January 2008

Rambo Stats

by Joey deVilla on January 25, 2008

Back in the 80’s, the Rambo series of movies was considered to be yardstick against which other action movies were compared for sheer hellzapoppin’ action. As the table below from the New York Times Magazine shows, the latest Rambo movie turns up the heat:

Clipping from NY Times Magazine showing statistics of the 4 “Rambo” movies
Click the picture to see it at full size.
Scan courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

I still suspect that the body count is still much higher when I play Crackdown on the XBox 360, and better still, I’m the star!

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MacGyver Hairdresser

by Joey deVilla on January 25, 2008

It warms my heart that someone out there still draws inspiration from MacGyver:

“MacGyver Hairdresser” storefront, from somewhere in South Asia
Click the photo to see it at full size.
Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

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Davos Photo of the Day

by Joey deVilla on January 24, 2008

Emma Thompson, slumped and asleep in a chair at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Actress Emma Thompson, like most sane people, is put to sleep by economics.
Thanks to Miss Fipi Lele for the photo!

I don’t blame her; a large gathering of people coming together to discuss hand-wavey applications of The Dismal Science would knock me out too.

(According to this article, she’s there in her capacity as a campaigner for refugees and against sex trafficking.)

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The Vintages 2005 Bordeaux Tasting

by Joey deVilla on January 24, 2008

My sister and brother-in-law gave the Ginger Ninja and me a pair of tickets to the Vintages wine tasting for 2005 Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux wines. It took place on Tuesday night, and naturally, I took a few photos…

Here’s Yours Truly having one of his couple-dozen-or-so samples of red. I like to think that I “clean up” nicely…

Joey deVilla with a glass of red wine at the Vintages tasting of 2005 Bordeaux wines

The event took place in the Regency Ballroom on the second floor of the Four Seasons, conveniently located across the street from my office. Here’s a shot from very early in the evening, just after they opened the doors to the tasting salon:

The Regency Ballroom of the Toronto Four Seasons hotel, where the Vintages tasting of 2005 Bordeaux wines took place.

This was one of the more pricey tastings. Normally, Vintages typically charges an admission of about $75 to $100; this particular one cost $175 a person, probably due to the high expectations of 2005 Bordeaux wines and the number of Grand Cru vinyards represented at this particular gathering. This fee included all the wine you can sample and a fair bit of food, which included roast beef, sauteed mushrooms in pastry, two kinds of risotto and a good selection of fruits, breads, spreads and cheeses.

Another shot of the Regency Ballroom of the Toronto Four Seasons hotel, where the Vintages tasting of 2005 Bordeaux wines took place.

Here’s a shot of the event an hour later, once it got into full swing:

Yet another shot of the Regency Ballroom of the Toronto Four Seasons hotel, where the Vintages tasting of 2005 Bordeaux wines took place.

The procedure at these gatherings is pretty simple: walk up to a table, hold out your glass, and they’ll pour a decent-sized sample. Swirl (to oxygenate the wine), smell, taste and dispose of in your preferred fashion. Many people chose to simply take a sip and then dump the rest in the many buckets, conveniently spread throughout the ballroom:

“Spit bucket” for wine
Ooh! Free punch!

I personally follow the Irish philosophy that when you die, you’re held upside-down in a barrel of all the alcohol you’ve wasted. If there’s enough in the barrel to drown you, you can’t get into Heaven. Hence I finished most of my samples.

Favourites

Label for Chateau Cantenac-Brown

Our hands-down favourite red was from Château Cantenac-Brown, which comes from the Margaux appelation in south-west France. I’m not enough of an oeno-weenie to describe it using “proper wine tasting terminology”, so I’ll borrow this description: “Loaded with fruit which was impressive for its age. Sweet and silky with candied cherries and red licorice.”

The flavour of this particular wine jumped out at me. I’m more of a “what food will this go with?” wine, so I sampled it with some of the food provided — it worked well with the beef and mushrooms, and after hitting the cheese table, I came to the conclusion that I could be very happy with a bottle of Cantenac-Brown and a big plate of Roquefort or Stilton.

The manager of the Chateau Cantenac-Brown winery, Jose Sanfins, was there, and he was more than happy to let me take a picture of the bottle more than proud enough of his wine to pose with it.

Wine server Ugo and Chateau Cantenac-Brown’s manager, Jose Sanfins.

Chateau Cantenac-Brown goes for $56 a bottle, and we bought a lot of 3 (the minimum size order that you can place at this event).

Chateau Pichon-Longueville label

We also liked Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, which also paired well with Stilton. That stuff will run you about $200 a bottle.

Chateau Suduiraut label

The Sauternes we liked best was from Chateau Suduiraut, which Wendy described as “pear-licious”. A bottle will set you back about $115.


Well, enough wine snobbery for now. I leave you Gentle Readers with a toast!

Joey deVilla with a glass of red wine at the Vintages tasting of 2005 Bordeaux wines

Links

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“Enfranchised Mind’s” Tips on How to Be Happy

by Joey deVilla on January 23, 2008

I seem to be on a “How-to” list kick today. While I’m at it, here’s another one, this time from the blog Enfranchised Mind: Let Me Save You $40: Here’s How to Be Happy. In this introduction for this article, Robert Fischer writes:

I was over at my father-in-law’s birthday party, and I saw that he had HAPPINESS NOW!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST (capitalization theirs) sitting out next to his bed. It’s apparently even been featured by Oprah. Blargh.

