Thursday, August 29, 2013

Art: Tropical Skwark!

Every now and then, a sketch falls out of my pencil that feels like it should adorn 50's product packaging... and I think this is one such piece.

This little guy actually began as a test, I was playing with proportion and indeed, a 50's style of illustration. In the end, it turned out being one of my favourites in a series, mainly because of the colours, but also because I really like how the overall texturing came out.

Another one for a t-shirt? I'll let you decide.



A bientôt!

Jimzip :D

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Evil Neighbour - Or How I Learned to Stop Loving, and Hate the Bitch Next Door

The cold war was (from what I have read, heard and seen in overly prevalent postcard photos) really something pretty dysmal to live through, if you were anywhere near the influence of mother Russia, or caught between the trade embargoes, tension and lack of internet, then you had no choice but to sit back hopelessly and watch the super powers scratch at each other until they both gave up.

A similar relationship exists between myself and my neighbour. A sour, bitter husk of a woman evidently deprived of zygomaticus major or any connected muscle tissues at birth. Every greeting is met with a grunt, and normal formalities are swept away in a muddy stream of silence.

Perhaps she's so eternally noxious because mail that cannot be delivered to the rightful recipient is always dropped in her jagged talons - yet then I remembered the only reason she receives this mail is because the woman in the hall opposite who usually does so is on holiday.

Normally not a bitter man, I took the first few encounters with a nonchalant laugh and a flick of my hair (this recounting may be falsified), but naturally, after a few run-ins and not being able to squeeze even a smirk from the creature, I did what I usually do when someone rubs me the wrong way; and continued being nice.

It was not until today that this changed, when I rang the doorbell to collect a package on my way to work, and was greeted with an eye at the keyhole and then retreating footsteps, followed by music in the apartment behind the door being turned up. It was this moment when I decided to retrieve my white enmity gloves from storage - where I swore I would leave them - and begin a mini-cold war of my own.

It's an experiment, per se, to see if her icy demeanor and excecutioner-style unkindness is actually unintentional, or whether she truly is Jadis, Queen of Charn and has no capacity for warmth.

I will ring her doorbell once more on the way home, and when she answers, I too will stare at her with ursine bluntness, my usual smile vacant, my greeting consisting of just three - possibly four syllables (everything in German requires at least double what one normally uses in English), and then I will take my mail, thank her (omitting the standard "kindly" and "very much" - sure to come as a shock) - after which I will turn and leave without waiting for her to close the door.

Before you cry "genius", and "she can't help but become infuriated" I will just say, yes, I know. Surely, my victory lies close.

Jimzip :D

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Silent At Sunset - Short Piece

I walked down the street, silent at sunset save for the wind whipping over a rounded series of granite teeth nearby. Some pussywillows bobbed in the blond eventide. Not a soul was around. It felt like I really was at the edge of the world, sea-wind blowing from the source, unseen around the next bend, over the next mesa, beyond the stone islands. The street curved, forked, and a forest greeted me, the tall alder and birch on a bed of moss. Things feel so primal here, so raw and rich - it's hard to imagine something so pure until you feel that cold air brushing your cheeks, and the murmer of the trees all around. It's as if the world here is older, but fresher. I wish I could scoop it into my hands and take it back home. Instead I open my eyes, breathe it in, and try to imagine how I will imagine this later.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hope & Hostility - An Open Letter

What I will always fail to understand, is how minds at the top of the political ladder feel it justifiable to let hatred be their compass, and I will wonder what blatant idiocy let this misguided garp become policy.

For a second, let's stand back and ignore the rest of the world exists. If that's so, you still shouldn't be able to make such decisions. The fact that you would ever let your opinions become more than your own quiet thoughts is one problem. But the world does exist outside your borders, and now you are faced with some very hard questions.

What role does that play in advancing your country? What role does that play in advancing human kind? What signal does that give to the rest of the modern world, and what does it say about your own citizens, of whom many disagree but (now, like in the comparatively recent past) have no voice?

To my readers, I understand that many of you out there feel this doesn't impact you, or you may find it insignificant. Some may feel that because of the large natural gas and oil dependancies from this country, that, following the startling silence of the UN, the IOC and most of the world powers, nobody can say anything about it - but that is even more reason to do so.

