Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quebec City: Part 1 - The Sights

Last week I was lucky enough to goto Quebec City to attend the Economic Developer Association of Canada's (EDAC) annual conference. It was a typical conference, many good connections made, some good seminars, some not so good. I decided to stay a couple of extra days on my own to mess around and see the sights of this beautiful city.

Fountain in front of Parliament
St. Louis Street in the walled section of Old Quebec
Christina also crashed the conference to see old friends and hung out for a couple days. Here she is in front of the Hotel Frontenac.
 The castle on the hill - Hotel Frontenac
Lots of cool things have occurred at the Hotel over the years but I thought the craziest was that this was the place where a good portion of D-Day was planned.
A lot of the planning went on in this ballroom which is now rented out for weddings, receptions and meetings. I have no idea what the cost would be to rent the room, but it's pretty swanky. The chandeliers are genuine crystal.
 A quick funicular ride down from the Hotel is Lo-Town. This area was my favorite.
 Notre Dame church and square in Low-Town.
 A great mural in Low-Town - pictures hardly do it justice.
In Low-Town I really liked this statue and the water that ran beneath it
Christina was a fan of all the brightly painted buildings. This one nicely matches her shirt and jeans.
Even the overpasses are works of art.
The Train Station and another cool fountain.
The St.Roch Cathedral.
Old and new Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (French for "National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec
So many awesome buildings and cool streets. Every time you take a corner you're floored by another great sight.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fort McMurray

If you don't live in Alberta you might not have heard but 'Superstar' Director James Cameron is in Alberta to tour Fort McMurray and the Oilsands. When Avatar came out there was lots of talk that it was an analogy for the Oilsands, er... I mean Tarsands. Basically, he is here to tell us that mining is bad and it harms the aboriginal way of life.

Although, I do have some general problems with the Oil/Tar Sands (damage to the watershed) I think it's completely asinine that a director known for ridiculous budgets and massive explosions would champion this cause. Maybe he should instead advocate for less consumption and conservation of energy rather than exorcising his white guilt.

What is the carbon footprint of his personal lifestyle?
  • His house is a 8,272 sq ft property with six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The home boasts a tennis court, swimming pool, gourmet kitchen, interior garden and courtyard, guest house and an indoor cinema
  • On living in the Malibu Hills“We have a big fire problem here- we take the pool water, mix it with Class A foam, and pump it out over the whole property. Everybody else just runs for the hills." He even has his own customized red Humvee platform fire truck parked in the driveway just in case!Link
  • Then there is the Life magazine article "Jet Setting with the Cast of Avatar" that follows the main stars as they travel to Paris, Berlin, Moscow, and London on a promotional tour. I wonder how his magical ecoplane floats to each destination. He is such a noble eco-warrior as you can see in the glamorization of celebrity and excess that these pictures represent. Link
James Cameron can bugger off. Go make your lame sequels with recycled plots.
Alright, I'll get off my soapbox now...

I actually traveled to Fort MacMurray two weeks ago for a trade show:

An Oilsands tradeshow.
And I flew there.
Apparently, I shouldn't cast too many stones.
I'm so evil!!!

I had never been to that part of Alberta before and as we began the descent into the city the first thing that struck me was how beautiful it is up there. There is literally nothing but trees and marsh around the city. It looks fantastic from the sky.

I checked into the Hotel and marveled at the great treeline visible from the room.
Lots of people in Edmonton like to badmouth Ft. Mac as dirty and full of ignorant roughnecks. My experience there was actually really positive. I found it to be a lot like the places I've lived in Saskatchewan.

Like rural Saskatchewan there is generally a ridiculous male to female ratio.
 Everyone drives a truck.
The folks love their sports, in this case even the RoughRiders.
I can't vouch for the claims of rampant drug abuse but let me tell you after living in rural SK and downtown Edmonton I don't think I would consider the problem to be any more pronounced. I could definitely live up there.

