Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Take today for instance. Erika and I are heading out on vacation, which is awesome. Given that I still can't drive, Erika was behind the wheel while I was navigating our way to the long-term parking. Due to its cheap and long-term nature it isn't exactly directly adjacent to the airport.
We brum down the highway.
ERIKA: Which way do we go now?
ME: Just move over a lane and go straight through.
We continue sailing down the highway.
ME: Take the next exit here.
ERIKA: It's the same exit as the airport? That doesn't sound right.
There's always a moment that everyone goes through when they've done something stupid where their brain searches desperately for some way to partition blame. "I can't be that dumb," their brain reasons "someone else MUST have had a hand in this!" And so you can see why I was so choked that not only had I managed to take us a half hour out of our way by directing Erika to the airport instead of the parking lot, but I had somehow managed to do it all on my own. Don't get me wrong though, it's not like my brain didn't try to share the credit:
"She really should have been reminding me that we were going to the parking lot"
"How was I supposed to know that the shuttle service was for people and not cars?"
"If it turned out they were having free parking week at the airport I wouldn't seem so dumb now, would I?"
Alas, but in the end it turned out to be my fault alone.
At this point things were still ok though: We weren't that far (according to the map on my phone), and we had buffer left to burn through because, much to our chagrin, we seem to be that couple who doesn't estimate time very well. Heck, according to our map we were only one U-turn and a 4 mile drive down International Boulevard away from getting parked, checked in, and on our way!
Now folks, let me tell you what I learned about International Boulevard today. This god-forsaken stretch of pseudo-highway is the most painful hunk of red light misery a human being can be subjected to. I don't know which Cro-Magdon urban planner got drunk and decided that there should be a 5 minute light every 200 feet, but they should absolutely be sentenced to drive this broken stretch of pain and misery until they are capable of little more than shaking, crying, and begging for mercy from the people who use it every day. Not that they're likely to get it.
And another thing... you know those lights you get to where you're thinking "Why can't I drive right now? NOBODY IS COMING THE OTHER WAY!" Every light was like that, and 5 minutes long to boot. I swear to god that a family of ducks crossed the intersection while we were waiting, and that was just during the left-turn signal. Aaaargh!
In conclusion, we did get there, I am on a plane, and the only way I ever drive down International Boulevard again is in a back-hoe. Unless I absent-mindedly drive down it again. Dang.
Monday, June 27, 2011
1) Do more work before and after you go
2) Do a LOT more work when you get back
Option B may sound better because hey, it's only on one end of the trip right? Weeeelll, that also means that someone messing up your shit while your away is a foregone conclusion. Not intentionally or anything, but if you don't get those balls rolling downhill people are just gonna push 'em where they think they're supposed to go, which isn't always where you thought they should be.
And thus I have been at work late once again, pushing balls downhill. But in two days... PORTUGAL BABY! W00T!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Because I am a binge gamer.
I don't want to be one, but it's an unfortunate reality of my psyche. I get into a good game and the world just drops away. I lose track of time, I think about the game when I'm not playing it... it's actually a bit disturbing. I'll sit down to play a game at 8pm, then realize Erika's hollering at me to come to bed because it's 1am and she wants to go to sleep. I'm left saying "Really? Where did the last 5 hours go?"
The worst is when Erika goes away for scientific pursuits. I'll wake up on a Saturday and say "Hmm... maybe I'll play a little bit of Game X* before I get into the meat of my day. Then I proceed to play for 8 hours straight. And when I say straight, I mean straight through with no breaks. Suddenly the phone rings and it's 7pm, I'm looking away from the game for the first time and not thinking "Better get the phone"; I'm thinking "Oh Lord on high, I really need to go to the washroom" followed closely by "Holy crap am I hungry!" It's like my entire system shuts down when I'm in that state of what game designers call "flow".