If you and your girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or husband were jeered at in the street, or wrenched apart and bludgeoned, had tomatoes thrown, or urine tipped over your heads publicly, how indeed would you feel? If you comitted suicide, and this wasn't horrible enough, but your memory was then smeared by those left behind simply because hating is encouraged - would you recognise it as agony? If this happened to that friend you were just sending a message to on Facebook, or your mum or dad, brother or sister, what then?

As this is written, individuals and couples alike are being beaten, kidnapped, raped, and publicly humilated just for being themselves. In some cases, these actions are being filmed and distributed online. The Russian government has ratified it, and this ignorant, backward mindset backed by law gives people an excuse to carry it out, essentially free from judgement and reprehension.

I personally fail to see how I, walking down the street holding hands with the one I love, differs in any way from you, walking down the street holding the hands of the one you love. Or them, walking down the street with someone they love. I fail to understand how my life is 'wrong' because I like green instead of blue.

If your argument is that I am an abomination in the eyes of God, I would respond that I, as well as you and all things wild and wonderful, are His creations, and he is supposed to "love them all". Is a message of compassion and tolerance not what the Church is for? What else it is meant to propagate?

If you side with hate because you feel it's wrong or uncomfortable, I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, and see that love is just love. Blind, deaf, and as simple as you or I - which is to say, complex to the extreme. It can only be understood by experiencing it, and we all should go out of our way to do so. But it is never something to be judged, or hated, even though at times jealousy or personal lack leads some to do so.

I am overwhelmed with disappointment for the leaders of Russia - and pained to think of its citizens, but I feel more than ever that it is time to voice out in whatever way I can, because I am - quite honestly - getting tired of being disappointed, and tired of hearing of the repercussions of one power-obsessed bigot's choices.

Hate has never done one useful thing for humanity. We are capable of so much more, and it shows when we come together that incredible things can be accomplished. It shows equally, what disasters lie in misguidance. Haven't we learnt enough from the past yet? How many times must we repeat things just to become a better civilisation? The world is now making some huge bounds forward in terms of rights, but every now and then, someone stumbles and staggers that process. In today's world, this kind of hate is one such stumble, and it should not exist. It's time for us to start working together, and realising that we are all born on this planet together, and that in this one life of ours we can do something wonderful - or we will repeat these problems over, and over, and over.

Stephen Fry, Nick Symmonds, celebrities and media worldwide are condemning Russia's behaviour right now, and I ride wholeheartedly with them. I don't speak out about many things, but this ridiculousness must stop.

The winter Olympic Games are once again approaching, and to host them, Russia will have to do so much better. At current I boycott them entirely - on the ground of blatant hypocracy: Russia's government is spreading unfairness, discrimination and ignorance instead of the values of which those very games stand for, and it would be a mockery to watch them under such circumstances.

Last week a petition which I, along with 330,000 others signed was delivered to the IOC headquarters in Switzerland, and it got attention. But this should just be the beginning. Much more needs to be done to show Putin that his behaviour right now is unacceptable.

Sometimes all it takes to show family, friends, leaders, goverments or countries which is the correct path, is the voice of a few. Perhaps this issue will summon the voice of many.

I can't stress enough how much I want this effort to succeed.

Jimzip

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Art: Puffin

He's waddly, he's curious, and he's definitely not from your neighbourhood ... feels like the new tagline for some new terrifying Eddie Murphy film.

But no! It's a little puffin, just waddlin' over to say hi. Far less terrifying than Eddie Murphy, and definitely less willing to convert you to Scientology.

I like how this one turned out. I think it would also look cool on a t-shirt. ;)

Readers from back in the day will recall I used to post backgrounds every now and then. Well, there are some new backgrounds coming soon too. But for now, enjoy.



Vi ses sen!

Jimzip :D

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Art: Racoon

It's not the most creative source, given, but google is regardless a great source of inspiration, especially when it comes to image search. It's so easy just to plug an animal in and get sketching.

Running with the current illustration bang, I've gone ahead and made another. This one took around two hours.

It's a rather guilty looking raccoon looking like it's really sorry it just ate all those berries from your garden.



Plus à venir. Enjoy.

Jimzip :D

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Art: Owly

Recently I've been attempting to kickstart my artistic hemisphere once again. Not that I feel it was ever truly inactive, I've been using it in different ways, writing, coding and drilling into my graphic design, but I haven't sketched or painted in a long time, and I missed that.

