And a beer in a tree

We just got back from hauling the three kids of Rebecca’s sister through Stanley Park to check out the lights that are on display there. I know that this video from my cellphone isn’t of the greatest quality. I thought I would give it a try, and at least you can actually see that we were there. What you don’t see is how packed it was. People everywhere and a three hour wait to ride that train. Borderline chaos.

20061223(007) Now to try my hand at baking. Then it’s pretty much eating for two straight days. Welcome to the holidays, but I won’t be complaining.

Best wishes to everyone, everywhere this season. May it treat you well.

Braving the winter takes on new meaning

IMG_9689 We’ve been busy with getting everything set for the holidays. That pretty much means shopping. I’ve been taking care of a few various projects in between, but we ventured out to Stanley Park today with Rebecca’s dad. I went running yesterday, and the park was in pretty bad shape.

Last Thursday night, I woke up around 3AM to the sounds of wind. Massive amounts of wind. You could hear various pieces of debris rolling around outside, so I got up to peak out the windows. They are saying that we experienced hurricane force winds in the category two range, but it didn’t take me very long to make sure that everything was okay in the apartment and gather flashlights in the event that we lost power. Rebecca, on the other hand, slept all the way through it.

Luckily, we didn’t lose power in our end of the city. Other folks were not so fortunate, and I got a message from DaveO that tells me that North Vancouver experienced some outages. Word from Surrey said that some folks took a hit as well. Trees are damaged all over downtown through.

About running the park yesterday, it was a mess. I had to tiptoe around a lot of fallen foliage, some much larger in various spots. Heading back in today, I was sure to bring the camera along(see them on Flickr here). It looked like a war zone in some spots.

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) – It looks like a crime scene.

And the trees are the victims.

Crews are asking the public to stay out of a battered Stanley Park.

Yellow caution ribbon is strung across pathways littered with branches and tree-trunks.
A trades foreman with the park board, Gary Gilder, says the wind damaged trees are a real danger.

“……and a lot of trees in the bus hung up…..against other trees….that have not quite fallen over so it’s…I would say stay out of the park until the end of the weekend”

The park itself will be closed for the weekend. That includes the seawall, the Vancouver Aquarium and bright nights Christmas attraction.[cknw]

IMG_9690 Yeah, I guess you could say that the park was closed, but we got ourselves inside and checked out the damage. However, I wouldn’t recommend it at all. Trails are cut off all over the place, not to mention that the seawall was blocked off at the point where you can take Beaver Creek trail up to Beaver Lake. And what trails you can find access to are bound to be blocked off at some point. You get past one tree to only find another.

When I went running through yesterday, there was no automobile traffic whatsoever. Getting around Brockton Point, I couldn’t even run on the bike path. They’re doing some reno to the lighthouse area, so all Seawall traffic is forced onto the upper route around the backside. Just beyond that, you could see that they worked a path through the fallen trees and branches for authorized vehicles to get into the area, but it was a tight squeeze. I actually passed a variety of people walking on the road in the opposite direction who, like me, didn’t know that the park was officially closed.

It’s really sad to see. I fear that it’s going to be a long time before anyone can safely or completely venture through the entire park. It’s a great place to go running or wandering through. I hope to see things restored as soon as possible. For only living here as short as I have, I’ve really come to love that park. It won’t be the same, but I’ll be anxious to see it back again.

White meat chemistry experiment

Last night, I had the urge to go to McDonalds. It happens every great once and a while. More likely than none, it’s after I’ve had an alcoholic beverage or two when the thought pops into my head. There’s the part of your brain, obviously weekend with stupid juice, that says, “you know, that does sound good.”

On the way home last night, we stopped by one of the three locations that are all within easy reach from our home, all separated by an average of four blocks in the downtown area. When that spark lites in your head, it’s pretty hard to detour around it. You’re too weak to tell yourself that you’ve seen Super Size Me[imdb] enough times to run away. However, the other side of you says Harold and Kumar[imdb] went to White Castle, and they had a wacky adventure. I can totally do this.

Hollywood… you have failed me once again. Miserably. I guess I could blame the lack of common sense, but we can all just assume that one, right?