Fortunately, I'm pretty well aware of this issue and can tell when it's a problem with a game. For instance, I've been playing a game on my iPhone called Dungeon Raid. It looks like this:
The crux of it is that you'll draw a line through similar tiles, or you can draw a line through swords and enemies to destroy them, like this:
When you do that more tiles drop from the top, and you level up over time based on killing enemies:
And that's pretty much it. That's the game. It goes until you die (enemies hurt you if you leave them on-screen). Sure, there's some other nuances that I'm not getting into (classes, races... other D&D things), but that's the game in a nutshell. Yet I can't... stop... playing. That's the real reason there was no post yesterday. I blew my posting time on Dungeon Raid.
Does this make me feel good about myself? Ah, no. So I have granted you, Dungeon Raid, the highest honour I can bestow upon a game. I have deleted you from my phone. Because it's a whole lot easier to have the will to do that than it is to have the will to not play you.
Now I need to find a new game. I've been hearing good things about World of Warcraft... maybe I'll give that a try?
*NOTE: Other games I have binged on include: Fallout 3, any Level 5 game I've played, Morrowind, Oblivion, All Halo titles, Portal, Peggle, Bookworm, Dynomite, Puzzle Quest, everything BioWare has made... you get the picture. And let's not forget the King of binge games: Civilization
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
For instance: If there were a referendum on video games and cheese being held in the province, you might ask yourself "Do I have the time necessary to devote myself to playing a bunch of games and sampling the delectable cheeses of the world? I fear that I do not!"
Well, what if there were another way? In this case, you might think to yourself "Who do I know and trust that eats a lot of cheese and plays a lot of video games? Well, there's Paul! Perhaps I'll ask Paul his opinion, as he's certain to have insight I could not aquire in the next several weeks!"
And you would be right. No matter how many video games you play and how much cheese you eat, you simply will not be able to understand the issue the way I do in a month without having some prior experience going in.
So on the HST/GST issue, I would listen to experts like my friend Randy who is a tax lawyer, or the economists who are saying that the HST is the best thing for the province. Because I don't understand tax law, and I'm not going to pretend I do on such an important issue.
But maybe you like cheese. And you've been hearing a lot about video games lately. That Plants vs Zombies was fun, wasn't it? If that's you, maybe consider watching the video below. It's 15 minutes long, and if you can't be bothered to watch it for 15 minutes maybe you should try an alternate strategy in deciding how to vote. Like listening to an expert.
There's some confusion about what the votes mean:
Vote NO if you want to keep the HST
Vote YES if you want to return to the PST
I know that the Zamboni holds a hallowed place in the memories of Canadian youths, and as someone who grew up watching the late-80's Canucks I can assure you that seeing that ice-maker go round the rink was often the best part of the game to a ten-year-old. But let's be honest with ourselves: once you get beyond the regal grounds of an NHL rink the kind of guy who works as a Zamboni driver dips well into the sketchy. I'm not saying that every Zamboni driver is a sketchy dude mind you, but if your kid comes home from school and the guidance counselor has circled "Zamboni Driver" as their top career match you're probably not popping the bubbly. In fact, you might want to check their backpack for pot.
Now, I can't say for certain that American Zamboni drivers are any worse than their Canadian counterparts since I only played hockey for a couple of years in Canada. But I can at least share with you the kinds of drivers I have experienced:
THE RELIC: This guy has worked the Zamboni since 1963. He had his driver’s license revoked after his cataracts went, and it takes 20 minutes for him to resurface the ice. Somehow it comes out perfect. You never see him except when he’s on the Zamboni. He’s the best.
THE NASCAR FAN: This guy realizes that he only works when he’s resurfacing the ice, so he gets it done as quickly as possible. Everyone suspects he has a stopwatch and is always trying to beat his best time. He leaves so much water on the ice that you’ll get soaked when you stretch unless you go to one of the vast swaths of ice that he didn’t touch at all. He’s the worst.
THE STONER: This guy would have written “Zen and the Art of Zamboni Driving” but he’d rather live it than write it. He might be high right now, or his body may just not know any other way to operate. This guy has it figured out though: He has a job that’s not too hard, that’s virtually impossible to get fired from so long as you show up, and since he’s not too motivated he gets to just chill out all day for the rest of his life. Rock-on Stoner Zamboni Dude.
