Volcano surfing, for the random Aussie guy :)

23 Dec

Ten years ago I was on a surf/snowboard trip, taking in some of the best spots for both the world had to offer. I was traveling light, other than my eight foot surf board that went with me wherever I went… including the ski hills.

I arrived in Calgary on my way up to the Banff ski area with this huge surf board bag in tow. I’m dressed inappropriately (having just come from Central America), and am dragging this massive bag that anyone who surfs would recognize as having boards in it.

As I’m walking through the airport, a guy who looks like he could be a surfer looks me up and down somewhat incredulously, then without missing a beat, says in a super thick Aussie accent: “sorry mate,  afraid the surf’s not been too good here lately”, before winking and walking off.

Bear in mind this is December in Canada, the temperature is well below zero, and we’re not on the coast. There is definitely no surf in Calgary (which is inland) in December.

It would have really easy to make fun of me, or to say something mean or to mock me. After all, I was headed to a ski hill with a surf board… but instead, this guy took the time to think of something witty, and to deliver his line in a thoroughly charmingly way. I remember it, and him, as if it was yesterday.

I thought of that guy this week as I drove inland from the Costa Rican coastline, where i was surfing, to take a look at the volcano Arenal, a good way away from the coast. Not a lot of surf there either though, obviously, and when I looked at my rental car with my surf board stuffed into it, I saw an opportunity to pay homage to that guy who made me laugh a few years back.

So, random Australian guy in Calgary airport 10 years ago…. this one’s for you mate:

Yep, that’s me with my surfboard (leash attached), in front of one of the world’s most active volcanos, for no reason at all, really. And yes, I know it’s cloudy, but here’s a shot from the exact same spot 24 hours earlier, when you can actually see the thing:

Monster. It’s an actual working volcano. That black stuff is where the lava has been. Gnarly, huh?

So thanks for the laugh that day random Aussie guy. I’m still appreciating it, even all these years later. Pura vida 🙂


The Kindle’s Killer App

21 Dec

When I was asking friends about their Kindles, trying to decide which of the new batch was for me, one comment in particular really jumped out at me: Ian Sohn told me that he loved his basic model, and that he particularly liked that it didn’t multi task. Sort of an odd statement when you think about it, but it didn’t really register with me at that time.

Given the arms race of a tech society we live in, it’s  unusual to hear somebody citing the lack of a feature or features as a positive. Now that I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks, I see exactly what he means, and he’s 100% right.

I read more because all my Kindle does is let me read. I don’t have the distractions of apps or videos or a million other things. Sure I had the Kindle app on my iPad (and loved having it there), but it was all too easy to switch to something else, to check my email or the score in the game. On the Kindle, it’s read or nothing. Sounds stupid, but it’s absolutely true.

So as Ian said, the Kindle’s killer app is that is that it doesn’t multi task. It’s just a reading device.  In an age where attention is at an absolute premium, the importance of that can’t be overstated. I love mine, and on this vacation I’ve used it every day. The iPad on the other hand, has come out once.

Confusing Comscore QR Code Study

15 Aug

Last week comscore released a study that claimed that ’14 million Americans used a QR code in June 2011′.

14 million? In one month?

That’s over 5% of the adult population… I just don’t buy it, sorry. I would raise an eyebrow if you told me that 5% of my (very tech focused) friends and colleagues had used a QR code in June, let alone the general population.

I tweeted my doubt this morning, and @comscore responded that the study includes bar codes. I’m not really sure what that means. Either way, it’s confusing: the headline very clearly says QR codes, and that’s certainly how it’s being reported.

Regardless… though I see lots of potential for QR codes, the fact of the matter is we’re using them them wrong: using a QR code to simply link to your site is dull, and a classic example of deploying technology for its own sake. QR codes on underground subway billboards? OK then…

I don’t believe that it’s a dead technology by any means, but I think that for them to succeed I would like to see more smart digital application and less people claiming extraordinary success. Or if you are going to claim that success, I want to see some evidence.

UPDATE 3.30pm, 8/15: so this is weird. The original release from Comscore used the language ‘QR and bar codes’, but Comscore dropped the ‘bar codes’ bit. Strange.

