Office Christmas Party

Last night was the office Christmas party. Last year it was practically across the street from where I lived, so that was incredibly convenient. This year, it was at Science World, the big spherical building at the end of False Creek. Not as convenient, but not horribly so. It was close enough that I decided I could walk it; a coat check would be cheaper than parking. The walk turned out to be about twenty minutes. When I got there, I discovered a free coatrack for everyone, and stories about how the Cirque du Soleil show had used up all the nearby parking.
I had initially planned to wear my suit and tie. But when I wore it to the symphony last week, it felt large on me; I’ve apparently shrunk sometime in the past year. I decided to wear an outfit that I had last worn when I worked at FileNet in Edmonton. I know this because I found my old business cards in the pocket. That would have been about ten years ago. It still fit, but it was also a bit large. I really need to see a tailor.
Science World was a good place for the event. They tried to make it cultural and had “representatives” from five countries there. For the most part it felt like they were picking the worst stereotypes. Canadians were shown as dressing like Mounties. The Germans were wearing lederhosen. The Mexicans had a mariachi band. The better part was that there was matching food!
I started with the Mexican tacos, and then moved on to the Japanese sushi. I got mine in Aburi style (i.e. flame seared) and it was delicious. Unfortunately, due to rationing, we only got two pieces each. On the second floor the Canadians fulfilled their stereotype with poutine. The Germans’s had good pastries. The Chinese chow mien was surprisingly good.
I then passed the time seeing the educational movie in the Imax theatre, Dream Big. It was good and inspirational and made engineers look like gods who walk as men. I want to go out and build a bridge now. Actually, now that I think about it, that description isn’t correct. Almost all the engineers that were shown were women. I didn’t notice until I made that misogynist remark.
Afterwards I saw the various cultures do performances. The lederhosen Germans were doing a good band. The Mexican mariachi band may have been good, but there was a drunk co-worker (who I’ve never seen before) who seemed to be trying to be the centre of attention. The Chinese had dragon dancers wandering the halls. The Japanese had really good taiko drummers; they even let several of us try out and learn how to do it.
One of the best parts of having the party at Science World, is that you could try all the exhibits. And it is great to be able to learn science without having to deal with children running around hogging all the fun toys.
In the end, I learned that my old outfit was warmer than I expected. I was hot enough throughout the evening, that when it came time to walk home, I felt no need to put on a jacket for the outdoors. It was nice to slowly go along my running route and soak up the sights that I normally run past. The fog that has been lingering around Vancouver has made everything look different and exotic.

A Lunch Denied

I saw the dentist today. It was at one o’clock, which is when I usually take lunch. So beforehand, I ate a plum as a snack and had my usual apple a bit before the appointment. The cleaning and checkup went quickly. Due to a weird quirk of fate, I had gotten into the habit of flossing every day since I last saw them, and they could tell. I got back to the office at two, although I was told not to eat for half an hour.
I had a meeting at two though, but I couldn’t find the other participant. This would be my last chance to meet with him before he leaves the company for an exciting opportunity in Singapore, so it was an important one not to miss. When I discovered him, he was running late, so we didn’t start until half past.
Just when it ended, the fire alarm went off. “This is not a drill.” We all shuffled out of the building to wait for the fire department, which is kitty-corner to the office, to deem the crisis over.
Only then did I finally get my lunch. At around three o’clock.

Classics of Broadway

Yesterday was Catalina’s last night in Vancouver before heading back to Houston. I tried to make it special.
In the afternoon we watched a movie (Finding Dory) then I took her out to “The Flying Pig”. It is a very good restaurant that we both enjoy going to. The veal picatta that she got was fantastic. I wish I had ordered it instead of my half chicken.
After that, we dressed up and went to the symphony; the one across the street from where I live. They were doing “Classics of Broadway”. I know she likes to go to the symphony, so I tried to pick a performance that I would enjoy as well. And since my enjoyment is directly proportional to how much I recognize the songs, this looked like a good bet.
I did not recognize any of the songs in the first half. They were dong the classics in chronological order, so the early ones were really old. They also shied away from the most recognizable songs. So the work from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was not the title song, but “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. (I’m not even sure the song that I think is in the play is actually in it; they may only share a title.)
In the second half, it got better. But I now have The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music stuck in my head. That said, it is much better with a full symphony behind it instead of a bunch of kids singing it on a small TV.
They did not do the title song from Oklahoma! but they did for Jesus Christ Superstar. It concluded with a sample of three songs from “Phantom of the Opera”. Unfortunately, by this time it was getting late, and we were both getting tired. A matinee performance would have been easier on us.

November Report

My life has a routine these days. I get up, go for a run, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, make and eat dinner, recover. This does not give me the most interesting life.
The running has been going well. It looks like I will have run further in November than I did in October. Which doesn’t actually get me anything; it barely gives me bragging rights. I don’t think anyone would care. The biggest issue is that it is always raining these days. So I’m getting wet, and I don’t think my rain jacket actually protects me anymore. Eighteen years may be enough of a lifespan for a rain jacket. I need to get a new one.
Catalina returned to Vancouver so it is nice to have her here again. It is too bad about the weather. I wish I could take her more exciting places, but it is pretty miserable right now. I am trying to take her to new restaurants, and I think we have a new favourite sushi place.
Work continues. I’m enjoying my current project. I seem to like tasks that involve cleaning up existing code. It isn’t profitable for a company though because customers usually like new features. The behind the scenes stuff doesn’t earn money, but it reduces code debt.
I wish there was more I could say, but like I said, my life has a routine.

Halloween Horror

Halloween had a special treat for me. Stanley Park became the place that did not want me to leave. That is a good start for a horror film.
In the early morning, before the sun had risen, I ran along the seawall from False Creek to English Bay. On the shores of Stanley Park, I continued on. Suddenly, after Third Beach, there was a truck on the seawall path. Easy enough to avoid, so I kept going. When I got close to Lionsgate bridge I had made the distance I needed to so I turned around.
And then I discovered why that service truck was on the trail. They had closed the gates for construction. This was a bit scary, because it was still dark and I was trapped where no one knew I was. The fence had too fine a mesh, so I couldn’t climb it. Fortunately it was low tide, so I ran back a bit and then clambered down into the side of the wall to the shore, covered in seaweed. I didn’t think of it at the time, but this was dangerous. It was slippery and dark and if I fell, I would not be seen by anyone for a long time. Or some ancient horror could have risen from the concealing seaweed and taken me to a watery grave. Either or.
I clambered through the rocks and eventually got to a beach and could take the stairs back to the seawall. I continued my run. I got to see the signs that they had put up after my passage warning about the closure. I guess they didn’t try more to stop me because they assumed I would continue around to the other side instead of turning back.
In the afternoon though my company had encouraged people to do some volunteer work this month. So I walked back to Stanley park to help with removal of invasive plants. (My coworkers took the bus and I saw them pass me both coming and going.)
English Ivy has been planted around buildings, but it is not welcome in the park. It out-competes the native plants. Himalayan Blackberry is also a mean and nasty plant that, although providing nice berries, does not belong. Both of these are very good at spreading. The Blackberry is also mean about it too, with spiky vines that will cut you.
The sad thing is that because they are so pervasive, after we are done removing them, there is only bare earth. We are defoliating. Maybe a fern or two can keep going, but we are removing a lot of plants.
I’ve been told that parks will now be ruined for us. We will now notice the invasive plants and know that they should not be there.

