Saturday, May 28, 2005

Flickr Going Away Party

Flickr Farewell

Ludicorp, the company behind, threw a going-away party on Thursday night at the Alibi Room in Gastown (the office gets moved to San Francisco on Tuesday). Libations, scrummy eats, and t-shirts were there for the taking, and I met more Flickrati than I could keep track of. Especially after the martinis. More on this later.

ADDITION: Tuesday, June 1

I've uploaded more photos to the Flickr Farewell Party set.

The universal Flickr tag for the party is flickrfarewell. As of this writing there are 710 photos with that tag.

Check out the farewell card that JMV made. He crafted a PowerBook/iBook hybrid card out of two UPS boxes and snuck around the room, getting people to sign it. I had to take off at midnight to make sure I had enough time to pick David up at the airport, so I missed the presentation, but there's a collage of it here. I'm sure they were chuffed to receive it -- there was 'time capsule' stuff in the SuperDrive slot, too! That JMV, he thought of everything!

Oh yes, and how could I forget the martinis? They kept bringing out waves of martinis and pints and hors d'oeuvres, so while I was talking I'd spot trays of these going by and of course grab one. At one point in a conversation I looked down and saw my half pint of ale was surrounded by a circle of red sparkly martinis, so I started one of those and went back to the pint, looked down again, and saw an arrangement of champagne-coloured sparkling appletinis (at least, I think that's what they were). So I talked, held a drink in one hand and took photos with the other. What would a Flickr gathering be without shooting anything and everything?

Summer Sneaks In

my feet
Uploaded by gailontheweb.
So, it's the wee hours of Saturday morning, and I'm only downloading my photos of the past few days to clear off the cards for the rest of the weekend. Forget Photoshop and any modifications, I'm sending small batches of photos Flickrward and writing smatterings. The rest will have to wait until after David leaves on Tuesday.

Wednesday was HOT, so I took the kids to the complex's playground with their bikes, my dad joining us shortly after we got there. We didn't last very long in the blazing heat, after hopscotch and swinging and biking. A cool-off in the wading pool was just the ticket for the afternoon.

Wednesday photos -- or click on the image below.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dave's Logbook

David has finally moved over to the Dark Side... er, I mean Blogger. Until now his online journal has been on Multiply, quite a decent social networking site, but it has its limitations as a blog/journal site. Check out his new location here:

Dave's Logbook

I'm sure there will be a fair amount of tweaking going on there, so check back often.

My own blogging has slowed lately because I've been shuttling between three places, PowerBook in tow, but at my dad's place I'm stuck on *eek* dialup, unfortunately. I'll survive.

A big night tonight:

1) Flickr Going Away Bash in Gastown
2) I pick David up at the airport at 2am

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Sharing made simple by

No doubt most people have come across this link, but in case you haven't:

It's TEEMING with puns, so consider yourselves warned!

American Museum of Natural History

Another pic from my NYC archives. This is a big batch of photos that haven't seen the light of internet day, so it's nice to be able to go through and resuscitate them using Photoshop and remember that trip as I go through them.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fat Cat On Cat Mat

One of David's early birthday presents from his mother. Hugh looks so much like the cat on the mat, it's as if he modelled for it!

Revisiting the Archives: Manhattan

Uploaded by gailontheweb.
No, I'm not back in New York again. Now that I've got iPhoto 5 installed, I'm going back through my archives to pre-Flickr photos that need fixing (mostly colour correction).

This was from my trip to New York over New Year's, 2002/2003. I took a circle cruise around the island and shot a boatload of photos that until now haven't been made public. The 'C' in the photo is for Columbia University, located at the north end of Manhattan.

I recently joined a Flickr group that takes you on a tour, of sorts. You post one photo, and you can add notes to parts of the photo with hyperlinks that take you to those places via another photo. It's hard to describe, so here's the URL:


I posted an aerial photo of Manhattan, with a link to a shot from the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. The idea is that I'll upload my archived photos of New York so I'll be able to link them to my aeial shot in 'Walkthrough'.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I Finally Meet George and Lana!

