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Ukulele and Remembrance Day

I’ve yet to go through all my Hawaii pictures and pare them down to a palatable 20 minute slide show.  I will say this about the trip though: the highlight for the four of us was catching Derick Sebastian, live, playing ukulele at the Hula Grill in Ka’anapali.  You can see him go nutso here (assuming he hasn’t changed his website, a video of him playing a Santana piece should load).


I attended the annual Remembrance Day service at Victory Square yesterday morning.  I managed to nab a few decent shots of the activities from a rather limiting vantage point—through the windows of a second-floor landing of an adjacent building.  The weather was cooperative; the service itself, stirringly beautiful.

Crowd 1


Forces 1

Our Forces

Vancouver Mayor

Mayor of Vancouver Lays Wreath



Wreath 1



Somebody's Father



Here are a few shots taken in the building…

Staircase from 1910

Staircase from 1910

Behind Door 1101

Behind Door 1101

…and one snapped on the walk back from the Square to Stadium SkyTrain station.

Woodward's Billboard

Woodward's Billboard

Two From Justin Hines

Face it.  I’m the sappy type.

So much so that I was suffciently moved to post my favourite music video here, Justin Hines’ Wish You Well.

Unlike most music videos these days, the music, and the video are standalone brilliant, each telling its own—yet the same—story.  Each frame of the very wide aspect ratio video is a well-composed still life.

Assuming you have a decent Internet connection, sit back, and enjoy this warm, beautiful and very human video.

And if you’re not familiar with Justin Hines, here is one more, Say What You Will.

Gotta run…anyone know where my man-purse is?

Further Evidence That Children Live Here #2

My son was playing with his cars in the reception room yesterday.  I guess the IKEA Nils stool pictured below serves as a parking garage.  Both Betty and I like the funky fabric pattern.

IKEA Nils Stool

IKEA Nils Stool

Below is a similarly-sized stool we picked up this weekend at the local Restoration Hardware warehouse sale, called the “Hutton”, which retails for three times that of the Nils.  With the kids, I think the plastic wrap will stay on for a while.  :-)

Restoration Hardware's "Hutton" stool

Restoration Hardware's "Hutton" stool

The highlight of my weekend was the Portman 9-drawer dresser we got for a song.  I think Betty’s more happy about the $99 shams she bought for $9.99; and the huge black-framed mirror for $89—this bad boy is going to elevate us into the interior designer crowd because we’re electing to not mount it and instead let it sit on the floor leaning against a wall.  And to think we almost didn’t go…

Some Neat Stuff

I’m usually not one for posting links, but here ya go—

Aisle 6

Aisle 6

BS is for BaSalmic

My BS meter is always on the alert.

“Gavin, you’ll never get that shot, your flash is too close to the subject,” somebody once quipped.  Sorry to break the news bud,  but the slide came out perfectly exposed.  So now, every time I see this individual at the camera shows, my meter kicks in and I say to myself  ”BS-er.  You know the price of everything (of this camera, and that lens) but know the value of nothing.”  And it’s not only with camera gear.  This person has a ”I’m a legend in everything I do” complex.  A peek at this lens collection would probably turn up nothing  but the longest of telephotos.  

Another fella once bragged to me about the letter he got from the president of a major stereo amplifier manufacturer, complimenting him on his measurements gathered using an acoustics measurement software package.  I’ll grant him that.  But this is the same chap who claimed that listening to the live radio broadcast of the Vancouver Symphony of Fire fireworks music poses problems for spectators miles away from the display because the music would be out of synch with what was being seen.   Sorry, but I seem to recall something from school about light being really fast…

Guys, it’s okay to be not good at something.  Just don’t BS me about your expertise.

Why this BS theme?  I’m going to start enjoying the finer things in life.  I ain’t getting younger.  Tea, for instance.  And wine—no, scratch that, I can’t handle alcohol—so it’ll have to be basalmic vinegar.

Pictured below is a $27 bottle Bistro Blends’  Blackberry we bought at this weekend’s Vancouver Home Show.

Spenger Blackberry Basalmic

Spenger Blackberry Basalmic

Here’s the thing.  I’m activating my BS meter on myself, just to make sure I don’t become one of those self-professed “authorities.”


