Wednesday, August 28, 2002

David from Prague

Last night I had my first weekday shift at the Jericho Beach Hostel, in part because I wanted to do a shift with David from Prague, who'd been volunteering around 35 hours per week at the infodesk. He's leaving tomorrow to return to Prague, and I wanted to have a chat before he took off. He's been in Canada for 8 months, and two months here at the hostel. I was surprised to hear he'd also spent 3 months here in Vancouver last year! Prague is definitely a place I want to visit, and it would be great now that I know a local!

David from Prague Posted by Hello

Silvia from Munich

On Monday night, I hosted my first 'Global Freeloader' -- Silvia from Munich, Germany. If I had been more with-it at that early hour yesterday morning, I would've taken a photo of her IN the apartment instead of just a tele-photo from my balcony as she was leaving for the airport! Anyway, we had a good time for the short time while she was here. We went up Davie Street for some nosh at the falafel place, then headed back to the apartment. Then I had this sudden craving for bubble tea, so I left Silvia to her own devices and picked up some bubble tea and brought it back. She liked it, but the "pearls" were a bit too filling, and we'd had a lot to eat at the falafel place.

Hopefully I'll meet up with Silvia maybe in Munich, if she's still there, or wherever she decides to live. She was saying that Munich's a pretty snooty place, and she doesn't really feel like she belongs. She's originally from a town near Cologne (ah, home of Kolsch), but she wanted to break free from village life, and ended up in Munich to work in high-tech. That was her career after a turn at being a nanny in England... she must've been there for a while, because her English is superb!

Silvia (taken from my balcony) Posted by Hello
Here it is the day before I leave, and I finally get a hold of Scott Daniels, this guy who lives in San Francisco who offered me a place to stay. I managed to cancel the reservation at the HI-SF Downtown on Ellis Street, and kept it under the 24-hr notice.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Even more catch-up in store!!

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Ross & Lee's Birthday

OK, I'm a little behind... time for a bit of catching up. Why am I awake at 5:20am?? Because I was babysitting last night, and I was so tired by the time Allan & Cheryl came home, I decided to kip on the couch. That kip stretched out longer than I'd planned. I believe this is the first time I've had all three kids by myself -- it's usually been another combination, usually Michael and Melissa, or just Melissa. Except for Maddy rolling off the spare bed in the office and bonking her head on the footrest on the way down, tonight went pretty smoothly.

Last Friday we celebrated Ross & Lee's birthday, right in the middle of the monthly report panic. It was a nice respite, since that day is usually frenetic mayhem. Ross turned 66 on Thursday, Aug 15, and Lee turns 66 on Sep 3, but they will be in Copenhagen at that time. So I figured Friday was a good time. Dave Smyth, freshly retired from the investment business, also dropped by.

birthday desserts! Posted by Hello

Monday, August 19, 2002

Molly & Mugg's Birthday

I'm back in one piece from my weekend in Kamloops. What a riot!

Saturday, August 17:

I crashed and burned on the couch Friday night after a long day at the office in Sechelt. I didn't even have the energy to make it to my bed. I wanted to get up early to get to Kamloops on time, but the only thing that woke me up was a phone call from Adrian on Saturday saying there was an earthquake in Kamloops! I thought he was JOKING, pulling one of his usual tricks!?! But, I turned on the news and what do you know, he wasn't ...

Shellie showed up a little late with her stuff, and I was moving at the speed of molasses, so I left Vancouver really late, around 11:00, to get to Kamloops for 3pm. Then I got *stuck in traffic*. I was starting to get a bit worried when it took nearly an hour to get out of Vancouver proper, because I knew it was 4 hours to get to Lac-le-Jeune, and Kamloops was a good half an hour past there. I didn't want to be late for the party, but I didn't want to get a ticket, either. I stopped for gas after Chilliwack, and ended up picking up these two young hitchiking lads. I thought there was only one, but his friend was asleep in the grass and I couldn't see him.

These two were 21 years old and hitchiking novices. They didn't even have a map! The one who was awake was Soren, and his friend just lay down in the back and went to sleep. They were trying to get from Victoria to Nelson for a weekend party, but took the last ferry to Tsawwassen and wandered around the Port Coquitlam/New Westminster area trying to find the freeway! That took them all night and they spent all morning just trying to get out of the Lower Mainland. I dropped them off at the turnoff for the Crowsnest Highway where it diverges from the TransCanada Highway, and wished them better luck.

