jamesq: (Don Quixote)
When I was in Vancouver over Christmas, we ended up watching Three Amigos (with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short). Steph mentioned that Martin and Short would occasionally go on tour with each other and hold a show that was basically a melange of comedy, music, and banjos.  Sounds like fun, I said.

Flash forward two months. Steph contacts me and says that they're doing a show in Las Vegas in July.  Hmm, I should be able to make that, I said.  Good, she says, because I've already bought you a ticket.

So I'm going to be in Vegas on July 23rd for that.  Why not plan a vacation around it?

I also really liked last year's road trip, aside from all the driving.  I wanted a vacation that combined Las Vegas with a road trip through the mountains, and time in Vancouver to reconnect.  The only problem is to do all that I'd either need to drive from Calgary to Vegas to Vancouver to Calgary (which given my don't-drive-more-than-six-hours-a-day rule, would take longer than I'm willing to do), or fly in and out of Vegas, then drive to and from Vancouver.  That wasn't ideal either.  What would be ideal would be to fly to Vegas, then fly to Vancouver, then drive to Calgary.  The only problem being that my car would be on the wrong side of that trip.

What I needed was someone willing to drive the car out there.  I was tempted to ask Gerry to do it, but I'd likely have to pay for his lodging as well.  I poked FB to see if anyone was headed that way who would be willing and Wendy volunteered.  She's got a conference in Vancouver, and having a second car (she normally combines this with a family vacation) would help. Just provide me with gas money, she said. Sold!

So here's the tentative plan:

Pre-trip: Pack my folding bike (assuming I've received it in time, they're saying end-of-May now), my laptop (I'll do without it in Vegas because my electronics are none of the TSA's business), a mattress topper, and some extra clothing.  Then give Wendy the car.  This will likely be well prior to going to Vegas, so I'll have to do without my car the weekend before the trip.  Oh well, I have another bike, and car2go.

July 21-24: Vegas Baby! Plans so far include Martin and Short (of course), a Hall and Oates/Tears For Fears concert, the Pinball museum, and lots of gambling when I'm not in the same building as Steph.  We're staying at the Monte Carlo, unless I can get a sweetheart deal at the Cosmopolitan.

July 24-August 1: Vancouver. Grab a BnB, retrieve my car. Spend the small amount of overlap I have with Wendy/Ryan/Miss K to show them some of my favourite haunts.  Maybe some #DNDLive.  Other plans include fireworks on Saturday, andHarry Potter burlesque on Monday.  Hiking, exploring, thrifting, CYCLING.  Hell, maybe I'll daytrip into Victoria.

August 1-2: Penticton. Mostly this is because Penticton is halfway between Vancouver and Nelson.  Nelson really does need to be two hours further west. Or east, I'm not picky. Just close enough to make it an easy drive from Vancouver or Calgary.

August 2-5: Nelson. I'm hoping Rosie will join me for this part.  We'll see.  Fellow philosophers, you should join me for a pint in the Library.

August 5-6: Kimberley.  I've got an AirBnB all booked.

August 6: Home late on Sunday night, after spending an afternoon in Banff.
jamesq: (Vancouver)
Facebook has a feature where it shows you stuff you posted on this day in years past. Turns out, the end of March, beginning of April is a popular time for me to go to Vancouver. There's no mystery to this - I often have vacation time I have to use or lose, and this is when my company's business year ends. So yay, a reason to visit; and yay, my vacation days have recycled.

Here's a recap:

Before I even got to Vancouver, on Tuesday night after my last day at work, I spent some time with [livejournal.com profile] thebrucie and Allison. We went to Craft for a four course meal with beer pairing put on by a local brewery. They were noteworthy for having a luau theme (so Bruce was happy), and an IPA that was actually super tasty - this is how they're supposed to taste.

Wednesday, I checked into The Burrard and took advantage of a special they had. I'm now the proud owner of nine (well, seven now) $25 Amex gift cards!

Being by myself I decided to go have a quiet dinner at Clubhouse Sushi, and then walk to the Rio to catch The Critical Hit Show (aka #DnDlive). It did not disappoint.

Related to the above, the performer I have a mild crush on, revealed she is about ten years older than I imagined! Also, that she was going to perform at a strip club for the first time the next evening.

Thursday, I didn't actually go to the strip club, mostly because going just to see a crush would be kinda creepy, and doing so by myself would be creepy as fuck. Instead, I opted to go to the Comedy Mix to see Sarah Tiana, who was pretty funny, as were the other three comics of the night. I need to go to comedy clubs more. It really is great value for the money.

Speaking of value for money, chicken fingers normally don't qualify. However, I ordered them at the Comedy Mix because I hadn't eaten any supper that night. When they arrived, the house lights had gone down, so I couldn't really see them. I could tell it was piled high on top of the french fries, making it seem huge. I resolved that I didn't really need to eat the french fries, so I'd stop when I got to them. Except there were no french fries - it was chicken fingers all the way to the bottom. By Grabthar's hammer... what a savings.

Friday, I hung out with [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia in the afternoon, inadvertantly filling my hat with soft drinks (wet. sticky. I've felt it before), baked a cake at Port Wood before everyone got home, and then went to the Burrard Pub with Jonathan, [livejournal.com profile] garething, and [livejournal.com profile] othelianna.

Saturday, Rosie and I went thrift shopping in North Vancouver. I figured, if we were going to do this, we should go somewhere farther afield, so it would be unique to both of us. Nope. She's been to every thrift store in the lower mainland it seems. Among our travels we also went to Filmgo sales, which is a thrift store that caters to professional props people, though they will sell to anyone. I found a Chinese Apothecary cabinet (basically a medium sized cabinet with 33 drawers in it), but didn't buy it.

Back at Port Wood, I prepared for Gareth and Steph's anniversary by icing the cake I'd baked the night before. Freeze your cake, it makes icing it way simpler! A little fudgy - I probably over mixed it. I'll need to work on that for the next iteration.

