Archive for March, 2006

Take that, UPS and FedEx!

The Letter CarrierThere are two kinds of Canadians who have stuff shipped to them from the US: those who have been burned by exorbitant customs brokerage fees, and those who are about to be. Fortunately, there are some easy solutions.
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I never had the chance…

No More HarbourLynx (link to News1130’s site)

I always wanted to hop on that cute little ferry and go to the island – not specifically for Nanaimo, but just for the ride on the cute little passenger ferry. Sadly, it looks like I’ve lost that opportunity, as they’ve failed to submit a proposal within a required deadline. I guess no one had any good ideas about how to make people visit Nanaimo. The Harbourlynx Website is still saying they’re out of service due to engine failure.

I suppose engine failure can be another way to say bankruptcy. Or maybe they’re just bankrupt because the engine failed. Poor little ferry that couldn’t.

Alarmed

DSC_1222The Vancouver Sun reports a new anti-vandalism system which employs motion detectors and water sprinklers to make loitering too close to school buildings after hours a soggy experience.

It’s a whole new twist on security systems.

First there were the audible alarms, intended to draw attention to nefarious activity. Unfortunately (to which the constant wail of car alarms in many parking areas attests) most people don’t pay much attention to these systems, so along came the silent alarm, meant to work as a deterrent to thieves and vandals who never really know whether the police will arrive at any moment.

To improve upon the waning deterrent effect of silent alarms, companies like AlarmForce have entered the realm of the interactive alarm systems, which include two-way intercom communication with an alarm operator, a discussion something to the effect of “Stop! Identify yourself!” if the ads are any indication (ads which, incidentally, are some of the most obnoxious commercials currently on the radio — if their alarm systems are half as irritating as their radio ads, they must be pretty effective).

But the new sprinkler system kind of goes the other direction: rather than deter vandals outright, or threaten them directly, just annoy people until they go away on their own. It has a certain passive aggressive beauty to it, you have to admit.

I wonder if the potential vandals even realize they’re dealing with an intrusion prevention system, or if they simply curse their luck at somehow always arriving to do their work at precisely the same time that the automatic flowerbed sprinklers turn on.

“Man, this school’s sprinklers are really a pain in the ass. Let’s go spraypaint your mom’s house instead.”

“Cool, man. Sounds good to me.”

After Eight: not a very fair review

So my lovely bride and I went out for dessert last week. We hit up “After Eight,” a dessert-oriented spot on the eastern fringes of Burnaby Heights. Is it fair for me to post a pretty unbalanced opinion of the place based on one visit and without properly sampling the menu?

Then I remembered: fair is for newspapers.
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SkyTrain Goes Podcast

Downtown, from the Nanaimo station

According to the Vancouver Sun, Translink has proposed a new initiative to promote the SkyTrain as a tourist attraction by renting out headsets with a guided narration of the trip from downtown out at least to New Westminster. Presumably the tour would highlight points of interest both natural and man-made, historical and current.

Before I moved to Vancouver, I ran across a website which recommended the SkyTrain as a great inexpensive way to see a lot of the city quickly, and it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. Adding some kind of official narration to the voyage strikes me as a logical next step.

I have to admit, I’d be pretty curious myself to check out the audio tour once it’s available.

I’m also curious whether anyone has attempted to do something like this as a roll-your-own podcast. There are plenty of good Vancouver walking tour podcasts available for download, but are there any train-riding audio tour recordings?

Are you following me?

Vancouver is often a smaller city than we suspect, as while out with my girlfriend eating Thai food I saw fellow Metbloggers Matt [mbv] and Maktaaq [mbv] exiting. We waved at each other, and then I explained who they were to the gf.

At that point she told me that she’d seen Maktaaq on the television, for some sort of promo for Port Moody or television or happiness or something I’m not quite clear on what it was. Which I don’t believe at all. Bloggers aren’t allowed on television it’s a media rule. That’s why Much Music had to stop playing Matthew Good’s videos, and then videos all music related programing.

On a tragic note we missed the 7:30 showing of V for Natalie Portman Bald and I didn’t get my Natalie Portman fix.

Persian Steel

PersianSteel.jpg

Another example of how you can’t judge a book by its cover, a visit to the Vancouver Museum with the intention of revisiting the No Place for a Lady exhibit, devoted to the world-wide travels of Western women during the 19th and early 20th centuries, instead became dominated by the new Persian Steel exhibit, a carefully annotated display of hundreds of Persian steel artifacts, collected by Iranian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli.

