Meeting People and Asking (or Giving) Directions

I’ve been get­ting out and meet­ing new friends. There are the Weblog­gers Meet-Ups, where I recent­ly met Jan Karls­b­jerg (who was kind enough to blog about me), Heather, and Will Pate, as well as Ian­iv Schwe­ber and his fiance, Ariean­na. I’ve also met sev­er­al peo­ple though the BC Game­lan, as well as the VanUE (Van­cou­ver User Expe­ri­ence group), who also hold month­ly meet­ings, begin­ning this month. Pam con­tin­ues to meet peo­ple through the STC (Soci­ety for Tech­ni­cal Communications).
My gen­er­al impres­sion is that there are lots of new­com­ers to Van­cou­ver — a good sign, I think. When peo­ple want to move to a place, for what­ev­er rea­son, it usu­al­ly means that it’s a good place to be. We always felt that way when we were in Ver­mont (I remem­ber our times in Wait­s­field, where we were sur­prised when we actu­al­ly did meet a native Ver­mon­ter). For Cana­da, it has such a high rate of immi­gra­tion that there’s actu­al­ly a mag­a­zine for new immi­grants to Cana­da (most­ly from Asia, as one would expect, but also from Africa, Europe and Australia).
When there are lots of peo­ple mov­ing to a place, peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions (and even pub­lic venues) tend to be a bit bet­ter about not assum­ing you know what to do or where to go. In Boston, sig­nage was seen as a sil­ly add-on, or maybe even an admis­sion of weak­ness. After all, why point out what every­body should already know, haven’t you been here long enough? Or as they say in the ver­nac­u­lar, ‘Whad­daya retAHd­ed?’ Here in Van­cou­ver, one not only has signs and maps, but also ori­en­ta­tion guides, brochures and tons of infor­ma­tion booths and peo­ple offer­ing help and direc­tions (the bus dri­vers are even polite about offer­ing advice about where to trans­fer to get to a cer­tain area!). Maybe it takes a crit­i­cal mass of new­bies to make soci­ety in gen­er­al aware that not every­one knows every­thing about where you live and how to get from point A to point B. I’ve tak­en some plea­sure in giv­ing out direc­tions to a few peo­ple. Must mean I don’t look like I’m a fish out of water here, if ever I did.

New Friends, New Activities, New Restaurant

On Sun­day I went to a pic­nic on the beach. Well, I was at a pic­nic on the beach for about 45 min­utes (Darn!).

The Van­cou­ver Blog­gers Meet­up (boy, if that does­n’t sound nerdy, then I guess you are a geek, dear read­er), had a pic­nic at Jeri­cho Beach. I had nev­er been there, and it takes a short bus ride to get through Kit­si­lano to that area, fre­quent­ed by sail-board­ers and vol­ley­ball play­ers. The day was warm, but not uncom­fort­ably so, and I met some new friends (and missed some oth­ers by hav­ing to leave so ear­ly in the day). The plan was for every­body to bring their own food, so I went to Granville Island before­hand and got some bread (Thanks to a neigh­bor, just dis­cov­ered Ter­ra Breads — wow!) , some nice coun­try liv­er­wurst, some cheese, fruit and juice. ‘How Euro­pean!’ remarked Heather, who has a nice blog which she calls ‘Freak­ish­ly Prompt’. I was amused an flat­tered, I think. As I said, I just don’t fit the US cul­tur­al mold.

So, why was I only at this love­ly pic­nic for a stingy three-quar­ters of an hour? Onward to the next week­end com­mit­ment; Game­lan Rehearsal! I met Tony, who took me to my first rehearsal with the British Colum­bia Game­lan, which took place at Simon Fras­er Uni­ver­si­ty (way up on Burn­a­by Moun­tain — quite a dis­tance from the beach!)

Dur­ing the 3 hour or so rehearsal, I real­ized that I had­n’t played in a Game­lan in near­ly 20 years, and I was just a bit rusty, to say the least. I was­n’t a total dis­as­ter, but it will take some time for me to get back my kenong chops. (the last time was at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty, where I did it main­ly as a way of becom­ing an enter­tain­ment at the May Balls, so I could crawl from par­ty to par­ty as the night became morn­ing, as a beard­ed and sil­ly grad student).

The day end­ed with a dis­cov­ery of a bistro just at the east­ern edge of Kit­si­lano, The Smok­ing Dog — with much bet­ter food than the name would sug­gest. Pam had a deli­cious minty herbed pas­ta and veg­etable entrée and I had a bunch of appe­tiz­ers (Vichysoise, Prawns in 2 superb sauces, and a pip­ing hot and but­tery Alsa­t­ian Onion and Leek tart that was just about the best I’ve ever had). Now, I have a rule that often a mediocre restau­rant can have real­ly great appe­tiz­ers. The Chef can often splurge a lit­tle on ingre­di­ents when you know the por­tion is going to be a small one. How­ev­er, I’m will­ing to bet that the oth­er entrées, much of them bistro clas­sics like my appe­tiz­ers, are also first-rate. We’ll just have to go back and see. If any­one else has been there, let me know. I was sur­prised and a lit­tle wor­ried to see that on a Sun­day evening at about 8:30, the place was near­ly emp­ty, despite the fact that it was obvi­ous­ly an estab­lished venue, and had live music (a pleas­ant Brazil­ian guitarist/singer). Ser­vice was friend­ly and help­ful — I got a good sug­ges­tion on a glass of white wine to go with these dish­es. The decor is well aged and there’s a beau­ti­ful (and from what I could tell, well-stocked) semi-cir­cu­lar bar. Food and ambi­ence this good back in Boston would have result­ed in a packed place on a Sun­day night.

Like the rest of my day, I was hap­py but want­i­ng more. Prob­a­bly a good thing at this point in time.

A more up-to-date Me

Spent the day at home today, most­ly just relax­ing and answer­ing email. One thing I did get done was have Pam take a new por­trait of me. Why do this? Because it’s always handy to have a cleaned up, scal­able head-shot for online ser­vices, avatar icons, login pic­tures, etc. My old pic­ture was just too out of date. Here’s the new one:

Not bad, I hope. Well, at least it’s more hon­est about how old I look than the one I’ve had up every­where. Have to work on updat­ing my Com­cast web page, which I’m hop­ing I can inte­grate with this blog.

“So lit­tle to do, so much time… Strike that, reverse it.” — Willy Wonka


OK, I’m going to have anoth­er try at this blog thing, both in the per­son­al realm as well as the pro­fes­sion­al realm. For posts regard­ing User Inter­face Design obser­va­tions, tech­nol­o­gy, and relat­ed sub­jects (as well as the occa­sion­al photo/screenshot or illus­tra­tion), I’m going to be writ­ing entries in The Kendall Group Blog or as I now am pleased to real­ize, the KGB. (!!!)
For per­son­al items, obser­va­tions on dai­ly life, and a jour­nal encom­pass­ing my impend­ing immi­gra­tion to Cana­da from the US, look no fur­ther than this very blog. Loud Mur­murs indeed.