Just taking a moment to plug George's site:

Every time I go back to his site, he's added more photos and made improvements.

This is the third time we've attempted to meet since last year, when George, his wife Lana, and I started posting in the Vancouver group on, but something's always come up. Lana and I have been writing while I've been in Pennsylvania, a euphemism for me filling up Lana's inbox with complaints about Pennsylvania -- haha!

Third time's a charm, they say, and last night we finally did meet up and nattered over coffee and desserts for hours at True Confections on Denman Street. I'm glad they made it out here from Richmond -- it was a deluge on and off, which creates traffic and orneriness on the roads. The kind of weather that would put many people off from driving, but not George, apparently, even after arriving home that morning from his third flight to Japan this week. What stamina.

When I met David, practically the first person I mentioned my helicopter flight to was George, who's a pilot with Air Canada and a simulator instructor on various Air Bus series planes. David got me into another side of aviation by taking me on my first helicopter trip and my first flight in a private prop plane. Until that point, I'd been on a lot of commercial airlines, but that was it.

On Friday the two pilots will meet, as it's George's birthday, and David's is on Monday. We'll be whooping it up at a Greek restaurant, of course!

Look What Sprang Up While I Was Away

Vancouver is one of those cities where the only constant is change.

THREE free city dailies started up in the first few months of 2005, which I haven't gotten around to looking at yet. Jury's out on how long they'll last.

In the first day or so of arriving, I was on the Skytrain and spotted a whole new multi-storey retail building that sprouted by the elevated tracks between the Broadway/Commercial and Main Street/Science World stations. I didn't even see the foundation get put in, and WHAM, there it is.

The new Paramount cinema/multi-plex building at the intersections of Burrard/Smithe/Hornby is now open for business. Maybe David and I will check out a film there this weekend when he's here. (Is this my cue to check the listings in one of those new free dailies for movie openings this weekend??)

They're on the final stages of completing the condos at the city end of the Cambie Street Bridge, off Pacific. That took a while, though, I remember taking Michael and Melissa past there when they were toddlers and the construction barriers were up.

Everywhere I go in Vancouver I see something new. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially for me, since observation is such an important skill for anthropology and photography -- two of my biggest interests.

Street Kitchen

Street vendor on Burrard. Prompted discussion about veggie vendors on the West Coast. Click for comments.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Friday Photowalk

I had a great day yesterday, productive and social and geeky all at once.

After some errands, I met up with Rachael on Davie Street to go for a photowalk. Photography is generally a solitary activity, but after the Vandigicam meetup last week, I was keen on doing more such photowalks, but on a much smaller scale. We headed down Davie Street, and wouldn't you know it -- the very first shop we entered, we got told off for taking photos. It was a little florist/home decor place I'd patronised before, and I didn't think they'd be uptight about it. Granted, we didn't ask permission and they weren't stroppy about it, but it wasn't as if they were a high-end niche market shop with rare items. Neither of us are interested in pissing off shopkeepers, though, especially near where we live, so we stayed out of retail places and kept outside. That is, until we spotted FOOD...

I'd just eaten, but Denman is full of little restaurants and cafes and dessert places like Cupcakes and Mondo Gelato. Rachael could've probably resisted a mini-cupcake, but I'd convinced her not to fight the urge, and a few doors down I stopped in to try some new gelato flavours and caved in for a half-scoop each of maple caramel and Indian mango. Note to self: we are far too weak-willed to do photowalks near dessert places. Must stay away from dessert places.

I'd mentioned to Rachael that the view from the top of the Landmark Hotel on Robson Street was great for photos, but we'd discovered that it didn't open until 5 o'clock. So, we headed east up Robson Street to Burrard and north along Burrard to Hastings to shoot in the Marine Building. Built in 1930 in Art Deco style, it's one of my favourite buildings in the city. I used to work on the 12th floor years ago when I first moved to Vancouver, and had a view of Stanley Park and the North Shore from my desk. I loved watching the floatplanes coast into Coal Harbour.

Click on the image to see the whole photoset.

