Pat's Log
Tue, 26 Jul 2005

Recuperating from OLS
This year's DesktopCon and Linux Symposium was as I expected it to be; no big surprises. Today, I finally got to recover from the lack of sleep and generally busy schedule. While it is pointless to write the details of the past week, there were several interesting people and events that stood out. Writing about one of each will suffice.

An interesting event was my presentation of Celestia. There was a fairly low turnout (understandable, as I only posted it the day before). One of the people who attended was Jim Gettys, who was interesting to have because he used to work in astonomy. He made suggestions of contacts of his who might not be aware of Celestia, but who might be willing to help and beneficial to the project.

An interesting person I met was none other than Bill Huey, whom I know from the old days of the vMac project. While he was trying to sort out where he remembers my name from I became aware of his memorable personality. It was amazing meeting someone I've known for eight years for the first time. He's certainly a fun person to be around, so we went on a tour of Ottawa, which he seemed to like. We got to the airport too late and he missed his plane, which he did not seem to like.

In conclusion, while I did not learn or do as much as last year, I put in a lot of talking time with both familiar and new people. I had a good time in doing so. I believe it will be a good year for Linux software.

[] | posted @ 03:49 | link
Thu, 14 Jul 2005

Bye Bye BC
20050714 I'm writing this at 40955ft over the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. Literally the middle of nowhere. The ground here is super-flat. WestJet's satellite TV is awesome. I get to watch Space and use my laptop at the same time. It's actually more comfortable with both screens than it is on my own couch.

This morning I got a tour of the Orpheus theatre. This was the location of the very artistic scene with Baltar and Number Six in the final minutes of the first season. Speaking of Galactica, I've been stopping by the studio almost daily to see what they're up to. I didn't get any more stage access, but I did get more of a feel for how they do a show. If I can get any time off next summer, maybe I'll apply to be an extra on the show. I certainly wouldn't mind going back to Vancouver for a few days.

Over the last week or so I've been helping out my godfather around the house and with garage work. I've picked up a number of skills in the process. Joseph is a man of many skills and I'm happy to have worked with him. It's also remarkable how not-rusty cars are under the hood. I wish Ottawa would start using calcium magnesium acetate.

Also these last few days I've been living as a Vancouver local. During the first part of my stay I needed a map to get around. At this point, I feel totally at home in "Van City." Aside from London (England), it's the only city I could possible call home. I'm going to miss it. Ottawa seems less interesting. Hopefully, OLS, coming up shortly, will change that.

[] | posted @ 03:21 | link
Fri, 08 Jul 2005

Battlestar Galactica
20050707 I can't believe I managed to pull it off, but I just got back from the high point of this trip: sitting in during filming of BSG.

It was a long shot, considering my previous experiences with the Vancouver Film Studios, but I showed up today with a drink I bought at the Costco across the street, and just stood in front of the gate by Studio G. There were extras in Galactica uniforms having a smoke break, and dinner was being served. Chief Tyrol showed up with a book. About 5 minutes in, a lady came to ask me who I was, and if I needed in. She termed me "a fan" and continued about her business. Then a security guard came. I thought he was going to kick me out, but he just asked what was being filmed, out of his own curiosity. After that, my drink finished so I went to get a refill at Costco, and came back. Another 15 minutes in, the actors and crew were all looking at me wondering who I was. Eventually, an extra pointed me out more directly, and the same lady came up to have a chat with me. I told her I'm crazy about the show, and that there's zero chance of me getting an official way in, so I was just standing around until someone like her came around. She asked me if I was certifiably crazy, in that if she were to let me in, if I would start screaming during a take or something. She seemed surprised that I managed to find that they were filming there. Then, whether I was armed. I just gave her my Swiss Army knife and my backpack, and she let me in! She told me to tell anyone who asks that I'm a friend of hers. I was astonished this worked out!

I walked into Studio G next to the fighter cockpit and turned left. My friend got me the day's Call Sheet, which happened to have all of the script they were filming today. The episode is Flight of the Phoenix. As I was there, they filmed two scenes on the Hangar set, one of which was simply a fly-by of reactions of the crew to a speech, which, I believe (from the script), was given by the President. It was actually read out by a film crew member (probably the line producer). The stage was filled with a light fog. During the filming of this, I was in a chair right beside to Colonel Tigh, as he wasn't in the scene. He looked fatigued, so I didn't bug him. According to the call sheet, he had been there 10 hours already. Directly in front of me were two monitors, showing what each of the two cameras was filming. They use two cameras to save time. This is the same thing Enterprise did in the last season.

On the way in and out, I walked by the full-scale build-up of the Phoenix itself, and it is quite imposing. It also has a nice name written on it, but there will be no spoilers here!

An interesting observervation was the number of laptops. There were far more than I expected, probably to pass the time between takes. All Apple.

All in all, this was just an over-the-top experience.