Jamaica Report

Jamaica was nice. Principally because I got to see Catalina again, but it was wonderful to see all my friends. The resort was the same as last year, which meant it wasn’t the greatest place to stay, but it was a place where we could meet. The food was actually rather disappointing; mostly bland American food. I consistently asked for jerk chicken, but it never came. Well, it did on the second last night, but since I was late for dinner that night, it was all scarfed down before I had a chance to get my share. The solution was a friend who had rented a car; we drove 3.5km down the road to “Ultimate Jerk Centre” where we finally got some chicken that burned our tongue. We were even able to get some Jerk Rabbit; it tastes exactly the same as chicken except more expensive.
A routine quickly developed in this place. This was helped by very consistent weather. It was beautiful until about mid-afternoon, then there would be rain for an hour or two, and then nice weather again overnight.
My day went like this:
Morning Run: I got up before 6:00 in the morning. Not feeling motivated, except by obligation, I would leave the resort and start running. Sometimes to the west. Sometimes to the east. Sometimes towards the interior where I discovered that there are some nasty hills on this volcanic island. If I had been a bit more ambitious, I would have run a bit further to the west and I could have seen Discovery Bay and taken some nice pictures, but I did not have a good enough internet access to plan that kind of exploration.
The first run I did I forgot to zip up my running pouch and my phone took a tumble onto the road. The back cracked, which overall is very minor damage. It didn’t affect the camera, so I could still use it for everything. However, I think it became less watertight. I think this because a few days later, while I was dripping sweat everywhere, my phone acted like it was breaking down; it wouldn’t stop vibrating. I put in dried rice and it got better, but after that I used a waterproof envelope while running.
After the run: I would eat a breakfast that probably broke all of my dieting rules, but it was nice to guzzle juice when you’ve sweated so much. I also discovered cherry juice which is a pleasant change. I would then go back to bed and try to sleep the rest of the morning. Others in the group, including Catalina, would go to an eleven o’clock yoga session. It was very popular and a lot of people were encouraging me to try. I think I was better off catching up on sleep.
After lunch: At this point activities would start happening. Usually some contests put on by the organizer of the trip. Catalina and myself also took the opportunity to try the kayak and go swimming in the ocean. This is when the drinking would also start. The entire time I was in Jamaica, I think I had only three alcoholic drinks. Two of those were Dirty Bananas, and on the second one of those I was avoiding the rum at the bottom because I just wanted the milkshake part of it. If we bugged the right people we could also get coconuts from the trees and drink the water in them.
There was also the afternoon grill that was open. There you could get cheeseburgers and occasionally hot dogs. These were usually better than the actual dinner buffet. You can’t go wrong with a burger, and you know what to expect. There is only so long you can have the baked chicken at dinner.
From a friend I was able to try a mermaid fin; basically just a swimming fin that you stick both feet into, not the full tail thing you see in videos. They are really hard to use; it did not feel very efficient. Would not recommend.
Sunset: At sunset there was a lot of photography, it being the golden hour and all. Some beautiful pictures were taken by people more professional than me. People would disperse after that; too early for dinner, but no sun. But also a good time to have conversations with people by the bar.
Dinner: Bland food. Great company.
After dinner: We put on shows. There was a lip-sync performance and I got good compliments for my usual Proclaimers song. I also tried “Simply Irresistible” that went over well, but I think that had more to do with my backup dancer. The organizer also decided to bring in some strippers. I can’t say I’m a fan of that, but it was nice to see them trying something different than the usual. It would have been better if they had actually, I don’t know, stripped. And speculation was rampant that one wasn’t actually a woman. Good times!
On the final night, there was even a wedding ceremony. That made me a little depressed; Catalina had left a day early. The early departure let her get a direct flight, and popular opinion agreed that no one is worth an extra six hours of travel time.
All in all, I had a good trip. But it is good to be home.

Toronto Airport and Swamp

My seat on the flight were in the back of the plane; only one less than the very back. Since a Boeing 777 tapers, they didn’t have room for the usual number of seats. This meant I was in a side row of just two seats: window and aisle. But because it was still a bit wide there, my window seat had room between it and the wall. I was not able to rest against the wall while I tried to sleep. Still, I had more room.
Once in Toronto, I waited for the sun to rise and then I would go for a run. I put my luggage into storage and then went out. I had a route in mind, but no plan survives contact with the enemy. It is one thing to see an aerial view, it is another when you see what those brown smudges are. (Not a gravel parking lot.) It didn’t help that my Garmin is a nervous traveler and takes an hour to figure out I want to use it after any flight. I gave up and used an iPhone application to track the run. I hope I’ll be able to import it into my Garmin tracker.
On the way out I was fairly conservative and stuck to the obvious roads instead of the planned park. I did eventually get to the creek but by then I had to turn around. On the way back I was more aggressive and did a bit of exploring. I saw an Avro Arrow on a pedestal, crossed some creeks. I followed a trail by the baseball diamond that led into the swamp. The trail became fainter and fainter as time when on, and was soon unrunnable. Not willing to admit defeat I bushwhacked through the reeds. I wrecked my goal time, and my legs got all scratched up, but I eventually made it back to civilization. And my shoes are wet.
I would take a different route the next time I try to do this.
Back to the airport, I cleaned myself off in the bathroom, got a breakfast and now I’m waiting for my plane.
2017-10-15 11:35

Many Flights

Last weekend, for Thanksgiving, I went to see my parents’ in Alberta.
It was a fairly busy time. On Saturday they were having a communal garage sale next to a farmer’s market. I helped as I could, but it didn’t feel like much. I did a drive back to the house to grab something that was forgotten (and wound up never being sold), and I took the dog for a run.
The next day I picked my sister up from the airport from her vacation to New York. She is having a rough time lately. She started a new job and within the first two weeks, another new hire betrayed her and is trying to get her fired. The bosses seem to be taking the other person’s side and were asking my sister to resign. She is a little stressed and I wish there was more I could do. She may have to start looking for work in other provinces now. Which is unfortunate since this was her dream job.
My mother prepared a fantastic turkey dinner. The initial plan was to get a free-range organic turkey from a neighbor. This had been planned for months, and we had jokingly called our turkey Larry. However, Larry was sold to someone else. Despite a phone call confirming it a few days ago, we had missed an email asking if we still wanted it. But the Butterball turkey we got tasted amazingly good.
Other than that, I did my usual daily running, but this time in the foothills. There are some very nasty hills around my parents’.
I returned to Vancouver on Tuesday evening. Surprisingly, the woman I was seated next to on the plane also got off the same SkyTrain stop I did.
Now I’m waiting to board my flight to Toronto and then on to Jamaica. It has been a busy week.
I’m looking forward to seeing Catalina again. However, I got a text from her saying the bus driver missed the resort and she is in Ocho Rios. That’s the last I’ve heard from her so I’m getting worried. Hopefully the bus took her back to the resort, but my mind is playing with worst-case scenarios.

