How to get from taxes to comedy …

I’ve taken a few days off from View from the Edge to spend some personal time, as well as to work on a few other projects, so this is my first post for a few days. Its going to be a bit of a mish-mash post, I think, covering a few things. First of all, in a few hours I am off again for some more comedy shows, in Calgary and Edmonton. Later tonight (Monday Apr 23, 2007), I’ll be doing a set at Monday Night Comedy at Dickens for the first time. Looking forward to checking out the show and seeing what they do down there. On Wednesday, I am in Edmonton again for “Crash and Burn Wednesday” and this time I plan to do far less Crashing and Burning … it will mean a lot of driving again, but at least this week the weather looks good, so I’ll not have to fight the snow at least. I didn’t get a Tuesday time-slot this week, but I may pop into Yuk Yuk’s in Calgary anyway for Tuesday night just to see the show. I’ve recently purchased a new camcorder as well, so with any luck the I’ll be able to get some decent video from my shows this week … we’ll see what happens later tonight.

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The end of a long week

Just wanted to post a quick message to let everyone know I am back home again in Medicine Hat after my “comedy tour” of Alberta.  There was a lot of driving involved, and I’m not sure if it was the driving or the performing or a combination, but the week really did tire me out quite a bit.  It strikes me that 5 minute shows shouldn’t really tire me out … or if they do, I’m in trouble when I start doing longer sets … but the roads weren’t in the greatest condition, and the driving wasn’t the most fun in the world.  All in all though, it went pretty well.

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A double-stop on the comedy express

Well, the show assignments for next week are up, and I’m trying something this week I’ve never done before. Its been over 15 years since I’ve done more than one show in a week, so thats somewhat unique in and of itself, but the real new thing this week is that I’m going to a club I’ve never set foot in before. When I was doing this the first time around back in the early 90’s, there were a couple of different clubs in Calgary and I performed at both of them, as well as doing the occasional show around southern Alberta, but I never made it north of Calgary.

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Elron’s Christmas Vacation …

Just thought I’d check in with everyone from my hotel room in Kamloops. I am two days into my trip to go see my dad for Xmas, and I think the worst is over driving-wise. While the weather and roads were actually pretty good for the Roger’s Pass, for anywhere else in the world it was pretty crappy.

I’ve uploaded some of the pics I took yesterday while driving, including some at the Rogers Pass Centre, which shows you the conditions. There’s also some shots from Shushwap all the way back to the rest stop at Brooks. I’ll throw more up as I take them.

I hope everyone is having a good Christmas season … look here for more info and shots about where I am 🙂 .

Warsaw – Sep 3, 2005 – Parks and Parade Routes …

My plan for the morning of Sept 3 was to explore some of the amazing parks I’d been seeing in my travels the past couple of days. The number, and size, of the parks in Warsaw really surprised me. And given that many of them were created and/or maintained under the communist occupation, it really made me think hard about some of the stereotypes we westerners had of the eastern bloc countries. Coupled with the massive reconstruction of the historic districts of Warsaw, a reconstruction done with meticulous enough attention to detail to get a nod from the World Heritage Fund, it portrays a government far more concerned with its people than western propaganda led us to believe at the time. But regardless of the political commentary, the parkland in Warsaw was exquisite, in design, in implementation, in maintenance.

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After wandering through the parks for the morning, I followed the common parade route followed by historic kings during coronation. The historic road is lined with amazing buildings and facades, as well as manicured parks and palaces. On the 3rd last year, there was an international music/dance festival playing in the street on the parade route, which made for a lot of fun.

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I also wanted to spend some time getting shots of more of the real Warsaw, as opposed to the sanitized tourist version. Near my hotel was a pedestrian overpass crossing a main roadway leading into downtown Warsaw, and the shot from there gives a nice overview of my neighbourhood. As well, I thought a look at the Polish gas prices a year ago might be interesting … its worth noting that at the exchange rate last year, the price on the sign worked out to about $2.00 Cdn per ltr. Finally, I had to get a shot of the river Wisla, which I had to cross everyday to get from my hotel into downtown Warsaw.

