Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spacetime fun

I do love me some astrophysics once in a blue moon.


I've been fascinated by gravity waves ever since reading Marcia Bartusiak's Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening the Sounds of Spacetime back when I was taking astronomy classes at UBC.

Apparently, so the folks at NewScientist are suggesting, our world may be a giant hologram - read the article!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Get On Your Boots - the new U2 song

I must admit, I actually like the new U2 song, Get On Your Boots. As a former die-hard U2 fan who was obsessed with them all throughout their experimental Achtung Baby and Zooropa era, I was rather disappointed with their last "let's play it safe and be paradies of ourselves" album. But this song? This song almost, almost sounds as if they've rediscovered their experimental sides again. I'm now curious about how the rest of the album will be.

Edit (January 24, 2009): My sister insists U2 are merely trying too hard in this song, using any kind of catchy rock riff in an attempt to sound hip, but are failing miserably. She thinks they're trying too hard to cater to mainstream tastes with this song and she doesn't think U2 are being true to themselves - she doesn't think it would be a song U2 would listen to if they hadn't written it. Meanwhile, I am only seeing this song as a faint beacon that perhaps U2 will begin to push boundaries again, nothing more. I will forever remember Bono, in the early 90's - likely in Japan during the Zooropa tour - talking about the rock records of that decade, confidently declaring that "the records are boring". Keep in mind that this was when U2 were at the height of their musical experimentation which coincided with the peak of grunge. I just hope 16 years later they've rediscovered that side to their music again because I'm tired of being uninspired by the latest U2.

BTW - It just occurred to me that Zooropa is sixteen years old! 16! Wow! Time flies!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back in rainy Vancouver

We arrived back from Montreal two nights ago, back to Vancouver... a Vancouver which, for the first time in over 3 weeks, was finally above 0 degrees Celsius. The biggest irony is that while we were in Montreal (famous for its harsh winters), Vancouver was experiencing its biggest snowfall with weeks on end of record breaking subzero temperatures. There was so much snow around Vancouver that Christmas plans were switched around and some of my relatives were actually stranded in their homes and couldn't make it.

Of course, when you have a Montreal-style snowfall on Vancouver but you lack the infrastructure to remove said snow, you have a monster of a problem on your hands. While Vancouver plows the main streets once after a snowfall, they never, ever plow the side streets. In Montreal? Side streets, alleyways, and heck, even sidewalks are cleared almost by the hour, over and over again. And every few days they'll bring a dump truck to remove the snowbanks. In Vancouver? They had 3 weeks worth of snow (2 feet deep in some areas) covering every single residential side street. Needless to say, most people gave up on their cars... and their jobs, and their holidays, and their Boxing day sales, and school... and even Translink (our public transit service) stopped key bus routes!

Us? We missed all the chaos by being in Montreal.

While sure, Montreal's winters may be more extreme (a daily high might be -7 or -14 Celsius), at least they know how to deal with the snow when it falls. Vancouver? Vancouver's policy has always appeared to be, "just wait it out" because after all, the snow will just melt in a day or two, right? But what happens when a day or two stretches out to be three weeks?

As we were driving back from the airport along Granville Street towards downtown Vancouver, I could see the Montreal-style snowbanks, 7 feet high, by the gas stations. All the residential side streets looked impassible. I did not envy my poor sister who, on January 1st, had to move apartments onto such a side street in a minivan without snow tires.

It has now been raining non-stop since yesterday morning and almost all the snow outside has disappeared. However, I see in the little weather widget here that there may be a chance of snow again this weekend!

Anyway, this is just to say that we're back and we're in one piece. I will be updating this with photos and stories of Montreal (in between sending off my resume for potential jobs!)