Storms over the Canadian Prairies

We’ve returned from our whirlwind trip to Punta Cana and taking this B.C. Day to recover. I thought I would still get this video posted today to share something we saw on the plane ride home.

On route from Toronto to Vancouver, we caught these thunderstorms over the Canadian Prairies, looking north somewhere over Manitoba and Alberta. I’ve flown enough to see storms from above before, but nothing like this. After watching the show for a little while, I made a mad grab from my camera to shoot some video of it. It’s not the best quality, but some of the lightning displays are pretty amazing.

This was tough to shoot in terms of blocking any reflection in the window. Being dusk to complete darkness outside, I thought I would try anyway. Sadly it was just too dark to take any photo or video of the lines of flames I saw from some of the wildfires in the interior, and those gave me bigger chills than the lightning show.

Fire Sky Over Vancouver

Sunset on Jupiter

While hanging out at WorkSpace for this year’s Blogathon, the sunset outside looked like this as it set. There was an amazing storm to the north and east, so it really made the orange burn through the horizon. Just amazing.

One of the best things about summer

I know that it’s only sugar, water, lemons, and ice, and they cost $4, sometimes even more depending on the money swindling location and/or event that you are at. Still, there is nothing better than a lemonade like this on a hot, sunny, summer day.

DVD player from RCA that keeps on giving

Last Christmas, I decided to help upgrade Rebecca’s aged DVD player by getting something that would help us enjoy home time together. Her old player would get picky about what it would or would not play from time to time, especially any burned media that we would throw into it. So this is what I ended up getting her.

RCA DRC285 DVD Player The RCA DRC285. Our hope is to do the HD upgrade in the future, so that was my main reason for choosing this model due to the HDMI[wiki] outputs. That way when we make that jump, she can watch her “Sex in the City” DVD’s in all their 1080p glory. Plus there is the ongoing education of sharing movies with each other form respective “must see” libraries. The price for this was a great buy, so it was a good situation.

Now here’s the kicker. This little puppy has a USB 2.0 port on the front of it. On a whim, I took a 350MB AVI and put it on a 1GB thumb drive. The remote has a “DVD/USB” button on it, so after plugging it into the USB port, I hit the button, the little LED flickered like it would when being accessed by a computer, and there was the file listed on the screen. I selected it, hit the “OK” button, and the video file loaded.

What we normally did before this was run about a twelve foot A/V cable with RCA connectors[wiki] from the back of the TV to our iMac. The TV then became a second monitor with audio running to it from the computer, giving us the option of watching downloaded video files on our TV. None of that sitting in front of the computer monitor for us.

So with this USB discovery, it was an amazing moment. The video looks superb compared to the output generated from the iMac to standard NTSC video quality. There was a lot of pixelation from fast video movement, but that has changed since we’ve gone to viewing programs off of the thumb drives. I say drives because you can put about two episodes of a program per one, 1GB thumb drive. With two, we cycle through the pair.

Additionally, the DVD player flows right through the list of files. Start with the first one and it plays the next one in order. Oh, and you can also pause and fast forward like a standard DVD.

With our hectic lives, it’s safe to say that this has been a very cool addition to our arsenal of things to disconnect with.

Rebecca to represent on CBC’s Test The Nation

CBC Test The Nation Rebecca left this morning for a whirlwind weekend in Toronto and an appearance on CBC’s Test The Nation television program. She got the call a few weeks ago to participate on the team of bloggers, going up against other groups like taxi drivers and celebrity lookalikes, to see who knows their trivia better. Viewers can also participate to see how they measure up.

The program airs live on CBC, January 20th at 8PM. Of course, it will actually live for the east coast, and then we’ll get the tape delayed version here in Vancouver. We don’t have access to an east coast feed, so I’ll have to wait for the pacific time airing, unless someone out east puts it up on bittorrent right after it airs, wink wink nudge nudge.

Going to the CBC’s website for the event, the picture that represents the bloggers team is laughable. How much more slarm can you cram into that generic, over-stereotyped photo?

