Go East, Old Man

It will be inter­est­ing to see how this has changed since 2005

Well, I’m not quite old, yet, I hope, but I am going East, for about a week. Here’s the the plan: My fam­ily is hav­ing a reunion in Orlando, Florida next week­end, cel­e­brat­ing my Aunt’s Birth­day (suf­fice to say It’s a big one). In the week lead­ing up to that date, I’m going to visit some parts of the east­ern US that I haven’t seen since we left in 2005 (a year and 10 days ago, to be pre­cise). First stop is Dublin, New Hamp­shire, to visit The Walden School Sum­mer ses­sion. I’ll write more about this amaz­ing insti­tu­tion in my next entry. I’ll be vis­it­ing and hope­fully soak­ing in the cre­ative juices there from Tues­day through Wednes­day. On Thurs­day I’ll be in Boston, vis­it­ing our old neigh­bor­hood in Cam­bridge and look­ing up some some old friends. I have to admit that while I con­sider Van­cou­ver my home, we did live for 14 years in Cam­bridge, and since we’ve left, every once in a while I’ll do a lit­tle dig­i­tal sleep­walk using Google Maps Street View to our old court­yard and the other streets in the neigh­bor­hood. I know every crack in the side­walk between Hamp­shire Street and the Kendall Square T stop, or used to know, rather. I expect that I’ll be sur­prised at how things have changed. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to taste some Toscanini’s Ice Cream, or even an Emma’s Pizza or Kendall Brew­ery beer, but any and all of those will be nice to sam­ple once again, just to make sure that they are all as good as I remem­ber them. I’ll also have no chance to hear the BSO, or go to any con­cert, for that mat­ter. Per­haps a ‘cul­tural’ reunion is some­thing I’ll have to plan for another time. In the mean­time, 3 whirl­wind days in New Eng­land book­ended by flights all around North Amer­ica will be how my week goes. Let’s hope the heat wave has bro­ken before I get there.

Early Fri­day morn­ing I fly out of Logan (which I must admit I’m not look­ing for­ward to see­ing again — I hate that air­port — often called the worst in North Amer­ica — with a pas­sion and hope that some­day they will mer­ci­fully tear it down, but I’m not hold­ing my breath ) to Orlando, where Pam and I will join my par­ents, cousins and oth­ers in the Florida heat (although I sus­pect we’ll be in air-conditioning much of the time).

Power Success

Well, we’re back to the 20th cen­tury (we’ll get to the 21st in a few more days, I think). The power came back on at about mid­night last night. So far, the only per­ma­nent dam­age is a lot of spoilt food in the freezer and fridge. Most of the clocks have been reset (except for the Rice Cooker — who thought of putting one on that? Oh, right, some peo­ple set it in the morn­ing to cook rice for when they get home from work).
The com­puter seems 100%, but the TV is still dead. Actu­ally, it died a day or two before the power fail­ure, so it’s not related, as far as I can tell. Too bad that it didn’t mag­i­cally heal itself when the power returned.
The rea­son for the power not com­ing back in our build­ing (when it did for the rest of the area of South False Creek that was affected) was that our Main switch blew (and that is to say ‘sploded!) when the cur­rent started flow­ing again. With lit­tle or no com­mu­ni­ca­tion (some of the land­line phones were out as well) we relied on the old fash­ioned game of tele­phone. Rumours were run­ning ram­pant as we came and left the build­ing. “It was a huge rat that got torched.” said one neigh­bor. “It’ll be down for 4 or 5 days.” said another. I’m sur­prised we didn’t get sto­ries cir­cu­lat­ing of aliens or zom­bies in the Gen­er­a­tor room.
Hav­ing show­ered, shaven and reset most of the radios and clocks, etc. I now have to get to the task of throw­ing out all of the bad food. It could have been much worse; this week we had less left­overs than we usu­ally do in the fridge.
I still chuckle over the for­tune cookie (which I tweeted last night) that we got at the end of din­ner: NOW IS THE TIME TO DEPART FROM YOUR REGULAR ROUTINE. Yes, Mr. Cookie, it was indeed. Now, I’m just hop­ing to get back to some sem­blance of that rou­tine, if you don’t mind.

Lights Out

I was in the mid­dle of an email early yes­ter­day evening (about 7PM), when *poof* all the power went off. It wasn’t as much of a shock to me as it was to Pam, who was down­stairs in the base­ment stor­age room, but she was able to feel her way out in the total dark — emer­gency light­ing kicked in after a minute or so, just as I was mak­ing her way to get her, should she have become locked in. There was a Blue­berry Buckle in the oven (it’s off now, leav­ing the dessert about half-baked. I had already made a light din­ner of tuna salad and some hot rolls (which were, for­tu­nately, done).
I checked with BC Hydro peri­od­i­cally, and yes, they were work­ing on the out­age, which spanned about 6 streets (5th thru 11 or so), in roughly a 15 block area from Hem­lock Street to Yew or so (we are at the far­thest east­ern point of the out­age. The other side of Hem­lock to the east is fine — Doh!). They first posted that it was a cable prob­lem and would be fixed by 7 PM. Then the set it to 11 PM. Curi­ously, they said the out­age only affected 1100 res­i­dents, but since we know for a fact that there are 500 in our block of Hem­lock thru Granville, that num­ber is seri­ously out of whack.
We ate din­ner, located some can­dles and flash­lights, took a walk, got back and went to bed. Still no power. I checked again (although my phone was start­ing to run out of power), and BC Hydro had updated to their esti­mate of when power would be back to 2 AM. Then this morn­ing, we got up at about 6:30, and still no change. I went to the nearby Wicked Café to get some cof­fee (since mak­ing our own was out). Appar­ently power was restored at 2AM to every other build­ing but ours. Great. Our build­ing man­ager is out of the coun­try, on vaca­tion, so that might account for the prob­lem, but it doesn’t help, either. Another call to BC Hydro reports that it is ‘A prob­lem with Cus­tomer Equip­ment’ and that the time they esti­mate that power will be restored is 4 PM, but given that the his­tory of this set of missed mile­stones is start­ing to sound a bit like BP in the Gulf of Mex­ico, I’m not hold­ing my breath.
So, it’s about 9:45 and I’m writ­ing from Waves down­town. I plan on head­ing to the library at 10 when it opens, and have an appoint­ment about 3PM, which I will attend unshow­ered, unshaven (no hot water) and in what­ever clothes I could put together. I’m hop­ing that my com­puter will come back with all dri­ves and that not too much food in our fridge and freezer was spoiled, but it’s hard to say how much dam­age has been done.

