Midwest Summer Storms

This was published originally on Miss604.com as apart of Blogathon 2009.


Hanging out at WorkSpace today for Blogathon, Rebecca snapped this great picture. It’s one of many, many streaks of lightning that filled the sky in the late afternoon, and these things aren’t that common. I don’t think I’ve seen a storm like that in about four years, which is when I moved here from eastern Iowa.

In the Midwest, you expect these things, and that’s because you have to.

As I watched the wall cloud come in over Mt. Seymour, that was a site that would strike a little fear into your gut as it came out of the horizon back home. What followed that was anyone’s guess. Intense wind to bust up trees, torrents of rain that could sweep your car off the road, baseball sized hail that would lead to cheap new car prices on damaged stock, or the ever friendly tornado that might knock on your door as an uninvited guest.

Watching the lightning zap the holy hell out of the mountains, it reminded me of those times when it was, “Get to the basement!” And it always seem like at that very moment, you’ve got to pee. The adrenaline kicks in and you do what you’ve been told over and over to do in school, but you still have this worst timing hit you at the same time.

That’s because tornadoes are pretty damn scary. They are additively fascinating to try and catch a glimpse of, but you just don’t want it to get too close because I’ve driven through towns that were ripped apart on a direct hit. I’ve grasped onto my mother under a blanket while the wind thumped against our house, sort of saying good-byes to each other through mutual I Iove yous.

That was one of my first times being on the radio when WMT called our house to speak to a witness. I barely had my nerves together enough to say my name correctly yet alone recount all the trees and power lines down in our neighborhood.

Everyone seems to have a personal story or knows a story of someone else with experiences like this. You can never be too careful when it comes to any storm, but the one that reached downtown today was fairly impressive in its own right. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something like that.

Photo credit: penmachine on Flickr

Earth Hour 2009 in Vancouver, B.C.

The time got a little bit away from me last night, but I was able to enjoy most of Earth Hour 2009. Since Rebecca was out covering the Juno Gala Awards Dinner at the Westin Bayshore, I had a hard time tracking down candles so I wouldn’t have to be in complete darkness.

And once I had that all setup, I wanted to grab a shot from the Numinous.ca Vancouver Webcam of what downtown looked like in the midst of Earth Hour itself. Of course, I shutdown my computer just after that.

Downtown Vancouver during Earth Hour 2009 from numinous.ca
Photo credit: numinous.ca

Interestingly enough, I found a shot in the numinous.ca archives from March 24th from nearly the same time, so it’s a really neat way to see the different from a normal night in downtown Vancouver compared to the buildings that participated in Earth Hour this year.

Downtown Vancouver on March 24, 2009 from numinous.ca
Photo credit: numinous.ca

Just taking a glance at some new headlines today, I found it pretty crazy how even the NHL took steps to participate in Earth Hour as well.

In Nashville, a tilt between the Predators and the Los Angeles Kings was originally scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET, but since both cities are very active in the Earth Hour festivities, the teams moved the game up to 5 p.m. so it doesn’t conflict with the blackout hour. [cbcsports]

Certainly read the rest of the article because they did more than just reschedule a hockey game.

If you missed out on Earth Hour this year, you can always look forward to next year, but it’s never a bad time to start thinking about energy conservation sooner rather than waiting until then.

The pains of (not) owning a car in Vancouver

The true reason why I’m making this post is to make a guest appearance on Duane’s blog for Blogathon 2008. In fact, he tells me that the only way he’ll give me a ride home so I can go to bed is to make said post. But in a moment of “behold the power of blogging”, it made me recall a thought I had today about owning a car in general.

Rainy morning on Georgia St. Plain and simple, Rebecca and I don’t own a car. Part of it is by choice, the other is the simplicity of keeping cost of living down. We haven’t had a vehicle to be called our own for a few years now, relying heavily on transit. That means getting from point A to B is sometimes good and sometimes spotty. It really depends on the day, but for the most party, I can’t complain.

However, today I had the extreme pleasure of being able to borrow my mother-in-law’s car for the day in anticipation of Beck returning from an unexpected trip.

So, I decided to take it to work, and you would think that this is the point where I start complaining about traffic. This is not the case. It was the parking that was the most stressful thing.

