In San Francisco for WordCampSF 2009

Street Cars

I’m in San Francisco this weekend for WordCampSF, the WordPress conference that is organized by the creators of this platform that we use pretty much exclusively with our sixty4media projects. This will be a chance to meet new people and find out new things that I can use in my bag of tricks for future development with my WordPress endeavors. There is also the opportunity to share some of the ideas and concepts I use with others in order to give back to the community.

I’ve been asked to spend some time at the Genius Bar in the afternoon where people will be able to come up and ask WordPress related questions. I’m thrilled to be asked to do this, but my only hope is that I can live up to that “genius” tag as much as possible.

Rebecca is along for the trip as well as our pal Duane. John Biehler is in route today, and Dale Mugford will join us later today to bring the BraveNewCode crew in full attendance.

With hope, I’ll do my best to get some good photos and writing in this trip because of the recent upgrade of a MacBook Pro to our sixty4media arsenal. Many thanks to the guys from Simply Computing in Vancouver for their help with getting me this great piece of hardware. It will come in handy for sure, especially on this trip!

Family and fun in KCMO

Rebecca and I got back yesterday from a one week stay in Kansas City, MO. My mother grew up there, and it’s where my parents met and got married. The road that took our family to Iowa is a whole other tale, but there is still a large portion of extended family that lives in and around KCMO.

KCMO from Liberty Memorial

My grandmother turned a young 90 years old this past Wednesday, so that, of course, means one thing for a family with hefty Mexican roots. It’s a party, and I think I’m still recovering.

The birthday girl

Otherwise, this trip was a chance to get away from the craziness in Vancouver, enjoy some family, and relax a little bit. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, and you can see more of them in the Flickr set.

She really was here

Truly the “City of Fountains”.



Brusch Creek


I haven’t been able to find Mexican bread as good as this in Vancouver.

Mi madre y mi tia

My mom and my aunt, but you can’t see the three pitchers of sangria that were absolutely amazing.

La Bodega

And the scene of the crime.

Rebecca in KCMO


Liberty Memorial Park

It was a really great week in Kansas City. Hot, but great to see all of my family. Hopefully a trip to Iowa can be the next leg when we go to visit, but now we’re anxious to show them some of the sites here. Pictures can’t do KC or Vancouver justice, both great in their own right.

Back home, far from home

What a whirlwind tour is has been. Six days is not enough time to spend with family and friends, but I think we crammed as much as we could in the time that we had to do it. We almost threw a train into the equation, but my brain scheming plan of convincing Rebecca to spend the weekend in Seattle and grabbing a train back to Vancouver just sounded like too much. Still, for the time we had, I can’t think of changing a thing. Well, we could have stayed longer, but that’s the way it goes some times.

Leaving KC

We did a lot of driving. There’s no better way to put it than maybe add another “a lot” to that statement. Plenty of miles, not kilometers, were covered in a short period of time. To and from grandma’s house, then to and from my parent’s house, and we tossed in another trip to Iowa City to see some old co-workers and then some friends.

Rocking out to Shrek's Super Party

I got to see five of the original six roommates that I had in my first semester in college. Kris (aka Muffin), Adam (soon to be a father in May), Ryan, and Heath all were able to stop by for dinner and then hanging out to catch up. Even Bill and Dave, who came to our wedding along with Muffin, drove over from Des Moines, so it was a true college reunion. Can’t forget to mention Qi Qi and Kim, but they rank just as highly even if they weren’t there in the college days.

24 pounds of bird

Thanksgiving was just as you can imagine. Too much food, and way too many pies. I think I did alright in terms of the amount of food I took in, but running tomorrow morning is pretty high on my list. Gotta get my internal clock kinda reset as well.

Getting my butt kicked at Madden '06

Used to be a time where I liked video games, but I was never the best at being competitive. My nephews, on the other hand, are far more advanced in terms of how to play these games. There is nothing better in their minds than beating their uncle.

Walking to our gate in DSM
Hustle and bustle of ORD
Beer and MacBook in SEA

The time was too short, and the amount of traveling we did seemed to be far too much. It’s nice to be back home in Vancouver, but I completely have a travel hangover. Maybe it’s the lack of a good sleep schedule or the multitudes of recycled air in the planes, but it’s been a tough day of being home. Monday will come far too quick, but at least we’re stationary until then. Plus our luggage made it all the way with us, so that’s a bonus.