THE CREEPSTORE: This was the variant we got treated to last night. This is the “Oh God I’m so lonely won’t someone please just talk to me even though I’m incredibly loud and socially awkward and will drive you away in moments but the 3 minutes of human interaction I might get if I trap someone in a corner is what I live for and oh God I’m loud and awkward and lonely” variety. You kind of feel sorry for this guy, but not sorry enough that you don’t regret talking to him.
THE WORK-RELEASE DRIVER: This guy steals your shit while you’re playing. True story: A girl who plays on one of the teams in my league had a lace break and had to go to the locker. She found the Zamboni driver rummaging through their bags and carrying a bag with their wallets. He tried to threaten her, but despite being 6 inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter than the guy she was carrying a stick. He ended up dropping everything and running away never to be seen again.
That’s the Zamboni guy.
Monday, June 20, 2011
That said, camping is fun. This is a confirmed fact. If you don't think so you have either:
a) Been raised improperly by parents who were raised improperly, or
b) Been attacked by a bear.
I guess there are other shades of gray in there, but I think my definitions hit 90% of the cases so I'm going to stick with them as stated. For instance, this trip was plenty o' fun even with "the fishing incident".
So here's the story: Erika and I decided we wanted to go out onto the little lake that's near the campground. We decided to go fishing, since Erika loves fish about as much as anyone can love something that doesn't blink*. I rowed us around the lake for a while, but eventually Erika insisted that it was my turn to fish.
In all fairness, I haven't cast a fishing rod since I was about 9 years old. My memory of the process consists of: Push this button and line comes out, spin this reel and line comes in. So given that I had seen Erika playing out line behind the boat for us to troll, we had this conversation:
PAUL: Where's the button to release the line?
ERIKA: Just pull on the line and it will come out.
This worked fine and dandy until I got a nibble that stole my bait and I reeled in. I decided I would cast this time.
Now folks, this is where the disagreement kicks in. I was of the belief that our previous conversation meant these newfangled lines didn't have releases like the technology I used in the mid-80's. Erika counters with the fact that she never said there wasn't a release and I didn't clarify before casting (apparently you just pull it out when trolling, if you use the release it effs everything up. I know! I didn't know that either!)**. One thing we can both agree on though: When you don't trigger the release on you reel and you cast as hard as you possibly can to make absolutely sure you out-throw your wife, you're going to destroy any hope of your fishing line staying in one piece. You'll also end up with a large splash very far from your boat that pretty much puts an end to the fishing. On the plus side, we were able to salvage the floater that was, you guessed it, floating 25 feet from the boat.
Apparently I still have some things to learn about fishing. Camping though? Camping's awesome.
*Actually, we were going to go out in a pedal boat but Erika got excited and came back with a rowboat and fishing gear. This happens from time to time.
**Erika insists that she is only responsible for 10% of the blame. I argue it's more like 100% her, 0% me, so a fair comprimise would be 55% her and 45% me. I think I can find it in my heart to accept that.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Jackie MacMullan herself is a longtime sportswriter, and any woman writing in sports today had the privilege of walking through a door she kicked open. To see something like this made me sad, and I responded. It also ruined my day, but that's the Canuck fan talking.
Read Ms. MacMullan's article here. My response that I put in the comments section is printed in full below. For the record I could find no email address for her, otherwise I'd have written her directly.
I'm not necessarily proud of what I wrote. It's certainly not my best work. But sometimes we lash out, and as an angry fan who doesn't understand why an article directing such vitriol at Luongo is printed yet nothing is written of Boston's fans chanting "Flopper" while a Canuck is helped off the ice with broken vertebrae; well, something has to give.
Her article here.
My response below:
This is a crass and immature article from a professional journalist. You knew as you wrote it that you had to take the low road, relying on comments by Luongo taken only in part or out of context. In addition, your characterization of him as "turning his nose up at Thomas" is also out of sorts, given that he did, indeed, compliment Thomas earlier in the series.
I sincerely hope that while you wrote this you felt on some level that it was a mistake. That the "letter to Luongo" style was a gimmick, that the misappropriation of comments was unprofessional, and that the fact you would never speak to the man himself this way is evidence of you crossing a line.
