Summer’s End

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I know summer doesn’t technically end until late September.

Going back to school, and the changing weather makes it feel that way, though. I’m excited, because autumn is my favourite time of year. The air is crisper, the colours more vibrant, it suits my wardrobe better, and of course: cozy foods. I do very much love summer, so it’s bittersweet when it ends. This year stings just a little bit more.

This summer was absolutely packed.

I haven’t written a lot as a result. I seemingly haven’t found any time to sit down and get anything done. I don’t know if the school year will make it any easier. All said, it’s not a bad thing. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a “go go go” summer, and it’s been nice to experience the sights, sounds, and of course people that this year has brought. I’d love to sit down and detail it, I really would. The reality is, it would take up at least 3-4 normal posts, and I don’t want to get caught in a loop of not updating. So here’s a summarized list of highlights/observations from this summer:

Walking > All other modes of transpo.
Vancouver is a stunning city. (Despite questionable inhabitants)
#butts
Feeding the propaganda machine that is, and will continue to be: Operation Dogface to Vancouver.
Beach days. Lots of lazy beach days.
Brunch for days…so many bennies.
Days at the ballpark, and subsequent hotdogs will never get old.
Major reconnection with the outdoors
Cabin. No mobile service = best.

There’s a lot more, too. I’m still coming down from being away from “civilization” this long weekend, so it’s hard to reminisce about the entirety of the last 3 months. However, I’d be remiss if I left out on major point:

People

It’s been the thing I’ve struggled the most with since moving to Vancouver. I’ve come to find that most people I’ve met, follow a pretty specific set of patterns and personalities.. It’s made it difficult to make too many lasting connections. One benefit to this, is that it makes the connections I have made, stronger. This summer has been full of people. I’ve met a bunch of new ones, continued to form bonds with old ones, and let some others go their own way.

We’ve watched movies together, bummed on the beach, gone on picnics in the park, watched the city get sleepy on top of mountains, and squeezed every last drop out of summer we could. If it weren’t for the people I’ve met and known over the course of this summer, there’s no way it could have been such a rousing success. You people are the best.

Now let’s fall in love with autumn.

-DFP-

 

 

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HBD

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Boy, I sure don’t come around these parts very much anymore. In case anyone out there is wondering, I spend most of my time on WordPress here.

It is now officially July 4th on the West Coast.

Living in Canada, I always feel envious of Independence Day. There’s a lot richer, substantive history tied to it versus Canada Day (a patriot to my homeland I am not). This obviously doesn’t win me too many allies here at home, but a pox on them. There’s something more magical about July 4th to me, and I reckon that will never change.

A little over two years ago, this date got a little more special to me.

I came to Vancouver to try and figure out a career path. I’ve always had a passion for communication, art, and advertising, so graphic design seemed like a logical approach. It didn’t exactly pan out. School didn’t end being a total loss however, as right from Day 1, the trip our West started to show some gains.

Ok, I’m not going to lie: When the only seat left in your first college class is right beside a cute blonde girl, you can’t help but do a discrete fist pump. Granted, I was there for higher learning, not to worry about girls. Regardless, the next 12 weeks were made a lot easier sitting next to her; particularly since this carried over into 2 other classes that term as well.

It’s really interesting to look back on how a friendship grows. This is especially true in a scholastic environment, where in the case of workstation partners, you get a real close look at the other’s work. I got to see my newfound friend progress from simple Egyptian inspired communication design, to an ambitious Rococo poster, and finally the early beginnings of solid corporate branding.

In between all this, we’d talk about how Kiwis were simply better than Aussies. We’d make plans to see the Vancouver Art Gallery (accomplished a full year later), and generally vent about life and school. Seeing as how I was only a part time student, I would see her advance on to bigger and better things, getting a glimpse at was down the road for myself. It’s really heartwarming watching as someone’s skills, talent, and passions grow; even more so when they are a friend.

Eventually, the day would come for her graduation and portfolio show. Seeing all her hard work come to fruition was something that made me feel really prideful.

“That’s my friend, look how talented she is! She’s going to do big things!”

Of course, it didn’t take too long for her to find work within the industry. While it brought her to a new city and a new province, I couldn’t be more happy for her. It’s really easy to take for granted these opportunities to live and work in a new place, and I know she’s fully embracing it. Plus, it has given her a chance to experience my home town. Which I think is really cool when two people come from totally different places; it connects you just a little bit closer to that person.

