Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Friday, December 29, 2006

2006-12-26 Boxing Day At Home 012Boxing day sales are for chumps. Aside from spending all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the kitchen, I didn't have TIME to go out and brave the crowds shopping for things I don't need and can't fit in my suitcase anyway.

Tony got a Nintendo Wii a couple weeks ago when they came out. He paid someone to stand in line for him for 13 hours and got a Wii, Zelda Twilight Princess and an extra controller. He brought it over on Boxing day and we all took turns playing Wii Sports (the game that comes with) There are five sports on it: Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Boxing and Bowling. I didn't have the patience for baseball and only played a couple games on it. Tennis was fun but requires more practice. Golf was good, boxing was good (and worked up a sweat) but bowling was the best of the bunch. I went about nine rounds in four bouts with progressively tougher opponents (although the toughest guy I fought had a skill level of 250 of a possible 2000).

Bowling was the best for multiplayer though. We bowled a few frames in four player mode and had a really good time with it. You can maneouver your bowler back and forth on the boards, and then also vary your angle down the lane. Because of the accelerometers built into the Wii remote, you can also put spins on the ball as you follow-through. By moving a couple boards to the left, aiming for the far right corner of the lane and putting a spin on the throw, I was making the ball dance across the boards, Munson-style! On the second game of the night, I hit two strikes, then an 8-pin split, then four more strikes, and then another 8-pin split and then two more strikes and then I tanked the 10th frame and got a (family) record 196 points. Every time I threw a curving strike, I would throw my hands up in the air, Munson-style. When I got the Turkey for a triple strike, I grabbed my brother's piece of pizza off his plate and took a bite. My other brother, who "got" the reference to Kingpin started laughing his ass off and singing "Stayin Alive" by the Bee-Gees. I tried to do a front-split after that, but got about half way before it felt like I was going to burst my baby-making equipment and fell over. We were all laughing so hard we couldn't continue for about ten minutes.

As cool as Oblivion looks on the Xbox360, and with all the 1080i hi-def glory of the PS3, I think the Wii is going to blow both of them away because even though it's "only" 480p low-def graphics, the games are FUN to play. A gorgeous hi-def game that sucks is still a sucky game and that's what Sony and Microsoft got wrong with their consoles (aside from the blu-ray drive and the EXTERNAL HD-DVD drive for the 360).

I just sold my Xbox system with all the controllers (including the karaoke mic that plugs into the controller, too) just before xmas and I'll probably get a 360 later this year when Halo3 comes out. Hopefully by then the Xbox "preimum" bundle includes the HD-DVD drive internally and not as a clunky external. If I had the chance to have two consoles, I'd definately get the Wii just for the playability of the games, and the ease of just "picking it up" and playing when having friends over. It's just that easy.

We installed the Opera browser beta on the Wii and connected to the internet through my wireless network here and were surfing YouTube and making the videos full-screen on the TV. The relatively low-resolution made the videos look OK at such high screen sizes, and the text input was soooooooo much easier than on the PSP which practically works against you. My dad was able to pick up the Wiimote and play baseball and boxing with us, that's how easy it is. It's how things SHOULD work.

Friday, December 29, 2006 10:16:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Tech | Gadgets#
It's already gone, but today around lunchtime, there was white stuff falling from the skies. Down low by the water it was really cold rain, around my parents house it was wet snow and up higher you could see the mountains were getting a good dumping.

Me? I zipped up my parka, flipped the attached mitten-parts of my convertible fingerless gloves, and unclipped the fur ear flaps from my hat and smiled through the cold.

