Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Harry Potter World Photos = Travel Plans For 2010

I'm fairly certain I will be visiting Orlando, Florida, in the near future. As in Spring 2010.
That is where they are building a Harry Potter attraction. Here are some 3D renderings.
There's more photos here. I've already been to Platform 9 3/4 so I really ought to make the complete journey!
Thanks to The Park Bench for the link.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Live Curling Discussion On The Interweb

I just got this in my inbox (click to enlarge):
Oh happy day. Once again the Canadian Curling Association comes through an interesting email. Too bad the 'Register' links weren't hyperlinked, and I couldn't figure out how to register via their website. Plus I have to work so I'll miss it. I wonder if it'll be archived? I might have to 'work around it'...
**UPDATE: The Registration link is here. Thanks to The Curling News blog for the link.

A Mythbusters Top 5

It's no secret one of my favourite things is Mythbusters.
Here's a compilation of some great Mythbusters links that I took a look at recently:
  1. Mythbusters: Just the Facts - Listen in as Adam and Jamie give an interview. This is a great behind the scenes look at Mythbusters. Did you know they're both married, and Adam has 10yr old twin boys (who apparently take after their father)? (1hr 8mins)
  2. Mythbusters Adam Savage's Colossial Failures - Another great interview with Adam. He talks a lot about failure, but also about a lot of great Mythbuster stuff. (59mins)
  3. Mythbusters: Comic Con 2009 - Listen and watch the video of this year's Comic Con session with Jamie, Adam, Grant and Tory. (45mins)
  4. A Talk With Adam Savage - Yet another interview where Adam talks about the show's beginning, it's effect on kids and skepticism. (8mins)
  5. The 10 Coolest Things We Saw At The Mythbusters Studio - Actual photographs of behind the scenes.
+1 - Adam Savage talks about his obsessions (mostly about dodo skeletons and the Maltese Falcon, 17mins)
There's also tons of videos on youtube (Warning: watching Mythbusters on youtube is a time sucking vortex that will prevent you from doing your homework).
The new season of Mythbusters will be on Discovery in October. I can't wait!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Music Monday: Dancing The Twangy Night Away With Deep Dark Woods

Saturday night was a good night!
I went to the Bonnie Doon Hall to see what was being called "The Roots and Blues Roadshow" (you shoulda seen the tickets, coolest tickets ever - they were playing cards!). Though I'd driven by the building, I never knew Bonnie Doon Hall existed as a concert venue, but it was a good one. The raised stage was at the top of a long rectangle, and much to my surprise there were tables flanking both sides (I was expecting a bar gig kinda thing). After meeting up with my friends, we sat ourselves down at a table with a lovely older couple and a few other people it turns out my friend knew (small world). You have no idea how welcome a table and chair was after a long day at school! Anyways, one of the highlights of the night was making friends with the lovely older couple - I'm sure I'll see them again at a gig soon as they have fantastic taste in music!
First up was a quiet set from David Ross Macdonald, formerly of Australia, formerly of The Waifs. My tablemates informed us he married a fan he met the the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, and now lives here (so there's hope for me yet at next year's EFMF!). I enjoyed his set, it was quite mellow, just guy and guitar, and he sure can play that guitar! I would definitely catch a set of his if he ever showed up on the EFMF schedule.
(And that is what happens when you're not allowed a flash in a dark venue. Bother.)
Next was a set from Little Miss Higgins and Foy Taylor. My tablemates couldn't stop singing her praises, but Little Miss Higgins is not quite my thing. I enjoyed her set, and would see her live again but wouldn't buy a CD. She's a bit too bluesy for me. Her lyrics are definitely interesting and lively though, and the duo can also play those guitars!
Finally came the highlight of the night, The Deep Dark Woods. I first saw them in April, and fell in love with their broody, guitar-driven twang. And the guys did not disappoint. I owed one of my friends for being dull last time we saw them, so I was up there, front row centre, dancing in front of the stage with the rest of the crazy dancers. Dancing, you say? How can you dance to brooding, guitar-driven twang? Well good grief, we're not in high school any more so you can dance however you like! Music like this inspires a lot of swaying, and foot stomping, and twirling, and general frivolity that leads to lots of singing and smiling.
Good times.
Then, The Deep Dark Woods and Little Miss Higgins did a set together. I only stayed for a couple songs, but the two groups really meshed well together. The silliest part of the night was Little Miss Higgins singing "Bargan Bin Panties" with all the boys on backup. Too funny.
It was a great show, and I really enjoyed myself. I loved dancing to The Deep Dark Woods like a lunatic, and I enjoyed meeting the lovely older couple (lovely older couples were a rarity amongst the hipsters). Hopefully The Deep Dark Woods come back again soon, I have no doubt they'll be able to sell out a bigger venue at some point in the future.
Below is the (goofy) video for my favourite Deep Dark Woods song, as well as another gooder. If you enjoy the videos, check out some of the links below.
Check out hearya's live session with the band, which includes two new songs, more videos and some great mp3s to download.
You can find the bands at:
The Deep Dark Woods Myspace
If you like The Deep Dark Woods or these bands in general, you might also like:

Music Monday: October Gigs Galore

There are tons of great gigs going on in Edmonton in October!*
October Gigs Galore:
I'm going to Elliot Brood and The Wooden Sky, and would love to see Lennie Gallant too but I think homework might win out that night (I'm still on the fence regarding that). I wouldn't mind seeing Chris Isaak, Harry Manz, Moby and Blue Man Group, but as usual I'm not made of money and/or have to work.
*Gig list is not exhaustive, and only reflects artists I might like/know of. Please feel free to comment on other suggestions.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Super Snake Species Invades Florida

I'm not a snake fan (and if you're not either stop reading now) but I've seen this same story four times in the news/journal/tv/internet so it must be a news-worthy problem. Apparently a giant hybrid species of Burmese/African Rock python is invading the Florida Everglades (read about it here and here...). Apparently "Florida now faces what one scientist calls one of the U.S. state's 'worst nightmares.'" Yikes. Who knew?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mac's Snow Leopard: Yay or Nay?

Two weeks ago I managed to track down a copy of Mac OS X Snow Leopard, the latest operating system upgrade for my beloved macbook. It's supposed to be faster, easier, more advanced, blah blah blah, but it was only $35 so I caved and bought it.
First, a friend recommended I backup my hard drive onto an external hard drive using Time Machine, Mac's built in backup application. The last time I tried to use Time Machine to back up to an external hard drive the backup failed and my external hard drive got fried. I had to stand in four different lines and talk to four different people at BestBuy in order to get it replaced. Thus I was terrified of trying Time Machine again, but it worked and my external hard drive is just fine.
One hurdle jumped - next: install Snow Leopard. Actually, it was super easy. I just followed the instructions. Nothing exploded. Yippee skippee.
So, how do I like my new and improved macbook?
Overall, I can barely tell the difference, but most of the differences I have noticed have been positive:
  1. It 'seems' to have 'solved' my Safari-crashing nightmare. Safari (my preferred web browser) was crashing like a dozen times a day and it was beyond annoying (and no, I did not just switch to Firefox because I just don't like it for some reason). Since installing Snow Leopard, Safari has only crashed once, a week after installation, and because I opened 20+ tabs at the same time. Oops, my bad. I am overjoyed that Safari doesn't crash regularily. This improvement alone was worth the $35.
  2. I like the new hot corners expose thing. When I want to display all the windows/programs open, all I have to do is mouse over my hot corner and all the windows shrink and appear. This happened in the old system, but now they are displayed in an organized fashion, and my OCD nature likes this better.
  3. It loads pretty fast. I'm not sure if it's much faster than before, but it's fast.
  4. It saved me space on my hard drive. Yay.
So far I've only notice a few annoying bad things since installing Snow Leopard:
  • Safari wont save my log in information for Facebook and Twitter, so I have to log in every time. Before, I used to stay logged in until I actually logged out, regardless of whether I closed the browser of turned off my laptop. I'm just lazy and don't want to type in the same log in all the time.
  • Sometimes weird frames appear around windows, or the top tool bar doesn't appear on startup, but does after I open a program. This bothers me less than Safari always crashing, so I'm willing to put up with it.
  • The worst thing is that I can't watch any of the videos from CurlTV.com. This is very annoying and makes me sad because the curling season has just started and they are updating their news videos almost every day. Plus it's hard to take advantage of my Free Friday membership if I can't watch the videos. Because I am a grumpy old woman, I've already emailed them about the problem and they've assure me they know about it and are working on it. UPDATE: I just went to the CurlTV.com site to get the link for the hyperlink and it looks like it's fixed!!! Yay!! Once again, the CurlTV guys come through for the fans.
In conclusion, I like Snow Leopard, and know it was worth the $35. If you haven't already upgraded, I highly recommend heading west to the Apple Store or WestWorld and picking up a copy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Huh?

Have you notice that new badge on my blog? Of course not, you're reading this through an RSS reader. Well here it is:
"Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.
From the smallest online journals to huge online magazines, Blog Action Day is about mass participation. Anyone is free to join in on Blog Action Day and there is no limit on the number of posts, the type of posts or the direction of thoughts and opinions."
I think this years topic is quite fitting. It was 33degrees yesterday. In Edmonton. In the middle of September. It should be like 15degrees. That's just wrong, and honestly it worries me. A co-worker said to me, as I was complaining about the heat, "Yay, climate change is finally working!" That also is just wrong.
I participated in Blog Action Day last year, albeit somewhat late and as more of an afterthought, so maybe I'll put more thought into this year's post(s) because I think it's an important topic that needs to be shared, discussed, and halted.
Visit the site to register your blog, and then write a post about climate change on October 15. The earth thanks you.

