Monday, June 30, 2003

Audioslave (Windows Media Player)
Just heard this song from Audioslave and got into it. As an old Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine fan, I was looking forward to hearing this collaboration. Now I'm not sure why I thought it might not work -- Cornell letting 'er rip over one of the best rhythm sections in rock...what could be better?

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Vacation Finale

It's always a little bittersweet to finish up ten days of holidays in Manitoba. Tough to envision sitting back at my desk tomorrow, but it's nice to be home and surrounded by familiar comforts. I thought I should wrap up the last few days of the trip report...

Friday afternoon I ended up back at FXR headquarters. I had hardly talked to Carla the last time we were out there, so we hung out on the deck and talked about stuff. Went riding with Milt later on, and found it ridiculously fun once again. Then back to Tan's folks for a feast and over to Angelo and Esther's with Ivy for the evening. They took us on the local playground tour, and Tan brought Ivy back to Larry and Pearl's at bedtime before returning for some late-night talk.

Breakfast with L&P Saturday morning, then hanging around till naptime. We drove through a wicked thunderstorm on the way out to Rosenort in the afternoon -- only in the prairies do you get thunderstorms like that. Beautiful and terrible. Stopped by to see Michelle and Jon and their kids before finding our way to Steve and Ang's for the evening. Some of the gang came over later as well, and Greg and I stayed up talking into the night.

Plett and Heather picked us up in the morning, just in time to witness one of Ivy's worst meltdowns of the trip. She was beside herself with rage for no apparent reason. On the way to the airport, we hit the Assiniboine Park Zoo. I've always found zoos kind of disturbing, but the fact that it turned Ivy's meltdown into pure delight changed my perspective. Then onto the plane, a quick stop in Calgary and finally touching down in Kelowna in 33-degree heat.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Vacation Report Part 3

I don't know why it's so difficult to remember what happened a couple of days ago. The highlight of Tuesday was riding motocross with Milt. Pretty unreal to get all geared up in new FR2 gear, throw a leg over a YZ250F and ride on Milt's perfectly groomed mx track...huge jumps (flying 80+ feet on the biggest one), big soft berms that let you hold it wide open in the corners, in a beautiful prairie setting beside the river. Such a rush, even though I'm pathetically out of shape for yanking a dirt bike around. I could do one lap decently fast, then have to putt around to get feeling back in my arms.

Wednesday morning I spent a few hours with my grandparents, learning the disturbing bacon-fat secret behind my grandma's amazing flat pancakes. Late lunch with Tanya and an afternoon with Angelo before chowing Greek food and checking out Esther's store opening on Corydon. Excellent beer and conversation late into the night with Angelo and then blissful sleep.

Today I did something out of character. I regularly read George Siemens' elearnspace blog, and I knew he was in Winnipeg, so I fired him an e-mail and we went out for lunch today. A weird convergence of the online and offline worlds, with wonderful results. It's so nice to talk to someone about work stuff that occasionally consumes me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Vacation Report Part 2

The days just fly when you're on holidays. Suddenly we're well into the week with too many people left to see in too few days. Saturday night we celebrated Angelo and Esther's 10th anniversary (in May, but we weren't around, so...) by going out for awesome Thai food at Sawatdee. Ridiculously fun. Then over to their apartment for drinks and laughs. Sophie and Greg came by later and we talked the night away. A prairie thunderstorm capped things off. A striking memory: sitting in their "sunroom" watching the lightning flashing behind Greg and Angelo every couple of minutes. Tannis left at 1:00 and I finally crashed there at 3:00.

Off to Grand Beach the next morning with the whole Friesen clan. The weather contradicted the forecast and turned beautiful -- warm and calm and sunny. The girls were in heaven, digging sand and splashing. They made it till about 2:30, then ran out of we headed home just as the clouds rolled in. Later on, Tannis met our high-school guidance counsellor Bob Fisher on the road, so I hopped in with him and "caught up" for 20 minutes. The guy hasn't aged a day since I graduated 12 years ago...we talked educational philosophy a bit. Plett, Heather, Jer and Bonnie were there when we got back, and Jer and Bonnie stayed till 4:30 in the morning. My sleep deprivation is not a good thing, but it was cool.

