Monday, November 10, 2008
We awoke to sunny and warm weather on Thursday, making it a total of 3 days where I wasn't shivering and cold in Australia. If you want consistent heat and sun, you have to travel north to Queensland.
I was thankful for the calm warm weather because I was headed out on the ocean that morning. I booked myself on a two hour "Totally Wild" whale watching tour. The boat was a smallish vessel, of a type used by the coast guard, where we could speed out of Sydney Harbour into the open ocean. And do I mean speed! We traveled out so fast that we had to use hand grips to keep our butts in the seats as we flew over the waves. The ride was surprisingly smooth due to the calm weather, and the clear skies meant our visibility levels were very high.
The tour guarantees whale spotting or you get another ticket to ride. Within the first hour we spotted a seal, a small shark, shearlings (sea birds) and an albatross. These are all animals that you might occasionally get to see on this tour, but not frequently. We were lucky apparently. But this luck wasn't working in regards to seeing whales. The second hour was quickly passing, and still no whales seen by our boat, the company's spotter helicopter, or their second boat to the south. The captain was perplexed because there were massive schools of fish all around us, attracting all those other animals, and conditions were ideal for the whales that frequently swim in the area.
Then a small pod of dolphins ran alongside our boat for a while. Where there are dolphins, there are whales says the captain. Time was running out however, and it seemed we'd be getting what amounted to a free boat cruise in the sunshine and the calm seas. Not a bad prospect. A few more false alarms, as we kept spotting fish traps instead of dorsal fins. There were 9 of us on the boat, scanning the swells in all directions. Then I thought I spotted something about 20m to starboard, and pointed it out to the crew. Aha!! A whale!
There was a mother humpback and her calf. We stayed out on the ocean beyond our allotted 2 hours to watch the pair through 4 cycles of coming to the surface to breathe then dive below for several minutes. The mother was comfortable enough with us to allow her calf to surface and swim between herself and our boat.
We even got to see several types of whale behaviours in the short time we watched them: tail dives, blowing etc. I've got some photos to post once Kevin returns to Canada with the camera, but unfortunately I didn't get a good shot of the tail.
We returned to the docks, passing under the Harbour Bridge and seeing the Opera House from a great angle on the water. I arrived back at the hotel in the afternoon just as Kevin returned from the product demonstration. To his disappointment, the only time the device failed to work perfectly was the demo itself. We joined his colleagues for a much needed drink and mutual commiseration down at Circular Quay. The sunshine, warm weather and harbour views made for a pleasant afternoon despite the disappointment. Everyone was philosophical about the demo, and simply enjoyed being finished after weeks of long hours. The real work would start later, so they may as well enjoy the small break afforded them.
We spent our last night in Sydney packing, shopping, then out for dinner at a steak house on the harbour. Goodbyes were said, and everyone headed home to hotels or airports. Friday morning saw Kevin headed to visit Jason & Vanessa in Brisbane, and I was back on a 15 hour flight home to Vancouver, just in time to attend our friend Emily's wedding Saturday.
I woke up bright and early to have breakfast with Kevin (ham & cheese croissants and long blacks) before getting picked up for my wine tour at 7:30am. I chose a small van tour that focused on small boutique wineries in the Hunter Valley. This is a wine growing region 2-3 hours north of Sydney. I'd stopped briefly in the Hunter Valley on our first trip to Australia 10 years ago, but was looking forward to revisiting the area now that I actually enjoy wine.
The drive north was lovely, with great views of the Hawkesbury River and gum tree forests. The Hunter Valley itself was green with tree lined roads and back lanes. We visited 4 wineries in all, and tasted many wines. The valley is known for its semillon (crisp & fresh), verdelho (tropical fruits) and shiraz (robust & peppery) grapes. On the way to the final winery, we spotted two families of kangaroos hopping through the vineyards. Apparently they like the atmosphere in the vineyards, but don't eat the grapes at all.
I returned to Sydney by 6pm, and freshened up before joining Kevin for dinner in Darling Harbour. We tried the barramundi (an Aussie River fish) and a seafood risotto. Tasty.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday was overcast yet again, so I headed to an indoor activity: the Sydney Aquarium. The displays seemed a bit tiny at first, so I was worried I'd wasted my money. There were interesting things though, like seahorses, small crocodiles, platypus, & tree frogs, plus a ton of wee fishes. As I moved further into the aquarium, I learned the seal exhibit was closed. Still not impressed. Then I headed down these long ramps into the shark/big fish oceanarium tank. It is enclosed but floating in the harbour, so you could feel the floor rocking like a boat. The tank was finally revealed when you got to the bottom, and it was spectacular! Large windows on either end and two clear glass tubes to walk through on either side. There were various sharks, rays, sea turtles and fish swimming all around you. Most were enormous. Good exhibit... made me wish the seal oceanarium was open as well.