I made up some time once I got onto the Coquihalla Highway -- I figured I had better get to Kamloops on time, otherwise I wouldn't be able to find the property where we were supposed to meet and then I'd be wandering aimlessly in the Interior. Can't have that...

So I booted it as fast as I could along the Coquihalla, passing cars on the highway that had broken down and crossing my fingers that wouldn't happen to me.

I called Sherri from the Lac-le-Jeune exit, but my signal was toast... I ended up having to turn down Don & Molly's road and hoped against hope they wouldn't cross my path on their way to somewhere. I made it to Sherri's on time, and we drove to Don Blair's property... don't ask me how we got there, because it was REALLY FAR.

Don's place Posted by Hello

When Sherri told me Muggs and Molly were being flown in by HELICOPTER, I was really impressed ... what a production this surprise birthday party was turning out to be! Just orchestrating any kind of gathering on a large scale took some serious planning, but to keep it a secret within a family as tightly-knit as this one took great care.

The helicopter was late, but when it finally came in, we were all waiting in anticipation. I took it upon myself to take as many photos as I could.

a helicopter filled with suprised ladies Posted by Hello

The ladies were VERY SURPRISED. There were stories flying around about how close they were to finding out, or at least getting suspicious. There were people there from out of town, myself included, who could NOT be spotted anywhere near Kamloops without raising suspicion!

some of the crowd Posted by Hello

late-night tubbing, too Posted by Hello

Kelly & Sherri, the next morning. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 15, 2002

If you are waiting for a big download and in need of some amusement, check out It's a database of misheard lyrics, and some of them are SO FUNNY... I know there are plenty of songs from the 80s that I sang along to as a kid, and had no idea what the lyrics were supposed to be, so I ended up filling in the blanks. A great example is the song by The Clash, "Rock the Casbah." The entries had me in stitches.

Y tu mamá también

Another late night -- but not from work or school, just a taste of life from a year ago... saw the superb Mexican film Y Tu Mama Tambien at The Ridge, then food & bevs at DV8, followed by late-night coffee at the Blenz on Davie and Granville. I recognized one of the main actors, Gael Garcia Bernal, from last year's Amores Perros, another good Mexican film. Although I thought this film was better overall, not just provocative but pensive and sobering. And let's not forget to mention that the 23-yr old Bernal is very easy on the eyes! He was one of the best parts of Amores Perros!

Y Tu Mama Tambien is so chock-full of references to social and political and personal behaviour that it merits multiple viewings to catch them all. I would have to say that if I hadn't taken Latin American Studies this past term, many of those cultural references would've passed right by me. The narrator puts forth a perspective that creates an entirely different way of viewing the film, even in its most innocuous moments. Some scenes were tough to watch, not just the graphic sex scenes (many of which were pretty funny, actually), but some scenes were so loaded with implications that it was like watching an impending disaster, a runaway train... anyway, this isn't going to turn into a spoiler alert, I'll shut up now...

Thanks to Shellie from Ontario for being a good sport and coming along to the movie!

Shellie Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

The guy with the 40-ft houseboat in San Francisco e-mailed me back earlier today, and he says that he has a friend coming to visit. He was very gracious about declining, though -- the site says it's customary for hosts not to reply when they don't approve the request, for whatever reason, rather than say no. So I sent another message off to a guy who lives within walking distance of the city centre. Hope he comes through!

Monday, August 12, 2002

Yesterday was a blur!

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Global Freeloading in San Francisco?

Another year of fireworks have come and gone... with a bang (pun intended). Alina and Dan and their little boy, Kevin, came over to watch the grand finale, but, as always, there was a lot of conversation so I don't know how much of the actual show was observed! They brought some lovely flowers for me, too!

lovely flowers from Alina Posted by Hello

Eliza tried to come over, too, with four friends, but I didn't hear either of the phones ring because of the music!

OK, I did something rather impulsive earlier today... I spent the afternoon surfing around for cheap flights to visit Serg and Christopher in Ottawa, but I couldn't seem to find any flights under $500+taxes, and the availability was zilch, or there were way too many connections. If I had loads of time I wouldn't care about connections, but I am always short on time!! So, I've got a 24-hour hold on a flight to San Francisco, for $212 plus taxes! ($300 total) I just have to get a hold of Tyrone to see if he's coming and when... where is he?!?