Yesterday morning I dropped Tannis and Ivy off at David and Alicia's, hung out with them (and their THREE little girls), then drove out into the countryside. I walked around the little triangle of land on the bald plains that we had our first motocross track on. The "big" jump in the middle was hard to find now, having been worn down by the rain and hidden in grass, but the rut through the middle was still there when I found it. Warm wind, wild strawberry blooming, meadowlarks and blackbirds singing...and the biggest, greenest, flattest horizon in the world. I took a couple of bad pictures, and drove by our old farm, admiring the giant cottonwood trees out front and feeling nostalgic. Chad took the afternoon off, so I met him to go for a bike ride in Beaudry Park. A couple of fast laps through the oak trees and jungle-like ferns, then some beers on the grass by the river while talking about work, family and the meaning of it all.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Vacation Report

Well, we're a couple of days into our vacation. So far it's been pretty mellow, aside from an aborted landing attempt and endless circling over green fields around Winnipeg. Chad and Crystal came over with their girls that evening, and Ivy was in her glory -- she's been waiting to play with her cousins for months.

I went downtown with Angelo yesterday to catch the Marc Atkinson Trio as part of the Winnipeg Jazz Festival. It was actually quite surreal, taking place in an extension of the Portage Place food court. Marc said something sort of sarcastic like, "thanks for having us back to Winnipeg, playing in the mall..." So you've got the usual Portage Place denizens -- homeless people, handicapped loungers, mom's 'n tots -- filling the tables in front of a tiny stage, trying to eat their deep-fried lunches, and the band gets up there, looking bewildered. Suzy Shier store on one side, Danier Leather on the other, hundreds of random folks just wandering around. Bizarre setting for some really fine music -- they were excellent and the sound was surprisingly good. It felt good to give the band $20 for a CD, rather than buying it in a lame mall like the one they were playing in.

Wonderful lunch and drinks with Angelo and Esther on the Corydon strip yesterday afternoon, and we hit our favourite breakfast spot this morning: Stella's in the village. As a bonus, lovely Jenn Heinrichs met us at the door -- such a good soul. Oh, and Mark showed me Joel's portfolio site from Emily Carr: Awesome stuff!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Manibush Bound

We're leaving for our exotic Winnipeg vacation tomorrow morning. Reminds me of the letter I wrote to Geist magazine. It makes me mad that I chickened out and watered down the ending, which essentially revealed our conclusion about moving back to the prairies -- it would feel like a major compromise for us. Even though many of the people we love are there, and our visits tend to be wonderful because of them, the place itself exerts very little pull.

That said, I'm looking forward to beers with Angelo, riding dirt bikes with Milt, catching up with old friends and doing the W.O. Mitchell prairie nostalgia thing that I haven't done in a while.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Day of the Dad

So I celebrated my second Father's Day yesterday, fully aware that next year I'll be the dad to two little ones. My dad went on a long solitary ride on his motorcycle, and I almost did a solo mountain bike ride. What's with these independent types?

Luckily, I was able to talk my brother into going for a ride, and Vicki volunteered for duty as Shuttle Girl. So she dropped us off on the old railbed, a couple of thousand feet above town. We cruised on the KVR for a few kilometers, then down through Crawford -- singletrack heaven. Standing there on the rim of Bellevue Canyon with 300-ft rock walls, the creek roaring in the distance below, the lake stretching out to the horizon...made me extra thankful to be alive.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Frank Black

This week's issue of CBCradio3 (our national broadcaster's corny-sounding online magazine) has a short feature of Frank Black. I'm still not sure why the CBC needs to be spending millions on their online presence, but I guess they're in the content "business", and they regularly feature quirky Canadian things that I totally love. This FB feature isn't Canadian at all, but it's one of those full-screen deals with great-quality live songs, so I'm not complaining. Makes me wish that I had tagged along with Neil when he went down to Vancouver to see them.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Nectar of the Gods

We've had some heat in the Okanagan the last couple of weeks, which finally kicked off the official Slurpee season. My New Year's resolution this year was to lose all guilt about food and drink...which translates into eating more ice cream and pizza, drinking more beer and Slurpees. It's been great -- I've cancelled my membership to the Cult of Healthy Living. Not that I plan to turn into a total slob, I'm just not feeling bad if I have a few Slurpees a week, a beer after work and ice cream before bed. I know, I know, most people never think twice about this stuff, but it was a victory for me.