As for the show - it was ok. Lots of industry people to talk to and cool new things to see.
I never got to see the the actual Oil/Tar Sands sites. I would love to be able to do a fly over and see it though. Instead I had to go back to my 600sq.ft condo and work at the non-profit who employs me the next morning. What a novel concept.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Away for awhile

Have been travelling for work recently and haven't posted stuff in a bit- stay tuned that means a whole lot is coming at you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

North Shore Ice Ninjas 2010

I began my 3rd season of rec hockey last week with our team, the Ice Ninjas, in a triumphant 10-5 victory against the villainous Icemen. Like the beginning of the last couple seasons I'm really excited to be playing again but am terribly disappointed with how much I suck and how out of shape I'm in. So, I've made my pledge to get into shape and re-develop the skills I lost 15 years ago.

I give it about a week until I just throw up my hands and say "Screw it, I want to eat Cheesy Puffs".

I play defense and would categorize my self as a stay at home type. My point totals over the last couple of years show that.

My projections for this year are 2 goals and 8 assists for 10 points. That being said - I would be happier if I had 0 points and we actually went somewhere in the playoffs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chillin' With the Dan Family

From left to right - Deb, Hazel, Dan
Dan and his daughter

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Prairie Gardens in Bon Accord

Last weekend Christina and I took a trip to Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm to try out the corn maze. Of course there is more than just the maze at the Gardens.  Highlights include the petting zoo and the abundance of animals.
I like the satisfied look on this sheep's face.
The reminder that we're in fall and Thanksgiving is coming up.
Or if you prefer duck...
Christina was quite smitten with this regal white goose.
Giraffe in the enchanted forest.
Prep for the corn maze.
Christina is a scaredy cat with most things so I threatened to chase her through the maze in full viking mode with an axe. I'm not sure how that would help anything....
Finally we were ready and jumped on the transit to the maze.

The maze was a lot of fun. There were 5 phases and you had to find 2 keys (letters) in each phase that would solve a final riddle. We did pretty good with only one occasion of being generally lost.
While lost Christina and I went a little crazy and decided to eat our way out.
Luckily, we found another pathway and followed that. We finished the whole maze in about an hour.
The Gardens were a great time. I would recommend getting out there before the weather turns.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Jurassic Forest - Gibbons

This weekend Christina and I headed north of the city near Gibbons to Jurassic Forest. The 'park' just opened about a month ago and they advertise it as "The days of the dinosaurs roar to life again in Jurassic Forest, a 40-acre prehistoric preserve, just 15 minutes from Edmonton and 250 million years from the present."

It's a pretty ambitious park promising educational opportunities and state of the art ani-mitronic dinosaurs. I've been really excited to see it since I first heard about it, but heading out there I fully expected to be let down.

We arrived mid-afternoon on the Saturday of the Labour Day weekend. The first thing noticeable was about a billion cars in the parking lot and a really cool high gate.

After speedily going through admission ($13 for adults) we saw the big Triceratops head drawing attention from the kids.

Outside the big admissions building there is a huge play area for kids and the entry to the wilderness dino walks. But first a warning!

The first dinosaur we saw was a massive Brontosaurus.

Immediately we were surprised by the size of the dinosaurs and how they moved when motion sensors are triggered.

You'll find a new dinosaur about every 100 yards. One of the things I really liked is how they put the dinos right in the middle of the forest and didn't really cut down all the brush around them.

The Albertasaurus was pretty cool as it was standing off with some Styracosaurus's.
Here's some video:

The Pteradon and most of the flyer's were kind of lame, but I have no idea how you would feasibly make them exciting.

The hometown dino, the Edmontonosaurus, doesn't look very badass so the less said the better.

When I was a kid I had a pretty sweet toy Dimetrodon so I was pumped to see one 'in real life'.

Also as a kid, I was a big fan of the Stegasaurus, mostly because it sounded like my sister Stephanie.

I really liked this set-up of a pack of raptors attacking a big honking Brontosaurus.

Finally. What you have all been waiting for. The T-Rex.

Note the other dino in his mouth. 

Overall I think the whole experience was awesome and I was totally impressed. I'm going to try and go back in the fall when the leaves are in all colours. I'm also very interested in what they are going to do over winter. Close down the park and tarp the dinos? Keep it open? Christmas themed? T-Rex eating a reindeer would be fantastic. And not at all scary for the kids...