The Church of Awesomeology

We had a great trip into Seattle this weekend! The drive down was pretty chill and the border lineup wasn’t too bad. Once we settled into the historic Moore Hotel, which used to be a total dive in the 90’s but has since been renovated, we headed out to explore the Pike Place Market. It’s a neat strip of small shops and fresh food that reminds me of Granville Island on a larger scale.

It was at the Pike that we got our first taste of grunge music for the weekend courtesy of two street musicians whose cardboard sign introduced them as “Raw Corn.” With nothing but a guitar, an accordion, and their voices they belted out one of the most impassioned performances of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit that I’ve ever seen.

After our grunge experience we wandered into the Pike Brewery for some tasty microbrews. We got samplers which would take you from their lightest to their darkest beers in small glasses. Once the samplers were tossed back we hit the streets again for some food. Turns out there’s a great Mexican place called Mamas that’s the oldest Mexican restaurant in Seattle. I ate way too much food and had to deal with the pain of a stretched stomach for the next couple of hours.

Finally, after one more stop at a cool little tiki lounge beside Mamas, we walked over to the Showbox to see Green River and the Supersuckers bust out the rock noise. And did they ever bring the noise! Green River is an old band from the late 80’s that a couple of the guys in Pearl Jam and Mudhoney got their start it and you can see that these are top musicians playing. They were incredible! Mark Arm, freed of the guitar he usually plays in Mudhoney, leered at the crowd while he screeched and bellowed the first songs of the grunge era.

The Supersuckers had a tough show to beat but they blasted out a two and a half hour set that followed their career in chronological order starting from the very first song they wrote. The middle featured some fine selections from their country album, which is the album that got me into the band. They finished with their “fake encore” and a punishing version of Jackalope Eye as the closer.

Great shows! The trip back was pretty laid back and the border was quick and easy. I’d expected a huge wait, but we were through in less than 15 minutes.

Now I need some sleep!

Hockey Night at the Anza Club

Last night started out at GM Place to see the Flames triumph over Vancouver. Great game even though I thought Calgary looked a little sluggish in the first period. They pulled it out of the fire by the end and won 4-3. I honestly expected Vancouver to win since they’re doing better overall than the Flames and have been on an unbeatable streak lately. It felt good to cheer for Calgary and have them win.

Post game we headed down to the Anza (Australian New Zealand Association) Club to see The Hanson Brothers lay down some Ramones-style punk rock. All the band sings about is beer, girls, and hockey (of course!). They originally started as a NoMeansNo side project and became so popular that they decided to keep going.

Great show with all the high energy and buffoonery that I’ve come to expect from them. What’s doubly amazing is that these guys are all in their late 40s and still out rock most bands half their age! I got knocked around in a mosh pit for a while at the front of the stage and managed to lose one of my custom earplugs (doh!). For all the money I paid for those things I’m not impressed with their ability to stick in your ears while your head moves around. I’m going to eventually get another pair but I’ll try and find something that doesn’t pop out so easily. In the meantime I’ve still got my box of disposable earplugs.

Tomorrow morning I’m up bright and early to head down to Seattle so we can see Green River and the Supersuckers play at the Showbox. Green River is a band from the mid-80s who were widely acknowledged as the first “grunge” band and featured members who would eventually go on to form Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. They’ve gotten back together recently to do a couple of one-off shows and we thought we’d better get out to see them since it’s unlikely they’ll ever play again.

It’s Always Better in the Middle of a Scrum

Just got home from a presentation about the “product owner” as part of the Scrum process. This is a geek thing, so feel free to skip this post if you’re not into software. Agile Vancouver brought in Dan Rawsthorne to do the presentation and he brought up many points that we’ve been wrestling with over at Lasso as we become more agile.

Dan’s got a blog that covers many of these points. My favorite was his take on the Product Owner’s role in the team, especially the bit about the “single wring-able neck.” That’s a good way to point out who’s ultimately responsible for the team’s progress and decisions.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

I’m back at home now after sorting things out at the mechanics. My car’s going in on Wednesday to get a used transmission put in which’ll cost $1300 + labor so I’m expecting a bill from $2000 – $2500. It’s a stinging bill, no doubt, but when I compare my car (purchased used for $9000 over 2 years ago) to the cost of buying and maintaining a new car I’m still way ahead. I knew that buying a used car would result in some bills like this over it’s lifetime and although it sucks, it’s still more cost effective in the long run than buying a new car. A 2009 Honda Civic runs at just over $20,000.

