Thursday, May 31, 2007

I told you I find these signs fascinating. And, note the white sign above the "helpful" sign.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I don't know why, but these stupid signs just fascinate me - so, you can expect to see more. I think a large part of it is because they're so "friendly". Just a little reminder - very folksy, very helpful. Of course, most places you see them, posted nearby, is another sign saying something along the lines of, "If you haven't purchased your ticket, we're going to tow your car to the North Pole, charge you for the towing, charge you a fine, and then lose your keys so you'll never actually see your car again.". If you find yourself similarly fascinated, go here and you can play the game, too.

From the "How Stupid Can One Person Be?" desk, we have this story. Let me stupid?....hmmmm....."abysmally"?...."monumentally"?....."criminally"?...."too dumb to live"?...."recklessly"?...."completely, fucking moronically"?...."lock-this-fool-up-and-throw-away-the-key stupid"?..."shun-him-for-the-rest-of-his-days stupid"? I don't know. You choose.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Come on in! You can get one of Captain Tony's famous "Barge-Burgers", some lumber (maybe whittle your own toothpick!), and then do a little shopping for undoubtedly marvelously crafted chachkas for your home. Just don't exceed the speed limit.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Spent a little time down by the Fraser River the other day and got to watch these guys - one on the log boom, one in the tug - separate out and haul off a boom of logs. I'd really rather be the guy in the boat, thanks. Fall off the boom, between a couple of logs, and your chances are pretty darn good for winding up seriously injured. Or dead.

Which reminds me - if you haven't read it, go get "Sometimes a Great Notion", by the late, great Ken Kesey. Darn fine book. If you don't feel like reading, it got made into a pretty good movie, too.

On the "Are Canadians Any Smarter Than Americans?" front, here's the embarrassing answer. Handguns are responsible for far more deaths than preventions thereof every year. They've got no use in civilian hands, but these meatheads have bought the NRA bullshit. It's sooooooo depressing.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

O.K., call me: a) slow - I finally saw "Chocolat" tonight; and b) a sucker for romantic movies, 'cause I liked it. What can I say? I'm sure I'll have something seriously cynical to say tomorrow, but, for now, nope.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Don't you just want to walk on up to that door and knock? Orrrrrr.....maybe not.

Friday, May 25, 2007

And, wouldn't you know it, it's the employee entrance to a photo lab.

And, in the "How Dumb Is the Average Consumer?" department, this just in. Some days it can be very depressing to be a biologically-oriented person.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Now this is architectural creativity at its finest!

Whereas, this is creationist stupidity at its finest. I'd ask, "Where do these people come from?", but the answer is kind of obvious.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I wonder if this perplexes tourists. These trucks are, obviously, right in the middle of a concrete "factory" (I have no idea what else it might be called). About 100 yards to the right of this scene is Vancouver's major art school. Less than 50 yards to the left is Vancouver's major outdoor/indoor market. Immediately behind me is a slowly creeping line of traffic made up of carloads of people either looking for a parking space (there ain't any by this time of day) or looking to get the hell out of the place (there's only one narrow road out). The whole thing sits on a piece of waterfront on False Creek. Which itself tends to be full of very large, very expensive, very white yachts. It's a kind of a "mixed land use" area.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the birds, as I type this, are, in fact, singing. What a world.

Thinking that silly thought, it suddenly occurs to me (I'm a bit slow, O.K.?) that this "blogosphere" thing represents a historian's dream. Back in the mid-, to late-20th century, historians suddenly got interested in the "average citizen" as a factor in history. Up till then it had been mostly the story of the big guys - kings, queens, emperors, empresses... - that history had been interested in. Then historians began combing things like commercial records, birth records, death records, marriage records, newspapers, diaries, etc., trying to get an idea of what "we" were doing while "they" were busy conquering the world.

