Sunday, April 29, 2007

Locked in the trunk of a car

Sitting at home again. Nice to be back here, even though I had a great time in NYC with Andy and Kathleen.

Been busy all afternoon uploading the rest of my photos, rocking out to The Hip. Since I had nearly 1000 photos to dig through, getting them all online has taken a while. There are still a few that I need to go back and play with a bit, they were taken on a rather dark day and the lighting sucks. Nikon Picture Project will save the day there.

I got home from YVR about noon, woke my brother up and went for food. Of course, the car wouldn't start, I think that the fuel pump is unhappy. The muffler managed to stay on all the way home, which is amazing since a coat hanger is what is holding it on.

Once home, I think I got about 16 hours of sleep. I was beat, being awake for about 36 hours, with only little bits of poor sleep the few nights before. I do feel better now though, all rested up and ready to go to work tomorrow.

I suppose I should try and get outside for a little bit, get some fresh air while the sun is shining.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Leading the blind while I stared out the steel in your eyes

Damn it! I just got yogurt on my laptop.

So, here I sit at JFK, waiting for my flight. I sort of dozed on and off all day, and then ended back at Kathleen's to watch some video's and wait till I had to head to the airport.

The week was a lot tamer than the weekend, Monday and Tuesday I followed Andy around as he did his school work, Wednesday I ended up seeing the Tragically Hip at a small venue (I have photos, they just aren't online yet), Thursday was wander around aimlessly, did some more of Central Park, tried to get the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it was packed with about 20 buses of kids and I just didn't feel like dealing with that. I ended up on top of the Empire State Building, but the weather wasn't great (really cold up there) and my headache that was small before the elevator was HUGE after the elevator, so I came down, took a pedicab back to Times Square and then went to meet Andy again.

I also got a phone call Thursday from work. They have now decided that they want me back in France. One of the full time guys has quit, and now all of a sudden, they want me. They even have offered to let me go till September 2008. This is a big decision, specially since the package isn't quite as good as what I got last time. And if I were to go till September 2008, there is the chance that I would lose my seniority. That is too much to lose.

So, the last few days have been wrought with thought. I need to talk to work Monday and discuss this a bit. But for now, I have an hour before I fly away back home. I am looking forward to my own bed again.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Once more into the breach

What a long strange trip it's been this weekend.

Friday night Pale Horse was supposed to play at a show in Hoboken with a two other bands and a solo acoustic act. The show started 1.5 hours late, and being that it was a bit disorganized, the bands that were in front of Pale Horse dragged their sets out a bit long, leaving very little time for the guys to play. Even the band before theirs said that they would play a shorter set, and speed things up a bit. They didn't. In the end, after Andy and the boys played one song, they were told to shut it down. One freaking song!!! So, the snuck in two more, then turned it off. The crowd was quite upset, but there was nothing to do about it. Needless to say, the boys were a might be upset by it. At least the beer was free.

More bad things started Saturday morning when I came out of Andy's to find that we had some more woes to deal with on the truck. The strange noises that we heard in the back, a broken leaf spring. Not just any spring mind you, main the spring. This is the one that does the important job of holding the axle to the truck. Bad news. I spent a little bit of time under the truck, looking to see how bad it was a determined that if we take it easy on the pot holes, which is very impossible in New York, we should be fine for our three hour trip to Atlantic City. It was a bit of a nervous ride, since we had a full load of band gear with us, but we held together.

The drive down was rather uneventful. Andy and I got to the stadium a bit early, figured out what was going on, and waited for the others to arrive. There were some cover bands, some garage bands that sucked, but everyone seemed to be having a good time. The only problem was that they were running late. This is looking familiar.