Symphony

Last night I went to the symphony.
A coworker had extra tickets so I nabbed one once I was certain no one else wanted it. I should have gone to the symphony long ago; The Orpheum is located across the street from where I live.
The setting was absolutely amazing. I was impressed as soon as I entered and saw the atrium. The atrium! Those chandeliers alone were artistry of glass. I’m glad I made sure to wear a nice suit and tie for the evening. Although I did see a few people who did not have the same commitment to culture and looked like they had just rolled in off Granville street and gotten confused as to where their nightclub was located.
The actual venue was gorgeous. I now have to pay more attention to TV shows to see which ones were filmed there. (According to MovieMaps, a lot of DC superheroes end up at the symphony.)
I was located on the lower balcony which I would not recommend for myself in the future. It is fine for other people, but let’s be honest; I’m tall. And a lot of that length is in my legs. And at that location the seating is more cramped than an airline seat. Other than that, the acoustics were fine and I had a great view.
It took me awhile to figure out the last time I was at the symphony, and I think it was when I was in grade school as part of a field trip. (I still remember the diagram showing the different roles of the orchestra; they were all tall cartoon mice.) So I am not the target audience. While I appreciate classical music, I am not a musical person.
The first piece was an original composition by the conductor. The second piece featured the Australian String Quartet doing a medley of several Beethoven pieces. After the intermission we heard the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E Minor.
I have no regrets about going, but I do not remember the music. I zoned out for a lot of it. Occasionally there were snippets of melody that I recognized, but it wasn’t enough to enrapture me. I suspect the symphony is an acquired taste, and so I should work at acquiring it. And I mean that! It’s across the street, and I don’t have enough activities in Vancouver yet. Right now the highlight of my weekend is a nice nap.
Looking at the program there are a few upcoming performances of interest. However the Chris Hadfield show with its Science Fiction theme is when I am out of town for Thanksgiving. Maybe the Jurassic Park one in November?
I wish I could recall the grade school diagram more, because I do not know what the conductor does during the performance. It doesn’t look like anyone playing an instrument is paying any attention to him. And his arms aren’t even moving to the time of the music. I’m sure it is more than just a tradition, but I don’t see it.

Get Out

Long ago, while I still lived with my family, I had an idea, dare I say a plan.
I thought that when I lived on my own I would go out regularly to a coffee place, or a diner, order a hot chocolate and read a book. I imagined myself in a booth and bold women would approach me to ask me how my book was. It was a nice fantasy, but I never really tried to implement it. The closest I came was going to a Starbucks and doing some programming on a laptop.
My weekends here in Vancouver have been less thrilling than I am happy with. I generally do a run and then not much else, spending far too long wasting time on the internet with things that are not fulfilling. There may be a possibility of a nap.
So today, I decided to force myself to do something. Anything.
I had a book I wanted to read; one I had started over a year ago. (Progress has been slow.) So I grabbed it and went for a walk. No coffee place would be my destination! (Because there is one in my building so that is hardly a challenge.) I was going to go to a park and read. Last time I did that was with “Feet of Clay” by Terry Pratchett, and that was a long time ago.
I provisioned myself with a Blizzard and then headed out on Robson Street. When my family visited, we found Denman to be an interesting avenue, so I made my way there. Unfortunately, it was more interesting in my mind than in reality. But it deposited me on the English Bay beach. There I found a nice rock in a sunny place next to the water. I watched the waves, then read a few chapters of my book.
When I had had enough I walked home.
It is odd to walk along a route you frequently run. You can suddenly stop and “smell the flowers”. I could spend time checking out things I usually see in a blur. I could even take some pictures for my #AirWreckRuns postings. (Yes, I sometimes use pictures taken not on the exact run I post them, because sometimes I took a better picture on a day when something else more interesting happened.) I even explored a bit off the beaten path.
I would say I was high on life, but if I truly wanted that, I would have gotten some pot from one of the many vendors who had set up tables outside the provincial courthouse.

Dining Plan

Today, I decided I would go out for dinner. My restaurant of choice was Save On Meats. It would be a pleasant walk there and then have some good comfort food.
Along the way I had an idea. But first some background. When I started my job, nearly a year ago, I was given a gift card which let me go to nearby restaurants. To challenge myself, I made a pledge that I could not go to the same restaurant more than once in the initial period. That way, I would force myself to try a variety of places. It was a good idea.
So why have I never done that for other restaurants? If I go out for dinner I tend to always hit the same places. And there are a lot of options around here! So I should make a list of all the restaurants within two or three blocks of home and try and hit all of them at some point. That would be a nice plan for the future.
A future that became more present when I discovered that Save On Meats closes at 7pm. It seems like a style for late night munching, but apparently that is not to be.
On the stroll back towards home I thought about going to Chopped Leaf where I could get a nice salad. But then I recalled my idea and decided I couldn’t go to a place I’ve been before.
So tonight I ate at Hüngry Guys. (The umlaut makes it cool.) I got an acceptable, if forgettable, burrito. It looks a little too easy to get cilantro in your meal though. I would say it filled a void and that is about it.

Lack of social activity

I’m not happy with myself lately.
I live alone in Vancouver. My fiancé lives in Houston and is trying to recover from the disaster of Harvey. So she will not be coming soon. In 2016 I saw her lots. This year I think I’ve seen her for a total of five weeks. I talk with her everyday, but it isn’t the same.
Being in a long distance relationship is putting me in a bad position. The fact that I’ve moved here from Edmonton has made it worse.
In Edmonton, I had friends and a social network. I saw them a couple of times a week.
Since I’ve moved, I don’t go out. I don’t see anyone outside of work. Since I have a fiancé, I even have an excuse to not go out to bars that I never wanted to go to in the first place. I am becoming a hermit. With the new running program, I don’t even have the run group I used to see on Wednesday and Sunday. It wasn’t much but it was something.
I’ve lost all social outlets.
And with it, my social graces. When my family visited last weekend, I was not great. I don’t know if I was tired or stressed, but I was not in a good mood and I took it out on them at times. I did the actions to give them a good time, but my personality prevented them from truly enjoying it.
Part of me thinks it is because I haven’t seen them in so long that I am not used to my mother getting old. I think of her as having as much energy as I do and expected her to keep up with me. But let’s be honest, I’m a bad person to be around now.
I’d like to be better, but I don’t feel motivated to socialize.
And even if my fiancé comes back, forcing me to accommodate someone else in my life, I fear the damage has been done. This apartment is feeling like my place, and not our place. She will be a guest in my house. It won’t be her home. And I’ll have gotten stuck in my rut, and will be resentful of anyone trying to change it.
Hopefully acknowledging the problem will help stop it from getting worse.

