impeccable timing

On Saturday afternoon, I found myself hunched over in a parking lot halfway up a mountain, trying desperately to get the hang of shifting gears via the manual transmission of a sports bike, with snow flying directly into my eyes and thoroughly wet pants. It was .. uncomfortable. I was cold, sore, soaked through, tired, and sucking really hard at riding a motorcycle: basically, miserably.

Yes, only I would have the extreme good fortune to have a riding class scheduled amidst Vancouver’s first major* snowstorm of the year; one that started Friday night and as of this writing (Monday afternoon) has not yet let up. I arrived to class as prepared as I could be, but I don’t own snow gear (because I tend not to go outside when it’s snowing) or even rain gear (because I am dumb) so I was in for a rough day from the very start. To make matters worse, I was loaned a pair of rain pants which I promptly caused to split up the rear because they were the third pair of pants I was wearing, and the universe imploded around my ass. Here’s a helpful tip from me to you: learning how to ride a motorcycle when you’re fantastically uncomfortable and feeling pretty humiliated about torn pants is VERY DIFFICULT. So, don’t do it.

The very best part about all of this is that I should have actually finished the riding course two weeks ago. Due to a scheduling conflict, I had to move my February 6th start date out to the 20th. At the time I was really glad for this, because the temperature had dropped and the weekend was forecasted to be frosty. I figured that I could skip the “high of 0” days, and learn later in February when it would obviously be warmer, possibly even spring-like as it has been in the past! And while it was very cold* over that weekend, it was also clear and beautiful out – and I have plenty of warm gear, so I would have been fine. This past weekend, in the snow and slush and wet and frozen? Not so much.

I was in no way looking forward to class on Sunday, so I was secretly glad to see the snow continue to fall throughout the night. The following morning I stirred myself from the warm cocoon of cats and blankets to text the instructor, and Sunday’s class was indeed postponed: I was off the hook, and could nurse my aching muscles (motorcycles have clutches, and those clutches are STIFF AS FUCK) as well as spend the entire gloriously terrible Sunday doing absolutely nothing.

My remaining three classes have been moved to March 9-12. In the meantime, I can practice shifting on Ed’s bike (interesting fact: I thought I would want to ride nothing but cruisers because I like how they look. Then I actually tried riding one, and I hated it very very much. Sports bikes, which I dismissed entirely because eww, were very comfortable. If I ever decide I need to get a motorcycle, I may have to look at dumb sport bikes.) and prepare for the skills test that will happen on the Sunday. My goal is to pass it with very low speed flying colours that go through a bunch of stupid plastic cones, because I have a Master Plan that revolves around my having my full Class 6 license before my June so I should hurry up and get on with it, already.

I’m working from home today, which means I haven’t left the house since Saturday at 5pm. Tomorrow I have to venture out into the stupid wet cold real world. I am not looking forward to it.

*: by Vancouver measures, “major” is less than 3″ of snow and “very cold” is -2C. We’re delicate folk who had the good sense to move to the coast to get away from REAL winter, because fuck that shit.

I am learning to motorcycle! Soon I will be legal!

this is not good riding weather.

trapped!

I spent much of Saturday trying to escape Richmond, but not in the usual way – this time, I was locked in an Egyptian tomb. And then a prison. And each time, I couldn’t get out.

I had heard about this thing called EXIT on Twitter a while back, and after sharing it amongst my friends it was decided that a group of former co-workers and special guest stars would try it out on February 1st. Knowing my meat space friends wanted to check it out as well, I arranged for them to join me after the first session was done so we could all do a new one together, because I am excellent at planning things and such.

Even after reading the website and reviews thoroughly, none of us had any idea what to expect. At the core, EXIT is a video game without the video part. You choose one of four scenarios, get locked in a room, and .. you have to get out. Each available scenario will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s played any kind of first person game: you’re locked in an Egyptian tomb, and need to escape. You’re trapped in a sunken ship and need to reach the surface. You wake up in your prison cell, only to discover you’re all alone. And the last scenario, which I’ve played dozens of times in more games than I can count, is the dark dingy laboratory of untold horrors and inadequate security. While it may sound like something you could handle with your eyes closed, you’ll soon learn otherwise – you’ve only got 45 minutes and up to two hints provided by the staff if when you get stuck. And it’s hard. We got most of the way through Egypt, but only a third through the prison .. and if we want to solve it, we have to go back. Which I want to do. Because it was awesome.

