Losing Before the Starting Line

Glen Beck, the lat­est angry US pun­dit, spoke out a cou­ple of days ago against US Pres­i­dent Obama’s (now unsuc­cess­ful) trip to Copen­hagen to lob­by the Olympic Com­mit­tee to hold the 2016 Olympics in Chica­go. He men­tioned that the Van­cou­ver Olympics had already “lost a bil­lion dol­lars”.

The White House called him out on the fact that as we all know all-too-well around here, the Olympics haven’t tak­en place yet:

RHETORIC: BECK SAID VANCOUVER LOST $1 BILLION WHEN ITHAD THE OLYMPICS.” Glenn Beck said, “Van­cou­ver lost, how much was it? they lost a bil­lion dol­lars when they had the Olympics.” [Tran­script, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]

REALITY: VANCOUVER’S OLYMPICS WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL 2010. Van­cou­ver will host the 2010 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games from Feb­ru­ary 12 – 28, 2010 and March 12–21, 2010, respec­tive­ly. [Vancouver2010.com, accessed 9/29/09]

In response, Beck explained that he meant Cal­gary, and then began an account­ing of how much he thinks Van­cou­ver is going to lose, with the final tab com­ing to some­where around a 4.5 bil­lion-dol­lar short­fall. I’m speech­less. The audio, via YouTube, is below:

Cold Season and Another Try with FontKit

I haven’t had a cold in quite a while, so the one I have now feels par­tic­u­lar­ly annoy­ing. It’s not as if I’ve for­got­ten what a cold is like, but I think you can get used to them, when you get them more often (and I’m sure I did suf­fer from fre­quent colds- near­ly every few months or so when we lived in Boston). It’s a rainy day, and this is Cold: Day 2 ( which means, run­ny nose, sneezes and a lit­tle less ener­gy), Cold: Day 2 is always eas­i­er for me than Cold: Day 1 (sore throat, run­ny nose, feel­ing like crap). Hope­ful­ly, this cold will progress at the usu­al rate, or maybe even faster.

It’s Labour Day week­end, and although I do have a con­tract I’m work­ing on, I do have the lux­u­ry of not hav­ing to work very much this 3-day week­end. This hol­i­day falls on the last week­end of sum­mer and ush­ers in School, Work, and gen­er­al ‘Lets-Get-Down-To-It’ sort of things that we asso­ciate with the Fall sea­son. We’ve had a spec­tac­u­lar­ly sun­ny sum­mer, and it real­ly was extra­or­di­nary, with months and months of sun­shine, sun­shine and more sun­shine. That was unfor­tu­nate for those peo­ple who had to deal with wild­fires to the East of us, but for those of us in the city or near the water, July and August have been a rarely inter­rupt­ed suc­ces­sion of one beau­ti­ful day after anoth­er. Does this mean we are in for some weath­er come­up­pance?  Will we see a Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary mon­soon, or worse, lots of snow, like last year? Time will tell, I sup­pose. What I can say for sure is that for the first time in ages, the rain that we have (and there has been a lit­tle of it), is falling on a week­end. Rainy week­ends hold their own charm for me; you don’t have to feel guilty about indoor pur­suits like movies, TV, blog­ging, lis­ten­ing to iTunes or even clean­ing up the place. I’m not miss­ing any pre­cious hours of vit­a­min D har­vest, and it can be nice to be cozy, wrapped in a blan­ket, snooz­ing through some of those snif­fles.

The end of the Sum­mer real­ly began a cou­ple of weeks ago when Pam and I once again went to the PNE, which is in its last week­end right now. While we missed Dal Richards, (Canada’s answer to Guy Lom­bar­do and Glen Miller and a liv­ing leg­end, still per­form­ing well into his 90’s), we did make it to see many of the ani­mals (and on Open­ing Day, there are many of them):

Cow and Handler

I loved how this pic­ture came out

The Open­ing Day crowds, brought out by the per­fect weath­er were large:
Crowds

Crowds

We chat­ted with an old friend at the Home Improve­ment Pavil­ion, ate some of those famous lit­tle donuts:
Mmm Donuts!