After the aquarium, I walked back towards the hotel for a rest. This was the day of the Melbourne Cup, so the streets were filled with very well dressed people rushing to various Racing Day parties. Hats on women were de rigueur, as were frilly brightly coloured spring frocks. By race time at 3pm, the streets were deserted. It was fun to see that the entire country celebrated this event: it's known as "the race that stops a nation". The race was happening in Melbourne, but even Sydney got dressed up and participated. I watched the race aftermath on tv, where the winning horse Viewed won by a nose. Most of the coverage focused on the party atmosphere surrounding the race, with fashion critics pointing out their best dressed picks and colour commentators interviewing tipsy patrons.
I got first hand confirmation that race day is an excuse to go out drinking when I walked down to The Rocks later in the day. All the pubs, bars and cafes were overflowing with people celebrating. I walked through the historic neighbourhood (think Gastown) to the visitors centre, and booked a couple of excursions for the next few days.
The weather has been windy and slightly overcast & chilly most days, except the 30 degree day last week. Monday finally dawned sunny and warm, so I headed to Bondi to lounge on the beach. A long bus ride later (since I got on the slowest bus possible, go me!) I landed in surfers' paradise. The famous beach was a long crescent of soft orange sand, bounded by two high cliffs on either end. The water was bright blue, and the waves were steady but not too high.
I lunched on some fish n' chips, then hit the sand with my book and my iPod. There was a light breeze that kept me from getting too hot. At one point I glanced up to see I was surrounded by seagulls and pigeons, pecking at the sand around my blanket. It was a little weird, because there were a LOT of them. Then I realized the wind had brushed the sand away from a scattering of chips that someone had buried, and the birds were getting excited to find treats. I quickly moved to a bird-free zone... Sydney seagulls are crazy.
When I was getting ready to leave, a slightly intoxicated girl ran over to invite me to a beach party since they were short on women. She was devastated to learn I was married and moved on to the next solo girl on the beach. Laughing, I started to gather up my things, then a massive wind came up and started blowing everyone over. It was insane how fast it arrived and how strong it was. I was having trouble walking straight against the wind force. Apparently the beach party was canceled. :)
Um, still no tan. I am the perennial pale face.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Sunday morning was slept away, as we had a very late night before. Thankfully, Sydney offers a plethora of all day breakfast options. We walked to Darling Harbour, crossed the bridge to the north side, and located Concrete. The restaurant/cafe is next to a pleasant park, and had some decent breakfast items. The lamb sausage is still not our favourite thing to eat. Luckily the bacon is tasty.
Kevin located a pick up ultimate game online, so we headed to Manly on the ferry to find it. The weather has been cool and cloudy since Friday, so it wasn't ideal beach conditions for sunbathing or swimming. Kev played Ulti with some Aussies, and I chilled (literally) on the sand, watching the waves & the surfers.
We grabbed some dinner at a woodfired pizza joint, and we're again impressed by the low price of wine on the menu. A bottle of wine never topped $33 AUD, no matter what kind it was. We had a nice Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cab/Merlot ($26).
The ferry ride back to the city ended with a bang. A fireworks show went off beside the Sydney Harbour Bridge just was we were docking at Circular Quay. It was a nice way to end the evening.
Shockingly, Kevin was given the weekend off! We celebrated by leaving the city and taking the train out to the Blue Mountains (2 hrs west of Sydney). We arrived in Katoomba just as the weather turned misty and threatened rain. After considering our options, we chose to do the 3 rides at Scenic World immediately, before the weather turned ugly and stopped us from seeing anything.
Scenic World is a touristy way to see the Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters rock formation. First we rode the Skyway, a gondola with clear walls and a glass floor. There were cockatoos and parrots flying around us as we passed over a deep forested valley from peak to peak. The next step was to ride the Railway down the steep valley side to the forest below. The track runs at a 52 degree incline. Basically it was far vertical as you can go without falling out. Short trip but thrilling. Then we walked through the rainforest along a boardwalk for 40 minutes before taking the Cableway back up to the cliff side.