But you don’t want to read about my sob story. Back to Tuesday’s events. After Rebecca’s excellent presentation I wandered over to Reilly and Miranda’s to have a beer and wait for Dave and Amelia to roll into town on their way to Vernon. They hit the road right after work that day and planned to spend the night at my place. Sat up until 1:30am chatting. Oops! Was a little tired at work the next day.

Wednesday night was band rehearsal night. Our band has splintered into two bands now and Wednesday night was the “electric” band where we all go and make as much racket as we can.

Last night Shanman and a couple of other friends hit up the Speakeasy on Davie for a couple of beers and some talk about music, politics, and Chuck Palahniuk novels. I need to read more from that guy. His books are wonderfully twisted!

I’m heading over to Reilly and Miranda’s tonight where a pile of us will don the most horribly ugly sweaters that were picked up from thrift stores last weekend and try to stage the worst Christmas portraits imaginable. We’ve titled our event as “Family Portrait Day.” I’m going to shave down my hippie beard and sport a mustache for the occasion.

Sun It Rises

I’m chilling at Re-entry, a small coffee place on Main Street, where the Fleet Foxes are being played by the girl behind the counter. My car is in the shop so they can look into some clutch chatter I’m experiencing. Hopefully there isn’t anything terribly wrong. I’m a little worried because anything in the clutch/transmission area can’t be good.

The week’s been busy, but in a good way. On Tuesday I attended a presentation put on by the social media people at Third Tuesday. They’d taken over the Granville Room and had Rebecca Bollwitt of fame put on a presentation about building your personal brand through blogging. I got some great ideas from her talk and it’s made me think a little deeper about the content of this blog. There’s some other things I want to write about that aren’t related to what’s going on in my life and I don’t think the audience for this blog would be particularly interested. So I’ve got some thinking to do.

I’m going to cut this short because I just got a call from the shop and I need to put in a new transmission. Ouch! $1300… who needs money anyway.

How’s That Sweet Mustache Coming?

I’m growing it out as a full beard and will shave it down into a mustache near the end of the month. If I had my way I’d have shaved the whole thing clean off by now. Eating yogurt has never been so difficult (and messy) for me!

The good news is our team has already raised $365 for prostate cancer research and the month isn’t over yet! If you want to donate, you can find all the information on my previous post

In weekend news I checked out some local bands last night with Josh and Liam (one of the New Zealanders who accompanied us to Tofino). The band we went to see, Hefe, was quite good. The headlining band was terrible though. We fled after a couple of songs and headed home. 

This morning I hit up the Locus Cafe for breakfast with a friend of mine. I love the Locus. It’s probably my favorite breakfast place in all of Vancouver. The food is amazing and the place has the funkiest decor. 

Now I’ve just made a snap decision to go see the new Bond film at the Rio Theatre on Broadway. It’s a great little movie theatre just off Commercial Drive that originally started in 1938. A couple of years ago it was renovated and I think it’s one of the best places to see a film in the city. So I’ve gotta run…

Voting… Done

In 2005 I didn’t do my due diligence in selecting the mayoral candidate for Vancouver. I was too busy, so I said, and on voting morning turned to the Georgia Straight to see what their recommendations were. The Straight didn’t like either Sam Sullivan or Jim Green but gave their recommendation to Sam Sullivan because he was, “far more likely than Green to vote to save downtown Vancouver’s major hospital from the wrecking ball.”

In hindsight I would rather have taken my chances with Jim Green.

This year I did my homework and ended up voting contrary to the Georgia Straight’s recommendation. In a few hours we’ll know who won this contest.

Tonight I’ll be hitting up a new place called the Royal Unicorn to catch a friend of a friend’s band play and in the morning I’ll check the election results. Voting is over for the year. Yay!

The 2005 Georgia Straight article recommending Sam Sullivan:

Letters to the editor slamming the Georgia Straight for their recommendation of Sam Sullivan:

Mayor Races

I’m watching Wednesday’s mayoral debate so I can decide who to vote for later today.