Reflections of good ol’ KCMO

I love Kansas City. I think it is one of the most forgotten about cities in the Midwest, if not the United States. KC lies in the middle where “The South” starts and the heart of the Midwest stops (at least the parts where farming is the prevailing stereotype of the area). My aunt calls it the “heart of America”, and that’s pretty spot on. You’re practically in the middle of the U.S. by geographical location[wiki].

kansas city, mo
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

This is where my mind had the ability to open up and understand that there is a lot more in the world that I have yet to experience, yet alone grasp the reality of. Small town Iowa and inner-city KC are two, vastly different worlds.

Diversity is just the tip of the iceberg. In one place, you can forget to lock the doors of your house when you go to bed and feel relatively okay, if not safe, with it when you find this out a few days later. There are parts of KC where you should probably keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up just to add a layer of protection that you don’t really need 99.8% of the time, but…. just in case.

Within the past fives years, it has changed a lot. There is such a push to revitalize the downtown core that old warehouses are being turned into condos for “luxurious loft living”. Driving through there on a Sunday, it was fairly empty and lacking traffic on nearly every block, but the signs of change are everywhere. Street work, new construction, etc.

There once was a time, and I think this goes for much or America, where bridges were built out of utility, giving decor or appearance an after thought. Those bridges of major river crossings and such were the ones to get royal treatments, but not the most simple of bridges get cosmetics added to them to add a little flare or appealing look rather than guard rails or cement protecting the sides. Highway 71 through downtown is a prime example of that, and is that ever nice to have. Makes getting to and from my grandma’s house and my aunt’s house so much easier, not to mention shorter in terms of travel time.

Can’t forget to mention that Sprint Center. That sucker is impressive from the outside, but we never got a chance to see what it looks like on the inside. According to my aunt and uncle, they are pushing that venue big time, pulling in all sorts of concerts to the arena so people get out and know that it exists.

sprint centre
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

The push for a NHL team is there as well. My uncle Mark seems to think that if a hockey team didn’t work in KC during the days of the WHA, a NHL team wouldn’t do so well. That was over 30 years ago. Rebecca and I agree that if the city did get a team, we’d certainly check out some games when we were in town to visit family (another Canadian team is where our hearts desire, but go KC before Las Vegas, please!).

old kansas city
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Downtown, The Plaza, Westport, a quick u-turn into Kansas, and a drive by of Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums in a whirlwind tour of Kansas City, MO. Not too bad, and we even got to have breakfast with my grandma and great aunt before leaving the city on our next stop on the tour. It’s tough to spend such a short period of time with family after so long of not seeing them, but at least the time was good, if not cherished.

union station, kansas city
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Oddly enough, Rebecca and I both came to the conclusion that Missouri is actually flatter, if not less hilly, than Iowa. It’s amazing how much you notice after being gone for as long as I have from the Midwest. I even opened my cousin Sarah’s eyes to the numerous places that you can get fried chicken from in KC as much as you can get good barbecue.

I (heart) KCMO

Back in Iowa for the first time in two years

Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

The jaunt that it took to get us to the Midwest has been a tad torturous. Bellingham to Seattle to Chicago to Des Moines, and from there we snagged a car to take us to Kansas City. This is the first leg of the tour that will take me to see my grandma for the first time in a while, a few months more than the amount of time I’ve last been to my home state.

Getting off the plane and walking to the car, there is a sense if your nose that you are no longer in Vancouver, or the Pacific Northwest for that matter. Maybe it’s the dryness of the air, or the fact that you can’t smell the sea air. We certainly don’t have the amount of pine or fir trees that scrub the air and stock the air with oxygen.

iowa rest stop
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Contrary to belief, we have trees among our rolling prairie hills that tend to gather in decent bunches, but folks around here often refer to those areas as “the timber”. It’s a far cry from “the bush” in B.C. that can seemingly swallow a person away from civilization.

It’s very much dryer here, and the skin on my hands and arms are noticing it right away. This was an issue when I lived here, but this is a drastic shift from the wet climate of Vancouver. My arms were so itchy by the time we went to bed on our second night that I had to fight the urge to itch my skin raw before I fell asleep.

cheese We’re actually in route to my hometown right now, heading north on I-35, back in Iowa for the second time on this trip. Our first round was only for a handful of hours, so this will be the longer stay in the “field of opportunities”. I’ve heard rumblings of a basketball game by some of my nephews, and some old friends have made requests for gathering together.