Lunch in Katoomba was followed by a trolley bus tour of the town and the neighbouring town of Leura. We saw a few good viewpoints of the Jamison and Megalong Valleys, and ended the trip at Echo Point. This was the premiere viewpoint of the Jamison and the Three Sisters. The valley stretches on forever, and is filled with trees and mist, bordered by colourful rock cliff escarpments. The rain never really happened, and the low cloud held back just enough to allow us to see most of the valley.
After taking the train back into the city, we walked to The Rocks to find some dinner. Kev chose an excellent Thai restaurant called Sailor Thai, and we thoroughly enjoyed our pork satay and spicy eggplant tofu. Since we were in The Rocks, we walked over to the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel to meet up with Kev's coworker and his friends. Many drinks later, and getting booted from Lord Nelson at 11pm, then another hotel pub at 12pm, we ended up at Lowenbrau... a cheesy club/bar that was playing Shania Twain and Bryan Adams as we arrived. Many apologies for the terrible music were offered to us by the Aussies.
Friday was the hottest day in Oz so far... about 30 degrees. I decided to walk to the harbour and get a good view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. There were some good busking bands playing, including some didgeridoo music. Unfortunately the cafes near the Opera House were overrun by cranky children, so I didn't stop for lunch there.
I tried to locate the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which I knew was a few blocks south, but since I didn't bring a map with me I didn't find it at first. I was feeling the heat at this point, so a few hours in the air conditioned gallery would have been perfect. By the time I walked to Hyde Park, and couldn't find the turn off to the gallery, I chose to eat lunch instead. There was a nice Italian cafe in the park, where I had a risotto with prosciutto and mushrooms and a glass of wine.
I figured out where I was in relation to the gallery (food helps the brain) and walked through the park to get there. I got to pass by some beautiful stone buildings en route, a parliament building and St Mary's Cathedral. The gallery was free admission again, so I stayed for 2 hours and saw some Cezanne, Pissarro, Picasso, Braque, Bronzino, de Kooning, Rodin, Giacometti, an Asian art collection and an Aboriginal art exhibit.
I wandered back to Hyde Park, and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the lawns under jacaranda trees. It was lovely.
Later that night we joined another 2 coworkers of Kevin's, plus their wives/girlfriends, and walked to Darling Harbour for dinner & drinks. Kev had the kangaroo... very lean red meat with a gamey flavour.
Arrived in Sydney a bit late on Thursday. The plane we waited for in Melbourne was hit by lightning on the way in, and they decided to pull it from service for a systems check. We were all bumped to the next 2 flights (30min later) but that didn't stop a litany of complaints from all the Aussies "inconvenienced by Qantas". What a bunch of wankers.
We are staying at a very nice hotel in downtown Sydney, called The Grace. It's a restored Art Deco-style heritage building. The room was so inviting and cozy, I decided to chill out for the rest of the evening while Kev went to work. I left the hotel briefly to find some dinner, and ended up eating at the food court of the Queen Victoria Building. It's another restored historical building, with ornate ceilings and mosaic tiled floors. The food (Thai green curry) was an excellent meal for the cheap price paid.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Day three in Melbourne, and my first day to sleep in. Left the hotel around 11am to discover it's $5 cheaper to buy a daily Met transit pass after 9am. This just proves that getting up early does me no favours.
Had breakfast at a cafe downtown: fried eggs, side of bacon, multigrain toast and a cappuccino. Wanted to see the Queen Victoria Market today since it was supposed to be closed on Monday. I walked all the way there to learn it is also apparently closed on Wednesdays. Grr. No bargains for me. I did find an Apple store to buy an iPod charger, and the clerk was a fellow Vancouverite, from Dunbar no less. Small world.
Decided to catch a tram to the south side of Melbourne and visit the seaside area of St. Kilda. I got off the tram too early, and had to walk 5-6 blocks to the shore. It was a pretty spot, with an old-timey Victorian resort feel. The wind was blowing hard and chilly despite the sunny skies. I was impressed there were actually a few sunbathers out on the beach. I got too cold to stay for long, so I headed partway back to the downtown area in order to find the Royal Botanic Gardens.
After another tram ride and another few blocks walk, I located the gardens and made my way into them. Free admission here -- Van Dusen and Buchart should take note. The gardens were huge, lush and very pretty. I settled in by Long Lake to enjoy the sunshine and my book. A few curious water birds wandered close to me, but mainly played around on the lake with the swan. Swans are black in Australia, with a red bill/beak.