Team: Bloggers For the love of god, CBC, get someone like Kris Krug to shoot you some real photos and ditch the bubblegum sets for these things. Seriously, it looks like a promo shot for a new CBC television show, Blogger Force 5!

And what the hell are they all looking at?

I have full trust that Rebecca is going to rock this thing. She is always kicking my butt in anything trivia or Scrabble related, plus she’s basically taught me everything I’ve come to know about Vancouver to Canada in general. She puts up with my stupid questions by knowing everything I don’t, but it goes both ways when it comes to various topics pertaining to the U.S.

Good birthday, good times, and good friends

I was debating on making a follow up post to the week of birthday celebrations that we had for Rebecca, but some of the pictures that came from our small gathering this past Saturday were too good to pass up.

Ladies 50/50
Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

I read a post here about Ponchos, the place we finally settled on for her birthday dinner get together. A lot of reviewers spoke poorly of that place, and all I have to say to those people who are complaining about food being bland, poor atmosphere, or whatever doesn’t suit your taste need to really relax.

Why yes, this IS an iPhone
Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

Sure, it’s not the best mexican food I’ve ever had, but the people there are so sweet and remind me of being in a busy kitchen back home. Seriously, chill out. It’s a small place that is ran by folks that are working hard to do the best they can, in a place that can’t have the cheapest rent in the world.

Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

You know, we even called Hapa Izakaya to get reservations, but they never got back to us. In fact, they didn’t respond to any of our calls (note the plurality there), which puts a damper on the one time we went there and instantly enjoyed the place. Even if it is a very popular place and difficult to get reservations at, I wouldn’t know that because they never returned our calls. Don’t say you will in your voicemail greeting if you don’t plan on it. That’s bad business, and it has kind of put us off, no matter how much I love sushi.

Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

We had a lot of fun at Ponchos. For cramming 20 people into that place, the food was great and the margaritas were outstanding. We even up the reservation by two just an hour ahead of time. Now that’s good damn business.

Beck by candle light

Not to forget, we also took time to have a more personal birthday dinner celebration at Cloud 9 on top of the Empire Landmark Hotel. Couldn’t have been better. Amazing view on a night that wasn’t overly rainy so we could see much of Vancouver, even after telling me that reservations didn’t guarantee a table by the window. We were put there anyway, and Rebecca got TWO pieces of cheesecake for dessert because they are just that awesome.

I think she had a good birthday. 🙂

Just a boy among men

Over the past week, I’ve had some really cool things happen. Besides getting onto an elevator with Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace this past Friday, the other event to blow my mind was getting the brief opportunity to meet some NHL legends at Standard Building Supplies in North Vancouver during their customer appreciation day on Saturday. I think I can still taste the free, fresh, and incredible vegetable samosas.

Gino Odjick and Dave Babych

Gino Odjick[wiki] and Dave Babych[wiki] are famed men among long time Vancouver Canucks fans. Were they the greatest players to grace the game? That might be a stretch, but they are often referenced by my Crazy Canucks partners in crime, making them all the more legendary. Gino is notorious for his off ice scrapping as much as he was noted for his fist fights inside the rink, and Babych’s facial hair precedes everything before anyone starts mentioning his contributions to the ’94 run for the Stanley Cup.

Bobby Baun

It wasn’t until we were driving away that I realized exactly who Bobby Baun[wiki] was. When I talked to him, I made sure to shake his hand because I noted two things. One, he was a Toronto Maple Leafs player during one point in his career, and two, the Leafs, one of the oldest teams in the NHL, haven’t won the cup in 40 years.

As Rebecca and I talked about it(and you can read her post about the day as well), we put more and more to the story. Baun played with the likes of Tim Horton[wiki], yes, the guy who started the Tim Horton’s coffee and donut chain. Still, he was apart of the power house that was the team in Toronto to win the cup in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967. That also made him apart of the last Leafs team to win the cup 40 years ago, and I shook his hand.

