A Nice Visit

This morn­ing, the clouds part­ed, the rain ceased, and my par­ents and Pam and I took a lit­tle trip to Light­house Park (for the unini­ti­at­ed, that’s on the North Side of the Bur­rard Inlet, on the way to Horse­shoe Bay, where the fer­ries to the islands often depart from). My Dad drove us all in his rental car and we man­aged to step around the pud­dles, as it has been rain­ing for near­ly a week before this brief burst of sun­shine. Then we did some shop­ping at the Whole Foods in North Van­cou­ver. The moun­tains are snow-capped and the air is clear and cool. I’m glad they got to see those peaks before they leave tomor­row (they had sol­id rain in Seat­tle and the first day here).

We’ve made the most of a short vis­it: Fid­dle­head Joe’s on Sat­ur­day Night with both my par­ents and my broth­er and his fam­i­ly, break­fast with every­one at the Granville Island Hotel, where they are stay­ing, and then a Craft Fair at the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre yes­ter­day — I was at Game­lan prac­tice, where my father and Pam watched for the first hour or so. Last night we feast­ed at home on cheeses from the cheese fes­ti­val at Granville Island, as well some tasty but­ter­nut squash ravi­o­li, tossed in a bit of but­ter, chopped sage, and sun-dried olives. Also intro­duced my par­ents to salmon ‘can­dy’ (which is a local del­i­ca­cy — nuggets of smoked salmon tossed in maple syrup). Tonight we go to the Pacif­ic Culi­nary School for din­ner. They’ve got­ten a good intro­duc­tion to our new home; the city, our con­do, and lots of good food. My moth­er is as enthu­si­as­tic about the Pub­lic Mar­ket at Granville Island as I am, and now under­stands why I keep rav­ing about it.

They’re head­ing back to the US tomor­row. I hope they don’t have to wait too long at the bor­der, but for­tu­nate­ly my broth­er only had to wait a half an hour on Sunday.

It’s Almost Like Losing a Family Member

Those peo­ple whose last names are Trump, Per­due or even Reden­backer; While those last names aren’t always house­hold words, invari­ably, some­one will ask them “Are you relat­ed to…” (any of those famous peo­ple with the same last names). For me and the rest of my fam­i­ly, we were always asked “Are you relat­ed to Peter Druck­er?” If the name does­n’t ring a bell, it’s because he was famous only in cer­tain cir­cles, notably amongst stu­dents and teach­ers of busi­ness and the the­o­ry of man­age­ment. With­out repeat­ing one of the bios that are out there (there’s a link to one at the end of this entry), Peter Druck­er was an immi­grant from Vien­na, like my moth­er, but the name obvi­ous­ly does­n’t come from that side of the fam­i­ly. (Anoth­er coin­ci­dence: He and I both stud­ied at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty, and he took a course from the British econ­o­mist, John May­nard Keynes. My col­lege owned Key­nes’s house, which they dubbed ‘Key­ne­side” — it was one of the two hous­es they had that housed grad­u­ate stu­dents. I lived in the oth­er house, Elmside).

He’s main­ly known for his 30-odd books, includ­ing “The Con­cept of the Cor­po­ra­tion”, which was pub­lished in 1946 and is viewed these days as the sem­i­nal work for the field of Man­age­ment. I remem­ber a news­pa­per ad for “The Druck­er Library” (of man­age­ment books). My father clipped those words and put them on the door to (what else) his library/den. Druck­er got the US Medal of Free­dom in 2002, and is pret­ty much seen as the ‘Father of Mod­ern Man­age­ment’. Well, yes­ter­day, Peter Druck­er died at the age of 95.

Oth­er famous Druck­ers have includ­ed Stan­ley Druck­er, the first clar­inetist for the New York Phil­har­mon­ic in the 60’s and 70’s, (Note: I’ve been informed by an atten­tive read­er that Stan­ley is still the Prin­ci­pal Clar­inetist of that orches­tra. Talk about longevi­ty!) Eugene Druck­er, who is one of the vio­lin­ists in the Con­cord String Quar­tet, Michel Druck­er, a now-retired TV Talk show host in France (My par­ents always found it easy to make reser­va­tions there; they’d just say ‘Druck­er, comme Michel’), and it’s also the name of a man­u­fac­tur­er of most of the café chairs you see up and down the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Nev­er­the­less, it was Peter Druck­er that peo­ple always asked me if I was relat­ed to. Pam, who has the AOL address that Peter Druck­er would most like­ly have had, got half a dozen inquiries as to whether she was he or not, and peo­ple fre­quent­ly mis­re­mem­bered my first name as Peter.