Stress Sucks!

Today I stressed about my car all day. I had to park at a big box strip mall parking lot two blocks away from the train station because its parking lot, the snow route streets and the neighbourhood were full. So all day I stressed about getting tagged and towed. When I finally got back to the train station after school/work late this evening, I stressed about getting tagged and towed and mugged on my way to my car. Thankfully it was there, but as it's not worth the stress, I will probably have to park a further two blocks away at the Walmart (they don't tow, right?). And then I will only have to stress about walking four blocks through not the best neighbourhood at night.
The whole situation is unreasonable. I want to support public transit. I can't afford to pay for parking at the university. But it doesn't make any sense for me to drive 20 mins, walk 20 mins (in the dodgy area, often at night), and then take the train for 25 mins to get to school. It take 30mins to drive to the university. Even if I park far away in the neighbourhood and walk 15 mins to school, I still would beat the train.
Bah!!
So add to this stress the stress of four jobs, classes, and looming assignments. Plus I insist on filling my calendar with fun things like concerts and hockey games and curling and hanging out with friends, but then I stress even more because I don't have time to write stupid grad school papers.
And the thing is, I know better. I know how stress negatively affects my body and health. This makes me more stressed because I don't want to have a repeat of what happened during the "London Years" because I'm not sure I'd be able to handle that again.
Double bah!!!!
Oh, and Dr. Oz says chronic stress contributes to belly fat. So my spare tire is not my fault. It's the systems fault.
I can't wait to be unemployed after grad school, then I'll only have to stress about finding a job...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Music Monday: An Evening With The Tragically Hip

Last week I went to what might just be the best concert I've seen in 2009 - The Tragically Hip were in town!
They played four shows at the Jubilee, and while they didn't play some of my favourite songs, they did play plenty of others I love too!
The best part about seeing The Tragically Hip live is watching Gord Downie. He dances, prances, rants and raves all around the stage. A lot. It makes me smile. A lot. At one point he tripped over a speaker, but didn't miss a word and did the rest of the verse flat on his back! The people in the front row sure got a show too, he totally interacted with them, talking to them, throwing towels at them, stealing cellphones, getting them to sing back up, even allowing one lucky fan to strum his guitar!! He also went into the crowd a bunch of times. It was some show, that's for sure.
A-maz-ing.
Here is some footage of his antics from the current tour to keep you entertained. The last one is from the concert I went to, filmed by a lucky lucky lucky person right in the front row. So if you ever get a chance to see The Hip live, go! I guarantee it will be one of the best concerts you'll ever see!
You can find The Tragically Hip at:
If you like the Tragically Hip, you might also like:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paddling Down the North Saskatchewan

As the 'London Years' were drawing to a close, after four years of homesickness (well, actually, only the last 1.5 years were plagued with constant homesickness), I vowed to do two things after returning to Canada - try curling and go canoeing.

I took up curling two months after I moved home, and today, two years later, I finally got to go canoeing.

Sort of.

A friend and I went on a day trip with Edmonton Canoe today, and paddled down the North Saskatchewan River. First off, conditions were not ideal, but we booked three weeks ago and had to go. It was about 15 degrees, so not cold per say, but windy. We parked the car at Emily Murphy Park in Edmonton's river valley at 9am, paid our $50 each and then boarded the bus out to Devon. Devon is a small town about 30km south west of Edmonton, so it didn't take too long. After arriving by the Devon highway bridge, and a short bathroom break, we got into our kayak and set off.

Yes, I said kayak. Apparently somehow we got booked into a kayak, while the rest of the daytrippers got canoes, except for one other pair in a kayak. It took us a bit to figure out how to go/stop/steer but we got it in the end. I'd never been in a kayak before, but hadn't been in a canoe since I was like 12 so there wasn't really a skill level difference or anything. It was an unguided trip, so we set out on our own to conquer the North Saskatchewan.

Here's a few pictures from the river:


That's me trying to dry my pants during lunch. I was wearing 2 layers on bottom and 5 on top. At least I wasn't cold!


The only shot we got of the river.


Who made this footprint? Time to get back on the river!


Me under the Anthony Henday freeway. We made it to Edmonton!! Notice how the wind is inflating my hood...


My view for 6 hrs. What you can't see is all the splashback from her paddle!

So. The trip down the North Saskatchewan River to Edmonton is about 40km and usually takes between 5-7 hours. However, today there was a wicked headwind on two large north flowing sections of the river (30-50km, whitecaps and everything - if we didn't paddle we went backwards, I reckon this was how it was probably half the trip), plus wind the whole way through. It was hard. Very hard. Way harder than I though. Plus we had no map, so we really had no idea where we were or how far we'd gone.