Where I work, the underground parking is all reserved, and the other, optional lot is as well. That means you are subjected to the song and dance of finding various parking spots around the building, most of them being only good for one hour. Then you park here or there, stay for maybe two or three hours, and hope that this is the day that is not that once a month occurrence when they go around to pass out $40 parking tickets.

It was so stressful. All day I felt like I was constantly forgetting something when actually I couldn’t stop thinking about the car getting a ticket or having a tow truck pull it away.

We’ve been talking about getting a car for the better part of the year now, and the decision is just a matter of when. We have a good idea of what we want, but I now know, completely and fully, that this car will not be commuting me to and from work. It’s not that far to go, and that stress of finding parking is something I can certainly live without.

Give me the bus and ear buds shoved into my ears. I’ll take that over running outside everything hour and a half to move the car in a half-block to two block radius or work. It’s just not worth it.

Blogathon 2008

Blogathon 2008 has kicked off and it is in full swing. As I sit here right now, I’m watching Dances With Wolves with Duane as he prepares to make post number nine or ten. To be honest, I’m getting pretty sleepy that I’m not sure where he’s at in terms of numbers.

Rual is here as well, firing away like a rabbit, making post after post with ease. I guess that’s easy for a guy who has a mind wrapped around academia. I recall those days, but it’s more common to find myself wrapped up in computer network cables and a brain full of code due to the number of projects that I have going on.

That’s pretty much why I’m not doing Blogathon this year. I like being the moral support and supplier of caffeine to the troops, aside from the occasional guest post for various Blogathon folks.

Rebecca has been working hard to get this years Blogathon organized, and you can see a list of the participants here. Duane has taken things one step further and created a RSS feed for all the Vancouver bloggers that are participating in this year’s fund raiser.

I admire there efforts and determination to make one post every thirty minutes for 24 hours. Trust me, if you think blogging, or even writing for that matter, is hard, you haven’t experienced Blogathon.

Also, if you feel like you want to contribute, think about making a donation to any of the bloggers and their charity of choice. Comments are great, but the real reason these people are sacrificing their weekend to blog nearly nonstop is to raise money for a good cause. It’s not just for the sake of being geeky.

Filling in for Rebecca at Skate for a Cure 2008

Silent Auction While Rebecca was in Toronto for her major TV appearance on Quiz The Nation, Skate for a Cure 2008 was going on back here in Vancouver. As the website can tell you, “Skate for a Cure is a fundraising event providing participants of all ages the chance to skate on the home ice of the Vancouver Canucks at General Motors Place, helping raise funds to find a cure for childhood cancer.”

Basically, if you help raise money, you get to participate in the group skate on the ice at GM Place on January 20, 2008 (I know I’m late to post about it, but better late than never). Even more, you get to meet a player if you raise past a certain level. There is also a silent auction for lots of cool things like air hockey tables, memorabilia, and other assorted prizes.

J.J. crashes the boards Since Rebecca was out of town, I took her place for the event. I didn’t have any skates, so my plan was to just hang out with Tracey and, fellow Crazy Canucker, J.J. With my new camera, I figured I just shoot some photos, get a little free swag, and enjoy the atmosphere. Imagine my surprise, and more so Rebecca’s later on, when I was told that we’d be meeting Trevor Linden[wiki] that day.

Apparently Beck raised beyond the $250 dollars, all through her blog, to get a picture taken with her favorite, all time Canuck player. Which is amazingly great… if she wasn’t in Toronto being on a nationwide, CBC television show at the exact same time.

"Don't worry, you won't fall..."

J.J. and Tracey on the ice. You can hear him saying, “Don’t worry, you won’t fall.” They both skated beautifully, no matter if J.J. did almost run into the motor for the big, inflatable thing when crashing into the boards to spoke me out.

Nothing says love more

Not sure who this couple was, but this is what I expected to see more of on the ice. Couples skating hand in hand, Endless Love playing on the speakers, etc. Instead, there was a creepy version of Ronald McDonald on skates with Moj from TEAM 1040 telling people on the P.A. how much time they had left on the ice. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, but just a touch on the less romantic side.

