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June 30, 2011

Edmonton Day 2

Yesterday it was time to check out the U of A North Campus. Built just after 1900, many of the original buildings have since been rebuilt, but a few original ones remain.

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This is a 25-year old temporary wall, originally intended to be part of a new structure that never received funding. So, it got turned into a mural instead. I am ok with this!

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I met up with Hardave for lunch, and we ate at a little Italian cafe, Leva, just outside of campus and had some really good gourmet thin crust pizza.

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A stairwell inside the HUB, a student-housing/mall area:

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Inside the atrium of the Rutherford Library:

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By sheer coincidence I ended up at the corner of the campus devoted to Engineering & the sciences:

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Just a little North of North Campus a walkway down the hillside & through the woods leads to the very Emily Murphy Park that runs parallel to the North Saskatchewan River.

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The park led me to this fine bridge, with no name that I can discern besides "Groat Road NW".

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The rest of the day was spent on a driving tour of South East Edmonton, where I got caught in construction and was generally unglamorous. Mavis and I got Vietnamese for dinner though, which was great!

June 28, 2011

Edmonton Day 1

So with car in hand (so to speak) yesterday I made my way northward to the High Level Rail, an old-time streetcar trip that lasts about 20 minutes and runs from the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market (wondering if there's any relation to the Strathcona in Victoria), around a few bends, through a tunnel and 150 feet over the North Saskatchewan River -- which divides the city in two along a northeast-to-southwest plane -- and into downtown. The streetcar is operated by volunteers of the Edmonton Radial Rail Society, who have restored the rail system back to its early 1900s glory, re-electrifying the tracks and restoring the cars that run on it. The "Radial" part of their name comes from the fact that during rail's hey-day, Edmonton acted as a hub for many different rail lines. The trip was great, there's nothing that can quite duplicate the sound of being on a real track going over real wooden ties & the smell of creosote.

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South terminal for the high-level streetcar

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Work of passion


Once off the streetcar I had a quick look around downtown, and it reminded me a bit of downtown Vancouver/Victoria: hills, tall office buildings combined with single-story restaurants. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, perhaps 25c/78f. I made my way over to Boun Thai, a small, non-busy place where I had a wonderful chicken red curry.

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Found out from Mavis this is a magpie

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Entering downtown Edmonton.

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This could be Victoria

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Downtown art

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Donairs!

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Great little Thai restaurant

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Chicken red curry, so good

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Interior of Boun Thai

Having a little bit more time to kill before my return trip was due I decided to wander some more.

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Portions of downtown were built-up yet natural

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Old + new

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One of the stops I could have gotten off the streetcar at on the way downtown was the legislature, so I decided to see if I could find it. And find it I did! Seems like it's a good place to come hang out on a warm summer's day.

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Nice shaded park area by the legislature

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Good way to cool off on a hot day

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On the way back to the streetcar I decided to walk along some of the track; as a bonus I got to check out some of Edmonton's contemporary artists :)
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Different every day

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Share kids

The ride back was just as fun, and since it was the last ride of the day the streetcar conductors stopped the car & shut the gates to high-level bridge and tunnel as we went past them.

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As a bonus the conductor allowed me to ride the streetcar right into the barn where it is kept overnight!
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All in all a great experience, definitely recommend checking it out if you end up in Edmonton.

Just south of the barn where the trains are kept is Whyte Avenue, which appears to be one of the trendier areas in town. Lots of young people in the area, definitely seemed my speed, though Mavis also tells me it can get a little crazy at night. It's also where Edmonton had its hockey riots (see this link for a description, interesting to compare to the situation in Vancouver).

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Not Victoria

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Funky clothery

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Funky eatery

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Funky dessertery

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Reminds me a bit of Victoria

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Also reminds me a bit of Victoria :)

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Persian Grill

From there I drove back to Mavis' place on the Calgary Trail. Driving-difficulty-wise, I'd rate Edmonton somewhere between Victoria and Sarasota, which is to say, as long as you're looking out the window you should be ok. Nothing too crazy going on, though several of the yellow lights struck me as shorter than I'm used to seeing.

Hardave and Mavis got home about 5 minutes after I did and brought me bubble green tea! I had the one with the lychee pearls, and it completely hit the spot. We ate a good dinner with Daniel & Abigail, two of Mavis' friends who had just come back from a trip to New Zealand for their honeymoon and came over to collect Ghost, their cat. We had burgers with spicy cheese, baked sweet potato fries & 7 layer chocolate cake! Completely healthy :)

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7 layers of yum

Finally I got a chance to Facetime with Joy and we called it a night! Off to another day of adventure..

June 27, 2011

Edmonton Day 0

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So I made it! I'm in Edmonton. Just me this time; Joy wishes she could have made it but is keeping the house safe and working a summer job at the world famous IMG tennis academy in Bradenton. Vanessa drove me to the airport at noon yesterday (so she could have some practice driving there; she is picking up Cam and Melissa upon their return to Portugal -- in the dark). The only hiccup was in Houston, where my Edmonton-bound flight was delayed 2 hours due to a plane being swapped.