No worries, though. I’m not completely sick, and no, it’s not the effects of the tasty beverages. I’m “experienced” enough to know what is and isn’t. I even get upset when Rebecca gets McDonalds, so you can bet that I am kicking myself doubly over this one.

It gets better though. Going to the McDonalds website, I decided to look up exactly what crap I put in my stomach last night that’s still making me feel like the Hamburgler has setup a refugee camp in my intestinal track.

White Meat CHICKEN MCNUGGETS: Chicken meat, water, modified corn starch, salt, chicken broth powder (chicken broth, salt and natural chicken flavouring), seasoning [(vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola), extracts of
rosemary, mono, di and triglycerides (from sunflower oil) and soy lecithin)]. Breaded with: water, wheat flour, yellow corn flour, modified corn starch, salt, baking powder, spices (white and black pepper, celery seed), wheat starch,
whey powder, sodium aluminum phosphate, corn starch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil (manufacturing aid), (par-fried in partially hydrogenated soybean oil, corn oil, TBHQ, citric acid and dimethyl silicone). Cooked in 100%
vegetable oil (Canola oil with added THBQ, citric acid and dimethypolysiloxane). [mcdonalds]

It all starts making sense within a few words, doesn’t it? Forget that the menu even lists them as being “white meat”. And “dimethypolysiloxane”? I tried to do a quick search on it and came up with nothing after just a few tries. If I can’t go to Google and come up with a fairly quick explanation, then you know that can’t be good.

What I did find mentioned dimethypolysiloxane as a polymer in some sort of environmental science study, and the other website listed it as an ingredient in some sort of skin cream for applying to areas of your body that had laser surgery. Wow! A million and one uses. And you can eat it, too!

Sadly, it doesn’t end there, but I’ll bypass the explanation as to what’s in the barbeque sauce. Yet another thing that I hardly, if ever, consume. I will say that if you have to have sauce with your nuggets, go with honey and steer clear of everything else. It only has three ingredients, and it doesn’t get more natural than the stuff that bees make. All your other options have ten or more. Who knows what science experiments or cosmetic products you can create with them.

I guess I could rephrase that opening thought. Last night, I had a horrible idea to go to McDonalds.

Happy Thanksgiving

Rebecca really wanted to do some ice skating for a while now, so why not do it on Thanksgiving Day?

My legs are feeling it. I haven’t been on ice in about five years, inline skates for about two. It took me about five minutes to get back into the groove, but it all came back to me pretty quick. Quick stopping, cross-overs, and skating backwards? We’ll save that for next time.

Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating this American holiday, but we’ll be throwing some Canadian spice into today. Canucks play Nashville late this afternoon, right at the same time that the KC Chiefs kickoff at home against Denver. How much better can today get? Lamb roast. We’re skipping the turkey.

The day I went back to America for the first time

It’s such a touristy thing to do, but Rebecca took me down to the Peace Arch[wiki] with her dad a little over a week ago. We were actually hiking in Redwood Park and ventured over there since we were so close.

Redwood ParkOur little walk through that park turned into quite the down and back up affair, totally not wearing the right shoes for the occasion. From what I’ve been told, this is what to expect from my father-in-law. I’m always down for wandering through the bush and getting a little dirty, but my shoes were less than perfect for the soft ground. I’m more impressed that Rebecca did it all in two inch heels.

You can see a bunch of pictures that I took of Redwood Park on Flickr.

America is right over that ditchI always have a hard time grasping that fact that there isn’t a fence that separates Canada from the states. Driving along 0 Avenue, you could spit out the window from Canada and have it land in the U.S. A ditch, a little more than a foot deep, is all that stops a car from crossing the 49th. A three step start and you could easily jump over it.

This was the closest I had been to the U.S. in just over a year. And technically, I did cross the border for a few minutes. Even better, I used the washroom by the road heading north. I was very straight forward that when the urge to relieve myself hit me, I was going to do it in my native country. And in true fashion, that little rest stop was creepy. No power and no hand soap. Smelled alright, though.

I'm standing in AmericaIt’s a nice park and completely worth checking out. While we were running around, people would hop out of their cars to snap a picture of themselves in this symbol of friendliness. We’re two countries that, deep down, like each other. Our political ideologies get in the way of the feelings Americans have about Canadians and vice versa. It’s nice to forget that and just be a tourist some times.

