Archive for the Likes Category

Quality

Posted in Coffee, Food, Life, Likes on 4 January, 2010 by Troy

My mind has been drifting to the word “quality” as of late.  It seems to keep popping up in discussion lately.  The last number of years it’s taken on a more and more encompassing role in my life.  I suppose I became aware of it after I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Somethings are just better than others for perhaps small and minor reasons.  Food, coffee, liquor all slowly filled the definition of quality for me but lately I’m becoming more aware of those those items and products out there that fit the definition too.  Things that are built to last a long time, have weight to them when you pick them up and feel like their from either a distant land or a forgotten time.  I like those items.  They ooze quality.

My Dad has a Cannon 35mm that he bought in 1969.  I played around with it a bit when I was there last and can only assume that it still works and takes great picture.  It had some good weight to it and looked to be made of stainless steel.  I’m definitely going to get some 35mm film when I get back and try it out.

I recently bought a safety razor as a gift to myself for finishing school.  It’s an old style razor that doesn’t use the excessive and expensive cartridges but instead a plain old razor blade.  I’ve already lost a pint of blood using it but it gives an amazing shave.  It set me back a pretty penny but it definitely fits the definition of quality.  The thing has got some good weight to it, it’s stainless and it comes with a lifetime warranty.  The shop-owner said it’ll last me the rest of my life. 

I bought a pair of headphones nearly 10 years ago now.  They cost me more than I’d like to admit but they put out an amazing quality of sound.  When I think of those headphones, I think of the hours I’ve spent listening to them where everything else in the world doesn’t matter and is shut out or moments I’ve had with them on where the song I’m listening to is so amazing it’s indescribable.  I think back to all those moments and I think they were one of the best things I’ve ever bought.  Now I just need to get around to buying an amplifier for them.

Unfortunately these items are so few and far in between.  Instead everything these days seems to be made to have a 2 year lifespan, is improved upon in some inane way or has a digital clock added to it and re-sold.

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Frontline

Posted in Likes on 14 November, 2009 by Troy

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I’ve been addicted to the PBS public affairs documentaries Front Line this last couple weeks, probably because I have too much time on my hands and like the news too much.
Bush’s War is awesome.

Signs

Posted in Likes on 6 November, 2009 by Troy

No I’m not talking about Five Man Electrical Band’s classic song or the 2002 blockbuster craptastic, I’m taking about signage on the streets, on buildings, businesses and the likes.  Since Portland I’ve been very aware, interested and in love with older  50’s era, Americana style signs.  There was tonnes in Portland, some new in that style, others the original being refurbished or left as is.  Portland’s done a great job at maintaining and preserving those old signs adding a lot of character to the city.  I was outside of one building that had an old movie theater sign above it.  As I got closer to the building I realized it used to be a movie theater but now it was a Lush soap shop.  Even regular stores use the style making them look very cool.  Not knowing what it was at first, I passed a building and thought, “wow, what is that place?  It looks so cool.”  It was a laundromat.

I’ve been made more aware of this style of signage since Portland and have been trying to keep my eyes open for them since.  There are a few around Vancouver that I’ve seen but not many and what ones that are still standing and often covered up by their new occupants;  i.e. there’s a great one on Broadway that is now partially covered by a Toys-R-Us billboard.  You can see the original peaking through but in the end it just looks ugly.

My last trip to Seattle had me keeping an eye open.  I saw quite a few and manged to get some shots.

Mumblings

Posted in Life, Likes on 24 October, 2009 by Troy

Most Prized Possession
I’ve been thinking about what my most prized possession is in the world.  When asked if their house was burning down and they could only take one item with them, most people say their photo albums.  With the advent of digital photo, the internet, backing up photos on disc and so forth, I wonder if that answer is even valid in this day and age.  So photo albums aside, what is my most prized possession?  Everything I own I can load up in my car and drive away with, even the furniture in my room came with the room so I don’t own a hell of a lot of stuff.  I look around my room and contemplate that question ever so often and I must say I don’t think I have a prized possession that I couldn’t replace.  Yeah there’s stuff I really like that I own and things that I couldn’t live without; my kitchen knife, my coffee cup but those minor replaceable things are merely that, minor and replaceable.  I guess what it all amounts to is that I don’t have a “prized possession” or irreplaceable item. 