After hearing you on the BS Report I can only say I am disappointed this is the first article of yours I've read. I hope that you regret that to be the case as well.
I don’t know how I’m going to be able to sleep tonight. It was hard enough on Sunday night, now we’re going into a Game 7?
This is exactly like the night before Christmas, only if your parents were too poor to buy gifts for both you and your brother. And they won’t tell you which one is getting gifts. And he lives on the other side of the country. And you hate him.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
So without further ado, here are the 5 major sins of sports journalism:
1) Judging the content of the game based on the outcome
This is the lovely habit of analysing a game in hindsight, denigrating the losing team even though the game may have turned on a single play. In Game 1, Burrows' goal gave Vancouver a collective fangasm, followed by coverage that suggested the result was preordained. Boston scores and the coverage is reversed.
PAUL'S TAKE: "It's so much easier to talk about how smart I am when I can talk about my opinions after they come true"
2) Players Stepping Up vs. Players Making Mistakes
"Player X needs to make something happen out there"
"They never would have scored if Player Y doesn't do Action Z right there"
PAUL'S TAKE: How can a player force something to happen on the ice if every good thing must accompany a mistake by the other team? Are you saying that good players need to me more psychic? Is that what sports psychologists do... telekenesis?
3) The he-said-she-said bull that sports journalists love to foster at post game press conferences.
Hey kids, here's a word of advice: Get your quotes and then write your story. Not the other way around. Too many of these guys spend the game cramming back buffet fare while the game is on, then process that into the steaming turd they call an article during the third period. All that's left is to sprinkle it with some quotes you've garnered through leading questions and you're done. But you know what? A pile of turd with sprinkles on it is still a pile of turd!
PAUL'S TAKE: I don't care about your deadlines. Have some self-respect.
4) Covering the periphery instead of the game
Obviously the best example of this at the moment is the Burrows bite from Game 1*. Yeah, not good for the game. Obviously I'm a homer, but I still don't like to see it. Still, it doesn't need 24-hour news coverage right? Why don't you just watch the game and then talk about that? Maybe some insightful commentary to help me out like this article here? (sorry, requires an ESPN Insider membership. If you don't have that you have to eat turd)
PAUL'S TAKE: "Watching game tape in order to come up with something interesting is hard. Instead I'll write an article I can pound out in 40 minutes and call it a night. And by the way, I'm dead inside. Seriously... I wanted to write plays, but that doesn't pay very well. So instead I write about a throwaway comment from a goalie and hope that I can goad someone else into keeping this train going to prevent me from doing any real work."
5) Talking about stats instead of the sport
Guess what, the internet's been invented. So you don't need to put up a graphic every time someone's on the screen about how many points they've scored since whenever compared to how many they scored before that. If I can look the info up for myself you shouldn't be able to count it as journalism. You want to do something for me? Show me what that player is doing differently now versus then so that I can watch for it during the game and enjoy the experience on a deeper level.
PAUL'S TAKE: You know why people don't do this? Because there's nothing different. Sports have streaks in them, it just happens. Pucks hit posts, balls rim and out, and footballs go off fingertips. But everyone always has to say something even if there's nothing to say. Seriously: I think they shut the oxygen off in the booth whenever the colour guy isn't talking. It's the only explanation for why he's always desperate to jam in some inane comment no matter how little it makes sense. Come to think of it, that would explain why so many colour men sound like they have brain damage...
I have little hope that things are going to get better during this Stanley Cup playoffs, but I will at least mention that the Puck Daddy bloggers on Yahoo! are doing a better job than most, although they do fall into the above traps from time to time (they also didn't seem to know JFA about the Western Conference at the start of the playoffs, but have clearly been watching the games since then).
One more comment I'd throw out there is that Bill Simmons is trying to fix a lot of the problems I mention above with www.grantland.com, so if you share my frustrations you should maybe check that out too.
