Sunday, 28 September 2014

Where in the world is Homel Ess ?

Play this TUNE, while reading this post.

Actually, it's not that hard to find the HomelEss in Vancouver.

Not my pic
 I don't think those people spending the nights in sleeping bags under bridges and city parks are on a camping trip
Not my pic

And if they pick their spot well, they might have a view of their chosen city's new yacht marina.  Not sure whether that helps, though.

Not my pic

But this post is not about the homeless not by choice.  My heart bleeds at the thought, but every news item you see will tell you that the device between the Have Least and Have Most in the world is only ever increasing and never decreasing. 

No, this post is about me (blush).
Homel Ess, living in 123 Nostreet, in Noneville is my favourite pseudonym when leaving a donation on a charitable web-site.  This cuts down spam from charities that were taught by managers to exchange the names and addresses of the willing with other charities.

The name arose from the fact that I haven't lived in my own apartment since July 31, 2012, when I escaped my Crazy Maggie, my landlady. After surviving 3 or 4 eviction notices with Crazy Maggie being charged by Court Order to pay me damages for invading my privacy on the last court date, I did not really feel like having another landlord or landlady any time soon.  And that sentiment stayed with me for almost 2 years, 2 month, and 2 weeks.

But I am Homel Ess no longer.

If you notice any sparcity of furniture in this picture, that is because I only brought a futon couch (on the right) and a lamp (towards the window) into my new place.  The owner of the place kindly left a table (on the left) and a chair (centre) in the place.  BTW, this is a 2 bedroom apartment. Since I am sleeping and living in the living room, the other two rooms are empty.  And I really don't know what to put into them (Yes, I know: A Homeless Person, would be the obvious answer)

2 years of living out of a backpack and a car have reduced my desires to the level of my needs.  Very unusual in this city indeed.  Time to print those glorious Gnarls Barkley lines again:

Anyone that needs what they want, and doesn’t want what they need 
I want nothing to do with.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Tour de Concrete in a Sea of Ineptitude on 9/11

Then ...
It's time to ride a tandem again.  


I called Yiman again, but not to ride A tandem, but rather to ride IN tandem.  

Of course, after meeting at Science World (NO, I'm not calling it T****, World of Science, because that's just dumb capitalist brouhaha!). 

The day is not starting too too well.  I have already travelled 10 kms by bicycle from my NV hotel.  My hotel room was reasonably quiet for Vancouver (read: noisy), probably due to the fact that tourist traffic is slowly diminishing.  When I'm sitting at breakfast and try to use my cell phone as a WIFI router, I detect to my utter delight (NOT) that my phone is ROAMING.  I'm in the middle of Vancouver and I'm roaming?  WTF?  Even repeated re-starts of the phone don't seem to fix the problem.  Great.  More 3rd world infrastructure in a city that prides itself of being the 3rd nicest in the WORLD.  

Someone should conduct a study to investigate the correlation between ranking of a city in the Economist's World's city ranking and the percentage of the cities' populations that is on Prozac or some other Anti-depressant.  

One call is coming through from Yiman, telling me that she might not make it since she can't get her bicycle out of storage.  10 Minutes later she calls again, but gets bounced right to Voicemail.  But I can't call my voicemail. I can't call anyone.  I send Yiman a text message that I can't call, but the text message does not get sent.   So I stop at a community centre to use their public phone.  But Yiman does not answer ;-( 

I get to Telus World of Science as the place is now called thanks to the great invention of corporate sponsorship. For people outside Vancouver: Telus is Canada's leading telephone service provider. Their advertising motto is "The Future is Friendly". 

I enter the lobby to ask where the public telephones are. There are none.  When I ask the clerk behind the counter whether he sees the irony in the fact that a place that carries the name of Canada's telephone company doesn't have any telephones, I just get a blank stare in return.  Wow. No phones and retarded employees. Gets better and better.  If this is the future, it's neither friendly nor desirable.
Not my pic

Fortunately, Yiman is already there when I exit Science World with steam coming out of my ears.

No pictures were taken along the bike ride to Denman & Georgia because I was busy pedaling after turning off my engine so as not to put battery-free Yiman at a disadvantage.  Very good and inexpensive lunch was had at a fabulous Thai restaurant close to the South-West corner of Denman and Alberni.  Unfortunately we were the only guests, which is entirely undeserved for this place.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Das Fahrrad walks on water (or The first ocean crossing)

Le Velo experienced quite a few trips from Vancouver to Roberts Creek and back, but today was the first time that I decided to leave the car in the driveway and trust Das Fahrrad (and a ferry) to get me to the other side.
To balance the weight, the ONE remaining saddle bag sits in the middle

So far I only have one battery for Das Fahrrad, whereas Le Velo had two (now one battery and zero chargers), so I was curious to see whether the one battery would be sufficient to master the 30 kms with many steep hills.  But one advantage of the new bike is that BOSCH FINALLY realized that they could build a charger that works both with 220V AND with 110V, a thing that Asian companies have been doing FOR YEARS for laptop and cellphone chargers.

