Yesterday after work I got a frantic SMS. “Got fix to Vanier Cup! Wanna go?” Sure! I thought. I haven’t been to a game of hand-egg since the mid-nineties.

What a dramatic game! The underdog McMaster Marauders — who have not been in the running for the Vanier Cup in 40 years — were taking on the Laval Rouge et Or who were looking for their seventh championship. McMaster owned the first half, going up 23 points. Laval turned on the heat in the second, overtaking McMaster, who were able to tie it up with just a few minutes left. Unfortunately, they missed a field goal in the final 3 seconds, taking the game to overtime.

In overtime each team got a chance at a play from the 35 yard line. McMaster made a touchdown and converted the point. Then Laval had their chance and equalized. Laval was up again and were sacked and the ball was overturned. McMaster had another chance for a field goal to put the game to bed and made it! The crowd went wild and the McMaster players poured onto the pitch. Amazing scenes.

There was some excellent football on display. Great passing, long runs, and the MM quarterback jumping over a guy at full-tilt, avoiding a sacking. It was a loooooong game (nearly 4 hours to play four 18 minute quarters!) but it was well worth it.

See all my photos of the event.

Learn you good

Each week I attend an online lecture for my Ruby on Rails course. It is conducted using Google+ Hangouts. It is a pretty cool system and I am learning a lot. The course is hosted by Matygo, a local startup here in Vancouver. I am interested in getting these guys on the show.

Old: Impressions of San Francisco

My visit to Silicon Valley last week was great fun. I able to make a pilgrimage to the mothership and visit with some old friends. Best of all I was able to spend time in America, with Americans from all over, which is always an eye-opening experience. As a Canadian, America can be a surprising place to visit simply because of all the subtle differences. America is like a parallel universe, slightly out of phase with our “Canadian” reality, where the money is monochrome and the service is terrible.

In my week I was able to visit Cupertino, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Campbell, San Jose and San Francisco. Silicon Valley: the heart of the tech economy, the herald of the future. It seems like The Valley is always a little bit further along in the timeline — or maybe multiple timelines — waiting for the rest of the world to catch up and determine which timeline is the one to actually pursue. Did I expect jetpacks? No. But I did expect a lot of steel and glass, clinical precision and cleanliness. Maybe it was my experience in Apple Stores that biased me. Boy was I wrong.

Driving through San Francisco I felt like I was in a crowded South American city. Palm trees and tiled roofs everywhere and the hills are swathed in low, wooden buildings, like a thick pastel-colored blanket. Sprinkled here and there were (abandoned?) brick factories and warehouses. Like many of the structures, the grime was also 19th century. There is no apparent grid-system for the streets. The city is pre-automobile. I can imagine horse tracks and footpaths lying below the paved streets, peeking through the cracks. It was pointed out to me that the many hills might not facilitate a Tang-style urban plan. Excellent point, I thought. For the Japanophiles, San Francisco is more like a Tokyo than Kyoto.

I spent only a handful of hours in San Fran and only saw the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, the Mission and the Castro. The Castro was flamboyant and the Mission was… well… I think this video can sum it up:

Have you ever made the mistake of thinking a fat lady was pregnant? Sometimes in San Francisco it is difficult to tell who is homeless. Better to keep your mouth shut and your change in your pockets.

One thing I should say is the eats are great. The restaurants I visited were:

I know the rents are high, maybe even worse than Vancouver, but I would have to give serious thought to relocating there if the opportunity ever presented itself. It is definitely a place with a vibe. The only negative experience I had in California (besides occasional lack of service) was the massive clusterfuck on the part of United causing me and a number of people to miss our flight. Next time I will be more careful to avoid UA. Next time.

See all of my California pics on Flickr.