Mmm Donuts!

David Eats the Donuts

They were Hot and Deli­cious

and Pam got a bar­gain of 4 ears of roast­ed corn for the price of 1 (the line was so long, they were get­ting behind and she got a plate of not-quite-good-enough-for-1-serv­ing ears):
Pam's Corn

Pam’s Corn

We also went to the ‘Mar­ket­place’ where you see all of those demon­stra­tions of every­thing from Sham­mies to Blenders and end­ed up get­ting a Smart Liv­ing Steam Mop. We’ve since put it through it’s paces on our car­pets, wood and tile at home and while it does not per­form mir­a­cles, it does work pret­ty well, and we hope it will help us keep the place a lit­tle clean­er. We still do need new car­pet, but that will hope­ful­ly come in the next few months or so.

So, with the sea­son now clear­ly com­ing to an end, it’s time to return my atten­tion back to this blog, which I’ve been giv­ing a bit less atten­tion this sum­mer. With that, I’m try­ing to once again look at the new Font tech­nol­o­gy that will be com­ing soon to a web page on your screen…

Squishy Fonts?

I’ve tried some dif­fer­ent Type­kit fonts, and it seems as if the body text is always look­ing a bit squished. I’m con­vinced it’s not the fonts them­selves, but the met­rics I’ve spec­i­fied on the orig­i­nal Geor­gia font (which is what old­er browsers see when they view my pages). I’ll keep at it, but for ref­er­ence, here are the fonts as they appear on the Type­Kit Edi­tor page:

typekit_screenshot

Click to see the full-size, which clear­ly shows how the fonts should look.

As you can see, the new font, Luxi (Sans and Serif) are not sup­posed to be that squishy, so I’ll have to work on the orig­i­nal CSS (and do so with­out ruin­ing the look of the page for old­er browsers. Back­ward com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with­out mess­ing up the new fonts is going to be one of the chal­lenges for us using these new fonts, I guess.

Blog Vacation is Over

I admit it: I was tak­ing the sum­mer off from blog­ging. A com­bi­na­tion of lots of change in work/life com­bined with some real­ly great get-out-and-enjoy-the-out­doors weath­er pushed typ­ing at the com­put­er screen right off the sched­ule. Until now.

What pushed me back to the blog? Lots of changes in day-to-day life around here:

  1. The new Canada­Line, which is essen­tial­ly a sub­way (with a bit of it above ground once you get fur­ther out — just like the good old Boston T) start­ed ser­vice this past Mon­day (the first day free from 1 till 9). That means, for all intents and pur­pos­es, that the city that I know of has instant­ly grown. Rich­mond, as well as parts of the city clos­er to the Fras­er riv­er are now just as con­ve­nient to get to as Burn­a­by, the city to the East. Pam and I rode it from the sec­ond stop (Granville/City Cen­tre) to the last one (Rich­mond) — but did not take the spur to the air­port. This new tran­sit line also brings Van­cou­ver the dis­tinc­tion of being the first city in Cana­da to have a tran­sit line that links the down­town to the air­port, just like Lon­don, Paris, Bei­jing and oth­er cities not in North Amer­i­ca.
  2. The har­bin­ger of the end of the sum­mer is around the cor­ner: The PNE. I look for­ward to this ‘Coun­ty Fair’ just out­side the city (although tech­ni­cal­ly it’s still with­in the city lim­its) every year.  This will be our (gasp!) fifth one.
  3. A shock­ing and sad announce­ment that Work­space, one of the favourite gath­er­ing places for the tech com­mu­ni­ty here in Van­cou­ver, will be clos­ing its doors at the end of the week. Work­space was an engag­ing com­bi­na­tion of café, office space for cre­ative tech­no­log­i­cal entre­pre­neurs, incu­ba­tor, club­house and even a lit­tle bit of a Soho gallery (lots of local art on the walls). The floor to ceil­ing views of Howe Sound and the moun­tains, the grit­ti­ness of the train tracks (and trains pass­ing close by), along with the white paint over a for­mer slaugh­ter­house all con­tributed to a unique space that I will miss ter­ri­bly. For­tu­nate­ly, as I write this, there is some heart­en­ing traf­fic on Twit­ter about some­thing to fill this gap­ing void in the Van­cou­ver tech­nol­o­gy and social scene. We’ll have to see what comes out of the ash­es of that gem of a loca­tion that holds many fond mem­o­ries for me (and I’m sure it does for many oth­ers as well).
  4. I men­tioned changes in work. I don’t usu­al­ly blog about work on this blog. My phi­los­o­phy has always been that there was plen­ty of oth­er things to talk about, and there was always the poten­tial of offend­ing some­one or mak­ing some oth­er career-lim­it­ing move, so why chance it?  That said, I’ve resigned from my posi­tion of VP of Cre­ative Solu­tions at Busi­ness Log­ic (if you want to find out why, I can tell you over a cou­ple of beers), and I’m once again look­ing for a per­ma­nent posi­tion, despite the fact that I have a con­tract at a local Finan­cial Plan­ning com­pa­ny.  I know all too well, when con­tracts are done, there is often noth­ing else wait­ing in the wings, espe­cial­ly dur­ing cer­tain months of the year (although I’m pleased that for once, I’m work­ing in August, despite the fact that I’m not an employ­ee any­where — yet).
  5. I’ve also got a back­log of some video and pho­tos to show. The sum­mer of events and peo­ple con­tin­ued with the always enter­tain­ing and colour­ful Gay Pride Parade, Vinocamp (and Cheese­camp), a pleas­ant Wed­ding Anniver­sary pic­nic at Kits Beach (and thanks to Netchick for the idea). I’ll try and post some pics and video before it’s too ancient. If noth­ing else, the video of out first trip on the Canad­line has some great ver­ti­go-induc­ing footage look­ing back­ward down the tun­nel (I couldn’t get any­where near the front of the car, but the back end was more acces­si­ble, hence the back­ward-look­ing video).

So, as my father is fond of say­ing ‘The only thing you can be cer­tain of is change’.  He’s right, and I sup­pose it makes life more inter­est­ing. I have to admit that I’m nev­er a huge fan of change, but I’m get­ting bet­ter at it, and some of these changes haven’t been bad. Just the Work­space loss. Yup, that one just plain sucks.

Summer in the City

It’s been a while since I’ve writ­ten any­thing, main­ly because I always feel the need to take a lit­tle time off in the sum­mer, par­tic­u­lar­ly since this sum­mer weath­er has been so spec­tac­u­lar­ly good. True, it has been a lit­tle warm, and even on some days, down­right hot. Still, that hasn’t kept us from get­ting out and enjoy­ing the city, vis­it­ing with friends, tak­ing long walks along False Creek, and even a few out­ings with the car.

An Intimate Evening with Hummingbird604 and Some Exotic Potent Potables

It was one of those hot nights in Down­town Van­cou­ver when we went out one of the evenings a cou­ple of weeks ago. Rather than try and escape the heat (as any sane per­son would do), we embraced it. We climbed the stair­case to the third floor of The Net­work Hub, one of the shared office space and social incu­ba­tors in town on West Hast­ings and Richards, a cou­ple of blocks away from Water­front Sta­tion. Hummingbird604 (AKA Raul to those who know him), host­ed a small group of friends and blog­gers to try out some inter­est­ing new bev­er­ages from Chi­na. When we arrived, we were greet­ed by Christy Nguyen and Min­na Van of Urban­bel­la Mar­ket­ing Group. To go with the liq­uids, they had already begun to put out some Chi­nese food (which was help­ful to see how the liq­uids might go with dif­fer­ent dish­es).

The 15 or so of us dug in and chat­ted as we were try­ing to keep cool. I was hap­py to see plen­ty of friends, includ­ing Gus (and Russ), Tanya (with her new fiancé, Bar­ry), Degan, Eri­ca and John.