[] | posted @ 07:16 | link
Thu, 07 Jul 2005

So Close
20050706 I'm settling into the area, helping out around the house and what-not. I can even drive some places without a map. Over the last couple of days I did dishes, laundry, and helped in renovations by removing wallpaper. I feel I owe some labour for letting me stay for free and drive around at will.

This afternoon, I went to the final BSG location. The theatre Baltar goes to at the end of the last episode of season 1 is actually the Vancouver Orpheum. However, it is normally closed and I could not get in.

Later, I went back to Vancouver Film Studios to see if some crew member wouldn't let me in. I managed to track BSG to Studio G ("G for Galactica!"), because they left a big door open. Through the door I could easily make out a Viper and a greenscreen. Looking further into the left, I could see the Hangar Deck set.

I almost got in. One crew member saw me standing around and said that if it were wrap time, he would take me on a little tour. But it wasn't.

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Tue, 05 Jul 2005

British Columbia - Day 8
20050704-1 Today was Markus' last day, marking the end of the vacation per se. We started off in Queen Elizabeth Park, where the Bloedel Conservatory was used in Galactica's movie episode in the creepy scene with the little girl who dies while playing with her doll. Outside, there were nice botanical gardens, bridges, waterfalls.

Our next stop was the Vancouver Art Gallery. I didn't like it very much. Maybe I just didn't get it.

Finally, before taking Markus to the airport, we got a tour of TRIUMF, where my godfather works. This lab has the largest cyclotron on the planet. The whole campus is massive. All of the equipment there was very impressive. Radiation tags are cool.

After Markus left, I drove to the Vancouver Film Studios. The security guard would not let me in, he said to call and see if they do tours. So I did, and they do not. Apparently, the studio is much less hands-on than Paramount, and leaves everything up to the individual productions. In this case, Battlestar Galactica will be very hard to reach.

An interesting sign at the main gate to the studio...


... which led to a lot of cars on the streets around there with these:


To top the day off, I went "home", and my godfather let me drive his latest toy: a black BMW 328i. This one is quite a bit nicer than his other one: it's newer and standard.

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Sat, 02 Jul 2005

British Columbia - Day 5
20050701 After a day like yesterday, today was all relaxation. We stayed the night at Whistler because the hotel room was decently priced. Getting up in the morning took some effort, given the state of my back. We stopped for breakfast in a little diner just south of Squamish. There was an older, abandoned-looking tug at the inlet just across the highway.

When we got back to Vancouver, my godfather's daughter, Kasia, picked us up. She drove the BMW very fast. It was fun. I finally got to see their house in Delta, which has a unique open stairwell, indoor spa, and a kitchen my mom would kill for. There are a couple of cats, and a dog. Unfortunately, the house has to go up for sale soon, so there are things all over the place and little renovations happening. Since Kasia is really the only person living here, there is plenty of sleeping room.

Kasia took is out for Canada Day festivities to an East-coast-style pub downtown. After a few beers I wanted a Bloody Mary. Of course, they didn't have tomato juice. At this point, I left the bar, went two blocks over to the corner store, bought a 2L can of the stuff, went back to the bar, plopped the can on the counter, and ordered a Bloody Mary. Then another. And another. For a little while, my back pain went away...

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Fri, 01 Jul 2005

British Columbia - Day 4
20050630 A day to remember; the day I nearly got myself killed.

We got up nice and early in an attempt to play catch-up for lost time from yesterday. The day started with a canoe trip between two lakes. The river was narrow and windy, and initially not terribly interesting. Then, a several glacial runs merged in. The water from them was extremely frigid and had a distinctive milky appearance. Of course, the water also sped up. When we got to the destination lake (Green Lake), the view was remarkable; a huge lake surrounded by mountains. This was the good part of the day.

Late afternoon was spent downhill mountain biking. We rented really expensive mountain bikes that put the Ottawa definition to complete shame. They had a full suspension, heavy frame, and best of all, disc brakes. My test was to take it over a curb. I felt nothing... totally smooth.

We bought lift passes and took the bikes up. This is where the day started getting crappy. A quarter of the way down my first run, the front tire blew. I had to walk this heavy bike all the way down, losing precious time. I got another bike, and went up. The ride down was awesome, like skiing but more fun, with mud and all.

For the last run, I thought I could go beyond the green and blue, and try a black diamond (A-line). At the start of the run they had a test jump to show what could be expected. I had absolutely no problem with the test. So, I started going down. On the first real jump, however, things went very badly. I flipped 180 degrees and landed flat on my back on sharp rocks. I was rather afraid, seeing as I couldn't move for a few seconds. This was right under the lift, and as I lay there, some guy going up asked if he should get help. My response was: "I really don't know yet!" With extreme pain, I got up and took the rest of the run really slowly. I was extremely lucky; that was a narrow-miss spinal. My helmet gained a couple of deep scars. My back is one gigantic scratch. I can hardly walk. But the damage is all muscular, no bones.

We went to a nice restaurant afterwards, right next to the mountain, called the GLC. There was a live band. Some of the best nachos I've ever had.

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link

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