Perhaps I’m unusually fascinated by practical items as artwork, at least compared to people who may be more interested in strictly aesthetic pieces, but as I circled each display case, I found myself first guessing at each item’s purpose, confirming the accuracy of my guesses, and then reading in detail the particular quirks and points of interest about each.

The collection of items is diverse, including examples of such as:

  • daggers and axe blades
  • saddle components
  • hammers, files, chisels, and other construction implements (including the most beautiful anvil I’ve ever seen, and I know it sounds weird but you’d have to see it to believe it — if the coyote dropped one of these, the roadrunner would be charmed)
  • a miniature collection of hammers, files, chisels, and anvils for jewelry production
  • barber and surgeon implements (including some circumcision knives [shudder])
  • religious plaques and banners
  • dragon-shaped flint strikers (due to a strong association of fire production with the work of dragons, as it turns out)
  • and a fascinating assortment of padlocks, including some trick padlocks with hidden keyholes or multiple keys, along with some amusing animal-shaped padlocks
  • I’m sure I’m leaving some things out — there were so many things to see. In addition to the workmanship of the items themselves, the integration of Farsi and Arabic script (often passages from the Quran) into the decorative scrollwork and arabesques of the items made the writing almost invisible to anyone not looking for it, until pointed out by the exhibit captions, and proved to be another puzzle-like point of interest.

    Upon being herded out of the gallery at closing time, it occurred to me that I probably never would have bothered with the exhibit had I not stumbled into that particular gallery by accident, and I’m thankful that I did. The temptation to return to pick up a copy of the book of the exhibit is still a strong one.

    (Incidentally, the item displayed on the book cover artwork above is a surgical speculum. A great example of something practical turned into something beautiful.)

    Out on the town

    Been having too much fun, folks, with work in the midst of it. At least I return with recommendations….!
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    Ripe magazine

    Last thursday evening I attended the launch party at The Lamplighter for the current issue of Ripe Magazine. Ripe is a Vancouver-based project that began as a web publication to showcase the work of mostly BC-based, up and coming writers and photographers. This issue features, among others, the photography of Danny Singer, and Grace Gordon-Collins, with written work by David Mount, and (Beyond Robson’s) Degan Beley.

    It was interesting to have the opportunity at the launch party to chat with Rachel Boguski, Managing Editor of Ripe, and hear about the struggles of trying to develop a small publication. The magazine is a non-profit venture, and all work is done through the efforts of volunteers. The project is a labour of love for those involved, and they hope to build Ripe into something larger to showcase local talent to the world. Now isn’t that something worth supporting?

    For writers and photographers interested in submitting to the magazine, please see the guidlines. The current theme is “Break” and the deadline is April 7. There is a $10 fee for photographic submissions (and don’t give them any flack about it!) The magazine can be purchased for the price of $6.95 at Beau Photo, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Sophia Books among others. Check the website for the full list.

    Trying to find a drink on St. Patrick’s Day

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    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!, originally uploaded by progoddess.

    Vancouver is not a particularly Irish city, yet as the small group I was with moved from bar to bar last night looking for a table where we could sit down and talk over a few pints it became apparent that like pretty much every other city in the western world Vancouver likes to put on green and drink.

    It shouldn’t have been a surprise, most of our holidays have been turned into occasions to drink (New Year’s, Canada Day, Halloween, birthdays, weddings) so a holiday that at its core is about drinking and driving snakes out of Ireland, is bound to be popular.

    What that meant was the evening started by walking around and stopping at a selection of pubs and being told that the wait to get in would be more than an hour. Steamworks [sw] in Gastown was packed, the Lions Head by Waterfront station was busy and even a tiny pub attached to the Day’s Inn was spilling out into the streets.

    We spent about half an hour standing by the bar in the Earl’s on Burrard. Despite the fact that Lex Luthor was there [mr] the whole nightclub / steak house thing wasn’t doing it for me. Seeing Earl’s try to hip up it’s image and turn into one of those places you’d see Patrick Bateman doing coke in the bathroom [imdb] is a lot like watching your grandmother try to expose her midrift.

    By the end of the night we ended up breaking into smaller groups and I finally had a drink when I got a bellini at Milestones on Robson.

    The whole evening once again reaffirmed my belief that most holidays should be spent at home avoiding the crowds and lines.

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