I don’t want to give any secrets away, but if you like puzzles and intrigue I suggest you check out EXIT for yourself. It was really cool (even though we failed spectacularly), and definitely a unique experience – I don’t know of anything else like it that isn’t on a computer or on the Holodeck in the 24th century.

Some tips if you’re interested:

  • There are four scenarios that are updated pretty regularly
  • You get 45 minutes
  • They range in difficulty – from easiest to hardest:
    • The Sunken Ship
    • The Egyptian Tomb
    • The Prison
    • The Laboratory
  • Don’t be afraid to use the hints
  • Each scenario can fit 2-6 people, but four would be an ideal group size (we felt crowded in the prison)
  • If at all possible, find out before you go in (or use a hint) how many digits are expected to open the keypad(s). We wasted WAY too much time in prison trying to figure out which four digits we needed out of the eight we deduced, when in actuality we needed all eight (all the locked doors we’ve ever encountered in the real world, not to mention the tomb, only needed four). This is the only complaint I have about the whole thing, and in the feedback I gave the to the team .. I don’t think we would have escaped the prison even with the time we wasted, but we definitely would have gotten further.
  • You can’t bring anything in the rooms with you, which is why I have no pictures to share. Those sessions were the longest I’ve been separated from my phone since .. well .. ever.
  • It’s $24.change per person which is pricey, but it’s such a neat experience I didn’t mind the cost – I’ve paid more to be locked up, and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining.
  • Even abject failure can be fun!

we make it look so good

getting high

Last weekend when Ed and I were at the Vancouver Lookout, I activated my membership. At any point in the next year, I can go up the tower and see awesome views of Vancouver like these:

vancouver harbour

east van

stanley park

I enjoyed looking down on the world from above so much that this weekend, I’m going to do it all over again .. in Seattle. Ed and I are heading to the Sparkle Castle for some fun and visits, and while we’re there I’ve decided we should go up some really tall buildings and look around. I bought us passes to the Smith Tower (35th floor with an open deck), and to the Sky View  Observatory (73rd floor) for weekend good times. The second tower is open past dusk, so there should be ample opportunity for some great night time photos. I am excite! And glad I don’t have a fear of heights!

I have three solid weekends of Adventure coming up (and the fourth weekend is earmarked for Hardcore Adventure Planning). I am happiest when I am outside experiencing things exactly like this, so I couldn’t be more pleased that things are happening. It will go a very long way in ejecting me from the funk I’ve been in for the past few months!

As an added bonus, here is a Nerd Totem Pole!

not to be confused with a shame pole

not to be confused with a shame pole

12 reasons to revolt in 2014

I honestly don’t know which part of this “article” (it’s actually an advertisement disguised as an article; ‘disclosure’ comes by way of a single line stating it’s an “advertorial” at the very bottom of the cluttered page) is the worst, but let’s go through each terrible offence like we’re BuzzFeed:

  1. “There are jobs! A simple Google search of “tech jobs Vancouver” will show that there are over 1000 jobs on the first website you find.”

The link they provide is to Tech Jobs Vancouver, where there are indeed 1095 jobs listed. However, the job postings are not current: it’s a list of job postings in Vancouver going as far back as 2008. Most of the links are dead. I’m sure you could find a position to apply for out of the list – they’re sorted with the most recent on top – but to say “so jobs! much employed! very work!” using that site as “proof” is incredibly misleading.

doge

hooray for doge!

  1. “Supply and Demand = Money!  The average salary of a Web Developer in Vancouver is around $50,000. The lack of qualified professionals in the job market means this number will only continue to go up. If you’re going to work hard everyday and want to get compensated well, the tech sector is a good one to be in.”

