DC Bound

Posted in On The Road on June 16th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: I am sitting in a MARC Train railcar at the moment, on the way from Baltimore to Washington DC. When I arrive in DC I will spend the day walking around the area known as The Mall, which includes The Smithsonian, Capital Bldg, White House, Library of Congress, etc. My friend Meghan, from U Minnesota, will meet me at Union Station and hang out with me.

Later on, I’ll grab another train and go to Alexandria VA to visit with Alexia for a couple hours before returning to Baltimore.

Yesterday I went to Johns Hopkins with Mary (at whose home I am staying in Baltimore), and then we drove to Annapolis, where we walked around the US Naval Academy grounds, and had dinner at a restaurant where we dined on an outside table overlooking some Chesapeake Bay marinas while the sun set. In all, a glorious day. Pictures will follow soon.

Update

Posted in On The Road on July 9th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: My Winnipeg trip is coming to an end. I’ve had a nice time, despite the scorching temperatures, high humidity, and the occasional torrential monsoon-like downpour. I have had good visits with close friends, comparing notes, bbq’ing burgers, and sharing laughs and stories. For the most part, I’ve tried to forget about work and other things in Edmonton. Tony and his daughter Claire opened their home to me, where I stayed for a few nights. I’ve spent time with my parents, who are always good to me and make me feel welcome in their home. We went for dim sum last Sunday, and will do so again tomorrow morning.

Steve, Mike and I also visited Chester Cuthbert, legendary Winnipeg book collector, at whose home many of us congregated regularly in the mid-1970s. A mutual love of science fiction had brought us together, resulting in lasting friendships to this day. Chester will be 93 this year, and remains in good health and spirit. He hasn’t eaten lunch since the 1920s or so, which could be the key to a long and healthy life.

I return on Monday morning, have a band practice scheduled for Tuesday, a play on Wednesday (after which I hope to meet this guy and tell him how much I enjoy his work), and on Thursday afternoon, my cousin Joanne and her family drop by from Winnipeg for a four-day visit before heading off to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum (which I have never visited since moving to Alberta in 1978…my bad.) Theoretically, life should slow down a bit afterwards, but I have my doubts.

I will not return to Edmonton rested. I’ve stayed up late watching episodes of The Wire, and it’s been difficult to get much rest in this heat, even with air conditioning.

I’m giving consideration to withdrawing from blogging on PBD for a short time, similar to what Heavy G did last year. I’ve been maintaining two blogs since March 2003; perhaps it’s time for a bit of a break.

Update

Posted in Library, On The Road on June 14th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: I am back from Toronto and Kitchener. Tomorrow I drive to Calgary to attend the CLA Conference. The week in Ontario was fun, rewarding, and very busy. It was also stiflingly hot and muggy, with temperatures hovering between 30-35C every day (86-95F), high humidity, with smog alerts issued daily in Toronto. I had a wonderful visit with my Great Auntie Anne, whom I had not seen since I was too young to remember. I spent two days in Kitchener visiting my friends, Jason and Brenda, also a very nice and relaxing time. More on the trip later.

:: Interesting interactive quiz about Canada from the Globe and Mail, called What Canadians Think About Everything. I scored 14/20. Damn that heartbreak question.

Conference Time

Posted in On The Road on June 3rd 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: Tomorrow morning I fly to Toronto to attend the SLA conference. After the conference ends on Wednesday, I will have dinner with my friend Alexis, whom I have not seen since 2001, and on Thursday, visit my Great Auntie Anne, whom I have not seen since I can’t remember, meaning the late 1950s in all likelihood. The same day, I will meet my friend Jason, and ride the train with him to Kitchener/Waterloo, and spend three nights with him and his partner, Brenda, before returning to Edmonton on June 12th.

The lawn is cut, the outdoor flower beds watered, now it’s time to pack.

Border Town

Posted in On The Road on May 23rd 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: I spent the weekend in Lethbridge, with a short, 5-hour side trip to Sunburst MT, seven miles south of the Canada/US border on Saturday. I visited Robert, his wife Mary, and children, Tigana and Kasia. Sunday was a very lazy day, and we spent some time playing in the “bouncy house“, which was a lot of fun. It was nice to be away from television and newspapers, although I did check my e-mail periodically. Later that day, Mary suggested that Robert and I see the new Star Wars movie in the evening. I was reminded early in my visit that raising two children, especially when one is 18 months old, is a full-time, 24 hour a day job for both parents. Mary’s very kind gesture afforded Robert and I chance to visit a bit more, and see a movie we would both enjoy, and which I enjoyed a second time in three days, while she stayed home with the girls.

