Over the last week or so, I’ve been following the news about the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 2004 and 2005, I travelled to New Zealand twice, including visits to Christchurch. I’ve walked through it’s streets. Years later and an ocean away, seeing the state of the city after the quake…there are no words.

Donations can be made online via the New Zealand Red Cross website. More information can be found at the New Zealand Herald website.

The images below are random shots of Christchurch, circa April 2004. My apologies for the poor image quality. These were shot on a 5MP Vivitar, the first digital camera I owned.

Christchurch – April 2004


Waiting for Spring

College is still the main focus of my life at the moment. We’re now well into Semester Two. So far, mostly good. We’ve just started the production of our major class project, Pacific Rim Magazine. The next two months are going to be busy beyond belief! 😀

The major highlight of the last few months was the extended visit of P, my boyfriend from Australia. It was his first overseas trip in about 30 years. During the course of his two month stay, he finally got to see Vancouver (and parts of Vancouver Island), met some of my friends here and witnessed the stress that comes with full-time college studies.

Having P be a part of my life over here for a while served to remind me of how much I miss him. Having one’s partner around on a day-to-day basis is something many people in long-term relationships often take for granted. When there’s long periods of enforced geographic separation between a couple – whatever the reason – it takes a lot to keep things going. Fortunately, for us, all is well and we’re keeping in regular contact. As I type this, we’re planning to meet up in Hawaii sometime in late August, once college is over. That will be a well-deserved vacation!

In other news, Vancouver recently had an unusual bout of freezing weather and snow. I’m hoping it’s the last blast of winter before spring kicks in. Apart from a recent trip to Bloedel Conservatory, I haven’t had many chances to get my camera out and about lately. However, I did grab some snow shots.

Here’s a panoramic view from my apartment of the snow-covered West End:

The aftermath of an overnight snow storm - West End (Vancouver), February 2011

Spring, wherefore art thou?

Creative Scatter

It’s after midnight, crossing into Samhain. At least three college assignments, a client project and a bombsite of a bedroom fight for my attention simultaneously. Yet, I have no desire to tackle any of them.

Concentration, focus and motivation have taken an extended vacation, perhaps to sunnier climes? I want to draw, be creative, get my shit together and WORK on stuff, be productive. There is the occasional burst of activity, usually brought on by a rare good moment or an impending deadline (hello, Monday!). Mostly, it’s just the grey buzzing of an overloaded brain. Trying to find inspiration in the world around me. Momentary flashes occur, but the well is dry at the moment. There seems to be no time for anything.

I look out to the drizzly skyline of Vancouver, the lines of Grouse Mountain lost in the haze of rainclouds and darkness. The occasional whistle or bang of fireworks and mischief-makers punctuate the night at random intervals. I want my loved one here with me, not halfway around the damn planet. Yet the phone is dead. Alas, life and it’s choices create random patterns and circumstances. Some make sense, others…what the hell?!

My social skills have deteriorated somewhat in the last couple of months. The mental overload that accompanies my studies – plus the madness that has been 2010 to date – have left me with very little energy and the loss of any ability to coherently express myself in any form. Sometimes I’m reasonably OK, other times I’m a stuttering wreck. I’m more – and want to be more – than what many see, but I’m stuck behind walls. An initial conclusion would point to certain events in the last 12-24 months as sources. The reality is that they are defensive barriers, erected to protect myself. If anyone really knew the full story, they wouldn’t blame me one bit.

I was reading a classmate’s blog earlier this evening. Reading their words struck a chord. I know what they mean, feeling like the proverbial island in the sea of humanity. The fear, the barriers, the money worries, the scattered nature of life as it currently stands. I wish I could say to them, “You’re not alone in feeling like this.” Yet, my current state of social retardation and the arm’s lengths at which we mostly keep each other will prevent that. Damn. Fuck those that hurt others to the point of emotional damage. It is said that karma will even the balance in the end, but there are times where it’s horribly tempting to play the Angel of Justice in this reality.

It’s times like this I’m grateful for dear friends. They know who they are 😉 Also, there is one within the professional sphere that is proving to be of great help, more than they know. Having someone take the time to listen and to care, knowing that they get it, they really GET it, even as I stutter to get the words and thoughts out…that’s a rare gift. Knowing that they’ll be willing to listen (and help, if possible) in the future is one little thing that makes these overwhelmingly grey days a tad more bearable.

Three Months Later…

It’s been a crazy three months…

Shortly after my last post, I headed south for my annual summer pilgrimage to the US. Highlights included Arches National Park, a visit with a friend in New Mexico, day trips to Santa Fe, the old Crossroads Diner in Mount Olive, IL and a flying visit to Chicago before crossing the border to Toronto, Canada.

The two Rush concerts went off like frogs in socks, particularly the Molson Amphitheater gig. RushCon Toronto also went well and much fun was had. Being one of the organizers, there was a lot of running around to do both before and during the convention.

