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Two Concerts

I was at the dentist last Friday.  My hygienist’s seventeen-year-old daughter had the time of her life recently.  The hygienist told me about how she couldn’t get a hold of any Coldplay tickets, but as concert day neared, her brother-in-law happened to mention casually that he had an extra pair of tickets.  Needless to say, she took them off his hands in a heartbeat, and presented them to her daughter.

The daughter went with a friend.  They met up with five other high school friends at GM Place.  As the daughter put it, “a lady with a walkie-talkie” noticed the seven of them waiting in line at the concession.  The lady gave them a quiz:  ”Name the band members.”, “Who is Chris Martin’s wife?”, etc.  They answered most of the questions correctly.  The lady then asked for their tickets. The girls were understandably reluctant and wary.  At any rate, what the lady did was exchange their nosebleed tickets for tickets in row 2, front center.

Coldplay was recording the concert, so I guess they wanted pretty females occupying the first few rows… 


Somebody at work nabbed me a complimentary pair of Jonas Brother tickets just hours before the 7:00PM start time.  She knew I had a daughter.  Thank you thank you, K.!  So it came to pass that Betty and Shaula spent Monday night regaled by the likes of American Idol alum Jordin Sparks, the Wondergirls, and the Virgins.  Shaula, an avid Japanese/Korean pop music fan (where did Betty and I go wrong?) was blown away by the Wondergirls.  Both of them thought the Brothers were pretty good.  Shaula bought two tee’s.


While we’re on the topic of seating pretty women in the front rows, let me introduce you to the concept of seat fillers.  The entertainment industry is anathema to empty seats.  Betty has friends who’ve been seat fillers for (among other events) the Junos.  I recall seeing one of their faces on TV, seated right behind Shania Twain.  One of theses friends, Lou, once filled in for Sarah McLachlan who was up accepting an award.  Sarah’s [now ex-] husband gave Lou a dirty look because she had inadvertently sat on his jacket.

Father’s Day

A celebratory dinner at a restaurant for a party of eleven, not twelve, on the longest day of the year.  None of us broach the unspoken.

Later that evening, back home, while waiting for dessert to be served, I stand at the kitchen table, beside the orange tree with the watering instructions taped to it since December, 2007, to watch the sun set, further north than it has a right to.  But geometry doesn’t lie.  The table’s six chairs—lead weights from the 70s—are long in need of a wipe to rid them of that hotel-room-furniture stickiness.  The ageing white K-Mart freezer along the wall continues to chug away.  Dishes clang.  Crumbs fall.  The kitchen was my mother’s domain.

Night descends on us all.   That’s one truth we must never for an instant forget.

It was an early Father’s Day for my dad, in the second year without my mother.

I Swear, Vancouver is Almost a Big City

I’m starting to think that Vancouver is at the critical mass required to qualify it as a “Big City”.  At 2.5 million, it’s still one-tenth the size of the Tokyo/Mexico City/São Paulo complexes, but with Nature at Vancouver’s doorsteps, 3-million-ish is about right.

It must be my New World sensibilities that have instilled in me a nearly obsessive desire to point my lenses at a city’s skyline.  I remember wishing I had my camera with me while on a business trip to Yakima, Washington, because I spotted a single high-rise.  More justifiably, I’m still kicking myself after all these years for not taking my camera with me to Pittsburgh (I stayed downtown, across from the Igloo).

Here are recent shots of my home town’s Central Business District.  Unlike other North American cities, Vancouver’s CBD is a mixed forest of office towers and condominium buildings.

The view from Stanley Park, near the Aquarium:  

Old and New Vancouver

Old and New Vancouver: Pentax DA 55-300 f/4-5.8 at 230mm, f/5.6

The Shangri-La Hotel, tallest structure in Vancouver (like every building in the city, it is subject to a height cap): 

Shangri-la 1: Pentax DA 16-45 f/4 at 21mm, f/8

Shangri-La 1: Pentax DA 16-45 f/4 at 21mm, f/8

Looking southeast along West Georgia Street:

West Georgia 1: Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 at 12mm, f/5.6

West Georgia 1: Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 at 12mm, f/5.6

What I’d give to gain rooftop and upper-floor access to these buildings!


As is my weekday routine, after work, I picked up my kids from out-of-school care.  My son is almost seven, my daughter almost a teenager.  One of the assistants there, David, in his early twenties, said “Hi pops,” when he saw me.  Now, did that make me feel old or what?  I hate getting old.  I’d rather marry an elephant than senesce.

Here’s a fine picture of somebody in her prime.  Here’s what she has to say about ageing.  I can’t agree more.

In case you’re curious, the print-maker for the limited edition dye transfer is Ctein, who often writes for The Online Photographer, a great website.

Not So Deep Thoughts

Of Badgers, mango, hot tamale, and Christmas.

Vancouver Landfill

We spent Saturday morning at the Vancouver Landfill Open House in Delta.  This was our second visit.  We were there two years ago.  The workers take you on a guided tour of the landfill proper, though, for safety reasons, it’s all from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus, and talked about how they use the methane gas generated by the waste to heat nearby greenhouses.  The guide, an engineer, also explained which of the materials hauled in by the public were being recycled and spared from ending up in the fill (tires, gyprock, among others).  Yard trimmings end up as saleable compost used by landscapers.

I picked up a handful of pamphlets about how and where to recycle electronics and paint.  The highlight for me was the garden tour.  The resident gardener gave us a walk-through of his little oasis built on top of a previous dump site.  Aside from some wildflowers that somebody else had planted, see below,  the lush vegetation were all native to South Coastal BC (click on the Native Plants for the Home Garden link): vine maple, salal, elderberry, kinnikinnick, Nootka Rose.  This knowledge will come in very handy for my yard-to-be.

