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Roadtrippers.com

18 Apr

Planning a road trip??

We’ve found an awesome planning site: http://www.roadtrippers.com. This website allows you to create an account, create trips with multiple stops/destinations, view itinerary, track fuel costs, distance, and much more.

We are using it to plan our Alberta Road Trip. Here’s a quick look at what we have so far:

Alberta Road Trip

 

 

Keep in mind this is an American site. The distances are listed in miles and gas estimations will vary slightly.

Give it a try! Explore, Dream, Discover!

 

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Never Ever Do This At Home (Space Channel Preview)

28 Nov

Chris is demonstrating the flammability of household CoffeeMate for the Space Channel Host.

Chris is working on a new show for the Discovery Channel called ‘Never Ever Do This At Home’ which is scheduled to run in the Spring of 2013.  The Space Channel was on set last week and aired this preview of the show. Chris is the tall handsome guy in the black ball cap and grey shirt wiring at the beginning and setting up the CoffeeMate fireball mid-way through. He’s lead Special FX technician for the series.

You can view the preview here http://watch.spacecast.com/#clip814950

The Decision to Travel

6 Nov

There seems to have always been a gnawing desire within me to be places that I am not. I find myself wanting to travel far and wide, for long periods of time. The idea of living out of my backpack and finding my own way seems appealing.  Adventure awaits and my indecision delays!  As a young professional, it’s hard to know what to do. Questions like “What about work?, What about money?, What about my house and my ‘stuff”?” seem to create barriers and limitations for those with the desire to travel.  Most of my friends and family discourage my aspirations abroad- pointing out safety issues, economical issues and tell me to start preparing for my future now.  As a new graduate, I don’t feel ready to jump into my ‘social obligations’ of building a career, buying a house, getting married, having kids and saving for retirement.

How do we know when to make the leap? When’s the best time to travel? Will this feeling and need wear off the more places I go or will it only grow stronger? Both Chris and I are saving up for our ‘big adventure’. I’d like to travel across Asia. We’d also like to travel across Canada as well- with so many exotic locations we want to go, we should probably see all that our own country has to offer first!

In my online wanderings, I came across a post from the travel blog Vangabondish: http://www.vagabondish.com. 

This short post answered a few nagging questions in my head.

I’m Going Traveling, Damn It! (When to Ignore the Advice of Others).

Enjoy :)

Vlad The Impaler – ‘The Real Dracula’ Documentary

28 Oct

I thought I would post a documentary in the Halloween spirit. Here is an interesting one on Vlad ‘The Impaler’ – the 15th century prince who’s name and character inspired Bram Stoker’s famous vampire novel. I would love to travel to Transylvania to see his fortress and castles. I’m definitely interested to read more about him after watching this!

Check out the documentary here:

Vlad The Impaler | Watch Free Documentary Online.

Happy Halloween!

Into the Wild – Considerations and Reflections

23 Oct

Hello, Jess here.

Chris has been busy working late hours on set this past week and I’ve been home sick for two days. I hardly ever get sick and find myself overwhelmed with the underwhelming boredom of bedridden-ness. Today in my ‘despair’, I decided to start another novel: Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. What an amazing book and intriguing story. Reading this book, I found myself pausing to reflect on what I had read, even re-reading passages to fully absorb the message.

I began Into The Wild with the impression that Christopher ‘Alexander Supertramp’ McCandless was a nutter. The book begins:

In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast Family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. (Jon Krakauer, 1996: 2).

Throughout the book, however, I found myself intrigued by Chris’s (aka Alex) actions. The author brings to life the triumph and tragedy of Alex’s physical and spiritual journey. I find that his message challenges my own decisions and aspirations. Whether he was crazy or not, I found myself relating to his contempt for middle/upper class North American society, his rejection of his career obsessed family and his lure to nature, adventure, travel and personal freedom.

I found myself relating especially to his upbringing and the way such experiences altered his outlook on the values of conventional society. Raised in a middle-upper class family, I also enjoyed the privileges of modest wealth. His parents, like mine, were consumed by their successful careers, often working late into the night and early in the morning. And yes, I too have come to abhor the idea of greed and societal restriction. There must be more to life than climbing ladders, achieving wealth, and empty houses.

Krakauer writes that when Chris’s parents suggested that he needed a college degree to attain a fulfilling career, “Chris answered that careers were demeaning twentieth century inventions, more of a liability than an asset” (Krakauer, 1996: 114). I found this small and simple statement very moving.

I did not enjoy University. In fact, I hated it. Growing up in North America, we are taught from a very young age that if we are ever to achieve anything worthwhile in life, to ever attain happiness and prosperity, peace and security, we must go to University. University, University, University. College is for idiots and if you have no-post secondary, or worse, didn’t graduate high school, well, then you’re a complete failure. University is simply the admission fee for any job making over $15/hour. Because of this ridiculous notion, we now have millions of youth over educated and under employed. The job market is so tough that there are Ph.D grads waiting tables and working in malls for $10.25/hr.  CBC Radio had a wonderful program the other day on ‘Malemployment’. Mal-employment is a form of Underemployment, specifically relating to those in a job that is far below your education and skill level. You can find the radio program here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Ontario/ID/2296024601/?page=3

I entered University completely unaware of the Malemployment crisis in much of Canada. Because of this, during my second year of study at the University of Waterloo (the school my father had insisted I go) my idealistic, socially constructed and internalized values that ‘University is key to success’ were obliterated.  I was horrified. ‘What do you mean I may not find a job when I graduate?’  My fourteen years of education had instilled in me a focus on the all-important ‘Career‘. Over time, however,  both my career obsessed parents as well as the idea of malemployment created a hatred for such a term.  I once read somewhere that you should “Never find yourself so busy building a career that you forget to make a life”.  These words stick with me.

