David Beckham in Edmonton!

Tonight I went to Commonwealth Stadium with Megan to watch an exhibition Major League Soccer game between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Los Angeles Galaxy. I hadn’t really been paying attention I guess, so didn’t realize the event was happening until Megan asked me last week if I wanted to go. I said yes, curious about how soccer would go over in Edmonton and of course, about David Beckham.

David Beckham

He didn’t score a goal, but he was awarded an assist. The Galaxy ended up losing 2-1, but it could have been far worse if not for their keeper. Vancouver was clearly the stronger team tonight. For more on the game, check out CBC.

Every time Beckham touched the ball, the crowd would cheer! It was kind of funny and kind of annoying all at the same time. At one point everyone started doing the wave. Megan and I couldn’t help but think, “this isn’t a hockey game!” For the most part though everyone seemed to be having a good time (despite the intermittent rain), and very few left after Beckham was replaced in the 75th minute.

While walking to the LRT station after the game, we ran into the crowd of people waiting to catch a glimpse of Beckham getting on the bus to leave the stadium. We hung around for a while and eventually saw him emerge, but the photos didn’t turn out so well. He signed a few autographs, but disappeared rather quickly.

In the end, I’d say that soccer is more enjoyable on television (keeping in mind that I’ve never been to a game in say, Europe). I eagerly await the World Cup, for instance! Bringing the exhibition game to Edmonton probably had the desired effect though – to capitalize on Beckham’s popularity as a way to introduce more people to MLS.

Here are my pictures from the game.

comingzune in Edmonton on May 16th

The iPod still has a lock on the market for portable media players, but at least Microsoft is doing some interesting marketing. Over the weekend I was notified about the comingzune parties happening in seven Canadian cities (it seems Montreal was a late addition).

comingzune

The Edmonton event takes place on Friday night at 9pm at The Artery, which Sharon tells me is an up and coming venue in our city. Here’s the map of the location.

I love the band name – The Wicked Awesomes! Never heard of them before though. They are five local guys, apparently influenced by devo. Take from that, what you will.

EdmontonTweetup1 was a success!

edmontontweetup Today we held the first ever tweetup in Edmonton (a meetup for Twitter users) and I think it’s safe to say that it was a success! We met downtown at three bananas cafe in Churchill Square at around noon. I wasn’t sure how many people would come, and was a little worried when I received a bunch of “sorry, can’t make it” messages this morning. In the end though, the attendance was much better than I could have expected, considering Twitter is still fairly niche. We had 17 people, including myself. You can see the full list of attendees on our wiki page.

Some of us took photos, Greg took some video, and Ian even did a podcast! You can find links to everything on the wiki (please add to the list).

EdmontonTweetup

We didn’t have a formal agenda, but that didn’t matter much. As I suspected, everyone found things to chat about. Connections were made and everyone seemed to be having a good time! There was some Twitter-related talk, mainly around apps and how people use Twitter. I talked about the “track” feature and also hashtags. It seems that most people have really gotten into Twitter in just the last few months.

Three Bananas was a great venue, very bright with reliable wifi. Today was a lovely day too, which made it even better.

I think we’ll probably have another tweetup, I’m just not sure when. You can help us plan it by contributing to the wiki page for EdmontonTweetup2.

Thanks to everyone who came – it was great to meet you! And to everyone who wanted to come but couldn’t, we’ll see you at the next one!

Volunteer for one of Edmonton's great festivals

volunteer edmonton Despite another setback for our neighbors to the south this week, summer is definitely on the way and that means lots and lots of festivals here in Edmonton. With over 30 established festivals each year, it’s no surprise that we’re Canada’s Festival City. It should also be no surprise that running 30 festivals requires a lot of time and effort, largely from volunteers:

The estimated number of volunteers required by Edmonton’s festivals is about 5,000 people! Our festivals are a source of community pride and an important element in the quality of life for Edmontonians in the summer – and beyond!

To help attract new volunteers, Volunteer Edmonton is co-hosting a Festival Volunteer Fair next week:

This recruitment event will showcase multiple festivals and will provide members of the community with a “one stop festival volunteer shopping experience”.  We have confirmed that 15 diverse and exciting festivals will be on site, highlighting the volunteer opportunities they have to offer.