Weekend Visit

This weekend my mother and sister came to visit me in Vancouver. So “Operation: Exhaustion” began on Friday night.
I picked them up from the airport and immediately took them out to sushi. They were tired after the flight so I let them go to bed afterwards.
On Saturday, I did my morning run and then grabbed a dozen fresh croissants for them to have for breakfast. Then we used the Aquabus to go to Granville Island. Apparently dogs travel for free as someone brought four dogs the size of great Danes onboard. We hit the Public Market first. It is an interesting place to go, but it is crowded and the fruits there are too expensive. I don’t think we actually purchased anything. We then wandered around the island for a bit.
In the children’s section, my sister convinced me to do the 3D virtual reality simulator together. Two roller-coasters. The first roller-coaster experience was the best; you went on a track that clearly did not have enough support and whirled through simulacrum of famous monuments; the Statue of Liberty was much more endowed than usual. The second experience was very similar to “The Beast” that I rode at the fairgrounds a couple of months ago. The scenery didn’t change much so it wasn’t as entertaining. But it did bring me back to memories of the Beast, which made it more scary. But the interesting part was that if you closed your eyes, you realized that there were no G-forces at work and your chair was just shaking a bit. The visual element is very necessary.
We then took the Aquabus back and I took them to “Provence Marineside” for a classy lunch. I let them take a nap, and then we went off to Sunset Beach for some ocean. My mother enjoyed herself, but she felt that the boats that were leaving through False Creek were making it smelly.
For dinner I took them to “Legendary Noodle” and they REALLY enjoyed that. My mother doesn’t even like pasta. She got some dumplings and declared them the best she had had ever had.
On Sunday, we drove to Third Beach in Stanley Park. I left them to enjoy the water while I did my morning run, in the forest for a change. That helped a lot on such a hot day. I then changed and joined them in the water where my sister and I swam out to the buoy and then back.
From there we crossed the Lionsgate Bridge and drove towards Squamish. We didn’t get there and stopped off at Horseshoe Bay where we had a lunch at a fish and chips place. Then we watched the water in the harbour and saw the ferries leave. We drove a bit more around the area to see some sights. I would like to try and get to Squamish one day, but I will need companions with more energy. I took them home and we watched a movie before going to dinner at “The Flying Pig”. They have a great pork roast on Sundays.
On Monday, we took it more easy. I ran in the morning and then we went to a waffle place for breakfast. “Le Petite Belge” was higher rated, but the waffles were too light. I think I preferred “Waffle Bant” which isn’t reviewed with high marks. We investigated a mall that would be air conditioned, ate lunch, and then went to the cruise ship terminal. There was a Disney Cruise Line ship there. It was enormous. You don’t really grasp how big those ships are until you walk next to them. We relaxed in the area for awhile and then returned home to watch another movie. Then the public demanded that we go back to “Legendary Noodle” for another dinner.
From there we watched the sunset on the beach.
This morning I put them on the subway to the airport and they got home safely.

Eclipse Day

There are not more impressive stellar phenomena in my opinion. (Other than ones that end civilization.) Unfortunately, it requires a full solar eclipse. A partial doesn’t cut it. With a full, the sun is completely gone, and I am lucky to have experienced that in Winnipeg in 1979. 38 years ago. I barely remember it. I certainly don’t remember wearing special glasses.
With a partial, the sun does not look any different. It is still the big glowing ball of fire in the sky. Only with special glasses can you directly see that anything is different. Indirectly, you can see that the things around you aren’t lit up as much as usual. It has all the appearances of early dusk, but the sun is still high in the sky.
I had thought about making a run for the border and going to Oregon to see the full Monty. But I kept hearing about the crowds of people thinking the same. There is no way I would have found a place to stay. And the traffic back would have been obscene. So I stayed in Vancouver, and did my job. Not very exciting, but that is what is needed to keep the world going.
But it was a nice experience to go to the roof of work, borrow glasses and pinhole cameras and see that there was something funny going on with the sun.

Running Thoughts

My knee has been hurting since I moved to Vancouver. It may have happened when lifting heavy boxes during the move. Or it may have happened when I had to jerk out of the way of a caterpillar drifting down into my run path. I’ve tried numerous strategies to get it to feel better. I tried giving up running for a month or so during the “winter” but it didn’t seem to help.
When I finally got my BC Health in order, I went to a physical therapist. Luckily, he didn’t seem to discourage me from running. He gave me exercises to do. It helped a bit, but my knee still hurts.
Yesterday he decided that more drastic actions needed to be taken. Well, drastic from my perspective.
Instead of my 2-3 runs a week, I need to run every day. However, my distance is now capped at 5km. I can increase by 10% every week though.
The plan is that by doing a reasonable amount consistently, my body can get used to running and still do the healing. Activity does help the process. Too much activity or no activity hurts the process.
I think he decided to do this to me because I ran 33km on Sunday.
So, today I started trying to run every day. Before breakfast I went out and hit the pavement. My big problem is that there aren’t that many options around here for 5km routes. That really is true of any place though; 5km is not enough distance to have variety. But I do have options, mostly seawall based.
I’m going to try and keep this going by giving myself the challenge to find something interesting to see each day. I’ve been practicing this for awhile, but I haven’t written down or spoken of what I’ve seen or done. That changes today.
It started off well. I think I ran through the set of Deadpool 2. I can’t be sure, but the overturned car and rubble did paint a picture.

