The Doodle Pad

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to you all!

It's been a slow January for yours truly. Maybe because it's wet and grey during the day and then utterly dark by 5:30. Maybe it's post-Christmas blahs. Maybe just because. Regardless, it's been hard getting excited by much of anything, and hard getting motivated to do stuff. Thank goodness nothing really bad has happened, that's a recipe for cocooning in a blanket until Spring.

There has been a bright spot. I've read more excellent books in the last 2 or 3 weeks than I did in the last 2 months. Some of them were Christmas gifts and others were loaned to me. They include the most recent releases in David Weber's Honor Herrington universe, Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos universe, and Terry Pratchett's Disc World universe. And a friend introduced me to Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings universe. It's heaven discovering a new author to love, especially when she has a large catalog of books! I haven't had this much fun since I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold.

Though slow, it's not such a bad start to the New Year. Now, if Vancouver could only get more than 3 hours of bright sunshine . . .

Image from PETE'S POWER POINT STATION

Christmas "Notes"

Newest Guitar HeroDoing the extended family thing for Christmas. One house, three generations.

We open our presents on Christmas day. Now that my niece and nephew are grown the early morning wake-up pressure is gone. Being teenagers, they're usually the last ones up. Works for me. I like getting my shower and morning coffee in before the wrapping paper flys.

This year's winning gift, with no serious competition, is Guitar Hero III. What a hell of a lot of fun! Technically it's my nephews, he's the one with the XBox 360. Poor bastard, he's had to share with two out of the three generations in the house. My folks were curious, but didn't have any interest in playing. The teens and forty-somethings are all waiting their turns to rock out. I checked the website and it's available for the Wii. I see one in my future.

I hope your Christmas and/or holiday is equally as fun, however you're celebrating it.

My Cold Weather Bag

Car cold weather bagWith the weather they're calling for this winter, even on the coast, I decided to double check my "cold weather driving bag". It's a bag I throw into my trunk come fall when the weather starts to turn, typically around the time I do my yearly Thanksgiving drive to the Okanagan or Interior.

Being a Vancouver boy the clothes I'm wearing wouldn't do for a cold overnight or getting stuck in a snow storm. The bag contains a snow suit with gloves, boots. and touque, plus a set of candles. I've read the warmth from a candle inside your car can make a big difference, though I've lain down in a snow bank in 20 below and been quite comfy in the snow suit. Either way I'm covered unless things get severe!

I've only had to use the bag once when we had the huge blizzard that shut everything down for 3 days. Was that the late 90's or early 2k's? I could have gotten by without it, but it was sure nice peace of mind when the road started to look impassable and I thought I was going to have to hunker down for a while!

Ms. Zephyr's Notebook Book Signing

Authors kcdyer and James McCannDid someone say chocolate?

Today I had the pleasure of dropping in on one kc dyer, who is simultaneously a friend, former Writing Association colleague, sometimes supervisor, and sometimes partner in crime. I get to call her k. c.

kc was at an Indigo in my part of town with fellow young adult author James McCann doing a book signing event. And in a small world total fluke kind of way I'd already met James McCann; we had a great lunch conversation at the Surrey International Writers' Conference this year.

Ever the marketers, she and McCann were handing out chocolate kisses and brownies to anyone who wanted to stop and check them out (Note to event planners, the two-bite brownies are apparently extremely popular). There was an added treat if you actually bought a book. Chocolate from kc and fake fangs from James. Gender stereotypical sure, but you gotta love it!

kc's newest book is Ms. Zephyr’s Notebook. It's a 2007 Cybils Nominee for Middle Grade Fiction. Check it out if you're looking for a gift of words for a young adult in your life. If James' book, Pyre is as interesting as he is, it's worth a look, too.

Here's a few more pictures from the signing, click for full size:

Authors kcdyer and James McCann at Indigo book signing event on December 5, 2007 Ms. Zephyr's Notebook, by kcdyer Pyre, by James McCann Talk to the authors, get a treat. That's the last brownie, they're very popular. kcdyer signing a copy of her book, Ms. Zephyr's Notebook

Continue reading Ms. Zephyr's Notebook Book Signing

Real Genius Laser Gun Ship

Real Genius LaserBack in 1985 a movie named Real Genius (http://imdb.com/title/tt0089886/) was released. It's a fun little coming of age teen revenge comedy involving boys and lasers; kind of a Animal House goes to MIT. And although there was no Internet back then, Rotten Tomatoes rates it 74% fresh.

In the story the students don't realize the laser system they're developing is destined for use by the Air Force in an aerial laser gunship. Although the movie was totally fictional it did capture a certain reality of what a real laser of the day looked like, which is distinctly not like you've seen it in any sci-fi movie.

I thought of Real Genius today when I read this piece, Laser Gunship Revealed, at DefenseTech.org. The movie's conceptualized laser gunship from 22 years ago almost exactly matches this description.

