Posts tagged driving
Last night after I finally had to give up on the UPS guy coming with the RAM for my Mac Pro, I went to go pick up Diane on our way to her coworker An’s place for dinner. An had spent the entire day cooking up a storm. When we got there, her entire kitchen was filled with lots of food! We started our dinner off with salad rolls — they’re kind of like not deep fried spring rolls. Next were some freshly deep fried spring rolls, and then a bowl of wonton soup. After that the other two guests arrived and we continued to eat. There was grilled pork ribs, shrimp and chicken skewers, shrimp and squid stirfry (I’ve never had squid so tender and non-rubbery before!), and a bunch of other great foods as well. I ate so much that I didn’t eat anything all day until dinner.
Today was the Edmonton Tweetup. A while ago, I joined twitter and blogged a bit about the experience. To put it quickly – I was a bit bummed out that I was the first of my group of friends to join the twitter experience. Well that’s changed a bit, thanks to @mastermaq who found me using twitter local. After just a couple of weeks, I had several twitter friends and the service became useful for me. Not long after that, Mack started organizing a twitter meet, which apparently is affectionately called a tweetup. The planning and organizing ended up with today being the day for the tweetup.
I showed up with Diane and we had a great turnout. We had at least 14 or 15 people there, and it was great to meet everyone. There was quite a large range of people who showed up — young people, older people, and a fair range of fields (although most were tech related in some way). It was quite a fun time actually. I spent a lot of time chatting with @bruceclark since we shared an interest in photography, but I also chatted with quite a few other people. It was a most enjoyable afternoon.
After the party seemed to have waned a little, I returned home for a short time before heading out to the airport to pick up my parents who were in Europe on holidays for a month. I took them out for supper as a mother’s day thing since the actual Mother’s day involved driving my sister to a couple of gigs. I got to hear a little about their trip, and it was good to have them back in town
This evening I played a bit of poker, having my first real downswing at 200NL since an early downswing when I first moved up. Downswining 7 buyins is not my idea of a fun time. All sorts of crap happened to me that I had somehow avoided for the most part over the last little while of playing. Oh well, it can’t all go my way. I’m still up playing those limits, it’s just unfortunate that I couldn’t continue the trend that’s been lasting for the past little while. I guess it brings my winrate down to a much more sustainable level. It just sucks for it to happen all at once like this.
So I’m off to bed. I’m taking Megan to her first of two gigs tomorrow at the Radisson Hotel (formerly the Coast Terrace Inn) tomorrow morning. If you’re in the mood for some fancy brunch with some harp music for entertainment, feel free to stop in between 10:15 and 2:15.
So I watched the leader’s debate tonight with leaders of four of Alberta’s largest parties go at it for an hour and a half. There was Stelmach for the conservatives, Taft for the Liberals, Mason for the NDP, and some other guy for the Wild Rose Alliance (err … yeah). It has been awhile since I attempted to watch anything like this on TV before, but I figured since I was home I should try and watch it so I could make an informed vote come election day. Well. After sitting through that garbage, I really don’t know who to vote for. If anything, the entire thing made me feel an ever increasing disdain of politicians in general. Not one of the candidates made me feel like they knew what the were talking about.
A couple of notes:
- Kevin Taft made a couple of comments about infrastructure that included the words “we have the cash, let’s spend it”. Errr, yeah, I’m sure it’s that simple. The whole reason there is any debate is because the cash the government gets isn’t enough to do everything they want to do with it. So if you just spend everything on infrastructure you don’t have enough cash for stuff like health care.
- Brian Mason did talk some sense, but then came his talk about rent controls. I’m sorry Brian, but Stelmach was right on this point: if you expand the number of units in places where rent in soaring out of control, the competition will help bring rents back down to a reasonable amount. It’s easy to charge monstrous rents if you have a tenant who has no choice but to pay you. It’s a little hard on the pocket book if you drive your tenant away to new buildings being built.
