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Dany Heatley July 31, 2009

Posted by huymix in Sports.
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Dany HeatleyfminusHeatleyMake no mistake, Dany Heatley can score. He is still one of the NHL’s top scorers and should be an F +. However, he’s an F -. Just a caution, he’s an F – for almost entirely personal reasons, so please do not comment back by just parroting back stats because he’s an F- in spite of his stats. Dany Heatley is an F – because:

  • He is screwing over the Ottawa Senators. The Sens are my team and this fact alone is enough for me to put him in the F – category. If Heater is going to demand a trade, and then a trade is on the table, but is vetoed by Heatley, how badly does he really want out? He’s preventing the Sens from getting maximum value in a trade.
  • To keep him is expensive. He gets about $10 M a year on his current contract. The Sens signed on the very talented Alex Kovalev who would in theory, be his replacement and score goals in bunches. The problem is, Kovalev is not cheap and neither is Heatley. So what you have are 2 expensive players and you can’t get rid of the one who wants to leave. That means the Sens can’t use that money to sign other players.
  • He relies a lot on Jason Spezza. Without Jason, his numbers would not be as high. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to acknowledge Jason’s contribution to his stats and overall success (he didn’t even show up to the guy’s wedding).

People talk about how Dany Heatley, if he stays this season with the Sens, will play well on the basis he’ll want to be on Team Canada for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I do not think it’ll play out that way since an unmotivated player is not so easily swayed. Also, even if that were true, what happens if he doesn’t make the team? Dany Heatley is going to be a drag. My advice is to ship him off to the L.A. Kings and hope he languishes there for the rest of his career.

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1984 (Book) July 30, 2009

Posted by huymix in Books.
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imagesfplus1984 book cover

I’ve always heard people talk about how great 1984 was and I never really understood why. I mean, I understood they really believed it was good, but I suppose it was never properly articulated to me why I should read or care about 1984. Having recently finished 1984 I can say these are the reasons why I enjoyed it  so much:

  • Its fast paced. So the timeline of the story does occur over a while, but the plot does not seem to linger too long (ahem Lord of the Rings).
  • The visuals. So maybe visuals is not the right word, imagery is probably accurate. There are many stark icons in 1984 that I almost dread watching the movie because I don’t want to see another persons version of any icon (the poster, the viewscreens, the giant pyramids full of inner party people, etc.)
  • It parodies groups I do not like. What I’ve taken away from all of the descriptions of the book is that it has parodies of certain groups’ beliefs. Specifically, conspiracy theorists and hippies. What I mean is, George Orwell’s description for a huge government conspiracy in 1984 to change information or make stuff up is so ridiculous that it is a parody. Also,  the ideas that capitalism is evil and  how the government was able to form the way it did on the basis of pretty much hippie talk is also a parody. In case you didn’t know, I’m not a fan of either conspiracy people or hippies.

Much is made of the ending to 1984 with good reason. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I should recommend you read a whole book on the basis of its ending. Rather, the road to the ending in 1984 (i.e. the book) is by itself worth your time. Some people read this book in connection with high school, if you did not, try to make this a book you actually read instead of one you always meant to read.

The Louvre July 29, 2009

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louvrefplusLouvre at night

In my first visit to Europe I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days in Paris. Even though I was only in Paris a short while and there are a million things to see, I ended up spending about 5 hours just in the Louvre. Most people do pay a visit to the Louvre (maybe an hour or 2), however I advocate really spending a lot of time in the Louvre. If you find yourself on vacation in Paris really do try to spend a lot of time in the Louvre because:

  • Even in Paris, I feel its visually the nicest place to go. Inside and out, the Louvre looks awesome. You are surrounded by way classier stuff than I could possibly afford in my life.
  • It’s huge, even at the 5 hour mark I had only visited like 1/4 of the museum. A lot of that time was kind of rushing through too. So, you can spend the time because there is plenty to see.
  • Its a good place to people watch. Some people like watching other people. Personally, I don’t really watch but I am aware of the people around me. In the Louvre, you get not only a lot of people you can watch but a very international cross-section of people.

I think the parts of the Louvre that I really enjoyed were away from the crowds. I really enjoyed the Louvre and if I went back to Paris today, I would go straight back to the Louvre as the first stop. Please note that while I can appreciate the art on display in the Louvre I would not call myself some sort of enthusiast or anything. I just like what I like, even if I can’t verbalize why.

Side note: my favourite part of the Louvre are the French sculptures.