See Rachael's images here.

We finished off the photowalk at the Marine Building, which is conveniently located kitty-corner to my bank, so I did more errands there before heading back up Burrard to meet Eliza. I FINALLY have my 2004 RRSP receipt so I can complete my income tax return!

The rest of the evening involved driving out to Cloverdale to pick up a box from Allan's house -- stuff I'd ordered from Apple Canada -- and a wacky Vietnamese noodle house, then more errands around Vancouver. One of the things I ordered from Apple was iLife '05, so now I can use iMovie again (I've been getting by with Quicktime Pro), and iPhoto 5 has some features sorely missing from iPhoto 4. Eliza is getting Tiger installed on her PowerBook, so we'll see what new stuff Apple's introduced to OS X -- and how it works with iPhoto '05.

More Kitchen Reno...

... this time it was at my brother's house.

Chaos ensued today while some carpet was replaced by linoleum, but by the time Eliza and I arrived to pick up my package from Apple, the dust had settled and order mostly restored.

New Lino and the Attendant Chaos
Linoleum Update

It makes our home renos look like a cake walk.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Kitchen in Progress

David's making great strides toward transforming the kitchen into a room where we can actually bring people without apologising first.

He used Photoshop to render out the bits of kitchen he hasn't done yet, the backsplash and range hood. We're still deciding what colour to use for the cabinets and woodwork, what David refers to as "the last traces of the 'dark side' decor". The walls are a deeper yellow than the shade on the paint can suggested, he said, but it's definitely an improvement over the horrendous patterned wallpaper. (Click on the photo to enlarge it to all its funky glory.)

I might even start to spend more time in the kitchen and do some REAL cooking instead of mostly heating things and scurrying off to the dining room.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Kids and Science

I took the older three kids to Science World today, an impromptu trip that went quite smoothly, probably due to the fact that this is the longest stretch of time that's passed since the last time I took them there. I used to take the kids often on Sundays, and sometimes we'd go a few Sundays in a row.

We left the twins at home with Cheryl, who was breaking in her very first pair of contact lenses this morning and was still feeling strange having things on her eyes. Michael had to take a bathroom break during the long journey to the Big Ball of Science, but we managed to get in and out of a McDonald's that had a playplace without the kids asking for food and only the teeniest of whines about joining the other kids in the play area. Parents of small children will appreciate what a laudable event this is.

As we found with the Aquarium, visiting during the week makes an ENORMOUS difference in terms of crowds. Before, I could only take the kids on the weekends, and sometimes the zoo-like atmosphere just added to their hyperactivity. This is the least busy I have ever seen Science World, and the kids didn't have to compete with larger children for stations or terminals or exhibits. The upside for me is that I can find them MUCH more easily, without having to scan all the little heads bobbing and weaving around the galleries.

They found their favourite spots, like the parachute drop and the perspective room, but I noticed some new things and small changes since the switch of major corporate sponsorship from Alcan to Telus. It's still probably my favourite kids-oriented facility in the city, and no matter how many times we go, one of the highlights of our visits are the frequent shows at centre stage. I must've seen at least a dozen different demonstrators for science shows on electricity and air and motion, and they're all very engaging, show after show.

I wasn't the only one cultivating a relationship between kids and science this week. On Monday, David's Civil Air Patrol squadron held an Aerospace Day at a local elementary school of 950 children, which was reported to be a rip-roaring success:

Aerospace Day III

This could be construed as "practice" for having kids one day, or David and I could just be two big kids who love science. Or both.

I Wonder If They Get Crank Calls

Knowing what a 'vibrator' is used for in -- ostensibly -- construction might stop me from making awful puns about this sign I spotted today on the back of a truck. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Uploaded by gailontheweb.
Mirthful Megan and Maribeth (15 months).

Just look at those teeth!! They're sharp! I was holding Maribeth while she was drawing yesterday, and looked down to see her eating the yellow crayon. I dug it out of her mouth, but she left deep bite marks on my fingers.

