Thursday, February 26, 2009

Picture time

I feel that too many of my posts recently have just been rants about this or that. Here's a few interesting things:

1) Interesting post about iPhone vs. BlackBerry Storm

The media (and marketers) tend to overhype 3G phones and make us believe they will do everything they are marketed to do but this isn't always the case and this quick article ads another opinion to the pile.

2) 200 Flavours of Gelato

There is a great place here in Vancouver that has over 200 flavours of gelato. I'm sure most of us wouldn't be interested in curry flavoured gelato but you have to admit - they certainly know how to put on a show! And this was taken with my HTC Touch Diamond...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Death and Taxes

Ufile... where have you been all my life?

Is the only thing I could say to myself on Saturday afternoon and pretty much every moment since then.

Yup - that's right. I did my taxes on Saturday. It wasn't even CLOSE to as hard as I would have thought. Until now, I have managed to go all these years without ever having to do my own taxes. I've had other people do them (my dad, sister, friends) but I have never actually done them myself.

I suppose part of the reason is that I hate accounting/accountants/counting.... the other part of the reason is that I was just a little scared of screwing something up or spending all night slaving over numbers (and then ending up in jail anyways). Lucky for me, it didn't turn out that way.

Wow, the things they can do with technology these days.

I go to and in only a few minutes, I'm using their software and entering the appropriate info. Few minutes later paying only about 20 bucks to use the program to submit and bam, done. Now I did have to call CRA to get some info for my online submission but that was a snap.

Now I all have to do is figure out what I'm going to do with my tax return. Obviously, most of it is going towards my retirement (which won't be for a while). But I am also terribly conflicted about what else I should get.

Part of me wants to get an HDTV but the problem is that I don't watch TV... at least proper TV. I don't have cable and my current TV doesn't fit with my decor so I consume most TV at my friends' places or online. And the truth is that you can watch most TV online, whenever you want. MTV Canada has this down pat.. shows are up only an hour after they are on air and they only have one thirty second commercial each break -at best. Some shows have the commercials less frequently. Afterall, who with the budget for that type of spending is buying up time on Double Shot at Love...

So then I think about computers. I have two laptops. My old Dell, which is only alive by the grace of a new power cord, which cost me $100. I use it in my "beat lab".

No, I don't have a "beat lab". I just wanted to use that sometime/somewhere.

And I have an IBM ThinkPad which is a total tank but nearing the end of it's useful life. I could erase everything on it, wipe it and donate it to a good cause. To replace it, I either buy a netbook (which I want to so bad) or a media type computer to run my new HDTV. I want the netbook really badly because it will do everything I need - surf and turf - in a package the size of a daybook and weighing in at just over a pound. Most notebooks are over 4 pounds. Perfect for somebody that's on the go - except I am finishing school in the spring and don't plan to get into that mode again for a while.

Lastly, I could get a bike. Now, I could get a sweet bike and splash out some money or I could get a cheapo. Afterall, I plan on moving to the East side soon and bikes there last as long as Frosty the Snowman in Miami. But I recently saw an awesome conversion project. An old high school friend of mine converted a cruiser into an electric bike. Complete with battery and lights, it will so close to 30 km/h.

The dark horse 5th option - dj equipment. I could go all out and get a pair of Pioneer CDJ 1000's but they tend to be a pretty penny and I need two. But part of me has been enjoying djing the most I ever have recently and why not start getting more serious about it?

Anyways, the new Beyonce song "Halo" is on the radio so I better go cry.

Seriously though - listen to the words of the song. "Baby you're my saving grace... I can see your halo". Those are some pretty high expectations to live up to. For almost any guy who's not an angel or wearing a lighbulb under his hat.

What happens when he cheats on her with her best friend or runs off with some younger girl? Can he just pull out his halo and make it all better?

Oscar Recap

I have been gettings lots of messages about the Oscars last night.... so I figured I would save us all the time and put them down here.

For of you that didn't notice, they made lots of changes to the show last night. Presenters didn't walk the red carpet, as they were supposed to be revealed only when they presented. Also, they shortened some elements and extended others. For example, they devoted more time to categories of awards and less to the individual awards. For example, the whole "art" part got it's own section, the whole screenplay part got it's own section... and so on.

I think one of the biggest changes this year was intimacy. I know, I know.... it sounds weird for a show this big to be described that way but the stage was lower the audience down front was much closer to the podium than I have ever seen it. As such, those down front were right there... and this made for a wonderful exchange of energy between the presenters and the audience. Also, they brought out past winners to present the big awards.... which each past winner talking about one of the current nominees. In many cases, they spoke directly to the nominee. I thought that was a nice touch.

Then there's the fashion. I thought many people seemed to be playing it safe - which is fine. The whole night seemed to have an air of class not often seen at awards shows anymore. In fact, I have come to really hate how awards shows starting to turn into a series of jokes at other people's expensese. Hugh Jackman actually had a great joke about him not being nominated because he is an Australian, who played in an Australian in a movie called Australia. Plus, he also did it all - he was funny, he could sing.. he could dance... in many ways, I think it was a performance you don't often see anymore - hitting on all levels.

