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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Monthly Archives: December 2003
The border crossing took 18 minutes or so. Not bad, given the color orange. But it helps to cross at 8 in the morning…
We’ve made it to Portland. Given how the weather is turning, we plan (assuming we can) to get out of here and cut things short, crawl down to Eugene and then cross over to the coast and make for Eureka. Depening on weather and how long that takes, we may or may not try to make it home tomorrow.
In all of the off-season travelling we’ve done up here, this is the first time we’ve hit weather that made us change travel plans. And having just looked out the window, Portland is a white mass of frozen water right now. It’s snowing.
Go figure. It’ll be interesting to see what the travel looks like in the AM. Even worse, the place we’re staying in, which we thought had real internet hookups, is still stuck in the dialup ages, so the powerbook is wired to the phone, and transmitting wireless to Laurie’s powerbook as a shared private network… Not fast, but it works painlessly…
snowing. Portland. jesus. who’da thunk?
Tomorrow we cross the border back to the states, leaving Vancouver behind. Today we breakfasted at Granville Island, then hopped the false creek ferry over to Hornby and walked downtown for a bit, then back into yaletown. dinner was at Provence at Marinaside, and was much appreciated. My ahi was wonderful, Laurie’s scallops were perfect.
The two shops we were most interested in today were Books to Cooks, a wonderful cookbook store (another of Laurie’s hobbies, she has almost 300 to date) — but we ended up not buying anything, because the books we were interested in are available in the states and it made no sense to buy them here — the one I was most interested in, in fact, turned out to be a Chronicle Books volume published in San Francisco. Go figure. After that, we wandered down to Coastal People’s Art Gallery, a gallery I’ve wanted to visit for a while, and had a nice chat with the people there. Very high quality and reasonably priced (we left with a nice pair of sterling eagle earrings for Laurie, more on that later), it’s definitely going to be on my short list for future gallery visits (stay tuned for that entry later…).
For those that care, I’ve also uploaded the last of my Victoria shots from this trip, and most of my Vancouver shots. Tomorrow morning, on to Portland and the New year. The weather so far has been chilly but cooperative, but it’s unclear that’ll continue as we head south again, so we’re seriously considering cutting our portland stop short by a day, rolling out to the coast, and driving down to Eureka to avoid the passes. If so, it’ll be the first time we’ve had to do this on our trips north during the off-season…
Why do we travel off-season like this? and why do we drive? Oh, um, stay tuned….
You know, I could get used to this…
Back in the hotel room after a late dinner at the Yaletown Brewing Company here in Yaletown (highly recommended, the Red Brick Bitter is wonderful, the food quite tasty). We’ve had a long walk, a nice rest, some good food, some wonderful alcohol, and topped it off with coffee and processed sugars — I think I’m ready to solve world hunger or something….
We’re staying in the Opus Hotel, an upscale mini hotel (97 rooms) that opened a little over a year ago in the Yaletown region of Vancouver. We’d originally explored this part of town (to the south and east of Granville down to false creek) back in 1999 when we came up here for the Grey Cup, and it was just starting to seriously gentrify. We’d heard it’d really taken steps forward, and we wanted to see what they’d done for the area.
Yaletown is an old industrial/warehousing district in Vancouver, with a lot of older buildings. Vancouver’s done a wonderful job of maintaining the flavor fo the area as it rebuilds, with a lot of buildings being turned into lofts or mixed use loft/retail. The emphasis on lofts gives it a real urban edge. Opus reflects that with a modern and contemporary design motif (if I say Designer Guys Urban Loft, you’ll either know what I’m saying or be totally confused….).
Some interesting design issues here in Yaletown stuck in my mind — the key one is that on Mainland, the main drag in the middle of Yaletown, the historic buildings were all warehouses, with attached raised loading docks and one-lane one-way roads. Where most towns would have pulled down those docks and widened the streets, Vancouver chose to protect them, turning them into wide walkways and patio areas, leaving the streets narrow and congested. this really keeps the flavor of the area alive, and is a pretty gutsy move from a planning view (it works because Vancouver has a good transit system that minimizes the need to drive in to these areas). You can see where in better weather the restaurants and pubs are going to expand out onto those areas and really add some liveliness.
