Thursday, 13 January 2011

Edumacation

In an attempt to further develop myself, I've subscribed to the Economist.  Now I just need to read it.  Got what I figured to be a pretty good student rate and decided to take advantage of it.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

International Top Gear

The British motoring show Top Gear is arguably one of my favourite shows.  I've followed it passionately for the last several years, despite the fact that no Canadian network I receive broadcasts it, at least not in it's original hour long BBC run time.  I've always liked British shows.  My Dad raised me on Monty Python, Mr. Bean, and numerous other British comedy shows.  Unfortunately the Americans have a habit of taking good British shows and making US versions of them which fail miserably.

A prime example of this is the British show Scrapheap Challenge, known in North America as Junkyard Wars.  The first few seasons that were produced in the UK saw a lot more ingenious inventions.  The show was hosted by creator Cathy Rogers and actor Robert Llewellyn of Red Dwarf, another great British Show.  The show eventually migrated to the US, and saw a bunch of bullshit "Megawars" spin-offs and such.  I remember that in later seasons the challenges generally ended up resulting in teams pulling mostly working vehicles from the dump, getting them running, modifying them slightly and then completing whatever challenge it was through excessive use of the skinny pedal.  Compare this to the first season where teams built water recovery cranes, it is a bit dull.  This culminated for me with Cathy Rogers second show, Full Metal Challenge, where teams from around the world had to build vehicles that could take on challenges they were not informed of.  This saw many ingenious vehicles, but the American teams vehicle was just an old chevy with an exo, and poorly done at that.  The producers had to inspect their vehicle and make them rework it due to safety reasons.

Anyhow, the point of that rant is that such shows and their Americanization have left a bitter taste in my mouth.  So when I heard a couple years ago that Top Gear was going to release a US version, I was annoyed and sceptical.  However I've just finished watching the last episode of the first season, and I must say I am very impressed.  The show started off a bit slow and seemed to lack chemistry between the hosts, but as the season progressed I really got into it.  What I love most of all is that they just made Top Gear for the US, they didn't try to recreate and mimic what made the UK version popular, namely the types of hosts and the unique, long running jokes.  I could go into detail about what I like and dislike about the US version, but I won't.  Good job US Top Gear team!  You've got yourself another fan!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

NHL.com is stupid

I'm a big hockey fan, but the NHL website pisses me off.  Being from Vancouver, I am a Canucks fan.  Currently the Canucks have won seven straight games and are first in the entire league with a game in hand.  The Sedin twins are two of the best players in the league and are ranked fourth and fifth in points.  Henrik is first in the league for assists, and Daniel is fourth in goals.  We have an amazing goaltending tandem, Kesler is having a career year and is arguably the best two way forward in the league, and in general, we just have great depth.

What does NHL.com cover?  Today the headlines are that the Stars won their sixth straight road game.  Who cares? They still suck.  They point out the Rangers beat the Hurricanes.  Again, who cares, both are mediocre teams.  Once again, they mention that Pitsburg won their game.  It seems that every single day, the front page of the site is splattered with news of Crosby, Ovechkin, the Penguins, or the Capitals.  There are more teams in the league, and while Crosby is playing exceptionally hot right now, they are not the best teams in the league.

As a Canucks fan it is annoying that the Canucks, the hottest and best team in the league right now, are ignored for boring eastern teams.  To me, it seems to be the same business philosophy that makes the league keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, despite the fact that nobody in Phoenix seems to care in any way about hockey.  It's annoying and aggravating. Give attention to the players and teams that deserve it.

Skiing once more on a craptastic little mountain

In the last two seasons I only went skiing a few times.  Three years ago I had a glorious season, at least by my standards, skiing in the Kootenays, where I experienced amazing powder and learned the joys of skiing off piste. After many years of skiing I had become bored, and that season revitalized me.  The following season, I was still enthusiastic about skiing, but was working full time as well as going to school so I only managed to go up a few times.  Last season I skied less than any season since the year I turned five, managing only four runs in a single day of skiing.
Since I quit my job to finish my degree last spring, I decided that this season I would find some time for myself by getting back into skiing this season.  I therefore took advantage of Mount Seymour's great student, early bird rate, buying a season pass for a mere $355.  Being so close to Whistler, where it now costs $91 for a day of skiing, this seemed like  fantastic deal.  The problem is, I haven't skied at Seymour in about 15 years, and had forgotten just how crappy the mountain was.
I shouldn't be complaining.  It's fantastic to be skiing again.  So far I've been twice in the past week.  Having such a cheap season pass for a mountain that is only a half hour from my doorstep also allows me to go up for just a couple of hours, or to go before or after my classes, which was exactly what I did today.  I decided I wanted to get out of the house, so I grabbed my gear and got in a few hours of skiing before I had to head to class; even after sleeping in until 11am.
Seymour is the mountain I first learned to ski on, so I have fond memories of it.  However it is quite small, with limited terrain, an awful restaurant, and only a handful of slow double chairs.  The chairs don't actually bother me, Whitewater only has a few double chairs and it's the best mountain I've ever been to.  Seymour, though, is what one could consider to be the "low cost provider" of the ski resorts, as they offer only basic services and don't quite have the amazing snow and terrain of other mountains to back it up.  In the end though, skiing is skiing.  I'm a poor student, so I'll take what I can get, and thank Seymour for being the only local mountain to offer such affordable rates for a student who otherwise would be in front of the computer.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Living lighter and the no baggage challenge


