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 Main | Arlington | Vancouver : FEB.08 | Eclectic


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FEBRUARY 2008

01.02

We begin our grand adventure: a trip to Los Angeles to meet friends from high-school, to watch the Super Bowl, and to get some sunlight. We wake up early and hurriedly pack. We're on the road by 5:30am with Penelope to reach the SeaTac airport in time for an 11:00am flight. Crossing into the USA is easy with zero line! We hit some amazing snowfall and nearly white-out conditions in the mountains near Everett, but we plunge forward. At SeaTac, we find off-airport parking and make our way to the Southwest departues desk. We learn that our "direct flight" from Seattle to Los Angeles involves a stop in Reno, Nevada. Ahh...it isn't "not direct," and it isn't "non-stop." WTF? Anyway, we arrive in Los Angeles on a sunny afternoon. The airport is steadily improving. While waiting for a shuttle to the car rental counter, we sight this beautifully weird structure growing out in the distance.

We rent a converitble Chrysler Sebring, because we're in southern California, and we make our way playfully from LAX down to Friend Ilarum's home in Seal Beach. We have Sirius Satellite radio at our fingertips and we thump to trance, dance, and snap-hop rhthyms as we coast southwest. We stop at a U.S. bank to deposit U.S. geld and continue.
02.02

We retrieve Nura and Moonup from the airport, hang in Santa Monica, marvel at all the tall people playing volleyball, and have a great dinner.
03.02

Da Super Bowl. We have a tasty morning brunch at an Indian buffer tucked away at the bottom of a classic SoCal mall, and then stock up on some supplies for game time. Beer, chips, cookies, and junk. We then sit down and watch the NYG rout of the Patriots on the big screen LCD tv. Hey, bright color and real HD are pretty damn cool, so much so that we actually enjoy watching the game!
04.02


05.02

We make the trek back to Vancouver. We arise early, 5:30am, drive the rental car to LAX, catch a plane that "non-stops" in San Jose, CA, and then arrive back in SeaTac. We take a bus to pick up Penelope, and then we grab some lunch up on Belleview, on the east side the sound. We take a peek inside a few USA stores and then complete the drive back to Vancouver. Wahoo! After a few hours of prep, it's time for T to head out to Ottawa. The red-eye flight is scheduled to depart from YVR on time, but just as I board, I learn that the connecting leg in the morning from Toronto to Ottawa has been cancelled! I hurriedly call Emily and do some Canadian geography while the finishing boarding us. It seems like there's a chance I could connect from Toronto to Montreal and then take a cab? I do some work on the plane, decide to cross my fingers and see what happens.
06.02

What a day for T! I arrive in Toronto around 7am local. I talk to the WestJet gate attendants and they are unable to find a way to get to Ottawa in time for the science-policy workshop at which I am scheduled to speak at 11am. I propose a flight to Montreal and they gladly send me on my way. The flight is quite late leaving Montreal, but I arrive in Quebec around 8:45am. It's time to hurry! I change clothes in the bathroom and then scurry outside to the ground transportation area. Buses and trains are too slow and don't leave until lunch time. I hire a limousine who agrees to take me in 90 minutes for about $300. I accept. I finiosh my slides in the back of the car and then doze while the countryside slips by. We arrive in Ottawa and the driver gets directions from another taxi driver and I arrive with 15 minutes to spare. AWESOME. The workshop goes well, I give my talk, and then actively participate in the discussion while intravenously injcting black coffee into the my bloodstream. Afterward, I find a corner of the hotel to curl up and do some work. I catch a cab to the airport around dinner time...and I smell trouble! The evening flights from Ottawa are running into trouble because of the persistent weather delays in Toronto! With a schedule 9:30pm departure, they finally cancel the flight after midnight. The WestJet ground crew are sincere but ill prepared. It isn't until 3am that we get overnight accomodations, taxis, and the like. They want to re-book me for a Thursday flight that gets me in Thurs late, late night. I cancel the ticket and book a morning Air Canada trip on the web. *sigh*
07.02

After 3 hours of sleep in the French Holiday Inn, I return to the Ottawa airport amidst a big snowstorm and wait to fly back to Vancouver. The flight is delayed a few hours and then we board. Because of snow-clearing problems, we have to use a smaller airstrip which means we cannot take aboard all our fuel. So we head for Winnipeg for a proper refueling. Eventually, four hours late, I finally arrive back in Vancouver on a clear and sunny day. Awesome and WOW. what a trip!
08.02