Gold Creek

Yesterday I performed a successful vacation for Steph. Remember, I only consider it a success if the recipient is totally exhausted by the end.
I did let us sleep in, and took people out for Belgian Waffles at a cozy place near the library. Although we had bubble waffles, so not technically Belgian, but I think these were better.
After that, we drove off to Golden Ears park for a hike. I chose this one because it did not involve a mountain. As much as I like those, with the haze from the fires, the view would not be worth the effort to climb higher. And if you are already dealing with oxygen deprivation, particulate matter will not help. So, with that and the heat, I concentrated on a hike that stayed within the trees next to Gold Creek.
We started at Gold Creek parking lot and found a park ranger to pump for information. He confirmed our plan to start with the West Canyon trail.
I had a map, but it was a little confusing for me. I’m so used to ultramarathon distances with a scale that lets you run for days; it felt wrong to be walking and seeing landmarks come quickly. it also, unfortunately, did not indicate elevation. The park ranger was young, so I think his description of it being a flat trail was borne of youth and not experience.
It wasn’t too bad until we followed his recommendation to go down to the Lower Falls. It was beautiful, and worth the trip, and a great place to have a lunch. But afterwards we had to climb back to where we were, and then keep going up around Edge Peak. It culminated at a point-of-interest called the “Gold Creek Lookout”. After that it was downhill, to the aforementioned creek where we crossed a bridge to the other side.
Due to scheduling and lack-of-motivations for ascending more, we didn’t go to Alder Flats. Maybe next time.
The trip back, starting on East Canyon trail, on the other side had one hill, and then we went down to the Lower Falls on the other side. Still beautiful. There were lots of people there swimming or jumping off rocks. Steph was not pleased about that.
After that we took the Lower Falls Trail back to the parking lot. It was flat, and people were tired by then. Conversation was almost non-existent. In all it was about 12.5km of hiking, taking around six hours.
We then drove Steph to the airport where she had a safe flight home.

Widgeon Falls

We were supposed to go to Well Grey Park in the interior, but the heat and smoke from B.C. burning made us decide to stay in the lower mainland. It was a good choice because parts of the park got closed off due to the threat of more fire. We still wanted to do outdoor activities, so on the advice of a coworker, we went to Widgeon falls yesterday.
It involved getting up earlier than any sane person just so that we could get to Pitt Lake in time to rent a canoe. I would like to say it was a beautiful day, and it may have been, but the smoke was making everything hazy. It felt like we were going through a fog on the drive there. We had to get there early before all the canoes were gone, and even through we got there three minutes after they opened, there was already a line. Steph and Catalina took the opportunity to go blackberry picking while I waited in line. They were still somewhat tart.
Catalina and I paddled, while Steph acted as ballast. She had the important job of taking pictures, which is a very valuable service. We crossed the Pitt river towards Widgeon creek, and I think we encountered a sea lion on the way. It may have been an otter, which would have been more plausible, but I don’t think otters get that big.
Widgeon creek’s mouth was through a marsh. We took our time so we could avoid the crowds of other canoes. (Including one who had installed an electric motor to their’s.) The canoe rental place seemed specifically designed for this route. We followed the twists and turns and it was thoroughly enjoyable. We saw a lot of herons, and I think some were posing for us. The haze from the fire meant the mountains weren’t as visible, and prevented any postcard picture opportunities. But the haze also gave some nice depths to the mountains we saw.
After an hour and half of paddling through the creek, with the way getting shallower and tighter all the time, we came upon the campsite that was our destination. We dragged our canoe out of the water and continued on the trail on foot.
It was a beautiful hike, of a bit more than three kiometers. Mossy trees and so much green. The orange sun from the smoke was actually making everything look more vibrant than ever. Especially when the light came through the trees.
At one point there was a lovely view of the river, and some people had set up their chairs there. Oddly, one was reading a 2nd edition D&D manual, preparing for the game.
We eventually got to the falls. They were beautiful. Loads of people though. I would like to come on a weekday when there aren’t as many, but it was big enough that it didn’t feel too crowded. It did make the photos less glorious because there was always someone in the view.
We ate our lunch of Subway sandwiches, then soaked in the cold water for awhile. We didn’t go in far because there was a big current that wanted to push you. From that we found someone’s prescription sunglasses. We did not find the owner though.
Eventually, we had to head back.
We stopped off again at the D&D clearing for a snack break. I decided, with encouragement, to try swimming in the area. There weren’t any people, and it looked calm and deep. It was a little difficult to enter, but it felt so refreshing. The water was so clear it was hard to judge where it was.
When we got back to the canoe and started paddling back, we discovered the effect of being on a tidal lake. According to Wikipedia, there is a three foot tidal range on the lake. And from our experience, that included Widgeon creek. Where before we easily guided our canoe through the water, now the water was almost gone. I had to get out and pull the canoe about four times. At one point the water was only a small trickle that was the the equivalent of a garden hose. Widgeon Falls water spreads out in the marsh and it doesn’t all go through the same creek we were using.
We were back around 5:30, and drove home. We stopped off at a couple of places to buy fresh produce. Purchased blackberries were a lot sweeter. Did you know you can get 10lbs of blueberries for $20? I do now. Also, Siri could do better with directions.
In celebration, we went to the Keg for dinner and then went out to see the fireworks from the Burrard bridge.

Party Weekend

It has been a wild weekend that, of course, I’m only now writing about it. Since what-happens-in-the-weekend-stays-in-the-weekend I will spare you some of the details. Needless to say, a bunch of friends from out of town were here and there was a lot of late night partying.
On Saturday, a couple of us went to a beach. We discovered that a beach (Sunset Beach) that is nearer to where I live is not as busy as I suspected. I usually go to Third Beach. In addition, the water is clearer. Unfortunately, I applied sunscreen before I went into the water, and a lot of it came off. So, while I enjoyed sunning myself in the pleasant summer sun, I paid for it later. We were able to get Catalina in up to her neck; that is a major accomplishment.
On Sunday, the highlight was going on a boat cruise. I enjoy expeditions where it is enforced that if you aren’t there on time, we leave without you. Even it means watching a friend from Edmonton, literally, miss the boat by one metre. It was really warm while we were in the harbour, but once we got going the breeze off the sea was very pleasant. And it is a nice change to see Vancouver from a different angle.
The boat went out into English Bay and went around a few of the big cargo ships before heading back. It was only a three hour cruise. (Ominous.) The view was great and with the haze from the fires, the mountains looked spectacular. The smoke is really coming in these days, so I can’t see the mountains any more.
On Monday, I took the day off and we went to Wreck Beach. Famous for various reasons. The place was rather crowded, but a nice atmosphere. Except for the one drunk guy who decided to yell at all of his friends. For hours. It was also thick with hippies. Some friends specifically moved their blanket because they couldn’t stand one that was playing his guitar constantly. I didn’t hear it, so I suspect he wasn’t as good as he thought he was.
The water was nice and I was able to get Catalina in again, and she even went underwater.
We stayed late enough that we even got to see the sun set. It was beautiful. I’ve been spoiled by Winnipeg though; say what you will about Manitoba, but it has had the best sunsets ever. The puffy clouds make them gorgeous, and the sea has yet to compare.