So what were we try­ing? There were three dif­fer­ent items. First, there was a red wine, a saki (or rice wine) and a whiskey, which we could try straight up as well as a mix­er in a sort of lemon­ade (which was per­fect for a hot night). I opt­ed imme­di­ate­ly for the most unusu­al (at least for me) thing to try first: the whiskey, straight up from a shot glass. This is not because I want­ed to get drunk fast, but because I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to liquor, and love Sin­gle-malt Scotch. I was also intrigued, because this whiskey , called Chu Yeh Ching Chiew, was, as an accom­pa­ny­ing infor­ma­tion card put it:

…a spe­cial ancient liquor made from tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese herbal recipe. It has (a) trans­par­ent gold­en and slight­ly green colour, and intense flo­ral herbal aro­mas of dried apri­cot. It’s off dry with a hint of anise and packs a lengthy fin­ish.

What this infor­ma­tion does not include (and which the name and pic­tures on the bot­tle do), is that this is alco­hol fer­ment­ed from bam­boo shoots. I tried it and was impressed. To me, it had the strength of an Irish Whiskey, but the fin­ish was exot­ic; with a bit of gin­seng, and per­haps anoth­er spice. Here’s what the bot­tle looked like:

 Bamboo Whiskey from China. Photo courtesy of Hummingbird604

Bam­boo Whiskey from Chi­na. Pho­to cour­tesy of Hummingbird604

Here’s my own pho­to of the bot­tle:

My own photo of the same bottle

My own pho­to of the same bot­tle

The com­pa­ny who pro­vid­ed it is Hi-Bridge Con­sult­ing, although as I men­tioned, Urban Bel­la was the Pub­lic Rela­tions firm who arranged for the tast­ing. I have to say that this prod­uct, with some repack­ag­ing, and per­haps a new, Eng­lish name, could do extreme­ly well. They also offered it in a lemon­ade mix­er, which wasn’t as inter­est­ing (but did prove that it could be a fine mix­er), but I have to say that straight up, it is a very impres­sive drink. I pro­pose that they call it, Bam­boo Mist, and put it in a dis­tinc­tive, frost­ed bot­tle with bam­boo brush style let­ter­ing on the label (and keep the bam­boo leaf art as well). Mar­ket it to upscale liquor stores and put it in the sec­tion that has oth­er drinks strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a coun­try (like Jame­son Whiskey, Aqua­vit, Midori or per­haps Sabra). I real­ize that some of those are liqueurs, but hope­ful­ly you can see where I’m going with this. In addi­tion, there’s the whole sus­tain­abil­i­ty angle, since bam­boo is one of the world’s most sus­tain­able nat­ur­al resources (it grows in a vari­ety of places like a weed). Many peo­ple in North Amer­i­ca have floors and fur­ni­ture made of bam­boo. It makes excel­lent cut­ting boards. If you don’t use a lot of nasty chem­i­cals, it also can pro­duce won­der­ful, earth-friend­ly and silky fab­ric. One of my all-time-favourite T-shirts is a long-sleeved green­ish cocoa one that feels an awful lot like silk. It is also wash­able and wicks per­spi­ra­tion well. To have a whisky from the same mate­r­i­al seems a nat­ur­al for a mar­ket­ing cam­paign that not only plays off the exot­ic sound of liquor from ancient Chi­nese bam­boo groves, but also of a whisky that ecol­o­gy-mind­ed folks can love as well. Are you lis­ten­ing, Hi-Bridge?

There was also a less impres­sive Sake (Sake from Chi­na? Well, OK) which did have a strange, thick, almost choco­late taste and con­sis­ten­cy, and an extreme­ly undis­tin­guished Caber­net Sauvi­gnon (sor­ry), but the Chu Yeh Ching Chiew (although the name doesn’t exact­ly trip off the tongue for those who don’t speak Chi­nese) made the evening, which in addi­tion to friends, imbib­ing and talk, also includ­ed some appro­pri­ate Chi­nese food to nib­ble on.

