The Doodle Pad

This Pedometer was Made for Walking

Pedometer and ShoeThe human brain really sucks at measuring things without some sort of device. Unless you're Rain Man or practice, you're probably you're probably not going to be accurate, especially measuring over time. A simple test. How much money have you spent this week? How many cups of coffee, juice, tea, water or pop have you drank today? How many times have you used the washroom? How many steps have you walked?

That last question is the subject of this post.

When I started working from home the amount of "background" walking I did in a day plummeted. The commute from the bedroom to the desk just doesn't compare with walking to work, to the bus, or walking to and from the parking lot. Knowing my steps decreased I was curious to find out just how much walking I did in a day, so I bought a pedometer.

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Some Puzzles are Good

Crossword and coffeeWhat is it about the human brain that likes solving puzzles for fun? Those little or not so little mysteries we can't leave alone. And the diversity! From computer games to jigsaw puzzles to sudoku to detective stories, there's a puzzle for everyone. Although computer games have long been my puzzle of choice there's a classic brain teaser challenging my grey matter: the crossword puzzle.

I wasn't keen on crossword puzzles as a kid, they were too much work to be fun. Rooting around dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias for answers wasn't my idea of a great time. In fact, it seemed more like a form of playtime terrorism. Crosswords remained on my “no fly” list until a few months ago. A certain friend of mine has a habit of pulling out a crossword and making it a community event. Damned if I didn't enjoyed it, and double-damned if I didn't enjoy enough to go solo.

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Emily Carr 2010 Foundation Exhibition

Emily Carr Foundation Students 2010We live in a world surrounded by talent we seldom get a chance to appreciate. On Friday a chance presented itself, though I didn't know it at the time. The first year ("Foundation Year") students at Emily Carr celebrate completion of their first year with an exhibition of projects they've created in their classes. My friend Seth is one of those students. Though I went to celebrate his completion of first year and check out the work he has in the show, I found much more to enjoy.

The event is called the Emily Carr University of Art + Design's 2010 Foundation Exhibition, and this was opening night. The exhibition is open all week and is being held in the concourse gallery space and class rooms at the Granville Island campus. The entrance had this sign of the entire first year cohort, tempting many people, myself included, to play a game of "where's Waldo" looking for people I knew. The group photo gave away no clues of the sights within.

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Books, Bookcrossing, and Meetup

Lower Mainland Bookcrossing It's ironic that reading is a highly solitary activity because if you're like me you love talking about a book after you've finished it! There are few better conversations than comparing story notes with someone who loved a book as much as I did, and the opportunity doesn't come up as often as it should. Fortunately, Vancouver's Lower Mainland Bookcrossing Meetup Group is dedicated to exactly this activity with an added bonus: You can get new books to read and give away books you don't want to keep!

The Lower Mainland Bookcrossing Meetup Group is the fusion of two great ideas. The first is bookcrossing, which is "the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise"1. The second is a meeting of book lovers. Put them together and you have twice monthly meetings where people bring books they want to leave for others to enjoy, perhaps find one or two or five books to enjoy themselves, and have an evening of sometimes sedate, sometimes raucous conversation. Any books unclaimed at the end of the meeting are left for others to discover.

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VPL Spring 2010 Book Sale

Three times a year the Vancouver Public Library has a book sale to clear out books they no longer want: Last week was the spring 2010 sale and some of us bookcrossing types made the trek downtown in search of the elusive bar-goon.

VPL Book Sale

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Handy BC Travel Websites

If you're travelling in BC, especially when there's a risk of snow, there are a couple of websites you'll be glad to know about!

The BC Ministry of Transportation runs the website:

Drive BC Screen Shot

It isn't immediately apparent from the home page, but there's a lot of good information contained within. Click on Related Links and you'll see It contains, among many things, webcam pictures from highway traffic cameras, info on construction delays, and estimated border wait times. And everything has a unique URL so you can bookmark pages of interest.

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Walking on the Veg Side

Young meWhen I was a kid and first heard about vegetarians it didn't make sense. I couldn't imagine life without meat. It's one of those ironies of life that I'm now moving towards a vegetarian diet.

In my pre-adult world vegetables were a distraction from the main event. The only vegetables I remember liking were picked straight from the garden and eaten raw. In most cases vegetables were an unpleasantness to be avoided, and some - especially cream corn - were an ultimate evil (I couldn't eat cream corn without gagging a little). The real flavour was in meat and carbs, why bother with vegetables? I couldn't wait to grow up and escape the craziness.

The first inkling I had that veggies might actually be desirable was in the dorm while attending BCIT. Some of my dorm-mates were cooking vegetables when they didn't have to! One guy was cooking asparagus for gods sake, and no one had a gun to his head. Asparagus! Oh sure, he doused it in cheese sauce, but he said he liked asparagus. I thought he might be lying and the asparagus just an excuse for cheesy goodness, but the cheese sauce didn't look that appetizing, either. In the back of my mind I wondered if I'd missed something.

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Pixar's Dylan Brown at Emily Carr

It's gold when you find someone that is good at the thing they do, good at explaining the thing they do, and good at entertaining you when they're explaining the thing they do. Last Thursday I found gold in Dylan Brown, Creative Director of Pixar Canada, at his talk for the Emily Carr's Presidents' Lecture Series: Pixar's Film Making Process - with an emphasis on the application of traditional fine art skills in the digital realm.

Dylan Brown at Emily Carr

As you would expect from a man who's worked on A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles the presentation was packed with lots of art and animation examples. Brown discussed both the physics of movement and importance of the art. What set this presentation apart from similar presentations I've seen in the past was Brown's clarity around one unifying aspect of the work:

It's all about the story.

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Pink Elephants and Cocks: Seattle Neon

If I said I'd encountered pink elephants and cocks in neon last weekend, what would you think? You'd be wrong!

The Seattle Space Needle is one of the most iconic features in downtown Seattle, but in my personal canon the neon pink elephant of the Elephant Car Wash, ugly though it may be, is just as significant. It's just so damn memorable! At the corner of Denny Way and Highway 99 I invariably pass it at least once if I'm venturing into downtown Seattle. And it seems like every time I pass it I'm on my way to making happy memories or reminded of past ones. My hotel for the 2010 Emerald City Comicon was four blocks away, and the happy elephant greeted me in the morning on my way to the con, and welcomed me back again in the evening.

Elephant Car Wash Sign

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Emerald City Comicon 2010

ECCC 2010 Badge & GuideWhen you say the words: Comic books, science fiction, and road trip in a sentence you have my attention!

The 8th annual Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) was last week. I joined a couple friends for a weekend in Seattle to get my geek on at my first ever comicon. My interest in comics isn't big enough by itself to draw me south of the border. However, ECCC has a SciFi/Fantasy pop culture element which included talks by Leonard Nimoy and Wil Wheaton, both people I'd like to hear, and some interesting panels. I was in. Would I regret it?

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