The Doodle Pad

Whistler Film Festival 2014

Whistler International Film Fest
Photo by Marina Antunes

The Whistler Film Festival is one of my much anticipated yearly events. It's a four day event that usually runs the first weekend of December. The After the Credits podcast crew and assorted friends get a lodge room in the village from Thursday to Sunday and geek out watching film and socializing.

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Chicago Day 3 and 4

Dale at Chicago Second CityDrupalCon is in full swing so the time for sightseeing is gone. Although there's a convention related activity happening for almost every waking moment last night and tonight I blew off the organized conference activities to do some things I wanted to do in Chicago.

Being a pizza fan I just couldn't leave Chicago without trying deep dish pizza. My partners in gastronomy were Dee Ann, who's covering the conference CMS Wire, and a work colleague. We found one of the recommended places and gave it a try. I never thought I'd suffer from a cheese overdose, but I did on Tuesday. It was tasty, but not a style I see myself craving that often. I don't even want to know how many calories it was.

Tonight was a show at Chicago Second City. I am forever thankful for my colleague thinking of it. It was awesome A-Game comedy. We were right in front of the stage and somewhat in harms way, as it turned out. I became part of the show for a brief moment when one of the actors kissed me on the head as he exited the stage. Now there's a unique Chicago memory!

Tomorrow is my last day in Chicago, and sadly it will be all conference and no play time. I haven't been to that many American cities, but Chicago has become my favourite. I could even see myself living here. I really hope I get a chance to come back one summer.

Chicago Day 2

Dale at DrupalCon 2011It's the day before the conference starts, the day when everyone, myself included, are arriving and checking in for DrupalCon. After breakfast this morning my Wisconsin friend dropped me off at the Sheraton Chicago, which is both the conference hotel and where I'm staying for the conference. I love it when I can stay in the conference hotel!

I wanted to take advantage of the "calm before the conference storm" and see a bit of downtown. If I had done this the "right" way I would have done some research ahead of time, but I let serendipity be my guide. I saw a twitter post about some group meeting up a burger joint named M Burger that was supposed to be really good. It was as good a direction to go as any. Turns out the place seats like 10 people and has some major line-ups. If the group made it there I missed them. The burger wasn't anything special but the chocolate milkshake was pretty good. Their vegeburger is called the "Nurse Betty".

People have commented on how they like the architecture of Chicago. From a distance it's kind of a visual cacophony of new and old. Wandering and driving around neighbourhoods I could appreciate individual buildings, and there's some beautiful ones. There's also a lot of nice looking public spaces and parks.

Oh, I also tripped over the Apple store. On a whim I went in and asked about the iPad 2s. They won't be in till Friday. I'm sure there will be quite a few DrupalCon folks in line.

I really hope I can come back to Chicago during the spring or summer to enjoy some of the public spaces and water front.

There's one other conclusion I've come to, Vancouver is so damn small.

Here's some photos from today.

Hello Chicago

Yesterday I arrived in Chicago and met up with a friend who came down from Wisconsin. Ultimately I'm headed to DrupalCon but I came down a day early to visit and see a bit of Chicago. 

Downtown Chicago

Today we headed out to explore and I got to see Chicago and the surrounding area in the light. It's so flat here! We didn't get a chance to do a lot of exploring but did drive around a little and make it over to the Field Museum.

Almost all of the shore front I saw is public space. I wish the weather was a bit nicer, it would have been fun to walk or rent a bike. There are a lot of wonderful old brick buildings. Not sure what they'd be like to live in but they look nice. While Chicago itself is nice the surround area is suburban drab.

Even though I've only scratched the surface, so far I'm liking Chicago.

Seattle's Airport Link

Yesterday I traveled through Seattle on my way to Chicago. To save a few beans I caught a plane out of Seattle instead of Vancouver. Originally I had planned on taking the Vancouver/SEATAC shuttle bus, but it turned Marina and her beau were headed to Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) so I hitched a ride to downtown Seattle. I figured I'd catch one of the hotel airport shuttles when I found out about a Seattle's new Link Light Rail system out to SEATAC airport.