- The Wild Rose Alliance guy (I’m too lazy to look up his name) came off very strange. He made some comments about how they should give Albertans more of their money back so they could keep their children at home instead of sending them to daycare. Both Mike and I thought this statement was a little odd — like he was saying that it was the normal thing to do to have one parent stay home? What about single parents who have to send their kids to daycare? Hmm. Dunno what to think about that one
- Where did these men learn their manners? Every one of them had moments where they were talking all through the other person’s point. In fact, there were points (particularly at the beginning) where there was two or three people talking at the same time. I don’t know about you, but if that happens I can’t follow what any of them are saying let alone all of them. I think they must’ve had the moderators talk to them in the commercial breaks, because it did calm down a little later on
- Who is one supposed to vote for? All these guys don’t instill any confidence in me whatsoever. It’s all the same thing rehashed over and over again. We want to do X for health care, we will do better than the government currently is, we want change, we want innovation, blah blah blah blah blah. I really want a refreshing change to this! It makes me wish there were more Stephen Mandels running around with fresh thinking and a positive campaign.
I don’t know much about politics. I wish that it wasn’t really necessary. The election in a couple weeks is not exciting to me in any way. No matter what happens, it will feel like we’re putting some clown in power. Am I wrong when I think that?
Well I was away all weekend for the department ski trip, and returned home to find Edmonton in a serious deep freeze. The temperatures here have dropped to what I consider to be entirely too cold, and the city has found itself in a mayhem situation traffic-wise.
As we drove back from Jasper, I started to wonder what people’s problems were. I was driving along the yellowhead highway on my way back to Edmonton and the roads were not in great shape. There was some places that were pretty clear, but for every kilometer we traveled on clear roads, there was at least 4 or 5 kilometers of icy road with blowing snow across it.
So as I’m driving a good 20km/h below the speed limit of 110km/h, I see a large number of vehicles speeding by me on these dangerous roads. As they do so I start to feel more and more nervous that one of these vehicles is going to lose control and cause us to get in an accident. It sure kept the heart pumping as I continued down the road.
Particular frightful situations occurred when larger vehicles would pass by going the speed limit or more. They’d churn up a large amount of the blowing snow and present it to me a few meters in front of my car enabling me to see even less than I could before. Every time this happened I was forced to slow right down just to be safe if someone was stalled/stopped in my lane for any reason, or some poor wildlife was on the road — because if I continued to go 90 down the highway with zero visibility … well that’s just an accident waiting to happen.
I don’t understand how people think that hurrying down the highway will help them out in any way. The chances of them getting in an accident don’t seem to be worth getting home half an hour earlier to me. When conditions are like they are right now … you SLOW THE HELL DOWN!
Speaking of highway issues – has anyone noticed that a large portion of the cars on the road have no idea how to properly pass someone on the highway? I’m not talking about a simple undivided highway where there is just one lane of traffic going each way (I must admit I’m not all that experienced at passing vehicles in this situation). I’m talking about driving on a divided highway with at least 2 lanes of traffic going in the same direction. I can’t tell you how many cars sped by in the left hand lane and cut in front of me way too early. Why the hell is that a good idea? You’re just pissing me off! By cutting in front of me so fast, you greatly increase the probability you’re going to pick up a stone and hurl it at my poor windshield. Since you’re passing me, why don’t you take a few more seconds to continue on in the left lane until there’s suitable distance in front of me for you to get in front of me without causing me undue stress.
Ugh. I don’t know where people learned to drive, but they really should learn something about how they’re driving their vehicles.
Last weekend, Diane, her family and I went on a road trip to her family reunion. It was held in Manitou, Saskatchewan which is about a 7-8 hour drive (depending on stops and how fast you drive). The next series of photos will be from that trip – and let me just say that there are some that I am pretty proud of.
This is one of the first that I took. Notice that you can’t see our car in the reflection.
This past weekend, Diane and I joined her family on a trip to Manitou, Saskatchewan. It was the location for a family reunion for my family-to-be. It was quite an interesting trip, although with the amount of driving we had to do, it seemed like we barely spent any time there.
Four of us, Diane and her dad and sister plus me got into their two BMW cars and drove to Saskatoon. We dropped one car off at the airport and took the other the remaining hour and a bit drive to Manitou. Diane’s mom and brother, who were attending a wedding on the Friday, hopped on a plane and flew to Saskatoon where they picked up the car and joined us in Manitou.
Upon arriving, we checked into the hotel there and then joined some of the reunion goers in the community hall which was about a block up a hill. It was a little odd – I kind of felt the same way I did at my family reunion… I was introduced to a bunch of people who I didn’t know, but looked particularly happy to see me. In fact it was a little more odd at Diane’s family reunion because none of these people had ever met me before. Huh. Anyways, I got introduced to a bunch of people that I probably have already forgotten the names of. I was pretty proud to be introduced as Diane’s fiancé.
