Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ready to Party

Amanda and I picked up the most important part of the decorations for our wedding reception this afternoon: a disco ball. I don't think the reception would be much of a party without it! We've got the disco ball, its motor, and we just need some kind of light to shine on it. Not laser light though. Though it would look cool, I don't want to blind everyone in the hall.

Now, if only we had *multiple* disco balls! :-)

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Day we've been waiting for

For 11 months now, Amanda and I have waited for this day. The sale of my condo is officially complete. That means that I'm no longer paying mortgage payments or strata fees for a place I'm not living in. It's a huge relief to have finally sold that place, and Amanda and I can start looking ahead toward saving up and buying a house in Grande Prairie.

It's also a relief for another reason beyond the financial burden it put on us. That condo was the last thing that kept me looking back at Tumbler Ridge. I still talk to a few of my friends from there, and that won't stop any time soon, but I'm no longer tied to the town by a piece of property. I don't have to think about the economy, local government, or housing market out there anymore. I'll still check in on the newspaper's website to see what's happening now and then, but it'll be done as a spectator, not as a participant.

So, only two months shy of five years after I returned to Tumbler Ridge, I'm officially saying farewell to it again -- but this time it was on my terms. And that has made all the difference.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Month...

When we were out having supper tonight, Amanda pointed something out. We're only a month away from our wedding. Exactly one month from right now, we'll have been married for around seven hours, and will hopefully be having an amazing time at our reception. It's kind of weird to think about. Two years ago, I hadn't even sent my first e-mail to Amanda. One year ago, I had just interviewed at the Grande Prairie Public Library and was packing up to move. And now here I am, just a month away from marrying an amazing woman who also happens to be my best friend.

I have an awesome life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Photographer other than me

Today Amanda and I met with our wedding photographer to have our engagement photos taken. It was sunny and hot outside, and we were sweating throughout. But Amanda and I had lots of fun during the whole thing. The best part was when our photographer asked us if we were okay doing kissy photos.

Amanda and I both started laughing, and I explained this blog to our photographer. She seemed to like the idea, and then carried on with our photo shoot. It was a good way to start our Sunday, and I'm sure we'll be happy with the results!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Reminder of What Once Was

Hey, remember when this blog was filled with photos of Amanda and me kissing?

Yeah, me too!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mario Karting

Amanda and I have been semi-obsessed with Mario Kart lately. Mario Kart Wii has seldom left my Wii in the past few weeks, and while home sick yesterday, we killed time playing both it and Mario Kart 7 at different points during the day.

What makes it fun for both of us is the balancing. When we're just two racers in the pack, we each have to go all out to avoid losing. As a general rule, (though there are major exceptions), I tend to be better at video games than Amanda -- mostly because I spent much more of my youth playing them than she did. The Mario Kart games even the stakes though. The computer players fit against both of us evenly, and whoever is in first knows that the position is only temporary.

So with that, it's time to fire up my trusty Wii. It's time for some racing!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: Inferno - Dan Brown

I recently finished Dan Brown's newest book: Inferno. I was an enormous fan of The Da Vinci Code. I picked it up used while on a trip, and was so enthralled that I stayed up far too late reading regardless of the exam I had to write the next morning. Even now when pick up The Da Vinci Code to re-read it, I find myself a little spellbound.

Then The Lost Symbol was published, and I was disappointed. The importance of the secret object(s) seemed overblown, and it annoyed me how things switched between a plot-based tchotchke being metaphorical and literal and then back again.

Inferno took a similar step backwards from the level of The Da Vinci Code. The big conspiracy could have been resolved with a short conversation, the ending was underwhelming, and the book as a whole seemed very preachy. In short, I was disappointed.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Modest Wish for a Reasonable Discussion

Amanda and I watched the first two videos of Tropes for Women in Video Games by Anita Sarkeesian today. I have a lot to say about them. I didn't agree with all of the points put forth in the videos, but basically thought they served as an excellent starting point to have a reasonable, measured discussion about how men and women are portrayed in video games.

