Sunday, 17 July 2016

Balance, Birthday Bashes and Being Back

The word of the week is  persevere.

July 11 - What are you playing?

Everyone's obsessed, it seems, with a game: Pokemon Go.

Except me, as I have too much else to do.

Seems like a smart concept though: using AR( Augmented Reality )technology, creatures from the Pokémon universe are overlaid on real-time camera images from a cell phone. As people move around geographically in their neighborhoods, various creatures appear to be captured if possible by playing the game.

I think it's pretty cool to integrate portable technology with AR software to create a game like this, as it gets people out and into the real world rather than sitting inside in one spot all day. I know the value of getting out to see the city that I live in, as there's always something fascinating in new to be observed if you're only paying attention.

Mind you, I think I'd be far more tempted to play the game if it was like this:

July 12 - GARTHIM!!!!

It's finished! The most amazing Dark Crystal costume ever!

Well, I mean, compared to the ones from the original movie back in the 80s, but those were made of fiberglass and weighed close to 100 pounds. Which would preclude their being worn anywhere outside of film set due to the need for a crew to get the actors in and out of the suits, not to mention the heat and fatigue of wearing them.

Have a look:

Ryan Wells Cosplay - look him up!

You can also watch a short video of the cost of inaction, complete with sound effects and glowing eyes here - it looks and sounds amazing!

Ever since I saw The Dark Crystal as a young boy, I wanted to create a Garthim costume, but lacked the skills to do so in a satisfying fashion. Amazingly, someone else has completed that dream and shared it with the world, for which I'm extraordinarily grateful. You can find Ryan Wells Cosplay here.

It's also really, really cool.

July 13 - Whisper

Living near a main road sucks, most days: it's noisy. Real noisy.

Passing traffic can include the rumble of trucks, the throaty shouting of motorcycles or the blair of sirens of all kinds at all times a day( one woke me this morning at 5 AM as a matter of fact )on top of the noise of regular traffic at all hours a day.

Apart from moving or begging the landlord's in the petition for better windows, what's one to do?

Enter the Whisper noise-canceling system, designed for entire living spaces.

Similar to my Parrot Zik headphones, the Whisper samples the noise levels in the local environment and produce soundwaves designed to cancel those same sounds completely. It's comprised of two parts, and exterior sound sampler and interior speaker in their system, which can be placed on any flat surface but it works best on a window as it's in 2 parts:

I like the concept, and it seems ideally suited to a small apartment like mine by a busy road. I'm also impressed with the low cost of the device, which would be around $300 for the initial units to be produced. This is the first product of its kind that I'm aware of that can cancel noise inside an entire living space actively, rather than depending on less effective and far costlier methods such as window insulation.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand-based company is nowhere close to realizing their production goal of $785,00( $720K CAN )with merely $15K raised so far and only 37 days to go in the Kickstarter campaign. If it were up to me, I would fund this product in a heartbeat, as I would put it to immediate use in my current apartment...

July 14 - Jack's Back!!

Whoa... there's going to be a new season of Samurai Jack!

For those of you who aren't familiar with this amazing animated series, Samurai Jack debuted on The Cartoon Network in 2001 and ran for four seasons. The writing and art were simply incredible for an animated series at the time and in my opinion have not been surpassed since. If you'd never seen Samurai Jack, I urge you to look through the clips available on YouTube or pick up the first season on DVD which is widely available. I hope that eventually it will make its way to Netflix as well and so gain an even wider audience.

Here's the lowdown on the new season, which looks like it will break new ground yet again in terms of art and storytelling for animation:

July 15 - Heavy Thoughts

Many thoughts been running through my head this week, with more than a few related to finance and how my future for the next five years might take shape.

House? Nope. Car? Unlikely. Kids? Probably not.

So what is normal for me now?

In terms of a place to live, that seems to be a rental for the foreseeable future, as Victoria is only getting more expensive by the year with properties running well above $500,00 on average for a small two-bedroom detached home. Even small apartments are going for around a quarter million dollars and quite honestly I'll need to make twice as much as I do a year in order to even think about a mortgage. Hence my interest in the lower-cost tiny home movement, but I will go into that here, as I've discussed it at length before in my blog.

It's been frustrating to me that I'm still dragging along too much financial burden from my past currently and not managing to be picked for a better government position despite the applications of them putting in. Many others in my office have moved on to better things and this is been weighing heavily on my mind as you might imagine. I'm extremely well-qualified in terms of experience and I have a university degree, yet to date none of my applications have had anything more than a 'Thanks for applying' response to the positions I've been looking at in Victoria. It's frustrating and depressing at times, but I tell myself that I've had a good job for two years now that hasn't stressed me out nearly as much is any of my previous jobs - plus I get to work with some wonderful people and go home on time at the end of every day.

Going on about it at length here isn't going to do me any good, so I won't.

I just have to hang in there and see what the rest of 2016 brings me.

July 16 - My Regency Birthday!

What a great birthday today was! Even Google got in on the act:

My lady and I spent the morning getting ready for the Regency Drama Garden Party at 11am:

You are one of the assembled cast of a Regency Era Live-Action Role Play. You have a secret you must guard, a secret about another guest you may use to your advantage, and an objective. Do you want to regain the family fortune? Find out who your real father is? Make an advantageous marriage for your daughter? Find a suitable husband?
Come play in your own Jane Austen tale of intrigue, secrets, reputation and genteel manners.This event will be a potluck picnic with croquet, cards and tea party.