Ivy's discovered Slurpees as well -- it's probably surpassed ice cream as the ultimate treat for her. It's major nostalgia for me, remembering walking into the Super Variety in Morris, MB on a hot day in 1986, pouring up a massive orange crush, cream soda or mountain dew slush...not the real 7-Eleven stuff, but pure bliss never-the-less. I still wander into the Sev up the street to pick 'em up, even though the service absolutely sucks, and the stores are gross. Now if only Jason Friesen would start up his excellent Slurpee discussion forum again -- I hope for his sake that he isn't still working at the Fort Richmond store in Winnipeg...the Slurpee Capital of Canada, which is the Slurpee Capital of the World, as far as I know.

Slurpees are not without controversy. And This guy is choked about the current state of Slurpee culture. I find myself agreeing: most places offer crappy, overcarbonated, runny mixes in truly awful flavours, usually with several stations out of order. It's sad, truly sad.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Crew Cut

More layoffs at work again today. I guess I could put that in my work blog, but it's really hard to not have it affect you personally. The last few rounds of cuts have just been a few people at a time, which feels worse in some ways. I said to a friend at work: "It's starting to feel like the survivors are all standing around on the deck and they can't take their eyes off the plank that's been extended out over the water." The wonderful response: "And having someone order you to hurry up and mop the poopdeck seems a little banal when you know you could be in the drink at any moment." Just creates a bad environment -- hard to focus on the work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Sum 41 Performs Metallica Songs

Continuing on with my recent musical theme, I followed that Metallica link the other day and found this video medley of tribute songs performed by Sum 41. And they absolutely rock:
"Medley: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Enter Sandman, Master of Puppets"
(down the right-side column, sixth from the top)

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

What's the Matter With Parents Today?

I would have never predicted that I'd be tempted to write about music in this spot. It doesn't seem like an important part of my life, but it keeps showing up. I put in a pop-punk playlist this afternoon to keep me awake at work, and rediscovered a great NOFX song, called What's the Matter With Parents Today. It's written from the perspective of a teenager who's mortified by his cool parents, not wanting them to like the same music and smoking pot. It's hilarious in the context of the Sum 41 show I saw last week, seeing all the kids there with their parents...and in some cases you could tell that the parents were totally into it. And although I was there without Ivy, I'm undeniably a parent...what a mind-bender to think of how she'll perceive me when she's 14.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Top 10 Metallica Songs

Neil sent me some old Metallica this morning -- I listened right through "...And Justice for All", even though it's the worst-sounding album of all time, and makes for terrible morning music. Half way through Harvester of Sorrow, I realized that I was developing a headache -- but the nostalgia and angst of the lyrics were strangely compelling: "ANGER! MISERY! YOU'LL SUFFER UNTO ME!" I have no idea what James Hetfield was so angry about in 1988, but I remember my cousin Jay playing it for me when we were 15, and thinking it was brutal. But it grew on me...and then we found ourselves screaming through the opening notes of "Blackened" when they came through Winnipeg on that tour. I was hooked.

My top 10 Metallica songs, in no particular order:
Battery, Sad But True, Leper Messiah, The Thing That Should Not Be, Harvester of Sorrow, Breadfan, Master of Puppets, The Wait, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Shortest Straw

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Feeling Young with Sum 41

I foolishly thought that an online journal would somehow motivate me to write more often than I have been in my paper journal. Well, my excuse this time is that I had the nastiest stomach flu this week, missing a couple of days of work and feeling like junk.
Yesterday night, I felt decent enough to go to the Sum 41 concert. They absolutely rocked, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but earnest about their stick-it-to-the-man attitude. Hilarious, really. The 9-year-old kids with their parents and legions of 12-14 year-old girls were loving it too. I expected it to make me feel incredibly ancient, but it didn't. Yeah, maybe it was a bit loud for my aging eardrums, and I wasn't bashing in the mosh pit, but the music made me feel 15 again.