TLC’s What Not to Wear July 28, 2009

Posted by huymix in Television.
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imagesfplusimages

I watch very, very few (non-sports, non-news) t.v. shows on a regular basis. TLC’s What Not to Wear is one in a very small group of shows. I’ve found that people who are aware of the show but haven’t watched it have a certain amount of cynicism behind a perceived message. Now you can make fun of me all you want for watching this show, and I’m fine with it, but I still think it can be worth your time because:

  • They understand and promote affordable clothing. They aren’t looking for you to always be buying shirts that are $100’s of dollars. However, they do say buy quality not quantity and you’ll end up saving way more in the long run.
  • Reasonable style. So, a lot of episodes actually deliver very polished but not crazy cutting edge runway looks. It would be better to call it fashion for the real world. This also applies to the hair cuts Nick makes, which is generally the point where most will really see the transformation.
  • There are lessons you can apply yourself. While its all fun to see someone else change so much, the real value to watching is the advice on colour, fit, and style for a personal wardrobe.

I’ve watched the BBC version of the show and I do not find it as entertaining. If you have TLC, I’d say try to catch the show. Stacy and Clinton are also hilarious. Also, the majority of episodes are for women, so fellas it might take a while for you to apply the rules for yourself. The cynicism that I referenced earlier is the belief the show promotes only a certain “look” and you’ll somehow be a different person. The truth is, the show is only trying to show that how you present yourself matters to how you are perceived and for most adults that means with a certain degree of respect. The fashion advice normally sticks to enhancing yourself and your message without the visual noise of odd/poor fitting clothing.

The Tube July 27, 2009

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Riders in the TubefminusUnderground logoThe London Underground (“Tube”) pretty much does one thing very well. They get you from point A to point B fairly easily. Unfortunately for me, that’s not the only factor I care about. While the Tube does have a pretty regular schedule and covers a good area, there are other factors that ultimately make taking the Tube a gigantic pain. If you’re in London, be prepared for the Tube because:

  • It’s not cheap. A day pass can be pretty hefty and thus present a problem of offering sufficient value-for-money to the Tube’s passengers.
  • It’s uncomfortable. When you get to the station above ground it can take a full 5 – 10 minutes to actually get to the platform (depends on which station) because of the often long walk and many staircases. Added to that, the train itself is often hot (not air conditioned) and cramped (very low ceilings, even at 5’10” I have to bend to fit.
  • It can be dangerous. The TTC here has signs that say to “Mind the Gap” and the Tube also has the same slogan. In comparison, the TTC gaps are incredibly small to the virtual chasm on some Tube stations. Also, the stairwells are very high and steep, a fall could seriously mess you up.

I suppose at the end of the day the Tube is still widely used by tourist and commuter alike regardless of the above. I think its less to do with the competance of the Tube as a system and more to do with the power of monopoly. I’m sorry but for a much touted world-class system, the Tube is a disappointment.

Coraline July 24, 2009

Posted by huymix in Movies.
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CoralinefplusCoraline

I haven’t watched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” so I have no way of really comparing “Coraline” with that movie. All I know is that if “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is anything like “Coraline” I’m not sure I want to watch it. Despite my reluctance, if the opportunity to watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” comes up I’ll watch it because I enjoyed Coraline. Check out Coraline because:

  • It’s actually scary. Not jump you out of your seat monster closet. The last time I was scared like that was during Pan’s Labyrinth.
  • The “real life” characters are a much better characterization of real people than in live action movies. Which you can take either as praise for Coraline or damning for live action. I choose praise.
  • You will remember this movie. Sometimes you see a movie and it is so bland and generic you almost forget everything by the time you leave the theatre. Coraline is not like that at all. Please note, I do love stupid action movies too, it really depends for me.

Coraline is out now on DVD. So unless you’re stuck in the boonies where Amazon doesn’t ship or no store is around you have no reason to not choose to watch Coraline over something like Transformers (either of them! That’s right I don’t like either movie).

CheapAssGamer.com July 23, 2009

Posted by huymix in Random, Videogames.
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CheapyDfplusCheap Ass Gamer

If you regularly read the Snuh Zone, by now you should have figured that I enjoy videogames. What I do not like are these prices! If you like videogames (or know somebody who does) and want to get a good deal on games you should check out CheapAssGamer.com. The site does more than just list deals, you should check out CheapAssGamer.com because of:

  • The CAGCast. The owner of CheapAssGamer is named CheapyD and he co-hosts a weekly podcast with Wombat. Their opinions can be quite funny. What I like is the lack of pretense and bullshit. Personal bias is admitted and you know their opinion is their honest opinion.
  • The deals are not confined to just videogames but can be for anything. I found out about some pretty nice Blu-ray deals because of CheapAssGamer.
  • You can get deals for what you care about. Forget the mess that is RedFlagDeals. You want game deals, this is where you go. There is definitely an element of satisfaction from not having to resort to RFD.

