The Doodle Pad

The Synthetics at The Shipyards

What's your experience with free, outdoor, live music venues? Mine is pretty hit and miss. I'm happy to chance across one, but I won't make an effort to go. Most of the time.

I got this email from a friend. A workmate plays in a band yada yada performing in your neighbourhood yada yada join us, it'll be fun. Ummmm. Also, dinner beforehand. OK, good food and company even if the band sucks.

The Synthetics at The Shipyards

The Sythetics start their show at The Shipyards, North Vancouver

The band in question is The Synthetics. They play high energy rock hits from the 80's. And they don't suck! The three hour concert consisted of favourites like White Wedding/Rebel Yell (Billy Idol), Take on Me (a-ha), She Bop (Cyndi Lauper), Space Oddity (David Bowie), Love is a Battle Field (Pat Benatar), and Sweet Dreams (Eurthymics). I loved how they caught the style and sound for each song. Much fun was had singing along to these old favourites and others.

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Speakers as Portable as You Are

Have you discovered portable wireless speakers? They're wonderful! If you want to know why, read on.

If you're like me you love having audio that's as free to move around as you are. The portable audio player is one of my favourite 21st century innovations and my podcast player is the most used app on my cellphone. I listen while I'm on transit, out for a walk, or puttering in the apartment. But there's a problem with that portability. Earbuds or headphones aren't always the best listening option, especially in the apartment. My answer is wireless speakers!

Logitech UE Boombox
My wireless speakers on top of the fridge, with mug for size reference

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Sabbatical 2017: Deja vu all over again

Happy minionMy job ended Easter Friday. I was laid-off. Or as the British say, made redundant. Made redundant is so much more evocative. Regardless of what you call it ...

I'm happy!

This is my fourth layoff. Three of the four layoffs -- including this one -- have been welcome. In each case I was ready for a change. Fortunately I was also debt free, qualified for EI, and had money in the bank. There were bad times as well as good between the jobs, but each layoff resulted in my life improving. And ironically the unwelcome layoff turned out too short in the end, I was recalled but wasn't ready to go back!

So here I am with a new opportunity to focus on me. And I have plans! They include improving my technical skill-set in areas I feel are weak, doing “The Purge 2017” to clean the detritus of 20 years living in one place, and hopefully taking a trip. I began calling this time: Hiatus 2017, but friends kept referring to it as my sabbatical. I'll go with the flow, Sabbatical 2017 it is.

I'm also planning on writing an hour each day. Writing helps me clarify thoughts, gives me an excuse to explore, and connects me with the world in a strange, message-in-a-bottle kind of way. And technical writing at my other site,, helps me to better understand the topic at hand.

Thus, this post. The first in 2 1/2 years I see. If all goes to plan it won't be the last.

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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