So, even though I nev­er got to meet the guy, I sort of feel like I lost a famous uncle, or per­haps a cousin. Here’s to you, Pro­fes­sor Druck­er, and I hope I make it to 95 as well, if not longer.

Back Up and Running

Well, the G5 is back, and I’ve near­ly fin­ished re-installing the soft­ware. It was clogged up from so many upgrades, soft­ware pack­ages, patch­es, cus­tomiza­tions, hacks, etc. that it final­ly just refused to load the desk­top. Since I’m not some­one who lives in the UNIX com­mand-line world (or at least, not in a very long time), and for some rea­son the bootable exter­nal dri­ve I had was­n’t (have to make one of those), the tech at the shop sim­ply rein­stalled the sys­tem. How­ev­er, he said that I still had a lot of crud on the sys­tem, so the best thing to do was back every­thing up, wipe the dri­ve clean and rein­stall the sys­tem from scratch. I’ve done that, and all that remains to be installed are some graph­ic soft­ware (Pho­to­shop, Fire­works) and a few oth­er odds and ends. Near­ly every­thing works (except Palm Sync and the Scan­ner), but I’ll have that going soon. In the mean­time, it’s almost like hav­ing a new computer!

I’m look­ing for­ward to the first vis­it by my par­ents, along with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly next week­end. Hope­ful­ly it won’t rain the whole time, but I’m not count­ing on that. When sum­mer comes, they’ll per­haps come back for a vis­it when the weath­er is better.

Déjà vu from the 70’s
A very inter­est­ing head­line from CNN and Reuters today: “Bush Declares: ‘We Do Not Tor­ture’ “. Is it just me, or does­n’t that sound an awful lot like Dick Nixon’s ‘I am not a crook’ protes­ta­tion? Fun­ny, that was in Novem­ber too, in 1973 — the Wash­ing­ton Post has it in their archives. There is more than a hint of des­per­a­tion when a politi­cian exclaims a neg­a­tive. No crooks here. Nope. No tor­ture going on there.

The alleged crook/torturer doth pro­fess too much, methinks.

Note that by July of 1973, Nixon was embroiled in many scan­dals. This polit­i­cal car­toon by Herblock of that era also feels eeri­ly famil­iar. Just replace some of the text and you could recy­cle it wholesale:

2005 vs 1973

Merry Fitzmas!

Fitzgerald on CNN
How I’ve longed to see a split-screen just like this one, of a Pros­e­cu­tor on one side with Bush and Cheney on the oth­er side. The chick­ens are com­ing home to roost. Major League indeed.

HeatherOth­er news of a more per­son­al nature: My niece Heather, who was serv­ing in Iraq, returned this week, fin­ish­ing her tour of duty at Fort Drum, in New York state. We got a call from her yes­ter­day while she was on leave from her last few weeks with the Army. We breathed a sigh of relief that she made it back in good health and ready to go on with her life. Con­trary to what we had heard ear­li­er this year, she won’t be going back. Now I say that she should get every pen­ny of com­pen­sa­tion she can get in health ben­e­fits, the GI Bill for school, first time home buy­er’s etc.. The US Gov­ern­ment owes her big-time.

Not much to report on our end (and cer­tain­ly noth­ing as dra­mat­ic as those two items). I’ve been attend­ing meet­ings of the Van­cou­ver User Expe­ri­ence Group and the Van­cou­ver Weblog­ger’s mee­tups, as well as some talks regard­ing Ruby on Rails, CSS and AJAX at ActiveS­tate, a soft­ware tools com­pa­ny down­town. I’m start­ing to rec­og­nize some of the same faces (and per­haps am being rec­og­nized as well). Pam is deep into the STC Van­cou­ver Chap­ter’s Doc­u­men­ta­tion Com­pe­ti­tion (that’s her page describ­ing the com­pe­ti­tion), with the train­ing of judges tak­ing place this weekend.

Clubbing with/for Family

Parts and Labor

Last night we went to our first club in Van­cou­ver. This town has a ton of them, but we were out at the Lamp­lighter because my cousin B.J. has a band, Parts and Labor that was on tour through­out the US and Cana­da, and last night was his stop in Vancouver.

We got there right at 8PM, which was when the evening’s bands (there were to have been 3 of them — we found out that ‘The Fatal Fly­ing Guil­lo­teens’ had to can­cel) were to have start­ed. Not even close. After a lit­tle while, B.J. walked in from the rear entrance. His band had just got­ten over the bor­der an hour or so ear­li­er. While the three of us attempt­ed to do the near­ly impos­si­ble in Gas­town, which is find a restau­rant open after 9:30 PM, we got caught up.

