2011-04-11 Vancouver

  Flight from SFO to PDX on Friday, April 8th. Circled around PDX for a while, made a pass at the runway, visibility sucked, detour to Seattle. On the ground at Seattle the announcement was made that passengers continuing on to Vancouver could depart the plane. Or not.

A whole shload of people got off the plane, we followed, noted that this meant there were going to be 50 people in SEA trying to get to YVR, decided to get back on the plane. A few others stayed. After about an hour of airline folks trying to figure out who got on and who stayed, we went back to PDX, were rebooked on an Air Canada flight to YVR.

Finally landed in Vancouver, were amused that there were bathrooms for "Women - Femmes", but not ones for "Women - Butches". Also amusing cultural differences, everything is in French and English, "Way Out" instead of "Exit". This was Charlene's first time out of the U.S.

      Dinner at Public, 17th and Main. Zack was in the kitchen, cooked us up an awesome lamb and rosemary and a risotto and a bunch of other yummy. Cameron, the owner and bartender, made us some tasty lime cranberry aloe drinks, and lime orange aloe drinks, the second kind of had an apricot-ish flavor. The aloe added a slight chew texture.

However, between the sugar in the two drinks and the soufflé dessert, woke up with a headache. Damn.

Saturday we got together with Zack at his place, hung out talking. He went off to work, we took the bus over to Commercial Ave to check out the scene. We started at Womyn's Ware, a sex toy shop with nicely curved fixtures and shelves, and a brightly lit and welcoming atmosphere that was even more matter-of-fact than Good Vibrations. And the front glass wasn't frosted.

Walked up a few blocks, came back to dinner at The Reef, Caribbean food. The veggies were good, the meat was kinda bland.

Commercial Ave reminds me a lot of Valencia in SF or Berkeley's Telegraph Ave back in 1995, before both places got gentrified and bland. Also interesting was a large number of travel agents, I don't know what makes Canada's economy more resilient to the internet in that vein, but it seemed strange.

  On one block there were 3 coop/natural food groceries on one block, and another one or two on the next block. As Zack put it, lots of women with short assymetrical haircuts, I took a picture of the "Beckwoman's" store sign, motto: "Because my father didn't open a store and I'm not a man".

      Sunday back over to Zack's place. Breakfast at Sollie's, I could stand to do a bunch of breakfasts there to try out all of their different interesting pastries, hung out with Zack and Rachel for a bit, then off to Granville Island to see Emily Carr. Watched Zack compose a soundtrack for a fellow student's animation for a while, then back for a card game and dinner. Back to the hotel at 11:30.

Card game was Zack's "Resources", a game that involves weighing "screw your opponent" against killing the game for both players. We saw Rachel's design project, including the rapid prototyped shapes. And we drank their homebrew, a high alcohol stout fortified with honey and molasses, aged for two years, that was very tasty.

Spent some time working on Zack's bike to get it to the stage where he could ride it to the bike shop. Trued the rear wheel enough to keep it from rubbing. Lubed the rear cassette. Did a bit of tightening on the front wheel. Re-aligned the handlebars.

Conversations with Zack:

  • Emily Carr made him appreciate how good CommAcad at Drake High School was.
  • He noted that his year in the Netherlands was a good counterpoint to Vancouver: At Emily Carr the concept was worth a lot, the artist's statement was as or more important than the painting itself. In the Netherlands, execution was everything.
    • He's never been unemployed long. When he got sick of the exploitive café at Emily Carr he printed up a stack of résumés, started walking down Main Street, ended up hired at Public on the way back up the street before the day was out.
  • Discussions about miracles in the kitchen. Two electric burners on a consumer stove. Blender is a modified ice-cream freezer. Other consumer appliances
  • Two real estate signs, I should have taken pictures. I forget the details on the first one, it seemed kinda cheesey, but it was completely overshadowed in my mind by the one near Granville Island that could have been for a strip club. Woman realtor posed center with a slunk hip, purple background, Comic Sans URL and phone number.

      Granville Island is a mix between Seattle's market and SF's Ferry Building crossed with Emeryville's faux industrial sort of look. Basically a big outdoor mall, with a cement company on the water, and Emily Carr down on the east side. Cool walk through the market there, lots of interesting spices. Glassblowing place that Zack has rented time at that had a "blow your own flower" on Canada Day for $35, I'd have done it.

      Found it interesting that we walked in, there was a packed coffee place, Zack said "hi" to a guy behind the counter there, but we walked through to the far end of the market to another coffee place to actually get coffee. Also, on the way back looping through we saw classic driftwood stuff. Stopped on the way back to Emily Carr at a totem pole carving thing, kind of the chainsaw redwood bear carving with indigenous peoples respectability.

    At Emily Carr, there was an art exhibit about a stick. Not sure of the artist. Felt a little pretentious, an in-your-face "I'm going to make you think about the place in my mind that this stick occupies" piece. Darkened room, candles around the periphery, various contexts for the stick, including a shroud in a glass display case that was shaped as though it might be covering the stick, a video of the stick in various contexts, a faux stained-glass representation of the stick.

      Hotel - Quality at False Creek, near the Granville bridge. We chose it because it looked like it was close to Emily Carr. It might have been via the Aquabus, but the Granville bridge goes clear over Granville Island, Zack and Rachel live over near Broadway and Fraser, so getting anywhere either required a bus north to downtown, or a walk over to Yaletown to get on the train.

    Bus system is fairly dense and was quite usable, though packed sometimes and nearly empty others. The Sky Train is driverless, ran every 12 minutes or so. Quite usable. Though we did end up spending more than a little money on public transit, and were constantly looking for places to get change to use the bus, because we didn't find anyone who actually had single zone bus tickets in stock.

    Didn't find a good map of the transit system. The route finder rocked if we had the computer on the (pretty lousy) WiFi in the hotel room, and it would have been great with a smart phone, but we mostly had to just trust that there would be a bus along shortly, and guess at the route and where it was going. That worked okay, but it would have been cool if we'd found a "what roads have buses on them" map.

    And the "99B" express along broadway allowed rear door boarding and was referred to as the "99Free" because nobody bothered to pay (we did).

    The buses did have clear stop announcements, including signs, that were very helpful.

    And the cell phone warned us that it would be $.79/minute for the roaming on Telus. We await the bill with trepidation.

    Rode the bus through the poor section, to the east of Chinatown. Recommended by Zack as likely Canada's only slum, because Vancouver is the only place you can survive outside through the winter.

    Single payer medicine was in effect, the panhandlers all seemed in good health and had better teeth than in the states.

    Abortions are free. Anecdotally, this is keeping talented women in Canada.

    YVR to PDX and PDX to SFO were different planes, but the same crew. So we were already friendly with them and got extra bags of chips.

    Next time to Portland - We'd like to see Stanley Park, the Aquarium, the space museum (to the west of Granville Island), there was also a science museum (with the big lit ball, near the Olympic Village) and an aerospace museum somewhere down on the southeast side. And we rode past the Pacific something old railroad station that houses something (I mean, besides the McDonald's that was in evidence) that we'd like to see. We'd like to get up towards the east side of town that's described as the "gayborhood".

    We need to ship the remainder of the trust cuffs to Rachel so she can pass 'em out in her circles, or sell them. We, alas, did not meet Ben, a friend of Zack's whom Rachel described as "the other woman".

    Category: Dan Lyke life