The others finally got there, we unloaded the gear and waited some more. There was a group on stage that were "older rockers", but they were kicking pretty good. Then some hardcore punk band that wasn't overly good, but they did smash a really nice guitar on the stage. Finally, Pale Horses turn. The guys quickly set up, I got the camera out and started shooting. The boys cranked out "Common Martyr", I quickly started adjusting for the poor lighting, and the crowd started getting into it. It was Paul's last show with the band, he is leaving to spend more time with family and wife, and work and stuff. So, he really got into it. It was fun watching the guys rock, they seemed to be onto a good show. The next song, "Once more into the breach" (one of my favs) got the crowd going, Chris was kicking ass on the guitar, and Barry seemed to just be doing excellent. Andy started hopping of the stage, climbing on the speakers, etc. Good front man stuff.

Then, came the kicker. Once again, the organizers pulled the plug. "One more song, that's it boys." Shit. They played "Downfall", another of my favs, and in my mind, the boys kicked some serious ass up there. Although it was a short set, it was a powerful set.

So, the next band came out, some hardcore punk screamer band. With the nearly naked gyrating dancer on stage. This is were things started to go very wrong. I was up front, shooting photos, having fun when I noticed that the mosh pit was getting a bit violent. Some guy had a axe handle and was cruising the crowd with an very angry look on his face, another guy was wearing an executioners hood, slamming into people, and another had a football helmet on and was headbutting people. I started to make a hasty retreat when a big shin head sucker punched some random guy, knocking him out cold. I grouped up with the band and our group of people, and started to get the hell out. Police were arriving everywhere, police dogs were going at it, and fights were breaking out all over. Not a good way to end a concert.

We all got out alive, no one got touched, but we were all in a little bit of shock. A few bands weren't able to play, since the show got shut down, so they were a bit upset, but at least we got a bit of time for Paul's last show.

After finding our motel, we headed out for a very late (and expensive) dinner at one of the casinos. Each dish could feed a family of five, but because I wasn't that hungry, I just watched everyone getting stuffed. Then we headed into the casino to find Barry's friends, but Andy, Kathleen and I wander off to find our own adventure. We ended up at the penny slots, and since I don't like gambling, I figured that penny slots wouldn't break me. After spending a couple of bucks, and coming out with nothing, I moved to a pirate slot to try my last buck in. Moments after I started, a "Cougar" came over, sat beside me and asked if I had a buck for her to play with. I said no, I was done to my last one. Moments later, her friend arrived to watch over my shoulder. I kinda figured that they were looking for a trick, just the way they were talking, but I stayed polite and kept playing. Then, a strange thing happened, I started to win at the slot games. Suddenly, I was up $.49 over what I had spent so far in my gambling. I was screwing the casino!!! The first Cougar told me I should cash out, take my money and run. I did take her advice, and came out almost fifty cents in the black! Look out Vegas! The first Cougar said that she had brought me luck, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then the second one asked if I would like some "companionship" for the evening. I told her now, I was with my friends, and the first one then asked if I was interested in a threesome. Money never was mentioned, but it was implied, so I turned them down. I got a little wink and they ran off. Gave me a little chuckle too, and of course Andy and Kathleen thought it was quite funny that I was getting picked up in the casino.

In the end, I got to bed about 3:30AM, but only got a couple of hours of sleep because of all the partying going on around the motel. Come morning, we all got together for a farewell breakfast for Paul, then went down to the beach to take some photos of the band.

The last thing before I left Atlantic City was to hobble over to the ocean, and stick my hand in it. First time touching the Atlantic ocean. Silly, I know, but it had to be done.

We have made it back to Calder, now just catching up on laundry, and playing a little Guitar Hero. Not sure what I plan on doing this week, but I am sure there will be more stories to come!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Just another day

Just a quick note about Andy's show last night...

After starting the show 1.5 hours late, and sitting through three other bands (the one before Andy's said they would do a short set, but took an hour...), Pale Horse got on stage, did one song and was told they were done. Too late at night and the grumpy old folk who ran the place didn't want the police showing up from noise complaints. Andy and the Boys laid down two more songs, just because they didn't want to have waited all those hours to only play one song.