By the way, it’s a fun­ny thing, but restau­rants do close pret­ty ear­ly here, lead­ing many res­i­dents to say that this town should be nick­named ‘No Fun Van­cou­ver’. I have to admit that we’ve been caught out too late with­out hav­ing got­ten din­ner on a cou­ple of occa­sions, and have had to set­tle on Den­ny’s or Sub­way, two chains that tend to be open late. For­tu­nate­ly, the Den­ny’s near us is actu­al­ly not bad at all, unlike the ones I’d been to in the States.
B.J. filled us in on the tour. It had gone well, despite the fact that this morn­ing they’d had their first or sec­ond flat tire of the trip, which is always a has­sle. It’s a gru­el­ing life, being in an indie band on tour, and it’s not at all glam­orous, despite what any­one may think. It con­sists of dri­ving for hours (some­times ten to twelve at a stretch), arriv­ing at the gig, eat­ing, unpack­ing the gear and instru­ments, per­form­ing, sleep­ing (usu­al­ly at friend’s hous­es), and then doing the whole thing all over again, day in and day out for a month or so. I imag­ine that it is a real chal­lenge to fight back the bore­dom. B.J. was very impressed with the sup­port net­work around indie bands. Band mem­bers from dif­fer­ent groups fre­quent­ly know each oth­er and help each oth­er get book­ings. They see one oth­er and social­ize on tour stops as part of the cir­cuit and some close friend­ships get formed. Like any­thing, a com­mu­ni­ty has emerged.

It’s been a while since we’ve been in the States, and Pam and I rarely ven­tured into Red State land, so we asked B.J. what he’s been see­ing, since he’s been dri­ving through the coun­try for sev­er­al weeks. “Three things, main­ly.” he report­ed. “Bill­boards for Jesus, bill­boards against Abor­tion, and bill­boards for strip clubs. Every­where we went on the road, we’d see signs for those three.” A curi­ous com­bi­na­tion, we agreed. Think­ing back to that, it strikes me now that all of them hap­pen to be anti-woman (if one assumes that the Jesus ones involved the Bap­tists’ direc­tive that women be sub­mis­sive to the man of the house­hold, anti-abor­tion in our opin­ion is high­ly anti-woman, and as for strip clubs, well that’s self explanatory).

After B. J. found a falafel stand that was open, we returned to the dim inte­ri­or of the Lamp­lighter. The Lamp­lighter is in the Domin­ion Hotel “Van­cou­ver’s Only Bud­get Art Hotel”, as their web site puts it. They also quote the Toron­to Globe and Mail: ‘This prob­a­bly isn’t a hotel you’d rec­om­mend to your mom, but if you’re on a tight budget…a night at the Domin­ion is quite the expe­ri­ence.” Hmm.

The hotel (and club) is on the cor­ner of Water and Abbott Streets in Gas­town. Very funky, it’s one of the old­est build­ings I’ve seen in Van­cou­ver (built in 1889). the bar/club has a high tin ceil­ing that’s been paint­ed dark brown. The stage was at the back, and the bar was toward the front and to the left. Actu­al­ly, it was pret­ty cozy and not at all dirty or dan­ger­ous look­ing. There were can­dles at the booths and tables. A very friend­ly girl at the front took the cov­er charges. The bar­tender and bounc­er were also quite personable.

As for Parts and Labor (or as we were amused to see the local paper list it: Parts and Labour), the best descrip­tion I can pro­vide is the one giv­en by Nar­nack Records, their cur­rent label:

Parts & Labor com­bines prim­i­tive, min­i­mal elec­tron­ics with an anthemic, rhyth­mic bar­rage. The Brook­lyn trio formed in ear­ly 2002 with BJ War­shaw and Jim Sykes adding bass and drums to Dan Friel’s solo keyboard/electronics exper­i­ments (described by Time Out New York as “Strange and won­der­ful, and best of all, unlike any­thing we can think of.”

We wore earplugs because the band is very loud, even by indie band stan­dards. (The drum­mer con­fid­ed in us that at one venue, he had been doing some pre­lim­i­nary sound checks when the venue’s sound engi­neer said that his drums alone were loud­er than any of the oth­er bands). I have to say that the pro­tec­tion of the earplugs kept me from mak­ing out any real details to the songs, but their raw ener­gy was engag­ing, I was not bored, and the crowd (who kept far clos­er to the band) clear­ly enjoyed them.

At the end of the evening, we head­ed out quick­ly, keep­ing to the well-lit parts of the streets. At that end of Gas­town, you prob­a­bly would­n’t want to walk around alone too much at night. We had no trou­ble get­ting a bus home, so now I know that a late night out does not mean that there’s no bus, even at near (or even past) midnight.