Sunday, 6 September 2015

Nerf, Nimrods and No TV

The word of the week is plenipotent.

August 31 – Evil is Stupid

What is it with humans?

For all the great things that we've accomplished, there always seems to be too many of us willing to toss it all of the window for no good reason.

The destruction this week of the Temple of Palmyra all too clearly illustrates my point. In an exercise of power thinly disguised as the ‘elimination of idolatry’ IS completely destroyed an ancient site, forever erasing it from the planet so that it now exists only in photographs.

They did this to create their own version of the world, physically removing evidence that contradicts their limited worldview. Creating their own history from the rubble of the true.

Top: Before IS - Below: After IS

It is willful acts of destruction like this that make me wonder about our civilization. About future generations knowing nothing about the consequence of the past because of the actions of a few, of history intentionally lost, distorted or even destroyed.

Of stupidity winning, all the name of 'true' belief.

September 1 – Cable’s Cut!

Well, that’s it: no more cable as of today.

A month ago, I finally located an Internet company that can provide service to Victoria BC. Last year, I became extremely frustrated when after searching through every single Internet provider in Canada, not a single one of them could offer their service as an alternative locally here to Shaw or Telus.

However, about three months ago, I learned about a local start up here in Victoria called Juce – finally! Their prices are perfect: $39.99 / month for the same speed as Shaw's mid-range Internet package, with the added benefit of no throttling at peak periods which is an issue with very crowded service providers like Shaw in larger cities.

Considering I've been paying a package price of $138.00 + tax / month with Shaw for phone, Internet and cable TV, it's long past the time when I should have downgraded but the lack of an alternative here in Victoria had stymied that move.

No longer. In giving up cable TV( the phone isn't really an issue, as I have a cell )there's going to be a lot less temptation to simply ‘relax’ in front of the boob tube, as I'll have to go looking for things to watch. It's fascinating how much less I want to watch a show if I have to go searching for episodes rather than simply seeing what's on TV at the moment and deciding if I want to spend the time to watch it.

Time is what it's all about, really. The fact that I'm paying over 70% less per month for Internet service is icing on the cake, but really what it's doing is making my daily choices simpler in terms of what I want to spend my time on.

September 2 – Cosplay Project 2016

I have a new project for the spring: a costume!

Not a Halloween costume, however, but rather a con costume, one that will probably take me at least four months to complete working a few hours here and there every week.

My girlfriend and I have decided that, budget pending, were going to attend Emerald City Con in Seattle in April 2016. As part of that somewhat short trip( Seattle's not that far away )we're going to do a pair of themed costumes from one of our favorite sci-fi movies: Aliens.

I'm going to be a Colonial Marine and she's going to be Ellen Ripley:

Key to both costumes will be the M41A pulse rifle props: the guns that the Marines and Ripley used to battle the aliens in the movie. I've decided that I'm not going to do half-assed flimsy props made out of paper or cardboard, nor am I going to spend many hundreds of dollars on a screen-accurate prop unnecessarily

Instead, I've lucked into a pair of Nerf Elite Retaliator toys on eBay, which according to my research can be fairly easily modified into almost perfect replicas of the M41-a guns. If I do it right, we'll even still shoot Nerf darts! Here's a video of someone who did a rough job of a conversion for almost no money; I'll be doing a much neater job on ours, possibly with working lights and sounds to simulate sound-accurate weapons fire:

In addition to the guns, will each have to work up our costumes. I'm still determining the most cost effective way to do my armor, which will probably involve paper templates and layers of a safe, fiberglass-like substance that I can work with inside the apartment with minimal ventilation. If worse comes to worse, I can simply create a one-use painted cardboard costume, knowing that the guns themselves will be the real stars of the show.

September 3 – MOTU was OK

Sometimes, despite our best effort, things don't work out.

Such was the case in 1987, when the live-action version of Masters of The Universe hit theaters. Having grown up with the animated TV series, I was extremely excited to see what MOTU would turn into on the big screen.

As I discovered, it was mostly a stinky disappointment.

Underwhelmed at the time, I have never bothered to watch the film again in all years since. However, now and again I will run across articles singing the praises of the film in terms of its pieces rather than the overall whole. In particular, Frank Langella as Skeletor and Meg Foster as Evil-Lynn rise above the material to deliver solid, memorable performances:

It's funny, there's quite a few films sire ever seen when I was younger that I wouldn't bother with ever viewing again, but taking about it today, MOTU doesn't fall under this category. As this recent article’s author observes, all the cast in the movie were sincere in their performances and that's came across quite clearly. For that reason alone, I think I'll give it another viewing soon, when I feel the need for some good old-fashioned 80s film love.