Which brings it all back to old school class. As I have said before on this blog - the 1950s and 1960s are certainly coming back... last night showed much of the grace and style of the 1930s and 1940s. I like how people are starting to look back to a time when Hollywood was really something to bring it forward.

And for that these Oscars definently get an "A".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In case you didn't know...

People tend to over-think things.

I admit that I might be somebody that has a tendancy to UNDER-think things, but I came to the realization last night that people often OVER-think things.

I am not advocating that things shouldn't be planned or well thought out, but there is a point at which the marginal benefit of additional brainpower only decreases the final product. And I think people often spend some much time THINKING, that as they approach that over-thinking point - they completely miss it.

Which comes down to learning point #2: You have to know when to say when.

This is what bothers me about type A personalities. They NEVER know when to say when because they are so high strung all the time.

Also, type A personalites are not fun for me to be around because they bring the SAME energy to every interaction you have with them. Going into a meeting with a type A is like watching a bad tv show over and over... you know what exactly is going to happen at the end and you're not going to like it one bit.

Of course, I wanted to title this post "Women tend to over-think" things... but perhaps we can't and shouldn't generalize. Or should we?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Doubt & Early Oscar Picks...

I can scratch Doubt off my list. Good movie - again set in the 1960's and this movie has some serious actors in it. Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymore-Hoffman.

Doubt is the story of a Catholic school/church in what I believe is New York City. Pretty much the whole movie takes place in and around this school. Now what I found really interesting is the school itself. Whatever school they actually used was really old and creeky, which I think set the mood for the crazy happenings that go down through the second half of the movie.

As with most "good" movies - this one doesn't really give up anything huge until the very end... much of what happens is very subtle and requires you to pay close attention. I almost stopped it with a few minutes left because I was tired and ended up being totally shocked by the end.

Also, here are some thoughts on what movies/people might win. You can see the full list of nominees on the official site.

Best Actor: Sean Penn
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger
Best Actress: Anne Hathaway (dark horse)
Best Supporting Actress: This is a tough category. I have seen all these movies and Amy Adams is really good in Doubt and the scene with Viola Davis in that movie is insane and Penelope Cruz is hawt and so is Marisa Tomei. I'm going to have to settle on Taraji P. Henson for Benji's Button, er, I mean Benjamin Button.
Directing: Milk
Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

... and I think the guy who yelled out "whatever" during the proposal scene in "He's just not that into you" deservers the -best audience member in a supporting role award - for sure.

But seriously, it's hard to say who's going to win because although I think Hollywood produces more garbage year after year, the top end of the spectrum just keeps getting better and better. I really believe that all of the big films this year are all really good. Having watched them all in such a short time frame, I think they blend together a bit because I don't have time to really think about, or digest, what I have just seen.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oscar Movie Update

I saw a few more Oscar movies this week:

Rachel Getting Married

Anne Hathaway is nominated for best actress for this movie and I think it's a shame it didn't get a best picture nomination.

The movie is the story of Anne's character's sister (Rachel) getting married. It also happens to be same weekend that Rachel gets out of a 9 month stint in rehab. I won't reveal why she's there as it comes out gradually over the course of the movie. The last half of the movie is the wedding itself and it appears to be shot like a real wedding. There is all kinds of footage shot on handhelds and it's hard to tell who is acting or who isn't. I kept thinking it was a real wedding being filmed. Definently worth watching.

Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Brad Pitt is too good looking. And so is Kate Blanchett. Those two together are also way more good looking than any couple should. This movie will most likely win for best make-up - hands down.

I had a hard time getting into the movie because I felt it had so much Brad Pitt in it. The architecture.... the clothes... the motorbikes... That said, definently a great watch and highly recommended.

Up Next

Next up for me is going to be Doubt and The Reader.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recessionary Times and Michael Phelps, et al.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year you may have noticed that we are in a recession. By all accounts, this is one of the worst in modern history.

The bad news is that it is going to probably get much worst through the rest of 2009. Soon the consumer credit market is going to fall as people have been spending on credit for months. Then the real sh*t is going to hit the fan.

In the middle of all this, pictures surfaced of the golden boy Michael Phelps smoking from a bong. This was all going down at the same time that Jessica Simpson put on a few pounds. The sheer magnitude of the Phelps bong and Jessica's figure overtook the news for close to a week.

It would seem to me that there is a correlation of -1 between our appetite for stupid news and the economy. As one goes up, the other goes down.

