The Doodle Pad

Free Geek Thrift Store and Computer Recycling

Free Geek Sandwich SignDo you have an old computer or monitor you want to get rid of, but not in a dumpster? Putting it in your back alley and hoping someone picks it up is an option, but chances it will get stripped for metal and dumped. If you're in Vancouver there's a better answer: Free Geek!

Free Geek is a registered non-profit society that takes computer recycling the extra distance. They strip old computers and try to reuse everything they can out of it. Stuff that can't be reused is sold for scrap or disposed of in an ethical way. Parts that are still good are either used to build "new" computers or sold in their thrift store. If you're looking for a computer part, especially an older part, their store is a great place to check. The computers they build are sold in the thrift store, given to non-profit organizations through a hardware grant program, and used as a volunteer incentive (after a set number of volunteer hours you earn a "Geekbox").

So how awesome is that, by getting rid of your computer in a green way you're also assisting people and groups that might otherwise not be able to afford a system. And Free Geek doesn't receive a penny in government grant money. Brilliant.

If you're interested in checking out the Free Geek Thrift Store head in the front door and up the stairs. I was there looking for a long USB cable for my printer and scored a 2.5 meter cable for $5. Jax, the store guy, was excellent (in spite of me probably annoying the hell out of him taking pictures). I watched him quickly help the woman in front of me get a custom Kodak camera cable and over the phone point someone to a store that might have what Free Geek didn't.

Free Geek is located in an industrial area of northeast Vancouver not too far away from Commercial Drive. The street address takes you to the Thrift Store entrance. If you're dropping off you'll want to head for the alley.

You can find directions and details at the Free Geek website: Here's some pictures I took when I dropped by:

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RealD 3D - Not So Much

RealD 3D GlassesHave you seen any of the latest crop of 3D movies, yet? So far I've seen Coraline and Up (Dale's Up review) and my opinion is: 3D is one "D" too many.

I don't have great stereo vision. Wish I did, I don't. The IMAX 3D movies I've watched have worked ok for me, particularly if something is "drastically" 3D. One of the really early IMAX 3D movies has a scene where a robotic arm reaches into the crowd and breaks an egg. If you're sitting in the middle of the theatre it looks like the goop is falling into your lap. I moved just a bit! For images that have little "depth" the 3D effect is lost on me.

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Failure to Think Fast Enough in the First Degree

Yesterday morning I had a particularly bad case of post waking cognitive latency, which was partially cured when I opened my living room curtains and saw this:

Crime Scene Unit Van

In a classic race between the tortoise and the snail, two thoughts exploded off the starter blocks of my mind like a word spoken through a long yawn: 1) Crime scene investigation, wonder what happened? 2) Something isn't right here?

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North Vancouver Canada Day Parade 2009

Vancouver Sci-Fi FansIt's been a long time since I've watched a parade. A bunch of friends, under the banner of Vancouver Science Fiction Fans, donned costumes and entered this year's North Vancouver Canada Day parade. There's a lot of common membership among the different groups, so coming together for something like this is a natural. I believe it's the 3rd year the groups have done it. Since I wasn't motivated enough to make a costume of my own I thought it was past time to show up and cheer them on.

The Stargate fans made an actual Stargate! Very cool. Among the characters escorting the Stargate were Princess Leah, some Battlestar Galactica crew, Men in Black featuring Grga as Zed, and Rorschach (from Watchmen). North Vancouver's very own Spacepug, marching in the oh-so-glamorous orange BSG crew coveralls, inhaled some nasty paint fumes making a nice parade banner. Well done, everyone!

I couldn't believe how big the parade was, clocking in around 2 1/2 hours. I might be biased, but based on creativity and effort the Sci-Fi fans had one of the better entries. There were some local businesses that simply stuck a sign on a vehicle and drove. Boring. Other businesses were more innovative, like the North Shore News who sponsored cheerleaders, er, a spirit squad, and a few who used vintage or novelty cars.

My favourite entry — because of the great band memories it brought back — was the Freddy Fuddpucker marching band. They were having a ball, and the dude leading them could spin and toss his floor-mop baton like no one's business. I wanted to grab my trombone and join them! I also liked the floats with high energy music. Kudos to Mayors Richard Walton and Darrell Mussatto for riding bicycles in the parade while the Federal politicos used cars (though I'm told MP Andrew Saxton was actually walking behind his car). The other great costume of the day was the dude dressed up as Gene Simmon's Demon from KISS.

