Saturday, July 30, 2005

Forgetful in Canada

Went to Parksville Beach this afternoon. Time was spent alternating between the water playground area, and the regular playground. Heat up, cool off... and repeat.

Unfortunately yours truly forgot the camera. Don't know why, but I've been more forgetful than usual in the past few days. Must be all this fresh air doing strange things to my brain.

Canada, Summer '05-Fairwinds Driving Range

This post should be "thanks grandma for taking care of Griffon and giving me a couple hours off."

Last time I was on this driving range was 15+ years ago as an employee.

Other than changing the entrance (which I overshot) everything else is pretty much the same.

I asked the attendant and he told me they aren't allowed to drive balls when they're working. Good thing they didn't have that rule when I worked there. Fairwinds has built up its name in 15 years, but back then customers were few and far between. If I wasn't allowed to drive balls back then I would have gone nuts with boredom.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Canada, Summer '05-Parksville Mini-Golf Bumper Boats

Parksville Mini-Golf Bumper Boats
Parksville Mini-Golf Bumper Boats, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

[click picture to see series]

Main mini-golf place in town. They've expanded to 36 holes so business must be good. They also have bumper boats, RV campground, arcade, and serve ice cream.

Griffon was doing quite well until the back nine (like father, like son).

Canada, Summer '05-Parksville Beach

Parksville Beach
Parksville Beach, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

[click picture to see series]

Second time we've been to this beach. Located about 20 minutes from my mom's place.

Today was a little windy so Griffon kept his shirt on for awhile until it got too wet.

Tide was coming in quite fast and all the award-winning sand sculptures we built were washed away.

Canada, Summer '05-Duncan Forest Museum

Duncan Forest Museum
Duncan Forest Museum, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

[click picture to see series]

It's probably been 20+ years since I've been to the Duncan Forest Museum. Remember going there with my elementary school on a field trip.

Hasn't changed much. Still had the train ride, still had the old, big machines (but don't remember so many do not climb signs), and still lots of trails. However, they did rename it to the "BC Forest Discovery Center".

Guys had a blast. Can ride the train as often as you like. Liked the old forest camp complete with lodgings, mess hall, and post office.

Canada, Summer '05-Nanaimo Aquatic Center

Nanaimo Aquatic Center
P7280147, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

[click picture to see series]

This is actually second time we've been here. It's inexpensive and fun for kids: wave pools, water slides, water playground etc.

There are 3 waterslides, and Griffon liked the red one the best. I had to sit with him, but he was doing well going down and then covering his face at the very end.

They also have a cafeteria in the building (Sharky's) so after spending a couple hours of splashing around we ate lunch there, standard Canadian cafeteria food.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Canada, Summer '05-Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake
Cameron Lake, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Not too far away from the Coombs Country Market is Cameron Lake. After turning down the wrong way to the RV campground we kept going straight and found it. We parked on the side of the road and headed toward the lake.

It's a good thing the weather was so hot, because man the water was cold, cold, cold. Despite that, everyone went in multiple times.

Water was really clean and only a few people. Kind of sums up freshwater swimming holes on Vancouver Island.

Canada, Summer '05-Coombs

Coombs, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

The Coombs Country Market. Its claim to fame, goats on the roof and great ice cream.

Last year they had several kid rides, but this year only the train ride remained, and the same red-eyed, slurred speech guy running it.

There's lot of little shops with various knick knacks so managed to pick up something for Anna and Kate's dad (strike two off the list).

The market is run by a few families and a good friend and daughter of one of the families once worked there. Every year I go there I check to see if she's working, but have yet to see her. However, her cousin told me she's still living in Qualicum and that I should give her a call as her number is in the book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Canada, Summer '05-BC Ferries

BC Ferries
BC Ferries, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

On the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island (aka home island).

Wind was really blowing on the deck. We weren't up there for very long because Griffon wanted to go below and play video games :(.

Something special we did see was a pod of killer whales. There was one that was very close to the port side jumping and doing tricks for the tourists. I've taken BC Ferries all my life and I've never seen that many killer whales or one that close.

Canada, Summer '05-Vancouver

P7230006, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

After a 10-hour plane ride, we made it. Griffon's posing in the Vancouver airport.

Funny thing, after immigration I was asked if I had a letter from his mother giving me permission to bring him. Confused, I asked him how could I as his father kidnap my own child? Naive I guess. He told me that they've already had 75 cases of children being kidnapped by their parents. How? Well for example, suppose parents are divorced and the parent without custody has taken the child.

As usual we were picked up at the airport by a good friend and stayed a few days in Vancouver at their home adjusting to Canadian time.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

MSFT Partner Conference-2005.07.08 to 10

P7100064, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Google search cheatsheet

Check here to minimize time spent searching for stuff.

RSS feeds and news aggregators

Other day I was asked about how I get exposed to certain information. My answer, RSS feeds and a good news aggregator.

NY Times, BBC, Fast Company are examples of companies publishing information accessible using RSS feeds. Besides media companies another use for RSS feeds is to keep track of individual blog entries.

Google "RSS feeds" for an "official" definition, but to quickly sum up, instead of using a browser and needing to visit the NY times, BBC, and Fast Company Web sites to view content, simply subscribe to those sites' RSS feeds and view their content using software called a "news aggregator" (sometimes just aggregrator). There are plenty of free aggregators available. The one I'm currently using is feedreader.


P6260106, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Last Sunday we drove to Sanshia with Kate's high school classmates.

Sanshia is close to Taipei and luckly unlike the day before traffic was reasonable.

At Sanshia we went to this place called "Queen" something where we had lunch and the kids played in the water. The place is nice, but the air conditioning for the restaurant was wholly unsufficient. When it's 30-something degrees out and the air conditioning isn't strong enough, the dining experience tends to suffer.

There's also a pool there, but if you go down the bank you'll find a nice creek or as my friend Sam from Ontaria used to call it a "crick'.

Kate's classmates took us there and we drove on one of the most scenic roads I've driven on in Taiwan. Sure it didn't have the breath-taking scenery you see while driving in Taroko, or the mountain ranges when driving up to Hehuan Shan, but it just had the simple beauty of a country road; plenty of green and an uncluttered landscape.

Two Weddings and Lots of Traffic

P6250062, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Last Saturday 06/25 was a "lucky" day according to the lunar calender so naturally it's a day for people to get married on including two of my co-workers. One in the afternoon in Hsin Chu, and the other in the evening in Taipei. I offered to drive and 6 other co-workers hopped on board, maxing out the Wish.

Normally it takes around an hour to get to Hsin Chu from Taipei. Because of the "lucky" day it took us almost 3. We were on the #3 freeway at 10:50 and figured we would get there just after noon. Unfortunately it seemed others made a similar estimate and traffic was a nightmare.

Coming back was a little better, but not by much. What made the situation worse was the number of the accidents on this "lucky" day.

Griffon's School Play

P6250014, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Last Saturday was able to watch one of Griffon's performances. Unfortunately the other one was later in the morning and I couldn't watch because of a wedding I was attending in Hsin Chu (see blog entry "Two Weddings and Lots of Traffic").