So we may not be the best at staying in regular contact. Some of our best laid plans took a long while to come to fruition, if at all. At the end of the day though, if the most I got out of my failed time at design school was this really great friend of mine, I think I’ve come out ahead.

Today is your birthday Chloe. I miss you bunches, and hope that you at least come back to visit before you go on your next adventure. I guess I’ve never really shared a lot of this out loud, mostly because it’s not exactly the type of thing you pull out of nowhere. I hope you know you’ll always be one of my favourite people I’ll ever meet in Vancouver, and I love you to pieces.

Have a stupendous birthday (a Friday!! Woohoo!) and I’m sorry for broadcasting this over the blogosphere, I just really couldn’t help it.

You’re one in a billion.

Happy Birthday 🙂

-DFP-

Daisy Chains

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The year is quickly approaching its halfway mark.

I had big ambitions set in motion for 2014. It’s not to say that it’s too late to achieve them. It’s just that things got thrown on their side, leaving a less clear roadmap. There are still many days left on the calendar, most importantly: Summer Days.

I’m guilty of measuring the success of a year, by how much I enjoyed the summer. I think it stems from the expectations the weather builds. In the winter, you’re given a built in excuse to be a hermit. Most people won’t blame you for wanting to curl up indoors, with a nice book or cheesy movie. There are no excuses in the summer. How can you NOT want to go out and explore?

Last summer was, ok. I can’t really speak to any big events, big discoveries, or any exciting adventures. The closest was when Casey visited. He came in the Spring time however, so while it gave 2013 a decidedly sweet taste, it didn’t contribute to an awesome summer. Cue 2014.

Summer 2014 is all about re-connecting.

With nature:
I’ve been guilty of wasting opportunities to convene with the great outdoors. I live in a beautiful city that is surrounded by nature and wonder. School played an early part in this disconnection; excuses are so 2011 though. Hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, are all on the menu for this year. There’s also the promise of finally learning how to bike. (I may no longer have to be the only living boy in Vancouver, who can’t bike!)

With music:
I wouldn’t say I’ve detached from it. What would be more accurate, is that I’ve not immersed myself as wholly in it as in the past. Summer is great for music in Vancouver, and you can bet your boots I’ll be taking full advantage. There’s also Take #3 on a music blog. New blog, new vision, new collaborator. Someone who has the same creative excitement for this project as I do. Check it out if you fancy: Mellon Collie and The Infinite Playlist.

With writing:
Returning to this blog is hopefully the catalyst. I haven’t written consistently since high school. When I was battling the usual teenage angst and confusion, writing helped a lot. It’s soothing, relaxing, and can really help remove the clutter. This summer, even though I have no designs on being a published author, it’s time to re-connect pen to paper.

That leave the most important one for last:

People.

I don’t mean it in the literal sense of re-connecting old relationships. People come and go in your life, and while it’s hard to cope with at times, it’s just a part of being human. Re-connecting with people this summer means re-learning to make connections. This last year I’ve been a bit more reclusive; I’ve been far more closed-off to others. There are a number of reasons why, and it’s left my soul hungry for close human bonds. It can be very difficult to become transparent with others; I’m not usually one to show vulnerabilities. The thing is, when you are constantly surrounded with such amazing, loving, beautiful people, it becomes really difficult to keep your guard up. Why should I in any case? When you’re blessed enough to have great people in your life, you should only want to let them in.

One by one, I’ll find myself back in love with the things and people that fill my heart. One link at a time, until there’s a perfect crown of chains fit for a prince.

2014 is all about re-connecting.

It’s all about…

Grand things.

-DFP-

Gentrisize Me

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Oh yea, I just made that word up.

For years, the restaurant industry has tried flashy new ways to get our business. I’m not talking about flashy ads, deals, catch-phrases, or celebrity endorsements. I’m talking about the steady increase in gentrification.

Living in Vancouver, gentrification is a hot button topic. Typically when we discuss it here, we’re referring to the Downtown Eastside’s slow descent (ascent? It’s a matter of opinion really) into transforming into it’s West Side brother.

