Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 1: Embarkation

Canada Place from Deck 10 aboard the Disney Wonder

Embarkation day. The day you board the cruise ship. In our case it's the Disney Wonder. We made it to Canada Place after a quick stop at a local Mall to pick up some binoculars. It's a mortal lock that you will forget something "vitally" important when you go on vacation. In our case it turned out to be binoculars. If that's the worst thing that happens on this trip I think we'll be doing fine.

At Canada Place we dropped off our checked luggage and then parked the car in long term parking. We got our long term parking pass and then headed up the elevators to start the 'waiting in line' portion of Embarkation day. We showed our boarding passes and passports to the Canadian TSA equivalent and then wound our way through the security line.

At the front of the line there is an x-ray machine and a metal detector just like you'd see in airports. Remembering my 5-P's (Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance) I tucked all of my metal and electronic devices into my backpack. My turn came up and I put the backpack on the x-ray machines conveyor belt and headed through the metal detector. It went off. I had forgotten that I was wearing my steel toe boots. Well done Me!Before you ask, my steel toe boots are more like light weight hiking boots. They are the most comfortable shoes I own. That's why I was wearing them.

Out came the wand. After a quick wand down, and some dirty looks from TSA Canada. I got to run and catch up with Heather and Cam. I do love my wife. We had six bags between us and she had found a way to hang all six bags around her body. She looked like an animated luggage rack. Talk about Disney magic. There's got to be an animated luggage rack scene added to Fantasia. It was truly awesome.

After the security check we checked in at the gate and were given a card with a number. We waited for that number to be called and then queued up again for boarding. We had our picture taken and then were herded out to the gangway. Down a ramp, around a corner, down a second ramp, then we step on the boat. A crew member asks us for our family name, and then they announce our arrival over the Public Address system. Very cheesy, and a lot of fun.

Welcome Aboard MacBeerchill Family!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vancouver BC, Go Canucks Go

There I was being held for crimes against the blogosphere. Held inside a tiny dome and forced to read opinions of people I didn't know and did not agree with. Without even a Kindle to keep me company. 

Great picture no? This was taken at the Vancouver Aquarium. The family and I toured around the aquarium and Stanley Park yesterday. The horse drawn carriage was a suprising treat. I swear to you we had the bitterest tour guide in the whole world. She even scolded her passengers for asking questions about things she had already covered. No such thing as a stupid question? HA! Don't get on that carriage my friend.

We ended up at the Prospect Point Cafe for dinner.

This plate of Golden Brown, and Deliciousness (thanks Alton Brown for putting that into my lexicon) was dinner for Heather and Cameron. Good looking stuff. Cam is going through a phase where he doesn't finish his food. Heather remembered this and took full advantage. Well done!

My dinner. I've been going through a hotdog phase. I love being in Canada because vinegar is provided everywhere. These were some darn tasty fries.

Big thanks to our house sitter Curt for looking out for the homestead while we're gone. Let me know what kind of swag we can bring home for you. I'm going to try and post from the cruise but I've got no guarantees. We'll have to see what kind of mood the internet gods are in. We are scheduled to board the Disney Wonder today, in just a couple of hours as a matter of fact. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dinner from the Aloha Grill

My favorite diner in town is the Aloha Grill in Tualatin.We got some carry out for dinner tonight. The picture above is the Maui Girl. That's Kalua Pork on the left and Teriyaki Chicken on the right. The macaroni salad is in a separate container. Comfort Food!

For a full menu you can check out www.dagrinds.com


Saturday, May 14, 2011

#OregoniansAgainstRain Foiled In An Interesting Way

#OregoniansAgainstRain was formed as a Political Action Committee while I was watching my sons lacrosse practices. We had several weeks where it rained any time a lacrosse related activity was going on. The PAC seemed to work pretty good. All of you came together and gave massive amounts of cold hard cash, cash that I put to work. Sammy, the weather mage who lives on the sidewalk near where I work got a chunk. Our Free Umbrella For All campaign, because everyone knows that Rain hates umbrellas, and the scores of votive candles at St. Francis Chapel of the Perpetually damp.

We've been getting some very nice weather for lacrosse the last couple of weeks. In fact it's been almost the opposite of what it had been. It would rain all day until lacrosse, and then it would clear up. I'll take that every time.

Today we had a game and the weather looked like it might be touch and go. It wasn't raining, but the sky was gray and threatening. It looked like it could open up at any time. I greased Sammy, handed out umbrellas, and lit candles for St. Agricola of Avignon. I felt pretty good. We got there in plenty of time, the weather looked good, if still very overcast.

So what happened? The team they were supposed to play had showed up at the field an hour before, and seeing no one there to play they left. Up and split. What do you say to that? I could almost hear Rain laughing at me. I think it held up on purpose. I think it's been following my progress with #OregoniansAgainstRain and now it's getting it's revenge. I'm living in dread of Rains PAC. #RainAgainstOregonians. No one wants to see that.

Alright, that's enough anthropomorphizing rain, but I'm still watching. I'm still watching.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Explanation of Youth, Junior, College, Minors, and NHL Hockey levels

For those of you in more hockey literate geographical areas this article isn't needed. Feel free to stop reading now. For the rest of you (I'm looking at you guy in Starbucks talking about the minor league Portland Winterhawks) this might be useful.

I'm going to be talking about the different levels of organized hockey, from the youth level through juniors/college and into the pros.