Check out the original: http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS371US371&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=14+Million+Americans+Scanned+QR+or+Bar+Codes+on+their+Mobile+Phones+in+June%C2%A02011

And here’s the release on Comscore’s site: http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/8/14_Million_Americans_Scanned_QR_or_Bar_Codes_on_their_Mobile_Phones_in_June_2011

Strange, no?

Realtor Speak

5 Aug

I’m looking for a new apartment here in NYC. It sucks, bigtime… I’d forgotten quite how crappy it is wading through all the BS listings trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. The language people use in their ads is really quite telling though….

  • Spacious = Not spacious
  • Cozy = Tiny
  • Converted 2 bed = 1 bed
  • Small 1 bed = converted studio
  • Quiet neighborhood = not noisy all the time
  • Remodeled = recently gutted
  • Special = I can’t shift this shithole
  • Great deal = i can’t shift this shithole
  • Won’t last= i can’t shift this shithole
  • Fits Queen size bed = bedroom exactly the size of a queen size bed

The lying that goes on by realtors on craigs list is pretty shocking.

Also, it appears that the entirety of East Harlem is on the market right now.


Amy Winehouse, RIP

24 Jul

Amy Winehouse died this weekend. Not a huge surprise to lots of folks, given the awfully self destructive spiral she was on. Just a few years ago her mom made a heartfelt appeal to her daughter, asking her to reach out, and a little after her in-laws asked fans to stop buying her records or going to her gigs, because they were funding her drug addiction.

She was one of my favorite artists ever: the voice of a generation and an incredible talent the likes of which I’ve never known. I adored her. The beautiful simplicity of her voice makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and she touched me in a way that no other artist has. She just moves me.  I still can’t listen to ‘Back to Black’, ‘Love is a Losing Game’ or ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ without welling up a little. And the poetic beauty of ‘Valerie’ or ‘Stronger than me’? Oh my….

Of course, she was an addict, and the easy option is to say that as an addict she had it coming and she deserved it. I would ask that you looked beyond that though. Was she a fuckup? Sure. Did she have opportunities that others didn’t? Of course she did. But was she was a weak, vulnerable and addicted individual? No question she was. But was she also an incredible, one of kind talent ? Absolutely, and I’m  truly, truly gutted that she’s gone.

Her weakness as an addict doesn’t make her death any easier to deal with. The people around her took advantage and exploited her for every last dollar, and now she’s dead. Well done, I hope those people are proud. They have blood on your hands, the fuckers. But at least they made some money, I guess.

So RIP Amy. Your extraordinary talent extinguished at just 27. I’m devastated, but I’m also thankful you were able to put out two of the best records that have ever seen the light of day. I’m glad that your hauntingly beautiful voice will always be a part of my life.

Thanks for those two incredible records. I’m just sad that there won’t be any more.

A Rollerskating Jam Named Saturdays

4 Jul

I fell in love with New York City all over again today.

This afternoon, after a hard bike ride and short run, I decided to head into Central Park to skate for an hour or so. About 20 minutes in, I stumbled upon this:

100 or so skaters and rollerbladers, skating around a massive sound system in the middle of Central Park. Totally unexpected, and absolutely awesome. Full on throwback action, complete with old school hip-hop and legit b-boys, it really was one of my most unexpected and surprising discoveries since I moved here. Young, old, male, female… every color and creed you could imagine all just getting down on skates. It felt like a scene out of a movie.

Rollergirl was there:

So was buff skating dude in big pants:

And don’t forget skater chick in jean shorts and cowboy hat, she was there too:

Anyhow, it turns out it’s a regular thing put on by these guys:

And they’ve been doing it for years.  It was such an unexpected and lovely outpouring of happiness…. really nice to see it in NYC, where it’s so easy to get totally caught up in your own little world.

So, the point of this post is, it’s possible to stumble on cool fun stuff.  Even if this skating thing isn’t your scene, you can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere there’s something you’d love going on, that you don’t even know exists.  So get to it… head out and find something cool 🙂

Two types of people in the world

22 Jun


Those that remove the Keurig single serve thing after they’ve made their coffee, and whose that don’t.

Which are you?