I got hungry around 5pm and decided to visit the shops and cafes on Brunswick Street, to the east of the city. Located the tram and actually got off at the right spot this time. Since the shops were closing by 6pm, I browsed for a bit first. Designer clothes, mixed with rocker shops and vintage stores. A very eclectic vibe. Dinner consisted of Coriander Thai Fish Cakes on a crisp bed of rocket with tangy lime aioli, and a glass of riesling then some Tasmanian pinot noir.
Got back to Box Hill around 9pm and met Kev at a Korean restaurant to watch him eat dinner. We fly to Sydney tomorrow afternoon, so I'm starting to plan my itinerary for that. I'll work on a way to post photos as well.
Woke up at 5:20am on Tuesday to make it into the city for my 7:30am pick up. The mini bus from Bunyip Tours showed up and this older dude with a crazy long white beard and long white hair was driving. I correctly assumed our guide was going to be quite the character.
We drove west out of Melbourne for an hour or so, through towns like Geelong, until we reached Torquay. (birthplace of surf lines like Quicksilver and Rip Curl). Had morning tea at Bells Beach, stopped at Split Point Lighthouse
at Airey's Inlet and then began our Great Ocean Road drive. Picture a combo of the Oregon Coast and the road to Hana, then superimpose the colours and plants of Australia over it. Winding twisty roads, waves crashing against eroding cliffs, quaint seaside towns, blue blue ocean as far as the eye can see, and a cool wind that must have started in Antarctica.
Highlights of the day included a rainforest walk in the Otway mountains, with myrtle beeches & eucalyptus; spotting several koalas, including two within arm's length on some low slung tree branches; and the gorgeous rock monoliths called the Twelve Apostles.
We saw wildlife throughout the region, kangaroos, koalas, magpies, echidnas. A King parrot even landed on my head (they were attracted to all the dark haired people in the group). I was a bit nervous, despite liking birds in general: a tiny finch-like bird shit on me in the morning as I exited the train station in Melbourne. I didn't want a repeat performance from the much larger parrot.
The drive took the entire day, and we got back to the city around 9pm. Just in time to meet up with Kevin and the Melburnian coworker for a couple drinks and dessert on Lygon Street.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
First day in Melbourne was Monday. Got up at 7am, had breakfast in the hotel with Kev, then wandered to the train station in Box Hill. Caught the train to Flinders Street Station downtown, which was a pretty Victorian building. Was planning to do a self-guided walking tour, but turned west instead of east accidentally, and headed off in the wrong direction, making it a little bit difficult to find my starting point at Federation Square. It started to pour rain, and I was not dressed for that at all, so I stopped into a cafe for a short black (coffee) to wait it out.
The rain was persistent, so I abandoned the walking tour idea and took a tram to the city centre where there were some under-cover sights. Window shopped at the Block Arcade and the other arcades between Flinders and Bourke streets. These were built in the 1800s and were beautifully decorated with mosaic tiles and wrought iron scroll work. The shops seemed fairly high end, and all the displays were geared towards the fashionistas attending the Melbourne Cup this upcoming weekend. Picture tea length dresses and fancy confections of hats.
The rain was still lingering (though had tapered off considerably) so I headed to the National Gallery of Victoria: International to wander amongst some art works. The admission was free, bonus! There were paintings and sculptures by Titian, Cezanne, Picasso, Rodin, Rothko, Rembrandt, Van Eyck etc etc. Most of the art was donated by a wealthy Melburnian in the 1930s, over $1B worth. The museum was massive.
By this point I needed some lunch, so I walked back to the sidewalk cafes I'd passed by in the morning, but being around 1:30pm, they were packed. Couldn't find a seat, so I shopped a bit and walked some more city streets, then tried again. No luck. Decided to take a tram to another city area, Lygon Street (the Italian district), but when several trams went by and mine was nowhere to be seen, I gave up on that idea and hit an outdoor cafe in Fed Square. Warm beef salad and a glass of NZ pinot noir. There was a visitors centre nearby, so I booked a day trip to the Great Ocean Road for Tuesday.
The sun was shining finally, so I walked to the park known as Birramara (sp?), and got views of the Yarra River, the Arts Centre, and the cricket stadium. I was walked out at this point so I trained back to Box Hill.
I'll update with photos and more days once I have laptop access again.... unlikely soon.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Were met by a business contact of Kev's, and got a super quick driving tour of Sydney's southern suburbs and a quick lunch at a beachside resort area (Coogee). After relearning how to order a coffee in Aussie speak, we whipped back to the airport to catch our flight to Melbourne.
