Vacation 2012, Day 1

Hey kids,
You’re both sleeping right now. Soundly so. You’ve both had a big, exciting day, and I’m frankly amazed you made it as long as you did. You normally don’t pack this much into a few days, let alone a few hours.
We’ll see how you do for the next few days…
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2011, A Year In Review

I like long years. Really. Yes, I complain about when things seem to drag out far longer than they should, or if I’m busting my arse far harder than I think I should. That’s part of being human, no? In the end, though, I like long years because I get to look back and not worry about how quickly time has flown by. Time should never fly by quickly — it means I’ve missed something, and … well, darn it, I just hate missing things!
This last year was a big one for me in one major way: it was a redefinition of my professional existence. Since the end of 2009, I’ve transformed from a professional manager to a … hmm … well, my title (however formal it needs to be) is “Solutions Lead”, but that belies a lot of what I do every day, and just using “web developer” or “programmer” — even with a “Senior” prefix — completely understates the reality. This year was really about taking all the skills and knowledge I’d acquired as a leader, and merging that back into my day-to-day development practices.
And that, as the saying goes, was only the tip of the iceberg…
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I Believe

Dear Canada,
I must, in true Canadian form, say “I’m sorry”. I doubted. All I could see was fault, all I could see was mediocrity, all I could see was the world laughing at our attempts to be more than our humble selves.  I thought that Vancouver was the wrong place to hold the Winter Olympics (having lived there a couple of years, I know how finicky the weather can be).
And I wasn’t alone. Thanks to media mainstays, such as The Guardian and the Denver Post, and CTV’s frequently slipshod and amateurish approach, there was little reason for me to think otherwise.
I find myself, now at the end, relieved to be wrong, and fiercely proud to be a repatriated Canadian.
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My favourite trains (so far)

I rarely remember my dreams. I have to wake up in the middle of them to remember what they were about, and quite often I’m so tired that by the time I can get my mental faculties together to try and remember the dream, I already forgot what it was. Which is probably good, since most of the dreams I remember make very little sense.
This morning’s dream was an exception. I was talking with someone I know (admittedly, can’t remember who it was) about trains. (Believe it or not, this is not an unknown conversation.) They asked me what my favourite train trips were, and I had said something like “whoa, that’s a tough one, let me think”. Then I started rhyming them off.
Oddly enough, that was about when I woke up … and I kept rhyming. So I figured, heck, that just sounds like a blog post!
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Thanksgiving in Ruskin

I had a quick jaunt out to Ruskin (a section of Maple Ridge, BC) for the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a trip I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to take at first. Reason: Too much work, and too tight deadlines to allow it.
Deadlines changed. Whether they changed for the better remains to be seen…
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BC Vacation: Three Valley Gap to Calgary

No rooster, just the sounds of patrons leaving their rooms. I think I prefered the rooster.
The Chateau’s name is a little misleading. One is brought to think of the Canadian Pacific (now Fairmont) hotels, with the old world grandeur and luxury. Make no mistake, folks, this ain’t the Banff Springs. It’s a 1950’s motor lodge with a fancy roof. But it’s comfortable, and the grounds a nicely kitchy. Besides, it’s a family business, and run very well.
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BC Vacation: Ruskin to Three Valley Gap

We awoke about an hour earlier than we have in mornings past, but for no real reason. We didn’t even hear the rooster!
The porridge was followed, almost as soon as we could get ready, by a cat hunt. Allen has plans for his farm, which includes a new barn (of some kind). The problem, of course, is that you can’t have a barn without having mice and rats — that’s just a side effect. They can be controlled, however, with cats.
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BC Vacation: Fort Langley

That stupid rooster woke us up again. We’ve taken to mocking it. If it crowed normally, we probably wouldn’t mind so much. I fell back asleep, though, and Alex went into the house. She came back to wake me up for breakfast.
Fog was hugging the ground all down the river valley. (Not exactly unheard of in the Lower Mainland.) Naturally, this set me off on a photography expedition. You have to move quickly with fog — it doesn’t last long once the sun starts coming up. I got some wonderful pictures, especially of a space amongst the trees near the tent.
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BC Vacation: Trip to Tsawwassen

There’s a rooster not far from Allen’s farm. (Well, “farm” is using the term a bit loosely. It was a farm before he bought it, and it will be one again. But it’s going to take a bit of work.) This rooster isn’t particularly normal. We’ve been speculating why it doesn’t sound normal. Most roosters gain their sound by listening and mimicing the sound of other roosters. This rooster doesn’t seem to have rooster peers, so it lacks the stereotypical cockle-doodle-doo one would expect at 5:30 in the morning.
This one sounds like a cross between a coyote and a freight locomotive horn.
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BC Vacation: Fairmont Hot Springs to Ruskin