Readings
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I just finished Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.  I can’t remember why I picked it up.  I think it was a recommended read in the back of Paradox of Choice and they had it at the library so I decided to give it a whirl.  To sum it up it looks at the hows, whats and whys of happiness, along with our personal insights into our futures and what we think will make us happy.  It’s an interesting read with some really cool insights, studies and examples as to what makes us happy.  It wasn’t the best written of books, at times I wanted to give up on it but I forced my way through the lows and I think the biggest problem was the over-usage of “for example”.  Writing aside, understanding some of the psychology of happiness, regret, satisfaction, and present actions and thoughts that we think will make us happy in the future was really interesting and insightful.  The last half of the book was really good.

Nick Cave
I was going to write about what music I was listening to lately so I could look back in 3 years and see what I was listening to.  I was thinking about what I had been listening to lately and what seems “as usual”, I was listening to a lot of Nick Cave.  So I decided to make a post on Nick Cave.  I’m told that there’s two types of people; people who love Nick Cave and everything he does and those that don’t.  I’m of the first.  He’s a sort of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen kind of singer and either you get him or you don’t.
I think I picked up my first Nick Cave and the Badseeds album in ’02 and since then anything Nick Cave has been a staple to my listening.  In those subsequent years I caught up on albums that he realesed in the 80’s and 90’s but best of all he kept on releasing amazing albums that I would argue are his best realses.  The ’04 double disc release of Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus is still still a regular listen for me.  I loved the The Lyre of Orpheus disc but feel I’m only just now discovering how amazing Abattoir Blues is.  I’m also just starting to realize how good of an album his ’07 side project Grinderman is.  In between he released another solid album Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, which I fully enjoy but am sure that like 2 years time I’ll for some reason enjoy even more.  To top all of this off he’s just released a book, The Death of Bunny Munro, which is getting a lot of good press.  What’s really interesting is how much he uses and has embraced the internet with all of his projects.  Where other bands have neglected their websites, started legal battles over file sharing and in turn foresaken the 21st century’s primary media, Nick Cave has really embraced it and got on board putting up some really great websites.  Even his book has it’s own site to promote it and the amount of content he’s put on it is amazing, from video readings  and audiobooks of him reading to free chapters to even a soundtrack he’s made for it.  And again to top if off I’ve just read he’s set to release another Grinderman album in the new year.  So yeah, Nick Cave…

Books

Posted in Likes on 23 September, 2009 by Troy

I’ve been reading some great books this last couple months.  I was in a major drought before that with the last novel I read being No Country for Old Men and then Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.  Yeah laught it up but I read it when I was 14, thought it was great and saw it for sale for $1 so figured what the hell. Anyway, great books I’ve been reading…

KitchenConfidential
It all started with Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  Really good, fun read that really got me reignited in the kitchen and thinking about food more and more.  Since then I’ve been cooking and enjoying food a lot more.

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Just as I was finishing up Kitchen Confidential I picked up Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  Now that I realize it, it was probably a combination of the two that got me cooking and thinking about food more.  Omnivore really got me thinking more and more about freshness and simply knowing where my food was coming from.  It really sung to a part of me and a life I once lived when I was in Australia, living and working on farms.  That level of transparency was an eye opener and the level of freshness of the foods I was eating then was amazing.  While reading this book I started to go to the farmer’s market, which at first I was skeptical of but once I had tasted the food I bought there I was sold.  The lettuce is what sold me specifically.  From there I started to look more into free-range and grass-fed meats, eggs and poultry and have been finding some great producers in the area.  If I had more freezer space I’d buy a quarter or half a cow but the sample packs they sell will have to do.  And the eggs I bought, shit.  The yokes from the eggs I buy at the store look like crap compared to the farm-fresh eggs I bought.
In all this book had really changed the way I look at food, what I eat and what I want out of my food.

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The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.  And again, my mind has been blown.  James Hoffman recommended this book in one of his video blogs and I decided to pick it up with the intention of knowing the consumer psyche more, including my own.  What I got instead was this amazing book about how we are all so inundated by choice in our society ranging from soap to careers to olive oil to lifestyle that we can truly never be happy.  It’s been a real eye opening read in regards to happiness, choices we make, living with regret, the “what if game”, and a tonne of other dumbass little stupid games we play in our heads that make us unhappy.  I feel a lot more greatful and just generally more happy since reading it.

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Next; God in a Cup.  I’m still reading it but it’s great coffee book.  It’s really interesting to see how far 3rd wave coffees come in a few years.  Read it if you’re hopelessly into coffee.

So yeah, books are good.