Playland

My company had a summer party at Playland today. That is a permanent amusement park in Vancouver. I hadn’t been to one in over a decade; I think I went to K-days once, but I don’t recall going on any rides. I didn’t think Edmonton had a permanent amusement park until someone pointed out West Edmonton Mall.
In any case, the company was allowed to go in an hour before general admission, so there would be no lineups. This would be a huge opportunity, so I shouldn’t waste it.
I did research beforehand to try and figure out the rides I should go on. Watch some videos, read some reviews. That was a mistake. All it did was make me realize that I don’t like thrill rides. I was getting anxiety attacks. Thankfully I forgot most of it by the time I got to the park. (Hey, I used the Vancouver bus system for the first time since I moved here.)
It was a great day to go. It was cloudy with a constant threat of a light rain. So the park would not be too crowded. It sprinkled a few times, but nothing bad.
When I got into the park, I said hello to the director. I asked her what ride she would recommend: The Beast. Great! No lineups; near the entrance; I was on it before I had a chance to see what it was really like. If I had seen it in operation I would probably have never gotten near it.
This is a ride that I feel was saying “Where are your laws of physics now?” You aren’t supposed to accelerate upwards when swinging on a pendulum. I spent most of the time concentrating on breathing without hyper-ventilating.
Afterwards I followed a co-worker to The Corkscrew. Another ride I got on without actually paying attention to it. It was a roller coaster; how bad could it be? In fact, while it was climbing up the lift hill I was looking back at The Beast, wondering how I got on that. So I didn’t notice how high we were going. And that I was going to be upside down until I was about to be. But a roller coaster feels safer because you feel solidly connected to something, and if you are weightless, there is something beneath you. Heck, we went on twice in a row.
With that, we went to the Atmosfear. Once again I wasn’t paying attention; I was following someone I knew. It was just one of those rides where you are in hanging chairs and it spins everyone in a circle. Basically a faster merry-go-round where you are suspended by chains. It was only when it was too late that I noticed that we were going up higher than I expected. Yes, the tall tower it was attached to didn’t really click in. (Who really looks up?) The worst part is that you cannot grab tightly onto something solid; you are attached by chains. This time I got through it by just focused on the ground.
I think that I didn’t sleep enough the night before because I was not paying attention to what I was doing.
The final ride I went on was the Wooden Roller Coaster. Roller coasters seem to be about the level I can handle. The rickety wooden ones make it a rougher ride though. The hills were sharp, and I made the mistake of trying to force myself to stay in my seat. It tensed me up and I think I got a bit of whiplash at one point. You aren’t going to fly out, so relaxing is better.
That was my last thrill ride. I woke up enough by then to stop myself from doing dumb things. I only went on the ferris wheel to calm down.
I did notice that the rides are the same as everywhere. I have seen these exact same rides in other cities, in other countries, in other continents. It makes sense; if you are a manufacturer of amusement park rides, you would design a good ride and sell it multiple times. Economies of scale. But I’ve even seen these same ones in traveling shows. I think the wooden roller coaster is the only unique one. (Oldest one in Canada.) You can also figure out how old the rides are by how they are advertised. I’m pretty sure the one covered in breakdancers is from the ’80’s. The one featuring Baywatch is probably from the ’90’s.
They also have the idea of gateway rides. These are rides that are mini-versions of the main attractions. So little kids can get used to them before going on the big ones. It’s a good idea.
There was a barbecue afterwards, then I had some cotton candy and a candy apple before I decided to walk home.

Chinese Lemon Chicken

I’ve gotten lax in my cooking skills. I have a series of recipes I follow and I haven’t added to my repertoire in awhile. So last weekend I worked on improving that.
The biggest problem is trying to figure out something I want to eat. It’s like going to a restaurant I’ve been to before. I know what I like so I constantly order the same thing. Why risk an experiment? Eventually though you should see if you like something else.
Going to restaurants actually gives you an idea of other things you may like so it is a good source of inspiration.
On Sunday, my inspiration was Chinese lemon chicken.
Online I found a few recipes. A key ingredient needed was lemon curd. I was not properly organized for this; if I had researched a bit harder, I would have probably been able to find it in a grocery store, among the jams. But, I found a recipe that seemed good. So, with my big bag of lemons I spent about an hour making the lemon curd. The recipe claims it will take 15 minutes, but I think that is if you have some minion who has prepped all the ingredients for you already.
Truth be told, it tastes a lot like lemon meringue pie. Which it probably is.
The next time I make it, I think I will use less sugar to make it more tart. And less pie-like.
The recipe for the actual Chinese lemon chicken was from the same site. The advantage of this one, was that it didn’t need to be deep fried. I was actually thinking I would be able to use my Actifry to do the frying without using enormous amounts of oil, but it looks like I didn’t have to.
The end result was a good meal, but it wasn’t exactly as I wanted. The chicken was not crispy. Not surprising, since it was stir-fried instead of deep. ”Jeanette” has a way to make crispy chicken in an Actifry so I may experiment next time with that method. In the meantime, I still have about a litre of lemon curd still, so the hard part is already done.

Tubing

On Saturday, I was in Edmonton, visiting friends, and we decided to go to Pembina River Tubing. Great idea!
My advice:

  • Bring Beth along. Her willingness is optional, but you must bring her. She has river rafts that are much nicer than the ones rented by the company. And apparently, they cost as much to buy as it was to rent the small tubes that you would normally ride around in.
  • Bring two cars. The bus that the company uses to ferry people is often crowded with lines, and you have to sign a waiver to use it. Which means you have to wait in line with all the other plebs. It is better to leave a car waiting for you at the end to ferry you and your friends back to the start.
  • Bring food. It is great to just float on the river, munching away.

Looking at this advice, it seems designed to prevent giving the company any money.
In any case, it was one of the hottest days of the year. If I had gone with the original plan, I would have been running the Sinister 7 instead. That plan was abandoned months ago when I just wasn’t training enough. It seems to have worked out for me.
I wish I could have taken pictures, but it was on the water. I wouldn’t have trusted a camera to survive.

Post Canada Day

On Canada Day I did absolutely nothing. Didn’t see fireworks. Didn’t have pancake breakfasts. It was wonderful.
The previous day I did do a lot of something; I drove from Vancouver back to Alberta. I had barely driven my car in the last nine months, never needing to fill it up with gas, and suddenly I do a road trip where I need to fill it up twice. I did a half day at work and then began driving at around noon.
I started out nervous as I was worried I wouldn’t have enough gas to get out of Vancouver proper and to where gas is cheaper (they have some added gas tax in the city.) But I got to Abbotsford successfully and my stress dropped.
I knew I would be having a difficult drive with the long weekend traffic, but I forgot about how bad Vancouver drivers are at driving. They have a great mass-transit system and wonderful bike trails, so they never have any experience when they actually have to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. This was never more evident than on the road to Hope.
It took about three hours to get the 153 km there. I kept getting stopped in traffic jams. And every time, the road was completely clear. Usually there was a single car, pulled off to the side, representing the initial cause of the jam, and fast movement afterwards. I’m guessing that a car not moving scares the Vancouver people and they slow down in panic.
The last jam had a camper trailer upside down on the side of the road. That didn’t look healthy, but there were people removing furniture from the inside, so I guess no one got hurt. But after the long jam that led to it, there was clear sailing for the rest of the trip.
I was able to get all the way to Revelstoke before I stopped. I have a mixed relationship with that town. I know, from experience, that it has the highest gas prices on the route, but it is also conveniently located for stopping for a meal and gas.
The rest of the way to Priddis was without incident, except that my iPhone ran out of power and I couldn’t listen to my stories anymore. That also causes additional worry; I know the route to drive, but if you are unsure there is no way to check. Do you think I have a paper map in my car anymore?