It was also the Sins Against God and Humanity Potluck party that Steph planned in my honour. Basically, all those weird and horrible recipes from the distant past you've always wanted to try? We tried them. I made Spam Musubi. Steph made Bologna Stew. Rosie made Twix Salad, Here's the thing about those recipes - they're actually damn tasty. Not terribly good for you, but if I was health conscious, I wouldn't have drank all that rum.

Speaking of which, Bumbu Rum is probably the best sip-it-neat rum I've ever had! Definitely picking up a bottle soon. Drinking did happen, but there was so much food, and drinking was at a sufficiently slow pace, that no one actually got drunk. Tipsy, sure, but not drunk. Next time, less unfortunate food, more cocktails.

The night required cheese, so I made them all watch The Nice Guys.

About the only real problem of the trip is that I ended up not getting on my bus because I assumed I was getting on a different bus and didn't actually read the instructions Google Maps gave me. And it was sufficiently late when I left the party that the 2 Km walk to Burquitlam station was less time.

Sunday I hung out with Rosie some more, but we did spend a plesant two hours at Dutch Wooden Shoe enjoying pancakes and the company of Steph and [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka!

I also remembered an incident where I waited too long to buy a set of drawers from Consignment Gallery and regretted it. I resolved to buy that apothecary cabinet. About two weeks ago I emptied my penny jar and got enough money to pay for the cabinet. That's exactly the sort of thing I like doing with that "found" money. It gets to live at Port Wood until I can get my car out there this summer.

And now I'm actually planning that summer trip. A full week in Vancouver next time, I think. This time was, as is the way of the spring trips, too short.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that there was nothing stopping me from going to Vancouver for Christmas. I had a standing invitation from [livejournal.com profile] garething and [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia, so I was fairly certain I wouldn't be imposing. I pulled the trigger about two weeks beforehand, and bought my tickets with my frequent flyer points, so the whole thing only cost me about $125, making this a fairly cheap vacation.

My spy was [livejournal.com profile] othelianna, who helped me to make this a surprise visit. I could sleep in her room (she is currently visiting friends and family in her hometown). Also, she would spy for me to ensure they weren't going away to the island for the holiday - I didn't want to be eaten by wolves while trying to get into their home.

Everything was going according to plan, until I got sick immediately before the trip. So on to the GBU

Good
  • The look on Gareth's face when he opened the door Christmas morning.
  • Being able to hang out with him and Steph.
  • Having a nice place to stay.
  • Gareth and I went to see Fury Road - Black & Chrome.
Bad
  • Having the Christmas Crud. This was a fairly bad cold that started in the throat and moved north. At first it was a bad cough, that slowly moved north into the sinuses. As I write this, it's finally going away, so it was a constant theme of the trip. I was chugging cold meds just to function.
  • Steph also had the Christmas Crud. We're really hoping we had the same cold, because getting over one cold, only to get another would suck. She was chugging cold meds just to function.
  • The weather. Sloppy, slippery snow and ice all over Vancouver, and especially bad in upper Port Moody. Drifts higher than Calgary's. It was pretty bad. However, it was excellent weather for comfort food and hot buttered rum.
  • Jon's car. He came to visit on Boxing Day and (long story short) had to do a controlled crash into a snow bank. Abandoned his car overnight after Gareth and I helped him reposition it into an apartment building's fire-lane, which was about the best we were going to do. No tow truck was going to try to retrieve his vehicle off that steep hill. On the bright side, if the apartment building bitched, no tow truck was going to try to confiscate his vehicle off that steep hill. Happy ending: He stayed the night, and the next morning road conditions had improved enough for him to simply drive away, no damage to the car.
Ugly
  • Between illness and the weather, I didn't end up seeing anyone other than Gareth, Steph, and Jon. I certainly didn't want to give any of the Vancouver peeps my cold, and I'm really hoping Gareth hasn't caught it. If he does, I'm blaming Steph.
Meh
  • Being sick, I also wasn't up to the orgy I was planning for Rosie's room. Next time though.
I probably should have cancelled the trip, but it was still good to see Gareth and Steph. Gareth suggested that they might do the Holidays in Cowtown in some future year. I think we should all encourage this.

To everyone I missed - you know I love you, I'll be back.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I spent a relaxing couple days in Vancouver, partly to visit folks. Got a B&B on Victoria drive that was rather nice. If you're following around, this is a type 2 (mother-in-law suite rented out to make the mortgage), or so I thought. When I checked in, I met the landlord who was upstairs. She showed me around the place and also gave me a warning about her being a musician who sometimes practiced the piano. Oh, and she had a son who would practice drumming - but they'd make sure to keep it to a minimum, and not do it at all at night. As I don't spend a lot of time in my B&Bs, I wasn't too fussed. A few days later, she contacted me to let me know that three French couples were renting the rest of the house. Where she and her son went during this time I have no idea. The French couples? Loud and boisterous, but never when I was trying to sleep. Vive la France!

I went on a shopping spree at Gourmet Warehouse. I need to remember to actually do something with all those ingredients. Actually, I've already started. Between that, Nelson, and Leavenworth, I bought a lot of food.

Bought a pillow and a light jacket at the thrift store. The jacket was because I had somehow forgotten to pack one, and it being Vancouver, the rain was starting. The pillow? I left it at the B&B.

"Did you forget a pillow here?"
"I didn't forget it. I just thought the suite needed one more pillow."
"Um. Ok."
It really did need one more pillow.

That night I went to see Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Ultimately it was a forgettable little bit of summer fluff. If there's a reason to see it, it's Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick, who have some great comic timing by themselves, and are better than the sum of their parts in this movie. Don't let me oversell it. It's OK with a few funny bits. Wait for Netflix.

Tuesday I had lunch with Ryanzilla, went thrift shopping, because apparently that's how I roll.

That night, I went to see Tickled. At first, it seems to be a weird documentary about a competitive tickling league. Spoilers: there is no league, it's a scam. it's actually about how a sociopath's wealth and kinks ruin lives. Well worth watching, if only for the train of WTFs that arrive at your mental train station as things are revealed.