Another 90 minutes airborne, and another baggage claim line ride. And another business dude kindly met us and drove us to our hotel. He did a roundabout route to point out the main streets of Melbourne's city centre before heading out the the eastern suburb of Box Hill. Yep, it's in the middle of nowhere, but highly convenient to Kev's work place. It's also like a tiny version of Richmond, complete with bubble tea, karaoke, family owned markets and oodles of Asian restaurants (we had Korean for dinner).
We're both feeling a little loopy from the travel/jet lag. It's like we're on a slightly rocking ship deck. Bedtime very very soon. It's 8:30pm on Sunday night as I write this.
No photos yet, but here's a flurry of impressions I've had thus far:
-massive leafy trees with peeling bark filled with the chirping of dozens of bright green & red lorikeets
-windstorm kicking up dust/pollen in Melbourne making me feel allergic (I'm not though)
-very cute Beagles roaming the airport, very seriously sniffing each piece of baggage for undeclared quarantine items
-likelihood of getting hit by car while crossing road extremely high because I can't remember to look the right way for cars
-Lift lemon soda is as refreshing and tasty as I remembered it
Friday, October 24, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
In general, the idea that some dumbass short-sighted committee or parliament might one day sell off Canada's water stocks makes me very angry.
This usually isn't news. But it turns out these are actually houses and not condos or leasehold properties.
Things are looking up for us to actually OWN OUR OWN HOUSE in Vancouver, without having to win the 649 first.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We had a bachelorette party for Emily -- girls go wild in the Sin City sort of thing. Almost every one of us was hurting in some way though, so it felt a bit more sedate than wild. But fun nonetheless. I cannot gamble without Kevin there however.
Correction: I cannot WIN without Kevin there to give me luck. Sigh.
Dinner at Nobu, excellent. Seeing KA, Cirque-riffic. Lounging at cabana by the pool in 39 degree heat, fabulous. Shopping at Christian Louboutin, drool-worthy. Giggling with the girls, awesome.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I'm mostly going to play the newest games being released later this year, and to fanboy over some bloggers and online comedy purveyors. Plus there might be swag!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Watching volleyball at high speed is fairly entertaining though.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Keeping alive the streak of placing 6th/7th in the pool, divers for the Synchronized 10m Platform event came in 7th. The two girls are apparently very good at their optional dives, but didn't perform as well during the competition. No rip entries and some missed dives. Good moment at the start though when they first appeared on the platform: you could overhear cheers from Canadian spectators in the crowd, and by lip-reading I could see the one girl turned to the other and said "That's my mom!"
Canada's softball team blew away Chinese Taipei yesterday. Apparently there won't be softball played at London 2012 because the sport is so one-sided? There's a possibility it will return in 2016 depending on the level of play shown in Beijing's tournament.
Women's soccer continued last night, and Canada lost to the more favoured Swedish team despite starting out the game with a lot of energy. The loss didn't matter too much though, as Canada already qualified for the next round. Next up, playing top seed USA. Canada was ranked 9th worldwide coming into the games.
Missed seeing the actual event, but David Ford placed 6th overall in the K-1 Slalom.
Tried to log in to the blog, was told to connect it with my google account (of which I don't have one), then got no explanation as to why. Researched the Blogger Buzz to no avail. Tried to log in again like normal, and it worked.
I have no idea if I'll ever be able to again, so I may need to stay logged in permanently?
I am so tired of creating account after account after account to use anything on the internets.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Canadian team rowers finally got their start in the water after the missed Day 2 heats. The Women's 8s didn't get a great start, and pulled together towards the end of the race to take 3rd. First place, and the guaranteed spot in the final, went to the US team. The women will race in the repechage on Wednesday and hopefully will make it to the final that route.
The Men's 8s blasted out of the starting gate and handily won their heat, and will race in the finals on Sunday. These guys are enormous and powerful - the team's average height is 6'5". Average. Whoa.
Anna Rice is Canada's top badminton player, and she won 2 matches early on in her competition. The third match was against a Chinese player ranked 2nd in the world. Anna played well, looked like she was having fun, but ultimately lost. But can these women ever play badminton! It's crazy, it's impressive, and looks very fun.
Never watched field hockey at an international level before today. Playing it in school doesn't count. The Canadian men's team, in their first Olympic game ever, played the top ranked Australian team. Needless to say, the Aussies won (6-1) and didn't have too much of a challenge keeping the Canadians contained. The Canadians made a powerful hip check against the top Aussie player, potentially injuring him, so at least our international reputation is intact. For a non-contact sport, field hockey looks painful at times. Odd fact: the field is wet on purpose, they use water cannons at half time. It apparently aids players when sliding on the astro turf.
