came out with an early lead against Canada and held on for the first half, at which point Canada actually tied it up. Regulation play ended as a tie, which sent the teams into an extra end (or in hockey parlance, 'overtime') where China scored. Much of the strategy involved has to do with who gets to throw the last stone, an advantage China capitalized on in the 11th end. It was a fun diversion from the Men's Hockey game which was also happening at the same time. (we lost that one too.)

Here is a brief video of the Canadian shot that tied up the game with China. Listen for the crowd as they go crazy. Oh, and the final shot was taken on the skytrain as we made our way home - there is a lot of Olympic gear being worn and I think the biggest seller by far has to be the mittens. This is the center hand rail to hang on to while standing on a crowded train.

Friday, February 19, 2010

First time in Snow Shoes

I was up at 4:00 am this morning.

Let's just let that sink in a bit. 4:00 am is so early it's really late from the night before. I call myself a 'morning person' but generally speaking, 4:00 am is not what I mean. I'm more of a 7:00 am kind of guy.

But I digress. I had good reasons to be up so early. I had a gondola to catch at 5:20 am on Grouse Mountain - all so I could be ready for a 6:00 am start for my first mountain trek on snow shoes. On a good day, when I am feeling motivated, I will get up early to ride my bike around Stanley Park, which admittedly is an enjoyable way to get exercise. However, just the day before my boss offered to take anyone who was interested on this morning hike with snow shoes. I was in.

The plan was to start hiking while it was still dark so that we could be at a good spot to watch the sun rise over the Lower Mainland. Roy (my boss) was kind enough to lend me the gear required for the day - a pair of snowshoes, a head mounted light and 'gators'. The last item is basically leg skirting to keep out snow and wetness from entering in your boots. All three items turned out to be very helpful and I was happy to have them.

Our guide for the hike was Eric. He had the perfect personality for this kind of job and it soon became clear that I was hiking with frequent visitors to the mountain as he knew Roy and the others quite well.

I could go on about the actual hike, but I think the pictures speak better than I could. In short, it was fantastic, I had a great time and everything went off according to plan. We saw wildlife, Matt Lauer from the Today Show, Eric named off most of the local mountains as they came into view and of course, we saw our sunrise from the top of a mountain.

I already can't wait to convince Holly to come out with me next time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Hockey

Yesterday was a lot of fun. We stopped working at 1:00 pm (any day that happens is a good day in my mind) and started celebrating. The entire office was going to watch one of the Olympic Hockey games! We had food and drink brought into the office, former employees started to arrive and we even let Greg up on the roof again.

When the time arrived, we all walked over from the office to the stadium (about a fifteen minute walk) and started waiting in line. At one point I turned around and took a picture of the people still behind me - this is after going through the security checkpoints - you can see them in the background. It was going to be a busy place!

In order to fit in everybody we ended up having two separate box suites - I had only been in a suite at a hockey game once before. It's definitely the best way to watch a game. Each suite has a kitchen area and private bathroom at the back. That saved a lot of lineups and running around between periods, for sure. Anticipation was building with just about everyone as we arrived, the view of the rink was fantastic and the beer, well somehow we managed to keep it flowing.

The stadium was pretty full and unlike the games with Canada as one of the teams, the colours were pretty evenly split between the blue and yellow of Sweden and the black, red and yellow of Germany. In our booths we had supporters for both teams. It was a bit of contrast though from the sea of red and white for Team Canada games.

Eventually the game was over - it was a great game to watch. Definitely not a blowout, Germany did a great job holding back the stronger team from Sweden. However, when it was over the Swedes skated off with the win.

From the arena, we headed over to Irish House - one of the many pavilions around town. Thanks to some great connections we were all able to enter a VIP area that was above the main floor.

We continued to party here until the night ended. Such a memorable day, just about everything worked out better than planned. If anyone doubts Vancouver's enthusiasm over the Games here, they are blind, deaf or just plain not here. I have never seen this town so enthused to party over anything like this before.

The net result? I'm even more excited now for the rest of the Olympic sporting events, but especially the rest of the hockey games. Go Team Canada! Go for Gold on home ice!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Dishwasher

We bought a new dishwasher over the weekend and I took half a day off yesterday in order to swap out the old one for the new. The project was a bit challenging for my not-quite-so-handy hands but I'm happy to report a successful job.

The best part is that the new machine works. The old one doesn't, but that didn't stop someone from responding to our craigslist ad for a free non-working dishwashing machine. If they can fix it, I hope they make good use of it. It will just be nice to have someone come take it away.

I think this is now the second time I have gone to to get advice or instructions on how to do a job. The first time was to learn about tiling, a job we eventually didn't do because when we went to get the tiles we left with more questions than we started.

Of course, it was Valentine's Day on Sunday and we did manage to celebrate the occasion. Pictured are some of the oysters we had as appetizers. The main course was steamed lobster served with butter and well, I was too busy removing the shells to take pictures. Maybe next year.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Protest the Cherry Blossoms, oh my!