We’re about to round Des Moines for the second time this trip, maybe the third. We got turned around coming out of Des Moines International, and I’m not the most knowledgeable about getting around this city as I am driving around it. Eastern Iowa rules, Central Iowa drools. Never found myself coming here very often.

Free WiFi at Iowa interstate rest areas

I have known about free wireless internet at rest areas in Iowa for a few years now, and every time I hear about or use it, the service impresses me. More so, it’s the fact that it shows how forward thinking the state is with providing access to travelers who pass through the state.

iowa rest stop
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

For instance, we just stopped at the rest area on I-35 near the Missouri border, in between Lamoni and Decateur. Open up the laptop, find the network, launch a browser, and a couple of clicks through the DOT’s web pages gets you in. We checked our email, uploaded some pictures, Beck made a blog post, and off we went. That made for a twenty minute stop, but the scenery at that particular stop, not to mention near 80F, clear sky weather, made it fairly smooth.

In the time before I moved out of Iowa, I had used this service just a couple of times, and it used to be that you had to setup an account with this service. It was still free, but I’m beginning to think that the number of people who would forget their account information between uses and just sign up for another one because they forgot the previous one probably got out of hand. Kudos to the service for changing that.

During this trip, we’ve been through two major airports, Seattle and Chicago, that had WiFi that you had to pay for. $6.95 for a whole day of access in Seattle isn’t much, but what a pain. Why not give me 90 minutes of unlimited access for 24 hours, and then charge me if I want more? Sure, there are people who might try to abuse the system, but monitor the bandwidth for that, right?

If I have a hour to kill during a layover, I’d love to just pop on and check my email. We just made a 20 minute rest stop in southern Iowa with free wireless, and now we’re back on the road. You’re telling me that airports can’t do that?

That also reminds me, check out what a group of local geeks are doing in Vancouver. is a movement to provide a city wide WiFi network to the metro area. Let’s broaden that to the airports across North America, eh?

Spent the long weekend in gorgeous Victoria, B.C.

Far off waves crash the coast

I’m a little late in posting this, but the 52 pictures that I uploaded to Flickr is quite the feat in my department. When we decided to go over to Victoria[googlemaps] with Rebecca’s sister and her family as of the middle of last week, I told myself that I’d do more photo taking.

Flag on the back
Passing between Galiano Island and Mayne Island on the ferry

It was just Sunday to Monday, and we were all quite lucky to make it back to the mainland. The storm that slammed into the southern coast of B.C was awesome, hence the facetious “gorgeous” in referencing this last trip. I don’t mean “cool”, but more of a “holy crap”. Waves crashing on shore, winds howling through, rain falling from left to right… while driving down a street in the minivan, Sean rolled down the driver side window. I was sitting in the very back, third row, and the rain got me in the face.

We weren’t sight seeing as much as we were just exploring the island in the midst of a storm. Growing up in the Midwest, that’s pretty usual. It wouldn’t be until hell was falling all around you that the thought of, “Oh yeah, I should go somewhere so that I don’t die now” would finally cross your mind.

Remembrance Day ceremonies in front of the Parliament building
Remembrance Day ceremonies at the parliament building
The past era of silent film
A visit to the Royal B.C. Museum

Probably the coolest thing ever on this adventure was seeing my first lighthouse. The storm cleared enough that wandering down to the Fisgard Lighthouse wasn’t too bad, but the wind was biting something fierce. Inside was pretty neat, especially for being nearly 125 years old.

Cold and windy walk out to the lighthouse
Cold and windy walk out to the lighthouse
Postcard lighthouse
Fisgard Lighthouse
Stairs to the top of the lighthouse
Stairs up to the lighthouse beacon, locked off from public

There was also a defense outpost at this location, Fort Rodd Hill, originally built during British colonial times and then refortified and used during WWII to defend from possible invasion by Japan.

B.C. Parliament
B.C. Parliament in Victoria, B.C.

I feel like there is always something of interest for us in Victoria. We wanted to do more ghost explorations, but we’ll have to save that for another trip. There was some recording done for a future episode of RZ, but it would have been so cool to snagged some audio from a haunted building or something and then check it for EVP[wiki]. Yeah, I’m a geek that finds the paranormal fascinating, but those are ghost stories for another time. In the meantime, you can view the whole set of pictures on Flickr.