A coworker recently asked me what the greatest surprise about the new house was.  I had to think for a few seconds.  Now that I’ve spent a few more weeks at the place, my answers (yep, plural) would have to be:

  1. The ensuite walk-in shower—comparable to those at three- or three-and-a-half-star hotels.  Stepping under the hot and very obviously not energy-smart water flow is nothing short of luxurious.
  2. The kitchen garburator—I’ve never used one before.  Just plain cool.
  3. The dishwasher—I’ve never lived in a place equipped with a dishwasher.  Once Betty and I really start using our gas stove and convection oven, and pretending to be chefs, I can see this being a godsend.

Over the weekend, I added the following to my knowledge base and/or possessions:

  1. Kalanchoe
  2. Bypass loppers
  3. Hoe
  4. Valance

At my advanced age, I’m still learning and having fun, so there’s hope for the lot of us.

Further Evidence That Children Live Here

On the Dining Room Floor

On the Dining Room Floor

In Mocha or Cherry?


Patrick Swayze dies and a family is grieving.  So many things undone with so many things to do.

A dear friend announces her plan to leave Canada, uprooting herself after what must have been a protracted and difficult process.  It’s all about the passage of time, babe, that and getting enough oxygen.

As for me, I’m still settling in and have of late been weighing the pros and cons of glass-and-metal stereo racks against wood cabinets.  It’s different when times are good.

Shifting Gears in Maui

Our flight got into Maui 40 minutes early, at around 9:00 PM local time.  A promising start to our August trip.  After claiming our baggage, we caught the shuttle to the rental car office to get the keys for what was supposed to be a four-door Elantra, per the Expedia trip details (I booked the hotel/car package online).  Instead, the unsmiling, unhelpful bag of blood behind the counter tried to foist a compact two-door on me.  I begged to differ, so she gave us a four-door Chevy Aveo.  Big mistake.  Big big mistake.  We left the lot after carefully inspecting the machine of nobody’s dream for damage and indicating to the attendant where all the small dents and scratches were.

For those unfamiliar with Maui, to get from the airport to our destination, Ka’anapali (Ka-anna-polly), you drive southwest from the city of Kahului along Highway 380, then turn left onto the coastline-hugging, two-lane Honoapi’ilani Highway (Highway 30) which heads north to our hotel, a little past the beach town of Lahaina (La-heye-na).  This is normally a 45 minute trip.  However, it would become a three hour ordeal.

At mile-markers 7 and 8, on Highway 30 (I’ve since driven past this point many times, so I now know its exact location), we had to come to a complete stop because of roadwork.  There were traffic cones set up around a lit construction area.  The road crew was making drivers form a queue in each direction.  Traffic was strictly one-way.  Every few minutes, a police car would alternately escort the north- and southbound vehicles through.  It was quite the wait, so, with Al Gore and winged dollar-signs in the back of my mind, I put the car into Park.  But when it came time to advance, I couldn’t shift out of Park.  After a frantic 30 seconds, I put the emergency flashers on to let the cars behind me know to scoot around me.  The police officer pulled alongside to investigate a few minutes later.  She shook her head at the doofus that was me, now at the head of a lineup that was getting longer by the second, and told me to get off the road.  Thanks for the insight, Coffeeshop Einstein.

I turned the ignition off and restarted the car.  No dice.  Two members of the road crew got behind the driver’s seat but fared no better.  We were stuck, tired, cangued by a metallic insult to the auto industry.

So it came to be that on our first evening—now the next morning—Betty and I found ourselves, with two kids asleep in the back, completely blocking one lane of traffic on a curvy highway, not quite sure where we were.

If there’s a bright side to all this, it would be that the Aveo failed because of, and in front of, a road crew instead of somewhere along the Road to Hana; and, on this particular night, the road crew included a traffic safety supervisor and two trainees. They enlarged their circle of traffic cones to include our Aveo, and positioned one of their pickups behind our car, its headlights pointing toward oncoming traffic.

