Saturday, February 28, 2009

Making something special

I don't know who "Fred" is or why he's coming to Mrs. Eckardt's class, but I know that if I were Fred, I'd feel pretty good about the welcome I was going to get.

Did you ever have one of those special teachers in your primary school years that had a knack for making the things you did feel special? My memory being what it is these day, I don't recall a lot about my early school years, but the times I do remember involved a teacher being excited about what they were doing and I picked up on that.

I remember Mr. Zuck, one of my science teachers, coming into class in full Mad Scientist mode, hair wildly uncombed, tie askew, grinning madly. He proceeded to pull out some dry ice from beneath his cloak (that's right) and dropped it into a cauldron of water on the desk. The melting ice formed a layer of fog that flowed out of the bowl, over the desk and onto the floor. The whole time Mr. Zuck was laughing maniacally, rubbing his hands together and explaining what was going on. It seems silly now, but I still remember how much fun we had that day.

Take away from all this -- making events special for the people involved makes them memorable. I'm pretty sure that this extra effort that Mrs. Eckardt put into this visit from Fred made it work for the kids - and for Fred. I know I'd like to go.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The urban jungle

The urban jungle
Originally uploaded by Dave Traynor
am drawn to explore the woods around my home. First and foremost, it's a good place to walk the dogs. Although the area isn't called a formal off-leash area, its accepted as such and I've never had any problems letting Blue and Roxy roam free.

There are a lot of places to explore. Paths wind off the main walk. Some are made by animals but most are created by the people who call the park home at night. There's quite a collection. I don't see them often but I hear them sometimes when I'm walking. And places like this one are a popular gathering spot. It's a nice rise of land surrounded by dense bush. It's not easy to get to which is probably one of the attractions for people who are sleeping there. They want to know when someone is coming. Unfortunately for them, the police and municipality types make regular sweeps of the area. When they find a camp, they come in and wipe it clean, taking away everything they find. It must be tough to come back to the place you think of as "home" and find all your belonging have been thrown into the back of a city truck and hauled off to the dump.

I couldn't quite figure out what the lettering on the rock said. It might have been "blood" or "food." Or "Ipod," I suppose. Of course, it's possible it's been there for thousands of years, laid down by an ancient tribe that worshipped there. But I doubt it somehow. I don't think they're spray painting was that refined.

Derek Hatfield resumes his journey

I received this update this morning from Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield's support team:
Spirit of Canada Departs Hobart

Hello from Algimouss Spirit of Canada

At 22.00hr UTC Derek Hatfield departed Hobart, Tasmania on the reconditioned IMOCA 60 Algimouss Spirit of Canada, he is determined to complete the course that he started in November as a participant in the Vendee Globe single handed race around the world.

Derek will be posting regular updates and pictures along the way.

Team Algimouss Spirit of Canada
Derek was forced to drop out of the Vendee Globe on December 28 after a ferocious storm battered his boat and broke his mast. (Here's a story about Derek's account.)

After considering various options, including shipping the boat back to Canada, he has refitted it and intends to finish the course he started.

Good luck to him. If you want to follow along, sign up for regular updates from his team.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stairway Symmetry

Stairway Symmetry
Originally uploaded by Dave Traynor
I like urban architecture. The hard edges, the colours, the time-worn facades - there are a lot of different views in a normal walk around the local mall.

This shot is the backside of our local theatre complex, on the edge of the Tillicum Mall. It's a strange place, filled with a lot of pavement and concrete. On the other side of the theatre a parking garage stands alone, for some reason. There's hardly ever anyone parked on the upper level.

Random thoughts spring up during a morning walk. I'm always watching for people sleeping rough on the edge of the park. Sometimes there's a local guy who camps out on the first level of this set of stairs. At least I saw him there one morning and I've seen evidence of someone spending time there. I can't imagine what it's like and I don't care to find out. I'll stick to wandering through in the morning, with my camera. That's enough reality for me, thanks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taking the long way home

I shot this while the Dixie Chicks' song The Long Way Around was playing on my Ipod. It's usually still light when I head home from the office but I worked late tonight. 

I was looking for a shot for the 1aDay project and I figured that I'd just shoot a few from the car. Interesting effects, with the cars going by and the sun going down. And the Dixie Chicks seemed to set the perfect mood. 

If you haven't heard the song, check it out. I highly recommend the documentary "Shut Up and Sing" about their brush with immortality, thanks to their criticism of George Bush after the Iraq war began. It's a fascinating story and great filmmaking. And the music is great.