Fifth time Olympian and medal hope Susan Nattrass lost trap shooting in the third round. She'll likely show up again in London 2012.
K1 Slalom (whitewater kayaking) began today, and a Canadian, David Ford, advances to the semis.
It's now 8:40am in Beijing, and the start of Day 4 is coming up. I'm considering tracking the number of hours I've spent watching so far, but I think I'll be scared by the final tally.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Water polo is vicious... remind me not to play, I don't like punches to the back of my head or eating water continually. Canada lost to Spain. But it was our first time qualifying a men's team to the Olympics... or at least one without any boycotts.
Gymnast Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs made it into the all-round final. Team Canada did not. I am still not surprised by their failure to advance, since it seems every Olympics the women's team fields mediocre performers. I'm not an expert by any means, but even I can spot sloppy performances and lower difficulty levels. By far the low confidence level hurts their performance.
A Canadian lost in the early rounds of Epee. Tried to watch a match but I had no clue what was going on. I like my swordfighting to resemble The Princess Bride. Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya...
Still haven't seen any rowing, despite early heats being completed and apparently a couple Canadian teams advancing. The men's 8 race was supposed to be aired, but it has been delayed due to lightning. I don't think I've ever seen that as a reason for sport delays before. Zap!
The website indicates there are up to 8 CBC channels broadcasting simultaneously, but on tv I only have access to CBC1 and BOLD. The webcasts of the other channels are so small and low-res, you can't comfortably see the action on screen.
The most annoying thing thus far is the inaccuracy of the show descriptions. There was supposed to be live coverage of 3 events starting this evening, but instead they replayed shortened edited versions of Day 1 events. I'd already seen those events 'live', and had been waiting to finally see some Day 2 events begin. Grr.
Now the coverage appears to have ended for a few hours, so I get to nap. Unless I want to finish watching the sleepy slow quiet sailing race on BOLD. Zzzzz.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Gymnastics, Men's Team qualifying round: Team Canada, including medal hope Kyle Shewfelt, failed to qualify for the finals, only earning enough points to come in 9th overall. Only the top 8 teams move forward. Shewfelt also did not score high enough to qualify for the individual floor mat event, where he won gold at the Athens Olympics. Only Nathan Gafuik and Adam Wong will compete in the Men's All-Round event, each earning enough points to qualify individually.
Women's Football: Canada and China played a round robin game to a tie 1-1 score. Canada's goal was scored by team star & captain Christine Sinclair.
Women's 48kg Weightlifting: Canada's Marilou Dozois-Prevost lifted 166lbs to come in 10th. China's Xiexia Chen won the gold, making the clean and jerk portion look effortless, lifting a total 212lbs (more than twice her body weight) in her 2 lifts. These are tiny women, weighing in at 105lbs.
- firework footprints 'walking' in the sky from Tienanmen Square to the Bird's Nest stadium
- 2008 drummers playing in perfect synchronicity, then in the complete darkness with only their drumsticks lit up to finish their performance
- Chinese flag bearer Yao Ming walking with a 9 year old Sichuan earthquake survivor during the parade of nations
- gymnast Li Ning running around the top of the stadium, suspended by wires, with the torch to light the Olympic flame to start the Games
Lowlight: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is one of the few governmental leaders to not appear at the opening ceremony, despite Canada being the next nation to host an Olympics.
There's a wee bit of a time difference to deal with this time around. The opening ceremonies started at 4am. (fine, the pre-show started then and the official start was 5am, but I've already mentioned I'm a fan). I woke up early, watched the ceremonies until 7am and only took a nap because I had somewhere to be Friday afternoon. It's now Saturday and I'm finally watching the end... of course I am recording everything too. I don't mess around.
I've got some catching up to do today, since I could only see part of the first competition day last night before crashing. The drunkeness of my party-going last night had everything to do it that. I saw the men's Urban Road race (very cool winding around the Great Wall) and most of the men's gymnastics team preliminary round. I'll get caught up on the remainder of Friday's events at about the time Saturday's events are being broadcast live. The plan is to be fully on the proper timeframe by tomorrow... assuming I can nap appropiately.
So I'm foggy and disoriented right now, but still very excited. w00t!!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tonight: fireworks. Let the crazy crowds of summer continue!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Until the lady sped around the other side of the bus, whipped her car into our lane in front of the bus and braked repeatedly just inches away from our bumper. And the other lane also contained a bus which she cut off in order to express her displeasure to our bus.
