I can’t understand people who don’t want to travel. They say they’re happy where they are, that they don’t need to go somewhere else to have fun. In my opinion they miss the point.

Sure, many people travel purely have to have fun. The gaggles of students that hit Florida beaches each year can attest to this, as can the European party-goers who mob Ibiza (or whatever the cool spot is now) and its clubs.

But I think fun, while an important reason to travel, is almost incidental when you consider everything else that comes with the experience.

I think that, while it’s cliched to say it, travelling really is an eye-opener. It places you in a different culture and forces you consider yourself as a stranger in that place. Unless you’re a completely self-centred boor (and we know there are plenty of these types of travellers), you’re going to try to respect the customs of this culture. You’re forced to take a step back to realize the enormousness of the world.

At the same time you realize how much like you the people in that other culture are. Like you, they have the same basic needs, but they also love their children, care about their communities, and want to live a life within the bounds of their laws. We may be separated by distance, language, and customs, but in the end, all people are human beings.

You can learn so much from other people when you travel, including other travellers you meet along the way. Travellers are usually more than happy to share their thoughts and ideas about cool places to go and interesting sites to see. Oftentimes this is how you’ll hear about things that are off the usual tourist routes. Some of the best friendships are made with other travellers. The act of sharing an experience in a foreign place creates a bond because it’s a common anchor that roots the friendship.

I used to not like travelling: too much hassle, expensive, and boring. Since then, I’ve had opportunities to travel with friends and on my own, and I’ve come to realize that hassles can be planned for, expenses can be controlled by staying in hostels and eating where the locals eat, and boredom can be overcome by simply talking to people and finding out what there is to do.

I can’t imagine life without travel – as much as I love Vancouver, I have to leave it every now and then. I have to see what else is out there.


Buying A Home In Vancouver

My parents bought the house they live in, the one I grew up in, about 26 years ago. Back then, the price they paid for the house was pretty typical, about $200,000. Recent government property assessments have put the value of their house in the neighbourhood of $700,000. Realistically speaking, they could sell their house for $800,000+.

I think it’s great that their main asset has appreciated so much. It’s something they can use to their advantage when they retire in about a decade or so.

But where does the situation of ever-increasing house prices leave first-time homebuyers? Housing prices in Vancouver are sky-high right now, and they’re probably not going to drop anytime soon. Coupled with this is the fact that first-time homebuyers tend to earn less money than the national average because they’re younger and have less job experience.

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A Stick To The Face

What the title says is pretty much what happened.

It was Saturday afternoon, and we were playing the top team in our division with our eight-game unbeaten streak on the line.

I got the start on defense. At the drop of the puck, they hemmed us into our zone, finally putting a weak wraparound on net. Our goalie froze the puck and stopped play.

After the faceoff, the puck came back to the point, but their defenceman’s shot was blocked and didn’t make it through. When the play started heading away from us, my defensive partner let his man go. My partner had been holding down his stick while the guy struggled to lift it. Unfortunately for me, when my partner let go of his stick, it flew right into my face.

I didn’t even have time to react. I caught it square under my nose and went down. Of course it hurt, but I was more concerned about my teeth. A teammate had gotten most of a tooth knocked out in the previous game, and I didn’t want the same thing happening to me.

I took off my gloves and felt around my face. Felt like everything was there. Then I looked at my fingers. Blood! Red blood! My blood! Ahhhhh! I was leaking all over myself and the ice. I left my sticks and gloves behind and skated towards the bench. One of my teammates handed me his towel and I held it to my nose – he wouldn’t be wanting this back.

After enduring some jokes at my expense from the first aid guys at the rink, I got four stitches at Burnaby Hospital, a swollen lip, and a trickling nosebleed for the next two days.

Luckily, though my teeth were sore for the next couple of days, I still had all of them. The mouthguard did its job.

So did I learn anything from all this? I doubt it, since I’m still not going to wear a cage. But I definitely feel lucky since it could’ve been a lot worse. Just a little higher and I would have a broken nose. A little lower and some of my bottom teeth would be broken.

Bottom line? We won, and our unbeaten streak is intact at nine games.

Is This Law Going Too Far?

Some of you have probably heard or seen the recent reports about the passing of a new French law making it a crime for non-journalists to film a violent act and distribute the video on the Internet.

This article from ArsTechnica provides a succinct summary of the controversy surrounding this new law.

Personally, I recognize the intent of the law and I support it, but the fact is that it will be next to impossible to enforce. Sure, video-hosting sites can be compelled to remove these sorts of videos, but as we all know with the Internet, once something is posted, it’s there forever.

But what do y’all think about this? Is it right that the French government legislate who can and cannot record videos of events occurring in the public domain? What do you think of the logic behind the requirement that only journalists be allowed this right? What defines a journalist in today’s age of bloggers?

Comics = Geek?

I love comics. I think I always will. I’ve been a serious comics collector for over 15 years.

Some people may think that this makes me a geek. I don’t know if it does, but if having a hobby you love makes you a geek, then that’s me.

All I know is that comics have always represented an escape for me. They’re that emergency hatch I can run through when I need to get away from the real world. Comics are full of fantastic situations and crazy ideas that make me think of what’s possible, not what’s limiting.

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Heard of Kenneth Eng?

In case you haven’t, here’s a link to a PDF which includes a statement letter from the Asian American Justice Center giving background on the situation. The article as it was published is on the second page.

And to further pique your interest, this is the title of his article: Why I Hate Blacks.

Once you’re done with the above link, check out this blog. Mike Cane puts it all  in perspective.

Write Like Your Life Depended On It!

Sometimes one post leads to another, and thus my procrastination post has spawned this one about writing.

It’s not easy to write. Even if you’ve been doing it for 20+ years (counting all my schooling of course – I’m not that old yet!) like I have, it can still be difficult to find those words.

Anyone can write about anything if they have the choice, but the difficulty comes when you’re either given a topic or must decide on a topic for a specific audience. Usually I’ve got a ton of things to say about what I know, but when it comes to something like a music review, I’ll write 100 words before I’m stuck. I can appreciate a good music review, and I like reading the occasional one that’s well-written, but I have no clue how to write a good one.

Writing is the feel you, as a writer, have for the subject material. If you are unsure of your subject, this will shine through in your article. No matter how much you try to hide it, your lack of knowledge will be displayed by your word choice, turns of phrase, and sentence structure.

So what can you do about this? Simply put, one of the only ways to get better at writing is to read. Sure, you can practice your writing with blogs and journals and what not, but if you don’t read good writing, you’ll have no idea how to write well.

I’ve expanded my reading beyond the usual sci-fi and fantasy I love to include historical fiction, contemporary fiction, creative non-fiction, and just about anything I can get my hands on. I don’t know a book is going to be a good read when I pick it up, but I figure if I can pick out the parts I don’t like, then I’ll know what to avoid when I write.

Try to pick up a newspaper, magazine, book, or whatever, everyday. Read something other than your textbook. Spend at least half an hour doing this. You’ll be amazed how quickly your vocabulary and writing will improve.

Oh, and make sure that you read something you enjoy. There’s nothing more irritating and discouraging than forcing yourself to read something that you find boring and dry. Like a textbook.