I don't think the videos will accomplish that goal, for a few reasons. First, there were a few cases in which Sarkeesian argued against a strawman. She argued that part of the damsel in distress trope is that even in the cases when the female non-player character has a role in the storyline, it is a minor role that did not affect the progression of the game. She was right, however I believe she missed the point entirely. These are video games -- progression through the game is *player-driven*. Regardless of gender, non-player characters should not have any real impact on the plot.

Second, the opposition is brutal, sexist, and generally unwilling to have a fair conversation where they argue their points based on merit. Sarkeesian's Wikipedia entry was mercilessly vandalized during her Kickstarter campaign to fund these videos. The reply videos dissecting her arguments mostly had one or two real points surrounded by personal attacks and double standards. One man essentially argued that she should not have done the video because she did not follow the scientific method to produce it. His reply video had no scholarly substance either, yet he must have felt that the bar he set for her to surpass did not apply to him.

I think in the end, this video series will start a war fought with personal attacks and sexist comments. And that's too bad. I had hoped these videos would be the video game equivalent of the Bechdel Test -- something that stops short of saying something is or isn't expressly sexist, but makes it very clear that a problem exists. 

At any rate, Amanda and I will keep watching the videos. We had a lengthy, intelligent, reasonable discussion about the issues involved. Hopefully other people will quit with the bashing and personal attacks and do the same.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rained Out...

Amanda and I had an appointment to have our engagement photo taken tomorrow, but we've postponed it. The weather has been incredibly unpredictable and rainy, and unless we decided to go for a Singing in the Rain style photo complete with umbrellas for props, our photos probably wouldn't turn out as we had hoped.

So we've postponed things for at least a week. Hopefully we'll have at least one day of sunshine for us to take care of things.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Moving Ahead

The conditions have been removed, and the closing date for my condo's sale has been moved up just over two weeks! In less than three weeks, the last thing tying me to Tumbler Ridge will finally be dealt with. That means it's super-official!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Disappearing Evening

Our evening disappeared tonight. I got home, started supper, then ate with Amanda when she got home. We had planned on going swimming but instead spent a bunch of time getting our new cable box working properly. By the time that was done (8ish), it wasn't worth going anymore. So instead Amanda was using her iPad and I found my brother online playing Minecraft.

...two hours later we looked up from what we were doing and realized we'd better finish up and head to bed.

It was a good night, but it disappeared incredibly quickly.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It Starts With a Mud Hut

I've written at length on this blog about my love of Minecraft. Today I finally had the opportunity to play it online with my brother. We found a newer server, set off into the wilderness, and started building. Night came far too quickly for us to gather a decent supply of torches and build a proper shelter. S my brother and I improvised a quick shelter made of dirt.

So we joked about our mud hut. Even when we had better materials, we kept adding to our mud hut rather than building something else. It *still* has no roof. :-)  at one point, an player on the server complained that some of his better items had been stolen. We joked about sending a message to the administrators confessing to the crime and telling them that we hid the items in our mud hut.

Anyway, it was a blast playing Minecraft with my brother online. I hope we can find time to do it again soon!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just Seven Weeks

When Amanda and I were out for a walk tonight, it hit me. In just seven weeks, we'll be married. Seven weeks from right now, we'll probably be leaving our reception and heading home. Finally, seven weeks from now, we'll have been husband and wife for approximately 8 hours.

This is crazy.

I knew we were getting closer and closer, but to realize there's less than fifty days until our wedding kind of blew my mind. It blew Amanda's too. Fortunately, most of the heavy lifting for our wedding is done. We've still got a lot of smaller details to attend to, but at the very least, we will have a place to be married, someone to marry us, guests watch, and a photographer to immortalize the day.

T-minus seven weeks. The countdown has started.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Driving and Daydreaming

Amanda and I went out for a drive after supper. It was similar to a drive we took about a month and a half ago -- to look around a few different neighbourhoods. At some point in the future, we will be looking for a new place. Our current apartment is fine, and the rent is okay, but it is a little bit cramped for the two of us. After all, we both lived alone prior to moving in together, and both had enough dishes, towels, and entertainment devices to fill a one bedroom place each. Now all of that stuff is in a single apartment.

Amanda would also like a dishwasher, and I don't think getting one for here is practical. ...It'd also be nice to be able to do laundry without contending with our neighbours' schedules.