The Long Way Around is the album that came out of that whole experience.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day 3 and I just about missed it

The old workhorse
Originally uploaded by Dave Traynor
If you're going to set yourself up to post 1 picture each day on Flickr and write about it, you'd better consider a few things. Most important - make sure you carry your camera with you!

It's been so long since I thought much about taking photos that I left the house this morning without my camera - then again at noon - and finally after supper. By the time I got home again, I was running out of time to capture something - anything!

This is only day 3 of my 1aDay project and already things are looking a little shaky around the edges. (Hmmm....I haven't posted any real rules that I'm supposed to be following, so maybe I can make some of my own.)

Maybe I just need to post a picture each day and write about it. It might or might not be a photo that I've shot. Or it might be one that I've taken another day and put up to illustrate my story. That sounds reasonable. I'm going to have to think about that.

After all, the point of this exercise is really to help get my creative juices flowing and help my blog live up to its name.

The photo today (and yes, I just took it, in case you're wondering) is my trusty Apple Macintosh Powerbook G4 12". It's been a reliable companion for nearly 5 years now and I've been giving serious consideration to upgrading. But my finances suggest that extending its life makes more sense right now, so I continue to depend on it.

This past weekend at the Northern Voice blogging conference in Vancouver, I appeared to be the only person in the room with an old Powerbook. Everyone seemed to have MacBooks or MacBook Pros (except for the odd Windows machine - but there weren't many of them either.) Two years ago at the same conference, there were dozens of the Powerbooks, but times have changed and my machine is now officially classed as "obsolete" by Apple.

I like this pic because it pretty much sums up the state of my office these days. There's a lot of stuff everywhere waiting to be tidied up. Sort of my life, when you think about it. More tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Clearing Deadfall

Clearing Deadfall
Originally uploaded by Dave Traynor
The winter has been hard on the park where I walk the dogs. They're clearing the paths and cutting down dangerous trees throughout the area. Maybe it's because I'm from the Prairies but I have difficulty seeing these big trees get cut down. Where I come from, we don't do that. Trees are precious on the bare prairie and if they ever got this big, we kept them around. But things are different in a real forest. And where people and animals are walking a lot, there's a safety factor as well.

This photo was taken in Cuthbert Holmes park, not too far from our house in Victoria. Click on the photo for a larger view on my Flickr site. The dogs and I usually wander through the park two or three times a day.

I created a Google Map (just for the heck of it) so you can see where I took the photo.

View Larger Map

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A new beginning - the 1aDay project

A new beginning
Originally uploaded by Dave Traynor
When I started The Daily Upload way back in April,2004 I was a bit optimistic about the "Daily" part. But here we are, nearly five years later and I'm still plugging away.

The blog has evolved over time. When I started, I had just started my own freelance writing business and I figured that a lot of my posts would relate to the PR and communications world. And that's sort of what happened. But I also found that I liked having an online place to talk about some of the stuff that I saw going on around me. It was also a place to post some of my own opinions on current events and puff up with pride when I talked about my kids and what they were up to.

Every so often, the well would be a bit dry and I'd struggle to come up with something to add. I posted funny links to videos or strange things I came across on the net. But I tried to keep things interesting without becoming trivial.

In the last few months, my post have been few and far between. My motivation seemed to have disappeared. We were busy organizing ourselves to get a new house and I could always claim being busy. But the truth is that I just didn't feel like blogging. I was lacking ideas and motivation. I was getting depressed and it just seemed like too much of an effort.

This past weekend, I was at Northern Voice 2009, a blogging conference in Vancouver. I attended the same event back in 2007 but I missed it last year. It was a great weekend. I got to hang out with a lot of really smart, enthusiastic and talented people who shared a passion for sharing information. Blogging has matured into a lot more than just posting thoughts on a website. Today, we've got podcasts and video and Facebook and Flickr and Twitter and dozens of other ways to post information and share it with people you know and people you've never met. It's an exciting time to be involved in this revolution.

I was energized by the excitement of the people around me. And I've decided to take some of that excitement and find something that will make me excited about my blog - and photography - and writing. So I've decided to start a project. I'm calling it 1aDay. I'm going to post a photo every day for the next year up on my Flickr site, in a set called 1aDay. And then I'll write a blog entry about it here in The Daily Upload.

That's it. There are no other rules. I'm going to do my best to keep to the 1aDay and see what comes of it.