Of course, I have all my pics of our adventures at the Peace Arch on Flickr.

Just another day, but I’m another year older

Canucks vs. Anaheim for my birthdayWhat can I say? It’s been an incredible weekend of birthday happiness.

There was Snow Patrol on Thursday night(which I have yet to make my review post about yet), dinner with my Canadian family on Friday, Mexican food with my Canadian friends on Saturday, and the Canucks vs. Ducks at GM place tonight. I’ve said it a lot already, but you only turn twenty-eight once, right?

There are so many thanks that need to go out to so many people. So many good times were had over the period of four days, not to mention the cards, gifts, and alcohol, consumed or given as presents, from everyone.

Just before the puck dropped tonight at GM Place, my parents called me on my cell. It was a moment of true analogy. The beer we had just purchased was foam all the way to the brim and slightly spilling over as my folks wished me a happy birthday. That’s what today had climaxed to, and I don’t think it could have gotten better than that, not to mention that the Canucks preveiled, 4-3 in a shootout.

Poncho's! As I write this, The Reverend Don Deeley is making his way through his weekly radio show at WYEP in Pittsburgh, dedicating a good portion of the selections my way, all for my birthday. He emailed me to give me a heads up, thinking I wouldn’t be listening, but I’ve been streaming in from the beginning. That means a lot, and I thank you so much, Don. Anytime I can take over airwaves through the use of my voice or a barrage of song requests, I’m so there.

I also want to mention thanks to some fellow bloggers for extending some birthday wishes. J.J. from the Canucks Hockey Blog met up with us ahead of the game tonight, providing me with another, frosty beverage for my other hand. Yvonne sent in an email as well as getting a voicemail from Uncle Weed. Even the woman who cuts my hair called me, but Minoo was more concerned about how Rebecca liked the coloring of her hair after there were some issues with getting that all done.

Rebecca had her hair coloredMost importantly, Rebecca has made this an amazing birthday. This has been the first time that we’ve been able to be together for it, and she has made it more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Everything you could probably imagine about her being a wonderful person is true, but I have that and a lot more with everyday that goes by.

Thanks to everyone. Just because your name isn’t on here and the exact contribution to this weekend isn’t listed, that doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. There’s just so much, and I’ll keep those for myself. Memories are always the best gift that can be given.

Last night with Matthew Good

Matthew Good: packed up and ready to leave townAs of this post, it’s still what you would consider tonight. Past midnight, that makes our night of hanging out in, as of later today, the former home Matthew Good actually happening last night. It might just be his last night in Vancouver, ever.

I wanted to sit down and hammer out some thoughts about the whole experience before I head to bed for this night. When the sun rises in the morning, I have to come down off this high and try to focus on a discussion about web-blogging-podcasting-geeky stuff at BarCamp.

So much of that techie stuff has become apart of who I am in life, but music is that one thing I find myself constantly coming back to. It kinda meshed in that tiny, empty apartment in Coal Harbor. Rebecca had the honor, and duty, of live blogging the whole event, and I have to say that for her first time out at doing such a thing, it turned out pretty freaking stellar.

I know I said that I wanted to record things tonight for the podcast, and that did not happen. I’ll be completely honest. I’m not sorry or sad about that. In fact, I didn’t even ask. I had my minidisc and crappy Berhinger mic in my bag, all ready to go. When the dogs ran up to me as we entered the front door of the apartment, I was content with letting the night unfold with the plan that was already in store.

Audio would not have done this night justice. I know there was video taken a few times, but it won’t portray the signifigance of the night. Maybe this is just my gut reaction at being invited into Matt’s secluded world. He’s about to take a huge leap into another chapter, maybe even a whole new book, in his life. Somehow, I got to be there as he said so long to this one.

Matthew Good: Benji is the one in chargeThis was the second time that I’ve seen Matt perform. My first one was shortly after I arrived in Vancouver to start my new life here with Rebecca. It was even my first rock show that I ever saw here, and those are important events in my life. It’s just a simple reality that these things stick with you. I still remember the first, real rock show that I went to(Davenport, IA at the Col Ballroom – Starfish, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Toadies, and The Butthole Surfers) like it was yesterday. The various road trips for other shows and festivals. New York, Austin, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee. Those are some of the best memories.