Forget buying that book. I’m here for the real deal: I’ll tell you how to be happy. And it won’t even cost you $40.

Here’s the condensed version of the list — to see the list points with full descriptions, go read the article:

  1. Stop being a dick.
  2. Stop whining.
  3. Get out, get some exercise, unplug and deal with real people.
  4. If people are treating you like crap, then let them go.
  5. Your critics are always right.
  6. Do hard stuff for a change.
  7. Let stuff go / suck it up.

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How to Work the Room

by Joey deVilla on January 23, 2008

A gathering of several cats

Over at FoundRead, Larry Chiang has some advice that you might find useful if you’re following Scoble’s advice for people who’ve just been laid off (particularly the parts about networking and attending business events). His piece is titled How to Work the Room.

Here’s a condensed version:

  1. Be more of a host and less of a guest. Make introductions and make people more comfortable.
  2. Avoid permanently joining a “rock pile” (a pack of people in a tight circle). Huddling feels safe, but it’s also antisocial.
  3. Dress for the party. The basic rule: the more junior you are, the better you should dress.
  4. Don’t “hotbox” (square shoulders front and centre to one person). In a one-on-one conversation, it’s okay, but it excludes others from joining.
  5. Put your coat and bag down. It signals that you’re about to leave.
  6. Mentor someone about your (or your company’s) core competence. “It transitions nicely from the what-do-you-do-for-work question. It also adds some substance to party conversations and clearly brands you as a person.”
  7. Don’t forget to get mentored as well. The author suggests this trick: try to learn three new things at each event.
  8. Be a good host while you’re someone else’s guest. Say “Hi” to wallflowers.
  9. Manage the party host. “When you’re interacting with the host, ask simple questions requiring a ‘Yes/No’ response. I’ve heard disastrous questions in a vain attempt to out alpha-male the host. The best questions to ask of a host are upbeat, light and fluffy. If you want to be Mike Wallace/Chris Matthews with a hardball question, tread lightly. Also, help your host wiggle by wrangling them away from guests who are monopolizing or “hotboxing” them. They will thank you later.”
  10. Always, always, always: Thank the host before you leave. If you only do one thing on this list, let this be the one (and work on the others!)

[This article was also posted in Global Nerdy.]

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Still from the original “Odd Todd” cartoon.
A still from the original “Odd Todd” cartoon, Laid Off: A Day in the Life.
Click the image to watch the cartoon.

Inspired by news of the impending layoffs at Yahoo!, Robert Scoble — quite possibly the internet’s best-known tech evangelist has compiled a list in his article What to Do if You’re Laid Off in the 2008 Recession. I’ve got a condensed version of his list items below; I suggest you read the article to see the list in full. It’s good advice whether you’ve just been laid off, looking for a job or even if you’re currently employed and looking for your next job.

(Note: while a few of these points are tech industry-specific, they should be easily adaptable to whatever field you’re in — or would like to be in.)

  1. Don’t get lazy. It might seem dire, but if you work it you WILL find a job.
  2. Make sure you spend at least 30% of every day trying to find a job.
  3. Start a blog on the field you want to work in.
  4. Do things that will get you to be recognized as a world leader in the field you want to be in. Are you a programmer? Build something and put it up!
  5. Network! Learn from Loic Le Meur. How did he get thousands of videos uploaded on Seesmic everyday? He networked.
  6. Do a video everyday on YouTube that demonstrates something you know. Loic does a video everyday. If you’re laid off you have absolutely no excuses.
  7. Show your friends your resume and cover letter. Don’t have any friends? Now is the time to make some. Call up some interesting people and ask for an informational interview.
  8. Do the basics. Yes, my blog helped me AFTER I got the interview, but I got the interview just by having a great cover letter and an interesting resume.
  9. Don’t feel bad about taking government assistance. You’ll need it to pay your bills.
  10. Go to any job networking session you learn about.
  11. Go where the money is. If you are laid off and you haven’t sent your resume to Matt Mullenweg this morning, why not? People with new funding (Matt just got almost $30 million) are the ones who are hiring.
  12. Take a little bit of time to work on family and health.
  13. Volunteer. Let’s say you are going to be out of work for six months. What could you do with six months of your time? Make sure you come away with it with a great project under your belt. Why not volunteer your time with a charity that could use your skills? Building an IT system for the Red Cross looks damn impressive — saying you were “on the beach” for six months does not,
  14. Make sure you take advantage of any help your former employer is offering. Sometimes they have retraining or other programs that might help you land an even better job.
  15. See if you can keep coming into the office. This isn’t open to everyone, but at Userland I kept coming into work everyday after the paychecks stopped. That made me feel better, plus it gave me the ability to use phones, stay away from negative situations (do you really want to be around family all day, everyday, who might remind you that you need to find a job?) as well as give you a place to work hard on finding your new job.
  16. Go to every business event you can attend. Can’t afford to get in? Me neither and I have a job! Hang out in the hallways. You never know who you might meet.
  17. Always have your suit ready. Some interviews happen quickly. You want to be able to answer “yes” to “Can you be here this afternoon?”

You may also want to check out the Deep Jive Interests article that asks Are You Applying SEO Strategies To Your Resume?

[This article was also posted in Global Nerdy.]

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