Orpheum Sign Replacement

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 — 6:56pm PST
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This afternoon Krista Rand sent me a message on Twitter with a photo of the Orpheum sign coming down. Many panicked at the news that the iconic neon beacon on Granville was being removed however it has been determined that it’s all part of a master plan.

Photo credit: Krista Rand on Twitter

Since the Orpheum is run by the City of Vancouver, Heritage Vancouver wasn’t aware of the event but they posted on Twitter: “Will check – it’s a municipally designated structure though. This sign isn’t original to the 1927 bdlg.” They sent someone to check it out shortly after they were informed of this.

Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Twitter

My first instinct was that it was being refurbished and that is somewhat the case. CFOX posted another image of the sign replacement on their Facebook account and one commenter said it’s just getting replaced (his buddy’s shop is working on the new piece). Vancouver City Councillor Heather Deal posted on her Twitter account as well: “Orpheum sign being replaced in time for 85th anniversary. Last bit of restoration project.”

1929 – VPL Accession Number: 11035. Photographer: Leonard Frank.

1959 – Granville. Archives #CVA 672-1. Photographer: BC Jennings.

So there is no need to worry. Krista Rand also confirmed (through people on the scene today) that it will be back up and running by next Saturday to restore a neon balance in our city’s entertainment district. For more Orpheum history, check out my feature blog post from 2010.

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention in Bellingham

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 — 11:21am PST
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Growing up, my family would spend time together hiking at parks, on Sunday drives, or exploring historical sites and museums across the province. I love feeding my brain and learning about a place, an event, art, and science. Last weekend John and I went to Bellingham for the open house and grand re-opening of the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention (formerly the American Museum of Radio and Electricity). Given that John is a broadcast engineer, it was a trip we were both very excited to make.

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

Located on Bay Street just off Holly in downtown Bellingham, the SPARK Museum was packed that day. Free admission (although a donation jar was filling up quickly) and $5 to watch the SPARK Electrical Show with the MegaZapper — one of the largest Tesla coils in the country.

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

The show was sold out by the time we arrived so we made our way through the collections which were in chronological order:

SPARK has one of the world’s largest displays of early 18th and 19th century electrical inventions. From friction machines and coils to the first dial telephone and a theramin, there were so many pieces to look at — and touch. They also have a full replica of the Titanic’s radio room (with an original marconi wireless set) and more than 30,000 vacuum tubes on display.

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012 SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

We were also impressed to find a radio station broadcasting from inside the museum, although we shouldn’t have been that surprised. 102.3 KMRE community radio which has been operated by the museum since 2005.

There was a room for small experiments (like a fuzzy wall to which you can stick balloons using static) and the SPARK Lab upstairs is an educational space where children can take part in workshops. SPARK = Science-Powered Adventures for Real Kids. They can create steampunk and cyberpunk artwork, construct electronic kits, or deconstruct one electrical piece to make another — how cool is that? SPARK Labs are offered on Wednesdays and Saturday so that kids can learn hands-on about the fundamentals of electricity, using tools and safety.

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012 Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

The vision for the SPARK Museum began back in 1985 when Jonathan Winter put his collection of radio sets and spare parts, along with schematics, recordings, and vintage magazines into a space in Bellingham, naming it the Bellingham Antique Radio Museum.

Over the years, the Bellingham Antique Radio Museum functioned as a gathering place in the community, almost as if it were a radio shop of the 1930s. But it sold nothing. Instead, visitors were offered a unique, hands-on opportunity to visit an earlier time. They could handle vintage radios. They hooked them up, made them work, turned their knobs, and actually experienced the wonder of these and other examples of broadcast and entertainment technology from the early 20th century.

The Bellingham Antique Radio Museum then became a non-profit and John Jenkins, who had his own collection and shared a vision with Winters, signed on as Vice President and Co-Curator. The Bellingham Antique Radio Museum became the American Museum of Radio and Electricity and in 2011 the name was changed to the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, in order to better reflect the museum’s broader electrical science mission.