Here's the pictures I shot of the parade. Clicking on a thumbnail will bring up a full size picture.

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Root Beer Schnapps?!

Happy Canada Day! This post has nothing to do with Canada's birthday unless you count the lumber jack in the picture as a reference to those pioneering foresters who helped build our country.

A while ago podcasting buddy Marina and I were out for a bite to eat and I spotted this display in the liquor store window next to the restaurant.

Root Beer and Butter Ripple Schnapps

Root Beer and Butter Ripple Schnapps! And "naturally flavoured" to boot. It was so wrong I had to get a picture and share.

Perhaps the Jagerminz S'mores schnapps featured in the South Park episode The Red Badge of Gayness1 isn't so far from reality as I thought!

[1] To win a bet Cartman leads the townsfolk, who are drunk on s'mores schnapps after reenacting the American civil war, in a new civil war where the South wins.

The Translink Next Bus Feature

Have you ever walked out the door or stood at a bus stop and wondered when the next bus is coming? Translink's "Next Bus" service gives you an easy way to find out.

"Next Bus" isn't new, but doesn't seem widely known either. I periodically meet people who don't know about it, or don't know that it's available both via SMS text message on mobile phone and on the Translink website. I only discovered the website feature recently, myself. Here's how it works.

Every bus stop pole has a unique 5 digit number identifying the bus stop.

Bus Sign Bus Sign

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Toy Traders

Toy Traders ExteriorYesterday my friends introduced me to a store that has my vote as THE best toy store in the greater Vancouver area. It come up in conversation at Sunday's Dublin Crossing brunch when I asked if there were any good toy stores in Langley (I had a birthday present to buy). "Didn't I know about Toy Traders" they asked, a little surprised? Well no, I didn't. That's fixed, now.

Toy Traders is located on the Langley Bypass across from Willowbrook Mall. I'd have never found it on my own. If by some remote chance I had seen the store front but only peeked through the door, I'd have walked away. As you enter the store your first sight is toys for kids under 10. It isn't until you walk past the first row of shelves and see a full sized R2D2 that you get an inkling of the figurine and action figure goodness that awaits you.

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Sunday Brunch at Dublin Crossing

Dublin Crossing PubYou'll undoubtedly agree it's a drag when good friends move away. Some good friends of mine moved out to east Surrey and while I was happy for them, they could finally get dogs, their new lifestyle required a change in visiting habits. Enter Dublin Crossing.

Dublin Crossing is an Irish themed pub near the Surrey/Langley border at 188th street and Fraser Highway. On Sundays they put on a nice little brunch special. While the brunch menu it isn't extensive it has good honest versions of the usual suspects for a price that won't break the bank. My bacon and eggs were only $5, the French toast and omelet were both under $10 (pictures further on). The coffee isn't bad, either. They open at 11am and don't get busy till after 12:30 (hopefully this blog post won't change that too much!). It's a nice place to start a lazy Sunday visiting with friends.

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Moon Preview

Moon line-up here signLast Wednesday I scored a ticket to an advanced screening of the movie Moon. Many of the greater Vancouver science fiction groups were given passes, so it turned into a wonderful gathering of friends. The evening had a great expectant energy. Well done science fiction movies don't come along often and everyone had high hopes.

Adding to the evening's festivities was Marina's guest, "Pocket Edward." I'm not even going to try to explain it, so check out Marina's post: Pocket Edward at the Movies. You'll also find pictures of the evening.

Moon is a science fiction psycho-thriller. The story contains some cool mysteries and I won't be the one to spoil them for you. Although the story didn't ramp up the tension during the story, making for a bit of a flat ending, I really enjoyed figuring out the mysteries and the over-all story. It isn't a block-buster but it's a fun watch. If you're curious, check out my (no spoilers) review: Moon (the movie) Review.

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A Place for Reviews

To Do Checked ItemBack in May when I proclaimed, Digital Doodles - Now Powered by Drupal 6, I said:

If you're visiting here directly and not reading this in your RSS reader, you may have noticed there isn't much difference between the front page and the Doodle Pad page. I have more plans for the front page, that's all I'm saying right now.

I didn't want to give details for fear of jinxing the results, but now it's done! At long, long last I finally have my "Reviews" section in place, complete with its own block on the front page. Over the years Digital Doodles has suffered a number of abortive attempts at a review section. It feels really good to finally have it completed.

Speaking of reviews, the section is looking pretty empty. Time to start working on content!

Graphic by Navdeep Raj (

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