Back to the book… While reading Into the Wild, I found this young man’s love of adventure and progress is compelling. I truly enjoyed Alex’s words in a letter to a friend:

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one piece of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences…” (p 57). 

Ultimately, I admire this man for living his dreams and pursuing adventures unobstructed by societal restraints. To those who condemn his actions: I agree that he was reckless and a bit too sure of himself. He failed to respect the reality of living in the Alaskan Wilderness and ultimately, that unpreparedness lead to his death. That being said, I do not think we should cast Alex aside as a hippie-tramp obsessed with the beauty of nature. This man found happiness in his travels and had important ideas worth sharing that are still very relevant today.

This blog is meant to challenge those who find themselves living in ‘unhappy circumstances’ to go beyond their safe boundaries of desks and laptops and rush hour traffic. Things as simple as enjoying a walk with your dog through a hydro cut, metal detecting and experimenting in your own backyard, or stopping to watch the beetles on a leaf in the morning sun… these small adventures can create appreciation and exhilaration much like Alex’s extreme adventure. I would highly suggest reading a book and getting some sunshine. These things are important.

Cheers,

Jess

Reference:

Krakauer, J. (1997). Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books.

 

House Hazards: Ep1 Freak Accidents

16 Oct

Check out the premiere of House Hazards tonight on HGTV! Chris finished shooting this season last week! Keep your eyes peeled for the handsome devil himself!

House Hazards – Freak Accidents | Shows | HGTV Canada.

Big Think

29 Sep

I have an addiction to documentaries. A serious addiction. It all started in University. I would watch at least one a day. Most days it was two or three…maybe even five if I was feeling super ambitious. Don’t get me wrong, I did have a life. During university I worked part time at a ‘hip’ cafe in Uptown Waterloo as well as spending two hours daily in the gym (fitness freak!) plus being VP of the Dragon Boat Club and riding my horse regularly. Even with all that ‘life stuff’, somehow I would find myself staying up until 3:00 in the morning watching documentaries; fascinated by the complexity of subjects I hadn’t even considered existed!  During class time, I would sit in the lecture hall with my earbuds in, watching a documentary on quantum physics while my prof droned on about sociology theories and criminal deviance. I secretly wanted to be an astronaut landing on Mars or a palaeontologist digging up dinosaur bones in Alberta or maybe an astrologist studying galaxies far far away…

My favourite source for documentaries is: www.topdocumentaryfilms.com. I have seen most of the docs hosted on the site. There are over 2000!

My favourite documentary topics are (in order of preference):

1. Palaeontology: Oh how I wish I was a palaeontologist! I am fascinated by prehistoric life.

2. Space/The Universe/Quantum Physics: The Final Frontier! (I’m also a HUGE Star Trek: TNG fan).

3. Sociology: Yes, I studied Soc in school but I still can’t get enough. Why do people do what they do? Why do people not do what they don’t do?

4. Nature/Animals: Heck Yeah, I’ll watch a 3 hour documentary on earth worms!…why not?

5. Crime: Deviance interests me. I’m extremely interested in the connection between deviance and psychology. Consider a sadist serial killer- Are his actions innate to his being? Or are they a product of his experiences and environment? Does he understand what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Perhaps his views differ than mine. Perhaps he justifies his actions soundly. Why does society deem killing another person as wrong and deviant? People have been killing people forever. And besides, we call soldiers ‘heros’ if they annihilate our enemies. Do rules change depending on targets? I find the sociological questions that deviance imposes intriguing. (Please don’t misinterpret my pondering… murder is obviously wrong. I am simply fascinated by the construction of society and the external/internal social restraints that guide our behaviour, beliefs and desires. Do we want what we want because we want it? Or because societal values have embedded themselves inside of us during our early socialization to instill wants and needs that coincide with societal objuectives and harmony? )

Documentaries are an interesting way to learn other perspectives and to view images you would most likely not otherwise be exposed to. I think it is important to view the world from other perspectives. Travel helps us do this.

Recently, I’ve found http://www.youtube.com/bigthink. Big Think is a knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world. I’m a huge fan of Michio Kaku (who isn’t?!), Penn Jillette (BIG fan), Margaret Cho (hilarious!), Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye (…did you say Bill Nye!!?) and found this awesome collection of interviews with these big thinkers all in one place! OMG new obsession!

Originally I found this site through the News. ‘Bill Nye condemns Religion as Inappropriate for Children’. As both an atheist and huge Bill Nye fan I had to check it out. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHbYJfwFgOU .

Let me know what YOU think. I’m always interested in what others have to say.

 

Cheers,

Jess

The Beauty of Pollination – Video

24 Sep

Check out this awesome short video! Enjoy.

The beauty of pollination – YouTube.

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