Richard Brodeur and Bobby Hull chat with fans

Even though my knowledge of hockey is growing with every passing CBC documentary, I’ve known who Bobby Hull[wiki] is for a long time. Let me just say, he is hilarious. We recorded some audio that we’ll put into a Crazy Canucks episode soon with the full story, but the banter we had with him and Richard Brodeur is something I’ll long remember.

Not to pass by “King” Richard Brodeur[wiki], he was the Roberto Luongo of his day, guiding the Canucks to, but falling short in, the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders. Still, a genuine man, and the atmosphere that he generated by just sitting next to Bobby Hull in conversation made me forget that there were a ton of people waiting for two or more hours behind me in line, just like we did.

I still made the point to shake all their hands, knowing full well that opportunities like this don’t present themselves all that often. I even brought the recorder along and snagged some liners for TCC, so listen for them in the near future.

Cliff Ronning[wiki] was there as well, but the time was up for him before we got to his place at the table. Being the classy guy that he is, he autographed a bunch of photos and went all the way down the line to hand them out to people that had been standing there just to see him. He got held up by some fans right in front of us, and I asked him about seeing him on Canucks Pay-Per-View again this season. The response he gave me was a little depressed, saying someone there apparently didn’t like him enough that he didn’t even get a phone call about it either way.

“Maybe I stuttered too much, I don’t know.” Aw Cliff, I was a fan.

Bobby Baun, Gino Odjick, and Dave Babych

In times like these, I’m not one to get overly crazed about getting autographs. It’s the experience that draws me in. It sucks that there is no way that I could talk hockey like Dave or even Rebecca can, growing up with or having stories of these individuals passed down to them over the years. What I do know is that these guys worked hard to pursue a passion for a game, and there is a lot to respect for their efforts.

That and Gino was walking around the grounds a little bit after our meeting, spotted us, and gave a nice smile and wave because he remembered us coming through the line. We did the same back and had the same reaction to each other. “Gino!”

Watching stuff blow up in the water

Photo by: Duane Storey on Flickr
Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

Basically, that sums up the Celebration of Light. You take a barge, stick it in the ocean, lace it with fireworks, call 500,000 of your closest friends, and watch someone light the fuse.

The pre-game mayhem is annoying, and the post-game crowds is almost made up for by watching the pretty lights in the sky. Last night being the first night of four, I wish we had sat closer to the music being played over the loud speakers. Could have brought a radio, but the last thing I want to be carrying around is a ghetto blaster. Although, that would be cool, especially if I had some high-tops, track suit, and a bandanna.

Photo by: Duane Storey on Flickr
Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

Living in the west end, we understand what it is that we have to deal with. Getting to sleep last night wasn’t too hard, and I assume that the Saturday night performances will be much crazier than the mid-week displays. Still, I’m not complaining. Argue if they are good or not for the city, I was hanging out with a wicked group of people last night. Summer is made for things like this.

Photo by: Duane Storey on Flickr
Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

Corinna and Adam picked us up on the way to meet up with Keira, and then we proceeded to Duane’s to chill and enjoy some beverages. He and Rebecca had the opportunity to meet Mr. Tony Pierce while in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, and the man is in Vancouver for the next few days. He brought along a local friend as well, and good times were most certainly had.

Photo by: Duane Storey on Flickr
Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

Spain had their turn last night, and it started out slow. I was feeling a little let down towards the beginning, but it didn’t last long. There’s something pretty cool to be said about thirty, simultaneous explosions that will always put a smile on my face. Forty and I’ll clap.

Kudos to you, Vancouver, for taking your trash with you. Being that the garbage workers have been on strike for nearly the whole week, there wasn’t a ton of Starbucks cups left everywhere. I still can’t understand what possesses someone to just toss their waste where they are sitting. Morons.

And next time, I’ll think to take more pictures with my own camera. You can see even more of Duane’s fireworks pics here.

Reasons to love getting up in the morning

I’m an early riser, for the most part, and there is something to be said about running in the mornings. This picture that I’ve had sitting on my desktop for a while, and rediscovered today, is a reminder of that.


Thanks, KatKam.