Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot


Thinking Chaos, Thinking Fences

All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

This man has built a 1/5 scale Sherman Tank for his 5-year-old son. Far-be-it from me to advise anybody on raising their children, but if I ever have kids of my own, they're not receiving killing machines larger than their head.

That said, it's still pretty cool.

11:38:59 PM    comment []

B3TA (bad taste and hilarity alert!) brings us the fantastic Nunlander. Based on the arcade classic Moonlander, you must land three nuns successfully to achieve sainthood. If you're evenly mildly Catholic (or heck, anywhere in the whole Judeo-Christian spectrum) and easily offended, you might want to pass on this one. For everyone else, go to it! It's worth sticking around for the big finish (you meet the Pope!), and make sure you've got the sound on.

11:35:06 PM    comment []

I haven't got the energy to hold forth on the subject, but there was an interesting discussion of user-editable documentation on Slashdot recently. Thanks to SimpleGeek for the link.

11:31:43 PM    comment []

My favourite place (well, at least my favourite indoor space) in Dublin is the Natural History Museum. It is a macabre paean to the Victorian era in all its splendour. Nearly hidden behind the Dail (the Irish Parliament), it's a fantastic Victorian building. The stuffed bestiary that resides inside is beyond compare. Most of the animals are inside glass cases, and each is fastidiously labelled with the name and date of death and purchase by museum. They go on and on and on. There is every animal under the sun in here. And it's not just mammals either--there are four floors, and two of them just have birds and fish and insects aplenty.

This place has so many wonderful features...I don't know where to begin:

  • It's free.
  • It's staffed by elderly folk in cyan jackets.
  • Young scruffy art students sit on the floor and sketch stiff marmots and pandas.
  • The hartebeest--one of the few large mammals outside of a case--has a leg joint that has been rubbed clean of fur over the years.
  • The rhinoceros's stomach is subtly duct-taped...it's falling apart from the inside out.
  • The place is always empty, which just adds to its ghoulish niftiness.

Best of all, hidden away in a glass case in the corner, are the jungle fatigues of Surgeon Major Thomas Heazle Parke, the man responsible for the museum (his statue is out front) and the first Irishman to cross Africa. There's a wonderful irony that his clothes are included amongst all of these things he helped kill and collect.

They don't permit photos, but I bought two postcards: a kakapo and some badgers. The kakapo is a strange, wonderful bird in his (or her) own right. You should read about him--this evolutionary fluke can use all the help he (or she) can get.

11:25:23 PM    comment []

While looking for my comments on the Natural History Museum (which I'll get to in a minute), I found the following list that Julie and I created. We wrote it as part of an email home after just 162 days in Dublin (we've been here over two years now). It's a list of things we missed about Vancouver:

* sushi
* 7-11 Slurpees
* ice arenas and the sports within them
* 'Mango Madness' at Jugo Juice on the corner of Davie and Pacific
* Granville Island (and the tasty lager that bares its name)
* roving dogs and cats
* veggie paninis at the little Italian deli on West 1st
* roller blading on the sea wall
* 40+ movie screens within walking distance
* law abiding citizens (traffic, by and otherwise)
* post-modern architecture like the Vancouver Public Library building
* swimming laps at the 501 while smelling BBQ'd chicken from Carlos 'n' Bud's next door
* the Seabus (who'd a thunk it?)
* the downpour that only a temperate rainforest can bring
* more sushi

Yep, those are a lot of the things I'm looking forward to. Off the top of my head, I'm also looking forward to:

* A fresh new computer to destroy (and the accompanying toys--wireless LAN, cell phone, etc)
* Playing Ultimate Frisbee
* Playing my guitar, and continuing to learn how to play the piano
* Working from home
* Maybe going back to school
* Maybe starting on a couple of business ideas I've been kicking around
* Not having the bedroom and the (home) office be the same room
* Being told 'Have a nice day', whether the speaker means it or not
* Riding single-decker public transport

11:08:16 PM    comment []

A coworker pointed me toward an article in the Irish Independent by a Vancouverite who moved to Dublin, and why he preferred the latter. You have to pay and register to read the article, but he basically said:

  • He liked the craic.
  • He felt his kids were safer here, and received a better education.
  • He didn't care about the expense, lousy service or shoddy transportation infrastructure.
  • He liked the craic.
  • Did I mention how he liked the craic?