No. No, no, no. Do you know what the salary range for a Web Developer is?:

numbers courtesy of Robert Half Salary Guides

numbers courtesy of Robert Half Salary Guides

don't look up your own salary range unless you want to be depressed forever

don’t look up your own salary range unless you want to be depressed forever

Ignoring the fact that as Canadians we get screwed in the salary department, the “article” claims that $50k is the AVERAGE salary – which means there are some people making LESS than that. This is not okay, people. Vancouver has the dubious distinction of being named the Most Expensive City in Canada/North American by a number of different publications, and you’re using our devastatingly low salaries as a reason people should work in tech here? That is BULLSHIT, and touting $50k as being “compensated well” only hurts the tech sector you’re trying to staff with superstars. The best tech brains in Vancouver DON’T WORK HERE. They go to the US, or work remotely (for US companies), or leave IT entirely. $50k is not a good salary for a web developer. It’s an insulting salary, and why Vancouver has a “tech talent crunch“: it’s because the salaries here are a FUCKING JOKE.

looking for this? you won't find it in vancouver.

looking for this? you won’t find it in vancouver. the money, i mean. you can buy green tinted visors anywhere in richmond.

  1. “Get in quick! Learning to work with new Technology has never been easier – the same applies to getting a job in Technology. You can now become a Software Developer in 8 weeks through innovative courses designed with a rigorous 40 hour per week curriculum. Why spend 4 years when you can get the same thing 16 times faster?”

Again, this entire stupid article is just an ad for the above-mentioned 8-week course, so take it with a mountain of salt. That being said, it’s still pretty insulting to think you can bypass years of education and experience with 8 weeks of cramming in knowledge. All these rotten whippersnappers taking shortcuts and stealing all our $50k/year jobs – it’s just sickening, I tell you what.

surprisingly, code core isn't associated with the university of phoenix

surprisingly, code core isn’t associated with the university of phoenix

  1. “Leave your suit at home!”

This is a petty bitch, but “you don’t have to wear a suit” is a perk akin to “free coffee”: it’s expected.

gpoy at work

gpoy at work every damn day

It’s not just the “article” that I have a problem with, actually. There’s more:

  1. VanCity Buzz deleted all negative or questioning remarks, then closed comments so no one else could chime in
  2. There was an excellent comment written by “Stephen”, who pointed out all the things wrong with the “article” in a much more articulate fashion than I have here
  3. It’s gone now
  4. I later learned that “Stephen” is actually a friend of mine, who works in the tech sector and is brilliant and has excellent things to say and oh is also female, but posts under a guy’s name in order to be taken seriously
  5. .. in 2014
  6. what the fucking fuck
tech sector sexism is my favourite flavour of bullshit

tech sector sexism is my favourite flavour of bullshit

So frustrate. I don’t understand how these people can’t see what a huge disservice they’re doing to Vancouver’s tech community. People are undervalued and underpaid and it’s driving the best of the best out of the city in search of not a fortune but an actual fair wage for the work they do. Vancouver’s local tech darlings are cashing in on people wanting to live here so they settle for shit pay, people dazzled by the name so they chalk it up as experience, and people who have roots and can’t simply pack it all up for greener pastures. Those that can leave, do. And then employers bemoan the lack of qualified candidates, and the whole goddamn thing starts all over again.

not even james baxter can fix this overnight

not even james baxter can fix this overnight

I don’t have any answers. I don’t know how, short of a massive nerd riot, Vancouver will get its head out of the owl’s ass and see there is a huge problem here. I just know that the VanCity Buzz “article” left a terrible taste in my mouth and I couldn’t simply bitch about it in private (or even publicly, since comments were closed) – I needed to share the outrage and also post some gifs (which, in retrospect, are totally annoying – how does BuzzFeed do this every day?).

glass

i don’t wanna leave the city to make a decent salary, but I AM portable ..

