azzurriffopubijix

and now, for something completely different.

Tag Archives: history

Get out there!

I want to be an adventurer, or maybe I always have been one and just want to do more. How do I know it, how did I figure it out? I think right now I’m measuring it against my two most recent regrets, encountered on a trip to kauai:

  • I regret not jumping into this river (or off of this waterfall, depending on your perspective) and only filming my brother in law doing it. It didn’t even strike me at the time, and only later did I figure it out, and now I’ve missed the opportunity:

  • I regret not doing a drift dive following the two boat dives I did while on vacation. I felt guilty about signing up for another dive and leaving my family for a day, so I didn’t do it; but now i feel I’ve really missed something.

These may sound like strange regrets to some, but I find myself seriously bummed out by them. This is not to say that I didn’t have fun with my family on my vacation, because I did; I just think I came up a bit short of where I could have, personally. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a midlife crisis, because this is kind of a long standing problem, and I think it’s just a symptom of the fact that I want to be an adventurer. So I’m re-purposing my blog to talk about that.

snaps-0080

Local resident gets a cleaning

 

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Stuck in the 90s again

2013-11-29 15.33.12It was a time of Seinfeld, X-Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and when we were still open to the wonders of computerized special effects in Jurassic Park (they had not yet been abused by George Lucas).  Accessing the world outside your computer was predominantly BBS and 14.4 modems.  It was a time when I was young – physically, mentally (not that this has improved), and to Calgary itself.  Moxy Fruvous said it best: we were stuck in the 90s.  Grunge was king (hey, at least they wrote their own music), U2 was riding high on Achtung Baby and Zooropa, and I was in high school in downtown Calgary. Western Canada High School was and is about French Immersion and the IB program.  I’ll be honest up front, I am not an overachieving kind of guy, and French Immersion was my entrance ticket to Western.  Lucky ticket, though; golden ticket.

2013-11-29 15.33.43For a lot of people, high school is painful, stressful, lonely and difficult: hormones are firing on all cylinders in both sexes, and it’s a time in our lives when average people likely experience the worst in themselves, as a result. For me, though, and quite a few of my friends (Erik, for example), high school presented some of the best years of our lives.  From September, 1990 to June, 1994, I called WCHS my home and met many people whom I still consider to be family.  Maybe it was my oblivious nature that shielded me, or maybe I was lucky, or maybe it was a deep-down desire to have fun wherever I was (I vote this, and I vote my friends shared this sentiment), but I avoided the bullying and cliques that found painful memories in so many people.

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Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero

The Hero's Quest and Quest for Glory covers.

The Hero’s Quest and Quest for Glory covers.

You may have seen a post I did about Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. How did it get to be #2? Well, this post tells you how. When I first played this game, it was called “Hero’s Quest I: So You Want To Be A Hero.” At the same time, there was a board game (which I also owned) called “Hero Quest.” A trademark dispute with the makers of the board game eventually made Sierra (the publisher) change the name of the series to “Quest for Glory.” These were very different times: EGA graphics (16-colour), VGA (256-colour) at best, and these games were distributed on floppy disks. Well, Hero’s Quest came with 5.25s and 3.5s, and was eventually released on CD (wow!) so it wasn’t that archaic I guess (sarcasm!). Still, it was definitely a different time. It was a time when the term “Animated 3D Adventure Game” meant series like King’s Quest and Space Quest (which probably rivaled the Monkey Island series for comedy). 3D meant that your character could walk “behind” bushes and trees… wow! It was different enough time that a video game company was pushed around by a board game company – I doubt the board game industry has the same clout today they once had. Today, games like Assassin’s Creed III sell 3.5 million copies in the first week they’re offered, and Starcraft is a spectator sport!

No matter how it was released or what name it was called, Lori and Corey Cole did an absolutely marvelous job of inventing a classic and now borderline legendary adventure game.  When I heard that they were going to get back into game design and that it would have something to do with being a hero, I absolutely had to sink my teeth back into this original and best Quest for Glory game.

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Politics starts and ends here.