Condos
Fancy street-lamps
Cobblestone (oooh, I’m picking on Gastown aren’t I?)
Design studios
“Avant-garde” shops

Of course, chic designer restaurants.

Oh you know the ones…

Locally sourced!
Fair Trade!
Organic!
Gluten Free/Vegan Friendly! (Ok, maybe it’s unfair to pick on that particular territory. There ARE people who have dietary restrictions)

But let’s be honest. It was a natural trend waiting to happen. When you pay as much as $15-$30 for a plate, you’re going to want the best quality. No one can blame restaurants for taking the high road and cutting ties to GMOs and Monsanto. With a population trending towards the 25-35 year olds being the go-getter, money-makers in Vancouver, this city in particular has jumped on the bandwagon. (Of course, we’re not to distant neighbours to the original fad diet/food fad capital of California).

What of the big boys though? This type of approach was designed for the little guy. The start up. The locally owned type of eatery where the owner works the bar on Saturday nights. Don’t think for a minute your Applebee’s, Chili’s, Denny’s, et al have let this trend go unnoticed. Heck even the McDonald’s, A&W’s, Wendy’s, and BK’s are on board. The gentrification of fast food is furious my friends.

I’d have to go a long way back to recall when I first observed this trend. It was probably during the salad craze that swepts the nation in the mid to late 90s. It seems every decade there’s a salad craze.I remember McDonald’s introducing them and everyone was sucked in. Of course, it would later come out that they were just as unhealthy as a Big Mac once you drizzled your dressing over-top.

The first time I noticed the trend and was BOTHERED by it, wasn’t that long ago. I was in a Chili’s just outside of Texas. Their big promo was: APPLEWOOD SMOKED BACON.

Wait a minute…isn’t ALL bacon smoked?

It wouldn’t be long before every chain was thinking up fancy ways to state the obvious, yet give a regal air about their food.

One culprit lately that’s really got my eyes rolling is A&W. They’ve jumped on the yam fry bandwagon whole-heartedly. Commercials now boast they use no STEROIDS. I’m not naive, I know that steroids have been pumped into animals for years, I was quite happy to remain blissfully ignorant about who was doing it. By throwing that word into their ads however, it has the opposite effect than I think they desire. The new ad campaign has their chubby little “manager” offering Teen Burgers, asking how they taste, THEN revealing there are no steroids. “Hey, by the way, we aren’t poisoning your burgers!” They’ve also taken to announcing the precise type of potatoes that they are using; Russets.

This is an interesting trend in the food industry.

It’s like they are trying to re-assure us that they are indeed feeding us real food. I can’t wait for the conspiracy theorists to start claiming that “Russet”, “Romaine”, and “Concord”, are all just brand names used by Monsanto.

Of course, it’s not just wording used in marketing. It’s introducing “new”, “fresh”, “exotic”, foods to our palate. There are too many to list, but here are some favourites over the years:

SEA SALT french fries – Sea salt, what a crazy fad. It even extended to the dessert world! (I can’t lie I LOVE salted caramels).   Reaching into the depths of every chef in America’s fanciest spice rack, Wendy’s ratcheted their fries up a notch.

Sweet Potato Fries – I’d be curious to see who the ultimate culprit is in introducing this as the new “it” side. Suddenly, we’ve all forgotten about Onion Rings as a delightful and tasty fried alternative to fries. Oh, and that sweet sweet sauce…

Chipotle, chipotle EVERYTHING – Spicy is king nowadays. Sriracha is the sauce of choice. It wasn’t too long ago that Chipotle was the hep cat on the street. It’s found a renewed sense of popularity because of the aforementioned yam fries. Creating a whole new buzz word in eateries across the continent: aioli.

Avocado – I feel like Avocados become hip every decade or so, just like salad. Subway has been pushing their disgusting, poor excuse for a guacamole on us the last year or so. The rise in the pinche taco shop has also helped push this amazing, creamy, fruit to new heights of popularity.

Jalapeños – Piggybacking on the spice craze, jalapeños also have been benefitting from the Tex-Mex resurgence. Poppers, dressings, toppings, you name it. They’ll find a way to cram this little bugger into it.