Now, here's this enormous record of what millions of ordinary folks are doing and thinking, up-dated daily, from all over the world - what a gold mine! Which - and this is the thought that came immediately after the first, spoiling it - will disappear completely one day. It's all virtual, isn't it? There's no concrete record, examinable at any time, by anyone, unlike the case for cuneiform tablets, cave paintings, papyrus scrolls, paper documents, etc. Someday, the servers will be wiped clean, the technology will change or disappear entirely, taking all of this with it. Nuts.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ah, stairs. Funnily enough, the first exam of the term is in a week. "Step right up!"

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I re-read the story that "Away From Her" is based on (hence the Alzheimer's-metaphorical photograph), and, though I said in yesterday's post that Polley hadn't changed much about the story from Munro's original, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain", it turns out she did. Not in any bad way, mind you. She just changed its perspective, really. In Munro's original, the story is mostly about Grant, the husband of Fiona (who is the focus of Polley's movie) and what he goes through as Fiona slides away from him into Alzheimer's. Polley made some subtle changes of emphasis and detail that made it her own (Polley's, that is) story. Which, actually, is pretty nifty. We already had the story from Grant's perspective, so swinging things around to Fiona's point of view was a logical choice. And she did it, like I said, without doing any damage at all to Munro's version.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The irony's just too obvious, isn't it? Well, it is an unsubtle age, after all.

Well, actually, sometimes, it is. Go see "Away From Her", a movie written and directed by Sarah Polley. She deserves an Academy Award for being "Smartest Under-30-Year-Old Writer/Director-Working-Today". For that matter, I'd happily put her name up for "Smartest Writer/Director" period. It's a great movie. It's based on a short story by Alice Munro (in case you weren't aware of that), who is one of the best (or, if you like, the best) short story writers, um, ever. Her stories move along slowly and quietly until somehow, at the end, you realize she's been building a small nuclear bomb underneath you while you weren't looking, and she sets it off. Ms. Polley's movie is very true to this way of working. Quiet details, bits of everyday life anyone would be familiar with, eventually begin to reveal their deeper meanings, and the bomb goes off. Very, very quietly.

The stars are Gordon Pinsent, Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis, and Michael Murphy. All of whom are, let's face it, old. And that's pretty much how they're shot - they look old. No soft focus. And they're playing people you know, living in homes you recognize, in neighbourhoods you recognize. It's not "Hollywood". Things aren't perfect.

The story involves Alzheimer's, marital infidelity, and - possibly - revenge. And yet, things work out - sort of. Go see it. You'll like it.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Isn't it just too cute that true morons are so enamoured of a piece of idiocy called "intelligent design"? It's nice that the really stupid people nevertheless at least aspire to intelligence. That they might actually get appointed to a position of responsibility in the education system, however, is just flat out frightening.

And, speaking of morons, Smirkin' Steve and his party, the, uh, Canadian Allian....rats!...I mean, the Conservative Party, have been caught yet again being as dumb as only the truly dumb can be. Personally, I think the Smirk's just trying to prove that he's just as dimwitted as George. We won the War of 1812, and, by god, we're going to win the "I'm Not Only With Stupid, I Am Stupid," contest, too.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just another part of the downtown in Vancouver that's disappearing fast.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

O.K., so there were - what? - five windows in the bottom building. Somebody bricked them up (they face south - too much sunlight?). Then, somebody cut a whole new window. They didn't un-brick the nearest window. They cut an entire new one. A new one that overlaps some of the nearest window. Ummmmmm......?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some days the news is bad, but some days the news is good. Today was a good day. Jerry Falwell - bloated, venal, loud-mouthed cretin - died. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. A man whose abysmal stupidity and hypocrisy was only exceeded by that of the tens of thousands of followers he exploited in order to become rich and famous, finally got called "home" by his god.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Getting the news.