Cory had called me yesterday. I didn’t know until this morning because I hadn’t checked my cell phone. I’d had a dream that things had gone horribly awry at the office, and for some reason, that had made me want to check my cell phone. Good or bad, something was up. Sure enough, our newest star hire had backed out — an extremely disappointing turn of events. I wouldn’t talk to Cory about it until late in the afternoon.
We were gone before 8:00. (We were to have left at 6:00, then 7:00, but last night’s arrival in Fairmont pushed us even later.) Allen was in Jean’s Honda Civic, Alex and I in Alex’s car. I drove while Alex read “Why I Hate Canadians”. Today’s lesson? Canada’s cast system, more formally known as how poorly we treat Indians. It’s a hard thing for a Canadian to admit that we don’t treat everyone fairly and equally. For a country known as being “nice”, we treat our aboriginal peoples very poorly. We’ve marginalized, forcibly contained, abducted and tried to convert them, even poisoned them with disease. And yet after 400 years, they’re still who they are.
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BC Vacation: Fort Steele and Cranbrook

No-one told me that we were doing any surprises this weekend. ‘Course, then it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?
Allen (Alex’s father) took Jean (Alex’s stepmom) down to Cranbrook so she could catch a flight out to southern Ontario for a wedding. This meant the condo was quiet for a number of hours. That meant we didn’t get up until late. I love sleeping in.
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BC Vacation: Fairmont Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park

There’s nothing quite like waking up to the sound of lawnmowers. Rousing, yet entirely annoying.
We started the day off with a mom saver. This is generally a breakfast meal, though I suppose you could just as easily use a version of one for any meal of the day. The breakfast one we had consists of eggs, cubed bread, cream cheese (cubed, or something similar), some spices, and thrown in the oven to cook for 45 minutes. Throw on some maple syrup on top, and it’s pretty tasty. There’s also a ham and cheese version that I’m dying to try some time.
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BC Vacation: Calgary to Fairmont Hot Springs

I so wanted to get my butt out of the office, almost from the moment that I was alerted to the problem on MBUSA.com’s live server. There’s nothing like trying to diagnose the cause of a homepage failure when you’re not really sure what happened.
Most of my day was like this. Going from one hot spot to another, barely getting enough time to wolf down some lunch. By the end of the day, I had to make sure that I wrapped up dialogue on three separate projects, ensure that the process was moving on two more, finish a proposal to Danny Sullivan for presentation topics for the next Search Engine Strategies conference, and write a rather lengthy email to about a dozen people to make sure they have some inkling about what the heck I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks.
Care to take bets that things will still go to hell in a handbasket tomorrow?
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Driving home from Kelowna

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been on a roadtrip. And although it was only one-way, I didn’t mind it at all.
I flew into Kelowna, but I drove back with Andrea, Tamara, and Dan. Andrea had driven the three of them out on Saturday, and I got the distinct feeling she wasn’t looking forward to the drive back. Understandably so — it’s an eight-hour drive. Unless you’re in a really comfortable vehicle (such as a RoadTrek), long-distance driving can be excrutiating. And nowhere more frustrating than the Trans Canada Highway between Kamloops and Banff.
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David Bowie plays Kelowna Prospera Place

We all woke at about the same time. I was awake, though eyes closed, when I heard Tamara and Andrea whispering. I joined into the conversation, joined shortly thereafter by Dan. At that point, there wasn’t much reason to stay in bed, so I called first shower (I hadn’t had one since getting up “yesterday” in Japan).
The plan had been to go for dim sum for breakfast, at the Chinese restaurant across the road. Not being open until 11:30 proved to be a bit of an issue, however, so we opted for breakfast #2: IHOP. Unlike Calgary, there is an International House of Pancakes in Kelowna. And we weren’t the only ones who knew that. The lineup was clearly out the door, and not just by a few people. It would be a long wait before we got breakfast if we’d stayed. We opted for the much shorter lineup at a nearby Perkins.
It felt good to not eat Japanese for a change.
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Turning Japanese Again, Returning to Canada

I can’t even call this a “last day”. Yesterday, really, was our last day. Today is the packing/travelling day.
And the day to say goodbye to dear friends. I hate leaving friends behind.
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