One good step forward was buying myself a wacom tablet a few months ago. I absolutely love it. In fact, I'm disappointed I didn't buy one years ago. (Note: I did actually, but at the time I felt so guilty for spending what should have gone towards rent that I returned it).

My technique is sloppy, and it's still definitely developing, but I feel I'm beginning to see a style come through, and I wanted to share a couple of pieces on this blog now which the tablet has enabled.

This one is a tribute to my old workplace in Vancouver: Owly from Hootsuite.



More to come. Enjoy.

Jimzip :D

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Idiomatic Indignation!

I have enemies. Yes, of course, just like anyone does. Nowdays though, they come in different forms. No longer the type to dissolve into shadows after a thwarted attempt to barrage our sun with anti-matter beams (the last case of which wasted an entire Tuesday night better spent on Lost). Now they are more phonetic.

One particular hurdle I still face daily in German has been colloquial speech, or more idiomatically; the idiosyncrasies of idioms. Sayings and expressions are often impossible to translate directly from English, and very difficult to decode from other languages when you hear them.

I encountered one less troublesome example today, the expression: I've got my fingers crossed for you. Again, translating from English to German would just come across as confusing to a German speaker (in most cases Germans have a good enough understanding of English to know what you're getting at though). In German however, one says I'm holding my thumbs for you.

By chance, this is a Swedish saying as well, so the first time I heard it I was spared too much pondering.

Then came this one, which I heard yesterday in response to something I said: 'well, it comes on it'.

My eyebrows instantly cocked to an alarming angle. My mind spun through possible meanings, but the conversation halted. Why? Let's break it down. What I heard was: es kommt darauf an (in English literally: it comes on it). What it actually means is: it depends. At the time, this to me was indecipherable.

Another brilliant yet equally indecipherable phrase is: einen hinter die Binde kippen lit. tilt one behind the bandage. This is is actually slang for: grab a drink.


To add to the confusion, I've noticed that very often sayings will use different animals in each language.

For example, wie ein Elefant im Porzellanladen, literally like an elephant in a porcelain store is to most English speakers like a bull in a china store. But this one is rather simple to work out. So, what about a personal favourite of mine then: da liegt der Hase in Pfeffer? This is literally there lies the hare in pepper, and means there's a fly in the ointment or that's the crux of it.

Another with the rabbit is sehen wie der Hase läuft, lit. to see see how the rabbit runs, or to English speakers, we'll see which way the cat jumps.

Our elephant example shoes that of course, sometimes there are similarities. Wie Mottem ums Licht means lit. like moths around a light but is more commonly heard as like a moth to a flame.

Here's a saying that doesn't really have a clear equivalent however: da liegt der Hund begraben. Literally, it means: there lies the buried dog. Any guesses as to what it means? It's a bit of a roundabout way of saying: that's the point [of the matter]. It can also be used to say: nothing is going on [there]. Either way, I certainly wouldn't consider it very clear.

Edit: Milla from Värmland has kindly pointed out that the same phrase in Swedish, här ligger en hund begraven means there's something fishy going on [here]. Note the dog in Swedish and fish in English, agreeing with that animal theory again! (The meaning between German and Swedish is however, curiously skewed).

And finally, there's just plain strange ones, like: wie der Ochse vorm Berg, lit. like the ox in front of the mountain. In English, it actually means: like a dying duck in a thunderstorm.

Nope. I've never heard that one either.

Jimzip :D

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ye Olde Jimzip.com Update



Not keen to sit twiddling my thumbs and making fimo jungle creatures as I waited for a piece of paper, I started working as a freelance graphic designer before I finished university in 2005.

Needless to say, jobs did not come easy, and to be certain my work was not (at all) great. But one fascinating aspect of ... well brains, is that you tend to learn very quickly at the beginning of any new enterprise, and I did.

The field changed dramatically within those few years. I remember very clearly the first time I attempted to code something, sitting in the unused dining-room of our family home, using dial-up internet on a laptop with a 600x800 screen to find out how to write HTML. The first website I ever coded was a page for an imaginary persona who went by the name Blue Cube. It ended up being a single image floating in the middle of the page, the text was embedded inside said image however, and thus was not really a webpage - but it felt like a small victory.