So what else can we learn from all of this:

  1. The work (bad work) of few propped up, and in many cases created, a situation where everything that was accomplished in was wiped out in a matter of minutes. Those people with "increased sales X percent in two years" on their resume don't look as impressive anymore. Sure, it easy to grow you company and business when demand is easy to get. You just have to capture value and not create it.
  2. Be conservative in the good times so that you can spend in the bad times. Imagine if you had been putting away all of your money in the last 5 years. Retailers are practically given things away and not just small items. I heard anyone buying a house might get a 25k (that's right - 25,000) tax credit. Cars are being marked at barely above costs.. and that HDTV you wanted and paid 3k for last year.... worth $800!
  3. Sh*t Happens. Sure, this was is a terrible situation. People got greedy and even as the house of cards was coming down - they were spending 1.2 MILLION to upgrade their office. But people are greedy and they always will be. Money leads to more money and it always will. Wall Street will always make big bonuses and the "man" will always stick it to you. Embrace this and understand how to make it work for you. Plan for it. Pick yourself up and get back in the game.
Forest Gump said "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get". He was wrong. He should have said "Life is like a whorehouse, you're going to get screwed".

Just kidding.

But I think we could all use a good laugh. After all, it's like getting stuck in an elevator with strangers. Somebody cracks a joke, we all laugh and wait for the elevator to start working again.

I just hope they stop playing this terrible music.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I spent my weekend...

In class! And I liked it!

I had my first experience with the part-time program's weekend classes. Classes went from 5pm to 9pm on Friday night, then all day on Saturday and Sunday. Friday night and Sunday were International Trading Environment and Saturday was Leadership.

Although I have been part-time since the summer, I only took evening classes in the fall. Evening classes are held at the Point Grey campus and often contain a mix of both part-time and full-time students and there tends to be more full-time than part-time because only PT students who want to drive to campus during week take those classes.

The weekend classes are held at the Robson Square campus downtown, which is a nice change - even if the place is like a bunker.

The material tends to move pretty quickly but I think the quality of the experience is much better in the sense that the other students participate in class and seem to be prepared. Plus, when it comes time to get group work done - there is no sitting around waiting for somebody to take the lead. We had a group meeting that was so fast, I blinked and almost missed it.

No classes for the next few weekends, just homework and prep for the next instances. Now I have to go home and get some laundry done. I used to do my laundry on Sunday nights but I switched my time recently.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"I'm Harvey Milk, and I want to recruit you"

Shortly after my last post about Oscar films, I realized I forgot to mention Milk.

Well, I watched it last night and thought it was REALLY good. It's hard to say what Ocscars it will win. I think it could be in the running for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco in the last 1970's. The film mixes real footage with recreated scenes so well, it's hard to tell the difference between the two. Of course, Sean Penn who I believe is one of our generation's best actors with Robert Downey Jr, delivers a huge performance. He is able to actually "become" a character like almost nobody else.

Again, as with most other great Oscar films, the supporting cast delivers big here too. James Franco and Emile Hirsch are both great, as is Josh Brolin.

The movie is also over two hours but is so well told, it never really drags.

This movie is so good on so many levels, it's hard to nail down what awards it will come home with and both Penn and Van Zant are well loved by the Academy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oscar Movies

So, I have been slowly making my way through this year's Oscar nominees.

Here are a few I have seen so far. I find it hard to talk about the best picture nominees sometimes because they are often all so good in so many ways and generally tend to click on all levels. Warning: most of the movies are in the two hour range, so be warned.

The Wrestler: Can be a bit slow at times but this movie is all about the things left unsaid and the small details. Mickey is great in a role that was pretty much made for him but he really takes the character on. The action is fierce and hard to watch. Evan Rachel Wood is only in three scenes but really delivers, and is really cute. This movie is a must for any wrestling fan, or former wrestling fan but I think the story would appeal to anyone who has had their ups and down.

Revolutionary Road: Saw this one last night. The definition of a movie that is a slow burn. Since watching Mad Men, I have come to see the time between 1955 (when this movie is set) and the early 1960s as a really interesting time when society was changing in many profound ways. Technology was really starting to play into everyones lives (TV, Computers, etc) and class/sex barriers were starting to weaken. This makes for an incredible dramatic backdrop in a movie that is as much about what is NOT said as what is. Revolutionary Road is really about what goes on inside someone's head that they don't talk about. The last half hour is incredible and Leo and Kate both deliver what I would consider some of the best performances I have ever seen. Plus, the supporting cast delivers great performances from top to bottom. Not sure what it will win but look for some acting awards out of it. Maybe director... but really this movie will probably fly under the radar.

Slumdog Millionaire: I have to admit that I didn't understand this movie before I saw it.... "what, some guy wins a quiz show" but once I realized it was a story told THROUGH the questions in the game show I was totally hooked. Oddly enough it has many themes in common with Revolutionary Road in the sense that class/sex barriers are all over the place but a great story told in a unique way and definently a must watch. This will win awards, probably best picture or director... maybe screenplay.

I have seen some of the other movies nominated in other categories but soon I'm going to check out The Reader and I might see Benjamin Button but honestly, I'm not dying to see BP in another movie... I love(d) Forrest Gump and I'm not sure I'm ready for another tale that spans a lifetime....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

#71 with a bullet

I just found out that my MBA program moved up 21 spots in the Financial Times worldwide rankings to #71. This is pretty impressive.

Here is the link to the full listings.

York, UofT and Western are all clustered in the upper 40s.