My shot with Trevor Linden

Not to rub it in, but this was a pretty cool five minutes. I almost missed the opportunity simply because we didn’t know that Rebecca raised the money for this to happen. With some slight encouragement from Tracey, J.J., and the volunteers, I ran up the stairs to see if it was too late. As I went to shake his hand, one of the umbrella light stands of the photographer’s setup crashed into me. Trevor had just put his hand out and said, “How you doing?” All I could say, falling just shy of connecting that handshake, “I’m under attack!”

As we take the photo, I tell him that my wife is going to kill me. “Aw man, she wouldn’t do that, would she?” Yeah… yeah she would. I explained how she was in Toronto and couldn’t be here today. I also said how she would be really bummed about missing out on this opportunity, and I was pretty spot on. “There’s always next year, right?” Absolutely.

You can see all the pictures that I took from the event on Flickr.

Star power to raise awareness of Angelman Syndrome

I have a nephew by the name of Zach that I probably don’t mention enough. He is almost ten years old and has a condition known as Angelman Syndrome[wiki]. It’s a rare form of a mental handicap that slows the nervous system from developing at an average to normal rate.

Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a rare neuro-genetic disorder named after a British pediatrician, Dr. Harry Angelman, who first described the syndrome in 1965.[1] AS is characterised by intellectual and developmental delay, speech impediment, sleep disturbance, unstable jerky gait, seizures, hand flapping movements, frequent laughter/smiling and usually a happy demeanour. [wikipedia]

Even more rare to the point is that Zach also has a form of albinism. The chance of a person being born with both of these conditions is less than 1%. Our family goes to great lengths to make sure that we keep a hat on his head when outside, but he has grown pretty accustomed, if not quite hip, to keeping the sunglasses on his face.

Caring for a child with AS can be tough, and my brother’s family have done a lot to consistently adjust to Zach’s needs. This is outside of the need of special beds, wheelchairs, car accommodations, or simple daily assistance. Even though his development is slower than the average child, turning corners can be quick. You have to be on your feet and be prepared for anything, and the kid can surprise you with the way he interacts or problem solves something unexpectedly. Speech and walking is still something to be worked on, but he has developed his own form of communication over time. It would almost seem that his older brother, Ben, is the expert interpreter.

The other day, my brother emailed me with a news story that actor Colin Farrell[imdb] has recently announced that his son also has AS.

Hollywood superstar Colin Farrell yesterday opened his heart and revealed that his four-year-old son James is a special-needs child.

The renowned Irish actor revealed that his treasured son was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy called Angelman Syndrome. […]

And he said that he is dedicated to helping his son reach his own “individual potential” and to be “as happy as he can be.”

”With my son the only time I’m reminded that there is something different about him – that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal – is when I see him with other four-year-olds.

“Then I go “oh yeah” and it comes back to me. But from day one I felt that he’s the way he’s meant to be.” [independent.ie]

Now it can be said that Farrell has had his share of not so good exposure in the Hollywood limelight, but for those who seek to raise awareness of AS, the actor is doing some good for the cause. His support to the Special Olympics is giving me extra consideration to the fact of the 2010 Paralympic Games coming to Vancouver. They are different events in their own right, but I still hope that I can lend my efforts to help support the cause in Zach’s honor as well.

Zach and I talking on iChat Zach is a strong, little boy right now, and everyday presents new developments. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to, but we say hello to each other on iChat every so often. Even there I can tell that his cognitive functions have changed. And when I say that he’s strong, that can be an understatement. You never know if he could end up being in the Special Olympics himself, doing some greco-roman wrestling perhaps, and you can ask his older brother about that.

To find out more about Angelman Syndrome, visit angelman.org. Their mission “is to advance the awareness and treatment of Angelman Syndrome through education and information, research, and support for individuals with Angelman Syndrome, their families and other concerned parties.”

Thanks for making the 2007 Run For The Cure a success

Last Sunday was the CIBC Run For The Cure, and I wanted to make a quick follow-up post to say thanks to all of your who donated towards my or Rebecca’s goal.

The standard goal for all runners to participate without having to pay an entry fee was $150, and I ended up with a final tally of $175. Not only is that pretty awesome, but the one day total from the Canada wide, one day event was $26.5 million. That’s mind blowing, but seeing all the people who showed up on Sunday morning in downtown Vancouver would prove that not so hard to believe.