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Warsaw – Sep 2, 2005 – Stare and Nowe Miasta

One of the fascinating things about travelling in Europe is the history from a variety of different periods. Most cities have an Old Town, where the original settlement occurred, and one or more New Towns, where populations moved in different ages. In Prague, Old Town is on one side of the river, and later in history, when Charles had the Palace built on the other side of the river, a New Town sprung up underneath the new palace. Each area provided a unique architectural experience.

Warsaw is the same way. Stare Miasta is the old town while Nowe Miasta is new town. My purpose on Sept 2nd was specifically to explore these two areas of downtown Warsaw. Its worth noting that much of Warsaw was levelled during the second world war, including almost all of the historic buildings in Stare Miasta and Nowe Miasta. Reconstruction of the areas was done after the war, and in 1980, the World Heritage Fund noted the “outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.”

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Life goes on as normal amidst the historic buildings. Above you can see travellers planning their day, and merchants and customers going about their business in Old Town. Below, a biker does some grind stunts against a railing near the entrance to New Town, and there’s a quiet street reflected in an office window. Finally, just outside of New Town is a square dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising.

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One of the things I liked about the hotel I stayed in was the fact that it had a real balcony, where I could actually go out, and sit to enjoy the fresh air. The weather was amazing that week, and I spent a lot of time after dark out on the balcony. Using my tripod, I managed to get a number of pretty good long exposure night shots of the local neighbourhood … its worth noting that the church below on the right is the same church I posted a pic of in my Aug 31 post.

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Warsaw – Sep 1, 2005 – Muzeum Techniki

While wandering around the complex for the Palac Kultury the previous day, I noticed a Science and Technology museum nestled in amongst the rest. Being the geek that I am, very little interests me more than an S&T museum, especially in a country I’ve never been before. While its true that science is something of a universal language for mankind, the way we embrace science, use science, even design the products of science is VERY culturally specific. Touring S&T museums in other cultures is an excellent way to get a handle on how they view science, as well as areas as diverse as design and manufacture.

In particular, I was looking forward to getting a look at science and technology from the perspective of the Soviet world, which Poland was, of course, a part for several decades. One of the most fascinating exhibits was also one of the first, involving industrial design from Poland’s history, as well as cut-away scale models of large scale industrial processes. These scale-model cut-aways really impressed me for their detail.

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Another area where they seemed to have some very good content involved historic machinery, some specifically Polish, some not. There was a section on motor vehicles that included the chassis from a 1930’s Daimler, as well as some classic Pre-WWII motorcycle designs. Further, they had an amazing section on music boxes through history, and some interesting printing press technology, including one of the original Linotype machines.

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But ultimately, it was the space and the computer sections that held my attention for most of the day. The exhibit rooms on the history of computing was fascinating, especially being able to see Soviet technology that simply wasn’t available to people in the west. Year for year, it looked to me as though the Soviets largely kept pace with western computer development until the wide-spread explosion of micro-processors in the 70’s. The space section wasn’t quite as good, given that the majority of the pieces there were models as opposed to originals, however, it was still fascinating to see some of the the Sputnik and Soyuz style design.

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I just wanted to make a couple more quick points about the various space models.  The life-size model of Sputnik II literally sent shivers down my spine, thinking they strapped a dog into that tiny compartment.  You can see it sitting next to the 1/3rd scale model of Yuri Gagarin’s capsule, which for a man must have been very cramped quarters.  But the capsule for Laika the dog was barely larger than Laika himself.  The other model is of the Apollo-Soyuz linkup from the summer of 1975, and I remember sitting inside as an 8 year old (almost 9), in my uncle Ben’s basement, watching hours and hours of this mission, including the famed handshake.  More than any other event, it was watching the Apollo-Soyuz docking mission that turned me into a space geek … and it was very cool to see a model of it all on my travels to Warsaw.