Tonight, Pale Horse plays a stadium show in Atlantic City, and since they go on first, they are pretty much guaranteed their full set time. I should even get permission to get on stage and shoot photos of the guys rocking out.

Speaking of photos, getting them uploaded might be a bit of a problem, since I can't get my laptop to plug into the network here. Might have to wait till I get home to put them on Flickr.

Well, time to get to Atlantic City!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New York Minute

Well, it is the second night staying at Kathleen's place in Washington Heights on Manhattan Island. Andy and I were supposed to be back at his place tonight, but due to an unfortunate vehicle problem, we aren't. I will get into that later.

I came into town with Andy yesterday since he was teaching at the Midtown campus, and I didn't have to take the train in. The plan was, (as I thought) that we would be heading back to his place afterwards; but I was wrong. Turns out we ended up staying at Andy's girlfriends place because he has to go up to Long Island for ban practice, I I had to torture my leg some more. Of course, I am ahead of myself again.

Once I got into town, I headed down the subway to Times Square to take some photos. As usual, it was crazy busy with school groups, tourists, and the ever present taxi cabs. I started shooting photos here, and some more photos there, when I spotted him. The Naked Cowboy. He is this guy who plays his country music in Times Square in cowboy boots, a hat and tighty-whities! So, I took a few shots of him, and laughed at some of the women who were getting their photos taken with him. After I wandered a bit, I managed an almost postcard shot of him that I think the girls at home will like.

After Times Square, I jumped on the subway again headed south to Battery Park. I hadn't gone down that far last time I was here, so I took some time to hobble around enjoying the park. Lady Liberty is within sight of the park, as well as Ellesmere Island, tempting me to jump on a boat and go exploring. Maybe next week.

Shortly, I had enough of Battery Park (it isn't that big) and wandered over to the edge of the Financial District to take a few wide angle photos of the sky scrapers. It is a very interesting effect to have three or four giant buildings leaning out over you. I know it is an illusion from the lens, but it is still trippy.

Another subway ride and I was back up at Columbus Circle and the entrance to Central Park. I slowly hobbled around the park a bit, laughing at kids riding their skateboards down a kids slide, landing on their butts on the cement. Glad it wasn't me. Central Park is a busy place around 5PM, full of joggers, and others getting in a bit of nice weather after the big storm on the weekend.

Afterwards, I met with Andy, who informs me that I won't be able to come to band practice because he needs to pick up two others and there isn't room in his truck for all of us. So, he drops me off at 56th and 5th Ave, both of us thinking that the Rockefeller Center is close by. We were wrong and seven blocks of hobbling later...I get to the Rock, and go up to the Top of the Rock, an amazing observation deck looking out over the city without the wait of the Empire State Building. And besides, this way I can take photos of the Empire State building...=)

Knowing that Andy wouldn't be back for a long time, I spent about 2.5 hours sitting on top of the city gazing down in wonder and taking photos. There was a slight problem though, seems that they weren't happy with my little clamp/tripod/thingy to keep my camera steady during night shots. They also wouldn't allow full sized tripods for "safety reasons". I think more that they just are scared of lawsuits. So, I became rather creative with my camera holding. I hope they turn out. It is such a lovely feeling looking down on all those people and buildings, etc., but all good things come to an end. So, off to find food.

By this time it was almost ten at night, and I still hadn't had dinner. Usually you can do okay at diners in the city, but I found a not so good one. I am still alive, so it wasn't that terrible, but I won't go back.

Finally, Andy showed up, but his truck was being bad. After flooding it out last week in the storm, he now had a parking brake stuck on. The back right brake was really jammed up, cause the wheel to stop randomly, and when we got to Kathleen's, it was smoking really good. So, we called AAA and got it towed. (that is the reason we are at Kathleen's again tonight, the truck is still in the shop although something this simple should have been fixed already)

So, today was another day in the city.