Back then, tables were in fashion, and CSS was a mere pipe-dream, yet within a couple of years the whole game had completely changed - and of course it continues to change. So too, does my style and skillset. I feel that almost everything I do is completely different to back then. Of course it should though - it's been 10 years, so if something hadn't changed I'd be a little worried! Yet here we are, 2013, and thus I feel it's time once again to update my ever-changing portfolio, bio and online home.

For the sake of nostalgia you'll also find a link to the past version of jimzip.com. Because some things are just too fun to say goodbye to! (Super, nó?) Go check it out, please tell me what you think in the comments, and thanks for looking.

{ Jimzip.com }
Jimzip :D

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Tip Grotto: Part 2

"Oh, praise Jehoshaphat! He didn't leave us in the lurch", I hear you cry. No, of course not. That would be cruel and unsatisfying for both of us.

We're back with part two of the Tip Grotto (read part one here), a tasty collection of little bites I've found helpful on my language journeys. If you have anything you'd like to add, please drop it into the comments - I do love hearing how other people learn and the interesting/effective/zany/unorthodox(?) methods they come across.

Let's dive straight back in shall we?



- Repetition -

Flat repetition is not the best way to learn. How can I say that so plainly? Well, there are many, many studies currently trying to figure out the nature of repetition in relation to memory, but for me there was one convincing key point. Namely, I found the more I stared at (or listened to) a sentence and repeated it, the less effectively it stuck in my head. What tends to work much better is controlling that repetition, and more specifically: spacing it (1).

One way to do it, is to read a sentence, speak it out loud, then move to the next. After trying the second sentence out, cover the first and try and remember it. I must impress here the 'speak out loud' part, (as whispering or mouthing things won't get you used to the sound, and it's surprising how that can trip you up later).

Work your way down the list then, adding another sentence or word to the queue each time. 'Spaced repetition' as it's known, is worthwhile getting to know, because it works. It's the same methodology behind well-organised flash cards.

- Give It A Rest -

When your brain shuts down, let it shut down. By this I mean, everyone reaches a threshold at which point they stop thinking, it just happens. Don't freak out, just take a break. Stand up and shake, go for a small walk, or get a glass of water - then return and smack out round two. If you really can't concentrate and keep reading the same thing over and over, or feel nothing is sinking in, it's probably a sign that you're done for the day. Don't fight it, just leave with what you've learnt so far that day and take it on again the next.

Strangely, for me (and I've timed this) it takes on average 17 minutes for me to start thinking properly during a study session, so if you find yourself foggy at the beginning of your session, don't give up, keep at it a little while and your brain should kick into gear.


- Don't Try And Trick Mr. Brain -

Oh my. It's easy to do, but don't cheat! You have a very powerful brain in that head of yours ... and it's just waiting to be taken for a spin. If you are using flash cards, and you find it easier to flip over to the answer before you think it out, then you're robbing yourself of the chance to absorb new information - innit? Your brain wants to remember things, so give it a chance! If after a short while you really can't remember something and thinking it out isn't working, then is the time to go have a look at the answer. But first, take a stab! Say what you think the answer is out loud, then check. There is no penalty for being wrong, and in fact being wrong can help in remembering that particular sentence. Realising your mistakes often works wonders for retention.

- ◊ -

No matter the case, if you can find a method that works for you, then it will make your language journey much more bearable. Remember too that everyone is different, nobody can tell you how to learn, it's your own process, and you have to have fun with it! If you want to take classes, go for it. If you're like me and prefer working alone, well ... still go for it! You've nothing to lose and only new friends and stories to gain.

If you have any questions, pop them in the comments too, and I'll do my best to help out. I hope you find some of these tips helpful!

Jimzip

(1) Spaced repetition is an artform indeed. Here's a wikipedia article on it. Notice that they used Anki as the header image!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poetry Under the Moonlight

Two things I must admit; I'm not much of a fan of poetry, and I don't like Shakespeare.

Now that you've returned from writing me angry emails, I must say that despite my dislike of these two 'genres', I can still be lured in every once in a while by something excellent. There are of course passages in Shakespeare works that really do catch my attention, and though many people that know me will attest to my frequent rants involving the words 'Seamus Heaney' and 'bollocks', sometimes poetry can strike me. His works for example, are frequently beautiful and very visual, but to me, the only difference between 'short story' and 'poetry' is that the latter has rudely cracked sentences into a jumbled pile of imporoperly capitalised words.