Poutine – This one…oh boy. I grew in Ottawa, which borders the birthplace of this wonderful, messy, sinful, heart-attack on a plate. It’s recent surge in popularity extends well beyond the bounds of a select few restaurants slathering gravy and cheese on their fries. It’s become a beast of it’s own…with droves of shops opening up specializing in the delicacy of my Francophone roots, defiling it with all kinds of ridiculous toppings. For the record it’s not POO-TEEN. It’s POO-TSIN.

The amusing thing about all these, is the price gauging. If you go to the supermarket, and plan your meal around these fast-food fads, you’ll notice quite a dip in price. Now of course it’s normal to see these differences between restaurant meals, and your grocery bill. Restaurants have REALLY pushed their margins up lately though. Poutine in particular has been a crazy culprit. A lot of places will charge you $2-$3 (or more) to “poutine your fries”, while only charing $1-$2 to add bacon and cheese on a burger. That doesn’t add up.

Ultimately, we will always be a slave to these trends. It’s not necessarily a bad thing either. There’s a whole world of food out their, and we may never think to try certain ingredients out of some unfounded fears. The question will be, how far will they push it?

Locust burgers?
Frog-leg drumettes?
Squirrel Chili? (Kind of gamey for the record…)

Better yet, how far will we LET them push it? If they gussy it up enough, I suspect we’ll eat anything…

Filet of Shistocerca Sliders
Cajun-Fried Grenouille
Braised Ecureuil Chili

(French really helps add a delightful note of sophistication, doesn’t it?)
Bon Appetit!

DFP

Hate

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It’s a strong word.

As is modern convention, we are absolutely in love with hyperbole. Louis CK does a great bit about his disdain for people using words improperly. “Awesome”, “epic”, “legendary”, beast”, are all great examples of this. Hate is the best though. I suppose it comes from the fact that it is some much easier to exclaim: “I HATE ______ so much!” as oppose to “You know, I have a great dislike for _________, it/they really irritate me!”. I am as guilty as anyone for using this to proclaim my animosity with something. There are truly things though that I hate. Things that when I see, hear, or feel, I fly into a fit of rage (usually but not limited to internal rage).

Here are some examples of things/ideas/occurrences/people I HATE:

Helvetica: A thousand blasphemous curses on this awful awful font (yes, Kristi-Lea, if you’re reading this, the word “font” was deliberately used to irritate you).
I went to design school. I understand how technically sound this typeface is. I understand why it’s so easy to use. I understand the modern obsession with it. We’ve become a voiceless society. Mass trumps individuality. Helvetica is the perfect example of this. It’s stale, it’s corporate, it tells you want to think. It is voiceless. There are plenty other sans-serifs out there that are just as legible, but give a communication design a flavour. Gotham, Futura, Gill Sans. Helvetica can burn. Boy do I ever regret buying a Mac…

The use word “Epic”: Can this just die?
“Epic” has been the buzzword of what feels like the last 5 years. It may in fact be longer. All I know is, unless your name is Homer, and you’re recounting tales of Ancient Greek lore, I can assure you that nothing you are talking about, have done, or ever WILL do are/were/will be “epic”. I can however tell you beyond all reasonable doubt that whenever you use it, I am wishing a thousand tiny daggers would pierce your cerebral cortex.

Escalator etiquette in Vancouver: If you’ve ever even just travelled here, you’ll get it.
Between people taking up the entire pathway with their obnoxious travel bags, standing dead-centre on the steps, or standing two to a step, my blood boils. I now it’s something I should probably just “breathe and count to ten” about. I could probably extend this one to bus, sidewalk, and just general Vancouverian etiquette, because it’s just non-existent. There’s something about the escalator that makes me fume more than the others though. If you want to casually ride the escalator up, that’s fine, just pull yourself to one side and allow people to pass by. The steps aren’t always an option since Vancouver is full of situations where there is either an up or down escalator, and the steps are inundated with people flooding the opposite direction of the escalator.

People who chew loudly: *SHUDDER*
This extends to people who make unnecessary noises while they eat. Lip-smacking, open-mouthed chewing, slurping (OH GOD SLURPING). I just want to lock you in a cage and throw away the key.

Monchichi: Seriously.
This definitely is irrational. If I see that furry little bastard though…I need to leave. Just, no. There will be zero tolerance for Monchichi or his brethren.

There are a few other things, but that’ll be for another day. Sunday rants are nice.

DFP