Wednesday included a visit to FlyOver Canada. Was it good? Mostly. Kind of expensive. There's a pre-show that head-faked me. It's a montage of adorably photogenic folks from around the country. And then it ended, and I thought "did I just pay $22 for this?" And then we went to the main show, which was a fun 15 minute of high-def fly-over footage of my beautiful country, while you're strapped into a chair hanging in the middle of the screen so that it fills your field of view. Also, they spray you with mist at appropriate moments. Worth it? Sure.

That night I visited [livejournal.com profile] whiggy_one and [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka at Storm Crow Prime. Much fun was had.

Thursday morning I took Athena to the ferry terminal, and had a nice wander around Granville island. Bought some ingredients and drive out to Port Wood to socialize with [livejournal.com profile] garething and welcome [livejournal.com profile] othelianna back to Vancouver. Oh, and to cook dinner. Not my best creation, but no one complained, or even had gut-wrenching nausea.

It occurs to me that I was there when Rosie left Vancouver, and I was there when she came back. *smiles*

Next morning I met her at the Clubhouse for lunch, and then I was on my way back to Calgary, albeit in a leisurely fashion.

All in all, a nice relaxing trip to Van. I didn't get to see everyone I hoped to see, but that's usually the way of these things. There'll be other visits.

Here are some pictures, behind the cut... )
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
About a month ago, JumpOn Flyways offered a trip to Vancouver on the Easter Weekend. The price was right ($124 each way), the timing was good (Thursday after work, until Monday evening), and if you got in quick enough, you could take $50 off the bill (I didn't). The catch is they use a crowdfunding model - if they don't fill about 75% of the round trip flight, the trip doesn't happen. Obviously, this trip happened.

The flight was spartan (no food service, so the flight attendants mostly gossiped with each other), and due to conflicts with (I think) the airport, we ended up having the flight rescheduled an hour and a half later. This put me in Vancouver just a wee bit too late on Thursday night to do anything social. I checked into my hotel and ended up have a cocktail, salad, and creme brûlée in the hotel lounge.

This morning I wandered around Coal Harbour briefly, then met [livejournal.com profile] garething, [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia, Ryanzilla, [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka, and CS for brunch at a really good diner on the edge of Gastown - Deacon's Corner.

Sadly, that was my last chance to see Steph this weekend as she had a previously scheduled trip to Edmonton that began this afternoon.

Afterward I hung out with Ryan some more, visiting Forerunners, The ComicShop, and Drexal Games. I also discovered that Ironhead Athletic had closed/moved to parts unknown. Drat. My current IronHead pullover is rapidly wearing out after five years of loving use and I was hoping to pick up a new one.

I walked back to my hotel after that, which was a bit of a hike (4th and Arbutus to Coal Harbour) and relaxed for a while before heading off to Kadoya Sushi for supper. They had one of the most delicious rolls I've ever eaten - the Maple roll (Salmon, Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon, and an amazing sauce). Getting there did provide me with a brief moment of sadness - The Love Bucket was permanently closed.

And now I'm back in my hotel room writing. First LJ entry in quite some time.
jamesq: (The Claw!)
I was chatting with [livejournal.com profile] garething and [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia and we're making facetious jokes about G's employability.

S opines, "You're a good worker; you know your stuff; you're not an obvious crack addict."

I jump in, "That's right! You're not an obvious crack addict. What's your secret?"

G makes a injecting between the fingers gesture.

I nod sagely. "Good thinking".

S immediately gets this look on her face:


She says, "You two are so adorable when you talk about drugs like you actually know."

"Oh, that's right you don't inject crack," I say.

"You don't? What do you do," asks G.

I make a gesture of flicking a lighter and holding it under a spoon.

"That's heroin," says S.

"Drat. Well how do you smoke crack," I ask.

"You smoke it," she says, emphasizing that I, myself, had the answer all along.

"I thought you smoked meth."

"You can smoke both."

And now as I write this, I understand. You can do both, though probably not at the same time.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I use transit a lot when I'm in Vancouver. Partially this is because I often don't have a car while here, but also because Vancouver's transit is a lot swifter for the places I need to go, than Calgary's. Just a function of where I am in these two cities though.

My first day here, I took transit from the airport to the neighborhood where my suite is located. It was almost too fast, since I was meeting friends and I ended up at the meeting place well before they did.

Before getting on the train though, I opted to get a day pass. This is often cheaper than multiple single fares depending on how fare you want to go. Going to Port Moody and back during the day time, for example, the day pass is better. But you can't get a day pass at the airport. When I asked the transit cop who was there to answer tourist's questions, he said "because they add an airport station improvement fee." Well that's fine and all, but add it to the day pass. "They said it was too hard to program into the ticket machines." Yeah, right. I program for a living , so I can tell you that that is just as much bullshit as you think it is. He did helpfully tell me that I could buy day passes at the 7-11 in the airport. It was on the other side of the airport, so I opted to simply pay the extra fare.

I ended up buying a two zone ticket, because the airport is one zone away from Vancouver proper. The machine was OK with this, though I realized later that it was Saturday, and there are no "zones" on Saturday - it shouldn't have let me do that. Again, something easy to program if you care to not rip people off. Still, partially y fault because I'm familiar with the rules and should know better. It would suck if you didn't know the rules - like all those people who just got off an airplane.

So that was bad. The next day I was in Port Moody visiting. Afterwards I went out to catch the shuttle bus I needed, that only ran once every 35 minutes. Just as it arrived, I realized that I didn't have a ticket, and I didn't have the change required to buy one. I confessed my yogurt-headedness to the driver, and he let me on for "whatever change you have on you." So I ended up getting back to my suite for a grand total of 55¢.

All is forgiven Translink, all is forgiven.
jamesq: (Fools)
I'm in Vancouver and so far the trip has been very good. I met up with several friends for a late lunch, checked into my B&B, did some grocery shopping, and wound up at Storm Crow with a bunch of random SCAdians I hadn't met yet.

One of the things I'm trying to accomplish is to travel with less stuff. I ended up buying a shoulder bag that was almost the maximum dimensions of Westjet's carry-on allowance, then ended up switching it all to my first backpack at the last minute. I'm glad I did (though I'm not happy I wasted the money on a shoulder bag I'm probably never going to use) - it fit without problem, carried what I needed it to carry, and has a wee bit of room to spare.