Just as an aside, the cold water that comes out of the tap at my parents house is SO COLD, that it hurts my teeth when Im rinsing after brushing! I end up turning on a little hot water to make the cold water not so cold. Back home the "cold" tap is rather tepid. I think I'll bust out the instant-read thermometer when I get back to Cayman and see how warm the cold water is :)

Friday, December 29, 2006 7:18:02 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Travel#
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Going back to Red Robin last night brought back a lot of funny stories, a bunch of "where-are-they-nows" and an old familiar bout of indigestion, too!
Thursday, December 28, 2006 9:59:13 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Food | WWW#
Sunday, December 24, 2006

I woke up this morning early (well it was early here, my body thought it was nearly 11:00 and what the heck was I still doing in bed?) and had nothing. No tea bags, no phone minutes, nothin. I bundled up (parka, scarf, mittens and fur hat) and went up to the strip mall up the street. I popped into Rogers Video to get a mobile top-up, then I popped into Safeway to get some tea (Red Rose, because you can only get it in Canada... pity...) and then went into Starbucks to get a peppermint mocha (it IS that time of year).

I'm standing in line and notice this blonde girl standing two people in front of me in line. She looks familiar... but.. no... it can't be... It was. It was Sirekka (I'me sure I just butchered her name) from Hammerhead's. She quit there awhile back and left Cayman to move back to Vancouver and it turns out she's working at the Mountain Shadow Pub, just down the road from my parents' place. It would have been awesome to say out loud in the middle of a busy Starbucks on Christmas Eve "I thought it was you, but I didn't recognize you with so many clothes on!" (considering that whenever I saw her in Cayman she had on shorts, flip flops and a tank top, and now we were both all bundled up for winter in Vancouver) She said "OMG! I thought that was you, I was just thinking to myself "That's Claire's brother.... no it CAN'T be, he's in Cayman..."

I don't actually have a sister named Claire. Claire and I were very close for a lot of years, and we never ever hooked up, so the only logical relationship we could have had was brother and sister. When we used to go out to the bars together, we'd keep our eyes open for targets for the other, and be each other's wingman. If there was a scenario that either of us needed to get out of, we played the boyfriend or girlfriend role and if there was the opposite scenario, it would be "oh, him? nooo he's my brother!" or "Nono, we're not together, she's my sister..." It got kind of involved, to the point that people who only knew one of us actually thought we were related.. just like Sirekka. Claire has actually moved back to Vancouver now too with Wammer and their little girl, Tai.

I actually knew that Sirekka was working at the Mountain Shadow already. When I was home in September for Ork's wedding, I met Brandi at Sammy J Peppers, and she was friends with Shandi (that sounds like a headline act on Duo Night at the NBI, doesn't it?) who used to work at Legendz. She also knew Sirekka, and told me that she was at the Mountain Shadow. Brandi ended up blowing me off, but whatever, who's loss was it, really? :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006 5:21:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Travel#
"We had a bit of a bumpy ride up here and we ran into a little problem that required us to communicate with the ground for awhile. We managed to isolate the problem and prevent it from becoming a serious issue. At this point, there's no reason for us to expect anything other than a normal landing. However just to be on the safe side, there are emegerncy vehicles waiting for us on the ground. As we land the plane, you may see the flashing lights and emergency vehicles lining the runway, but that's just a precaution."

Uhhh, what?? We were delayed for an hour before we left, and I guess we know why now! The girl sitting across the aisle from me turned white as a sheet, and there was a lot of nervous murmuring and I bet there was a quick burst of activity on God's radar as there were a lot of people with their eyes closed and their heads bowed on that plane. The cabin crew came through making sure that no one was in a position that would hinder their exit, you know, if needed. The girl who went pale had a blanket on her legs and the flight attendant asked her to take the blanket off, so it would not entangle her legs in case she had to move quickly. As for me, I just started laughing. Someone asked rather brusquely what was so funny. I was laughing because what the hell else am I going to do? I tightened my seatbelt and that was about it.

The people who fly the planes have so much training and so much experience, and contingency training, and the inflight crew goes through months of training in just about every contingency you can imagine there's really nothing else TO do. A couple years ago a pilot landed a JetBlue plane with the front landing gear twisted 90 degrees and I remember another incident about a year ago where something equally serious happened and the pilot landed it like there was no problem at all.

So we approached the runway, maybe landed a little faster than normal, but it was fine! I've had worse landings before when there were no problems at all. The Captain of the plane had some SERIOUS skills and had he not made the announcement, then no one would have known that there was any problem at all, it was that smooth!