Well it's underway and the picture I lead with today is one of cherry blossoms. Why? Because it's probably the most under reported story of the games. Thanks to the warm weather, the cherry trees around here started blooming early. I'm sure the tourists will enjoy seeing pink trees around town.

The opening ceremonies went off with only minor hitches last night but overall I think they did a great job. I really enjoyed hearing K. D. Lang perform and at times the visuals to the art performances were stunning - like when the killer wales 'swam' across the floor. My wife was troubled by the frayed bowstrings of the fiddlers though - she's a violinist, so seeing the equipment in such a state was distracting.

The second shot is of some of my co-workers getting ready to cheer on the torch relay. I'll attempt to embed a brief youtube clip of the torch bearer running by at the end of the post.

Did anyone say protest? I heard of at least two times that the torch relay had to be re-routed to avoid trouble in Vancouver due to protests. The local news ran stories about elementary school kids who were sad and disappointed because they waited and waited and no torch came. You just know those kids are going to grow up with pure hatred for protesters in the future.

I think I am ok with that.

The final two shots are first a police road block and second, reinforcements. Yet another protest happened on Robson street today - I was walking the dog and had to go around them as the closest officer to me claimed 'it wasn't safe'. I'm not so sure about how dangerous it is to walk past stoned street performers more interested in flag waving and raising awareness of their pet issue but I also didn't feel like pushing the matter. In a way, I'm kind of glad that protesters are given as much as they are in the way of rights, etc. here. Welcome to a democratic nation, peoples of the earth. Ok, without further ado, here is the youtube video:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympics begin

After all the anticipation, the games are finally starting. We still don't have much snow but it does feel like the protesters have mostly left town and the extra space has been filled by those more interested in celebrating and having a good time.

I'm one of those looking to make the most of this event.

Things haven't really started yet but already so much has happened. Wether it is pre-olympic parties or watching the torch relay or just enjoying some of the many cultural exhibits, Vancouver already feels like it is in top gear. It's fun. It's a party. It's barely begun.

It's not completely clean - note the horse shit in the torch photo here. But we have been able to step around most of the shit and carry on. I mean, look at the last photo. People were swarming the torch bearers just to get photos of them. This is an enthused, happy crowd ready to welcome the world. I'm just glad to be here to participate.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ride Report for early Feb

This morning was the first time in a long time that I got out on my bike for a ride. It felt good to be out riding around. So good I was wondering why the heck I haven't been on it more regularly. I was also able to get a few photos from around town and chose a route that allowed me to explore areas of Vancouver that I haven't been to in a while.

But really, it was too short of a ride. I'll have to follow it up soon with another.

I really wanted to gripe about my sinus infection and especially about the one who is presumed guilty for giving it to me, but I won't. Instead I'll talk about the Coast Guard setting up sub nets and the like. I'm not sure if this is an anti-terror measure or just anti-foreign country measure.

Oh and of course last night I did like I said and took some video footage of the Vectorial Vancouver light show. I have to admit my camera isn't really up to the task though. But, if you like you can see them on youtube, where I have them uploaded.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Olympic Lights

I might as well get my fill now - this light display is going to be on for the duration of the Olympics and it is situated nearby the usual route I take when walking the dog. This is one of the things that people in my neighborhood were moaning about leading up to the event yet I was eagerly anticipating.

Every couple of minutes the lights reposition so it never stays the same - one person I spoke with said that people can go online to program routines for the lights to move in. Right now it looks like they are following several different routines - it's certainly not random as the lights tend to move in synchronized sweeps and passes. Maybe next time I will take some video to better capture the motion, but tonight I was interested in getting up close to the actual light units.

They are quiet. Somehow I expected to hear diesel generators or something, but did not. The lights are very powerful but also focused enough that even in rain/cloud/fog it doesn't diffuse enough to cause a problem for nearby residents. Despite the protests, none of the beams ever actually hit a nearby condo, although at one point they do illuminate a Canadian flag quite nicely.

This last shot is basically what it looks like in the night sky, at least at certain times when the beams are pointed to converge. It's visible from all over downtown and the Fairview and Kitsilano areas. I know that I will be enjoying this display as much as possible for the next few weeks.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Wireless mice are beyond me

When it comes to mice (the input device, not the rodent) I have been a staunch traditionalist, insisting on a wired connection. My usual excuse was to complain about having to replace batteries needlessly. But to be honest, I really haven't tried a wireless mouse to make a proper assessment.

The reason this has come up recently is because of my work computer. It has a wired mouse and although I have been using this computer for about a year now, the chord still gets in the way. It tends to bump into the monitor stand. This is not a big problem, just a minor annoyance. At home I only have one monitor so my mouse chord never interferes with the stand.

I wish I could get feedback from folks who have used both to find out what their preference is and if there are any pitfalls with the wireless device that I don't know about. Oh right, I should be using Twitter for that, not my blog with a readership of 4 non-technical peoples. My bad :)