I also booked myself in tentatively for the new downtown SFO hostel, which must've only opened up within the past year, because there were only two when I was in San Francisco last year in May. But I've since found a site called, which is a be-a-guest/be-a-host free service. I think I'll try it. I sent off an e-mail to a guy who lives on a 40-ft houseboat. We'll see if he responds!

Meanwhile, I must mention this band I was unable to go to see called Pink Martini, because of exams... they're from Portland, Oregon, and they've only released one CD, but they've done a lot of soundtracks and such. Here's a link to a Quicktime movie of their video for "Sympathique". Great song!!

Friday, August 09, 2002

How's this for WACKY: guess who I found in IMDB (Internet Movie Database)?? None other than Adolf Hitler. My, my, my, has Adolf ever been busy! Check out his filmography! If you are into films, this is a great database. I've used it extensively for the past couple of years or so -- an excellent resource, especially for those trivia games or heated party debates over what actor was in what film. The trivia sections alone are engaging reading.

Am I Finally Going to Learn the Meaning of Life?

Back from a late-night dinner with Nancy, on the sidewalk by Bin 941. Reminds me why I live in the City of Vancouver -- so I can eat any time of the day or night, even if I have to sip my Wolf Blass merlot out of a mug while telling a bum to bugger off and no, I don't want to give him change.

I've signed up for two courses in September thus far, one is: Philosophy 231: The Meaning of Life

How can you pass up a course like that?? I am happy to read the course consists of an "early quiz", then 3 short papers worth 20% each, and a final exam worth 30%. I'm so glad to be back in paper territory... I'm sick of exams. I had three exams in LING 100 -- the last one was on Tuesday, and no papers. I also had 3 exams for Archaeology 200, which was also a nightmare.

The second class I'm taking so far is the one I started to take this term but had to withdraw from: Linguistics 110: The Wonder of Words, which is basically about how words have changed over time. I think it will be much better this time around.
Oh thank god it's all over. My hand feels like it's going to fall off. Not only did I run out of ink partway through, but I ran out of time. But I answered as much as I could, and I got an A- on my paper about the film "Strawberry and Chocolate", which is less (by percentage) than I thought I would get, but that keeps my record alive for only dipping below an A- once on a paper -- and that was the first one, in Moral Philosophy (B+). I think that first paper took a year off my life. It was torture. But since then it's been a good run of A's. Which is no mean feat, all things considered, especially since I always write them the night before they're due.

My brain is now officially free from burden! What do I do with it now?!?

Thursday, August 08, 2002

oooh, just a few more hours and my brain will be F-R-E-E...

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

I need a vacation. I really do. It's been all work and no play lately for Gail.

One thing I can look forward to is Molly Dieno's surprise birthday party in Kamloops on the 17th, which means I'll at least get a road trip in before the end of the month. The only thing I need to think of is what kind of gag gift I can get, and what kind of real gift.
My hand's still sore from writing, but I'm glad that's all over. LING 100 is finished, so now I just wait for my score... one down, one to go. Latin American Studies will be a big exam, so I'd better get cracking.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

We Won Again!

A Loving Spoonful's float won the prize for the Best Overall and Best Community Float!

Pride Parade float Posted by Hello
Spent pretty much all day yesterday studying. I didn't even leave the apartment! That is so pathetic!

Monday, August 05, 2002

Melissa and I Go to the Zoo

The weather is really piss-poor right now (as Jerome would say), but today was very full and lots of f-u-n... well, except for the really boring batch of photocopying I had to do up at SFU.

Melissa and I spent a few hours at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, which used to be called the Vancouver Game Farm when I lived in Aldergrove from ages 13-17. I only went for the first time last year in the spring, when I took Melissa and Michael by myself. I don't think any self-respecting high school student at FVAA would be caught dead actually going to the Vancouver Game Farm. I think it's changed a lot over the years, though, re-branding itself as the Greater Vancouver Zoo and adding more animals. And I'm sure it totally takes people by surprise when they first discover it's an hour's drive out of Vancouver.

OK, next time I am NOT going to leave the house without my watch. Melissa and I waited nearly an hour to take the Zoo train, and then when I asked someone what the time was, she told me it was 3:30, so we started to head for the station, which was less than 100m away. When we got there, the train was about to leave! It turned out to be 3:45, and our train was due to leave at 3:40! I was really disappointed, especially for Melissa, who had waited all that time and was also disappointed to see it pulling away from the station without us. So we spent the next hour looking at the animals in the immediate vicinity of the train station, because I was determined not to miss the 4:40 train. We were early in the lineup, which was fortuitous since there were people who didn't make it on the train.