Did I mention paddling through a wicked headwind is really, really, really hard? Did I mention we are not in the best shape?

It was so hard.

After we crossed the Henday, we were a bit hopeful because at least we were in Edmonton. At 4pm, we suddenly saw someone waving on the side of the river. We yelled at her, and she said she was from the canoe company and did we want to get out?

Heck ya! I'm pretty sure I even told her I loved her.

And then she told us we were only half way. Yes, that's right, it took us 6 hrs to paddle half way. That's how long we were supposed to be on the river in total, and we only got half freakin' way. I checked it out - we paddled about 25km through a wicked wind for 6 hrs and only made it half way to Edmonton!!!
We hauled our kayak up the side of the river to where the canoe truck had parked at Terwillegar Dog Park. There were a couple other canoes from out group there, and over the next hour a dozen more arrived.

And that's when the stories started. One canoe tipped, stranding the family who had to be rescued by a fire truck, and the canoe got lost. Another canoe only got 30 minutes in before tipping and then returning to Devon. More than half of the other canoes tipped. One canoe got swept into the water by the wind while everyone was on lunch and they had to swim to get it back. Some people portaged or dragged their canoes part way. Only one canoe and the other kayak somehow made it all the way back to Emily Murphy Park (I think they had superhuman strength?!). This was only the second time this summer a trip was cut short. And my poor friend was freezing while sopping wet in the canoe truck.

It was kinda crazy.

In hindsight, the kayak was the best option. We had a back rest, and we figured it was more stable and easier to steer (after consulting with a couple other canoe-ers). However, I think the canoes went faster (but that might be because we're wimps) and the kayak definitely had a crap-ton of splashback water in it, while the canoes barely had any water at the botton. The kayak paddles, as opposed to canoe paddles, caused a lot of water to fly in my face off my friend's paddle, and since we were so low in the water, our paddling accumulated a lot of water in the kayak, which we had to sit in the whole way because it never came with a cover. We also weren't given a bail bucket like the canoes. BUT most of the canoes tipped, so really I doubt they were better off wet-wise. We were all wet and cold and exhausted.

We had to wait an hour for the van to come get us, and then it drove us back to the car, and we headed home.

I can't move my arms. And they hurt so much. 6hrs paddling in the wind!!! Seriously, what were we thinking. I am in so much pain right now. It feels like tiny goblins are nibbling at my biceps and wrists. I don't even want to think about how hurtin' I'll feel tomorrow. By then my back and neck will be throbbing in agony and the tiny goblins will have turned into fat trolls of terror.

But when (if) the pain wears off in a couple days I'll have nice muscles, and just in time for curling too! I'll be a good sweeper this year!

The trip really wasn't what I thought it would be. I was imagining an idilic leisurely paddle down the river. It was really challenging though, I'd put it way up there with climbing Mount Sinai. It was fun though, and a great accomplishment even if we only made it half way.

Would I go again? Of course. I still haven't fulfilled my canoeing dream. However, I would only go out for a shorter 2-4 hr paddle on calm waters. And since the scenery is similar to floating down the Pembina River, and that requires no arm effort or pre-booking in case of weather, I would rather float than paddle. But yes, I'd take a trip with Edmonton Canoe again Maybe next summer after I've forgotten what the pain feels like...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cereality - Best Restaurant Idea Ever!

Watching the Food Network on TV is one of my many unproductive hobbies. I'm particularly fond of Ace of Cakes, Food Network Challenge and anything with Jamie Oliver in it.
But watching Unwrapped the other day, I witnessed the best idea ever!
Cereality is a cereal cafe (locations only in the states, boo)! You get to choose from tons of types of cereals, mix any kind you want, and then add toppings such as syrup, candy or nuts. After you've received your concoction in a take-away chinese food type container, you head on over to the milk bar, fill'er up and enjoy! That's my idea of a perfect meal. They also make specialty breakfasts, and offer take-out in your own cereal box.
I need to visit...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cyclist (Me) Hit By A Truck