The problem with packing lightly though is that I have some high volume things. First, being a big guy, my clothes are simply bigger. Some people can stick a change of clothes in a Pringle's can. I am not one of them. The big thing is my running shoes. One solution is to make those my only shoes, except I like to go to the theatre and nice restaurants, and my neon green runners don't go well with black pants and a button up shirt. So those shoes need to be packed. There's been times when I've packed the shoes and then failed to run. That always irritates me, so I resolved that, on this trip, if I was going to pack them, then I was going to run, rain or shine.

Did I mention that I'm in Vancouver in November?

So I hear it pouring rain all morning, and I'm thinking of putting the run off until tomorrow. Then while puttering around my suite this morning, I hear that the rain has stopped! Looking outside the window, I can see a few patches of sunlight trying to break through the cloud cover. Cool! This could be my one opportunity.

I put on my running strip and go outside. It is dry for about ten feet and then it starts to rain again. OK, I think, It's probably just the last gasp of the rain, I can ignore it.

Over the first kilometer, the rain grows more steady until it's a full on shower. If it gets worse, I resolve, I'll turn around and go back. It gets worse and worse, but it does so as I get farther and farther away from my suite. At three Km I have my epiphany: My clothing is already soaked through to the skin, and it doesn't feel that bad. Oh, it's not pleasant, but running in the snow is worse. As long as I keep running, I won't get cold. So I resolve to do my full planned run. After about five Km, I stop avoiding puddles. When I finally finish at seven Km, I'm actually steaming.

I go back into my suite and immediately strip down. Even my skivvies are damp.

And now the rain has stopped.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I'm grabbing a drink from the break room on my first day back at work when one of my coworkers asks me what I did on my vacation.

"Oh, I went out to the coast to visit friends, do an SCA event, and see a good friend who is moving to the UK off."

"What's an 'SCA event'?"

"SCA stands for 'Society for Creative Anachronism', and it's the medieval re-enactment group I'm in. We dress up in costumes and pretend it's the middle ages for the weekend. This particular event was where we choose who the next King will be."

"Choosing the King, eh? How democratic is that? Do you vote on it?"

"All the people who want to be King dress up in armour and beat the bejesus out of each other until there's only one left, and that person gets to be King for six months. So it's not democratic at all. I, for example, will never be King."
So, trip GBMU

Good

  • With appropriate use of my earlier exit strategies, I had a fun event without triggers.
  • Travelling out there was uneventful and my B&B was comfy and inexpensive.
  • Got to spend quality time with [livejournal.com profile] othelianna, [livejournal.com profile] garething, [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka and others.
  • Met a few people at [livejournal.com profile] othelianna's going away pub night, and got to chat with others that I'd like to know better. They seem to feel the same way about me, so yay!

    Bad

  • I need to learn not to talk mundane politics at the SCA.
  • I had to say goodbye to Rosie. :(
  • Didn't shoot enough.
  • Couldn't get a B&B for the trip back. Ended up paying for a hotel room instead. On the bright side, it was a nice hotel.
  • Basically got no exercise at all the whole trip.

    Meh

  • Didn't get to say hi to as many Vancouver peeps as I'd like. Technically, I never got into Vancouver at all. Closest I got was Port Moody/Coquitlam/New Westminster.
  • I'm not fond of driving long distances by myself.

    Ugly

  • Threw my back out the day before the drive back. Not sure what triggered it (it became apparent after I slept on it), but the unfamiliar bed, earlier camping, and slacking off on my morning stretch all contributed. Spending six hours in the car two days in a row basically made it worse, and it's only now starting to feel better. But I'm not going to be able to run until this weekend.

    All in all, I would do it again. But only just.
  • jamesq: (Vancouver)
    I'll probably have more in depth things to say about this trip in a while, but for now, the highlights.

    Good

    Visiting with assorted friends. As usual, that is the whole point of the trip. In particular, it was nice to have some quality time with ES (who stayed with me at my B&B for the first two nights), [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka, [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia and [livejournal.com profile] othelianna.

    It's good that they have random encounters, but where are the bosses?

    Saw thee decent movies. The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Wind Rises, and Frozen. Reviews of all three are forthcoming.

    Had a couple of nice pub nights at Storm Crow, St. Augustine, and the improbably named Burrard Pub.

    Restaurants included a mix of old (Clubhouse Sushi, Wooden Shoe, Red Ginger) and new (Saffron, All the sushi joints on Commercial)

    Also did a lot of window shopping with Rosie/Kelly/Shannon. Found some great and quirky stores and also finally got to see the Vancouver Flea Market

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for flea

    Read, relaxed, explored.

    Bad

    Didn't get to see Gareth or Ryan. That sucks.

    Ugly

    No depressive incidents. The only ugly thing really happened afterward, and that's my usual Vancouver homesickness. Except this time it's a lot worse. I'll write about that too, in the next few days. Suffice it to say that I'm scared of my options.
    jamesq: (Vancouver)
    Sometimes, my problems with dogs is a little comical. Or it would be if it didn't contain a threat of animal violence.

    I'm staying in a two bedroom suite that take up most of a house near Commercial Drive. I don't have access to the basement or the backyard. Someone else lives there. They live there with a dog.

    Now I've heard the dog barking and it sounds both mean and loud. Since it doesn't have access to "my" areas (the suite and the front yard) I didn't worry about. Until today.

    Today I leave the suite to go and meet a friend for a show. It's quasi time sensitive because the show is starting in less than an hour. Anyway, I'm standing at the top of the stairs, and I've just closed the door behind, which automatically locks. I turn to descend the stairs, and there's the dog at the base of the stairs, between me and the front gate. It's looking up at me with a WTF expression on its face that I'm sure I mirrored. I fish the keys out of my pocket, unlock the door and go back in the house.

    The dog is medium to largish, looking like a Lab or a Rottweiler, that sort of size. I'm not sure about the breed. It's a dog built for mauling, not shepherding.

    I only have one exit, the front door.

