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.