The work here isn't as prescient as some movies have been. Putting a laser on an airplane is a pretty natural thought. What I find cool is the movie's writers and director took a bit to time to make it real instead of pulling it out of their ass!

I Found The End of a Rainbow!

Yesterday I saw the most vivid rainbow I've ever seen. Ever. Period. And it was a double rainbow no less. One of the ends looked no more than a block away and I just had to see if I could find where it touched the ground, in spite of the torrential downpour. And sure enough there it is was, ending just past the bus stop on Lonsdale! And I have pictures! (Click for larger version)

Left side of Rainbow Rainbow Hits Lonsdale

I wasn't sure I'd catch it on film, but there it is (it doesn't jump out at you, but it's there)! Even though I must have looked the idiot standing in the middle of the sidewalk getting soaked holding my coat over my camera so it didn't get wet, it was so worth it. The bad news, I was too late to grab the pot of gold . . . or maybe it was at the other end.

Here's all of the pictures I took:

Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007 Rainbox in North Vancouver on December 5, 2007

Cry of the Phoenix Book Launch

Cry of the Phoenix Book CoverLast month I attended a book launch party for Cry of the Phoenix by Colleen O'Connor. It was a Shebeen Club event held at the Shebeen Whiskey House (an offshoot of The Irish Heather). I'd been wanting to make a Shebeen Club event for some time but there always seemed to be some conflict or another stopping me. The stars were in proper alignment this month and I could actually make it.

I'm not sure if Cry of the Phoenix is my kind of book but I'm looking forward to reading it. Although the event's chapter reading didn't inspire me, the side discussions from people who had read the book did. It's hard not be curious about a life that could have gone in two very different directions. And it's nice that it's a local story.

The presentation portion of the evening was recorded by yours truly and is available for listening at Cry of the Phoenix podcast on Shebeen Club Radio!.

My Recording Habit

MicrophoneAudio recording and videography are both things I've been interested in for a very long time. In my last year of high school I became involved with the local Cable Vision community channel and loved it. I wish there had been a way of keeping it up, but moving away after graduation kiboshed that. After a number of false starts along the way, this year marks the successful continuous production of actual audio content with the Mad Film Gab podcast! So far I haven't produced any content for Digital Doodles but I'm hoping to change that.

For those of you interested in audio/video production, I'm starting to post entries at my Group 42 site (http://www.group42.ca). For example, at Group 42 I've just posted my early experiences with my new audio recorder: Zoom H2 audio recorder. Group 42 is becoming my "left brain" site for all things technical, while Digital Doodles is loosing its technical content and keeping the creative stuff to become more "right brain" (and to some extent struggling with what it wants to be, which is a typically creative thing to do, don't you think?).

As before, I'll continue to post pointers to content I've produced for other sites or flag stuff on Group 42 that might be of interest here. And for those of you who visit the site directly without benefit of RSS, check out the right side bar for a box showing Group 42 content, just in case something interesting pops up!

Snow, JavaScript, and BCIT

Snowy North Vancouver street - the morning after the snowfall before Today I had to venture forth for an all day class at BCIT. JavaScript, in case you're curious. Ironically enough, this class had been originally scheduled for October but had been pushed back not once, but twice. The snow furies undoubtedly smacked their lips as they watched this event wandering down the calendar into their temporal neighbourhood, low hanging fruit for a little transportational mischief.

Looking off the balcony this morning it didn't look too bad for a day after the snowfall before. The weather report called for more snow, but had it turning to rain later in the day. The snow came on time, but wasn't turning to rain quickly enough for the instructor. Seems Maple Ridge was getting nailed somewhat harder than this side of the Fraser river. At least, that's what his wife was telling him.

Yours truly wasn't that worried. The nice thing about computing classes at BCIT is internet access. Checking the Ministry of Highway traffic cameras I could see the snow wasn't sticking to the road. And unlike some other years, I have really good all season tires on the ride. Unfortunately, the instructor wasn't so sanguine. A 10 minute lunch, abbreviated labs, and conversion of the final exam from in-class to take home resulted in an early day.

I had my camera with me, so I took the opportunity to wander around and take some pictures (click the thumbnail for a larger version).

Continue reading Snow, JavaScript, and BCIT

Welcome to December

As we stepped into the night air late yesterday evening my friends and I commented on how it felt like snow. Indeed.

North Shore snow

Apparently the snow furies read my blog post yesterday and thought I was missing out (there's that anthropomorphizing, again).

Judging from the amount of snow on the street versus on the mountains, there wasn't actually a lot of snow fall. It just didn't melt away because the temperature is still quite cool out there (I can't say cold, least I cause uncontrolled laughter in my relatives further inland).

Apparently the predictions are calling for a cooler than normal winter, so we can expect a lot more of the white stuff at street level in the coming months. Or so I'm told.

Welcome to December.

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