Yaletown is definitely a mixed-use neighborhood, with a growing population of shopping (it’ll likely eventually be a major shopping area along with Gastown and Robson), and a really nice mix of pubs, clubs and restaurants, along with a growing number of lofted residential, plus the ubiquitous green-glass high-rise condos and apartments down in the Marinaside area on the water.
(even that works up here, because while Vancouver has regulated the coloring of the buildings, it demands a lot of architectural interest, so while all of the buildings tie in to each other, it’s far from boring — nothing is square. And from an urban planning basis, there’s a major committment here to open spaces and views, so it’s one of the few urban areas I can walk around without feeling closed in or stuck in canyons, because there aren’t any….)
A typical vacation day for us around here — breakfast is coffee and a scone of some sort (which is no problem around here, since it looks like coffee shops are mandated about every 100 feet or so), and then we walk and explore. Today we headed off to Marinaside, caught a false creek ferry for Granville Island and spent a couple of hours there walking and grumbling at why we can’t get something like that were we live…. I’d kill for those kinds of public markets.
then another ferry to the science center, and we walked the end of false creek to BC place, then from there down to gastown where Laurie wanted to grab something from Hill’s. Then we walked to the seabus, crossed to Lonsdale Quay for a quick lunch (more grumbles. No city should have two public markets like this until every city has one!), then back and over to the Pan Pacific, where we grabbed a taxi back to the Opus, where we turned on the finals of the skins game (curling! yeah!), and I fell asleep for a bit, then down to Yaletown brewing for dinner. And now I’m catching up on net stuff while watching a replay of canada/switzerland in the world juniors. All in all, 2, maybe 2 and a half miles today.
Tomorrow? probably Granville for breakfast, then focus more on Yaletown (there’s a great cookbook store here for Laurie, and a couple of galleries I want to snoop at…). Then perhaps dinner at Provence at Marinaside. Or maybe not, these days tend to be ad-libbed pretty heavily…
Weather is quite brisk — under 40F — but while we had rain (and snow) on the travel day, today and tomorrow both are quite pleasant, partly cloudy, little wind. So it’s great out and about weather if you dress properly.
More pictures once I process them, too.
Current weather here in Victoria: 45 F, somewhat windy, and partly cloudy.
current weather conditions at home in San Jose: 46 F and raining.
current weather in orange county, CA, where we’d be if we weren’t where we are: 61 F and raining.
two words most people don’t think of when they think of Victoria: rain shadow
And a happy holidays to one and all.
And to all of you children out there reading this blog, don’t you realize it’s almost christmas and santa won’t come if you’re awake? Go to sleep already, for crying out loud! This blog can wait until after you open presents!
And no, you can’t get that b-b gun! you’ll shoot your eye out!
As Laurie notes, we are both unplugged and at leisure at the same time for the first time in I don’t know how long. Because of my project’s requirements, and because of some of the stuff she’s been involved in, even when we’ve been on vacation the last couple of years, there’s still been some aspect of work going with us.
This time? almost none. On Friday, my programmer and I put down our stone axes and our bronze chisels about 4:30 and said “enough”. We left the project with two open items, one we think is fixed and will be tested while we’re gone, the other a couple hours short of fixing and we’ll get back on it starting 1/5 (in the past, I’d have been tempted to carry on with this now, but not this year. I’m ready for the break…)
I’ll be spending a very little amount of time making sure systems stay up and stuff that needs to be ready for Macworld is, but it’s other people doing the “ready for Macworld” part this time, thank god.
So we’re going to see what happpens when we have two weeks to ourselves without deadlines, at least deadlines not of our own making…
I think I’ll go take a bath. Back later. Maybe. maybe not. and ain’t that a great feeling….
A sad, but not surprising story talking about drug abuse problems in the QMHJL.
quote: A series of stories in La Presse suggests that up to 40 per cent of QMJHL players use various stimulants before games and depressants to help them sleep during long bus rides.
Please don’t for a second think that I’m minimizing the issue at hand (I’m not) or that I’m trying to say it’s not true (it is quite clear this is an issue at all levels of competitive sport in many, if not all, sports). But I have some issues with this story.