Sunday, December 24, 2006 8:41:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Travel#
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I'm at the airport this morning, trying to get home for a few days over Christmas. It's been a huge ordeal just to get to this point where I'm actually leaving, but following my unofficial policy of not really mentioning work except in abstract terms, I'm leaving it all out and starting from here instead.

I'm flying from Grand Cayman to Houston this morning, and then connecting on United to Denver and then through to Vancouver. Yes, that's right, I'm heading for Denver. Which has been closed for 48 hours due to a winter storm. 4700 people (wasn't that a TV show about aliens? and given the whole background of the DIA conspiracy theorists it's actually kind of ironic) camped out in the terminal on Wednesday night and they did not open a single runway til Friday noonish. That was ONE runway, and they were going to continue working to clear the rest of the runways, the de-icing areas, the gate areas and whatnot after that) The other night after reading the travel advisory on I googled DIA to find the airport's "official" site to read what they had to say about the closure/backlog and near the top of the list was some links to the DIA conspiracy sites. There's some seriously whacked people out there. It has JUST enough plausibility to make for good reading (kind of like the da Vinci code, but not as good writing).

I'm hoping that they've managed to clear a lot of the backlog of people waiting to get "anywhere" that I'm not too delayed when I go through there. The other funny bit is that even though Im going Cayman>Houston>Denver>Vancouver AND stopping in Houston for a few hours to take care of some business, I arrive in Vancouver at 7:30pm. That's earlier than when I've flown direct from Miami through Toronto, Minneapolis or Chicago. How does that work? I'll update later if there's anything interesting to talk about. :)

Update 1: It's 8:33am and my first flight was supposed to have left at 8:15. They just made an announcement that it will be delayed by an hour and 15 minutes, or 9:30. Fortunately I know the password to the wireless access point in the departure lounge. :)

Update 2: it's 2:43am eastern/cayman time and I'm just crawling into bed at my parent's house. What an ordeal, but hey any landing you can walk away from is a success, right? more details tomorrow sometime.

PS it's friggin cold out here, Mr Bigglesworth!

Saturday, December 23, 2006 4:44:23 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Travel#
Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've had this post, uhh, percolating on the back burner for awhile now... heh heh.

A couple months ago, I left work mid-morning to go get a coffee at Cafe Del Sol. I used to be fairly regular there, back when I had to leave the house at 6:30am to try and avoid traffic. I'd get in to town around 7:30am, so I'd pull in there and have a caffe latte and weeze the juice off an open WiFi hotspot in the area (using SSH and Privoxy to tunnel all my traffic, just to be safe) until it was time to go to work.

As I sat there surreptitiously people watching while doing a little web surfing, I tended to see the same people at the same times every morning. You could tell when someone was running late, and the staff behind the counter knew most of the "regulars' " orders and started preparing it while they were still standing on line.

After I bought a Vespa, I could leave later in the morning, as instead of 60-90 minutes, my commute was down to about 15. I would then pop in two or three times a week, later on in the morning and see a completely different group of people. These people were less stressed than the early morning peeps, probably because they lived closer to town and didn't have to sit in traffic.

This out-of-habit mid-morning jaunt caught me off-guard because I didn't recognize ANYONE in there at all. The crowd was completely different. Instead of office-workers (mostly) grabbing a cup of joe on their way to the office, this crowd was the stay-at-home moms and the lifestyle of leisure followers who rose early, went for a walk, or to the gym and then popped in for a coffee for something to do.

So, just for shits & giggles, if you happen to frequent a coffee shop at the same time every time you go, try mixing it up a little and see if you notice the same sorta sorta.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 8:42:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Food#
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Might as well just crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head.

Oh neat... Windows Live Writer embedded a watermark on the bottom of the image (the things you learn when you arent paying attention) overtop of the original watermark.