Two nights ago I witnessed a hit and run car accident.
Last night I got hit by a truck while riding my bike.
Don't panic! We are both ok! My shoulder, wrist and neck hurt a bit, and my handlebars got twisted but they are fixed now and I'm sure my shoulder will feel better before curling starts (fingers crossed).
What happened?
I was out for my regular bike ride, which is 14km of bike trails, and quiet residential roads - absolutely nothing dangerous about that. I was riding on a bike path, coming up to an intersection with a traffic light. The light was green and the walk sign was on. There was a truck stopped at the light. He did not have a signal light on, thus I assumed he was waiting for the light to turn because he was stopped at the stop line, not in the crosswalk or anything. I slowed down and checked for cars turning left, looked at the stopped truck again, made sure the walk light was still on, and proceeded to ride across the road.
And then the idiot in the truck decided to turn right. Thankfully he had only just began to move when he hit me, so he wasn't going very fast at all. My bike tipped sideways and I did this most ungraceful split thing, but didn't completely fall over on my bike. I'm not even sure where he hit me. Anyways, I picked myself and my bike up and he was like "Did I hit you?" to which I responded "Yes!" The light had since turned so I walked across the crosswalk and he drove away. I happened so fast, I should've said something to him about not signalling or gotten his license plate, but I didn't, I just walked across the road, in shock.
Two cars had stopped to ask if I was ok, as did a man and his kid who where walking nearby (thus restoring my faith in Edmontonians). My shoulder hurt a little and I immediately noticed my handle bars were a bit screwed up, but I was ok so I said so and life returned to normal for everyone. I walked a bit down the path, and then rode the rest of the way home, which was a bit difficult because of my handlebars, but not too much of a problem. My dad helped me fix my handlebars, but shhh! Don't tell my parents I got hit or they'll take away my bike and prohibit me from riding. They already think cycling in the city is dangerous.
I don't think any of it was my fault. Maybe I should have dismounted to cross the road, but I don't usually, nor do most cyclists I've seen. I checked and double checked for cars. I'm pretty sure it was his fault for not signalling or indicating his intention to turn, and for not looking while doing so.
My shoulder hurts a little, my neck and wrist a bit and I've got some bruises on my legs too, but I'm sure it'll be fine in a couple of days. And it's not really that bad at all because he was going really slow and I didn't really get hit that hard. It could've been bad though, really bad. It's been a bad summer for local cyclists.
But, this wont stop me from riding my bike in the city.
I hope the truck's front bumper is all scratched up. Idiot redneck truck driver. USE YOUR SIGNAL LIGHT WHEN YOU DRIVE!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Have You Ever Called 911?

Last night, I called the emergency number for the fourth time. When I lived in England, I called 999 (the UKs emergency number) twice, and since returning to Canada I've called 911 twice.
Here's a list of all the times I've called 999/911:
  1. London: 2006 or 2007? There was a domestic disturbance in our apartment complex one night, at like 3am. We dialed 999 for over an hour and didn't ever get through.
  2. London: 2006 or 2007? I was walking to school at 7:30am, and had just crossed the road. About 30 seconds later I heard a crash behind me, and turned to find a car accident on the corner I had just crossed from. I called 999, as did a lot of other people, but since I didn't actually see the accidents, and there were already responders on the scene, the operator told me to continue to work.
  3. Edmonton: summer of 2009: My mom was sick, so I called an ambulance at 2am. I also turned down an ambulance ride - my dad went instead. Don't worry though, my mom is fine now.
  4. Edmonton: last night 2009: I was waiting to turn left at a set of traffic lights and witnessed a hit and run fender bender. What a coward! I called 911, and was on hold for about two minutes before getting through, but since I never got the coward's license plate, I doubt I will be much help. I was the first caller, and fire and police were dispatched shortly after. The other driver was fine, the back of his car though, not so much.
It weird that all of this has happened in the past few years. Read about Canada's 911 system and it's problems here, and about what they are doing to upgrade the system for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Check out this page for the history or emergency numbers, and for charts displaying other countries emergency numbers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Music Monday: The Swifty's + Musical Reflections From A Grumpy Old Woman

On Wednesday night, I went to a gig at the Empress Ale House - rather a spur of the moment outing - but I couldn't resist a free concert by The Swifty's!
Mark Davis from Old Reliable joined in on the second set, and Corb Lund was in the audience too.
It was a good night: The Swifty's were great, I verified Old Reliable are coming out of retirement, and saw Corb Lund in real life. Corb Lund has a new CD coming out the end of the month, and a bunch of concert dates this fall. He's not coming to Edmonton though (weird), and is offering a limited edition CD/DVD with a concert ticket, so it looks like I'm going to Red Deer instead.
Wednesday night was a weird outing though, in that I realized a few things about 'music'.
First, I am an uncool fangirl. Corb Lund walked right by me and I was all like "Wow, there's Corb Lund, that's so awesome, I love Corb Lund, and he walked by me, how cool is that, look, he's over there." This woman we were with works at one of the local indie radio stations and she retorted "I always see him here." which made me feel like a total loser. I love music, and get super excited when I see the musicians in settings that don't involve a stage. Jim Cuddy once walked right by me at folk fest and I talked about it for days (years...). I never talk to musicians in real life though (what would I say?). I just prefer to admire from afar.
Second, I know nothing about music or the local scene, nor do I know anyone important. Radio-station-woman goes to two gigs a week. Radio-station-woman has heard the new Old Reliable stuff before anyone else. Radio-station-woman knows The Swifty's drummer. Ok, so I don't work at a radio station, but it was like everyone at the bar knew everyone else and they'd seen all the great shows (I knew nothing about). Stuff that I thought was new and exciting was old news to them.
Third, I am (almost) too much of a grumpy old woman to go to bar gigs. Midnight rolled around and my friend and I were tired and complaining about getting up for work the next day, when Radio-station-woman proclaimed we were in a 'musician's bar' and that all of the rest of the revelers didn't have real jobs, and thought nothing of staying out till 2am on a weeknight. Bar gigs are great because you can get really close to the band, they are cheap, involve dancing and are a great way to support new and local acts, but they never start on time, end late, and involve standing for hours and hours. Plus they are hard to go to solo. I think I've reached a point in my life where I prefer more expensive shows that start at a predetermined time, involve sitting in a chair, and end before I turn into a pumpkin at midnight. That's not to say bar gigs and auditorium gigs differ in music quality though - a stellar band is a stellar band, regardless of the venue. And the best venue is still sitting on a hill at folk fest.
Good gig, but weird night.
You can find the musicians at:
If you like these musicians, you might also like:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why Travelling Is A Waste Of Time