    Plan A: go to the back of the house, open a window and try to attract the dog to the back yard. Yelling, thumping a stick and otherwise making noise does not attract it.

    I look out the front window to see that it is sitting on the landing immediately outside the door, watching assorted humans walk by on the street. It is not barking, merely waiting patiently.

    Plan B: I text the landlord.

    There's a dog sitting on the front step. Is it dangerous to strangers?
    She responds immediately with a statement that both fails to answer the question, while simultaneously answering the question.

    I apologize - will call downstairs immediately.
    The owner calls for the dog ("Arrow". Heh). Arrow ignores the owner until she basically comes right up to it. Then it's back to the back yard and into the basement.

    So there you have it, trapped by a dog that may or may not have been dangerous, but everyone assumed it would be. An yet, at no point did it leap, bark or bite. Still, I'm glad no one took any chance. But they might want to check if the back fence was secure and/or high enough to contain it.
    jamesq: (Vancouver)
    Wow, it didn't take me long to fall off the post-every-day wagon. Ok, time to get back on.

    The whole point of this trip was to do the Victoria ½ Marathon. A strain injury that I'm currently sorting out with the aid of a physiotherapist clobbered that idea. I could have simply cancelled the trip but instead the Vancouver visit that was tacked on after the ½ marathon became the whole point of the trip. Why not? I like visiting my friends in Vancouver.

    I cancelled my Victoria hotel room, added a day to my Vancouver hotel room and rearranged my flight so that I'd be getting into Vancouver on Saturday afternoon instead of Victoria. The additional cost for changing the flight was absorbed by a slightly cheaper room and no ferry trip.

    Then I got talking to [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia and she mentioned that [livejournal.com profile] othelianna was having a birthday party on Friday night. So then I rearranged the flight again (and Westjet waived the rebooking fee since it was the second time in less than a day) so that I'd be getting in Friday night. At no point did I tell R. In fact, I abstained from talking about the trip at all. Normally there'd have been a "Vancouver, I AM IN YOU!" Twitter/Facebook post.

    Highlights of the trip:

    Friday I crashing R's birthday party. Damn near everyone else bailed on her, because they're LOSERS, but not me. Cheese of both the food and movie variety was had. Some of the cheese included Hamlet 2, a movie that is in the same vein as Napoleon Dynamite - three good scenes, surrounded by awkwardness. I also enjoyed some rum and managed to crash in the spare room since my hotel room wasn't ready until Saturday night.

    Saturday we made meals for [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka and her family, since baby K is taking up all of their spoons. And by make, I mean buy all the ingredients and look helpless until S does all the work. It was pretty good, even if we did have to sub in rotini for the lasagne noodles I forgot. I also whipped up some mini cheesecakes, just so I could assert that I know my way around a kitchen.

    Sunday I met with othelianna for my birthday present to her: a movie of her choice followed by dinner on me. She did insist on buying the popcorn though. The movie was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and dinner was at EXP, Vancouver's other nerd bar. EXP wants to be the bar for video gamers (but is having an ongoing dispute with the city of Vancouver over being able to have games and liquor simultaneously).
    "There's a guy in a Pikachu costume heading to the men's room."
    "I need to go to the men's room too, just so I can stand immediately behind him at the urinal and whisper I choose you in his ear."
    I subsequently discovered that EXP has sane restrooms, so this wasn't actually possible. Also, S suggested that there was a good chance that I'd have bitten off more than I could chew.

    Monday I met [livejournal.com profile] bognaustroglum, KS and FM at Tangent restaurant on Commercial drive. It was a good visit with those folks. It was also noteworthy in that Tangent seems to hire ex-runway models (seriously, they all had that long willowy look. Maybe they were sisters) and it has the best bacon I've had in Vancouver.

    RS and I then walked down to Gourmet Warehouse, where I managed to spend less than $50 (shocking. I blame my lack of large luggage). I then caught a bus out to Port Moody. That there was a single bus that went near to Port Wood was kind of astonishing.

    As an aside, this was the bus I was planning on taking out there on Friday night if I couldn't get a ride. Google maps suggested that the bus was a twenty minute walk to their house, but looking at it I could see that there was a 100 metre stretch of woods that would cut the distance by 80%. S convinced me in an earlier conversation not to do that ("You'll get eaten by a bear" were her exact words. I've since learned she wasn't joking). What I hadn't considered was elevation. That twenty minute walk was at a very steep grade. Attempting the woods would have meant taking a route that was about three degrees short of being a cliff. As it was, I'm glad I didn't do either route with a full backpack, I'd have fucked my back for the whole trip.

    [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka, [livejournal.com profile] bognaustroglum, [livejournal.com profile] chris9871 and baby K showed up to say hi and take possession of their not-lasagnes and ended up hanging out for a bit. After they left, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving repast followed by drinking and Cards Against Humanity. LG brought her charming company to the company as well.

    Tuesday we rented a car and day-tripped into Seattle. The purpose was to jam a sandwich from Paseo Carribean Restaurant into [livejournal.com profile] othelianna's mouth. We also went shopping in the Fremont area (where I bought myself a cookbook for making desserts in jars). We rounded out the day coming in 10th out of 28 at Geeks Who Drink trivia. I feel that if I could combine my previous two Geeks Who Drink teams together, we'd have a nigh-unbeatable combination. Bonus: I didn't doze off once bring the car back to Vancouver. Good thing too, as I was the driver.

    Oh, and Budget is a bunch of jerks.

    Wednesday was hurry-up-and-wait-for-your-flight day. I did have some quality time with [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka though - we had lunch at Red Ginger and she dropped me off at the airport. Another successful Vancouver trip.

    Overall Thoughts?

    I should have stayed longer. Given the amount of time I spent at Port Wood, I should have simply skipped the hotel room and stayed there. I'm happy the depression is waning.
    jamesq: (genius)
    The big news among my friends in Vancouver was [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka's pregnancy. In the months leading up to it, I had learned from common friends (and AA herself) that they were being deliberately vague as to who the father was since she's in a stable, long-term, polyamourous relationship with two men. Both men look very alike (blonde, pale, nerdy-with-glasses), to the point were they're often assumed - incorrectly - to be brothers.