Somehow, I had the endurance to go north and west via Highway 1. On the way, I battled the torrential summer storm downpours in Ontario, stopped in at a friend’s for the night in Winnipeg, chased star trail and prairie shots in Saskatchewan and left my driver’s license behind in Canmore, Alberta (more details later).

Upon my return to Vancouver, I collapsed for a few days. Little wonder – driving over 10,000km (6,213 miles) over the course of a month does tend to tire one out.

Here’s a map of the entire route:

In August, I flew to Las Vegas for another Rush concert and RushCon Vegas. This was the first time we’d held the Con outside of Toronto. New city, new venue, a one-day only event…we were a little nervous about it! It turned out that we didn’t need to worry. The Con was a success! Many new faces, a lot of enthusiasm and so many attendees that we ran out of stars for our Charity Auction! 😀

The Rush concert at the MGM Grand that evening was deemed by many to be one of their best-ever shows. Another spectacular performance by the boys. Following the concert, a couple of Rush friends held a private party in their suite at the MGM Grand. Caught up with some old friends and (finally!) being able to put real-world faces to a couple of names in the virtual world. Good times. 🙂

Whilst the Sunday was a relatively chilled out day, I wasn’t able to sleep that night. As a result, I have it on very good authority that I looked like hell at McCarran Airport on Monday morning. Props to C for holding seats for my friend & I on the flight to Denver. I’d sat down in the plane and fell asleep almost immediately – I don’t even remember taking off.

My friend and I landed in Denver, proceeded to our hotel and had a nap before the Rush concert at Red Rocks that night. Despite a number of technical glitches, the boys went off, particularly Alex during  “Working Man”.

May I present the evidence:

Red Rocks itself is a spectacular outdoor venue. If you ever get the chance to see a show there, take it.

During all this Vegas/Denver madness, I’d also returned to college on a part-time basis for Digital Intermediate Photography. Unlike previous studies at Langara, this was an Accelerated summer course. Classes were held twice a week, rather than the standard one. My friend Cindi and I finally got the chance to take a class together!

Overall, I was quite disappointed with this particular unit. I didn’t really click with the lecturer, there was a lot of concepts repeated from the Basic levels and it ultimately turned photography into a chore for me.

During the Basic units, we’d gone shooting on location to places like Granville Island and Vanier Park. I had thought the Intermediate unit would be similar, but upping the ante. For instance, a late afternoon/evening shoot on location with models and lighting (set up by the instructor – can’t do our own lights until we’ve completed Practical Lighting).

Instead, we were stuck on the college campus. I can understand what the lecturer was trying to do, by forcing us to be creative in difficult situations. Such an approach, however, only dimmed my enthusiasm for the subject in general.

On top of that, I’d started full-time studies in Publishing in early September. The last two weeks of Photography clashed with Publishing classes, so I’d be at one class at 6pm, then bolting to Photography for 6.30pm. Yikes! It is not a scenario I recommend to anyone!

The Publishing Diploma is going to be a lot of work, given that it’s a 2 year course crammed into 12 months. Despite the intense workload that lies ahead, it’s going to be fun!

So, that’s the nutshell version of my life over the last 3 months. Much of my time is going to be taken up by college studies until August 2011, so travel will be limited at best. If nothing else, it’ll give me a chance to catch up on posting photos of these journeys…

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage – A Review

(Note: If you have not had a chance to see the documentary yet, this review may contain spoilers!)

I made my way down to Cinemark Tinseltown in Vancouver at about 6.30pm, for the 7pm showing. Got my ticket and looked around for the RushCon/Rush promo table. Try as I might, I couldn’t find it anywhere, but a few people did have RushCon fliers in hand. 🙂

Speaking of RushCon, I bucked the trend of Rush t-shirts somewhat, preferring to don my “Rush fans do it in odd time signatures” t-shirt from RushCon 7. The shirt drew the curiosity of a few people, so I had the chance to tell them about the convention.

I wound up sitting next to a couple, T & J. He was a hardcore Rush fan, she not so much, but she definitely appreciated their musicianship. We had some really good conversation AND they’ll be going to RC in Vegas. Yay!

The lights went down and the screen lit up. What followed was two hours of solid Rush-y goodness and one of the best music documentaries I have ever seen.

Some of the highlights:

  • Seeing home movies and photos of the boys in their childhood & teen years.
  • The old photos, videos and audio recordings of early Rush performances. (Underwear party, anyone? ;))
  • Hearing the voice of John Rutsey for the first time.
  • Watching a young Alex arguing with his parents about his music career. Whilst their concerns about his education were certainly valid, one can only hazard a guess of what might have been if he hadn’t had the guts to follow his dream.
  • Amusement at hearing Alex’s & Geddy’s first impressions of Neil (although I think Neil is now well & truly beyond the ‘new guy’ stage).
  • The beautiful way that the Ghost Rider period was handled.
  • Various talking heads (Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, Gene Simmons and others expressing their admiration of Rush).
  • Seeing a couple of fellow RushCon peeps on the screen, including Christopher Schneberger (Rush roadtrip buddy of 2008)

The only two downsides were Jack Black’s interview and the scant attention paid to the 80’s/90’s period of Rush.