Michael the City Bus Driver

We were at a playground in Langley today, and I told Michael he was a city bus driver. Hence the expressions. I selected seven photos out of my digital pile and made a set:

view as slideshow

In this photo I told Michael he was pulled over by the police for speeding*. This was his reaction. The kid's four years old, and he's already grasped road rage. (His mother says she's glad he's not driving for years yet.)

The photoset even has accompanying music:
Waiting For the Bus (mp3, 3.4MBs)

* If you think buses don't get pulled over for speeding, think again. I was on Amtrak's coach from Seattle to Vancouver a week and a half ago, and the driver was pulled over for going 72mph in a 60mph zone. This was in the middle of a clear, sunny day, and the driver was going with the flow of the traffic. Is the highway patrol THAT bored? This was the exchange:

Officer: "How come you were speeding?"
Driver: (pause) "I wasn't looking at the speedometer."
Officer: "Do you drive this route often?"
Driver: (pause) "Every day..."

I was sitting behind the driver, so I heard everything. While the driver paused before giving his answer, I conjured up sarcastic responses to the officer in my head. My insubordinate streak is showing, but wouldn't you be tempted, if faced with this inane line of questioning?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cramming for the Provincial Elections

When I rolled into town the other Friday, somebody told me I arrived just in time for the BC Elections. Oh great, it looks like I'll be cramming for info on the internet later tonight, because I've not been keeping up on what's been happening in BC while I've been away.

Thankfully my father's a big believer in the democratic process, because he didn't even think twice about offering to drive all the way here (my brother's house in Cloverdale, a stone's throw from Langley) to pick me up along with two of the kidlets to drive all the way into downtown Vancouver, amuse the kids while I vote, then drive all the way to Langley so I can pick up the van from my brother's workplace to take Melissa to ballet. (It's in the neighbourhood of an hour each way.) Go Dad!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Vandigicam Meetup

Vandigicam Meetup - May 12

Vandigicam Meetup - May 12/05

Vandigicam Meetup - May 12/05
Thursday was a busy day -- I attended my first Vandigicam Meetup after the trip to the Aquarium. The Vandigicam group started off in in February and moved on to to facilitate RSVPs. It's grown from three people to something like 40 members. Of course not everyone shows up each time, but I'm told attendance is fairly steady.

I was thinking of joining Vandigicam, anyway, since I'd seen notice of the group forming in Flickr. They meet once a fortnight on Thursdays, which is frequent compared to meetups in larger cities such as Philadelphia. I know the Philly folk meet once a month, and they don't do photo walkabouts like Vandigicam, it's usually just a social event.

My formal invite to join Vandigicam was actually on the day I rolled in town, the previous Friday. I'd taken the Amtrak coach from Seattle to Vancouver, and I was in a taxi on Burrard Street heading to the apartment when I thought I spotted a fellow Flickrite, Goddess Spiral, who shares a couple of forums/photo groups with me. I wasn't sure if it was her, but I took note of what she was wearing and sent an e-mail later with the subject line: "Am I seeing things??" It turned out to be her (wacky, huh?), and she invited me to join Vandigicam.

The creator of Vandigicam is Laura, a lady from Atlanta who's spending 2005 in Vancouver while her husband is on sabbatical. She's been very instrumental in mobilising the group and keeping the fortnightly meetups on track. It was great to finally meet a bunch of people I've been in contact with via Flickr, people whose photos I admire and comment on. It's not just about putting faces to the names, it's also to see what equipment everybody uses and how they set up their shots!

I met up with Laura, TizBarb, and slightly-less-random at Wicked Cafe, and we bussed it over to Cuppa Joe's to meet up with the rest. I didn't recognise everyone, but probably half are either Flickr contacts of mine, or people I'd remembered from various forums. The other thing about meeting people in person is you can call them by their real names, rather than long-winded screen names. Somehow, referring to someone as 'slightly-less-random' is a bit absurd, even though it's common nowadays.