    Anyway, I'm sure they know who the father is (it's important for issues related to K's long-term health), and it's also no one else's business. The point is that K has three parents and nobody outside the family is supposed to be making value judgements about who the "real" father is. Also, when someone says "he's got his father's eyes", a strong case could be made for both Dads, since they look so similar.

    That was what I was thinking about regarding the upcoming birth. So when K's birth finally occurred, I was expecting a child who was like the Dads - so white he was damn near ultraviolet.

    They posted a picture of baby K and my first thought was "Why is that kid so dark?". After a few beats, my second thought was "Oh, right. AA is black". It had completely slipped my mind.

    I told this story to assorted Vancouver folk this weekend, including AA herself. They all laughed out loud. And she gave me permission to post this.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    You can negotiate with terrorists.

    That's more than a little unfair - I've had physiotherapists before, for assorted injuries. They've never asked for more than I could give - their rep comes from you not realizing that. Besides, I've felt more beaten up from psychotherapy sessions.

    I've had a fairly minor running injury that's been plaguing me for a few weeks. I took a break from my training for a week due to a cold and on my first run afterward I managed to sprain my calf.

    Swell. So I waited a week to let it heal and then went out for a nice easy run. And it sprained again in the exact same spot.

    Wonderful. Again, I wait a week and go for a nice easy run. And it sprains again in the exact same spot.

    I may be a slow learner.

    That was Sunday and today I went to see a physiotherapist. The verdict? I've got a micro-tearing where the medial Gastrocnemius muscle joins the Plantaris tendon. The Soleus muscle is likely inflamed too. This isn't so severe that it's affecting my life poorly aside from not running. I can walk long distances and it only really bothers me when I climb a lot of stairs. Compared to my 2nd degree hamstring injury a few years ago.

    My left leg is simply weaker than my right leg - possibly just because that's the way things are and possibly due to that earlier injury. By laying off the running for a week, I'd lost some tone, then re-injured it whenever I started again, putting myself into a vicious circle. In short, the injured portion takes a lot of the impact when my left food lands, and provides a lot of the force when I push forward. It's one if the most heavily strained portions of my body when I run.

    Thankfully my physiotherapist gave me a nice road-map to recovery:
    1. Three weeks no running.
    2. I won't be sitting on my ass those three weeks - I have a stretching/strengthening regime that will be my new religion for the next few weeks, and possibly beyond.
    3. Start running again, but do so conservatively. This will probably be a walk/run program like I often do in the spring.
        Of course, she also offered me a treatment of "non-traditional acupuncture". I declined, citing "woo" as a reason to not engage in a treatment. She then spent a few minutes trying to convince me. No, I think allowing the healing to occur while strengthening and stretching the affected area is quite sufficient.

        Now to actually, you know, do it. Always the biggest roadblock for me. Still, I'm still about .500 for doing my back stretches and I can simply treat these as an extension of the same thing.

        This is as good a place as any to mention it: I won't be doing the Victoria Half-Marathon this Sunday. Instead I've re-booked my Saturday flight to Victoria, and now I'll be spending all of my time in Vancouver.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    Rosie and I decided to spend the afternoon window shopping. Being on Davie, we went into a sex shop that Rosie would later dub the Love Bucket. We browsed for just a moment, teasing each other about sexy-wear that was inappropriate for either of our body types when the clerk (a wee slip of a girl who, aside from her tattoos, looked to be about 14, but clearly was old enough to work in a sex shop) came up to us.

    "I hate to ask this, but a man has fallen in the back, and I can't lift him back to his wheelchair. Can you help me?"

    Thinking this was like my old man - a stroke victim with limited mobility who had simply fallen, I agreed. So Rosie, the clerk and I went back to... well, to the wanking rooms, to find an old guy lying on the floor in some distress. There was blood under his left arm which immediately told me that I shouldn't attempt to move this guy.

    "Call 911", I say to the clerk.

    And so I spend the next little while trying to make the old guy comfortable. I introduced myself to the poor old fellow (Doug), and found out that he'd "fallen asleep and fell off his chair". My initial assumption that Doug was a stroke victim bore out since he had all the same symptoms as my dad (one side largely useless, slurred speech, fantastic grip on his good side). He mentioned that he had broken his arm two weeks earlier in a fall and that he thought he had re-broken it. Holding his severely bruised left arm with his good right hand he pulled it up enough for me to see that, in fact, he had a compound fracture that had broken through the skin. That was where the blood had come from.

    Well there was damn little I could do to fix his arm. I could have tried a splint if we were isolated in the woods away from civilization (though I had never done such a thing, and only had theoretical knowledge on how to do it), but since we were about five blocks from a major hospital, I figured I'd just watch him since the bleeding had stopped. Instead, I opted for simple thing to make him more comfortable. Basically providing pillows to prop up his head and hold his shoulder steady, and chatting with him.

    He also wanted me to empty his ad hoc urinal (an empty Starbucks container), which I did. Between the blood, shaking his wanking hand, and emptying the Starbucks container, I figure I came in contact with at least three different bodily fluids. I could not wait to wash my hands more than Lady MacBeth, and I think I need to check with a Doctor before donating blood again. Not necessarily gross, since I had to look after my old man on occasion when he was incapable of cleaning himself, but worrisome because Doug was a stranger.

    I have no idea how long Doug was on that floor - the clerk had only heard his calls after awhile and he wasn't on the observation camera. Also, he was hard to hear over the video loop in the wanking room: Lesbian anal fisting porn on a loop. It was quite distracting (not in a good way) when I was watching Doug. And the clerk couldn't turn it off, though she eventually figured out how to turn the sound down. Seriously, this was on a projection system that filled one whole wall of the room. It was literally larger than life!

    As an aside, in addition to Doug's wheelchair, there was also six (!) chairs in the room. Personally, I see masturbation as a activity one does by one's self - or maybe with one other very close person as a way to mix things up. I can't imagine sharing a room with five other strangers. But hey, whatever gets you through the night.

    After calling 911, the clerk came back. "The ambulance is on its way. I can watch Doug after I lock the front door."