Melissa waiting for the Zoo train. Posted by Hello

One of the advantages of taking the train versus walking around the Zoo is the proximity of viewing for the hippo habitat. Melissa got a little freaked out when the giraffe walked right towards our raised platform and was at eye-level. The area below the railing for the platform is plexi-glass (or was it glass??), so to a small child it must be very scary to have such a big animal come straight at you.

Mr. Giraffe Posted by Hello

Sunday, August 04, 2002

I'm at the Bennett Library at SFU (Burnaby), reading the news... there's a picture of our float on! Maybe it'll be in the next Sun. I don't think it really rained, thankfully -- at least, that's the way it was when I left Jericho Beach hostel to go pick up Melissa in Surrey. I'm just glad it didn't rain on Melissa and me when we were at the Zoo!
Ha! Haven't gotten back into the game yet... I was so knackered I slept for two hours. Spoke to Christa -- now in Guadelajara -- for a while before Kristin and her friend Lanka (sp?) came over to watch the fireworks, and we went out for bubble tea afterwards, so here we are, quarter past one and I haven't even cracked open my books yet. But I have to be up early again to go back to Jericho Beach, then a stop at the SFU's main library at the Burnaby campus before heading out to Surrey to look after Melissa. Ai ya ya!

Saturday, August 03, 2002


I'm exhausted -- I must take a nap before I resume studying. I just returned from decorating the Pride Parade float for A Loving Spoonful. I tied pieces of ribbon onto 300 balloons! It sounds easy, but it's not! I was in this rather unhealthy position of being bent over, tying the ribbon, while I held the balloon between my legs. I hate it when balloons pop, too, so it probably wasn't the best job, but I liked doing it. The float looks great, and it will be fantastic with the bubble machine on it!

my balloon cache Posted by Hello

Before that I did my 9-12 shift at the Jericho hostel infodesk, where I promoted the Grouse Grind ("save your money!") and looked up festival information on the computer. Crazy Christa phoned me from Mexico while I was at the hostel, but I couldn't really talk, so she will phone me again from Guadelajara. A bit of a snooze, and I'll be back in the game...


Back from sort-of studying at Blenz on Davie St, nursing my one cup of coffee and stretching it out to last something like two hours. I wasn't studying that whole time -- Tyrone phoned me back after a night out in Calgary and we chatted for nearly an hour. (Much) earlier today he suggested I swing over to Penticton to meet him and a bunch of friends, but if I am doing all the driving, there's no way for me to study. The only way I'd be able to go is if someone else was driving. C'est la vie. I'll have to take a decent holiday break later in the month, when I don't have to think about exams.

I love reading stuff on VT, but I get this incredible feeling of wanderlust all the time! Reading about Morocco and viewing photos that people have taken just make me want to get on a plane right this moment. I was talking to Kristin last night at the Swiss BBQ that I should become a teacher so I can have summers off to travel. But, at least in BC, that might mean joining a union, about as appealing a prospect as a pap smear (i.e., I know it's a good thing but I don't wanna do it). Kristin said she shouldn't have taken law... it's not a travelling kind of career, so I suggested she become a "diving lawyer," and conduct underwater legal counsel! She could have a double-sided business card that had Divemaster on one side and Lawyer on the other.

So I was wandering around the city earlier this evening to walk off a delish Thai Away Home red curry, and I kept noticing new things. I always notice new things -- that's the great thing about Vancouver, it changes constantly. I swear, if you blink, you could miss a new building, or a building disappearing.

e.g. The Eaton's signs have all been replaced by Sears Canada. It's a shame, because I liked the Eaton's branding much better -- Sears Canada reminds me of childhood when we had to order out of the catalogue. I know they're trying to change their image, but it was their image for so long I can't help but think of lawnmowers and stiff jeans that didn't fit and household appliances. I don't think they had a big toy section, so maybe that's why I wasn't impressed. I didn't want the Barbiemobile or even Barbie herself, I just wanted her clothes and shoes.

On Davie Street I bumped into a couple of the Japanese girls from Christa's going away at Bistro Sakana -- I remember one girl's name is Kaori, but I couldn't remember the other girl's name, only that she was really young -- 18?? She was holding this gigantic Costco-size box of Cheerios... I didn't think they made boxes that size!

Christa's farewell party at Bistro Sakana Posted by Hello

While in Blenz I spotted a woman from my Latin American Studies class, but I had all my books open and couldn't really dash out. I'll see her on Thursday (yikes, I'd better get studying).