Whilst I have no doubt that Jack Black is a fan, his contributions came off as superfluous, almost nonsensical rambling. I’m also puzzled as to why very little attention was paid to the time between Signals and Vapor Trails. Why skip over almost two decades of the band’s history? If anything, it would have served to dispel the common (and ignorant) image of Rush as “a 70s band who wore kimonos and sang about elves.” Maybe more will be present in the DVD extras?

Overall, it’s a very well made documentary – many kudos to Sam Dunn & Scot McFadyen.

Returning to Tinseltown Vancouver…

Throughout the movie, I listened to fellow patrons laughing in recognition at certain points during the interviews and upon seeing the old photos (complete with kitschy outfits and…interesting fashion sense). Whilst it wasn’t the same level of immediate connection and friendship as can often be found at RushCon, there was still a pervasive feeling of being in a room with people who ‘ged’ it. Those are rare and precious moments, even in the current resurgence of Rush’s popularity.

On the surface, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage gave me a little more insight into the history of the band and filled in more of the gaps. (The joys of being a younger, late-into-the-fold fan). Ultimately, it served to remind me why I love the music of Rush.

For more information on the documentary:

For more information about RushCon:

Australia 2010 – a short note

I know I had promised to write a blog post about my trip to Australia earlier this year. Photos as well.

Unfortunately, life has been very busy over the last month or two and time has gotten away from me. As I write this, I’ll be on my way to the US in just over a week and RushCon is about a month away. Ergo, Australia 2010 will either have to wait, or it’ll be one of the first photo galleries constructed on

It’s times like this that a clone would be really handy!

30th Birthday

In early April, I celebrated my 30th birthday.

There was a time this particular milestone seemed to be an abstraction. I remember thinking in my teens and very early 20s that 30 was ‘old’, as do most young people at that particular stage in life. During my 20s, as I went through college, worked and travelled, it was still a somewhat obscure number. I’d had thoughts that “By the time I’m 30, I’ll be doing [insert life goal here].”

Next thing I know – BANG! There it is!

The birthday weekend itself was fine – I had some quiet celebrations. I indulged myself with a massage on the Friday, followed by dinner with some friends on the Saturday night. On Sunday, after living in Vancouver for the better part of three years, I finally made it up to Grouse Mountain! As I wasn’t up for skiing or snowboarding, I just spent a couple of hours up there enjoying the view and taking photos.

To say the week that followed was not a good one would be an understatement. For about six days, I went into a deep, dark depression. As in, feeling VERY down, not wanting to do anything and other elements which I will not elaborate upon here. A couple of my Facebook status updates during this period had a number of my friends contacting me to say “Are you OK?” I am beyond grateful to those who touched base and a couple of people in particular who took the time to chat with me during this period. They know who they are 🙂

To this day, I can’t quite put my finger on a specific trigger. I suspect it was a multitude of factors: the stress of everything that’s happened in the last few months, college studies, a mild fight with the boyfriend (now resolved, thankfully) and subconscious matters regarding the thought of “Oh crap, I’m 30 years old.”

The major part of it is an awareness of time passing and one’s mortality. Granted, compared to a number of my friends, I’m still relatively young. Yet, I’m acutely aware that the clock is ticking.

During that week, I spent a good portion of time contemplating my life to date – what I have and haven’t done, the experiences I went through, all that jazz. There are times I’d wish I’d taken a different course of action. One example: in the early 2000s, I’d started on a Graphic Design & Multimedia course at TAFE in Western Australia. If I’d completed that course – rather than dropping out – I could be a well-established graphic designer (or other related media) by now. Instead, I’m a student again and scrambling for some form of employment.


What would have happened if I had followed the career/corporate lifestyle early on? It’s highly likely that I would be in a far better position professionally. On a personal level, I’ve had two opportunities to be married with kids by now. I knocked both of them back. In one of those two cases, it was the bullet I dodged.

If my life hadn’t taken the major fork it did around 2003/2004,  I would have missed out on all the travelling I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had as a result of those journeys. What of the people I’ve met? What of the deviations in the path of life that has brought me to here and now?

Sure, I might not be a high-flying success (yet! ;)), but I’ve lived a life to date that has caused some people to envy me (why, I don’t know – trust me on this one!). I’ve moved halfway around the world under my own steam, seen and done some amazing things. Sure, there have been difficult patches and setbacks – that’s life. A dear friend said to me recently that the 20’s are the time where one is finding oneself, figuring out the world and one’s place in it. By the time the 30’s roll around, a person has a better handle on who they are, is less concerned with bullshit and generally has a better time enjoying life. I’m inclined to believe her. 🙂

Would I change the way I lived through my 20’s, and my life to date?

Hell no! 😀