    To my shame I let her do this (I should have watched Doug until EMS arrived). However, before we leave, Doug asks me, in some exasperation, "What am I going to tell people?"

    I look him dead in the eye, "you tell them you broke your arm rescuing kittens."

    Doug smiles, "Yeah, I'll tell them I was rescuing kittens!"

    I come to my senses after we leave the store and I tell Rosie, "We should stick around until the ambulance arrives, just in case". Rosie, of course, agrees.

    Then came that eternal wait, where every minute stretches out to an eternity as you wait for an ambulance to arrive. Eventually I see once coming down Davie. Rosie waves it down and I pound on the door to let the clerk know they've arrived. Apparently, they weren't our ambulance (they just saw someone waving them down, so they stopped to help).

    They came in and took charge. The clerk thanks us for sticking around (though in the confusion, she couldn't find the key to the wash room, so I ended up going back to the sushi restaurant we had lunch in before this whole incident, to wash my hands). I overheard one of the ambulance driver asking if Doug was alone or if he was perhaps a victim of assault (which he wasn't). It wasn't until the next day that I realized the ambulance guy was probably referring to me as the potential assailant. Oh well, I have the Internet, I don't need to go share the wanking room.

    I don't think the clerk is going to be at that job long.

    Some hours after our adventure, I saw Rosie off at her job du jour. "I could have done with less exciting things today, and more interesting things," she said. Amen sister, amen.

    I hope you're OK Doug.

    --- late edit ---

    Rosie was going to write up her experiences, but never got around to it. I remember her telling me that the clerk didn't immediately call 911, and instead called her boss to see what to do. What to d was lock the doors apparently. I don't know if she then immediately called emergency afterward, or if Rosie browbeat her into doing it, but they did eventually get called.
    jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
    Rather than a daily recount, here's what happened GBUW format:

    Good.

    Spent lots of quality time with [livejournal.com profile] othelianna, who I now acknowledge as being cousin. This included assorted rides, movies and just plain old hanging out. Also managed to spend some good time with [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka and [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia.

    An epic night at Storm Crow Tavern playing Cards Against Humanity with, well, everyone. Love that joint, even if they did take the crème brûlée off the menu (which is OK - it was never available in the first place).

    Managed to give away most of the remaining cookies. Hopefully the allegedly gluten-free ones are appreciated. Only a few got into my mouth.

    The Century Plaza hotel is quite nice, reasonably located, and has decent rooms and friendly, professional staff. As it's the hotel low-season, It was well priced too. Remember kids, in the high-season get a B&B, in the low season, get a hotel room. Unless you have a solid preference one way or the other.

    Perky goth in Revelstoke was very pleasant to look at. So was snarky elf chick at Storm Crow. She made me announce Release the Kraken! to actually order Release the Kraken! (also it was delicious - Kraken dark spiced rum, ginger beer and lime)

    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away and Rise of the Guardians were all good - sometimes surprisingly so (reviews to follow, probably tomorrow).

    Bad.

    Didn't spend nearly enough time with [livejournal.com profile] garething, [livejournal.com profile] bognaustroglum, [livejournal.com profile] whiggy_one, [livejournal.com profile] chris9871 and several others, including others I haven't seen in years.

    People don't live close enough to actual Vancouver, rather than the suburbs of the GVRD.

    The only thing playing at the Rio this week was Django Unchained, and I had no appropriate movie buddies for the movie.

    Ugly.

    The drive. Oh god, the drive. Coming out was 12 hours. The road was decent, but as soon as the sun went down (at about the summit of the Coquihalla pass) visibility went to shit. I don't mind poor road conditions, or reduced visibility, but I *hate* combining them.

    The drive back was worse because I did, in fact, combine bad road conditions with reduced visibility. I had rented a room in Revelstoke deliberately to keep myself from attempting to come back to Calgary in a single day. In the end it meant driving two hours longer than I really should have (I should have stopped in Salmon Arm - though all things considered, I'd have just had to drive that stretch the next day anyhow, and it got worse overnight).

    Weird.

    The Port Mann bridge claims to be a toll bridge, but I never paid a toll to cross it. Possibly they just confiscate a random car once a day.

    My housekeeper stole the "Emergency Rum" bottle (which was empty - she clearly thought it should be recycled). Now I have to pick up a mickey of rum.

    Finished Tears of the Sun. It was very good, but didn't really have much of a plot until the last quarter of the book (it really existed to bring the readers up to date on what was going on while the other characters were on their quest). However, that last quarter was good and really made me like all the Tiphane d'Ath scenes. Looking forward to the next book, which promises a return to a more linear plot.
    jamesq: (Vancouver)
    My last day in Vancouver was odd, with numerous missed-communications that ultimately didn't actually hurt anything.

    The day started with me checking out of my suite. Beth said goodbye and once again apologized for the short ceilings. Meh, said I. I then wandered up Commercial wearing a full pack looking for a place to decamp for awhile while arranging breakfast and a place to store said pack.

    I attempted Stormcrow again, but it was closed that early in the day. I ended up at JJ Bean. They, sadly, have a fairly limited menu (no diet pops for example) so I ended up ordering my first latte, gods forgive me. I fear I may have even (shudder) liked it.

    I sat down and did a small amount of writing and a large amount of playing Freecell. I also ended up inviting myself and a bunch of others into S & J's birthday brunch partially by accident (they invited me, and I invited others, not realizing it was more exclusive that I thought). Thankfully I managed to pull out of that faux pas and a bunch of us ended up eating at the Red Wagon Cafe. This being in Vancouver's East Village (aka East Hastings but far enough East so as not to spook people). Nice place with decent diner fare as well as several menu items that seemed to be invented on a dare (pulled pork pancakes for example).

    Afterward I hung out at [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka's house and watched most of the Avengers. It being a noisy movie I completely missed the fact that [livejournal.com profile] othelianna was trying to call me until it was almost too late. Along with [livejournal.com profile] chris9871, we had a nice sushi dinner, thus giving me a sushi rate of 80% while in Vancouver.