Drinking beer on the Whidbey Island ferry


I’ve been slow to get some of the pictures up from the trip that we took down to Whidbey Island a few weeks back. Every time I look at the pictures of the ferry we took, I can’t get beyond the fact that you can drink beer on this twenty minute ride to the other side. Sure enough, there were a few people drinking while in route, and there was one guy double fisting a pair of suds. He was only half way through one by the time that we decided that the port on the other side was close enough that we should get back to the car.


The other crazy thing was the driving around the island that we did. There were numerous signs asking you to not drink and drive. Underneath each of those signs was a sign in remembrance of someone who most likely died from a drinking and driving accident. Getting into Oak Harbor, it struck me odd that the Applebee’s there had happy hour from 3-6 and 9-11. I guess that makes them happy hours.


We also recorded a bunch of audio on this trip for an upcoming episode of RadioZoom. Just need to get to editing that.

Crossing the border as a permanent resident

Day of UK Car Bombs at Bellingham International Airport When Rebecca made her adventure to live blog the Matthew Good show in Las Vegas, I had to drive down to pick her up from Bellingham International Airport in Washington state. Don’t let that name impress you too much. It’s a very nice, worthwhile airport, but it’s proximity to the Canadian border is the only reason it is granted the covenanted “international” label.

The big thing is that this was going to be my first time crossing the border since becoming a landed immigrant in Canada. I’ve got the permanent residence card[cic] that is my ticket for less hassle getting over the border, and the less hassle comes in terms of being kicked out or kept out of the country.

Things like this are no big deal, but I was driving across the border by myself. On top of that, I was in my mother-in-law’s car, so it was a vehicle in which I don’t even own. If they needed proof of ownership at any point, we were prepared for me to be held up a little bit. Plus, we also went over things to say, not say, and any documents I might need to prove my “intentions during your stay in the United States of America.”

Canada Day long weekend, I knew the waits would be a little long, but there was some safety in the thought that this was in between the major travel times. So for a Saturday, the radio said that waits were anywhere from three hours to ninety minutes. When I got there, the signs in the line up lanes said 40 minutes, and that’s pretty much how long it took.

My First Border Crossing Additionally, I had a little bit of concern with the recent bombings in the U.K. I had already heard that the threat levels at U.S. airports were raised, so there was a thought in my head that it could affect Rebecca’s flight as well as border crossings. Nothing on the radio or signs on display as I crept ahead in the queue, and things panned out in the end.

Getting up to the front of the line, I handed my U.S. passport over with my Canadian PR Card tucked inside, sticking out slightly at the top. I had a print out of Rebecca’s travel itinerary on my lap, ready to go in case he needed proof that I wasn’t a terrorist or drug runner.

He asked three questions. Where do you live? Where are you going? Are you bringing any goods from Canada into the U.S.? In the span of less than a minute, I shot right through.

What gets me is that each car ahead of me took two to five minutes on average when reaching the guy in the booth. I could see passports being passed over, then some conversation, some extra papers were handed over, more conversation, and the people were allowed to pass after getting a handful of documents handed back to them.

Perhaps I was lucky, or maybe the PR Card thing gets you some express treatment in certain situations. Time will tell, but it’s a comforting thing to be able to travel again. It’s even cooler when you get your own PR Card because your picture on the front is also a hologram on the back. Awesome.

Andy goes around the world

I got an email sometime ago from Andy Stoll. He’s a friend of my from my days at the University of Iowa. While I toiled away at KRUI, he did more constructive things, like be president of the student government or raise money for children with cancer. He even did a bunch of stuff for the school and Iowa City after he graduated. You can’t keep the guy down.

We also co-hosted, along with Chris Linn, a weekly community affairs talk show on KRUI for a little over a year. “It’s like Entertainment Tonight on a ten dollar budget” and “It’s like David Letterman, but not as funny” were our slogans. And boy did we live up to the hype. Odd thing was, there was this guy that I kept running into at various music shows in Iowa City that was the biggest fan of our program. He could recite those slogans by heart, and this was three years after the fact. Charming, but weird.

Back to Andy, and to exemplify the fact that you can’t keep this guy down, he’s on a round the world adventure. The reason? Just to see as much of it as he can.

You can check out No as he documents his venture. He left the Midwest in August and has spent most of the time at this point in China and Japan. We’ve emailed back and forth a little bit, and my hope is to get him on the podcast to talk about some of his experiences.

He’s been a little relaxed on posting updates, so hopefully this will inspire him to post more often. There has also been a challenge issued to me by Andy to make some comments about tips or things that I have learned about blogging. I’ll get to that soon, but here is a public challenge back to Andy to blog more about traveling around the world.