Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Saltwater Crocodiles are Awesome

I had the best birthday ever on Sunday, and my birthday isn't until the end of June! It wasn't even supposed to be a birthday celebration, but if I were to plan out the best birthday ever, that would have been it. Let me outline the events that occurred and we'll see if you can spot my favourite part:

  1. We went to the Australian Reptile Park and saw a saltwater crocodile leap 6 feet in the air to eat a hunk of chicken
  2. We had tasty and cheap dumplings for dinner
  3. I ate a gigantic chocolate sundae while everyone else at the table stared in disbelief that I was able to jam the whole thing down

I see a lot of hands up in the air for #3, but you're wrong. Saltwater croc wins hands-down. This was without question one of the most awesome things I've seen in my entire life. I could get on the plane right now and go home and this trip would still feel like a fantastic success.

It wasn't just the croc either, there was lots of awesome stuff at the reptile park. For instance, have you ever seen a more snakey looking snake than this guy?

Seriously, this guy came with his own ladder. He offered me an apple while I was there. Baloo and Bagheera showed up and did a song with him (okay, maybe I got too obscure with the Jungle Book reference). Still, awesome looking snake.


This was a Galapagos tortoise who was totally not content to just chill out in his pen. He was booking it around in a circle, and Erika couldn't help but take a dozen photos of him. Actually, this is probably a better representation of him:

He's even turning left like he's a NASCAR racer (by the way, every photo in the history of NASCAR is taken from the exact same camera angle. Seriously, Google image it).


The alligators are right there when you enter the place too. It's a huge pen with a ton of gators... pretty cool to see them just chilling out up there. There's a walkway near the water where some of them were hanging out and guess what... this is what Erika is studying!

Sorry, let me zoom in so you can tell better:

Okay, so maybe it's not as cool as the alligator. But hey Erika likes fish, and it's at least near a gator, and... well... okay, touchy subject. It's probably best if I just move on.

And now for the main event!
I don't mind telling you that this was so awesome I'm just going to throw out a bunch of photos out there and not even try to make jokes. How cool are these!

Just chilling out

Don't mind me, I'm just a log. Nothing to see here.

If you look close he's actually staring at the guy, not the chicken

He's going for it!



C'mon people, this is awesome! My favourite shot by far is this one though:

One ass-kicking reptile, coming up

That is one mo-fo of a crocodile! By the way, am I a bad person for kinda, maybe, sorta hoping to see the croc go after the guy instead of the chicken? Only like 3%, but still.

That was my visit to the Australian Reptile Park. It was fantastic. Y'know, in case you couldn't tell.

Can someone explain to me why my Toilet Duck kills 99.9% of the germs in my toilet bowl? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there's some guy in the R&D department at Toilet Duck Incorporated who worked really hard to find a way to get the Toilet Duck formula from killing 99.5% of the germs up to 99.9% of the germs and his boss was super impressed so he got to go home and tell his wife about how Toilet Duck is now 0.4% more effective because of him and this could mean a big promotion and then they both went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate - but let's be realistic. It's a toilet! Why do I care about germs? It's not like I'm making kimchi in there! And I hate to break it to you R&D guy, but I'm one cheese sandwich away from inflicting my 100% effective germ creating power on that same toilet.

It's probably cheaper to just clean the thing with vinegar.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Gets Left Out

Over the last couple of days I have absolutely eviscerated my book to the tune of ten thousand words. TEN. THOUSAND. WORDS. That’s almost 25% of what I’ve written to date.

The thing is, eviscerate is really the wrong word. You see, viscera is basically your guts. So that’s pretty important. Therefore eviscerate means “takin’ out yer guts”, which is a bad thing. What I did to my book wasn't a bad thing though – it was eliminating a bunch of crap that was weighing it down. It’s a much better story now, and I feel pumped about where it’s going. So I didn’t really eviscerate it, I took out extra stuff it didn’t need. I don’t know what to call that. An appendectomy? One where your appendix takes up 25% of your body mass? That’s a pretty good analogy actually, ‘cause if you’ve got a 50 pound appendix you want to get that bad boy out of your viscera ASAP.

I think there are a lot of things in life where the thing left out is really the key to it being successful. Especially in creative fields. I mean, look at Raphael’s famous painting of Pope Julius II:

Would it suddenly be better if Raphael been able to finish it?

(Side Note A: He must be playing the Blues, it looks like he’s really feeling it.)
(Side Note B: Who knew the Pope was a lefty?)
(Side Note C: Pope Julius II was kind of a dick, so this isn’t as sacrilegious as it looks.)

It’s a creative work so people are going to have varying opinions, but I think Raphael knew what he was doing.

There are lots of other opportunities in life where we should pause to appreciate the things that didn’t happen though, beyond creative works. For instance, did you ever just barely make it to the washroom? How would you feel if you came up short? I argue that you should appreciate actually getting there in time to the same degree you would be angry if you hadn’t pulled it off.