To make a long story short—obviously, I made it out alive—here’s what I learned:

  • It’s no trivial task communicating Hawaiian location information to an Emergency Roadside representative based in Texas.  “Two miles past the aquarium on Highway 30 en route to Lahaina” only solicited a “How did you spell that?  L-A-…, ahh, what’s the next letter?”  I put one of the traffic safety workers on my cell and could tell his “near Ma’alaea Bay” directions drew an equally vacant response on the other end.  To his credit, the Texan eventually managed to dispatch a truck to tow the car (with me as passenger) to the hotel.  The driver, a born-in-Maui local, said we were lucky nobody plowed into us.
  • Cell phone coverage can be spotty.  We attempted numerous calls to the resort, and to a local taxi cab company to transport Betty and the kids to the hotel, but got only an “Out of Range” message on our phones.
  • Hawaiians are indeed friendly (except for the Aloha-less hag back at Budget).  The traffic security officer, sensing our plight, kindly offered to drive Betty, the kids and our luggage, to our resort, a half-hour trip.  Truly an act of kindness. He even got the hotel’s front desk to waive that night’s parking fee for us.
  • I’ve had little luck with North American cars.  Budget replaced the Aveo with the “Only-A-Car-Rental-Company-Would-Buy-This” Pontiac G6.  Its entire dash is lit up in red—odometer, tachometer, speedometer, warnings—you name it (see the “Change Oil Soon” message in the image below).  I spent an inoordinate amount of time scanning for warning lamps, unsure whether they would appear in red or some other colour.  Note: On the Road to Hana, I had the déjà vu privilege of seeing the orange “check engine” icon light up because of, yep, you guessed it, more roadwork.  This time we were told to get out and stretch our legs because it was going to be a twenty-minute wait.  I was unable to get into Drive or Reverse when it came time to move.  The car would just coast as if in neutral.  I put the emergency flashers on.  Cars had to skirt around me until I restarted the white P. o. S. and managed to engage gears.  I’m glad somebody in Detroit had the temerity to slam his uncalloused fist on the meeting room table and make himself heard: “Orange, the lamp’s got to be orange.”

Maybe I’m a traditionalist.  With effort, I’m sure I can train myself to equate red with “all clear”.

Pontiac G6 Dash

Pontiac G6 Dash

Man in the Mirror

We move into our house in fewer than three weeks.  Betty and I have been packing at a leisurely pace, in part because circumstances don’t require us to be out by a certain date.  However, there’s a new twist.  Plans are afoot for renting out our current basement suite to university students, leaving us now with just three weeks to move everything out and help renovate the place, September being, of course, the start of the post-secondary school-year for UBC students.  We have to, among other things, re-paint most of the rooms, clean the carpet, re-grout/re-caulk the bathroom, clean the fridge, change and add locks, and fix the baseboards.

I’ve already started with some of the repairs by fixing a leaky hot water faucet assembly (the faucet, however, continues to leak running water from under the sink), and by replacing a toilet handle.  Make no mistake about it—I’m about as handy around the house as a two-legged camera support is useful; I owe it all to the latest edition of Black & Decker’s The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair.

In anticipation of the listening room at the new place, I borrowed some back issues of hi-fi news to catch up on the latest and greatest wares.  This is where it gets depressing.  For one thing, the concept of a dedicated space set aside for the enjoyment of (usually) two-channel music is lost on those in their mid-thirties or younger.  I remember a co-worker, more than ten years my junior, shaking his head in disbelief when I explained that one of my hobbies involves sitting down in front of expensive equipment and listening to music.   I guess I’m a dying breed of a dying pastime.  The same holds true for one of my other hobbies: stargazing.  The local club newsletter is peppered throughout the year with obituaries.  The membership is balding and graying, with no infusion of fresh blood.  It would be a shame if young people never got to experience the beauty and quiet introspection these hobbies have to offer, a respite to temper our increasingly frenetic society.

The hi-fi news Yearbook 2008 issue I have in front of me dedicates more than a few pages to audio from a bygone era.  Mention is made of how men’s magazines such as Playboy used to regularly feature articles about stereo equipment.  There is a four-page writeup about Louis Armstrong’s LP and reel-to-reel (link provided for you kids) tape collection, an article about quadrophonic sound, and a page titled “Retro Roundup”. 

We sifted through my closet last week.  We ended up donating a box of my “no-way-I’m-ever-going-to-fit-into-these-again”  jeans. 

I suppose I’ve been figuratively looking at a mirror lately, and don’t like what I see.  Fuck, I hate getting old.

Free Stereo Along My Alley

Free Stereo Along My Alley