When I watch Peter Ladner, he clearly states the facts and isn’t afraid to point out when an issue falls under provincial or federal jurisdiction. Gregor Robertson’s speeches sound good but tend to lack concrete action plans. My vote’s going towards Ladner, even though I prefer Robertson’s more aggressive stance on homelessness and transit. The bottom line is I have more faith in Ladner to get things done during his term in office.

One thing that’s become painfully clear is how dependent we are on the provincial government to solve the transit and homeless problems that Vancouver faces. The real place to effect change will be at the provincial level because they control translink and transit service funding. In addition, the provincial government, through BC Housing, is a large part of the social housing picture in Vancouver.

So I’m looking forward to the provincial election next year. At least we’ll have a break from voting for a while. I’m getting a little burned out from going to the ballot box every month.

Home Again

Yesterday was a pretty chill day in Tofino. Half our group went out kayaking and Reilly, Miranda, and myself went up to the old radar station site to check things out. I got a heap of photos, especially with all the bright foliage in the area.

R&M decided to head out for a nap after our wander so I got them to drop me off on the way into town so I could walk around and check things out. Found some interesting sights (which you can see on Flickr) and an awesome bookstore that stocked an impressive selection of books. It wasn’t a big place but all the books were well-chosen so you didn’t have to wade through masses of mediocre books like you do at Chapters. The lady working also had a cute dog named “Chewbacca” who was keeping an eye on the scene.

I hit up an art gallery after picking up a couple of books (Rum Diaries and a cookbook) that featured the artwork of Roy Henry Vickers, a native artist who’s made a name for himself on the coast.

That evening was mellow. We hit the Weigh West for their burger specials, had a couple pints of Winter Ale, and retired to the cabin to chitchat into the night.

The drive home today was fairly laid back and uneventful. We tried to go down a 4×4 road that shortcuts the highway but found ourselves at a dead end. Fun ride though. The river crossings were particularly exciting as was Reilly’s flat tire. The Nissan Xterras have a sensor that will light up on the dash when your tire pressure’s uneven which helps catch flats before the tire deflates and wrecks your rim.

We also stopped at Cathedral Grove to check out the old growth forest before the last bit of daylight disappeared. Neat place! Lots of big mossy trees to investigate.

I had an awesome time with everyone! The New Zealanders were especially fun to hang out with. We learned loads about their corner of the world, especially as they just went through an election and it gave us a chance to compare our different political systems. There was also much exchanging of music. I’ve promised to make a mixtape of Canadian bands like the Hip, Sam Roberts, Arcade Fire, and the like. They’re going to send along a recommended list of bands for us to check out.

Was great to hang out with Reilly and Miranda too. They’re at the tail end of their wedding season (they’re amazing wedding photographers) so they’ve been busy these past few months. Dave and Amelia were also out for beers after work and it was great to catch up on all their news.

I’ll be back out in Tofino at the beginning of December for some more adventures with Dave. Now it is time for some sleep. Can’t wait to get back out there. Tofino is fantastic! Ironically Vancouver was a monsoon when we returned so we timed the weather perfectly.

Tofino – Day 2

Yesterday was really fun in Tofino. The weather held out pretty well. A little wet, but some sun came out later on in the day while we parked at Schooner Cove and wandered along the shore to Long Beach. The views are stunning!

Then we did a little forestry road exploring (our friends drive 4×4 vehicles) and discovered some dense forest in the wilds behind the town. The trees were so thick that the sun was nearly blotted out and we were in near darkness. 

All the outdoor adventures made us hungry so we hit up the Wildside Grill situated in this cluster of small wooden buildings that house all sorts of neat shops. The New Zealanders popped into the chocolatiers and then we poked around the “Groovy Movie” store for a couple of videos for the evening. We picked out a copy of Where the Buffalo Roam, a film about Hunter S. Thompson, and The Royal Tanembaums. Both great films and we had a blast watching them that night. 

Our cabin overlooks the ocean so after the movies were done we turned out the lights and gazed over the moonlit ocean view outside our front windows. Beautiful! I think Tofino is one of the most amazing places ever.

Now we’re chilling at the cabin after a hearty breakfast and listening to all kinds of cool New Zealand bands. I love meeting people from other parts of the world and being introduced to new music. Not sure what the plan is for today. There’s talk of kayaking and wandering around. Not sure if I’m up for kayaking (what!?! I never miss kayaking!) and we might wander around the townsite for a while and take some more photos.