A bunch of people brought their tripods and made the rest of us look like hacks! (I don't have one, but maybe once I upgrade.) Actually, we're a mix of compacts, SLRS, and DSLRs. The first camera I saw when I sat down at Cuppa Joe's was someone's Canon EOS 20D with a big honkin' lens on it... yes, I had camera envy. But that feeling soon passed -- we're all mostly amateurs, anyway.

From there we headed over to Jericho Beach en masse. We were a big group trying to meet up with others who said they'd be at the concession stand, but there were too many people and the light was fading, so everyone scattered. Stewart (founder of Flickr), mentioned later online that he tried to find us at 8:15 but we'd spread out by then. Hopefully I'll get to meet the Ludicorp people at their going-away bash, yet to be announced. (Flickr has been purchased by Yahoo, so the office is moving down to California soon.)

I got some decent pictures on the beach, but was too busy yakking to take a lot of photos. There were some easy bunny shots to be had that the others took advantage of, and other urban wildlife pics like ducks and this unidentified bird... what IS that??

Vandigicam Meetup Photoset

When the light was nearly gone I set off for home, getting some moving light shots walking along the Burrard Street Bridge. These streaks in the bottom left photo are from a bus going by, probably the #22 Knight Street.

Some of my favourite photography is city nightshooting, but I don't have as much opportunity to do this in Pennsylvania. For one thing, we're not in a big city, so there's not much reason to wander around there at night. I'll have to get my fill of nightshooting while I'm here.

Burrard Bridge
False Creek
Burrard Bridge Photoset

Friday, May 13, 2005

Vancouver Aquarium

all five Ms
Uploaded by gailontheweb.
Thursday turned out to be a good day to set off for the aquarium -- overcast and threatening to rain. We packed all five kidlets into the van and headed towards Vancouver, hoping they'd nap along the way. They all did except for Melissa, but that didn't stop Maddy from throwing a wobbly in the restroom when I was trying to change her. She wouldn't let me change her and was screaming so much I'm sure everyone thought I was trying to kill her. Other than that, the aquarium excursion was without incident. That is, if you don't include the ticket we got for neglecting to buy a parking ticket -- a big oops, but we're appealing it. (Everything is negotiable.)

The twins were set free to roam in the play area downstairs, but Megan kept running away, so we confined her to the stroller for the rest of the afternoon. After Maddy threw her wobbly she was relegated to stroller confinement while I carried Maribeth around. We watched Spinner the dolphin, the belugas showing off, the rainforest area with birds, turtles and the sloth, sharks, and jellyfish. I love jellyfish -- I could watch them all day. If it were remotely affordable, I'd love to have a jellyfish tank at home with a glowing blue light 24/7.

It wasn't as crazy at the Aquarium as last time, which was Boxing Day when David and I took the older three kids. NEVER go on holidays -- it's a total zoo! Now that they have a family membership we'll be going more often, so we won't feel compelled to spend the entire day there to make the entrance fee worthwhile.

Aquarium Photos

Mini Photogs

Michael taking a photo of Maddy and Melissa taking a photo of him.

These kids have grown up with cameras in their faces. It's no surprise they'd want to take their own photos, too, and see what it's like on the other side of the lens.

Ice Cream!

Can anything taste better than your first ice cream cone? Perhaps not.

This photo is so cute I had to post it. More here:

Cones all 'round!

mmmm-m-m-m, goooood...

Diaper AND ice-cream shield.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Melissa discovers a typewriter

Ye Olde Typewriter -- remember those? The keys you had to bang to make an inky imprint on the paper. The loud clickety-clack, the ding to warn you that you were near the end of the line, the ching of the lever that served as the carriage return. Yeesh, carriage return! I'm really showing my age, aren't I!

Typewriters have gone the way of the dinosaur. This one's practically a museum piece, sitting in the lobby of my brother's office. After Melissa finished ballet on Tuesday we picked up Allan from work and Melissa spotted the typewriter. It occurred to me that she'll never use one, and she'll only learn about it secondhand, like many analogue devices nowadays. I'll end up like my parents, saying things like: "In MY day....!"

"In MY day we had to take typing class! So there! We'd be tested for speed and accuracy because we had no backspace key! That's right! And don't even get me started on the DELETE key -- it was a revolution, that's what it was!"