If you're in a small car, it takes a lot of balls or a lot of crazy to try to muscle out a freaking massive bus. Apparently she was unaware of the "Yield. It's the Law." sticker on the back of the bus.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Camping will either be a shitload of fun, or unbearably hot. I'm hoping for fun. And bringing a misting bottle just in case.
And there'd better be mini donuts. I'm just sayin'.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Here's my letter to my MP:
June 13, 2008
Ms. Joyce Murray
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
I'm a Vancouver Quadra constituent who is appalled by the Copyright bill presented by the government on June 12th. Far from being a balanced approach to copyright law, this bill as it stands is simply a US-style, unworkable piece of legislation that caters only to foreign corporate stakeholders, and stomps on Canadian stakeholders and Canadian consumers. It invites frivolous lawsuits and does nothing to improve the protection of artists' copyright beyond current Canadian law.
We need a made in Canada approach to amending copyright law. This means having meaningful and substantiative discussions with Canadian consumer groups, Canadian educators, Canadian artists and Canadian business. Why has this not been done already? These same groups have been clamouring for input on the bill in previous months, yet their cries have been seemingly ignored in the drafting of this bill.
The bill as it stands makes many common consumer practices illegal. I am not talking about the practice of illegal downloading. More importantly, the bill effectively renders format shifting and time shifting illegal by criminalizing the breaking of digital locks. If I want to transfer the contents of a purchased CD or DVD to my iPod, I may break the law by breaking any digital lock placed on the disc. If I want to record a TV show with my Linux-based computer PVR for watching later, I might break any digital locks placed on the program by its broadcaster/creator. Even if the bill states the practice of time shifting and format shifting is allowed, the rules against circumvention or breaking digital locks make those practices illegal. This bill is unworkable, it is unfair to consumers, and it does nothing to protect artists' copyright as it should be intended to do. It only seems to protect corporate interests.
The government needs to amend the current bill to reflect Canadian interests and fair dealing before it can be passed into law. Failing that, it needs to be struck down. I implore you as your constituent to vote against this bill if it is not altered and improved to the point that Canada can be proud of it. We need to be a world leader, not a blind follower.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Then we tried to get tickets.
Ticketmaster didn't have any. Grr. Sasquatch website still has no Sold Out notice, but won't let us buy tickets either. Grr. Craigslist to the rescue! There are two whole pages of Sasquatch sale ads on the Vancouver Craigslist site. Hooray! We email/call all the sellers of Saturday & Sunday tickets. Then the people selling the 3-day passes, even though we only need 2 days. Only 4 people respond, and they each say they sold their tickets. Grr grr grr. Seattle's Craigslist has 3 pages of sellers. Not a single one responds. Why oh why do people leave their ads online if the tickets are no longer available?!?! Use the freakin' edit/delete function, people!
So we're not going to Sasquatch. That really sucks. We figure its not worth driving 10 hrs round trip to try to buy scalped tickets and have the same luck down there. But I was still tempted.
In retaliation for the lame-ness, we bought Pemberton tickets. And Madonna tickets. I shake my fist at the concert ticketing gods!
Now I'm going to see Indiana Jones.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The first step was to move out of a completely car-dependent city, to one that actually had a public transit system that works. Then we had to find a neighbourhood that let us walk to get daily shopping and recreation etc done. The trade off was living in a city that priced us out of owning our own detached home. It's a decision I can live with, as is the decision to remain a one car family. Now that we are looking to get a slightly larger place, I have to find a location with similar requirements but try to include a proximity to a new workplace that I haven't yet found. Try looking for gainful employment that lets you work in your own neighbourhood or is a bike ride away or ideally work from home... and get an inkling of how frustrated I am. Sure I can find a McJob anywhere in any neighbourhood, but it doesn't mean 'gainful employment'. And it certainly doesn't help with the larger home affordability.