Anniversary

Today is a bit of an anniversary. It was nine months ago that I first moved to Vancouver. It is hard to believe that I’ve been here that long.
My job has been getting better. There was a steep learning curve when I first arrived, but I’ve been getting more proficient with the language, the product and the architecture. I actually feel productive on most days. My development is also a lot more old school. In previous jobs we had a lot of tools to help make programming easier; the computer could give lots of hints to help you along the way. Now I’m developing without any of those tools. And learning a lot more Unix command line.
My running has certainly not improved. Since I arrived my left knee has been bothering me. I didn’t see a doctor about it because it took me a long time to get BC health to acknowledge me. I’m now seeing a physical therapist and doing some exercises. I’m running more often, because the therapist recommends it; running only twice a week meant my body got shocked when I did run. I’ve added two 5km runs to my weekly schedule. I’m also doing more barefoot/Vibram running now, because it forces me to do a more forefoot strike, which will be easier on my knee. I would like to try and do the Grouse Grind again. (Nature’s stair master.)
I’m continuing to enjoy downtown living. I would like to own some real-estate here so I can get on the property bubble, but I’m learning that the landed gentry does not like newcomers. Also, no one owns downtown; they all have to rent. Too expensive. Generally, if you want to make conversation with anyone in Vancouver, talk about real estate prices. It’s the same as other provinces talking about the weather.
Because I live downtown, I have barely used my car. I have taken it for servicing more often than I’ve filled it up with gas. Mainly because I haven’t needed to fill it up yet. And I needed to get an out-of-province inspection to use it here. It is in for servicing right now because I’m planning to take a road trip to visit family next week, so I thought I better make sure it still runs.
The big thing I miss is my social support network. I only have a few friends, and they are all ones that previously lived in Edmonton. I have co-workers that I have lunch with, but that is about it. I have a run group, but not really anyone I see often. Due to how this city is setup, my friends all live far away, so I don’t see them that often. I miss having a social gathering twice a week; friday feast and movie night.
I need to do more to connect with the friends I left in Edmonton.

Third Beach

The day after the lovely mountain hike, we went for a walk to Stanley park. And here is where I got to do something that I couldn’t do in Edmonton: We went to the beach. By foot.
Of course, on a beautiful holiday Monday, the beach was packed with people. Fortunately, it was Third Beach, the furthest from downtown. So, it was possible to get a small patch of beach to put our stuff. Then I did my standard practice of changing under a towel, and I was ready.
The water was cold, but not nearly as cold as the lake the previous day. My feet did not go numb. And after awhile, I got used to it enough that I could actually go swimming.
Really, this beach was better than some I’ve gone to in the Caribbean. It was sandy, and there weren’t sharp rocks in the water. It wasn’t as warm as a tropical beach, but I’m Canadian and that doesn’t bother me.
I will see if I can go again. I’m also intrigued by “Wreck Beach” which I’m told has more privacy.

Sendero Diez Vistas

It is a beautiful long weekend in Vancouver. Additionally, it is the first nice days here in months.
Now that I have someone to hang out with again, we decided to go do a hike. There is a website called Vancouver Trails that describes all sorts of hiking trails in the area. They even, conveniently, had a blog entry on May Long Weekend Hikes. Great!
So, I decided we should do the Sendero Diez Vistas trail. As advertised, it should have great views. It was only an hour away, which made it the furthest I’ve driven in Vancouver since I arrived. I think I might be coming close to the time where I need to fill my car up with more gas. But I think I can survive another month. That would make it nine months since I arrived.
The trail is around Buntzen Lake, which is managed by BC Hydro. It’s technically a reservoir. Unfortunately it is also a popular beach. Going into the park was a bit of a conga line of cars. As soon as I saw the overflow parking, I ducked in and found/made a parking spot for myself. I figured the main lot would be impossible, and we weren’t even heading in that direction. Once we started, it did take us a bit of time and wrong direction to find the trail head.
We crossed a floating bridge in a marshy area and then started climbing up. That wasn’t too bad. I don’t mind upward climbs, but they do have an unfortunate after-effect known as the downward climb/plummet. It took about an hour and twenty minutes to get to the first view, and it was glorious. I don’t think I got good pictures from any view; it was very bright with some hazy clouds. Not conducive to good photography. They still look impressive.
Two hours in we got to the second view, and it was packed with dozens of people. The problem with the view points was that it caused people to bunch together. We still got a nice spot to sit and eat lunch and watch. This was the best view of the whole trip with views of all of Vancouver, far in the distance. You could almost see all of Stanley park, but the tip was hidden by the foothills of Mount Seymour. The ocean inlet of Indian Arm was there to see.
Five minutes after leaving, there was another view point, with no people. I guess everyone had stopped for lunch at the previous because it had been the first spot after a long time. If we had kept going, we would have had more privacy.
After that, we continued along. The views were never quite as good. And some were just not there anymore because the trees had decided that they deserved to see it more than the hikers. When we got more into the forest it was another level of beauty. I liked seeing the moss covered rock walls and undulating terrain. It looked like a great place for a fashion shoot, but I would not want to have to deal with trying to get diva-like models up there.
Of course the downhill came. Steep too. I had not brought poles, but I should have. It wasn’t a serious problem not having them, but it did not help my injured knee. But if I paid attention to my injured I probably wouldn’t have even gone out.
Towards the north end, the hills stopped and we turned back to the lake. We rested at a pumping house and ate again before continuing. After we crossed a suspension bridge we got to North Beach. I had prepared for this; hauling swimsuit and towel with me the entire way. This beach was a five kilometre hike from anything, so it wasn’t crowded, although there were people. (And a pushy goose.) I thought it would be nice to take a swim there to refresh. Ha ha. After testing the waters out with a quick wade, I was reminded that I live in Canada where the lakes are begat by glaciers. It was refreshing to wade for half a minute, but that was it.
The rest of the hike back to south beach was easy. We passed over a tunnel that had been dug to Coquitlam lake that was responsible for filling the reservoir and giving the power generators their water.
South beach was still filled with a lot of people. They had a nice fenced in area where dogs were allowed to play off-leash and get into the lake. I accidentally let two escape.
Since we only had one kilometre to get to the car, I changed into my swimsuit and got into the water. I was, surprisingly, able to get Catalina in as well. Up past her knees too. The freezing cold water was good for our joints after the hike. I did do my best to impress her by doing a bit of swimming. Refreshing!
After that, a quick walk back to the car and home. The initial plan had been to go out for a nice steak dinner, but pizza seemed like a better idea when we got home.