Early in the week, we had visited VictoriaCostumes and picked out costumes for ourselves to wear and today was the day that we got to get into character! After getting dressed, we packed up some light snacks of some crackers and cheese for lunch along with water, then headed to the Gorge Park.

It was the perfect day to be outside, with the occasional clouds keeping the heat down. We were located behind three immense trees that provided shade for the entire afternoon's activities and the breezes were perfect in the Park area next to the Gorge Waterway.

The event itself gathered steam and was soon in full swing, with everyone interacting with one another in character. I played Nathaniel Hayward, a man of passion, education and breeding, who served a commission in the King's Navy but was now newly retired toenjoy other pursuits on my estate . In order to 'win' my own part in the game, I was tasked with finding out how my sister Juliet's brother had died recently, as it seemed that it was under mysterious circumstances. My lady played Amelia Cluett: a servant, the maid to Belle Nightengale and also her bosom friend. She was said to have a beau but did not want to lose her position by becoming a wife.

Here's a shot of the entire group, in their gorgeous costume finery:

That's me in the front with the cane, and my lady's in the back

It was a blast being in character, though I chose not to affect a British accent as there were several people there who were either English or who could do far better accents than I could consistently put on. I spent much of my afternoon the company of two bravos in particular, part of my social group( as noted in my dossier ). The first was Isaac Fortescue, a retired soldier who loved to go on about the great wars in India in service to crown and country( peeking out from the back the top hat with the huge moustache in the pic above ). The second was Henry Hawkins, a dashing soldier recently returned to town between postings to visit a few friends and charm this season's ladies( the soldier on the far right, kneeling ). Both men play their characters to the hilt, with Henry giving a perfect rendition of the charming gentleman soldier the entire afternoon: I was left agog and did my best to give as good as I got to his performance. What an incredible time I had creating stories with these two fellows and the others that I interacted with during the course of the afternoon!

By days end, I had married off my sister, discovered who had poisoned her husband( she did! )and even won at a game of croquet! My lady had also succeeded with her game and we both felt that the day was a rousing success. There were smiles all around and everyone involved thought it was simply the best time they've had been a long, long time.

In the evening, my lady and I dined at Il Terrazo, an Italian restaurant that is a hidden gem of Victoria and one I've not yet visited in my nearly 10 years here. What an incredibly delicious meal we each had! We were seated by the door, so that the benefit of the cool breezes and the bright light made how crowded the restaurant was much easier to take:

My birthday ended with our viewing of Romancing The Stone, a 1984 action classic on laserdisc that my lady has never seen in full, which surprised me. The movie looked spectacular on laserdisc, with the new( to me )Pioneer V4400 putting in this stellar performance of a perfect picture the entire time, though I did have to flip the disc halfway through as it's not a double-sided player like my two defunct CLD-79 Elite units.

What a glorious birthday!

July 17 - Balance

I took it easy today, more or less, as I was tired. But happy!

Yesterday and today I didn't get a whole lot of good rest, as I fell asleep around midnight and woke up around 5 AM both nights - not my usual pattern. That's been happening more and more of late, as I've mentioned before and I'm going to be taking some herbal sleep aids to try and ensure that I can get back to at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.

After leisurely morning, my lady and I met my parents for lunch at Mo:Lé. The conversation turned to memories of past trips for the family and my lady was treated to many of our fondest memories of our time spent in Florida, especially Disneyland. One thing I'd not known at the time was that storyline for the Spaceship Earth attraction was created by none other than Ray Bradbury, who was good friends with Walt Disney:

I've always admired Ray Bradbury for both his storytelling chops and the fact that he never lost touch with his inner child, which I've also somehow managed myself as most people who know me will attest to. While I don't remember much about the details of the Spaceship Earth ride, I'm going to see if I can find some footage somewhere to refresh my memory as it's one more bit of Ray Bradbury's creative genius that I can enjoy.

I also got a belated birthday present today:

This will go FAST and look GOOD on the water!

Admittedly, I purchased it for myself from a local model boat club member( the president, actually )as it was just sitting on a shelf gathering dust and is a helluva lot better than anything I can get online or make myself( yet ). Unlike our Haulin Trawler, which does a pretty good clip in the water as it is, this boat is designed for speed just like it's full-size counterpart which could do up to 40 knots on the open ocean! I do have to tidy it up a little as well as waterproof a few parts just to be safe, but it's a magnificent model and I'm really looking forward to taking it out for a drive next week down at the yacht pond.

I spent the rest of the late afternoon at home cooling off, as I found of late that my heart rate tends to be quite elevated the warmer I get. As matter of fact, my lady and I went for a evening walk last night to cool off after the movie, which proved to be quite effective so I'll be sure to keep that method in mind in the future when my heart rate tends to get a bit too high.

It's been a great weekend and I'm off all this coming week on vacation.

I plan to put it to good use each day by writing a good chunk of the fourth draft of my first book. My notes are ready and I'm eager to get the concepts edited into the manuscript. My book won't do me any good if it's still sitting on my computer instead of making its way to a publisher who might just decide it's the exact thing they were looking for all along.

BONUS: this was in the parkade today:

Magnum PI's Ferrari 306 - what a car!!!!

I'm immensely happy with how the first few days of my vacation have gone, despite my spiraling into stupid finance-related thoughts on Friday: no sense in spoiling my downtime this week thinking negatively about things. As you may imagine, I had a GREAT birthday, one of the best ever, and I am going to let that feeling of euphoria carry me through the week!