Hey - an actual "photography oriented" post. Although, it's on a tiny, picky detail. Straps. Shoulder/neck straps. Is there a decent one out there? My camera is a Nikon D50 - nice camera, hideously ugly strap. Who designed this monstrosity? It's been around since the '80s. And I'll bet Canon has something equally ugly. So, when I first got the camera, I headed out looking for a new strap. I wound up buying one of LowePro's. Looks better, but it's a hunk of junk, functionally. I like to carry my camera on one shoulder, rather than around my neck. The LowePro slides off my shoulder like I was made of teflon. It's got a miracle "sticky" pattern on the inside that's simply not. Isn't there something out there that actually stays on your shoulder and isn't uglier than... (supply your favourite ugly thing here).

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Another break from the "harsh realities" of urban life.

Now, for a biologist, I'm woefully ignorant when it comes to things botanical - like tree species. But, around here we've got some pretty dang tall trees. Various forms of spruce, hemlock, etc. And it's amazing to me how shallow their root systems are. Bring in a big wind and these things go down like ninepins. Like this one. Heading straight away from you, behind this wall of root, is at least a hundred feet of tree. Its root system, however, wasn't more than a few feet deep. Not much of an anchor for such a big thing.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Today's railroad - it's more colourful than you think! (I've got to look into a job in advertising, don't you think?)

And, S&K, welcome back to the continent!

Friday, May 11, 2007

I just finished reading "The Road", by Cormac McCarthy. Spare yourself. Don't try. The fact that Oprah liked it should tell you all you need to know. Or, to be blunt, it's really, really, really not good.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Green Shadow. Just what does it know, anyway? Well, if Smirkin' Steve has his way, it won't know much.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Who knew? Decorator trains.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Time to get the crops planted. These are being planted next to a disused railway line that runs through my part of town. It could make a great walking/running/biking path, but the railway won't give it up. Or sell it for a reasonable price.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Day 1 successfully over. Rotten sleep last night - normal - then, five minutes into the first class, reeeeeeelaxation sets in. Like I said, I hate the first day jitters.

Meanwhile, south of here, The World's Dumbest Man met the Queen. I'd love to have heard her conversation with Phil later. "How did that insufferable mental defective become President?!? It's incomprehensible!" Truer words would never have been spoken.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another break from Skid Row. Although, come to think of it, folks with nowhere else to live have been known to take up residence in this forest. It's not a hard place to disappear in. Over the years, I've found at least a couple of camps hidden away.

Tomorrow's "Opening Day" for the new term and, despite having done this more than a few times now, the usual first day jitters have set in. I hate the first day jitters!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Another shot taken in the somewhat "less desirable" part of Vancouver. Of course, "desire" has nothing to do with why people live here. Psychological, sociological, economic, and pharmacological problems tend to be the main recruiting factors.

Now, note the background. See the crane? See the new condo? See the poor folks who live in this neighbourhood looking for somewhere else to live? See their range of options? Me neither.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

And then, about every 5 minutes, this happens. Wouldn't you love to have one of those second floor apartments? The peace. The tranquility. That you know exist somewhere, but not where you live.

On the, "You gotta laugh, 'cause otherwise you'd just have to drink yourself into a coma" front, this just in from the forefront of Republican "intellectual" debate. Hark! I do believe I hear the hum of Chuck spinning in his grave.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Doesn't the semi-subterranean life look charming? Nice little patio to lounge on. Wait till tomorrow, though.

O.K., a few hours later and I've just finished watching the 1962, original version of "The Manchurian Candidate". Want to see the Bush administration in action? Got a crazy urge to see Angela Lansbury in the role of Karl Rove? Not to mention character actor James Gregory doing a dead-on George Bush? Rent the movie. Trust me.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ah, tourism. Those wonderful gates are, I think, less than 10 years old. As you might guess, they mark the entrance to Vancouver's Chinatown. Is the term "Chinatown" still politically acceptable? The place itself is all of about two blocks long, and it's definitely gone a long way downhill since I used to wander around there. Suburbs - everyone's gone to the suburbs.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

So, George vetoed the bill, huh? He said "It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing." He said that. He really did. Soooooooo, George, you do plan to withdraw, but you'd like it to be a surprise. Riiiiight. He really isn't that bright a guy, is he?