We went for a late breakfast, or lunch as some people call it. Andy went off to teach again, and Kathleen and I jumped on the subway and headed south again. This time over to Brooklyn so that we could hobble across the Brooklyn Bridge. Sunny day, fresh air and lots of room on my camera's flashcard. After a nice walk on the bridge, Kathleen left to get home to show an empty room in search of a new room mate, and I slowly walked down to the waterfront to take more photos. I managed some really nice ones of the bridge and across the water at Brooklyn itself. The area that I was exploring was an old Pier for unloading the boats, but is now museums, and shops. Kind of a nice out of the way, almost not for tourists but is, little space.

Which brings me back to Columbus Circle for a while waiting for Andy, them off to meet Kathleen for food, and finally back here for the night. Hopefully Andy will get his truck back tomorrow, and then we can go back to his place so that we can finally change our clothes. =)

BTW, since my laptop is at Andy's, and all my photos are still in my camera, I haven't been able to get them on Flickr yet. And the way things are going, I probably won't get them online for a few days. Hopefully soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bright lights, big city

So yes, I made it to New York in one (partially swollen) piece after a
rather boring flight. Problem with going on normal flights after test
flights is that they are boring. And sitting in cattle car class on an Air Canada flight, you sure feel less than human. I was sitting in the very front row of economy, so I got to watch how the better class gets treated. We didn't get meals, we had to spend money on dried up sandwiches, while the special people got china bowls, and wine, etc. The tragic, yet funniest bit was when someone wanted to use the forward lav, but since it was meant for Business Class people, us in cattle were supposed to be up there. The line up for the ones in the back were really long, so one brave lady snuck forward to ask. She was quickly shooed back to the curtain separating the two sections, told to wait there, and then had the curtain drawn right in her face.

I got into JFK, my buddy Andy's truck was in the shop and I needed to
take a cab to Grand Central Station to meet him and take a train
north. But I didn't take a cab, I took a limo! Well, a Lincoln
Towncar, which was almost a limo, had a ton of room in the back seat so that I could stretch out the leg. Once we got to Manhattan, the driver pulls up in front of the Hyatt, which is right next to the station, and the door man opens the door and lets me out. Talk about feeling important! The doorman asked if he could take my bags upstairs for me, thinking that I was staying at the Hyatt (uber nice hotel BTW), and when I told him that I was going to the station, he scolded the driver for not taking me the extra half block because he didn't want me to walk too far with my leg. (I am almost getting sick of people being nice to me because I am limping around with a cane) So, back in the car and down the block to the station.

Grand Central is a neat old building, with a beautiful ceiling in it. I plan on taking a good wide angle shot of it before go. I was supposed to meet Andy there, but he was a little ways away, waiting for me to call. He thought that I would call from the airport, giving him time to get to the station, but I called from the station. So, I got to sit and watch the people walking by, the few homeless that were milling about and the half dozen cops that were patrolling the place. There were some National Guard patrolling when I go there, but they left shortly afterwards.

Eventually, we made it to North White Plains, were I got to sit and wait for Andy to get his truck from the shop. It was a long walk, and being that I was really sore, Andy ran off and left me to go and get it. While waiting there, some poor guy got of the next train and was looking a bit upset. Turns out that he had slept through his stop, and couldn't get the taxi place to answer the phone. Hope he made it home.

After arriving at Andy's, I took a look at my leg. Whoa! It was really swollen. So, I ingested a bunch of drugs, and off to bed. Figure that it was the best thing to do. Today, it is feeling a lot better, and I am walking a little better.

I don't have any big plans for tonight, we were going to go to Andy's bands practice, but the drummer, who owns the house that they practice in, is really sick. So, I have just been hanging out and learning about the research that Andy is doing here.

Tomorrow I will go into Manhattan, Andy has a class to teach in Midtown, and I can go and shoot photos for a while.