This train of thought got me thinking about the countries I’ve lived in. I’m not sure whether I’ve been more impressed by the facets a country has, or the facets it doesn’t have. It’s probably a semantic difference, but this feels like a great opportunity to make a Pro/Con list comparing Canada, the USA, and Australia:

So yeah… this post didn’t really have a clear thesis statement. Meh, I’m ok with that.

The downside to writing a blog is that people think they're talking to you a lot. Which isn't really the case since it's sort of a 1-way door. As far as I can tell it, an asteroid has hit Vancouver yet somehow managed to spit my mum's house out into Langley where she miraculously survived.

While I'm pumped about my mum's incredible tale of survival and am probably going to hear about it for years, you peeps can feel free to drop us a line. It'd be great to hear from the folks back home.

Take care kids!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paul Goes Scuba Diving!

I learned how to scuba dive last week! By the way, this is a special Mother's Day episode of Complete Tangent (even though I'm putting it up on the Monday). Mum, my gift to you was not telling you I went scuba diving last week. I hope you enjoyed your worry-free days.

Yes, my mum would have worried, and so would I. In fact, I did. To be honest, I have never been all that comfortable with the idea of scuba diving. As you all know, I'm quite macho. I've wrestled a few grizzlies in my day, fought a crocodile or two; but hey, who hasn't? Despite that, the idea of going under water away from the sweet breath of life was never something I felt comfortable with.

I do realize that you have a bunch of equipment when you go down, and it's all explicitly designed to keep you alive. There's a lot of it too, as you can see from this diagram:

Still, it's one thing to tell someone this gear will help, it's another to actually make them believe it. I mean, when I look at that picture I don't see a bunch of stuff that will keep me alive, I see this:

It's safe to say I wasn't entirely bought-in. That said, I pride myself on being someone who can suck it up and look at the numbers, and the numbers say scuba diving is actually quite safe. Add to that the fact that a) Erika is a highly-certified diver and b) We're in one of the best spots in the world to go diving; well it would be a shame not to give it a shot. On top of that I got a deal on the course so it was only around $150 bucks and my cheapness overrode my fear.

That said, it's a 2-day course. When Erika got her PADI Open Water cert it was something like 3-weeks of training. Which is to say that I still had some nerves about the whole thing.

After Day One though, I was... really not thrilled. My chest hurt, I felt nauseated, and didn't really get the impression it was all that interesting to begin with. And I still thought I was going to die the next day. So big win for Day 1! I did admit to myself that I held my breath a bit though, which might explain why I had some chest pain. Oh by the way, they say that the most important thing to remember in diving is that


I'm paraphrasing a little but that's the gist of it. So I'm going to take a bit of the credit for not feeling so hot that night. You'd think I'd have gotten that message.

Fortunately one of the things it says in the PADI manual is not to let a bad day scare you off diving. Sometimes the conditions just aren't right. So I sucked it up (and remembered to exhale) and went to Day 2. I must say that Day 2 was much better. It was a lot easier to chill out in the water, I barely used any of my air, and we actually saw some stuff. This specific stuff actually:

That's Bluey, a Grouper that hangs out at Bare Island in Sydney. It's tough to get a scale of reference so let's just assume he's roughly the size of a Clydesdale horse. Actually he's closer to the size of my leg but wouldn't it be cool if he was the size of a horse? The thing is, there are things the size of a horse, or that are just interesting to look at, or that will eat other animals while you watch. I'm particularly interested in that last one, animals eating animals is just fun. Bluey jammed a sea urchin down his urchin-hole while we watched which was enough to hook me on diving.

I don't know how often we'll go but I'm pumped to go again. I doubt I'll ever shake that 1% feeling that I'm about to die, but logically I do know that I'm more likely to die on the way to the dive site than in the water itself. So I can rely on that logic. Hell, I also feel like I'm going to break my neck every time I go skiing but I still do that too (Side note: How the hell did I ever do judo? People were deliberately trying to hurt me, up to and including cutting my air off to the point that I would pass out. I never batted an eye at that, why would diving bother me?).

So yeah, I'm in on diving now. Next stop, the Great Barrier Reef. AKA, the place where Paul gets eaten by a shark...

This is legitimately the worst boxed wine on the planet:

Look, I'm not going to stand up and shout that I was robbed. It's not like there weren't warning signs right there on the box. For instance, "Fresh" shouldn't be a marketing point for wine. Also, I love how they do the math for you on how many bottles of wine are in 4 litres, as though they understand that math isn't a strong suit for their audience. As for their claim of being the "2010 Winery of the Year"? Well, you'll notice that accolade doesn't factor in this box of liquefied rabbit turd. It's the winery that's good, not the swill contained therein. But hey, let's not rule out this ogre piss as being a key factor to the winery's success. Maybe they just extracted all the liquid hate from the rest of the wine and jammed it into these boxes.