We hung around the hall talking to people and looking at some photographs. After a couple of hours we returned to the hotel to try and get in contact with Diane’s mom and brother who were supposed to have touched down over half an hour ago. Eventually we did get in touch with them and I retired to my hotel room to sleep (since I didn’t have any role in meeting up with them).
Highlights from the Saturday: we spent quite a bunch of time in the pool at Manitou springs. It’s a very interesting place – the water in the lake is very high in salt and other minerals which means that you float a lot easier in it. So the pool in the hotel uses this water and it’s rather neat to be more buoyant in it. Unfortunately, the water is a bit unappealing in colour … they call it “golden waters”, but it really is a kinda murky brown colour. It also is terrible to get in your eyes due to the salt, and it tastes terrible. So it isn’t the type of pool that encourages some horseplay. In fact, you really kinda just float around and talk and jump between the hot and cold pools.
There was a lot more talking and photo browsing. We had dinner at “Danceland” which is a very large converted barn that has a rather nice dance floor. We didn’t end up staying there for the dance though because they were charging quite a bit extra on top of dinner for the dance, and the reunion organizers had hired some entertainment of their own. So we enjoyed our dinner buffet at Danceland and walked back to the community hall. There was a gorgeous sunset that we thoroughly enjoyed … and I got a bunch of photos that you’ll see hit my flickr stream in the next week or two.
The entertainment we had was a one-man band who had a guitar and some equipment that would play the drums/lead guitar for him for a wide variety of songs he played. He was pretty good. At first I kind of felt sorry for him since people seemed more interested in talking than listening to him. After awhile though people started to get into it a bit more and some dancing broke out. Diane and I even shared a jive! The guy had a good voice and played some pretty good tunes, including an impressive version of Mari-mac (covered by great big sea recently), and finishing things off with the Last Saskatchewan Pirate (oh, the arrogant worms …).
Not too much happened on Sunday, except that on our way back, one of the family members gave us a quick tour of their farm. It was pretty cool actually, particularly our first of three stops on the tour. On that spot there was an old farmhouse that hadn’t been occupied for years. It was quickly decomposing, which was rather interesting to see. It kind of gives you something to think about — how quickly the land will reclaim the building if you don’t upkeep it. I got a bunch of photos there too, and I think I’ve got a few good ones to post. We’ll see how that goes.
After the tour we endured the 8 hours or so that it took to drive back to E-town. I was pretty tired last night so I kinda flopped into bed pretty early and have been slow moving this morning. So I hope I can get things going later on in the week!
It’s a pretty grey day out there, so maybe that’s why this canoe isn’t on the water. This is at Elk Island National Park, about an hour’s drive away from Edmonton.
I am a frequent LRT traveler. In Edmonton, we have a relatively short light rail transit system that runs from the North East end of the city where I live, South and West to the University area. This is a great connection for me. A train ride to the University, once I get on the train, takes about 20 minutes. This is a great deal for me considering driving would take at least 35 minutes. Not to mention all of the parking, and gas, and maintenance costs. Plus the lack of dealing with crazy Edmontonian drivers during rush hour is a big plus. There is a down side however. I have to deal with various people on the train and around the train system.
One of the reasons I bring up the train system is the people who it is their exciting duty of passing out the relatively new metro newspaper to anyone and everyone who will take one. They stand, at the choke points in the train stations, lurking to pounce on unsuspecting train goers to pass on their gigantic piles of free papers.
Ordinarily, I don’t mind people who give out free stuff in the train stations. If it’s something I’m mildly interested in, I might even take a copy of whatever they are handing out because it might hold some value to me. One time, Diane and I even got handed a bowl of soup! It wasn’t very good, but it was something to talk about for sure.
The problem with the Metro people is that the people passing them out are increasingly pushy, and they are there both in the morning and the afternoon so they pass out papers to you on your way to work and on your way home. One particularly pushy woman stands at the bottom of the LRT stairs and almost forces a paper at you. You have to actually change your planned path to avoid this woman. Maybe I’m overreacting, but c’mon! Is it really that damn important that you need to get a newspaper in everyone’s hands?
