John Hancock Center

The John Hancock Center

The John Hancock Center as seen on Michigan Avenue

Chicago is the birthplace of the stunning skyscraper. Always in the shadow of its taller brethren, the John Hancock Center is still a familiar icon of the Windy City.

While visiting some friends, I was invited on a driving tour of the city, topped off with an stopover at the John Hancock Centre. The scale of the tower isn’t anything I had seen before; at 100 stories tall, the tower seemingly anchors the Streeterville neighbourhood to the rest of the city. The charcoal-coloured x-shaped frame is unique so that the structure can survive strong winds or the shaking of an earthquake.

We drove around the block to get a sense of the building, but more so to find a way in. Next door, an almost endless spiral ramp circles up and crosses into the skyscraper itself. What a peculiar way to park your vehicle! Instead of constructing a complex garage on an adjacent property, the parking space is inside the John Hancock Center.

After finding an empty spot and gawking at the fees, we took an elevator down to the lobby. Unlike a conventional tower, taking the elevator from one floor to another isn’t as easy as you’d think. First we had to take an elevator down from the parking level to the lobby, then we had to take an express elevator from the lobby to the upper floors. Anything else would be a painfully prolonged wait – stopping at every floor to collect people. There is an observation deck on the 94th floor, although our destination was one floor higher: the Signature Room at the 95th. What’s a better way to end your day than with a couple of drinks over a wonderful view?

There’s no way I can accurately describe the panorama from the top aside from breathtaking. With floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping around the restaurant and tables adjacent to the glass, it’s truly a spectacular sight to behold. An endless expanse of civilization dotted with other glistening pinnacles, ribbons of traffic, homely forests and seas of turquoise. I’m not exactly a fan of heights, so I avoided getting too close to the windows – even knowing that the glass wouldn’t give way that easily.

Take a relaxing break at the John Hancock Center; enjoy a drink or two and take in the miles of magnificent Chicago stretching out from beneath you. It’s something I won’t forget.

ACEN photos/Chicago photos

Downtown from the John Hancock Center

Downtown from the John Hancock Center

The Anime Central photos have been finally uploaded. There’s 110 pictures from this convention, and I’m sure more will be uploaded again shortly.

Photos from my jaunt through Chicago will be available shortly as well. I spent a few days wandering with some friends through Lincoln Park, Hyde Park, and the Loop along with taking in a Cubs game. Until I finish pulling them off my camera (not my friends, the pictures), enjoy the view from the John Hancock Center.

Anime Central 2009

Anime Central 2009

Anime Central 2009

I’m back from my trip to Chicago after attending Anime Central 2009. I took quite a few pictures and some video, but didn’t visit any panels and missed the Naruto photoshoots. Overall it was an interesting year, the dealers room was spectacular, and there were some really awesome costumes around. As usual, I missed the Roy cosplayer (I think it was the same one from last year), but all in all, it was pretty good.

I’ll have the photos uploaded shortly. There’s about 260 I have to sort through before they’re posted.

Cubs 11 – Padres 3

Bobby Scales at bat

Bobby Scales at bat

It was a perfect day for a ball game: the sun was out, barely a breeze and a lively crowd at the Friendly Confines cheering on the Chicago Cubs who blew away the San Diego Padres 11-3.

Ryan Dempster, the Cubs’ BC-born pitcher, threw his first multi-hit game, and the rookie, Bobby Scales, batted a pair of doubles along with Reed Johnson giving the Cubs the advantage.

The Cubs play against Houston on Friday at Wrigley Field.

New SkyTrain cars

TransLink released new images of what the next batch of SkyTrain cars will look like. These cars are almost similar to the Mark II series already in service with some noticeable details. The new Mark II 1300 and 1400 series will feature electronic destination signs over the front windows, rearranged seating to allow more wheelchairs, strollers and bikes, additional stanchions for standing passengers, upgraded anti-slip flooring, security cameras and electronic route maps. In addition, a newer paint scheme, instead of the blank white cars with blue and yellow decals, will be applied to make the cars stand out.

The new cars will be in service the time the 2010 Winter Olympics roll around, however, expect to see a few of them in the coming months.

Source: TransLink

Comeback Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks blew into the Windy City with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mason Raymond opened the scoring with his goal fifteen minutes into the first period. In the second period, Steve Bernier added to Vancouver’s total on the powerplay and then Henrik Sedin followed suit seven minutes later bringing the score to 3-0. Brian Campbell put the Blackhawks on the scoreboard shortly after and brought the vibrant fans back to their feet. No further goals were scored by either team in the third period and an improved Canucks team took control of the series two games to one.

Word has it that Sami Salo was seen skating in Vancouver earlier and was last heard to be on his way to Chicago. Game four is on Thursday, May 7th at 5:00 PM PT.

Game Three

With Sami Salo injured and Pavol Demitra most likely sitting this one out, the Vancouver Canucks will need to give it their all to take back game three. Vancouver faces a young and determined Chicago Blackhawks and they will be ready to make the Canucks feel pain if they don’t step up and clear some of those rebounds away from goaltender Roberto Luongo. Game three is in Chicago on Tuesday, May 5th at 5:00 PM PT.

Markus Naslund

Markus Naslund

Also, former Canucks captain, Markus Naslund, announced that he is retiring and will not complete the second year under his contract with the New York Rangers. Naslund was quite possibly one of the best players on the Canucks, and had given this city a new hockey idol along with the familiar faces of Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure and Kirk McLean. Since he spent a good chunk of his time in Vancouver, it’s only fair that I salute him for his efforts here.

More Royal Hudson Photos

I went back to New Westminster again today to retake some pictures as a few from yesterday didn’t turn out. I also took the camcorder and got some more video.

Special thanks to the crew for taking the pictures inside the cab. The rest of the photos can be found here.

Engineers side The Firemen Boiler Plate and Firebox

The Royal Hudson

Royal Hudson

Royal Hudson

As part of New Westminster’s 150th celebration, the world famous Royal Hudson, an ex-Canadian Pacific steam locomotive, stopped at the New Westminster Quay to take passengers on a short excursion across the Fraser River to Cloverdale. Some of of the photos are online, and video of the engine arriving and departing New Westminster, as well as climbing the incline in North Surrey/North Delta will be available shortly.

The Royal Hudson will repeat its journey again on Sunday, May 3rd, starting at the New Westminster Quay. More information is available on the West Coast Railway Association website.

Read the rest of this article…

A rare talent

A friend of mine sent me this interesting link to the profile of a girl who’s on the Denver Nuggets dance team who carries the rare talent of “speaking fluent Canadian.” Last time I checked, Canadians spoke English (or for those in Quebec, French). Sure, we spell some words differently, but it’s still the same language. Not sure if she’s really proud of it or someone goofed up on the team’s website.

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