09.02

We have a delicious evening with T's boss NSL and his wife Ellen. We cram four people into his red Porsche Carrera 4 and dine at the Sequoia Grill out near Prospect Point in Stanley Park. With some excellent Burrowing Owl wine and some tasty food, we while away the evening discussing politics, life, family, the two nations, and so on. By 11pm, we're all sated and quite happy. We watch the stars twinkle as we walk the outside beach for a few moments, and then we head for home. E says afterward, "That was amazing, but I am never riding in the back seat of a Porsche again. Ever."
10.02

We discover an addictive replacement for the off-season of "So You Think You Can Dance" -- Randy Jackson's America's Best Dancecrew. An American-Idol style show that features groups of dancers who perform in street / krump / step / hip-hop style. Its pretty fun to watch with some huge beats and some talented group performances. We lap up the full 2-hour premiere, fascinated by the different ways the groups find to express their musicality. Some are all in synch, some break into separate but simultaneous and related moves, others have a rotating lead with surrounding supporters. And its all bad-ass, ultrafast.
11.02

12.02


We head out for a walk in the evening and enjoy a night stroll in Van city. Afterward, we watch another episode of "Best American Dance Crew," and this one rocks. Are we becoming hip-hop fans? Hmmm...

The sunsets are amazing here. Two photos from our balcony!

13.02

T attends his seminar group this evening and thinks about rackets and upsets. Is it possible to be 100% in resistance so that there is never an upset? That is, so focused on what is wrong with something that the transition from right to wrong never happens?
14.02

Happy Valentine's Day!

T's employer is announced as one of the winners of a big national competition for federal grants to launch private companies for the commercialization of basic-research spinoffs. T struggles to write and coordinate his first press release. Rookie mistakes abound, but we get something on the street by the close of business. T's colleague, MMP, uses a "canary-trap" like cover note (see T Clancy's Patrio Games) that works like a charm--it is picked up verbatim by CanWest news services in a story by Brian Morton.
15.02

T pushed out a second press release, this one tailored for the particle & nuclear physics communities in the international arena. Other than some spelling errors, its good. T: I like this feature of the new job--that I get a chance to work much intimately with the median & communications aspects of the public arean. Great experience!
16.02

E attends a training sesison downtown on what becomes a beautiful sunny and clear day. T embarks on a banking and post-office trip to the USA (Blaine, WA). After picking up fresh cash and converting it $US (the rate has dropped below par today!), I head south with Penelope. Its presidents' day weekend in the USA and that means a lot of ski travellers on the road. The border crossing into the USA takes 45 minutes and Penelope gets searched. The second border guard engages me in idle conversation while they other fellow goes through the trunk. He asks more about where I work and I mention UBC, physics, and TRIUMF. Out of the blue he asks me, "What is E to the I pi?" Hot damn! I check my memmory and see that "-1" is blinking hotly, so I mouth it off. He smiles and nods. I ask where if he has a scientific or a technical bakcground; he simply says, "I read a lot." With this rather unusual and elite border test, I am let into the States. I run to the bank, find a blue USPS drop box, and then do some speciality mailings at an old warehouse that doubles as a parcel & shipping company. The trip back into Canada is even longer as now I am traveling with the bulk of the ski traffic. Born Slippy, ATB, Leftfield & Lydon, and others keep me good company.

E's training sessuon wraps up just as the sun splashes acros the city in a final glory. We change clothes and freshen up and then meet J and P for a proper Chinese dinner to celebrate the New Year. We drive in J's Mazda 323, a very compact and efficient 'mobile, down to Richmond. I learn that this means just the far side of the airport! We arrive at Kirin, a massive Chinese banquet hall above the Richmond City Centre mall. It's amazing, with ornate handiwork and a real touch of class. Out of the perhaps 200 people dining there, are double the number of white people. We grab a table and P negotiates a great ensemble of food. We have a real feast! Peking duck served two styles, a sauteed fish with garlic, a honey-garlic spare ribs, prarns with celery, and WOW. We gorge happily and discuss travel and life in the USA vs Canada. The house serves us a dessert comprised of medium-size tapioca pearls bathed in coconut milk. YUMMY! Afterward, we take a brief driving tour of Richmond and they drop us back at the apartment. Awesome!
17.02

E takes a practice GMAT exam. She slams it home and now has some clear pointers on what to cram for in the final two days. While she's busy testing, T updates the blog, trying to bring it closer to present day.
18.02

T gets a ride to work with the boss in the Porsche. So many horses, so little road! Monday is T's LMK Seminar: I have an insight about being cause in my own life -- how much of my schedule is determined by me trying to get done waht I think other people need from me rather than what my own goals are? Do I keep answering other people's e-mail before doing my own? I also see another pattern in my thinking. Growing up, I had a sense of scarcity, that at any minute there might not be enough to go around. As a result, I decided not to ask for anything, to try and tough it out? Is this me thinking too much or is it actually a thread that runs through some of my unconsciouis thining?
19.02