Players begin their hockey careers playing youth hockey. In the States (sorry Canada) this means:
Mites 8 & under
Squirts 10 & under
PeeWees 12 & under
Bantams 14 & under
Midget Minor 16 & under
Midget Major 18 & under

You'll notice there are no lower ends to the age limits. Potentially you could have a 10 year old playing at the Bantam level. As a practical matter this doesn't happen but I know that question will be asked. Within youth programs there will be different levels of competition at each age group. House teams that are purely recreational. Select teams made up of the best players from across the House teams. Tier teams that are highly competitive and spend most of there time travelling and facing top teams from other cities, or regions. Tier I is the highest level of competition followed by Tier II. Each age level will have it's own House/Rec, Select, and Tier programs.

Very highly skilled hockey players may get the opportunity to play Junior hockey. Junior hockey is completely separate from Youth hockey. Junior hockey players are between the ages of 15 and 20. This is a very high level of amateur hockey. To make things easy for us Yanks to understand I'm going to put this in terms of college football:
Tier III Junior A, for example the North Pacific Hockey League (NorPac) compares to NCAA Division III college football (2010 National Champion Wisconsin-Whitewater)
Tier II Junior A, such as the North American Hockey League (NAHL) compares to NCAA Division I FCS college football (2010 National Champion Eastern Washington)
Tier I Junior A, Which is where you'll find the United States Hockey League (USHL) compares to NCAA Division I FBS college football (2010 National Champion University of Auburn, ugh, that hurt, GO DUCKS)

After players "graduate" from these Junior leagues they may be able to continue playing at the NCAA level. College hockey is growing in the States and many players are being drafted by NHL teams. In 2006 - 2007 25% of players in the NHL came from the NCAA's.

So that's it for the amateurs right? Well not exactly. There is another level of Juniors called Major Juniors. It's the Canadian Hockey League. The CHL is made up of three leagues; the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). These CHL teams are made up of players between the ages of 15 and 20 just like the other Junior leagues. By rights they are not paid, but they do receive a stipend of around $200 per month. The NCAA views this as being paid to play thereby making these players ineligible to play NCAA hockey. Many of the players in the CHL will be drafted by teams in the NHL. Currently the CHL provides about 50% of the players in the NHL.

That last sentence is the reason I roll my eyes when I hear people refer to the Winterhawks (a WHL team) as a minor league team. To spell it out for the guy in Starbucks, the Portland Winterhawks play in the most elite "amateur" hockey league in the world. Calling it minor league would be exactly the same as calling the University of Oregon football team a minor league team. Minor league teams are where adults who aren't good enough to make "The Show" play professionally after their amateur careers are over. This brings us to...

The Pro's.
In North America there are several levels of pro hockey. The minor leagues include:
the Central Hockey League (CHL not to be confused with the Major Junior CHL)
the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL)
the American Hockey League (AHL, these teams are often directly affiliated with NHL teams. Players will move between an AHL team and the NHL parent club depending on ability and roster needs.)
the National Hockey League (NHL)

That's the short version. I'm leaving out almost everything. There are a ton of other leagues around the world that I haven't touched on at all. If anyone wants to take me to task for anything I've put down here feel free. That's what the comments section is for.

Good Night, and Good Luck

Monday, May 9, 2011

Arts and Crafts

Needed a place to put some cough drops. I am now an origami expert. Self-Proclaimed, of course. 25 Minutes to Go by Johnny Cash playing on Grooveshark.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pictures From The Park

#OregoniansAgainstRain have been so successful in their campaign against rain that I've been able to walk the dog down in the park. It's been beautiful! I could always walk the dog when Rain is on the war path, but it's so much nicer when it's dry. I took a couple of pictures that I'd like to share.

I like this path because it reminds me of the path that's in every fantasy novel I've ever read. It's the path that leads our hero onto the first leg of his or her quest. I took these pictures on my phone, but what I would have really liked is a camera with a wide angle lens. I think it would be cool to pull the background in a little bit.

This one is my dystopian future Sci-Fi setting. The only thing missing is a hulking piece of technology to keep the bench company in the river. This bench is a lot of fun to walk by because it's where the water fowl hang out. This time of year there's only a couple of ducks swimming around, but in the fall there are Canadian geese by the score migrating through that use this as a way point for their trip.

Do they make you think of anything?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy May

It looks like April showers have brought May flowers. The weather has been good this last week, but don't let that fool you. It won't be safe until after the end of Portland's Rose Festival. It has something to do with mother nature needing the appropriate amount of moisture to ensure that nobody has fun at the "Fun Center" down at Waterfront Park.

The sun was out today, but it was blowing hard in downtown Portland. One of the truly fantastic things about where I work is that I'm just across the street from Portland's Heliport. It's not usually busy. There might be two or three landings a day. A helicopter will come land to drop someone off, or pick someone up. Usually it's a small, almost toy looking helicopter. Today the Coast Guard flew in. Much larger, and more impressive then the one's we normally see. It didn't seem affected by the wind in the least. I was hoping they'd lower a person down from the helicopter in a harness, but no such luck. Just a takeoff and landing.

OK, that's enough. Helicopters? That's the line. I have to come clean. I'm dangling this post here as a place holder. I've been having trouble coming up with appropriate material to talk about. It's been a week now since my last post and I really needed to post something so here it is.

I'm leaving you now to hunt for something keen to write about.

Wish Me Luck!