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