Uncharted Atlas

I discovered a new website that is doing random maps. The highlight is a twitter channel that has a new map every hour. And I must say, they look very nice. Martin O’Leary has even given the source code for his algorithms. I am now going to have to go through them and discover what he is doing.
It has already given me some ideas. In my maps, I use a grid for everything. He is using polygons. I can see advantages of both methods. I’ve been having some doubts about my grid system, but I’m thinking of a combination of the two.
With 3D graphics and video cards these days, I am probably not shackled to the tyranny of the grid anymore.
Martin is doing a good job of generating rivers and I want to look at how he is doing water flow. I’ve been planning a good method, but a brief look over his tutorial, and I find he is dropping the names of some algorithms I should know more about.
My biggest issue with his maps is that he treats sea level as the end result. Look at this:

There is a big lake, but it doesn’t have an outflow to the ocean. He is probably stopping all water flow as soon as it hits sea level. And that helps with quickly generating everything. But in reality there are freshwater lakes that have a depth that puts their bottoms below sea level. Those lakes still have outflows to the ocean, but their surface is well above sea level.

Actually, looking at his maps, there are no lakes at all. This is the closest:

They still feel like they are just another set of sea level lakes.

Two stories, connected

A long time ago, back in my days growing up in Winnipeg, I purchased a game called Pax Imperia. It was a 4X game devoted to taking over the galaxy. What was cool about it was the level of detail in ship design. You could tweak the design of weapons, shields, and engines in very specific ways.
One of my proudest achievements in the game was that I could design weapons that were very good at maximum range and utterly useless at short range. I then put it on ships with very good speed. This was a devastating combination. Enemy ships would try to move to a closer range, and I would do my best to keep just the right distance between us. My weapons would rip them to shreds, while their close-combat weapons would never get the chance.
The fact that the empty spaces between stars were not just something you pass through, but a place you could send ships helped with this. I could choose to approach enemy stars in the form of a phalanx of ships. I was unstoppable.
This strategy collapsed when my ships were in an enemy star system and they suddenly built new ships. These ships appeared within the dead spot of my weapons. I couldn’t move away fast enough and my ships were destroyed. It was still a good strategy.
I’m sorry I never finished the game. There were other problems with it such that it didn’t keep my interest. That, and I had school.

Last Christmas, I was exploring the USS Lexington and saw the scale model of the “Dreadnought”. I did research on this ship afterwards. It was a major innovation in battleships, and all ships afterwards were referred to as Dreadnoughts. It brought a lot of new ideas to ship combat. A key point was the “All-big-gun” idea. Previously, battleships would have a range of weapons for varying distances. This was in keeping with the prevailing theory of naval combat that battles would initially be fought at some distance, but the ships would then approach to close range for the final blows, when the shorter-range, faster-firing guns would prove most useful.
The innovation was to just use big guns, which were easier to target and did more damage. Battleships never seemed to get into close combat, so focus on doing what you are good at.
That sounds familiar.
So, I’m a little proud of myself. I had, independently, figured out the same idea that changed modern warfare forever.

Ghost in the Shell

Last night I saw the movie Ghost in the Shell. I went in with a poor attitude because of all of the reviews I had been hearing.
I thought it was a very good movie. I’ve seen the original, although I’ve forgotten many of the details. And this is Hollywood doing what Hollywood is very good at; they dumbed it down for the North American audience. This is not a bad thing. With many Japanese Anime movies I’ve seen, I’m often left with the question as to what was going on. I still have no idea what happened at the end of Princess Mononoke, and don’t even get me started on Akira. This movie, I could follow what was going on. It made sense.
They had good action scenes, but they also knew when to not show the action, but just the aftermath. It’s a nice touch, especially when you can get zoned out with too much violence.
I have two complaints. First, the villain was too villainous. He did evil things for very shallow reasons. At times it seemed he was doing things just because he was a villain and did not have a practical reason. The second is that they didn’t have to be so faithful to the original; I did not care for the fact that there were huge holographic displays the size of buildings all over the city. They did not add to the story, and I kept thinking about how they were going to cause distracted driving accidents. Especially when a holographic fish the size of a minivan is apparently allowed to swim into traffic. (And don’t say self-driving cars when you see characters holding steering wheels as they are in the vehicles.)
I don’t feel it was whitewashed. Scarlett Johansson was a very good actress, and she was able to do things that made it feel she wasn’t quite human; she looked odd, the way she held herself. And if you are creating an artificial body for someone, wouldn’t you make them look like one of the most beautiful people in the world? Heck, if I was given the option to look like Scarlett Johansson, I’d probably take it.
The one thing I’ve now discovered in Vancouver is that you have to be careful about discussing a movie while in the theatre. You may discover that you are being overheard by someone who actually worked on the film.

Running Again

Today I ran the furthest I have in over a year. Due to injuries that keep happening, I haven’t had a distance that is comparable to a marathon in quite some time. While it has been nice to do short runs that don’t ruin an entire weekend, there is something missing in my life. But today I had had enough. My broken toe is better and the Running Room group was doing 29km.
It was also beautiful weather. We finally had some blue sky. Towards the middle part, after climbing enough hills, I was given great views of the surrounding mountains. With all the rain here, I hadn’t seem them in so long I forgot this place even had them.
I also saw a fairly impressive car crash. It happened right in front of me. Hard enough that a minivan got shoved sideways through a stop sign and into the bushes. I’m really going to double-down on my theory that the people here can’t drive. There was no blood and no need for medical evacuation, but those vehicles are not going anywhere soon.
And I got to end the morning by hitting a croissant place and grabbing a bunch for an after-run snack.

Lack of Catalina

Today was the day that Catalina was supposed to arrive back in Vancouver.
Unfortunately, life happened. Her job needed her to stay in Houston for a bit longer.
I have known of this development for about a week now. Initially I was upset, but that passed. Actually, I think what irritated me the most is that a plan was made and agreed upon, and then it wasn’t. That might be my autistic tendencies rearing their ugly head. I was not excited about Catalina coming, so I had no emotional skin in the game.
And for the record, that is not as horrible as it sounds. I do not get excited about anything. I look forward to things and anticipate their arrival, but excitement is not an emotion that I am familiar with.
After the initial upset-ness had passed, I’ve just been trying to be supportive of her. It’s not her fault and it would do no one any good to make things harder for her.