Anyhow, I couldn't let this tosser disparage my precious homeland, so I fired off the following message to the Indo. They emailed me for my address, so that suggests they may print my letter tomorrow:

Dear Sir/Ms.,

I'm a Vancouvervite who's enjoyed two years living abroad in Dublin. As I'm returning to Vancouver, I was interested to read Brian Kelly's musings on Dublin's superiority to my home. While I've truly enjoyed my time here, I couldn't stop myself from offering five reasons why Vancouver beats Dublin, hands down:

1. Infrastructure -- Dublin is a 15th century city in a 21st century world. Roads, sidewalks, public transport, sewers (why does Irishtown flood every year?)--Vancouver is an extremely new city, and enjoys superb urban planning and development.

2. Setting -- Standing in the middle of town, it's impossible to tell that Dublin is built on the coast. Built on a peninsula, Vancouver's downtown responds to its shoreline (and mountain view) with green spaces along the waterfront and fantastic views from most offices.

3. Health -- Mr. Kelly says that sport is 'everywhere in Dublin'. This may be true, but nobody seems to be actually doing it. Sure you can't smoke in pubs and bars in Vancouver, but that's because Vancouverites are far more aware of their own health. Every leisure activity imaginable, from skiing to horseback riding to windsurfing, is available nearly year-round in Vancouver.

4. Cleanliness -- While Mr. Kelly thinks cleanliness is overrated, I disagree. Maybe he doesn't mind picking his way through vomit and trash every weekend in the centre of Dublin, but I do. People in Vancouver are also mindful of what Mr. Kelly calls 'the little laws'--they have enough common sense not to litter or wear their seatbelt.

5. Service -- Mr. Kelly may enjoy being ignored by shop clerks, but I don't. I enjoy knowing that shops will be open during their posted hours (assume they post hours at all), that waiters will know something about the food they serve, and that I can motivate workers with tips.

Additionally, I need to correct a couple of factual errors in Mr. Kelly's article. Vancouver's province, British Columbia, has standardized testing which determines, in part, eligibility for university. These test results are combined with a student's performance over the final few years of school to determine who attends university. Secondly, Vancouver has a densely-populated, lively downtown district. I lived within a three minute walk of several pubs, restaurants and theatres. In fact, statistically, Dublin and Vancouver have almost identical population densities.

With a last name like his, it's no surprise that Mr. Kelly's inclined to prefer Dublin to Vancouver.

Darren Barefoot

Of course, there's always the craic.

9:26:09 PM    comment []

For the last six or seven years, I've been an avid reader of and poster to (don't be fooled by that first result--I'm proud to be a Canadian today) alt.sports.hockey.nhl.vanc-canucks, a Usenet newsgroup. If you don't know what Usenet is, here's an introduction. In short, it's ol' skool Internet.

The Canucks newsgroup has been around for ten years, and as such is one of the oldest, most persistent and most popular hockey discussion forum on the Net. It brings all sorts, but generally the quality of hockey banter and statistical analysis is phenomenal--most of these guys leave the average sportscaster in the dust. The off-topic conversations often out-number the ones about hockey. If you have a look at what's going on at the moment, it's all about Iraq. Here's a thread I recently started about a hockey reference in The West Wing. Here is my pre-season guess as to the final standings in the Western Conference. I was way off.

By way of a long introduction, the Vancouver Province did a piece on the newsgroup. It was written by Sports Editor Erik Rolfsen, a regular in the group. We're all well chuffed.

9:19:34 PM    comment []

© Copyright 2003 Darren Barefoot.



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