This isn’t about a brush with a celebrity or bragging about hanging out with someone famous. I’ve had my run-ins with a fair share of rock stars in my life. Working in public radio, I shook the hands of a lot of people that are way more smarter and successful that I could possibly dream. It feels like more than that, but not so much that I’m better than you, if that makes any sense.

That’s how I felt leaving Matt’s tonight. It’s tough for me to not call him on a first name basis because he feels like more of a friend because of that. He’s just a good guy. Outspoken, a master of his craft, intelligent, and full of a lot of great stories. I’d like to hang out with him and a bottle of whiskey for a few hours. That would be a trip.

It’s tough to really convey this experience. I’m trying to let thoughts from the top of my head just flow out, but so many tangents are getting in the way.

I can’t forget to mention the people there, and this might be where the impact of this is hitting me a little more. One guy, originally from Newfoundland, flew in from Texas to be there. It gets better. Of course, there was one gal who came from Victoria, and a variety of other lower mainlanders got the invite as well.

Then there was the chick from Edmonton that flew over, and another girl coming all the way from Maryland. There was another dude there from the U.K., but he’s studying at a local university anyway so that doesn’t totally count. Matt’s looking to travel to his neck of the woods in the not too distant future, and they discussed plans for meeting up while he’s in the neighborhood.

Out of all of this, the only guy to bring beer with the dude from Texas. Low and behold, Stella isn’t that bad. I’ll still take a pale ale over it any day. Regardless, look at how far these people went to be here. We just took a bus to get our butts over there from BarCamp and felt bad for being a little late. And to top that, the chick from Maryland walked straight off the plane and out of YVR to get there as soon as she could; there stands a chance that her baggage might still be in the terminal by the time I publish this.

Left to Right: Me, Matthew Good, Rebecca [Flickr:miss604]When we finally made our exit, we spoke to Matt one last time. And if you have been reading his blog, you know that he has been going through a rough spot in his life. Sadly enough, he just now discovered how close we lived to him and even mentioned how we could have hung out if he knew it sooner. He’s quite the Apple geek, much like myself. Somewhere within that, I’m sure we might have got along.

It will be very strange to know that he’s gone from this city, even if I haven’t been here that long. He’ll still be blogging, and I plan on keeping track of what he’s up to. He has a plan. As to when, where, and for how long, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Be sure to watch my Flickr for photos once I post them, and also be sure to check out Rebecca’s(Flickr). On top of that, keep an eye on the podcast. We’ll be sure to sit down and share some more thoughts about the whole thing.

Needless to say, thanks for inviting us, Matt. It was really great to finally meet you, play with the dogs, have Rod make us laugh, and hear you perform. Look us up if you’re ever back in town.

Weekend craziness begins tonight

We’ve jammed a lot into this summer, and this week has been no exception. I accompanied Rebecca to another MetroBlogging Vancouver meetup this past Tuesday night, but there was no recording taking place at this one. It was just a small group and a good time had by all. And if you were there and didn’t have fun, I know that we did.

On Wednesday, Preston threw a dinner party at some Chinese place that I don’t know the name of or how to get there, really. He picked up the tab to celebrate the ending of his bankruptcy. One should note that CDs and DVDs don’t sell well on eBay anymore. He’s off to bigger and better things now.

SO much seafood. I think I dreamed about it because it was that good and seemed like they were never going to stop bringing out more courses. Literally, at one point, the host tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Good luck!”

I’ve had a variety of projects going on lately. I’ll drop a hint about a new podcast project that I’m working on, but that’s about it for now. More as those details get sorted out. I’m also the new guy in charge of membership for the Association of Music Podcasters(AMP). Learning the ropes there has been interesting. All of this has put a kink into getting a podcast out in time, not to mention more network problems with Shaw(I shake my fist at you!).

Tonight, BarCampVancouver kicks off. Rebecca and I are both going, but we’ll only be there for a little while tonight. We’ll return on Saturday morning for the presentations and discussions. I hope to get some ideas, meet some cool people, share opinions, and see what other trouble I can get myself into. I’m not completely sure what to expect, but I’m taking what I’m doing with the blog and podcast to see what’s up.