I think there are actually over 20 festivals now participating, including the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, A Taste of Edmonton, The Works Art & Design Festival, and the International Street Performers Festival.

The recruitment event takes place on Wednesday, May 14th from 3pm to 7pm at the TransAlta Arts Barns. Here’s a map of the location, and for more information you can call 211 or visit the Volunteer Edmonton site.

Check it out and pass it on!

EdmontonTweetup1 – May 10th

edmontontweetup A month ago I wondered if anyone would come to an EdmontonTweetup, a meetup for Twitter users in Edmonton. I’m still not exactly sure what we’re going to talk about, but enough people have expressed interest that we’re going ahead with the event. Here are the details:

WHO: Twitter users in Edmonton!
WHAT: An event to meet one another in meatspace.
WHERE: Three Banana’s Cafe in Churchill Square (map)
WHEN: Saturday, May 10th, at 12pm noon
WHY: To chat about all things Twitter with like-minded folks!

You can see the above details as well as a partial list of attendees on our wiki page for the event. Feel free to add yourself to the list. There are also Facebook and Upcoming events if that’s more your style. You may also want to follow edmontontweetup or myself on Twitter for updates.

I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone – hope to see you there!

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #1

Tonight I attended the first ever Pecha Kucha Night in Western Canada, held downtown at the Winspear Centre. Edmonton’s Next Gen worked hard to bring the popular event to our city, to help showcase local designers, architects, artists, and other creatives. Until recently, I hadn’t heard of Pecha Kucha but it’s actually a worldwide phenomenon of sorts, having spread to over 120 countries virally. Here’s what it’s all about:

Pecha Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.

Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor.

To me it’s sort of like the design world equivalent of DemoCamp, though that may be simplifying things a bit.

pecha kucha night

Tonight’s event featured thirteen presenters with a range of interests, from urban planning and design to humanities visualization research. A twenty minute break split the presentations, and offered me a chance to go from sitting to standing. I think standing was better – easier to see, harder to get bored.

Yes, some of the presentations were a bit dry. If only they all contained the energy and humor and enthusiasm that Myron Belej’s presentation on urban color did. Essentially what Myron did was take photos of our city, and then added color to the buildings. It was really interesting, and his style of presentation was great for an event like this. Everyone was paying attention to Myron. His “21st slide” is a colored Rexall Place, and you can see it at his website.

The current plan is to have four Pecha Kucha Night’s per year here in Edmonton. Apparently some larger cities like San Francisco do one every month! I think it’s great that our city has an event like this, and I expect the presentations and attendance will only get better.

For more information, check out the official Pecha Kucha website or Wikipedia. You might also want to sign up for the Edmonton Next Gen newsletter, to find out when the next one in our city will be held! I snapped a few photos too, which you can see here.

TEC VenturePrize 2008

tec ventureprizeLike last year, I was once again lucky enough to attend the VenturePrize Awards Luncheon today with Dickson, and Chris, Don and their team from ProTraining. I hadn’t paid the competition much attention this year until recently, but it was good to see some familiar faces and meet new ones at today’s event. I’m also really happy it was once again in Hall D, easily one of our city’s nicest venues.

The grand prize winner for 2008 was DataGardens, a company that hopes to help companies manage their IT infrastructure more effectively. At first glance, they strike me as somewhat similar to one of last year’s finalists, Nirix. I wrote a bit more about the event (and the new TEC VenturePrize branding) at Techvibes, so check that out if you’re interested.

The event was once again hosted by Citytv’s Paul Mennier, and he did a great job. The guest speaker was Jim Carroll, a futurist and trends & innovation expert. He’s a great speaker and kept my attention throughout his presentation, but I have to say I didn’t enjoy him as much as Leonard Brody last year. Jim also got a few things wrong – he described Guitar Hero as a Nintendo innovation, and he claimed that we’re insulated from the rising energy prices here in Alberta. The latter remark was made off-the-cuff (“Hey, I’m in Alberta, let’s make it relevant”), and I think he probably feels pretty embarrassed about it now.

Lunch was similar to last year, though I don’t think I enjoyed it as much this time around. We started with Romaine Lettuce and Spinach Leaves with Grapefruit Dressing. The main course was Seared Thai Chicken Breast served with Tomato-Chili Jam, Coconut Rice, and Seasonal Vegetables. Dessert was Lime Meringue Pie with Fresh Berries and Raspberry Coulis.