Touchdown was just after 11pm local time (1am EST). The greeter over the loudspeaker while waiting in the immigration line WAY too cheery after a long flight and was a dead ringer for Tom Haverford of Parks and Recreation. Immigration moved quickly as did Customs.

The Edmonton International Airport is kind of set up like the Victoria one; Mavis and Hardave were waiting for me the moment I walked through the opaque glass doors. We got in Mavis' car and in 10 minutes we were home to Mavis' condo. The weather was amazing.. just like Victoria on a cool day. Low humidity and a nice cool breeze. Some chatting, a glass of water, and into bed I went.

A side note, Mavis' cat Tofu is just about the cutest thing possible. [part1 part2]

Today I was up at 5am, thanks to whatever the opposite of jetlag is :) That and the fact that the sun is up at that time instead of 6:40! I like to get up when the sun does but I think this might be pushing it a bit.

Mavis and Hardave both have to work today, but I have Mavis' car and free reign! Time to do some adventuring.

June 20, 2011

Kinda Sorta Fixing Broken Face Detection in iPhoto

The other day I noticed iPhoto stopped properly detecting faces. I said, oh, that's kind of odd, maybe it will start working again on its own.

And I kind of forgot about it for a little while. A little while until I was using the excellent iPhoto Library Manager to split my iPhoto library in two. ILM doesn't actually offer a "split" function, but you can create a new library and copy photos into it.

Which is what I was doing when I ran into this:

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Naturally this dialog was a little concerning. So I clicked "View Log" and ALL of the errors were like this:

*** Error: An error occurred while copying face (null) for source photo IMG_8234.JPG (id 26650) to destination photo id 6029 (DB Error: 1 "no such table: detected_face_blob" for query SELECT * FROM detected_face_blob WHERE face_index=? AND image_key=?)

After a while of The Google coming up empty, I finally ran across this post by Christian Kalmar: Fixing a broken Face Detection Database in iPhoto. Just in case that link goes bad, the essence is, quit iPhoto, make a backup of your photo library (lucky you if you're using Time Machine!), then, in Terminal, cd into your iPhoto library folder and delete the files "face.db" and "face_blob.db" & boot up iPhoto again. iPhoto should then start recognizing your faces again.

For what it's worth, this doesn't actually fix your broken database, but it does allow you to start it over. I figured since I just moved more than half of my library into storage, why not?

I'll be updating this post later with my success (or not).

June 18, 2011

The Wages of Fear; Dog Day Afternoon

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The Wages of Fear is a black and white movie set in middle-of-nowhere 50s South America. From Col Needham on imdb:

"In the South American jungle supplies of nitroglycerine are needed at a remote oil field. The oil company pays four men to deliver the supplies in two trucks. A tense rivalry develops between the two sets of drivers and on the rough remote roads the slightest jolt can result in death."
Needless to say it's a thriller; the constant danger of death/moving vehicle premise reminded me of Speed from 1994. There are a few scenes at the beginning of the movie where the basically-useless female love interest is washing the restaurant floor on all fours without anything to useful say for what seems like minutes; turns out this was director Henri-Georges Clouzot's wife. Once the main characters get on the road with their explosive payload, however, the movie really starts, and from here it's a perfect combination of suspense (will they blow up at any moment?) and philosophy (what's really important?). I thought the movie's 131 minute runtime was going to be a problem but it flew past without any trouble. French/Italian/English with subtitles. 7.5/10. Thanks to Bugsy Malone for the recommendation.


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Dog Day Afternoon stars a young Al Pacino as "Sonny" in a movie about a bank-heist gone awry. "alfiehitchie" from imdb:

Based upon a real-life story that happened in the early seventies in which the Chase Manhattan Bank in Flatbush, Brooklyn, was held siege by a gay bank robber determined to steal enough money for his male lover to undergo a sex change operation. On a hot summer afternoon, the First Savings Bank of Brooklyn is held up by Sonny and Sal, two down-and-out characters. Although the bank manager and female tellers agree not to interfere with the robbery, Sonny finds that there's actually nothing much to steal, as most of the cash has been picked up for the day. Sonny then gets an unexpected phone call from Police Captain Moretti, who tells him the place is surrounded by the city's entire police force. Having few options under the circumstances, Sonny nervously bargains with Moretti, demanding safe escort to the airport and a plane out of the country in return for the bank employees' safety.
Directed by Sidney Lumet of Network fame, the story hints at Mr. Lumet's interest in the media; at one point Al Pacino's character actually watches himself on live TV while holed up inside the bank. From my notes made during the movie: "Well-paced nuanced tension builder; textured character development; no music; Al Pacino is amazing." I think that about covers it. 125 minutes. 8/10. Thanks to John Weston for the recommendation.