Matthew Good has invited a few, select people to come over to his apartment tonight for a completely unplugged, stripped down performance. This will be, according to him, his last night in Vancouver. He’s packing up and heading out to wander the world like Kane in Kung Fu.

Rebecca, on her string of good luck, emailed to be there. Not only did she get in, but she is live blogging the event. I’m going as a plus one and really have no clue what to expect. I feel like I’ll be witnessing a major moment in music history, and let’s hope the folks at BarCampVancouver are cool with us missing out on their cool thing to go do this other incredible opportunity.

Ideally, what I would love to do, is just have my minidisc recording in some corner of the room. I could care less about quality and the fact that it would be done in mono. It would be an incredible thing to record, if not podcast. We’ll just have to see what Matt is comfortable with.

Outside of all of this, I’m focusing on Sunday. Oh yes… Beach? I’ve got my eye on you. And maybe some sleep, too.

The PNE is the place to get your corn dog fix

Photo Credit: Rebecca(miss604) [flickr]And you know that I got mine. It was warm, greesy, breaded, pork on a stick goodness. Sadly, it was no footlong corn dog like I was hoping and praying for. I kept my eye out for a stand, but they only carried the “regular” sized ones. They were probably jumbos, and I wasn’t complaining once I started devouring this artery clogging product. A real symbol of summertime, let me tell you.

Oh yeah, and there’s an entire fair that goes on at the Pacific National Exhibtion(PNE). We ventured out there with some of Rebecca’s family to ride some rides, see the sights, and toss money at overly priced stuff. This was my first time ever experiencing this event, and I have to say that I had a really good time, even if local folks, like The Vancouverite(which has expanded to a podcast), say otherwise .

The “fair rides” are a meshing of makes up Playland, plus some additions for the PNE festivities itself. A buzz killer to the excitement of running from ride to ride and giving your senses a good whiplash was that some of them cost some extra cash on top of the $30 stamp that was supposed to get your onto all rides. I’m tending to think that they do this on the really popular attractions or for those that require a little extra time and effort to run, but it sucks. I just wanted to ride the Hellavator. Geez.

I grew up just blocks from the county fair grounds in my home town, so there was a lot here that reminded me of home. I’ve never been to the Iowa State Fair, but I would imagine it to be incredibly similar to the PNE. Well, there’s probably a lot more “country flare” that you won’t see at the PNE, but it’s the basic idea that I’m getting at.

I saw dogs do some cool things, watched some ducks race, saw some pigs race, caught a cow getting milked, was cut off from getting my pulled pork sandwich fix by a parade with painful music being blasted into my ears, got a free Gillette Fusion, got a token fair lemonade, and got a candy apple that I just remembered is still in the fridge and will be eaten shortly.

I liked it. It’s a good time that only comes around once a year. Crowds, on the other hand, is something I still dislike. I was a little tired going into our adventure, and they got to me just a little bit, not to mention waiting in lines for rides. We actually got lucky and didn’t do a whole lot of that, but as the day progressed, I lost steam in my legs a little bit. That was mainly do to the fact that I wore flip-flops. When you get on something that flips you upside down and all around, you really have to work hard to keep those suckers on your feet.

Eat at Rolly’s

Rolly's in Hope, B.C.I was going through my photo library on my laptop and came across pictures from the weekend getaway that Rebecca and I took to the Okanagan a few months ago. Perhaps one of these days I will get around to posting some of those to my Flickr. When you take a boy who has lived in the rolling prairies of the midwest all his life into the mountains, he tends to get a little camera happy.

Let me just say, landslides are impressive. I fear them now.

We stopped in Hope, B.C. for some breakfast on our way out, obviously at Rolly’s. Personally, this will be one of the most memorable parts of our trip because not only is the food good, but that little grease stop is too cool. Never before in my life have I ever felt more like Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction[imdb]. The locals kept looking at Rebecca and I like we were going to rob the place ourselves. That doesn’t imply that they were unfriendly. We just weren’t apart of the local crowd, and it might be fair to say that this fact was on the obvious side.

Still, I will make my demands that anytime we pass through Hope and are looking for a meal, we’re stopping at Rolly’s.