Well, we'll wait for my condo to finish the sales process, save some money while we look around, and maybe we'll be settled into a different home by this time next year.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ranting about Regulatory Changes

I recently read about the changes that will be made to the cell phone industry in Canada -- notably limiting contract lengths to two years. On the whole I think this is a good thing. For the last two phones purchased, I debated long and hard about whether to sign a lengthy contract to receive a cheaper phone or not. In the first case, I only signed a year-long contract for a small discount on my phone because I wasn't sure what my life situation would be like in three years.

Then in the holiday season of 2010, I purchased my current phone and signed a three year contract. At this point, my phone is showing its age, and I'm definitely thinking about a new one. The big difference between me and the folks who advocated to regulatory change is that I do not feel entitled to a new one. Many of the complaints about the cell phone industry in Canada revolve around the argument that consumers are stuck in their contracts and left with "obsolete" phones by the ends of their contract. This argument is patently ridiculous.

First, a three year old phone is not obsolete. It may not be cutting edge, but the iPhone 4 (released nearly 3 years ago) still runs almost every app offered on Apple's App Store. It still receives updates to iOS, and is even more functional (wonky Maps app aside) than it was when it was first released. I'd say those abilities define a device that is not obsolete.

Second, nobody held a gun to consumers' heads. Nobody was ever forced to sign a three year cell contract. The subsidized cell phones out there are an *incentive*, not a God-given right. There was nothing stopping people from buying phones outright, buying inexpensive phones, or perhaps not throwing out their phones every two to three years just to trade up to the newest flagship phone.

Finally, do consumers not realize what will happen as a result of these changes? The price of subsidized phones will increase -- a lot. If Telus, Rogers, or Bell can no longer spread the cost of that subsidy over three years, they'll either cut the subsidy or raise the required monthly plan minimum over two years to compensate. The era of paying only $50 a month for three years and less than $200 for a flagship phone will end. I think there are already signs that this will happen.

If one of the major cell providers, say Telus, had changed things so consumers only had to sign a two year contract to receive a top-of-the-line subsidized phone, wouldn't they have annhilated the competition? Even if the competition matched their terms, the immediate boost to subscribers would be enormous. Because they haven't done it, I have to assume that they cannot afford to. If a customer signd up for the minimum $50 monthly plan to receive a phone whose price was subsidized by $500, Telus would be earning $1200 over two years and essentially giving the consumer $500. That's a gross profit of $700 -- $350 per year -- less than $30 per month. The same subsidy and subscription over three years would give a gross profit of $1300 over three years -- $433 per year -- roughly $36 per month. In other words, their profit per person would drop by one-sixth. Their subscriber base would have to increase by roughly seventeen percent just to even out at their current level of profits, and that's assuming that they wouldn't need to upgrade their network to handle all of that extra traffic.

Anyway, I'm in favour of shortening the contracts because it'll hopefully prevent people from being stuck in a lousy situation should they drop and break their new phone shortly after entering a three year deal. I just don't expect any tangible benefits to consumers beyond that.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Amanda and I played handyman/handywoman this afternoon! Two of the boards in our box spring had broken. We dismantled things enough to pull the broken boards out, then installed replacement 1x3s. It took a little while, but we got the new boards in, glued and screwed, and attached to the wires that support the top of the box spring. 

All in all, it was a very productive day!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Greenery and Wedding Preparation Update

Amanda and I made our second annual trip to the greenhouses together. Like last year, we took a photo together amidst the plants to commemorate the visit.

I don't remember all of the plants we picked up, but they did include a chocolate mint plant that Amanda is hoping to train to grow around the rail on our balcony. She had good luck doing it last year, so hopefully that'll carry on!

In other news, Amanda and I were really productive on the wedding front today! We picked up our marriage license, arranged for my tux rental, and picked up the jacket for Amanda's engagement ring that will make it into a full blown wedding ring. It changed the nature of her ring -- it became much bigger and blingier, but Amanda seemed to like it a lot.

We've got more work to do and not a lot of time to do it, but we were definitely heading in the right direction today. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as productive!