Here’s hoping that the addition of Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter to Vancouver is a move to expand markets and create jobs for the talent in this city, and not just a plan to take advantage of our ridiculously low salary “expectations” .. but if I were a betting man, I would have to wear pants a lot more often.

such as this jazzy pantsuit number

such as this jazzy pantsuit number

Okay, one more just to get it out of my system:

SpiceGirls

two by two, hands of blue

PS: I know there are fewer than 12 reasons; I was making a reference
PPS: I know numbering isn’t working and everything has “1.” beside it – it’s way past my bedtime and I am too tired to fix that right now
PPPS: sorry about all the gifs; I will leave the BuzzFeeding to the BuzzFeeders in the future
PPPPS: COLOURS OF THE WORLD SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

and the livin’ is easy

If you did not have any fun on Saturday, it because we had it all. I am sorry.

I’ve always been deeply in love with the little Aquabus-style boats. I used to dream of getting married on one in the Victoria Inner Harbour, then sail off to sea in a tiny little boat for a lifetime of adventure. As this is impractical even for me, I’ve had to settle for the occasional day out on the water; pretending I’m a pirate in a small rainbow tug.

Yesterday I gathered up several of my closest chum-friends, and we bought all-day passes for the Aquabus. We met at Edgewater Casino (free parking in exchange for getting ID’d? SOLD), where we unsuccessfully casined before heading out on the water. It was a spectacular day to be enjoying False Creek, and I had a happy time playing tourist with a thousand cameras.

After we had sailed towards Granville Island and back again, things got a little less fun (as in it went from a 7 from a 9): we got a different boat driver; one who was obviously displeased that there were seven of us with the $15 day pass. He wanted us off his boat so he could fit other passengers on, and was so rude that we decided to hop off at Olympic Village and hopefully get a different boatman. We ultimately stopped for some food at Urban Fare, then walked along the False Creek path towards Spyglass Dock. It was a gorgeous day for walking times, and on our way we saw:

  • All the puppies in Vancouver
  • A baby duck desperately peeping for mama duck, who eventually figured out how to hop the board and join her baby in the creek
  • A RIVER OTTER! Never seen one before!
  • Justin while he was out walking the insanely adorable Monkey (who, incidentally, has me thinking about getting a French Bulldog over a Pug)
  • A polka dot piano, which Renée played while Shan sang

We hopped on another Aquabus for some water fun, but unfortunately ran into more grumpy employees: we were forced to get off the boat at Granville Island and wait in line to get back on again, even though our actual destination was where our original boat was going. Not at all cool, and put a second Aquabus-caused sour note on an otherwise amazing day. I was really disappointed, because my previous experiences with Aquabus had been awesome (and our first and last boat pilots were great) .. I had wanted to keep on sailing around, but we were all feeling pretty unwelcome at this point so we decided to call it a day. A glorious day, but still.

Today is very hot. I am sitting around in my underwear half-heartedly playing video games, but soon I will rinse yesterday off and brave the outdoors for a scooter ride. I want to take some evening photos and maybe wander the Chinatown Night Market when the sun goes down, and make the most of this long weekend and the long overdue return of the sunshine.

Also, plan more adventures. Enjoying myself in Vancouver is easing the overwhelming longing to be in London just a little bit, and I might get over the longing entirely if someone gives me enough money to live in Olympic Village. I’d even be a shill! Just sayin’.

this makes me happy.

ya know?

ya know?

adventure time adventure

After dinner last night (welcome back, Chronic Tacos on Broadway – you’ve been missed), Ed and I went for a walk and did some exploring. A couple of weeks ago I swore I saw a random picture of Finn somewhere near Cambie, and I wanted to go back to see if I could find it. And I did:

algebraic!

And then I found some more!

after we dance: bacon pancakes for everyone!

she’s ready for you, brad. isn’t it obvi?

who wants to play video games?

I don’t know who drew these, but they are AWESOME and I love them and I hope they stay up so they can be enjoyed by many! If you want to see them, they’re under the Cambie St. Bridge, next to the Olympic Village Skytrain Station.

All in all, it was a very picturesque Taco Night:

new murals under which to enjoy your tacos

i like taking upskirt pictures of bridges, okay? don’t judge me.

a romantic rowboat date on false creek after dark with no lights is dangerous and stupid, but makes for a pretty picture.

A+++. would Friday night again.