Late night edit...Andy and I came home after our little bit of running around today (we went and watched "300" in IMAX), we found ourselves with a herd of deer munching on the grass next to his house. I tried to get a photo, but it was too dark. Then, just now while walking over to the library to check email, we found that the deer were still there! A little hard to see, but their eyes glow nicely from the flashlight, so it was easy to spot them. I am hoping that they will be around a bit over the next few days so that I can get a photo or two.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Polysorbate 60

Ever wonder what is in a Twinkie?

We all have heard the urban legends, that Twinkie's have a half-life, not a shelf life and that they could survive a nuclear war so that the cockroaches have something to eat.

In a way, you are right. Twinkie's aren't really food per say, more a chemical mix of stuff mined out of the ground, petroleum and coal tar. Sounds yummy, doesn't it? And it isn't just Twinkie's that have this crap in it, a lot of North American foods are made with it too. It is no wonder I lost so much weight in Southern France last summer, they don't use a lot of crap in their food. It is just that, food.

So, do you want to know more? Click on the title from this blog entry and be transported to a web page belonging to the Toronto Star telling you all about the little golden hunk of "cake".

On a different note, I am off to NYC tomorrow to hang out with Andy and take a lot of photos. I am hoping that my torn leg muscle doesn't do me in and force me to sit at Andy's for a week playing video games or something. I have already come up with a couple of things to do that don't require much walking. I also figure that me photo's will be from me sitting in one place and watching the world go by instead of me going looking for interesting things. This is not something that I am good at doing, sitting still. But, I have no choice right now.

Andy has also informed me that I will be rocking out a fair bit as well. I get to see his band play twice, but also most likely will be seeing the Tragically Hip play a small venue! Just no dancing for me.

I am going to be trying something different and new too. I am getting myself a 10-20mm wide angle lens for my camera today. I figure that NYC not only looks good in grey scale, but good in wide angle as well. I hope they turn out well.

Anyway, gotta go and do laundry, pack, etc. and get over to the parents place where I will be staying tonight so that it will be easier to get to the airport. I will be trying to keep this up to date while I am traveling, Andy has internet, and hopefully I will be able to upload my photos to Flickr as I go. If not, then I guess that there will be a lot of uploading when I get home.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The 432

Sitting at home this afternoon, icing my wounded leg, I was wondering what is my buddy Andy is doing. I knew he was in Vancouver, (and probably bored of Easter stuff) so I sent him and email asking of his doings. Turns out he was out at his old stomping grounds, UBC, trying to come up with the next issue of The Science Undergrad Society's newspaper called The 432. Although he doesn't go to school there anymore, and hasn't been the editor for some time, the current editor is busy with exams and needed a bit of help getting the issue out.

So, after a phone call where I was bribed with food, I packed up the laptop and have headed out to give him a hand, as well as get some visiting time in.

I show up at the university and another SUS alumni is there as well, my buddy Jay. So, after watching a few video clips on Jays iBook, and me showing off pictures of my new niece we got down to a little bit of writing and layout work. So far, between difficult layout software and lack of anyone elses input, the latest issue is taking it's time.

Eventually hunger pangs took over, and we ran off to Elwoods for some beer and burgers and a little UFC on the TV, chatted a bit, reminisced a bit then finally decided to get back to UBC to get some more done. Looking over Andy's shoulder, I see that one of the little features will include "Mothra Stewart", and bit of Photoshop of Martha Stewart's head attached to a giant moth body. The 432 is not your regular paper.

In the past, there have been some interesting issues, with photos of John on the front cover naked playing poker with some of the girls, and other nifty articles.

This issue looks to be about the same. Click on the title of this entry to take yourseelf to the UBC libraries archives of the back issues and enjoy the humour of it all.

It is now 1:30AM, and I need to be up at 6AM to go to my first day back at work on light duties. I knew that the trip into UBC would end this way, but I went willingly. I hope that I don't fall asleep at work, that would be emberassing!