Today's photo is up at the top of the page. (Click on the photo to go to my Flickr site.) It's my office here in the new House. I've got my computers back up and running. I dug my old Nikon out of the corner and I've charged the batteries, ready for whatever is ahead. I'm looking forward to it. I feel a bit like my office these days. I'm sort of together, but I'm a bit frayed around the edges. I need a bit of tidying up and the 1aDay project is just the kind of thing I need to pull everything back together.

But of course, this will be better if you come along with me. My comments page is always open and I hope that you'll add your thoughts to these posts. Maybe you've been feeling a bit frayed lately too. Long winters seem to have a way of doing that, don't they?

Here we go...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2010 Olympic Curling Venue Ready for Business

Congratulations to my brother-in-law Darryl Condon, a principal in the architectural firm, Hughes Condon Marler, whose latest building project is the Vancouver Olympic Centre/Vancouver Paralympic Centre. The facility hosted its grand opening this evening in Vancouver.

I'm in Vancouver to attend Northern Voice 2009, so Heather (who is hosting a midwifery workshop at UBC this weekend) and I were able to go and visit the facility this evening, along with what appeared to be thousands of other folks. It will be the curling venue during the 2010 Olympics but more importantly, it's going to be a tremendous addition to the local sports scene for years to come.

If you only listened to the news these days, you'd think that everyone in Vancouver was angry and upset about the Olympics. But judging from the huge public turnouts at these venues when they are officially unveiled, I'd say that the Olympic spirit if alive and well with the populace.

The Olympic Centre is an impressive structure, incorporating a hockey rink, a curling venue, a huge aquatic centre and plenty of other interesting places. Remarkably, despite its size, it fits into the other facilities in the area really well, which, as Darryl told me, was exactly what it was designed to do (obviously!) Darryl's firm has designed some impressive facilities over the years (The Whistler Library is one of my favourites) but the scale of this facility is unlike anything I've seen before. It feels huge and intimate at the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing it when it's completely finished, especially the aquatic area, which is still under construction.

I can't find any recent pics of the event tonight, but the Vancouver Parks Board website has a good information page about the facility, including some videos and maps and a good write-up about the details of the facility.

But you know what? I'm admittedly biased, but I'm frustrated that I couldn't find a mention of Darryl's firm anywhere in the facility itself tonight. Even the architect's model on display didn't have the firm's name on it, and I know they were the ones that built it.

It's a funny thing about these public spaces. We admire the structures and marvel at the details but we seem more interested in noting the names of the politicians who approved the place, instead of the men and women who designed and built it.

That's frustrating for me. And it's got to be even more so for Darryl and his colleagues.

Congratulations Darryl. It's a beautiful building and a true legacy for the city.

Monday, February 16, 2009

On this day in history...

Quick now – without opening up Google – who played in Super Bowl XVIII? (That’s 18, in non-NFL-speak.)

images.jpegCongratulations! If you said the Raiders and the Redskins, you win a prize. In fact, the Raiders (once of Oakland, then of Los Angeles and now back in Oakland) upset the favoured Washington Redskins 38-9. The game was not one to remember – but something happened at the half that was a real game changer.

The date was Sunday, January 22, 1984. And at halftime, a 1-minute commercial by acclaimed director Ridley Scott announced the launch the following Tuesday of Apple’s Macintosh computer. If you’ve never seen this iconic ad, based on George Orwell’s 1984, head on over to YouTube and take a look. Although the ad only ran once it ranks as one of the best-known commercials ever made – proof that there’s never really been anything like the Mac.

It’s hard to believe a quarter-century has passed since the Macintosh changed the way we think of computers. Our younger members (we do have some, right?) might not realize how much the world has changed. Sometimes I forget myself. When the Mac was released, I was still writing my newspaper stories on an old manual typewriter.

I didn’t get a Macintosh right away, but I wanted one. The wonders of the graphical interface, the mouse, the fonts, WYSIWYG – it was amazing. Even then, the Macs had the coolest bags. You could get one that let you slide the Mac and the keyboard in and sling it across your shoulder – not something I was likely to do with my IBM XT (complete with 10 MB hard drive!).

As the Mac’s 25th anniversary arrives, I wonder if we are seeing the end of an era, with news that Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, has taken a medical leave from the company he founded, left and resurrected. I hope that Jobs returns. But even if he doesn’t, we still have the Mac and the world is a bit better because of it.

(Note: This post was original written on Jan 24, 2009, for my column with the Victoria Mac Users' Group (VMUG). I'm the president this year. I mean to post it here, but forgot about it. Better late than never, right?)