My random internet pottering today has turned up a rather interesting blogpost by Penelope Trunk called "4 Reasons travelling is a waste of time. " Her reasons are:
  1. There are more effective ways to try new things.
    "So if you hope that travel will change how you see the world, doing something [at home] each week to see the world differently will have more impact than doing it one time, seven days in a row."
  2. Cultural differences are superficial. Economic differences matter.
    "...you don't need to leave the US to find cultures different from your own."
  3. People who love their lives don't leave.
    "So instead of traveling somewhere, how about figuring out what you'd really love to be doing with your time, and do that? In your real, day-to-day life."
  4. Travel is not the time to do deep thinking.
    "My guess is that the things you are aiming to accomplish while you travel are generally things you could accomplish on a deeper level if you stayed home and made changes to your life instead of running away."
Read her opinion, it's quite interesting, and maybe even quite true. Her viewpoint is one I hadn't thought of before, and after reflecting on her thoughts, I do agree.
As a [former] avid traveller, I had specific reasons for hopping on a plane: I wanted to see 'stuff' mostly. I wouldn't trade my travels for anything, but I did come to one conclusion by the end: it's not where you go, it's who you're with that makes the trip worthwhile. A European church is a European church and a French cafe is a French cafe, but sharing both with a good friend is worth a memory (and a picture or two). That being said, this can also be accomplished down the street from where you live, instead of after a bout of jet lag.
Now that I'm home, I'm also a big believer in 'staycations'. We don't appreciate what we have in our own neighbourhood, and there is lot's of local 'stuff' that should be seen and experienced. I am still considering doing a big Africa trip next year though, because I do want to experience something that is so different from my life, something which would help me to better appreciate what I have.
I do wholeheartedly agree with Trunk's third reason - I am all for finding something I really love, and doing it more often in my daily life. In my case this will probably happen after I finish grad school (hopefully I'll have some time then, as I'll be in more control of my life, oh and I'll have a cat too). The curling season is starting though, and that usually goes a long way to boosting my contentment.
I guess the whole point of today's ramble is that happiness is free, and in your own backyard - you just need to remember that and take the time out of you stressful life to enjoy it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Distracted Much?

Welcome to my world:
(Link via Stephen's Lighthouse. Click here for the direct link.)
Well, not quite. I have no use for myspace, find facebook annoying and have already given up on online dating. Plus (shock horror) I'm thinking of giving up twitter too. Now that school is back in session and I'm working four jobs, I really don't have time. I know it has it's good points, but, well, life's too short and I've got other things to do. Besides, the new tv season starts now/soon, as does curling. There are just too many things vying for my attention.
What do you think? Should I quit twitter??

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guitar Hero/Rockband Discoveries

It's no secret I'm a big Guitar Hero fan. Recently, the Beatles edition of Rockband was released. I'm not a huge Beatles fan, though it would be fun to try out. But can I play the Beatles Rockband with my wii Guitar Hero guitars? After a bit of research, I've finally found a good instrument capability chart. Can you use Guitar Hero instruments with Rockband and vice versa? Check here for all the info.
Guitar Hero 5 is also out, and it looks decent so that would be fun to try too. I'd also like to buy a microphone. You can buy the mics from the Guitar Hero store for $20 (US), but I would rather find one in a store somewhere near. Looks like I need to go to the mall again! I've also heard knock-off mics work, but am not certain about that.
While looking at the Guitar Hero store, I came across some items up fro pre-order:
  • DJ Hero - out the end of October, this comes with a turntable thingy. Nope, not interested.
  • Band Hero - out in November, I think this differs from Guitar Hero only slightly. It seems to be more pop song and family oriented. Nope, not interested either.
  • Also out soon, Guitar Hero Van Halen. I'd try it, but not buy it.
What I'm really waiting for is a good version of Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii. Yeah, there are games out there, but mostly the music sucks or they are from 2005. I will fork out three figures for a dance mat with good music. Rumour has it Dance Hero might be coming soon?? I'd buy it. I also wish they'd come out with Canadian Guitar Hero. How about Tragically Hip Hero? Blue Rodeo Hero? Maybe one day...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

