Tuesday, December 23, 2014

best of 2014

My 2014 looks a little like this:

Best album I heard:

Fevers: No Room for Light.  Hands down this was my most listened to album of the year.  No matter what my mood or location - there was a track to suit to the occasion.  Stand outs include: Autumn's Dead, The Veil, They don't lie, Look Alive

Runner up:

Weezer: Everything Will be Alright in the End.  I think "Go Away" is as good as anything Weezer has ever done (and it reminds me of their awesome collaboration with That Dog many years ago).  There are quite a few other great tracks on the album.  Long live Weeze!

Best Book I read:

Night film by Marisha Pessl.  I can't remember if I finished reading this last year or the beginning of this one - either way it's a great book.  I need to reread the whole thing because I can't stop wondering about 'steak tartare' - it would change everything if I found it.

Runner up:

The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma.  I think the real H.G Wells would have been flattered to find himself as the protagonist in this trilogy (this is book 2).  I love the mix of well researched historical fiction and fantastic off shoots from Wells' own books (time travel, martians, diverging times lines etc.).  I'm very much looking forward to seeing how this all wraps up.

Most disappointing book(s):

You by Austin Grossman - I loved Soon I Will Be Invincible but I don't think I had any heightened expectations for Grossman's latest release.  I was surprised to find a lot of typos and a few instances of really poor writing.  More importantly, the story was dull (even though it was about video games!), it lacked humour, fun and any reason to recommend it.

The Magician King -  Lev Austin (brother of Austin)  had a really good thing going in the Magicians.  The follow up wasn't as good but I was still really looking forward to the last book in the trilogy.  From the reviews I've read I think I may be in the minority of people who found this book disappointing.  M hasn't read it yet so I won't get into why I found it to be such a let down. 

Best Pod Cast:


The Moth- I don't think the truth is necessarily stranger than fiction - but it is as interesting.  There are very few stories that I don't retell M after hearing them.

Risk-  Same idea as The Moth - only no-subject is off limits.  As such, don't listen to this at work, in front of the kids, grandma (unless she's very, very liberal) or anywhere else people may be offended by course language and subject matter that covers all aspects of human experience.  

Runner Up:

Snap Judgement - Another non-fiction story telling podcast.  Unlike the previous two, these stories aren't told live (they are produced and edited).  However, that doesn't make them any less interesting.

Giant Bomb podcast: The hosts of this show are pretty funny and they talk about video games.  What's not to like?

Best video game:

Bayonetta 2 - There's nothing better than playing an action game with perfect controls.  You know that every mistake is yours and yours alone - which is what makes a perfect play through (of a stage in my case) all the more satisfying.

runner up: 

Fantasy Life - The perfect mix between Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon.  A great way to spend time commuting to and from where ever (on the bus or train)

Best employment experiences:

I had the very good fortune to work briefly with TakingITGlobal this year.  It definitely stands out as an amazing experience in general and getting the chance to go to Washington D.C to represent the organization was a real highlight.  As was participating in the Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness symposium.  My role was to act as a guide for a visually impaired gentleman from Jerusalem.  Here are a few things I observed:

  • Most elevators have brail on the floor request buttons.  That's super - but very few elevators announce the floor it has stopped on.  That pretty much undermines the brief moment of independence a visually impaired person may get when first stepping on.
  • Picture standing in front of buffet with your eyes closed - what would you pick?
  • I'm terrible at describing things.  When asked to describe downtown Toronto I said, "there are lots of tall buildings."  Some else said, "the buildings are made of glass."  This small but significant detail totally changed the way my companion viewed his surroundings.  He thought it was really funny and wondered why no one seemed worried the glass would break.
  • Shopping for anything is a challenge but jewelry for another man's wife is darn near impossible (especially when considering my previous point)
Best scone:

Lame category I know but the scones at Cafe Belong in the Evergreen Brick Works are pretty extraordinary.  Seriously if you're ever in the GTA be sure to check it out. 

Best person to spend a day (or a life) with

 I miss the north, but I missed M more when I was up there.  What's more, it's definitely much better to actually live with the person you're married to.  Thanks M, for being being the best partner a guy could ask for.  Whether we're travelling around in places foreign or familiar, making maple syrup explosions, trying to find a take out place that's still open late Friday night or just enjoying some down time after a hectic week - life if definitely better with you.

Runners up:

Betsy Louise Bagels

Furley Brown

Gracia Consuela

(drops mic, leaves stage)

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Take On Me

A lot of people have been wondering what it would look like if I appeared in a video like Aha's Take On Me.   The first photo below is a still of Morten Harket from the band's awesome video (click on it to see the video on youtube).  The next photo is of me on the streetcar demonstrating my love in a Michael Bolton kind of way.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Christmas review

Where I talk about the difficulties in being Santa.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New video!