I saw the most bizarre thing tonight on Burrard Street going north: a blind man with a comb-over. Think about it! How wierd is that? (Probably even more weird is me adding a link to a comb-over site!!) It begs all sorts of questions, like:

-- did somebody tell him to do that or did he get it from the media?? (the guy beside him wasn't bald)
-- has he ever seen himself sporting a comb-over??
-- does he realize how ridiculous it looks??

I mean, really! What kind of world is this that a blind man would feel self-conscious enough to carefully comb over his last remaining strands of hair to cover up a bald patch like it looked natural???

Friday, August 02, 2002

I hate BC Ferries. If I never have to take another BC Ferry again, I won't be sad...

I was at the Horseshoe Bay terminal just after 7am, to catch the 7:20 ferry, and there was already a SAILING WAIT. At 7 o'clock in the flipping morning!?! Did people sleep there overnight??? Kevin warned me the night before that the ferry traffic was all the way to 22nd Ave., but it was too late for me to cancel going into the office. What a malarkey. I blew in at nearly 11, and had to leave about 4:40 to catch the 5:15, which was amazingly on time.

Going to the office is such a pain in the arse...

Happy 711th Birthday Switzerland!

Canada, at 135 + one month, is just a baby...

Returned not long ago from Bernie & Martine's place for their annual Swiss Day BBQ. Kristin, who is from Fribourg, was dismayed to discover she was not dressed for the occasion! Nothing red or white!

My camera batteries died partway through the photo shoot, which explains why there are 3 photos of the ladies -- we weren't sure the photos were taken because the lens and the display kept shutting down -- and so I have no photos of the gents. And I only managed to get enough power to take a photo here and there -- so none of Martine with Bernie.

Try again next year! But, next year I will be more prepared and wear a Swiss shirt or at least some white on red.

Swiss Miss(es) Posted by Hello

Bernie from Bern! Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 01, 2002

The OS conversion from Win98 to XP at the office is bogging me down... and bogging is nowhere near as fun as blogging, that's for sure... I have been troubleshooting all the live-long day -- actually, make that the past week. I'd like to say it's all worth it, but it might be a little early to say.

The Volvo

Back to the car -- it has cost me so much money to repair the past couple of years (especially last year), but it's such a functional vehicle: it takes the kids plus their gear and their wagon, luggage to take to the airport, furniture for moving... how can I get rid of it?? I don't want to buy a van, or an SUV, and a regular car just wouldn't have the versatility of the Volvo. And, out of all the cars I have ever driven, that Volvo has the best turning circle of all, which is what makes parallel parking like last night at all possible.

Last year I spent in the neighbourhood of $3,000 (yikes) in repairs, and took it into the shop 14 times in 12 months. This year, aside from the crazy snowstorm accident in January, the car was fine until July, when it broke down in Stanley Park with Christa and Daniela in it... they ended up missing the HI Annual Salmon BBQ at Jericho Beach... at least I managed to finish my food before getting the call from Christa :)

My Amazing Parallel Park

I did one of the best parallel parking jobs ever earlier this evening. I arrived home just before the barriers for parking in the West End went up, but I couldn't find a spot ANYWHERE! Normally I can park in the alley or one of the side streets, but I just couldn't find a place. Allan and Cheryl had already arrived, but had to wait for me in the front while I found someplace to park the car. And it was made even more difficult when the traffic brigade wouldn't even let residents pass through certain streets, directing us instead to the False Creek side of Burrard. It was crazy!

Then Allan calls me on his mobile phone and tells me there is a parking spot right in front of my building! They were standing in the spot to hold it for me and getting plenty of dirty looks from all the cars who were scrambling for a spot. So I finally get there, and managed to squeeze my Volvo station wagon into this tiny spot... it was only about a foot of space in front of my car and only about one or two inches behind me to the next car. I didn't touch anyone's bumper, either. There were people watching me, and this one guy says:

"Hey, I'm a truck driver and I'm impressed!" -- and he gave me thumbs up!

a really dark pic, but you get the idea... Posted by Hello


Tonight was the first night of HSBC's "Celebration of Light" fireworks! Allan, Cheryl and the kiddies came by. Italy had a pretty good program, although I didn't watch the whole thing -- the kids were pretty restless. There was no wind, so it was quite smoky and it obscured some of the fireworks, but they were lovely nonetheless.

on the balcony, watching the fireworks Posted by Hello