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
] | posted @ 03:49 | link
Bye Bye BC
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
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
All in all, this was just an over-the-top experience.
] | posted @ 07:16 | link
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
British Columbia - Day 8
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
British Columbia - Day 5
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
British Columbia - Day 4
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
] | posted @ 03:59 | link
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