"In MY day, we had to use messy liquid paper/Tipex/white-out to correct mistakes! The stuff was expensive and then you had to buy thinner, too!"

"In MY day, we had to use messy typewriter ribbons! And once the paper was pulled out of the machine, heaven help you if you had to put it back in and try to finish typing the page!"

"In MY day, if you wanted to insert a paragraph, you had to start all over again!"

"In MY day, we had no arrow keys! There was none of this scrolling up and down!"

"In MY day, an ELECTRIC typewriter was a luxury!"

"You kids have it SO EASY!"

The New Tent


Insanity is a relative term. Some people think doing an Ironman is insane. Some people think eating live insects is insane. Some people think having five kids in five years is insane.

You know what? Having five kids in five years and then TAKING ALL OF THEM CAMPING is insane.

Allan and Cheryl came home from their "date" with bags of groceries and a large duffle bag. (I use the word "date" rather loosely, here.) After feeding the kids, I set about putting them to bed while their parents headed out in search of child-free environs. I'm told the environs included a steakhouse and Save-on-Foods.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I could hear bouts of giggling coming from the twins' room, Melissa was gnashing her teeth over missing dessert because she was too slow to eat dinner, Maddy wouldn't come out of the tub, and Michael was busy building an empire in his room. An empire that I would, of course, trip over in the middle of the night when I go to bed.

Bedtime is hard enough when everybody's in separate rooms, but they want to put all five kids and two adults in a TENT?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

American Idol - Final Four

David taped American Idol and wrote about the performances of the final four contestants: Carrie, Bo, Vonzell, and Anthony.

American Idol - Final Four

Let's see, American Idol is looking for a pop star, and the top two contestants (arguably Bo and Carrie) don't even really sing pop. It's ironic that the judges keep telling them to be true to themselves when all that's going to happen is that they'll be pushed towards the mainstream audience of Top 40 and Billboard and given an image. They'll have songwriters, musicians, stylists, and sent on American Idol tours with the likes of Fantasia et al. I wonder if any of them have had second thoughts about trying to win this competition, especially after Mario Vasquez bailed.

Melissa at Ballet Class

I took Melissa (5) to ballet for the first time today. I've seen a few video clips and photos, but have never seen her in class since it's on weekdays and I was always at work. Despite my aversion for pink, I thought she looked very cute in her leotard and slippers. I also learned today that she is partial to classical music and will not dance to anything else! (AVI, 17 secs, 4.7MBs)

It's not surprising that Melissa would enjoy ballet. She's a girlie-girl who LOVES pink, but most importantly, she's always been very co-ordinated. Out of the five, I'd say she's still the most physically self-aware of the bunch. She was forever climbing out of her crib long before she was a year old, and she's a daredevil on the playground. It was all Michael could do to try and keep up with her on the bars, and she was as comfortable upside-down as right-side up. A veritable monkey with boundless energy. Oh, and she loves the attention, so ballet is right up her alley.

Melissa's ballet class
Melissa's ballet class

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Twins

Uh oh, I'd better hurry up. Michael (4), Melissa (5), and Maddy (3) are off at the dentist's, and the twins are awake from their nap. I can hear them giggling and chortling in their cribs, asking to be taken out.

Took some photos last night while we fed the twins, who are 15 months old and now both walking. Megan started a few weeks ago while her grandmother was visiting from Maine, and Maribeth followed last week when Auntie Ally was here. Now that they're mobile, they require a lot more supervision. When I said it was like a daycare here, I wasn't exaggerating!

Uploaded by gailontheweb.

Uploaded by gailontheweb.

At the Playground

ta da!
Uploaded by gailontheweb.
Some pics taken yesterday at the complex's playground. We found a small basketball that someone left behind, so I played two-on-one with Michael and Melissa. This basically consisted of me dribbling the ball while they hung from my t-shirt. These situations never end well:

"Auntie Gail, we don't want to play with you anymore because you won't let us have the ball!"

Uploaded by gailontheweb.