We All got together for a group shot near the end of the evening. Photo courtesy of Hummingbird604

We all got togeth­er for a group shot near the end of the evening. Pho­to cour­tesy of Hummingbird604
Another Evening

As I men­tioned, Pam and I have been tak­ing lots of walks after din­ner (main­ly to walk off the meal — we have been eat­ing so well late­ly!) One time we actu­al­ly drove some­where, how­ev­er, was a trip down to Rich­mond for the famous Night Mar­ket. It’s an open air mar­ket in an indus­tri­al park, far from every­where, but you feel as if you’ve gone fur­ther. Besides the booths of every­thing from socks from Korea and iPod/iPhone acces­sories from Chi­na, there are the food booths. Oh. My. I real­ly do love street food, and this was no excep­tion. In addi­tion to some fan­tas­tic squid, cooked up on the flames right in front of us:

Squid! Yum!

Squid! Yum!

I also got a ridicu­lous­ly fun (and sil­ly) spi­ral of a fried pota­to, driz­zled with a hot and sweet chili sauce. Tru­ly a won­der­ful blend of ‘carny’ food and Thai-style spices. As you can see, I was grin­ning like a kid. I think I’m real­ly get­ting psy­ched for our trip to South­east Asia that we’re just start­ing to plan for next year:

Me at the Night Market

Me at the Night Mar­ket

A Summer Full of People

Up until recent­ly, many of the pho­tos I’ve been tak­ing this past cou­ple of months have been of nature; flow­ers, birds, the for­est, etc.

Then, Van­cou­ver went all gre­gar­i­ous on us. The fact is, when the days are as beau­ti­ful and com­fort­able as they have been, you just have to get out, and every­body else has the same idea. So this month has been a series of fes­ti­vals, mee­tups, twee­t­ups (think impromp­tu get-togeth­er flash-mob via web mes­sag­ing), BBQs and gen­er­al get-togeth­ers.

A cou­ple of weeks ago was Car-Free Van­cou­ver day, in which sev­er­al sec­tions of the city blocked off areas to auto­mo­bile traf­fic and ven­dors (and oth­ers) set up booths. Pam and I went up and down a large sec­tion of Main Street, but didn’t get to the oth­er streets that were par­tic­i­pat­ing, includ­ing Com­mer­cial Dri­ve (where the move­ment start­ed) and a large swath of Den­man. We saw every­thing from Tai Chi:

Tai Chi - 1

to crowds and bal­loons near­ly as far as the eye could see:

Crowds as far as the Horizon

Then, this past week­end, it was the Greek fes­ti­val, which took over a stretch of Broad­way to the east of us. It was an enor­mous crowd, and Pam and I chowed down on Sou­vla­ki…

Cooking the Souvlaki

…and Bakla­va (Pam opt­ed for a lemon pound-cake with almonds called Samali, after a Ugan­dan friend she has of the same name). I learned that my name in Greek is NTABINT (although pho­net­i­cal­ly it’s spelled ∆ABI∆ ). We also real­ized that this sec­tion of the city was full of great lit­tle Greek restau­rants and delis, so now we know where to get the best pita and treats like Koura­bi­ethes (sug­ar cook­ies), Kataifi (Bakla­va with shred­ded dough) and the near­ly unpro­nounce­able but deli­cious Galak­to­boureko Rol­la (Phyl­lo stuffed with cus­tard).

Last night was the Meet­up of all Mee­tups at the Ceilis Irish Pub down­town. A com­bi­na­tion of the Third Tues­day Meet­up, The Van­cou­ver Sales Per­for­mance Meet­up, Van­cou­ver Blogger’s Meet­up, Real Estate Tech­nol­o­gy Meet­up, Young Pro­fes­sion­als Meet­up, Word­Press Meet­up and the Van­cou­ver Entre­pre­neur Meet­up Group all made for a huge crowd on the rooftop:

It was a very, very big Meetup

I was glad to see a lot of friends and fel­low Van­cou­ver blog­gers there, includ­ing Raul, Tanya, Mon­i­ca and Shane:

Raul, ?,Tanya, Monica and Shane

One fun part of this meet­up was that there were door prizes, and by pure luck, I won one! Dig­i­tal Smart Homes pro­vid­ed a Kan­to Zed iPod Speak­er sys­tem, and I’m hav­ing fun unbox­ing it today! Thanks, guys!

See, it wasn’t just a month of flow­ers, birds and trees…