9-9-9

It's 9-9-9 today! It's the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninth year of the decade.
Why is it so special? The number 9 has different significances in different countries, and is important for math theory as well. As far as the calendar goes:
"...it also represents the last set of repeating, single-digit dates that we'll see for almost a century (until January 1, 2101), or a millennium (mark your calendars for January 1, 3001), depending on how you want to count it."
The movie '9' comes out today, and the Beatles are also re-releasing albums.
Check out this great article on the history and significance of the number 9. There's another article here also. Thanks to the edmontonian for the link!
Whenever I think of the number 9, I get transported back to the eighties. One of my favourite TV shows was 'Square One', a fun math show on PBS. I often used the tricks I learned from this show as a kid in my classroom. There's a neat 9 times table finger trick that can be done by putting down certain fingers and counting how many are left on each side, which the kids loved because it was "like cheating". And of course there's the trick of adding the digits from a 9 times table fact. Check that out here, from one of my favourite Square One videos (seriously I still know all the words to this one!):
...I just wasted a lot of time well spent watching the old Square One videos on Youtube. Here's another one of my favourites:
And there's a bunch of Mathnet videos on there too. Ah nostalgia, ain't it great!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Beautiful Library + A Lovely Accent

Oh, check out Neil Gaiman's library. I'm not even a big fan of his writing, but his library has totally increased his cool cred in my books!
One day maybe I'll have a library like that. One can dream, right? There are more photos here. Thanks to The Park Bench for the link.
Also, thanks to The Curling News for this link to an interview with Scotland's David Murdoch. He's a world champion curler, and also has a lovely accent (thus that's 4 minutes well spent).
It was a good day for link!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Music Monday: Share

Following music blogs does have it's perks: I've recently discovered a great new band (via Herohill).
Share is a pop-folk-experimental-fusion-whatever group from Halifax. They've just released a new album titled 'Slumping In Your Murals', and it's definitely worth a listen.
You can find them at:
If you like Share, you might also like:
I'll leave you with the cutest music video ever:

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my birthday. Yay me. Here are some interesting facts about September 6, the 249th day of the year.
Famous People Who Share My Birthday:
  • 1666 - Tsar Ivan V of Russia
  • 1814 - George-Étienne Cartier (Canadian politician)
  • 1944 - Swoosie Kurtz (actress)
  • 1947 - Jane Curtin (actress)
  • 1957 - Michaelle Jean (Canada's current Govenor General)
  • 1958 - Jeff Foxworthy (comedian)
  • 1963 - Mark Chesnutt (singer)
  • 1963 - Alice Sebold (author)
  • 1964 - Rosie Perez (actress)
  • 1971 - Dolores O'Riordan (singer)
  • 1979 - Foxy Brown (singer)
Famous Events That Share My Birthday:
  • 1522 - The Victoria, one of the surviving ships of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition, returns to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the world.
  • 1620 - The Pilgrims sail from Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower to settle in North America.
  • 1666 - The Great Fire of London was finally put out after four days.
  • 1852 - Britain's first free lending library opened in Manchester.
  • 1915 - The first prototype tank is tested for the British Army for the first time.
  • 1939 - Germans capture Cracow, Poland.
  • 1941 - German jewish citizens were forced to wear yellow stars of David on their clothes.
  • 1942 - The German advance into the USSR was halted at Stalingrad.
  • 1944 - The city of Ypres, Belgium is liberated by allied forces.
  • 1949 - Allied military authorities relinquish control of former Nazi Germany assets back to German control.
  • 1952 - Canada's first television station, CBFT-TV, opens in Montreal.
  • 1953 - Thirty Canadians freed in final exchange of POWs with the North Korean Communists.
  • 1972 - Munich Massacre: 9 Israel athletes taken hostage at the Munich Olympic Games by the Palestinian "Black September" terrorist group died (as did a German policeman) at the hands of the kidnappers during a failed rescue attempt, 2 other Israeli athletes are slain in the initial attack the previous day.
  • 1977 - All Canadian provinces convert highway signs to metric; except Quebec and Nova Scotia.
  • 1977 - Death of Leslie MacFarlane who wrote the first 20 books of the Hardy Boys adventure series for boys but was paid a pittance for these bestsellers.
  • 1990 - Death of Tom Fogerty, American singer (b. 1941).
  • 1991 - The Soviet Union recognizes the independence of the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • 1992 - Punky Gustavson disappeared from her north Edmonton yard. Her body was found two days later in a truck yard.
  • 1994 - Death of Georges Cartier, founder of Quebec's Bibliothèque Nationale.
  • 1997 - The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales takes place at Westminster Abbey.
  • 2007 - Death of Madeleine L'Engle, American author (born 1918).
  • 2007 - Death of Luciano Pavarotti, Italian tenor, at age 71 (born 1935).
That's a great list of really happy events, eh?! I guess good news doesn't often make news. I blatantly stole most of this from Wikipedia and the corresponding links.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Today's #yeg News: Hot LRT Plans