Did She Just Say That?

Happy July 4th to all of my friends and rel­a­tives back in the US. Pam and I tuned in this morn­ing to the news and polit­i­cal talk shows, expect­ing a pretty unevent­ful roundup of pre-Fireworks chat­ter, and were sur­prised to see some news­wor­thy items. One was a final reac­tion by pun­dits to the Repub­li­can National Committee’s head, Michael Steele. For the past cou­ple of years, Steele has been ‘the gift that keeps on giv­ing’ to Lib­er­als like myself, and it was always hys­ter­i­cal when he came out with one of his either undig­ni­fied or ridicu­lous state­ments. The lat­est one, how­ever, seemed to go over the line. At a fundraiser in Noank, Con­necti­cut, some­one caught Steele in the fol­low­ing video that became one of those gaffes heard round the world:

Tran­script:
“The [Gen­eral] McChrys­tal inci­dent, to me, was very com­i­cal. I think it’s a reflec­tion of the frus­tra­tion that a lot of our mil­i­tary lead­ers has with this Admin­is­tra­tion and their pros­e­cu­tion of the war in Afghanistan. Keep in mind again, fed­eral can­di­dates, this was a war of Obama’s choos­ing. This was not some­thing that the United States had actively pros­e­cuted or wanted to engage in. It was one of those areas of the total board of for­eign pol­icy [that was at least?] that we would be in the back­ground sort of shap­ing the changes that were nec­es­sary in Afghanistan as opposed to directly engag­ing troops. But it was the Pres­i­dent who was try­ing to be cute by half by flip­ping a script demo­niz­ing Iraq, while say­ing the bat­tle really should in Afghanistan. Well, if he is such a stu­dent of his­tory, has he not under­stood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? Alright, because every­one who has tried over a thou­sand years of his­tory has failed, and there are rea­sons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan…”

Now I won’t go too much into how wrong that is on so many lev­els (not the least of which is that it’s his­tor­i­cally inac­cu­rate — there was no ‘choice’ involved and the US, led by George W. Bush, attacked Afghanistan after the ter­ror­ist attack on the World Trade Cen­ter and the Pen­ta­gon on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001), but the con­dem­na­tion from Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans has been pretty severe, with the excep­tion of the always-surprising Ron Paul, who said that Steele, “has it right and Repub­li­cans should stick by him.”
At any rate, we did a double-take when we heard this from Cyn­thia Tucker, the Pulitzer prize win­ning reporter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Wow! It’s not often you hear some­one deliver as blis­ter­ing a cri­tique as that. In fact, I dare say if any­one else had said what she said, (par­tic­u­larly some­one who wasn’t also black) they might have been accused of being racist.

It’s pretty clear that Steele is toast. As I hinted ear­lier, that’s a shame for Democ­rats (Al Hunt a few moments before this clip sug­gested that Steele was actu­ally a Demo­c­ra­tic Mole). How­ever, he (and Ms. Tucker) did pro­vide some early fire­works for this July 4 morning.

Tomor­row

July 5 is also a big date, at least for Pam and me. On this date, 5 years ago, we left Cam­bridge, MA and began our jour­ney to Canada. While I’m always a lit­tle pen­sive on the 4th, remem­ber­ing those long after­noons on the bank of the Charles river get­ting ready for the fire­works and singing patri­otic songs, I also remem­ber how excited we were to be start­ing a new chap­ter in our lives. These days, I don’t intro­duce myself as a ‘new Van­cou­verite’ any more. I now con­sider the lower Main­land my home, and despite more than a few glances back at the US, we have no plans to return to liv­ing there. The July 4 of 2005 will prob­a­bly be the last one we spent as US residents.

Happy Canada Day 2010!

It’s that day of the  year again, when we all wear red and white T-shirts with Canada on them, head down to Granville Island to get tem­po­rary maple leaf tat­toos and cel­e­brate Canada Day (or as it was orig­i­nally called, Domin­ion Day).

Thanks to Heather for some pho­tos of us in our regalia (well, the T-shirts any­way). The island was jammed, despite less-than-perfect weather. It sprin­kled on and off all day, but that didn’t dampen the spir­its (and appetite) of peo­ple, who chowed down on all sorts of good­ies: we got some oh-so-traditional bar­be­cued squid and tofu and bub­ble tea; oth­ers had Chow Mein noo­dles and Pork Dumplings, Viet­namese cof­fee, hot dogs, shaved ice and But­ter Chicken. I’m always thrilled at how so many peo­ple born in Canada and  immi­grants like us cel­e­brate and share in the good fel­low­ship of ‘Our Home and (nearly) Native Land.‘
Pam and I show off our Canada Day Tattoos

Pam and I show off our Canada Day Tattoos

Canada Day on Granville Island

Canada Day on Granville Island

The Seal pokes up his head

The Seal pokes up his head

Canada Day Cookies

Saw these cook­ies cool­ing off a few days before