When you get a deal for a game, it feels like a meta-game where finding and getting a deal is like a game itself. CheapAssGamer is awesome for that. Keep up the good work CAG-crew. In the meantime, I’ll still be waiting for Valkyria Chronicles to go down in price…

Kia Forte Commercials July 22, 2009

Posted by huymix in Advertising, Cars, Television.
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Kia Fortefminuskia logo

I’ll admit it, I have a heavy anti-Kia and anti-Hyundai bias. Pretty much, if a car came from Korea I’m definitely highly skeptical of either its performance, quality and/or durability. Having said that, I have very little information to properly assign a score to Kia’s actual products. It might have something to do with the fact I won’t voluntarily drive a Kia, but those horrible Kia Forte commercials doesn’t help because:

  • The 2 guys (Kung-fu-guy and guy-who-doesn’t-mind-his-business) seem like weiners. Now I’m not saying I want either a) supermodels or b) macho men in these commercials but to me its like having Steve Urkel try to sell you a car.
  • A personal gripe I have is the pronunciation of Forte. In the commercial, the guy says it like “For-tay”. It’s an unfortunate relic of the 90’s that Kia resurrected. If you are gonna give your car a French name, at least pronounce the name of it correctly. It’s “Fort” not “For-tay”.
  • The whole concept of the commercials is centred around a particularly obvious and lame joke. I’m not sure what reaction the advertising people at Kia were imagining am I supposed to have, “it’s not his forte, but he has a Forte! Brilliant! I’ll take 10”. I’m sorry but the theme of these commercials is lazy and stupid.

Unfortunately, the world is full of these type of commercials. You know what commercials are good? iPhone/iPod Touch commercials are pretty good. A simple focus on the product, what makes it unique and why you should be interested. Apple doesn’t try to be cute with the language. Kia marketers get your shit together or you’ll never be taken as serious competition.

6 Cracker Challenge July 21, 2009

Posted by huymix in Food.
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CrackersfplusEating Crackers

You may or may not have heard of the 6 Cracker Challenge. If you have, than I hope you agree that the 6 Cracker Challenge is definitely recommendable to people you know. For those of you that do not know what it is here are the details: take 6 regular salted crackers (like the Premium Crackers or whatever brand you like) and you have to eat and swallow 6 of them within 1 minute without the use of any water or liquid. I know it sounds simple and easy, and that’s why you should pitch the idea to everyone you know. There are other reasons for getting your friends to do the “6 Cracker Challenge” and they are:

  • There is generally a significant amount of build up time between when you describe the challenge to when its actually performed. In that time, your friend(s) will argue till they are blue that they can do it. Of course, you know much better than that.
  • Watching the actual challenge is endlessly hilarious. The pinnacle is really when on your friend’s face you can see that there is no way they can actually finish 6 lowly crackers in 1 minute. I call that moment the “Oh shit” moment.
  • There is a lot of fun seeing the 6 Cracker Challenge propagate. Meaning, it’s fun to see the friends you challenged subsequently challenge some of their other friends and then tell you all about it.

This post is really not advocating doing the 6 Cracker Challenge yourself but rather convincing others to do it. Fortunately, it is easy to convince people since 6 crackers seem like nothing. If you don’t believe that it is incredibly difficult then….I challenge YOU to the 6 Cracker Challenge but make sure I can be there to witness it.

Roundabouts July 20, 2009

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Arc de TriomphefplusRoundabout diagram

Personally, the major change higher gas prices forced on me was to evaluate my driving habits. So after some internet perusing on techniques to stretch out the kilometers per litre, I found that a lot of energy was wasted braking for stop signs and red lights. Having recently returned from England and France, the extensive use of roundabouts was a revelation in terms of road design. I wouldn’t say Canada should have roundabouts only because average North American driving skill level is not good enough. I’m a fan of roundabouts because:

  • They allow for what would be considered a rolling stop but with the safety a regular stop. This is a key feature for gas efficiency since all you have to do is slow down to make the turn safely instead of coming to a complete stop.
  • They prevent people from just barreling through the intersection. If somebody runs a stop sign, they can kill people making a turn, with a roundabout, a physical barrier prevents them from charging through at full speed like that.
  • It’s more simple to use. At all times you are limited to turning right and this lack of options should make driving easier since the simplicity does not reduce the options of driving. With a roundabout you can still get to where you need to go.

Traffic deals a lot with the idea of flow. The less disruptions, the smoother the flow of traffic. Using roundabouts would be a good way to maintain, and in some ways improve safety, as well as improve traffic flow. The main flaw with roundabouts in Canada is the driver. I do not trust that Canadian drivers have the skill, in general, to deal with roundabouts. If you find yourself in a country with roundabouts, try to take some time to get a feeling for your movement and the smoothness of the driving. I’m sure afterwards you’ll wish we had more roundabouts in Canada.