Twitter just told me some interesting Edmonton news:
  • @joshclassen just reported we hit a new hot temperature record. At 3pm it was 31.7 degrees, which blasts the old record of 31.1 degrees set in 1938. It is far too hot for September, or anytime for that matter. There's a reason I live so far north, the reason being I like to wear socks and sweaters. (UPDATE: it was 32.8 degrees at 6pm - hotest day of the year!)
  • @mastermaq has been tweeting the media briefing for the proposed future of the LRT (Light Rail Transportation). The plan looks great. This city certainly needs more public transportation train routes. The proposed plan has trains heading south to Ellerslie and Millwood, West, East to Sherwood Park, plus north to St. Albert. How will it all be paid for I wonder? I hope it happens before I die. Check it out here and here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

2009 Roar Of The Rings: Volunteer Pep Rally

Today was my first real volunteer experience for the Roar of the Rings Olympic Curling Trials which take place in December (in case you missed this how this all started check out this post) - it was Volunteer Pep Rally Night! I am quite fortunate to be on the volunteer team, because 90% of the volunteers are returning from the World Men's Curling Championship that was held in 2007. This means though that newbies are few and far between.

I headed down to the Northlands Agricom (which is under construction, but is supposed to be finished before the event in December). I checked in and paid my $75 fee, and was then ushered into the women's fitting area. Here, I tried on different sizes of the two crested pieces of uniform we'll get: a black long sleeve pull over and a red and black jacket. They're quite nice actually (even though red is so not my colour), and since part of my motivation for all this is to finally have a crested sports jacket, I'm quite happy with the uniform.

Jackie Rae, a local radio DJ, who is the self professed 'Lord of the Rings' gave a pep talk (she's very nice and quite funny) and then I had my photo taken for my ID badge. Drinks and cookies were available while we met with our group leader. Admittedly I didn't learn very much about what's going to happen from this meeting, but did glean some bits of wisdom from the other volunteers on the 'Merchandising Crew'. Apparently there are three 'shops' that we will be working at (2 at Rexall where the event is held, one at Northlands near the bar area called 'The Patch') which are open from 10am-10pm. We are required to work 30hrs over the week. It sounds like we'll just be doing retail work: finding sizes, helping customers etc. Someone said we can buy a parking pass, or ride free on transit with an ID badge (I've got a Upass for transit from school, so this doesn't apply to me, though I think it's a great idea). I also got a goodie bag of free stuff (Tim Horton's cup, air freshner, bottle of water, pen, M&M Meatshop and Boston Pizza coupon). It was a bit overwhelming, but I'm sure I'll learn more from the emails that come out over the next few months.

I guess we can watch any of the curling for free when we're not working. One woman said we get assigned seating, but another woman told me you just sat in an empty chair or stood wherever you could. Free viewing is nice, but depending on my schedule I might get some single tickets to sit with family. Or go home and watch it on tv (and let's face it, I'll rewatch the entire thing from TSN's online archive over the Christmas holidays anyways).

All the volunteers and the organizing crew seem really nice. The vast majority of the volunteers appear to be lovely retired folks, which is great because I like hanging out with lovely retired folks (they are far less pretentious and judgmental than people my age, in my opinion anyways). I was definitely the youngest one there. I think it'll be a bit like folk fest, where you can just talk to anyone, and I'm quite good at making friends like that. Curling fans are pretty awesome, so I reckon it'll be a fun and friendly atmosphere.

I happened to be taking the LRT home with another volunteer, and she told me a bit about volunteering for the 2007 Worlds and a past figure skating event. She said everyone is nice, and that she did get to see a bunch of athletes, though she never really met any of them. She seemed to think that The Patch would be full of rowdy partiers (more so than the figure skating or world's for some reason), and that the curlers wouldn't necessarily make appearances there. Overall she said she enjoyed the experiences though.

It was an interesting night. I think because I am doing this alone (ie. without a spouse like most of the other volunteers) and I don't know anyone because I haven't done it before (unlike 90% of the rest of the volunteers) I might get a bit lonely. I'm fine with that though, because I'm sure I'll meet lot's of nice people over the course of the week and various family members will be around for part of it. But I don't think I'll be Patching it. Watching curling by myself is fine, but I draw the line at going to the bar alone. Which might be a shame because I'm getting the impression it's the place to be. Oh well. I don't drink anyways. I do hope I get to see some curlers though!