T's trip to Island! With camera in hand, T heads out for a day trip to Victoria. Today is the annual announcement of the provincial budget, and T and his boss are to be in Victoria to get it straight from the horse's mouth: I get up at 3:30am to finish some work and then start up the office car. I drive over to retrieve the boss at 5:30am and we drive south the Tsawassen to get the car ferry to Swartz Bay. Along the way we talk about some of the boss's experience's as a mentor of graduate students. We drive onto the ferry and then go up a few levels to take seats in the large passenger decks. I snap some photos of the morning fog with the camera. We arrive in Swartz Bay just as the sun breaks through the fog; it's pretty amazing! The massive ferry docks, we grab the Ford Focus wagon and head from the landing site to Victoria, some 20 km. I drop the boss downtown at the Empress Hotel where he will go inside a locked room and listen to the "rehearsal" of the budget speech called the "lock up." In politics, information is power and here...this is the limit. People fight over tickets to sit in a room and hear the provincial budget 4 hours before the rest of the public--and they are not allowed to call, e-mail, or otherwise communicate to anyone outside the locked room! So the only benefit is...knowing that you know the budget earlier than other people. WOW. Meanwhile as the boss is sitting around, I visit the Univ of Victoria and have some meetings with their media and government-relations people. I have the unusual experience of having a meeting with someone and distinctly seeing that I am not listening to them and not knowing how to respond. Still, the day goes well and I make new contacts and get a much better understanding of how to leverage the present relationship between my employer and the university. In the afternoon, I return to the waterfront and retrieve the boss. We have a short snack in the parliament's cafeteria and then drift upstairs to the office of the Minister of Economic Development. Oddly enough, we meet with him right after the floor speech of the Minister of Finance to publicly introduce the provincial budget. Not sure if it means we're important or unimportant that we get to meet with the minister direclty afterward! The meeting starts out on the wrong foot, but we end up covering the right turf well enough. Then its time to head back to the mainland, a process that takes many hours! I now understand why people say the Island is so far away!

T shoots two photos from the ferry ride. In the predawn darkness, things are eerie as we drift away from the moorings. With fog and no shore visible, the expanse of water is featureless.


The Victoria rathaus is pretty sweet, perched atop an overlook of the downtown harbor. Inside, T and his boss trump around looking for coffee and then Min Hansen. Nice ceilings, eh?
 

 
20.02

T's highlight of the day is attending the Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon where the Premier presents the provincial budget. Its a massive balroom of 1,200 people. Although the premier would be labelled conservative in terms of social policies, the entire thrust of the next annual plan for British Columbia is Green, Green, Green, and healthcare. The boss and I are thrilled that we carpooled to get to the event!
21.02

Today is day of traffic. T meets with a counterpart government-relations person downtown for lunch (great time!), and then returns to the office for a few hours. Then he heads back downtown to retrieve KR who is visiting from the Island and will be staying with us for the weekend for the LMK course.
22.02

T's Day One of the LMK Advanced Course. Wow, much better than the first one!
23.02

24.02


25.02

Back to reality! T has enrollement conversations with a number of folks, some of whom are not listening, never listened, won't ever listening, and weren't listening at that moment. A good reality check!
26.02

27.02

28.02

T hosts a visit from a reporter at the office. How cool! The moral of the story is NOT to sit a journalist down with three enthusiastic physicists---b/c then everyone tries to talk at once with oversimplified truism! T gives E a ride down to the airport in mid-day (she's headed out of town for a leadership workshop this weekend) and then attends an information session for the Canadian Foundation of Innovation. The session is rather free of content, but no matter...


E arrives in San Francisco and meets 17-month old nephew Ifok...charming to no end!
 
29.02

Happy Leap Day! // T's next press release goes live concerning the last milestone achieved with the major construction of the ATLAS detector. With E out of town, T accepts an invitation for dinner and movie with JH and PL. We watch "There Will Be Blood" at a theatre in Richmond. WOW. This film is even more viciously violent than "No Country for Old Man" depsite a small body count. It really examines the ruthlessness that monomania can engender...and it really gives powerful insight into what it took for the big dynasties of the USA to create their wealth at the turn of that century. Compelte selfish interest and stepping on all kinds of people, values, and humanity. We're all shook up after the movie and eager for fresh air. We step out to Kingspark, a cute little chinese mainland restaurant in northern Richmond. All kinds of good noodles...we split three dishes that are all exciting and tasty! T gets home late and crashes...

 

 Main | Arlington | Vancouver : FEB.08 | Eclectic


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