On Saturday, I drove to Sunburst, Montana, to attend the high school graduation of my friend Sharon’s son, Aaron. In contrast to my godson Kellen’s HS grad a few weeks ago, where over 400 students graduated, the 2005 North Toole County High School graduating class numbered 29. The students entered the auditorium in alphabetical order, accompanied by their parents. The ceremony included speeches by two valedictorians, one salutatorian, and one by the guest speaker, a principal from another school in the region. He opened saying he wasn’t going to talk about religion, as was probably expected by the students. After giving the students hints and suggestion for success in life, he said after much thought, he had concluded that the most important advice he could give was to establish a relationship with God. I thought, ok, fine, a relationship with God isn’t “religion” per se. When he told the story of how he accepted Jesus Christ into his life one night in the early 1970s, I thought he crossed the line. He concluded by advising the students to accept Jesus into their lives. I was raised Catholic, but found his speech bizarre and inappropriate. Then again, I don’t know the political or religious culture of the region, and Montana did vote for Bush…

The guest speaker aside, I enjoyed the ceremony, which included tunes by the high school band, featuring Sharon’s daughter, Jenna, on the trumpet.

The last two episodes of 24 are on the air. Tomorrow, L&O: SVU, Wednesday, Lost (another two hour finale) and L&O:CI. I was disappointed to learn that L&O: Trial by Jury, which was just getting its legs, wasn’t renewed by NBC. But tv is over for the year, I can (hopefully) kill my tv until September.

The Dark Side – Why We Need to Give a Sith

Posted in Film, On The Road on May 19th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: Stevie Ray and I saw Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith this afternoon. I had tickets for the 6:45 pm show, and we arrived early, around 4:15, assuming long lineups would be in order. It was the opposite: small lines had formed for some of the later shows, but no line for the 6:45 show had started. As we prepared to wait in line for two hours, a colleague and her family walked by, and said they had exchanged their tickets for the 4:45 pm show, which was in Theatre 1 (the biggest of 16 theatres at South Edmonton Common). We decided to do the same, quickly swapped our tickets, and entered Theatre 1, and found two great seats in the top row.

This was a bit of an event for us; when Stevie (a good friend’s daughter) was 8, I took her to see The Phantom Menace, and when she was 11, The Attack of the Clones. We had a blast, and really enjoyed the movie. It’s easily the best of the first three episodes, with space ship and light sabre battles like nothing seen before. The history and background of the characters is explained, and we learn how Luke and Leia become separated to live on different planets, how Anakin morphs into Darth Vader, why Yoda ends up on Dagobah, and more. The dreaded Jar Jar Binks appears in two scenes with no lines, and C-3PO’s role is also reduced. Most of the dialogue remains true to the bad space opera of the other five episodes, but the performances do compensate for it. Ewan McGregor is solid, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have matured into their roles, but it’s Ian McDiarmid as Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine who chews up the screen and steals most of his scenes from the other actors. I’m surprised that he hasn’t appeared in more movies. The other scene stealer is Yoda – what more can I say? I also found it easier to accept Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu – in the previous two films, I couldn’t separate the actor from the character. This time, I bought it – his character’s presence is much more convincing, and he has one great light sabre duel as well.

Besides the release of the last Star Wars ever (or is it?), Canada’s government barely survived a confidence vote today (it was a 152-152 tie), with the Speaker having to cast the deciding vote in favour of the governing Liberal Party. A defeat would have resulted in another federal election, less that a year after the 2004 vote.

This morning, my clothes dryer gave indications that it wants to move on and meet its maker. So after SWIII, I dropped by Sears Home and ordered a Kenmore washer and dryer on sale for $940 or so, with tax. Both will be delivered next Friday with the sofa I purchased in April. Yes, I am still zen with the debt load.

Tomorrow I’m off to Lethbridge, and to Sunburst MT on Saturday for my friend Sharon’s son’s high school grad ceremony, and then back to Lethbridge on Sat night, returning home to Edmonton on Monday. Twelve days later, it’s off to Toronto for SLA.

This news release from Westjet is very cool:

WestJet (TSX:WJA), Bell ExpressVu (TSX:BC.PR.A) and LiveTV (NASDAQ:JBLU) today announced that all 39 of WestJet’s Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 aircraft are now equipped with live satellite television. WestJet is the first and only airline in Canada to offer an in-flight TV service that can be individually controlled by each guest from the comfort of their own seat.

WestJet’s complimentary satellite TV service offers a selection of up to 24 television channels from Bell ExpressVu in every seatback on all of WestJet’s 737-700 aircraft, including news, sports, music, children’s and leisure programming. The real-time in-flight experience features individual adjustable seatback screens, personal headphones and an armrest control to change TV channels, brightness and volume levels.

I wonder how long, if at all, it will take Air Canada to follow suit. All the more reason to fly on WestJet. As fate would have it, my flight to and from Toronto in June is on AC.

I am so tired…