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012 Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

Spark Museum Grand Re-Opening 2012

You can see, hear, touch, feel, and experience the SPARK Museum for yourself Wednesdays to Sundays from 11:00am to 5:00pm or by appointment. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children. It’s located at 1312 Bay Street in Bellingham, just 30 minutes south of the border crossing.

We were impressed with how extensive the collections were and that there were activities for kids (there were only a few “no touch” signs) especially the SPARK Lab, which I’d love to do myself. John’s eye were lit up like a kid in a candy store the entire time and every now and then he’d call me over to explain another radio component to me (like why old radios have so many knobs) or demonstrate an apparatus. While a lot of the jargon was lost on me, I was simply in awe of what these inventors and innovators created hundreds of years ago and how much their visions have impacted our lives today.

View all of our photos from the museum on Flickr in John’s set and my set.

BC Beer Awards 2012: Results

Friday, October 19th, 2012 — 3:00pm PST
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Enjoying local craft beer is a positive trend that has caught on like wildfire in Vancouver. However if you’re unsure what to start sampling first, with such a wide selection of options from micro-breweries around the province, the winners of the BC Beer Awards would be a great place to start.

Townsite Brewing, Powell River

The BC Beer Awards took place on October 13th with an event at Chapel Arts in Vancouver with the “Best of Show” award going to Conrad Gmoser of Steamworks Brewing Company for the Steamworks Pilsner.

I was going to post some of our favourite brews from the list but once I started typing them out I realized that there were just too many. From Howe Sound to Townsite Brewing in Powell River, here are some of the province’s award-winning beers:

Lager/Pilsner – 22 Beers
1. Steamworks Pilsner – Conrad Gmoser of Steamworks Brewing Company
2. Beach Blonde Lager – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company
3. Kelowna Pilsner – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company

Special Lager – 8 Beers
1. Brewmaster’s Black – Stefan Tobler of Okanagan Spring Brewery
2. Hermann’s Dark Lager – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery
3. Iron Plow Harvest Marzen – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery

Wheat/Rye – 22 Beers
1. Belgian White – Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company
2. King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing
3. White Bark Ale – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company

Pale – 41 Beers
1. Red Racer Classic Pale Ale – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company
2. Salt Spring ESB – Murray Hunter of Gulf Island Brewing
3. River Rock Bitter – Daniel Murphy of Canoe Brewpub

Porter/Brown – 24 Beers
1. Pow Town – Cedric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing Inc
2. Dark Chocolate Porter – Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company
3. Longboat Chocolate Porter – Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing Company

Fruit – 15 Beers
1. Blackberry Festivale – Cedric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing Inc
2. 4 Way Fruit Ale – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing
3. Seedspitter Watermelon Wit – Graham With of Parallel 49 Brewing Company

Stout – 14 Beers
1. Keepers Stout – Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company
2. Pothole Filler Imperial Stout – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing
3. Singularity – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company

IPA – 36 Beers
1. 5 Rings IPA – Derrick Franche of High Mountain Brewing Company
2. Central City Imperial IPA – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company
3. Red Racer IPA – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company

Specialty – 20 Beers
1. Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Kevin Emms of Coal Harbour Brewing
2. Serendipity #5 – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company
3. Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest – Graham With of Parallel 49 Brewing Company

Strong – 7 Beers
1. Hermannator Ice Bock – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery
2. Old Cellar Dweller 2012 – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company
3. Bourbon Barrel Aged Thor’s Hammer – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company

The full list is posted on the BC Beer Awards Facebook page. Many of these are available through the breweries, brewpubs, and local liquor stores.

Follow CAMRA Vancouver (Campaign for Real Ale) on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about craft beer events and promotions.