For me this means that I no longer have to lug around a heavy transformer.  It also means that I can simply remove the battery from the bike when I get on the ferry and charge it for 40 minutes during the crossing, which might just eliminate the need for a second battery altogether.

Enough of theory; this is a field trial!
Langdale ferry terminal

Not only is the travel time of 33 minutes to the ferry terminal surprisingly short, but I also have almost 80% battery power left when I get there.  Probably a result of me not knowing the new battery's range and consequently taking it easy on the battery. So, to summarize:

1) The hills are even less steep than on Le Velo I

2) Travel time is shorter than with Le Velo I
3) Battery seems to last longer than that of Le Velo I.

Since I'm using the duration of the ferry ride to re-charge the battery in the business/laptop/work-station section, I am able to unleash the bike at the seemingly low gradient hills between Horseshoe Bay and North Vancouver with almost 100 % battery power.  And after the 16 kms and three nasty hills on the way to North Vancouver I am again looking at barely below 80% battery level.  

I don't think I need a second  battery after all !

I don't think I need a car, either, but I'll keep it for the time being ;-)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Thormanby Island (or A Motely Crew II and a LOT OF beach pics)

Dr. J invited us on his boat again.  The seas are calm and the weather is perfect.  Woohoo!

Observed when launching the boat

A motley crew 2.0

Hans and Dr. J plotting (who to leave on the island?)

Thormanby Island 

Joerg providing the RED spot for this image

Normally one finds one of these. This beach is littered with still connected pairs

Just the way I like a  beach: Empty

Empty of people, I mean.

Rocks in front of water in front of island in front of Vancouver Island + 2 herons

Where's me fish?

Why is that guy staring at us?

Better with ....

... or without seagull?

The shallow water is teeming with life.  tiny fish, clams, mussels, sea stars, etc etc.

Ever wondered how seagulls take off ?

time to leave again

Not the monster of the Salish Sea ...

...but Eike about to water ski

Lost at sea

what goes up ....

... must come down!
We then head to Pender Harbour to have mediocre food at Garden Bay Pub.  Yes, it was eating rush hour, but if your kitchen can't handle that many guests, reduce the number of seats!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Das Fahrrad (or Le Velo II)

I'm not the only one between jobs ;-0
I have been trying to get a charger for my bike for 3 weeks now.  First I hoped that Air Transat would just return to me the one that is in the bag that's sitting in the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport lost luggage room. No such luck.

Then I tried buying a replacement charger, first in North Vancouver, then in Germany. After 5 7am transatlantic phone calls this endeavour has not progressed beyond its initial stages.

While all this is going on, the weather here is just gorgeous.  Cloudless skies and 24 degrees. And I don't have a workingh e-bike to go out there !!! 

Well, actually, I do have a working e-bike ;-)  The knowledge that Evolution Bikes in North Vancouver had a German Haibike (~ Shark bike in English) sitting on their showroom floor kept eating away at my subconscious.  Every time the charger-buying endeavour hit another snag, I opened my computer and stared at the Haibike.

Then, on Saturday morning it all came together:  1)  I finished another translation.  2)  The owner of Evolution bikes is usually only in the store on Saturdays.  3)  The ferry about to leave in one hour was only 30 % full.  4)  A cheque compensating me for some of my avalanche translation work had arrived.  5) The weather forecast remained fabulous.  6) My gut feeling told me to go.

Even when I hopped in my car, I wasn't yet entirely sure whether I would go for Chinese food in Gibsons or actually take the ferry. After all, I only came to the Sunshine Coast yesterday.  But to the ferry terminal I drove, boarded the ferry, and 20 minutes after disembarking in Horseshoe Bay, I opened the Evolution Bikes store door.   The test drive took 10 minutes.  That's all it took to know ;-)

Nice ride ;-)
Let's hope that this bike has less susceptibility to failures and break-downs than Le Velo.  Oh, and don't worry about Le Velo. As soon as someone is finally willing to sell me a charger, it will see lots of riding. But maybe it will be residing somewhere in Europe, so that airlines won't be able to lose any more saddle bags. We'll see.

The ferry ride just completed an otherwise perfect day: one of those magical rides into the setting sun. All that was missing was someone humming a mystical tune, as I longingly remember from a last-ferry ride last year.