September 4 – Weighing In

Are people in BC healthier than other Canadians?

That seems to be the case in recent study that examined the health levels of Canadians living in Vancouver versus other cities in Canada.

The study concluded that if all Canadians were as healthy as those in the larger cities in BC, billions could be saved by the health industry. Interestingly, it appears that declining rates of tobacco use has meant that health problems due to obesity have overtaken those issues caused by smoking for the first time:

While cancers, heart disease and respiratory ailments from smoking once accounted for the biggest single chunk of avoidable costs, falling rates of tobacco use have changed that. Instead, the rising number of overweight Canadians has made diabetes and joint problems a greater burden.
"From an economic perspective, the impact of excess weight in Canada is now more substantial than that of tobacco smoking," says the report. "Our updated model suggests that in 2013, the annual economic burden attributable to excess weight in Canada was 25 per cent higher than that attributable to tobacco smoking ($23.3 billion versus $18.7 billion)."

I find it interesting that the study dovetails into my own long-held impression of the West Coast lifestyle of being more healthy in general than living in the eastern provinces or even the prairies. My few visits to Vancouver also confirm the impression of the city that puts great value on access to healthy lifestyle venues and general exercise. How ironic that my own bike riding days have fallen behind me, in that I can now walk to work in 15 minutes.

Meaning that I have to make more time to exercise in and of itself, rather than having it as a side benefit of simply getting to work and back on a daily basis.

September 5 – Sans Cable, Day 4

I thought I'd provide a short update to my first week.

It's really amusing to me how often in the last few days that I'd be sitting at home, thinking that a need to relax and I immediately reach for the TV remote. Not a book, or my computer, but the television was always the first thing I thought of.

Now that I can't do that, it's kind of scary how often it happened this week.

How much of my time was spent each week watching television that didn't really matter? Shows that, while certainly entertaining, did nothing to help me as a person or two further my desire to create a career for myself as a writer.

I still have a Netflix account, as well as accounts at several different streaming media sites such as, so I can get more than a few shows fairly quickly if I so wish.

More difficult part is finding shows that arch on these services. I may explore using a VPN to surf around the web based in the USA, but that's a bit tricky and to be honest I don't want to spend too much time looking for distractions, which is what watching TV is for me this year. I have a novel and a half left to complete, so whatever time I managed to gain in the day that's not being spent on television needs to go directly into that.

Now I just have to find the energy that I had from a few months ago…

September 6 – Buoyed By Success!

Today we finally got to test our creations!

Over a month ago, my girlfriend and I decided to create some ‘extras’ to use in the ceiling pond along with our Haulin’ Trawler RC boat. A few weeks ago, I posted pictures of the completed buoys, which were still awaiting our final decisions on how to string them out in the pond - important because we wanted to ensure they didn't foul any propellers while remaining stationary in the water and still allowing easy placement / retrieval.

Heading down to the pond today, we were amused to see that we were the only ones there, likely because of the overcast conditions( which cleared up just as we left several hours later, around noon ). We strung our initial 4-buoy string on plastic weed-whacker refill line( 30m of it, which won’t rot )along with some weights and put them into the water.

Everything worked perfectly!

The buoys floated at exactly the right height, while the line remained submerged well below any propellers thanks to the weights we had tied off to the suspension ropes attaching the buoys to the plastic refill line. The spacing between the buoys was also perfect, which I had judged by eye alone – go me!

We had a great time maneuvering are both around the buoys, which bobbled quite realistically in the ways we made and really stood out against the water in their fluorescent colours. The only downside was when another RC boater showed up with a speed boat and managed to smash directly into one of the boys, knocking off all three of the decorative tops we had glued on. Fortunately, they can be easily reattached with some hot glue, so really no harm done, though the other boater was quite embarrassed about the accident.

My lady and I are having fun being creative like this, enjoying the activities we're discovering together. RC boating is something we both thoroughly enjoy, as it's relaxing and, as a hobby, can be expanded any number of ways. We can even think about getting things like RC planes, though we’d have to drive out to designated RC airfields in the area if we end up getting a serious air vehicle. Myself, I might just pick up this little gem:

All in all, it was a really good day, with lots accomplished. Even the weather cooperated almost to the minute by not raining on us while we were sailing and the sun coming out for most of the afternoon. Even when we were out having dinner on the patio, the sun stayed out of the clouds until almost exactly when we were ready to settle the bill.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Yes indeedy, it was a better week than I'd though. Work was steady to slow, with no stress to speak of and I sailed right into the weekend with a smile. While I'm still working on a regular wake / sleep cycle, things are improving and I hope my energy levels will return to what they were shortly.