Vancouver Farmers Markets Harvest Festival 2012

Friday, October 19th, 2012 — 10:24am PST
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This weekend the Vancouver Farmers Markets Harvest Festival will mark the end of the summer market season in the West End with fall food activities for kids, a fall fruit pie competition, a squash beauty contest, and more.

Photo credit: aloalo* on Flickr

The festival will take place Saturday, October 20, 2012 at the West End Market (1100 block of Comox) from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Pick up pumpkins, squash, root vegetables, and enjoy samples. Check it out as this market won’t return again until June of next year.

Pumpkin Shopping
Photo credit: [kam] on Flickr

A variety of fall and winter markets are just getting started this season which means you can still pick up a bounty of local ingredients in select locations.

Follow Vancouver Farmers Markets on Twitter for more information about this event and the new seasonal markets that will be opening up.

Halloween SkyTrain Party 2012

Friday, October 19th, 2012 — 9:26am PST
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SkyTrain dance parties in Vancouver have been around since before flash mobs were a ‘thing’ and the 2012 Halloween SkyTrain Party is happening next Friday October 26th.

  • Meet in the Waterfront Station Concourse at 7:45pm
  • Depart Waterfront from the Canada Line platform at 8:00pm (follow the conductor)
  • Have the ride of your life!
  • Party ends at Vancouver City Centre — but come hang out with us at our afterparty (at a new secret location)

If you’re posting photos and updates to Twitter use the tag #skytrainparty and be sure to be respectful on the train as it is a public space.

Purchase your fare, clean up any garbage, and absolutely no open alcohol. Just bring your costume and have a ball.

The event is organized by the Vancouver Public Spaces Network. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

We Day 2012 in Vancouver: Photos, Quotes, Coverage

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 — 7:24am PST
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We Day Vancouver has returned and throughout the day today I’ll be posting photos, quotes, information, and other coverage to help spread the word about this motivational and inspirational event.

This is the 4th year that We Day has come to Vancouver, filling Rogers Arena with 20,000 school kids and motivational celebrities and storytellers on the main stage thanks to Free The Children.

Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner that has more than 1.7 million young people involved in its programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995 by international activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children believes in a world where young people are free to achieve their fullest potential, and empowers youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens.

Today’s speaker line-up at Rogers Arena includes:

  • Dr. Holly Branson – Free The Children ambassador, daughter of Sir Richard Branson
  • A performance by ONE DROP, a Cirque du Soleil Founder’s initiative
  • Premier Christy Clark – Premier of British Columbia
  • Shawn Desman – Platinum selling and Juno Award winning recording artist
  • Magic Johnson – Basketball Hall of Fame legend
  • My name is Kay – Canadian singer and songwriter
  • Demi Lovato – Singer-songwriter and X Factor judge
  • OneRepublic – Platinum selling, Grammy nominated, American pop/rock band
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Nobel Peace Laureate

If you are not one of the lucky attendees today you can watch online through MuchMusic and they will also air television broadcasts on Sunday, November 11th and Sunday, November 24th 2012 starting at 3:00pm Pacific Time.

Download the We Day application for iPhone for more information and follow the conversations on Facebook and through @FreeTheChildren #WeDay #Vancouver on Twitter.

I will pick up the coverage around 9:00am today. Stay tuned!

#WeDay panorama from @RogersArena before the show starts.

Update After an introduction from Premier Christy Clark and Mayor Gregor Robertson, Free the Children founders Mark and Craig Kielburger kick off We Day Vancouver 2012. They also announced the We Create Change program where you can gather up your Canadian pennies (which are no longer being made) and drop them off at a local RBC branch.

They will go toward a program that provides clean water in developing countries. Just $25 can ensure that one person has access to clean water for life.

We Day 2012 in Vancouver We Day 2012 in Vancouver

Following the introduction, Magic Johnson is up as the first speaker. The young crown chants “Magic! Magic!” as he takes the stage to talk about today’s message: “Be The Change”. The most memorable message from his talk about the HIV education he does and also acceptance: “Let’s hug and support people, and high five them, instead of bringing them down.”