*A note on the Burrows thing: For those of you who think Burrows should have been suspended, I counter with: What about this hit, or this one, or even this one which isn't from the playoffs but is exceptionally reprehensible (you will never convince me it wasn't intentional). None of those hits received suspensions, so unless you would rather have someone traveling at 20km/hr ram your head unprotected into the boards than someone nibble on your finger through thick leather, well, give your head a shake. You're caring about the wrong problems. And no, I wasn't ok with the Rome hit on Horton, but that got (ridiculously) the longest suspension in the history of the Stanley Cup Final so it wasn't included.
Friday, June 10, 2011
I think that my hockey fandom is unhealthy. Seriously, these games really shouldn’t matter so much to me but I just can’t help it. I partially blame my wife. Here’s how a conversation with her should go:
ME: I’m so tightly wound up… I really don’t know what to do with myself.
ERIKA: Lighten up Paul. It’s just a game, the sun will come up tomorrow, and everything will be ok.
Instead, this much more likely the response:
ME: I’m so tightly wound up… I really don’t know what to do with myself.
ERIKA: Did you wear that jersey last game? Maybe that’s the problem. I ate the same lunch as I did the last time they won, I’m hoping that helps.
It’s hilarious. We’re two obsessed fans who have an inordinate amount of interest in these games, and we just feed off of each other. Every game it’s a tensefest where we try to see whose cortisol levels can get to the point where their adrenal glands actually explode. At one point during the game I was so wound up that I remarked to Erika that if an alien burst out of my stomach and screeched in my face I would probably stare at it for 2 seconds before turning my attention back to the game with barely a thought of “so that’s why my stomach hurt so much”.
Oh well. We’re up 3-2 and that’s what matters. As does the fact that I didn’t throw up at work yet. Bring on game 6!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Day 6 of my 90 days of blogging, and today I’m trying to post this via email. Apparently I can just send a mail to a specific email address and ba-boom! Instant post. This is also how I’d go about sending posts from my phone. I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m pretty sketchy about this actually working the first time through. If there’s anything I’ve come to believe about technology in 12 years working with computers it’s that:
a) Computers only do exactly what you tell them
b) You have no idea what you’re actually telling them because the instructions were hard coded by a guy at 3am after a month of 70 hour weeks and he never factored in that you would want to back up your computer over wi-fi while watching YouTube and downloading virus-riddled movies over bit torrent.
Realistically, most of our interaction with computers come from us trying to do something, realizing that didn’t work, then learning the workaround that does work. Rarely is anything a 1:1 “I wanted to do something and it worked”. So while I’m certain that I may be able to post this over email, I think it’s much more likely that I have done something wrong, and will shortly discover what that is. The fun part for you, the viewer, is that I intend to just leave those errors up. You may bask in my shame, as I work out how to make this happen.
If this doesn’t go up at all I may have to revise my plan…
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
There’s a theory in physics that every possible outcome from a given situation spawns a new Universe. So in one Universe you go left, in another you go right. This extends to everything that may potentially happen. Maybe a leaf falls, maybe it doesn’t. Two Universes. Obviously this means that there is an infinite number of Universes, since there’s pretty much an infinite number of things that could happen between The “Big Bang” and “Whatever Happens When We Literally Run Out of Time”.
But wait, there’s more! There’s also consciousness (getting a bit more metaphysical here), and in some schools of thought your consciousness just wanders through the multiverse following “the path of least resistance”, aka the most probable outcome of any situation. So while it’s theoretically possible to suddenly develop telepathic powers and direct them at the unsuspecting ladies of the world, it’s much more likely that you’ll learn a few magic tricks and discover that whipping them out at the bar has the same success rate as whipping out… well, you know.
So here’s the thing: Why does my consciousness follow the freaking path where the Canucks must repeatedly build me up and KICK ME IN THE FACE! I want to believe, and trust me, I still think we’re going to win in 7. But the fact that this, of all things, is the most probable path for my consciousness to take through the multiverse is complete and utter bullshit.
I still believe in the Canucks. But I’m mad as hell at the Universe.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
On that note, see you tomorrow folks!
This thought has been brought to you by a very tired Paul who just wants to go to bed.