And speaking of the run, the weather was miserable. A little cool, but raining like it can be expected for Vancouver at this time of year. By the end of the few hours that we braved the elements, we were sopping wet. I’ve often said that there is nothing like running in the rain, and that statement still rings true. However, being forced to wait outside for nearly an hour for the run to start? That’s not so cool.

Rebecca and I ran the whole route together, without stopping or walking, and finished the 5k in just over 31 minutes. She did awesome, but it was even better to get home and hop into a hot shower, followed by a heaping breakfast at Hamburger Mary’s to reward ourselves.

Trying to Raise A Reader

Yesterday morning, Rebecca and I ventured around downtown to see what Canucks players we could mug for a photo during the Raise A Reader event that the Vancouver Sun put on. For those unaware, this is an event in which you donate money to people giving away copies of that day’s edition of the Sun in hopes of helping the fight against illiteracy. A great cause for sure, and we’ve been planning on this day for about a month. Last year it caught us off guard, so we made sure to mark it down this time around.

Raise a Reader Day: Hank is going to kick your a$$!
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Basically, to get a picture or signature from the various players that were stationed around Metro Vancouver, you have to make a donation. A stellar idea, and we snagged a few. Hank was super nice, but a little stiff. In fact, I think he looks like a cardboard cutout here, but that’s cool. He can still play hockey better than I ever could. Also got a snap of Rebecca with Kevin “Boom Boom” Bieksa, but we bypassed Byron Ritchie and Rick Bowness. Nothing against them. We were just on the move.

Raise a Reader Day: He squeezed back
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Still, the best image from the morning was this one that I snapped.

Fin is insane!

When I pulled out my camera, Fin saw me and gave me this great pose. I swear he must have had a liter of coffee before suiting up for the morning. How he does it, I’ll never know.

Raise a Reader Day: Fin is nuts!
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

When my parent’s first visited Vancouver, we took a ride on one of those exact, same trolleys. Some dude dressed in an orca outfit with smoke spewing out the top of his head never found his way on our tour, and it makes me want our money back. I could only imagine those out of town folks, namely Americans, who had no clue who or what was jumping on board with them and going straight for the driver’s seat, proceeding to lay on the horn like there was no tomorrow.

Fin is trying to work the trolley

We also walked by the Vancouver chief of police by the Hotel Vancouver. There were numerous police and fire personnel all over the place, and they are just as much as important as the hockey players around the city. They might not score as many goals, but they’re still important folks in my book. Overall, I think it was a pretty successful morning for the Raise A Reader campaign.

Blogathon 2007

Blogathon.org I wanted to make a point to let everyone know about Blogathon 2007. Not only is it a good cause to take apart in, but Rebecca is stepping up to the challenge this year. We watched Alanah and Yvonne go for it the last time around, so we know what it takes. Unfortunately, I have to work that day, otherwise I’d probably be taking part as well.

The goal of blogathon is to blog every 30 minutes for 24 hours (this year being July 28th). The most validating part of the concept is to get people to sponsor your marathon of bloggery. Each blogathon site will have a donate/sponsor button and a charity of choice selected. As you read and enjoy the plethora of content hopefully you will be inspired to donate. Last year I donated to Canuck Place and received a tax receipt along with warm fuzzies. The blogger never processes your money or sees your transaction, it all goes directly through the charity.

This year I’ll be blogging from 6:00 am Saturday July 28th until 6:00 am Sunday July 29th. I will be awake (because that’s a part of the challenge) and fully interactive with commenters and sponsors. My charity will be the Surrey Food Bank, and I’ll put up a nice little badge and link when the fun begins. Until then, stay tuned, the post category will be ‘blogathon’. Who knows how silly things will get at 4:00 am Sunday morning with me running on no sleep, tethered to my laptop. [miss604]

You can follow this link to make a pledge to her efforts.

It should be an interesting experience. I know that if I were to be doing this, I would be supporting the Angelman Syndrome Foundation for my nephew Zach, probably the sweetest little boy that you’ll ever meet. If anything, I’ll be popping in on Rebecca’s effort with more information on the condition.