Non-native wildflowers growing in the Landfill garden.

Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 at f/9.5, 1/125s

Wildflowers: Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 at f/9.5, 1/125s

Trained hawk/falcon used for warding off scavenging seagulls and crows (there were also wild Bald Eagles galore in the area).

Hawk: Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 at f/4, 1/1000s

Hawk: Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 at f/4, 1/1000s

And—it goes without saying—free hot dogs and hamburgers courtesy of the Delta Lion’s Club.  We also took home some compost.

Hamburger: Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 at f/8, 1/60s

Hamburger: Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 at f/8, 1/60s

Windows Wallpaper #1

I have been hideously busy lately—at work and at home, pretty much ignoring emails, FB, and the like, and finding little time to work out or blog.  To maintain some measure of sanity, I spend a few hours at VanDusen Garden on Sundays for a bit of picture taking.  The arboretum is hitting its seasonal stride.  However, after so many visits, the CPS (cost per shot, a term I’m stealing from the birding world, CPB, Cost Per Bird) is getting up there.  It’s taking more and more time to bag another “keeper”.

Here are two recent shots.

VanDusen scene taken with Pentax DA 55-300mm at 55mm at f/11

VanDusen scene taken with Pentax DA 55-300mm at 55mm at f/11

I’m rather proud of the following shot because it’s been a struggle to do the Primula plant justice, certainly in isolation.  So I’ve resorted to a “group shot”.

Primula taken with Pentax DA 55-300mm at 62mm at f/11

Primula taken with Pentax DA 55-300mm at 62mm at f/11


Today marks the big unveiling of Ida, the name given to a phenomenally intact 47-million-year-old fossil that links humans with monkeys.  The announcement seems to be making some of my coworkers uncomfortable as it, in their own words, undermines their entire Christian faith.  Coincidentally, I’m writing this blog entry just as I am finishing the last chapter of Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (an accessible up-to-date summary of the Theory of Evolution, just read it, okay?).  A quotation:

Evolution tells us where we came from, not where we can go.

Well put.  I can’t think of a good reason why anybody would give up their faith if the fossil indeed turns out to be the “Rosetta Stone” to our evolutionary past—unless the foundation for his or her belief was on already shaky ground to begin with.  It’s not the Bible that will fail, it’s that person’s interpretation.  Enough said.


I almost bought The Black Swan last weekend.  I’m glad I didn’t, looking at the reviews now.  But these two look like really good reads: Born to Run, and Life List.  Both authors were on The Bob Edwards Show last week.  Yeah, it’s non-fiction week at

Mortgage Munch

Riding on the coattails of this newly-minted term, here is what I’ve been taking to work for lunch:

Award-Winning Recipe

Cook some white rice.  Boil a wiener or two and cut into pieces.  Open a can of maple syrup-flavored baked beans (Western Family brand in my case) and scoop a few tablespoons onto the rice.  Top with the wiener.

Serve with a glass of cold water.

Refrigerate the beans.  There is enough for four more meals.

Next Installment: Campbell’s Chunky Soup on Rice.


My wife’s nieces flew in from Chicago and San Franciso several weekends ago for a two-day visit.  They could justify such a short stay because one of them worked for United Airlines, so the flights were effectively free.

We had KFC for dinner.  What I found interesting was that they asked about the green stuff in the styrofoam containers—what I assumed was  universally understood to be KFC coleslaw.  It turns out that the Canadian KFC version—principally finely-chopped cabbage and onion—is a localized recipe.  American KFC coleslaw has shredded carrot and is nowhere near as zesty, much like what you get at Church’s Chicken.  Why the difference?  Inquiring minds like to know.  I give the Canadian version  a 10; the common variant, a measly 7.

Bellevue/Seattle Trip: Highs and Lows

  • A young lady seated under a patio umbrella at University Village reading The Thorn Birds.  [Biggest Throwback]
  • Pentax remote control shutter releases going for $4.80 at Kits Camera.  I picked up two. This was my only purchase on the whole trip.  [Best Bargain]
  • The Steak Diane at The Cheesecake Factory.  Soggy is the best way to describe it.  Still good, but not something to die for anymore.  [Biggest Letdown]
  • The tall, young men in the well-tailored power-suits assisting the female customers in the Nordstrom shoe department.  These guys looked like they stepped out of a boardroom.  But instead of being up in the mountains hiking or biking (and living up to the “work hard, play hard” ethic) during the weekend, they were indoors adjusting ladies’ shoe straps and checking inventory. Ethan Hawkes hawking footware.  [Saddest Sight]
  • The Spicy Ahi Tempura Rolls appetizer at The Cheesecake Factory. Betty ordered some because she liked the version she ate at The Lift last year.  The Factory did not disappoint this first-timer to the dish.  [Second Biggest Surprise]
  • The TV remained off for the entire duration of our mini-vacation.  I’m very proud of my son Matthew.  [Biggest Surprise]

Here a a few pics taken from (or in) our hotel room.

Looking SE from the hotel

Looking SE from the hotel

Looking SW from the hotel

Looking SW from the hotel

I brought along two books.  I’m about halfway through To See Every Bird on Earth.  The author is about my age.  His account of his childhood and father has left me rather nostalgic, and as is always the case, rather melancholy.  No doubt the low point of my trip was brought on by this book.

What I’d give to be able to zip back in time to encourage and direct my younger self.

To See Every Bird on Earth, perched on its 14th floor aerie.

To See Every Bird on Earth, perched on its 14th floor aerie.

Lil’ Miss Manga bought a half-dozen manga books at Barnes & Noble.  I also suggested she buy Chew On This.