But stepping away from the environmentalism idea altogether, why wouldn't our population be clamouring for better neighbourhoods in general? A truly vibrant community would mean less crime, better community involvement, nicer places to live and play, more localized business, thus a more thriving local economy. It would feed off itself in so many ways beyond a smaller environmental impact. Why does that kind of place have to be a pipe dream? I hate seeing more and more housing developments being built all around the Lower Mainland without any community planning done simultaneously. All it means is more car-dependent pockets of suburbia where people hide from their neighbours. Hate it hate it hate it.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Maybe I should just make them hire me on staff for the length of the project. :)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
- Part 1: The origins of Christianity in pagan mystery religions
- Part 2: An examination of 9-11 as a conspiracy perpetrated by international power brokers
- Part 3: The origins of the US Federal Reserve bank and its consequences on individual liberty
For me, Part 1 was the most enjoyable, mostly because the ideas in it are familiar -- a bit like preaching to the choir. I've always looked at Christianity (and other religions) from a historical and anthropological viewpoint, seeing how the religion developed by borrowing ideas and customs from earlier religions and cults, shaped by the politics of the current time to result in the religion as we know it now. Zeitgeist focused on the origin of Christianity as a sun-god religion in the earlier sun-god religions of Egypt, Greece, Minoa, and the Ancient Near East. I've normally taken a broader/longer view in seeing the paternalistic later religions (like in Egypt, Greece etc) supplanting the earlier matriarchal goddess religions (Astarte, Ishtar as newer names for her). There's always a corresponding shift in power when the religious focus shifts: matriarchal societies are supplanted by patriarchies when the Goddess is supplanted by the God. The sun-god religions see the same shift. New religions bring about a new power structure, usually by outlawing or demonizing the earlier religious customs or figures as 'pagan', while simultaneously adopting the same customs and figures with new labels to make the new religion more palatable to the masses. The movie demonstrates this procedure quite successfully, showing how the concepts of Christianity (resurrection, 12 disciples, virgin birth) arose from Ra, Dionysis, Mithra et al.
The cool part that I didn't know, is the reasons why all the sun-god cults had a similar theme... namely the astrological basis for the customs and symbols. Now, the film plays very fast and loose with 'facts', and it should be watched with some serious skepticism of the science behind it, but the study of symbolism is always a bit fuzzy. We all know the earliest civilizations looked to the sun, moon and stars for meaning in their lives, since they used them for keeping time, following the seasons, and knew the sun gave life to the crops on the most basic survival level. That's where the symbols of light and dark became the struggle of light vs. dark -- a duality played out in every religion. But the film looks deeper into the more complex astrology that came later, and draws some compelling parallels into the symbolism of the ancient religions. For example, the "star of the east" Sirius is followed (or aligned) with the "Three Kings" or Orion's belt on or around December 25th, the supposed birthdate of most sun-gods, not only Jesus. The film takes a bit of a leap here, saying the line of 4 stars points to the exact spot where the sun will be 'born' that morning, but I forgive it that. But the symbolism of the 3 kings following the bright star remains. As does the idea of the death of the sun over winter led to the concept of a dying god who is reborn in spring to give life to the people. Very basic symbolism here, and it's not surprising that symbolism shows up in most religions. I think the film just does a good job of pointing out these real world observations within the symbology of Christianity, forcing people to look at religion a bit more objectively as a myth and allegory instead of blindly believing the bible stories as truth.
So we come back to the film as a whole, and try to figure out what the filmmaker is trying to argue. Part 1: people who blindly follow religious teachings without question or understanding of origins are easily led by the power structure of an organized capital-c Church and kept in line through fear, and this concept translates to society as a whole. Part 2: those who hold power in society learn how to control the masses through fear, and will manufacture their own fear-causing events if need be. Part 3: power brokers use any means necessary to control society (once religion, now money), they institutionalize those means (protect by law), and use their influence to control the world for their own profit... while a blind distracted public does nothing to stop it. Do I buy it? Nope, not entirely. Do I think it is possible? Yes. So the film does its job in opening some eyes to the possibility. Probable? Particularly in the organized, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain kind of way? Unlikely. But it doesn't mean I can't be wrong. Spooky.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
On a related note (ha ha), I'm fairly appalled that I don't know the maiden names of all my grandmothers and great-grandparents. What a shocking display of ignorance about my own family. There's a social commentary to be had about why women's names are forgotten/supplanted by the husband's family name, and the ridiculousness of that fact when you consider there's no way to accurately track true genealogies through a father's line. Think about it -- unless you track via DNA, children can only be proven to be a mother's and the father could potentially be anyone. Not that I suspect every woman of sleeping around. Scandal!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
(No kitties were harmed in the writing of this post.)
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I'm needing a way to harness my energies, and I think a daily or more frequently updated blog it the way to go. Consider it a resolution. It's not New Years, and I'm already on a successful diet, so it's a creative resolution. I figure once I actually get a job I like, this will fall by the wayside. But for now, I suppose it's a reason to get up in the morning. Rather than mid-morning, or gasp! later in the day. Come to think of it, this is almost assuredly going to be updated at night when I'm avoiding going to bed... but it'll give me something to do beside playing Scramble game after game.
Aha! A valid reason to make a new blog. Huzzah!