One of the things that angers me about this activity is that so many of these papers get left on the train. The litter left over is extremely unappealing. I’ve seen several times where the driver of the LRT walks down the train picking up all the loose papers he can see and dumps them unceremoniously into the nearest garbage can. Great … now those papers are getting dumped in a land fill instead of being recycled. Yuck.
This marketing campaign has lasted a couple of months, and apparently shows no sign of stopping. Every additional day I see these people I feel like swearing at them to stop doing it. I know it’s not really their fault — they probably have a quota of papers to get rid of each day. Still, I hate it, and wish they had put a stop to it a week after they started.
Ugh, I’ve been so busy these past few days that I haven’t had the energy to post in awhile. There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on right now with the poker group at the UofA … and it’s making me go slightly crazy. Still, it’s exciting.
Late last week, my video card (a 6600GT) died. I think it’s because the fan that was on it was just a little bit too small and it was driving too many pixels on my two 24″ LCD monitors. So I think it was just overworked. In any case, I needed a new video card. I ended up at memory express two days later and bought a shiny new 8800 GTS. It is certainly a fancy video card and looks far better built so I’m hoping it lasts a good long while.
In any case, I also picked up a new hard drive. When I got everything setup and installed I wondered whether I should install a clean version of windows again. I love having a clean install of an OS – it feels so much better than a clogged down version. Windows seems especially prone to this problem, so it was certainly a tempting proposition. I decided, though, to pick up a copy of Vista from the University. The UofA has this agreement with Microsoft called the MSDNAA (microsoft developer network academic alliance). With this agreement, any staff and students of the University of Alberta get to borrow discs of almost all of Microsoft’s products to take home and install on their home computer. So I went in and signed out a copy of Vista Business edition. I figured – if I was going to reinstall an OS, I might as well give Vista a shot and see if it worked for me.
Let me first give out a tip for anyone considering a reformat. The easiest way to install a new OS on an existing system with little or no risk of losing existing data is to use a multiple hard drive setup. You can, in the bios, set a particular hard drive as the boot up disk. So my advice would be to purchase a new hard drive (or use an existing one you can wipe clean) and set that to the bootup disk. Install the OS on that disk, and then mount your other hard drive(s) so you can access your existing data. Not only does this let you not worry about overwriting your data, you also get the opportunity to access configuration files and other application data for switching over to your new system.
So … I now have Vista running. What do I think? Well so far it sure beats the hell out of XP. It feels snappier, and definitely looks prettier. Vista definitely is an improvement over previous windows versions. There are still some weird ass-backwards ways of doing some things, but on the whole it isn’t so bad. Of course, it’s not a Mac OS … and I’m still seriously considering buying a mac when Apple finally releases new revisions of the Mac Pros.
This weekend I went out skiing at Kimberley, BC with a small group of friends. It was fabulous! It was a bit of a long drive just for a weekend trip, but I definitely felt it was worth it. The snow was incredible, and the weather was unbeatable. On Saturday we hit a high of +4-ish, and on Sunday the forecast was saying it would hit +7!
Diane and I, along with Rob, drove down starting in the afternoon on Friday and made really good time. We arrived at before 10:00, and hung out for a couple of hours. We enjoyed using the private hot tub which was one of the excellent features of our suite. The condo we stayed at was actually an amazing deal. It cost us $100 a night for the condo … split 5 ways! So $40 for the weekend’s accomodation was pretty sweet I’d say!
On Saturday morning, our group got up in an attempt to get on the hill as soon as the lifts started. After a full day of some really fun skiing, we got cleaned up and went out for dinner at the Kelsey’s on the hill. Fun times! Somehow Rob decided it was a good idea to pay the bill for dinner: Thanks Rob! You really didn’t need to do that!
After dinner we wandered back to the suite (en route I took the above picture) and relaxed. We completed a game of scattegories we had started the night before and then watched the hockey game. It was all in all a good day! The next day we got ourselves all packed up and then went and enjoyed a few more hours of skiing before starting the trek home.
It was a very good weekend — full of snow, sunshine and some wonderful company. I can’t wait for the next trip!
This is a photo taken through the car’s windshield as we were driving up to Marmot Basin. The gradient colour on the top is from the coloured strip at the top of the windshield. I’m actually really surprised that this photo turned out as well as it did since it was taken through a dirty windshield. Sometimes my camera totally surprises me.