We Day 2012 in Vancouver

Update Honorable Justice Sinclair, first judge of Aboriginal descent in Manitoba, is up next to educate the audience on the residential schools that were run in Canada throughout the last century. “Racism in its purest form was practiced in those schools”. He speaks about awareness and education about this history, asking the audience to pass along the message that this was not okay, and is not okay. “Talk to and about aboriginal people with respect, just as you want to be respected.”

Update Craig and Marc are back on stage for their keynote and to explain the various programs and campaigns that kids can campion and lead at their school. There’s We Scare Hunger (formerly Halloween for Hunger which is coming up next, followed by We Are Love around Valentine’s Day, and We Are Silent in the spring. There are also Mini We Days that can be hosted at your school.

Update This We Day has been unique for me compared to previous years. Instead of running from the press room to the media box and to the arena floor I was a guest of TELUS and I brought my niece with me to experience the event. We were stationary most of the day, looking out over the crowd from the TELUS guest suite. I wanted her to see We Day as it has always moved me, and this year was no different.

We Day Vancouver 2012

Update After lunch Craig Kielburger sat down with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to talk about his incredible life in South Africa during Apartheid and that memorable day when he was first able to vote in an election in his country. “Racism is awful because it condemns you for something you cannot control.”

The Archbishop said that everyone there was a VSP — very special person. Craig asked him about the role of young people to which he responded that they would not be freed today, Nelson Mandela would not have left prison, and more if not for the supporters — many of which were students. He said, “what is a leader without followers?

We Day Vancouver 2012

Craig asked him what he felt the day he was able to vote for the first time in his country. “How do you tell someone who is blind that a flower is a red, red rose? How do you tell someone who is deaf about great music?” He said that he vent into the voting tent one man, and came out another. A free man. Despite the strong and powerful message that the Archbishop brought to We Day, he was also very sweet and delivered a few hearty chuckles — he has such an infectious laugh, you can’t help but smile.

Update Demi Lovato came out for her performance and had a message about depressing and bullying for the thousands of screaming fans. “I have been through a lot of the same issues as you. This is something you can get through, it will not bring you down!”

Shane Koyczan made a surprise appearance to deliver “Instructions for a Bad Day” which was a collaboration with students for Pink Shirt Day last year.

Update Holly Branson made a special announcement that there will be a We Day UK next year. She was joined by a video message from British pop singer Ellie Goulding on the big screen. Holly said one of the most memorable quotes of the day: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This touched on the point the Kielburger brothers made as well. They demonstrated this by having Marc snap a pencil on stage. Then he snapped two. But Craig handed him two dozen and he was stumped. It was the power of many, the power of “WE”.

Update Last year, motivational speaker Spencer West told the We Day crowd that he was going to raise funds for clean water in Kenya by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. This past June he did just that. What’s remarkable about Spencer — aside from his great stories and fantastic outlook on life — is that he has no legs. He was told from a young age that they wouldn’t amount to much. The theme of his mountain climb, which he did with his arms and with the help of friends, was “Redefine Possible”. He emphasized that he couldn’t have done it alone either. “We all forget to ask for help because we’re afraid it might be seen as a sign of weakness.”

Update The Kielburger brothers rounded out We Day with a closing address that demonstrated their 3 Laws of Social Change: Law of the Few (never underestimate the power of a few to create change); Law of Will (they quoted Nellie McClung who led the suffrage movement in Canada. (“Never retract, never explain, never apologize; get things done and let them howl.”); Law of We (quoting Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”)

We Day Vancouver 2012

After another performance from One Republic everyone left We Day with ideas of “Be The Change” floating around in their heads. They may go back to their schools and start a We Scare Hunger (formerly Halloween for Hunger or We Create Change campaign. They may tell their friends what they saw and heard today. There are now 20,000 more young people around BC who are empowered with the knowledge that they can each make a different locally and globally, and that’s pretty magical.