Ugh, we barely drank the whole thing.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I've got a couple of significant anniversaries coming up. Well, one just happened actually. On Sunday the 2012 Vancouver Marathon was run, so that marks one year since Erika and I ran the marathon. Yay us! The funny thing about a marathon though is that the actual event is just the slightest bit anticlimactic. We were pumped to do it but let’s be honest: By the time we got there we’d run 437 miles (just over 700km). THAT'S the marathon (for some insight on the experience of training for a marathon you may want to read my first-ever blog post, “Why Not”). The 26.2 miles at the end is just gravy. But it is the milestone. You’ve trained, you’ve run, you’ve done it. It’s a positive thing!

My second approaching milestone may appear less chipper. Actually it’s not, although it sure seemed that way to me at the time. Exactly one week after the marathon I had an uber-seizure that confirmed I had epilepsy. Yay me! No, seriously, this was a good thing. You ever had two years’ worth of 10-20 seizures a day and not know what they were? You get that sorted out and you’re pretty pumped. Now I’m looking at almost a year since my grand mal and I’ve only had one little mini-seizure since August 17th, 2011. Giddyup!

So what the heck is my point? When I was thinking about this it occurred to me that not all anniversaries are created equally. For instance, if we were to graph my excitement over time from finishing the marathon it’s going to diminish as the years go by (by the way, the numbers on these charts are arbitrary. I was too lazy to try and create any sense of coherence):

Marathon-Related Excitement

It's pretty much a linear decrease in excitement until after a few years it's pretty much just "meh". But is that how all anniversaries work? Well no, it's not. So what are the other ways we think about anniversaries?

I think birthdays are a great example of a non-linear anniversary:

Birthday-Related Giddyness

When we're little kids we're super giddy about an impending birthday. It's the greatest thing in the world! Then in middle age it's kind of "Meh... I've done a lot of these". When we get older though, it's time to have an "I'm not dead yet party"! Woot! Granted, that assumes you're in control of your brain (and other things), but you get the idea.

Another example of the parabola is wedding anniversaries. For the most part it's a big deal early on, as well as much later:

Wedding - Expected

But wait... there's significant milestones in there! Those need to be accounted for. And when we do, some interesting patterns emerge. Here, I'll put it into a scatter-plot to make it clearer:

Wedding - Happy

A smiley face! Tell me that's not significant in some way (yes, fifty is bigger than 25. So sue me, the smiley face was funnier than a dude with a pimple on his forehead). Then I got thinking though... not all marriages are happy ones. Sad, but true. What happens to those people? Well, I'd imagine that since they're sad most of the time they'd put greater-than-expected weight on even minor anniversaries. Sort of a "well I haven't killed you yet so there's that" vibe. Let's graph that one out and see where we get:

Wedding - Sad

Brrr... did anyone else feel a chill pass through the room? That's just downright creepy. Let's think about something less disturbing.

Alcoholism! Ok yeah, that's not less disturbing. But people not drinking, that's big! And it's our third type of anniversary graph: The "X number of years and counting!" anniversary:

Abstinence (alcohol-related... for sex data invert chart)

Once again, mostly linear, but now increasing over time. See, isn't math fun? Teachers in the audience, feel free to use this blog as part of your coursework.

Ok, the last one was the hardest to think up an example for. What forms an inverted parabola? Hmm... how did they describe this in school. They said that when you throw a baseball it forms a parabola. Baseball... anniversaries... BOOM! Sports records are the answer! As athletes approach a milestone people get more and more pumped until yay! They passed it. Then everyone becomes a little less excited afterwards because you're just piling on. And then they cease to care altogether. Here's a graph of excitement about Cal Ripken Jr's consecutive games streak (ending when he voluntarily ended his streak. Also, this graph was effing hard to make. Screw you Grade 11 math and the horse you rode in on. Teachers, you can just tell the students not to read that part):

Media Hype-Machine

Realistically this should be a normal curve. But you know what? Screw it, these things were hard enough to make as it is. What was I thinking? I have Photoshop! I have a stylus! I could just draw these things! What the hell is wrong with me!

Have a good day folks.

I sat on my Kindle. No seriously, right on top of the thing. Cracked the bugger up real good.

PAUL:       Hello, Amazon?

AMAZON:  How may I help you?

:       Hi there, there seems to be something wrong with my Kindle. It looks like someone sat on it.

AMAZON:  Really, that's unfortunate.

:       Well I did sit on it, so I'm not entirely surprised.

AMAZON:  Sorry, what was that?

:       Yeah, I sat on it. That's my best guess why it looks this way.

AMAZON:  Really.

:       I've pretty much boiled it down to either me sitting on it, or someone else sitting on it. What do you think?

AMAZON:  But you say that you sat on it, right?

:       Yeah, I guess the evidence is pretty damning on that front.

AMAZON:  Would you like a refurbished one?

:       Sounds great, thanks.

Just another reason why Amazon rocks.

On a related note, Erika subsequently got chocolate jammed into the charging port on her Kindle. That one may be harder to explain.