I was surprised yesterday evening then, when I experienced something that gave me a subtle appreciation for poetry when it is read aloud. Perhaps it was the beer, which I don't usually drink, or the scene itself: two strangers, two berliner friends, and myself standing in a ring on the sidewalk after a pleasant evening of karaoke and under the clear, starry sky - but while chatting away to my comrades we were approached by a young man, his shaggy hair and attire befitting of his opening line.

"Hi guys, I'm a poet. Can I recite something of mine to you all?"

Though one of our party was too drunk to realise what was happening and turned away, the rest of us agreed. And so the recitation began.

Again, I must stress the cynic in me towards poetry here, but before I noticed it, in fact within two lines, this young poet somehow managed to do something amazing. He not only recited his work with the emotion and conviction of an artist, but he actually inspired me. No, I'm not going to go and start writing poetry. I still think it's the dung-encrusted sole on the foot of literature, but what I experienced was something highly romanticised. In my head, it conjured imagery of what I imagine many european cities may have been like at the turn of the last century. Some hidden, creative heart beating under the cobblestones by night. Passionate, talented young artists so excited by their work that they want to share it with anyone who will listen, even if that means meeting strangers on the streets under the moonlight to do so.

Now, given that he himself was so drunk that the poem dropped off half way through, I can't say that the ending was excellent, but this fellow put himself on the line and even though he failed in one way, he has no idea how successful he was in another. His story was nothing new; it was the same old garp about a woman loved and lost - but instead, what I saw was his love of words, and this I found far more interesting. It wasn't the subject, but the presentation - his excitement in sharing what he had created, that came across. He played with imagery, and sound, and subtlety, and used the garp story to create something far more alluring, and he loved every second of it.

To me, this small moment added something to Berlin, another angle that was really exciting and interesting, and I realised later that perhaps to truly inspire others, the subject is almost irrelevant - all one really needs to do is be passionate enough.

Jimzip

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Tip Grotto: Part 1

Languages can often be incredibly frustrating. For many of us adult-learners, it is after all as if we're returning to childhood, making mistakes, sometimes embarassing ourselves, and other times remaining awkward and speechless. "If only there were someone out there who knew my pain, and could provide some pretty helpful tips to ease this cumbersome, yet self-inflicted process!", you cry...


Well, few things in life are as challenging as changing your way of thinking, and purposefully placing yourself in such a helpless situation - especially for that timespan in which you feel you're making no progress. Page after page goes by, audio courses get boring, and software is used, but still the struggle goes on to say even simplest thing in conversation. Then, a ta-da moment. Suddenly you speak to someone and something clicks. Even a mere sentence here, or phrase there is a great confidence builder, and motivation returns. Wouldn't it be fab to have them all the time?

Now, I'm no teacher - but it's nice to share what one finds helpful. So, in that vein I've pulled together some notes that have really helped me in my own language adventures, and though you may know some of them already, give them a gander and maybe you'll find something new. This is part 1 of The Tip Grotto:

- ◊ -

- Patience Is A Virtue -

This (ironically) took me a while to understand, but learning a language is akin to training at the gym, or learning a song, or writing a book. It is long, difficult work, and you seldom see any noticeable result. My advice to anyone taking a stab at a new tongue is the same advice people give when you're learning anything; keep at it. Attack from different angles, and suddenly you'll realise you know more than you thought. Hey, you already know one language (sometimes two if you're lucky...), so there's no reason you can't do it again right? A little bit each day will do it. Give it time. Don't give it rest. Grrr.


- Make It Yours -

Personalisation is powerful. It creates a very strong cognitive coupling and keeps things interesting, which in turn makes learning more effective.

What do I mean here? Well ... you're the painter, but for example; a friend of mine uses coloured pens with which he writes new vocabulary, each colour matching the word's gender. Similarly, I use post-it notes and write sentences on them, then stick them in weird places around the house. You could keep a 'learning journal' or replace lines of your favourite songs with phrases in the target language. Here in this image, I've written two words to teach myself how the punctuation marks in Spanish work.

Sidenote: Writing things down is very very helpful, just the act of penning a sentence seems to somewhat magically increase retention. It isn't the be-all-and-end-all of course, you still have to peek at them to get them into the folds of that big brain of yours, but it makes it that much easier (1).