First, I don’t normally get into the political comment game.  I keep it in the back of my head that it might be interesting to run for office some day, and I am mindful of what I post on the internet as a result.  I do a mental litmus test for how people will judge me for what I say when I post it.  I assume I’m a reasonable person, so I assume my litmus test is useful.  Hopefully my political commentary doesn’t anger anyone too terribly, and this type of writing will hopefully end here – there are much more fun things to write about than what feels like junior high school peer drama.

Why did I write this?  I was on my RSS feed and found this article on CBC.  It really made me angry.  So here’s my commentary, a message to the over-entitled whining-because-I-got-nothing-better-to-do sore loser right of the USA:

First, you didn’t lose. Your country is far too black and white when it comes to this distinction – it’s one or the other, you’ve won or you’ve lost, and there is no in between. It’s why you pour so much money into international competitions to strut about and chant “USA” when you win and you’re the best, but if you lose then someone obviously cheated. You could put that money towards fixing your own internal problems, but that would be socialism, so it’s better to keep puffing your chest to the world.

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Stratos – Colour Me Inspired.

Image from the Stratos test-jump. That’s a long way down for a dress-rehearsal.

The short message of this article is that the Red Bull Stratos is a shining beacon of hope for the human race’s incredible will to survive and advance in spite of itself.  You’re gonna think I’m nuts, but that’s okay; colour me inspired.

I’m not usually a sucker for a publicity stunt, and I think that personal preference is still in tact.  So when I say that yesterday I almost lost my mind watching the Red Bull Stratos jump from over 128,000 feet, you might accuse me of succumbing to the marketing hype of the year, or the decade.  Nay, I say; what Felix Baumgartner and his team accomplished was not only an amazing and daring physical feat, but also a marvelous scientific achievement and a beacon for what the human race can do if it really sets pettiness aside and tries.  Sure, the Red Bull logo was all over this, and Felix Baumgartner is responsible for dozens of daring jumps all over the world with that emblem flying proudly on his parachute; but you have to accept that this time, the Red Bull logo was attached to masterpiece of engineering, precision and invention.

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Assassin’s Creed – So Far

My buddy Raul got me Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for my birthday last year. I really had no idea about these games except that they seemed to be quite popular. I didn’t even know who made them (Ubisoft Montreal). Well, when everyone went home after the dinner we’d invited them to on my birthday, I put it in the PS3 and took a look. I didn’t come out until about 3:30 in the morning. 3:30 in the morning is nothing really all that special or crazy, but it is a little bold when you have a 2-year-old to match your morning wake-up time with!

Spoiler alert: I do spoil a bit of the overarching story in this write-up; so if you want to play them and get the surprises, don’t read this and play the games first.

The Assassin’s Creed series follows the centuries-spanning conflict between the Assassins and the Templars. In general, the Assassins view themselves as defenders of peace and more importantly free-will, and the Templars view themselves as perveyors of peace through control. So, Templars would force peace by abolishing all religion to end all wars, where Assassins would – no matter their beliefs – defend all religions even at the expense of holy wars happening so that people still have free-will to choose. In each game in the franchise, you get to explore history through the eyes of an assassin in a particular historical era.  Historically, the Assissins and the Templars were real groups, whose interactions are documented in lots of places, including this book. One of the really great strengths in the series is the real history woven around the games, and they stick to it as much as they can and have you dealing with real people from the eras.

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Old-tyme Hockey

The Winning Goal

Alright.  I was in the UK last week, and on the flight over I did something I really wouldn’t have expected I would be doing.  I watched the final game of the 1987 Canada Cup between Canada and the USSR.  First of all, it was an amazing game because of the excellent historical rivalry on the international stage between the two countries.  Second of all, it was just awesome hockey.

I call it “old time hockey”, not like the Hanson Brothers keep telling Paul Newman about in Slapshot.  I call it old time hockey as in the way the game was played in the 80s.  I grew up watching this stuff, but still I was surprised at just how different it looked from the hockey I am so used to watching today.

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