Ready Player One review

Saturday, March 09, 2013

So let's just say so long

A lot has happened since my last post.  I left the Arctic, had an amazing summer with M, and then returned to the north; though not quite as far as the year before.  Days before my flight I interviewed for a position at the Inuvik Learning Centre.  I was really hoping to get the job but had given up hope after so much time had passed since submitting my application.  I think I was  offered the job the weekend before I was supposed to start.  Fortunately I already had my plane ticket as I was resigned to returning to Tuk.  
Speaking of Tuk - do I ever not miss that place.  That was, without doubt, one of the hardest years of my life.  It didn't help that the place I rented was always cold.  There was one large space heater (that ran on oil) in the corner of the house; there were no other sources of heat.  During the winter I frequently had to blow dry the pipes in the bathroom just to have a shower (I may have already mentioned this but I'm feeling too lazy to check).  The view out of the patio window looked out to the Arctic Ocean.  That was actually pretty cool in the Fall when I saw a bald eagle eating something on the shore line.  For the rest of the year, however, all I could see was white.        
The following pictures are, more than likely, the last I'll take of the community.

So long pretty but desolate views

So long Arctic shore line
So long original dirt dwelling

So long dock that saw yachts from all over the world in the summer months
So long front view of mud/log hut
So long area that held the Beluga Jamboree in April

So long D.E W. Line station

So long (record screech) - I mean welcome life changer
Introducing baby Betsy - rescue puppy from Tuk.

No longer in Tuk - the wintery days are upon me.  In early Oct.

Oh - it's baby game changer

Cold? Yes, but also beautiful

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fate don't fail me now

I can't think of a better time to upload pictures to blogger (which takes forever) then when listening to the new Metric album.  Here's a quick trip down the past couple of months in Tuk.

I took this tonight on my way home from dinner with a catholic Sister.  This is first sign of Spring that I've seen and after the brutally cold weather (that's ongoing) it's a welcome sight. 

 I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation as to why this jacket and boots were placed on these tires (which aren't close to any particular home) but I can't think of what it would be.

Another inviting beach picture :)  I took this today.  There's still a lot of ice out there (which the wind delights in blowing around).  In fact, there's still enough ice that some daredevils are still using it to travel to hunting camps.  I wouldn't want to walk on it, let alone drive a skidoo on it, but hey, that's just me.

A few of my students at the end of the year completion ceremony.  I don't know who's happier for the break - me or them (collectively)?  No, I do know.  If we were to bottle all of their happiness it wouldn't match a teaspoon of my happiness extract.
 This dog needs a home.  I'd really like to adopt her.  She's almost like a therapy puppy - if my day is stressful I can go out on the steps at work and call her over and everything seems a little better.

This was probably my all-time favourite Tuk experience.  My students and I went on a little excursion to the community ice house towards the end of May.  In the times before people had regular access to refrigerators they would store their perishable goods (caribou, whale, fish, etc.) in a storage area dug deep down into the permafrost.  Some people still use it now; it smelled heavily of muktuk when we went down.

People with a fear of heights or icy ladders will probably have to sit this one out (but I'd recommend fighting the fear).  I could feel the temperature drop the further down I went.  The walls were lined with rime and under that was a slick icy sheen that covered the layers of dirt and ice.

People with a fear of small closed in spaces amy also be reluctant to go down.  There was no light save for our flashlight and the flash of my camera. 

A close up shot of the rime - life really is beautiful.

I've had enough time to listen to the whole metric album (more than once).  I definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Won't let me go

Small steps.

Now that the weather is a bit more humane I've been able to go running without fear of losing appendages, limbs or life.  On my most recent runs I've had the pleasure of being accompanied by my neighbour's dog.  I'm not positive but I think her name is Bow Wow (though she shows no recognition to the name).  After the run I let her in (or rather she let herself in) for some peanut butter on crackers.  I've since bought some dog biscuits but she's now chained up and unlikely to be joining me on my runs.  It's actually a good thing that she's tied up but I'll miss her company all the same.

This is just a shot of the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.  I managed to get a ride when I came back up north from a week in Halifax for M's sister's wedding.  This was my third time on the ice road and the novelty still hasn't worn off.  It may look kind of bleak but there's a distinct beauty in the serenity of the land.  Plus, there's something about it that inspires feelings of being an intrepid explorer. I think even Robert Peary would find the drive exciting, and not just because he'd be in a vehicle that hadn't been invented when he was alive.