- Choose Your Poison, Carefully -

Watch out for false promises. Claims of 'Master German in 1 Hour!' and so on are just not possible, and they lead to disappointment. Having said that (and somewhat ironically), realising that it isn't true makes these courses more effective sometimes. The logic here? Well, once you subconsciously admit that you know they're lying, you tend to approach the material differently and with a different mindset. Knowing it won't take 1 hour to master german lets you throw that expectation out, and learn without pressure, for example.

If you do purchase or come by such a course, note that there is often value in them, but you'll have to do some 'transmuting' of information to get the most from it. For example; many courses just throw hundreds of phrases at you. There's no way to effectively absorb this information without doing something else with it. Pop them on flash cards, or take out key words or vocab and you'll probably find it's much more effective.


- Be Cool, Soda Pop -

This is one of the most important things. The late Michel Thomas, Polish polyglot and in general just a very cool gent, noted frequently that 'stress is an inhibitor to learning' - and as far as I am concerned, he was absoutely right. Languages are particularly daunting, but don't stress! Smile, breathe, and learn in a calm place where you can focus. As before, make it fun and relaxing for yourself in any way you can. Try not to work with the tv or music on too, it really messes with your head and sucks concentration out (interestingly, one type music said to help and possibly improve concentration is classical baroque). The key here, relax, and enjoy the process. You are making progress whether you notice it or not, be proud of that!
- ◊ -

A short tangent here; I am (admittedly) a culprit of the deep sigh. Many times, when I come across a new concept I just can't get my head around, I tend to make some kind of animalistic noise and pray for a divine, Lyra Bellaqua-esque boon to come across my brain (this only happened once, and if you missed my infallible performance of Rachmaninov, then shame on you...). But learning to love these moments is possible. With a moment of oblique thinking, problems become games, and who doesn't like games?

I suppose my closing point here is that the challenges that accompany langauges are numerous, but as many have proved, it is of course totally within your reach! I hope some of these tips have been helpful, good luck to you, and please post any questions and comments below.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Jimzip


(1) There's a great program called Anki which I find invaluable, it's flash cards done right, designed with proper time-based recall and a great mobile app. It's pricey (iPhone/Android version $25) but worth it if you are serious. The app for Mac/PC is free,and super powerful.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thefty Monsters & Freedom

To me, the theft of my bike last week was as a deathknell of sorts - at least to my stint in Vancouver. It gave me an odd sense of closure to a few stressful months back in the city I came to know so well. Being there slap in the middle of winter did not help the post-theft downer much either.

I often remark that no matter where I am in the world, my three most important possessions (other than essentials like wallet and clothing) are without doubt my laptop, my camera and my bike. In particular, it is because these three items give me what I consider almost total freedom. They allow me to be spontaneous, and they let me stay professionally, creatively and physically active wherever I end up, and that is something I value greatly.


Despite what you'll often hear, it is amazingly liberating to have no car. I have continuously been told throughout my life how useful a licence would be, and how much I would love the freedom a car provides. True, possibly. Yet in an ironic twiddle, I actually feel that I have been able to do things and reach places no driver can without one. I'm certain that I have traveled and explored places more intimately by bike and on foot than I ever could have in a vehicle. The ability to swing down a sidestreet or through a park, to swerve onto the sidewalk, lock it up wherever you feel works, or hop off a any moment is truly a great feeling. With a backpack and a bottle of water on hand, I guess it's just a question of which street to pick today. Also it's cheap.

When my bike disappeared therefore, I felt like I had been slapped. It was something of a rude reminder that in the city with such incredible beauty and such great people, there is ever that undercurrent of something lurking just underneath the veneer. Having gone through multiple thefts here (some by my own design, but most just plain bad luck) I wasn't really too perturbed. In truth, the reaction when I came upon the vacant spot in the bike rack was closer to a short, accepting nod of the head and 'huh' than shock.

Despite having most of my possessions re-distributed among the city's lesser-fortunate though, I must say I certainly still love Vancouver. Some of my best friends are here, and I hope to return often - but perhaps next time I'll just come back in the summer ... the sun, sea, and fun are enough to tear any unpleasantness far into the horizon.

For now, a ticket is booked for me back to Europe, and Berlin, where a new bike and more exploring awaits.

Jimzip