The competitor videos this year all rocked, in my opinion, so kudos to whichever company helped to put those together. The music they played as the winners were announced was just a bit odd, though. Something to improve upon for next year!

Thanks again Chris & Don!

National Volunteer Week 2008

national volunteer week Yesterday was the start of National Volunteer Week in Canada, a celebration of volunteers and volunteerism which runs through May 3rd. There are around 12 million volunteers in our country, contributing countless hours to their communities:

Canada boasts over 161,000 registered charitable organizations within which volunteers play a key role. According to the 2004 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, the largest survey ever completed that examines how Canadians support each other and their communities, volunteers contribute two billion hours, the equivalent of one million full-time jobs.

I had no idea that National Volunteer Week was started so long ago:

National Volunteer Week was first proclaimed in 1943 as an initiative to draw the public’s attention to the vital contribution of women to the war effort on the home front. In the late 1960s, the focus was revived and broadened to include all community volunteers.

Like most junior high/high school students, I got into volunteering because it’s something universities and employers look for. However, I found very quickly that I really enjoyed volunteering. I’ve helped out at a bunch of organizations over the years, but I currently spend most of my volunteering time with the Learning Centre Literacy Association and the Youth Restorative Action Project.

If you’re a fellow Edmontonian, check out the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (ECVO). They have great resources for volunteers and organizations alike, and they also publish a really useful weekly email newsletter.

Here’s the press release from Volunteer Canada, and here is the official website for National Volunteer Week.

To all the volunteers reading this: thank you!

Happy Earth Day!

globeDid you know there are actually two Earth Days? I didn’t (or else I forgot) but as usual, Wikipedia has the answers. Evidently the March equinox (around March 20th) is also called Earth Day, though I think today is the more popular and commonly celebrated day.

Earth Day is a name used for two different observances, both held annually during spring in the northern hemisphere, and autumn in the southern hemisphere. These are intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day, which was founded by John McConnell in 1969, each year on the March equinox, while a global observance originated by Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, and since January 1970 also called Earth Day, is celebrated in many countries each year on April 22, including the U.S.

Like most of these events lately, companies are not shy to take advantage of them for marketing purposes. Starbucks has historically celebrated Earth Day by offering free drip coffee to customers with personal cups, but not this year:

On April 22, Earth Day, Starbucks will donate five cents to Conservation International (CI) for every purchase made that day with a Starbucks Card at any Starbucks store in the U.S. and Canada.

Why couldn’t they just abolish splash sticks, balance print-outs for Starbucks card holders, and other environment unfriendly practices? I guess that would be too easy.

The official site of the March Earth Day is here, and Canada’s Earth Day site is here.

And hey, what better way to celebrate than by venturing out into our fourth day of blizzard-like conditions!

Falstaff at the Edmonton Opera

falstaff Back in February I went to see the Edmonton Opera’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore. As a first-timer, I was pleasantly surprised! I can honestly say I had a good time and enjoyed the opera. With that in mind, I agreed to check out Falstaff on Saturday with Sharon. Here’s the description from Wikipedia:

Falstaff is an operatic commedia lirica in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare’s plays The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV. It was Verdi’s last opera, written in the composer’s eighth decade, and only the second of his twenty-six operas to be a comedy.

It was entertaining enough, but I didn’t enjoy Falstaff nearly as much as H.M.S. Pinafore. I think I took a few things for granted. For one thing, Pinafore was in English, so the subtitles weren’t completely necessary. They were for Falstaff though. Pinafore starred my favorite, Jeff Haslam. The characters were more interesting. By comparison, Falstaff seemed sort of boring. We also had pizza and beer during the intermission at Pinafore, which probably made more of a difference than I expected.

In short, Falstaff was closer to the image of opera that I have always had in my head. Interesting, but not really my thing.

Before the show they played a video introducing the lineup for next season. Edmonton Opera will perform Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment, and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. The “plus one” performance will be Verdi’s La Traviata. Every time they announced one of the titles, the audience seemed to gasp with delight. Sharon and I just looked at each other, puzzled. I guess it helps if you’ve heard of them before!

Sharon’s write-up is here.