Movie Theaters

Posted in Likes on 20 September, 2009 by Troy

I’ve really like movie theaters lately.  There’s just something about them that I really enjoy.  I like going in and having the outside world around you seem to disappear.  I remember seeing James Bond: Casino Royale in Bangkok.  It was really cool to go from the loud, hot crammed Bangkok streets to the cool, quiet darkness of the theater, completely forget about the world outside for a while, only then to go back out and get assulted by the sights, sounds, smells and tuk tuk drivers of Thailand.

I haven’t been going to any big huge mega complex theaters lately but instead a number of smaller theaters that do some pretty cool stuff.  The last dozen movies I’ve seen I think I’ve seen alone.  A lot of people think going to movies alone is weird.  I don’t get that.
I always liked the Garneau theater in Edmonton (and it’s awesome that the new Transcend will be right next to it).  It’s fairly spacious with a beautiful interior and was always nice, warm and cosy in the winter, which also meant it was unbearably hot in the summer…

Here in Vancouver there’s 5th avenue, which the Elysian room is right around the corner from and share the same complex.  It’s a solid theater with good sound, good seats, a balcony and plays movies that aren’t in the mainstream.  There’s also the Rio just off of Commercial Drive, which I really like.  It’s got an older working class, family feel to it that I like plus it’s less than a 10 minute walk from my house.  They play midnight matinees of old classics ranging from Army of Darkness to The Labyrinth to whatever the hell they want to play.  I’ve only been to a couple but they’re pretty fun and usually bring in a lot of people.  I passed by when The Labyrinth was playing and people were lined up down the street.

In Portland I ran into a couple really cool theaters.  The first was the Avalon.  I passed by it and the place was lit up like a Los Vegas casino.  I had no idea what the place was at first.  All the signage was for old penny arcades and nickle and dime machines.  I pulled over to get a better look and see what the place was about.  I thought it was maybe just an arcade but people of all ages were going in so I followed suit.  Ended up it was an old theater still alive and well doing cheap movies.  $2 to go see Star Trek and the latest Disney 3d extravaganza.  I figured what the hell, the Star Trek was cool and bought a ticket.  Inside, along with the theaters were rooms filled arcade games, mostly vintage like the ones you’d play at Chucky-Cheese or a carnival where you could win tokens and buy crap but I think in this case you could but candy and popcorn.  Pretty good idea I think.  A lot of the games looked pretty cool and there were lots of people lining up for them.

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The Avalon

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Arcade Games inside the Avalon

Another theater I ran into while in Portland was this place called “Living Room Theaters“.  This place was awesome.  They mostly had playing documentaries, foreign films, obscure comedies, classics and art films.  The price was reasonable ($9) and I hadn’t seen Food Inc. yet.  Inside there was a full bar, full coffee bar and light fare ranging in tapas, pizzas, salads, paninis and the likes.  You could go in, take a booth or seat at the bar, eat, drink and if you didn’t finish take it with you into the theater.  Before the movie started there was seat service.  The theaters themselves only held about 30 or so people but all the seats were plush, had tonnes of leg space, reclined and had a good cup holder and table/stand for your food.  There was no one sitting next to me I put the arm rest up and laid across 2 seats durning the movie. 

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Just like home.

Scotch

Posted in Likes on 19 September, 2009 by Troy

I am by no means a exceptionally knowledgeable, have a very developed palate or tasted a tonne of scotches but I do enjoy and appreciate a good glass. I’m just about to finish off a bottle of Highland Park 18 and it’s been a treat.  I think the entire bottle I’ve drank myself while relaxing and unwinding.  The previous bottle I finished off in good company at Andrew’s wedding.  That was an awesome night.  In between the two was a bottle of BruichLaddich 18 that Poul gave me as a going away present.  An other  bottle of deliciousness. 

As I said I don’t have the most refined or developed palete but I know good from bad, or so I think.  Last weekend I went out to some relatives place for a BBQ and a bottle of some “good” scotch was brought out.  It was a blended undated malt of of a distiller who’s name I don’t remember.  Upon it hitting my lips that sour/harsh gag-like reflex hit me.  I knew this was bad scotch.  The next night I was at home and poured a glass of Highland Park 18.  I don’t know if it was because of the experience the night before was still fresh in my mind or what, but that scotch tasted amazing.

Next on my shelf to drink is a bottle of Clynelish.  It’s a Distillers Edition, individually numbered and the whole shabang, distilled in ’92 and bottle in ’08 so I guess it’s a 16 y/o (?).  I got it for my birthday the other day from Colby and Sterling (thanks guys).  Should be tasty.

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