For instance: substances used by some of the QMJHL’s 380 players include ephedrine, creatine, amphetamines, marijuana and various relaxants — tossing in creatine in this list is like tossing in Vitamin B or Ibuprofen, and complaining about the number of pills the players are taking. It doesn’t belong on this list (whether it belongs on any list is arguable). If the author of the story doesn’t understand the difference between creatine and the other substances they’re worried about, he didn’t do his homework.
And not once does the author, or any of the officials he quotes, mention the world “alcohol”. Hello? HELLO? — what is the number one abused substance in the universe (except in baseball, where it’s probably chewing tobacco). Hint: it’s not marijuana. And either you are serious about solving abuse issues, or you aren’t. And if you aren’t dealing with alcohol as an abusable substance, you aren’t serious. If you aren’t going to deal with the alcohol problems on these teams, don’t worry about marijuana, either.
Leagues very definitely have to get these abuse issues under control. But it should start with alcohol. To mention creatine and ephedrine but not booze indicates to me the officials involved are either naive, playing PR games, or incredibly stupid. And I’m not betting on stupid.
End of a long, long week. Exhausted, but in positive ways.
The project that derailed is back on track, performance problems solved; in fact, this week we hit a historic usage level, as well as some nice landmark usage numbers; growth is about 40% year over year right now, which is awesome, but also explains how we got into the little disaster as well; when you are bringing on that much more stuff and new clients and all of that, the risk factors surrounding system issues change — but we never stopped to re-evaluate them. What would have been an okay “damn, we have to fix that!” turned into a “my god, we’re screwed!” along the way, and I didn’t notice.
Different ballgame now. Good change, now that the dust has settled. The follow-on release we rescheduled into January we took yet another look at, and thought that just maybe, we could sneak it in before we do the holiday lock down, if everything broke right. And a week later, we’ve met all of our targets. So far. We’re hopeful, and that’s sort of carried my focus this last week. But we rolled the release out for testing on the revised-revised-revised schedule on time, and so far, testing has shown it to be solid, with no significnat issues so far.
All of which has me in a much better mood now. It also helps that we have no new major project on the horizon; we’re stopping major new development for a bit to sweep up the sawdust and do some landscaping. We have to take a step back and fix up and upgrade the underlying infrastructure to handle these new loads — and get ready for the next round of growth. So we’ve been doing a lot of talking on development processes, project management, and etc. And my xserve with the RAId for the MySQL database is ready, and I get to go play starting Monday or so! (yippee!). Given so many of our processing chokepoints turn out to be an 8Gig SCSI disk on an E-250, I can’t wait.
But it also means that after two years of “need it yesterday mode”, I’m starting to shift back into a more normal world again. I might actually finish some stuff, instead of just get it far enough to look worked on… (grin)
Which sort of leads me to another things that’s I’ve been chewing on the last six months or so. I’ve been feeling more and more like I need to get involved in the community in some way; not the virtual one where I’ve put in time over the years, but the real one, and put something back into the region I get so much from. One problem — not time — seems to be receding. The other problem, what to do, hasn’t. I’ve been trying to find a group where some of my knowledge and skills could add more than just sweat equity to the game (I would happily donate time cleaning kennels at the humane society, for instance, and I might in fact do that also down the road, but I’d like to find something that better leverages me, not just the time I’m donating).
And purely by happenstance, I ran into someone I knew by reputation who runs a non-profit here in Silicon Valley and went and introduced myself, and we spent some time talking to him about some of the work he’s done the last few years. Which led to me realizing that someone else I been introduced to was in fact president of the board of directors of that organization. And it’s an organization that’s doing things I’m interested in, and that I think I can add value to. And so it seems stuff is suddenly clicking into place.
(yes, I’m consciously not naming names here; the discussion will continue in January after the holidays, and if we decide to move forward, then I’ll talk further. I’m just thrilled to finally have a direction to move in…)
It’s got pretty much everything I’m looking for, I think. I have some skills that I can leverage beyond the “average” volunteer for them, it’s established, I can step in at a low level with a low profile and not need to take a leadership position, it’s got a strong people aspect, and there’s a nice political taste to it, an area I was looking to explore. And it’s real world, not virtual.
So we’ll see. gee, my life is so empty I’m looking for new projects.
Hey, I was bored once. It bored me. Life’s too short.
But at least I’m in a good mood again, no?