    Ice cream and a quick jaunt to the airport and my trip was done. Or so I thought - the flight was delayed by two hours. On the bright side, this gave me some time to explore YVR (finding a nice mezzanine with plentiful tables and no people) and finish some SCA paperwork.

    All in all a very enjoyable and very full trip. I can think of few ways to improve it that don't involve snugglebunnies.
    jamesq: (Default)
    I went to Port Moody to run my WWII Supers game with [livejournal.com profile] garething and SW. [livejournal.com profile] othelianna watched and played an HPC (historical player character).

    Quick background: in 1938, separate German, American and British expeditions to Skull Island find a crashed space ship containing magical give-people-super-powers juice. Now World War II is starting, but with the addition of super heros and super villains. Think Captain America but multiplied by a thousand and you've got an idea of the vibe I'm going for.

    Our hero Jacob is an American Jew from Brooklyn; he's a powerful telekinetic limited to touch range. His partner is Edda (codename: Danser), a young Dutch resistance fighter; She's also one of the fastest/most agile people in existence. Their mission? Rescue the Dutch Royal Family from house arrest in Huis ten Bosch.

    Aside: in the real world, the Dutch royals escaped prior to the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands.

    One of the nice things about super-hero gaming in a setting that doesn't normally have many super-heros? Whenever I want a bad guy, I just use an existing comic-book character and give them German code names. Our heros ended up battling SS-Untersturmführer Gerard Ott (codename Wildekinde) and SS-Obersturmführer Raimund Peiser (codename Winzig). They almost had to fight two more, but a good plan managed to split their forces.

    Incidentally, those were the only super-soldiers in Holland, the rest were busy on other fronts.

    Jacob defeated Wildekinde by flying him up at high speed and then letting him go. They then gathered up the family and flew them over the channel to Britain in a car carried by Jacob's TK. While over the channel, Winzig appeared (he was shrunk before) and tried to take Princess Julianna (whom R was playing) hostage. Edda proceeded (after some failed roles) to slap the bejeebus out of him and his testicles. Then Jacob threw him into the north sea. Note that in true comic-book fashion, we have not seen a body for either villain.

    They landed the car in Ipswitch and turned the royals over to the civilian authorities.

    Following the game, [livejournal.com profile] garething, [livejournal.com profile] othelianna and I went to Lionsgate tavern. It was a tavern like Montengarde has, but more expensive, with better food and no booze. Nice, but not noteworthy. I felt awkward in that way I do when surrounded by strangers that I should be socializing with but have no clue how to do so.
    jamesq: (Default)
    After spending Friday afternoon at Stormcrow tavern, I met [livejournal.com profile] othelianna for supper at the Clubhouse. My directions for getting there weren't the best and we ended up dining later than I hoped.

    We did get to Rio with time to spare for the East Side Spectacular, the Wet Spot's quarterly-ish cabaret show. Joining us were [livejournal.com profile] somejauntypolka, [livejournal.com profile] bognaustroglum, KS and FM. This was good and bad in that I was happy to get people out for what I remember being a really good show, but I was disappointed that the show wasn't as good this time as last.

    It's not so much that some of the acts were bad; some were, but some were bad last time too - it's a a variety show, not all of the acts can be brilliant. I think it came down to three things:
    • The house band, which opened the show, wasn't nearly as good as the one for the June show. This got things off on the wrong foot.

    • They kind of half-assed the video segments of the show. This could have been improved simply by starting and stopping these items in synch with the performers exiting and entering the stage.

    • The secret guest, CR Avery, wasn't to my taste. Which isn't to say he was bad - he was a very talented performer who performed stuff I don't like. If that were all it was, I'd have enjoyed it for the experience of it. Unfortunately he wasn't getting the response he wanted from the crowd so he started a) getting pissed of, and b) trying to manipulate the crowd with obvious crowd manipulating tactics. Stuff like "Make some noise east Vancouver - you're so quiet I'd think you were north Vancouver", the rough equivalent of using the Calgary/Edmonton rivalry. I don't like being manipulated, and when I detect it I dig my heels in.
    Which is not to say it was an awful show - the burlesque was really good; the female singers: Cass King of the Wet Spots and burlesque performer Noelle Pion both did a wonderful job (Noelle in particular has a great set of pipes). The comedy and the juggling were also good.

    In the end I think the room just had a different vibe this time. Everyone was more into it last time and this time they weren't.

    Personally the first time I experienced it I had no idea what I was in for and it was all new and fabulous. The second time I was super nervous that the others were going to enjoy it, which made it hard to just enjoy it myself. Hmm - I could use that statement to describe early sexual experiences too, which is a weird little insight into my personality. Wet Spots indeed.

    Overall I'd rate the first show at 80% and this one at 60%. I'll certainly go again if a trip coincides with the show, but I might not make it coincide like I did for this trip.
    jamesq: (The Claw!)
    I don't normally suffer from insomnia. I've heard friends who do suffer from it describe it and it certainly doesn't sound like what I get occasionally, which is "can't fall asleep in a timely fashion". It's very rare for me to be woken up for any great amount of time in the middle of the night. Strange noises will wake me up (I'm hyper-sensitive to it), but once I've identified the noise I generally fall back to sleep.

    Maybe it was the vacation, maybe it was sleeping in a strange house, but I went to bed at about midnight and woke up around 3 am. And I couldn't get back to sleep. In my groggy state I decided that, since I was on vacation and didn't need to be anywhere the next day (at least until the evening) to have an adventure. I got up, got dressed and left the house.

    Now this was a time of day when even the late-night clubbers and bar habitués have gone to bed. The city was, aside from people who had to be up, deserted. My travels included the Commercial/Broadway area and (after a quick cab ride) downtown Vancouver.

    What did I see? A handful of other people walking around late; Lots of Vancouver municipal workers running around maintaining things (changing lightbulbs, fixing signage, emptying trash). Mostly what I saw was empty side streets. Oh, and the inside of a Tim Hortons, where I had a breakfast sandwich.

    I did this until dawn, at which point the first commuters where entering downtown. I took that opportunity to take an empty train back out to Commercial and went back to bed. This time I slept until the crack of noon.

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