Seattle Link Train at Pioneer Statoin
Photo by Shayne Kaye

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The Secret Outlook At Lonsdale Quay

Lonsdale Quay and TowerIf you've Seabussed to North Vancouver or walked around Lonsdale Quay you've seen the red tower with the rotating Q on top. Did you know the tower platform is open the public? If you answered no, don't worry, you're not alone. Tower access isn't well advertised and most people, including North Vancouver locals, are unaware that the best public view on lower Lonsdale is only a 30 second stair climb from the Lonsdale Quay Market.

Wondering where the tower entrance is? Hiding in plain site!

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A Tour of the ROKS Yang Man Choon and Hwa Cheon

Yan Man Choon Bow ShotIt feels like lightning has struck twice in the same place. By same place I mean the Burrard Drydock Pier in North Vancouver, and by lightning I mean a visit by a foreign Navy from a different continent. Last weekend the Republic of Korea ships (ROKS) Yang Man Choon and Hwa Cheon visited North Vancouver and were open to public for four days. They're on a combined good will and training tour, visiting all the nations that fought on their side in the Korean war.

The ROKS Yang Man Choon, DDH 973, is a Korean built DDH-I (Gwanggaetodaewang) class destroyer. The ROKS Hwa Cheon, AOE 59, is a combat support and supply ship. The two ships were rafted together side-by-side, making it easy to miss the Hwa Cheon. The configuration made it easy to traverse from one ship to the other and the tour they laid out took advantage of this.

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Nairn Falls Provincial Park

Nairn FallsFalling water and waterfalls. Context is everything!

Water wasn't falling from the sky last Sunday so some friends and I decided to checkout another kind of falling water at Nairn Falls Provincial Park. The park is 32 km north of Whistler, B.C. and 3 km south of Pemberton, B.C. In addition to its namesake, Nairn Falls, the park consists of campsites, short term parking for hikers, outhouses (pit toilets), water, and a few picnic tables.

According to information sites the park has three commonly used trails as well as access to the Pemberton Valley. We were there to see the falls, a 1.5 km walk from the parking lot.

The walk is an easy one with very little elevation change and no long steep climbs. The trail is dirt with a lot of uneven ground, which may add a degree of difficulty for some people. It follows the Green River, which is quite cold. On a hot day you'll pass through tantalizing wisps of cool air coming off the river. Oh to have a magic spell that could bottle that up! For most of the trail's length there is a steep drop down to the river on one side, something to think about if you have young children, and a mountainside on the other. I found the walk visually appealing. It's almost entirely shrouded in trees, giving it the feel of a forest tunnel.

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VSteam's One-Day Steampunk Mini-Con

VSteam Mini-Con PosterLast Saturday VSteam, Vancouver's Steampunk group, held a one day Steampunk Mini-Convention. What's steampunk? Wikipedia has as good a description as any: Wikpedia on Steampunk.

Organizing an event is a lot of work and VSteam gets high marks for the location and over-all organization. Picking Barclay Manor in Vancouver's West End was brilliant. While not Victorian the manor house and grounds gave the event a natural ambiance. The people in costume simply belonged there.

The most happening aspect of the mini-con while I attended was the vendor area. There was interesting stuff on display and since everyone was wandering through it was essentially a promenade for the costumes. There's a large grass area — not sure if you'd call it a small field or a large lawn — next to Barclay Manor. At various times there was a game of croquette, sabre fighting, fisticuffs, and, as I was leaving, a band was setting up.

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English Bay Sunset

These pictures were taken last month at English Bay. A group of us were enjoying the evening when the "god rays" appeared. I got my friend Seth to take a couple of pictures with my camera (my hand isn't steady in low light conditions). The far-too-cold for June evening was somewhat offset by the sunset.

English Bay Sunset

English Bay Sunset - God Rays
Photo by Seth Rutledge

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