When it comes to games, the hard part is the gestation period. In this day and age it takes a while to make a game, especially when you set your bar high. The creative process can make some absolutely delicious sausage, but you really don’t want to eat it before it’s ready. And so we wait. We are creators working in relative obscurity, occasionally getting pieces of the whole to the point where we can say “This… this says something about what we are trying to achieve here”. To you, those are the trailers and screenshots and podcasts; and trust me: we look forward to those moments as much as you do. We look forward to them because those are the times when we get to share our creations with the world, little islands of appreciation in the marathon between ship dates. We create so that you can enjoy, and I hope that everything I do is enjoyed by someone or I wouldn’t make it.
Being able to say that I am working on Halo 4 is fantastic. I came to 343 Industries because Halo CE made me want to make games for a living, and I wanted to create the next installment of this fantastic franchise. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but for now I’m happy we were able to share our teaser trailer with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed sharing it.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Monday, June 6, 2011
It’s actually unhealthy how much happier I am when the Canucks win. Seriously… I think I have a problem. Should my life really be this caught up in whether my team puts some rubber in the other teams net more times than they do in ours?
Yes, dammit! I’ve waited 33 years for this. Years of disappointing ends to seasons, years of shifting attention to the draft (how you doing Edmonton?), and years of thinking that maybe, just maybe, if I live long enough I’ll get to see the Canucks hoist the cup. And now with the Canucks only 2 wins away is seems like an eternity ago that I literally hucked my couch across the room in disgust (sadly it wasn’t an eternity ago, it was in the first round. Erika can attest; it wasn’t my proudest moment).
And here we are: Best team in the regular season, momentum building through the playoffs, full of grit, skill, heart, and laser-focused on getting Vancouver their first cup. Did I mention we’re 2 wins away? I am… wait for it… optimistic. How can this be? Normally cheering for this team has less “happy optimism” and a lot more “tennis racket to the groin”. If I had to sum up the experience of cheering for the Canucks over the last 3 decades in a single YouTube clip, it would be this:
So why the sudden optimism? Why have the fans changed their outlook from the fear and dread that plagued us in previous years? I’ll tell you why: we’ve come to the collective realization that this whole year hasn’t been about hyperbole. All of those “We believe in the guys in this room” and “One game at a time” quotes we’ve been getting all year… they meant it! Somewhere along the way Vignault got it into this team’s heads that the reason you say those things to the media is because that’s the right mindset. It’s what you do if you want to win. And so the fans are responding. If the players believe in themselves as strongly as they seem to, well, the fans can do it too.
Go get ‘em guys. Bring us home our cup.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Let's look at the history:
- Trained regularly for a half-marathon in 2003. Ran 9 times in the 8 years following.
- Trained religiously 6 times a week for the last 5 years of my judo career, then switched to eating cheese as my principle defining characteristic post-retirement.
I need goals people! This is part of the reason why this blog has been so abysmally spotty, without a concrete commitment to get my mojo running (like the Ladies Only football pool) my mind tends to wander. Next thing I know it's 1am and I'm browsing the Internet for rutabaga recipes even though I couldn't pick a rutabega out of a police lineup if it mugged me.
So to solve the aforementioned problem, I'm doing some goal-setting in a public forum. That way if I slip you all can hold me accountable. I figure that since I'm hella better at sticking to athletic goals than I am to mental ones, I'm a gonna link 'em!
This all leads us to P90X, the framework for my plan. By the way, if you haven’t heard of P90X let me assure you: I have never felt more douchey than when discussing this fitness program. It's basically just a bunch of workout videos that you do over a period of 90 days, with the unfortunate side-effect of making you sound like an utter knob (and the “X” stands for “eXtreme”. I am not making that up). What I actually DO like about this thing is that they say it is hard, and you will work your butt off. That has a much better ring of validity to my ears. Plus, I know several people who've done it and swear by it so what do I have to lose?
How does this tie into blogging? Well, for all 90 days of the workout program I'm going to write something to this blog every single day. And I'm not going to subject you to a day by day retelling of the workouts because, well, I want you to actually read this blog. Sure, I might take inspiration from something I've done in the program, but the goal is to work out the brain along with the body. We'll see how I do.
I did my first workout today… see you tomorrow!