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 Day Trip to North Adams, MA

Natural Bridge in North Adams

Since we’ll be mov­ing far­ther away from friends and some rel­a­tives, we’re now tak­ing some time to vis­it with them. In this case, we met our friends Rob and Lau­ra in North Adams, a small mill town in the North West­ern cor­ner of Mass­a­chu­setts, near the bor­ders of New York and Ver­mont. North Adams’ claim to fame is the Mass­a­chu­setts Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art (or Mass MoCA).

After meet­ing up at the muse­um for lunch and wan­der­ing around the place, we decid­ed that we had enough of aes­thet­ic stim­u­la­tion, and drove to the near­by Nat­ur­al Bridge to get some air and take in the ear­ly spring sun. Near the end of the day, we all went to Williams, MA, home to Williams Col­lege, which is, as you would expect, a love­ly small col­lege-town, where we had a nice Thai din­ner at a local restaurant.

I’ve known Rob since my under­grad days (we were long-time room­mates), and it’s always great to see him. He’s an ama­teur actor and once again in a com­mu­ni­ty the­atre pro­duc­tion (play­ing the But­ler in a bed­room farce), so hope­ful­ly we’ll get to see them again in their home in Rox­bury Con­necti­cut. Lau­ra is an artist and we have a piece of hers in our liv­ing room/dining room. She’s also a fine singer and I did a lit­tle work on the web site for her harp and voice duo, Arpa-vocé last month.

It was a good day to be out and enjoy­ing the spring weath­er, espe­cial­ly with friends who I’m hop­ing will vis­it us after the move.

Trip Wrap-Up

We’re back in Boston, after what I think was a kind of water­shed trip.

As Pam not­ed, we were in a bit of funk before we left. We were focused on the absence of Socrates, and this in turn led us to con­tem­plate the past. This trip to Van­cou­ver helped us make more of a clean break. Instead of dwelling on ‘He used to hang out here’ or ‘Now was the time when he’d usu­al­ly make a cute noise or sit on your mou­s­ing arm.’ it was ‘Here’s where we might live’ or ‘There is where you might work’. We thought about what we’ll be doing in a few months, or what we might need to do a few years down the road. We tried to imag­ine our­selves in a new house, in a new job, in a new coun­try. My friend Andy calls it a ‘Life Mul­li­gan’. I did­n’t under­stand the term at first, but he explained that a Mul­li­gan is a term from golf, mean­ing essen­tial­ly a ‘do-over’. You get them in a polite game. I sus­pect it’s named after some des­per­ate­ly bad golfer who always asked if he could retake his dri­ves or putts.

(Hah! I just found it on and it’s appar­ent­ly a Cana­di­an term. Accord­ing to one of the many mys­te­ri­ous ety­molo­gies of the term, a promi­nent hote­lier named David Mul­li­gan (sic) ‘fre­quent­ed St. Lam­bert Coun­try Club in Mon­tre­al, Que­bec, dur­ing the 1920s. Mul­li­gan let it rip off the tee one day, was­n’t hap­py with the results, re-teed, and hit again. Accord­ing to the sto­ry, he called it a “cor­rec­tion shot,” but his part­ners thought a bet­ter name was need­ed and chris­tened it a “mul­li­gan.” Per­haps because Mr. Mul­li­gan was a promi­nent busi­ness­man — own­ing mul­ti­ple hotels — the term was more like­ly to catch on.’ At any rate, I like that the­o­ry, espe­cial­ly since the guy is both a David and a Cana­di­an.)

Any­way, Life Do-Over or not, we def­i­nite­ly seem to be restart­ing, and this trip made the Restart­ing line seem a bit clos­er and clear­er. We walked the city of Van­cou­ver sev­er­al times, took the Sky­train way out into the ‘burbs and back again in a big loop. We walked in parks, over the Granville Bridge (much to my dis­com­fort, as I still do not like walk­ing near the edge of pre­cip­i­tous areas like bridge side­walks), and to many places we would like to fre­quent (the Pub­lic Library, the Sym­pho­ny Hall, the Sea Wall — that last one by Pam alone). We looked at poten­tial con­do­mini­ums, watched for apart­ment rental signs, read news­pa­pers, watched some local TV and lis­tened to CBC radio. We bought food at local gro­ceries, pro­duce stands and bakeries.