This image came from and their whole raison d'ĂȘtre is stock photos that you can put your own text on. I can see them coming in handy in the future... :)

UPDATE! Holy cow, I should have taken my own advice! My laptop crashed twice this morning before I left for work, I busted a shoelace tying up my shoes, and then the cup holder on my Vespa decided to let go of one side sending a grande latte flying all over my left leg and scooter running boards. I was already late for work, so now I'm sitting here with a coffee-stained and smelling pant leg that's probably not going to come out in the wash. I should have stayed in bed with the covers pulled over my head. :p

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 7:53:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Misc#
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If you only ever read my posts via RSS, and never actually come by the website, you wouldn't have noticed that I updated the navigation links over on the right. I updated the blogroll section as well. It's not my entire blogroll, that's about 125 feeds that I read through Newsgator Online and would overwhelm the template on this page. If you're interested in what I read, you can see it here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 9:08:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Misc#
The first thing I noticed about the coffee was that it wasn't bitter or burnt tasting. The coffee tasted like, well, coffee. Strong, but not bitter, full-tasting (I think foodies call it mouthfeel) but not overpowering.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 8:31:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Food#
He asked me if I wanted to put it on my account instead. Wha? Sure, ok. (that way it comes out of my account AFTER payday this month!) Next he asked me how many months I wanted to spread it across? "You can do that?" I blurted? "yes, you can pay for it on one, two or three billing cycles".
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 6:35:58 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Gadgets | Wireless#
Saturday, December 9, 2006

A few months back, I signed up a myspace account. At the time, I did it just to make sure no one "cybersquats" my name and starts posting stuff or harassing people pretending to be me.

A couple friends of mine are big "MySpace"-ers and got on my back to update the page a little,and tonight I finally did.

I'm not going to post much stuff there, I don't want to take any effort away from here, since sometimes I struggle to find things to write about (although you probably couldn't tell from that last post about what I was looking for in a mobile phone) and the last thing I want to do is start posting "just to hear the sound of my own voice" and post garbage (this post notwithstanding :) )

SO, if you want to check it out, it's like that was going to be a surprise, right?

Saturday, December 9, 2006 9:24:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Links#
I started my search right here locally on Cable & Wireless' website. I'd looked at their lineup a few times, but didn't like anything they carried. I don't particularly like Nokias, and I loathe the Motorola OS (including the dogshit OS and UI on the RAZR) so I immediately discounted them.
Saturday, December 9, 2006 7:24:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Gadgets | Wireless#
Friday, December 1, 2006
I was just reading the newspaper this morning and saw a quarter-page ad announcing the re-opening of Casanova restaurant. That was one of my favorite restaurants to go to on the island before the hurricane. It was also a great 'date' restaurant. Their original location was in the Fort George building and they took a wave through the oceanfront windows the night of/before hurricane Michelle trashed a lot of the west side of the island. They were closed for a few weeks while they built a new wall and even a small (illegal) patio but it was presented as a fait accompli. (sometimes it's better/easier/cheaper to beg for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission). Ultimately the planning dept/gov't got their way and the building was scheduled for demolition to erect the new cruise ship terminal. HazMat Jenny, G, Darlene and I went there for the last night of operation and it was a HUGE party...

Tony and the boys moved down the road to the former Wreck bar and transformed it into their new location, with a bigger, better patio on the water. I remember talking to Mario while they were renovating the old Wreck bar and asking him if the new place was going to have the same ambience as the old place and he said to me in his thick accent "Buddy, when we did the old restaurant, we were broke. This place is going to be awesome" and it was... until Hurricane Ivan came along.

Fast forward two years & change: The old building and it's patio have been demolished (or rather they finished the job that Ivan started) put in pilings and re-built the whole building out of concrete and block and put it up to three floors. The last time I talked to the guys, they said the ground floor was going to be shops/offices with the restaurant on the 2nd floor and huge patio and then a 3rd floor private dining room type of thing. I don't know if that's still true, as I think the kitchen is on the first floor now, but I'll find out soon enough!

Friday, December 1, 2006 7:30:52 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Food#
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