Earlier while catching up on my reading I caught a "Reader challenge" put forth by Rolf Potts.  Before explaining the challenge I should first frame it.  Potts is an author who, to the best of my knowledge, I have never previously read.  That is to say I was aware of his book yet didn't read it, and have never knowingly read any of his travel articles.  He is best known for the concept of vagabonding, partly characterized by packing extremely light.  Currently he is on a No Baggage Challenge, a six week, round the world trip where he carries everything he needs in the pockets of his vest and pants.  While this might sound very extreme, he's mentioned a couple times in blog posts that it is more meant as a stunt and an experiment to determine if it is truly feasible.  I found out about this through his current cameraman, Justin Glow, who I met almost three years ago in Europe.  Admittedly I only talked to him briefly, and I do not even recall where in Europe I met him (I think it was Salzburg, Austria).  Yet he seemed like an interesting guy with an ongoing story so I found him on Facebook and have discovered a few interesting projects through him, much like this.

Anyhow, the challenge put forth by Potts is to write an essay regarding ways in which you can not only find ways of packing lighter, but also "living lighter", or living your life with less necessary material items.  This really got me thinking, and the more I thought about it, the more I needed to write about it.  In this sense I'm a bit of a paradox.  When I travel, I travel quite light.  Yet I like my material items.  That is not to say I hoard stuff or like to be flashy.  I like to collect things that have meaning to me, and it is incredible how quickly you can collect such things.  Regardless, it's still a bit paradoxical that I can be obsessive about packing light yet as I type I am currently surrounded by crap, and it has led me to think about how I can live a bit lighter in my day to day life.

When I travel I really like to travel light, to the point where I am almost obsessive about it.  When I say I travel light, I don't me to the extent of someone like Potts.  When I was in Europe I stressed about carrying too much stuff and was constantly in search of ways to shed unnecessary gear.  I just recently went camping with my girlfriend, and during planning and packing I argued with her and subsequently apologized as I was being obsessive about not bringing things I deemed to be unnecessary and excessive.  Of course, as with any trip embarked on by those who only travel occasionally, we still left some things we wanted at home and carried around a handful of things we never touched.

On the flip side, I do like "stuff".  My love of things is two fold.  First, I like things that have sentimental value to me.  My display shelf contains the most oddball collection.  There is a stick from the beach we spread my dogs ashes on, a glass insulator from the KVR, the shell of my favorite childhood toy car, some postcards, and so on and so forth.  Three years after my Europe trip I still wear the same hoody and belt, despite their ragtag condition.  Secondly, I like new things.  I recently finished a sociology class in which we studied personality types (as they relate to business).  It turns out that I'm the type of person who gets very excited by new ideas and new things.  This certainly fits with my personality, as I have many various bits of technology, books, and other collectible items that I really probably don't need, but that the concept of excited me enough to acquire them.  I am not however the type of person who hoards things (a pack-rat), or buys things to impress others.  Of course I care what others think of me, everyone does and they're a liar if they say they don't to some extent, but I don't have a need to impress others with material items.  Yet I still have collected a fair bit of stuff in my short years.

So Potts has made me think ahead to how I could live lighter.  I constantly think ahead to how I would pack lighter on my next trip, what other things I would take, what I would leave at home, and what I'd modify.  Yet I have never really thought this way in terms of day to day life and the possessions I keep in my house.  I suppose the easiest area to remove redundant possessions would be to thin out my wardrobe.  I'm not really a trendy, stylish person, but I do have a lot of clothes I don't wear yet hang on to for the one day I might need  a particular item.  I also have boxes of old camping gear, computer parts, office supplies, and cheap collectibles with little value to me that I've kept around for no apparent reason.  I don't have that much stuff which would fall in to that category, but when you stack it all up it does begin to take up a fair bit of room.

As far as what I use on a day to day basis, I can't think of much I would want to give up.  I don't tend to pack heavy.  I don't carry around things I don't use.  I keep only a few keys and a relatively basic phone.  I don't carry unnecessary office supplies to school.  One way that I intend on living lighter is to shed my largest possession of all, my truck.  I don't intend on giving it up entirely, but my goal for the next two semesters is to take public transit to school as opposed to driving.  I've grown accustomed to taking my truck everywhere over the last few years despite the cost benefits of taking transit.

All in all, the challenge from Potts is quite an interesting one, and has caused me to think about my lifestyle on a material level, something I don't often do.  I've quite enjoyed following his no baggage trip thus far, and am excited to not only see how the rest of the trip will go, but also what he intends on doing with all the footage they're shooting.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Introducing Voice Actions for Android

This totally makes me want to get an android phone. Absolutely awesome.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Machete (2010)

Machete (2010)
Just look at the cast listing....Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Cheech Marin, Steven Segal...and those are the supporting cast. This movie looks like it'll be very fun to watch, I really enjoy the intentionally overly campy action movies.