As for me, I hus­tled, schmoozed and did my best to learn about the local busi­ness scene, sign­ing up with 2 recruiters, and already inter­view­ing with 2 local busi­ness­es. My expe­ri­ences were near­ly all encour­ag­ing. I have a strong resume, lots of great expe­ri­ence, and I just have to work on how I present my port­fo­lio (a lit­tle rusty at that, I must admit). I found most peo­ple polite, inter­est­ing to talk to, and curi­ous about why a per­son from Boston would want to relo­cate to lit­tle-old Van­cou­ver, which does have a bit of a self-image of being a back­wa­ter eco­nom­i­cal­ly. If this is true, I’m hop­ing that the ‘big­ger fish in a small­er pond’ metaphor does hold true, and I’ll be able to make a name for myself there.

Frankly, giv­en that the cul­ture is so rich with so many immi­grants (tons of peo­ple from Chi­na and India), the cli­mate is so mild, the vis­tas so breath­tak­ing, the local gov­ern­ment enlight­ened and the pop­u­lace tol­er­ant, it’s only a mat­ter of time before the world begins to notice that this is one of the best places in the world in which to reside. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I’ll miss Boston a lot, but with it’s polit­i­cal infight­ing, frigid win­ters, rude­ness, obses­sion with the Colo­nial past and theme park exploita­tion of it’s own her­itage, not to men­tion the abom­i­na­tions of Logan Air­port, the Hynes Con­ven­tion Cen­ter and Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter (ick, yuck and yech! respec­tive­ly), I’m going to have to say that it’s time for me to check out some new places.

A thought just came to me. At Pam’s and my wed­ding, some of Pam’s Aunts came over to us after the reception/luncheon, where we served Vichysoise, Poached Salmon withe some assort­ed sauces, rasp­ber­ry coulis, and Pra­line cake for a wed­ding cake. They exclaimed how they had nev­er eat­en any­thing like that before. In fact, I learned that one of them had rarely ven­tured out­side her 10-mile radius of Quin­cy. OK. Time to go now.

writ­ten while lis­ten­ing to: Strauss — Vier Let­zte Lieder — i. Früh­ling from the album “Strauss: Vier Let­zte Lieder” by Jessye Nor­man, sopra­no, The Leipzig Gewand­haus Orches­tra con­duct­ed by Kurt Masur

Let’s Get This Show On the Road

My friend in Van­cou­ver, Matt points out that the name for the con­fer­ence that I’m going to attend in Van­cou­ver next week, Mas­sive Tech Expo, is real­ly akin to call­ing it The Best Con­fer­ence Ever. I also sug­gest­ed that a good name (with an homage to Woody Allen’s ‘What’s Up Tiger Lily’) is to call it Con­fer­ence so Good It Would Make You Plotz (after the Chick­en Sal­ad Recipe from the afore­men­tioned movie).

At any rate, here’s hop­ing that it’s going to be worth our while to fly across the con­ti­nent main­ly for one day of net­work­ing (although I hope to par­lay that into some more than 12 hours). What­ev­er it is, I learned that not only will it once again be rain­ing non-stop next week, but accord­ing to Matt (via IM), ‘Feb­ru­ary and March in gen­er­al have been beau­ti­ful; maybe 3 rainy days in each.’. The only thing I can say to that is a hearty Homer Simp­son ‘Doh!!’

Next stop, Vancouver…

Quien Es Mas Palido?

Quien Es Mas Palido?
Orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by andyi.
Who is paler? Why Senor Andy, I believe you are! But it is a close con­test. Per­haps it’s your hat that shields you so well from the sun. Any­way, it’s an hon­or to be includ­ed with so many famous tan-chal­lenged peo­ple (the wax fig­ure of Samuel L. Jack­son excepted).