Archives for Whatsis
It’s amazing how much easier it is to do anything when you have the right information.
I did some painting around my place last week, and luckily a friend of mine owns a painting company. And even though I’ve done a little painting here and there before, a little supervisory consultation with him made the job a lot easier.
So if you’re thinking of painting your house, these pro tips will come in handy …
1. Surface Preparation. First, wash your walls with TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). This is what most painters use but it’s also rather harsh. A good alternative is to use dish detergent and warm water. Just make sure you rinse the detergent residue off with a second washing of fresh water. If you’re painting a surface with a semi-gloss finish, then give it a light sanding.
A friend emailed me these pictures of the hiking route up to the Huashan Teahouse in China. It’s your typical viral-entertainment email … but the pics tell a pretty cool story and I like hiking and other mountain sports so check this out …
1. First, you’ve got to get to where you’re going. Pretty cool, and yes, I’m one of those people that jumps up and down on trams …
2. Next, walk the plank. Luckily there are some chains anchored to the wall for you to hang on to … so it’s not scary at all …
It’s not that us guys aren’t romantic … we’re just not very good at it.
Happy Valentines Day
There are quite a few controversial stories about people getting tased lately. Controversial, because they’re incidents that never should have happened. I look at some of them and I can’t figure out whether they’re more attributable to a lack of training. Or just plain laziness.
There’s no reason that 4 or 5 guys can’t easily subdue and arrest one person without using a taser.
The big problem is that tasers are not being used the way they were intended to be used. They’re supposed to be used in situations where the only other alternative would be to draw a gun. The taser is supposed to be a non-lethal alternative.
But they’re being used (increasingly) in situations where authorities would never think of drawing their guns.
Of course, some people need to be tased. We just need some rules. In 1942, Isaac Asimov gave us the Three Laws of Robotics. So here’s three new laws for this century …
Something cool for today.
Folding or collapsable bikes have been around for 30 years. But now, they’re better, lighter, and there’s more room for them in a world of high oil prices and shrinking living spaces.
Another thing that’s really making them come in to their own is the array of lightweight materials available today. After all, if you’re going to fold up your bike and carry it from the street to your desk in the office, it has to be light.
These bikes just fit the urban lifestyle. They’re a quick way to get around and they’re easy to stow away at work, at home or under your seat on the train. Check them out …
Some Folding Bike Makers:
- Silkmead – A tube company. They make the Airframe; a nice and easy leisure bike.
- Airnimal – High performance road and offroad bikes.
- Bike Friday – They make a bike for every use; road, touring, mountain, commuting.
- Birdy – Full suspension. Need I say more.
- Brompton – One of the most well known names in folding bikes.
- Dahon – Pictured above; they make a wide assortment of bikes including road, offroad and suspension.
- Mezzo – Fun-loving commuter bikes.
- Moulton – Alex Moulton has been designing one thing or another since the ’50s.
- Sinclair Research – They make cool stuff. The A-bike is a real pocket bike. Sort of like a scooter with a seat.
One more thought. These bikes offer a great opportunity for starting a bike rental business. Especially a small urban shop or the mobile kind that goes out to popular locations and sets up shop every day.
Just think about how many of these collapsable commuters you could fit in the back of a van.
Here’s something cool for the “Whatsis” category.
The old Volkswagon Westfalia vans have always been popular and they still are. But they’re all 30 years old and it’s harder and harder to find one in decent condition.
Well there’s a new successor to the throne. And even VW diehards are saying “that’s pretty cool”. My buddy’s been looking for a Westy for a couple months. But now it looks like he’s gonna buy a Delica.
Japan Comes To The Rescue
Mitsubishi Delicas are popping up all over the place. They’re being imported from Japan and they’re all around 1990-1992 models.
The Delica is right hand drive so it takes a little getting used to unless you’re used to driving in London. They’re 4WD, diesel, and you can get about 500-600 km out of a 60 liter fill-up (about 24 mpg). And keep in mind that because it’s diesel, you can also convert these bad boys over to run on vegetable oil.
Because they’re from Japan where people don’t do a lot of driving, they all have relatively low mileage for their age. We looked at a few this weekend and they were all in excellent condition with no rust.
It supposedly takes about 2 to 3 weeks to get parts from Japan, but they’re very popular in Australia, and you can get parts in 1 to 2 days from down under. Parts availability should increase in North America as they become more popular here.
Right now they’re selling for between $8000 and $12000. They’re easily worth more, but I think the fact that they’re right hand drive is what’s keeping the price down.
You’re gonna see a lot more of these little go-anywhere surfing cruisers around in the next couple years.
It’s not just about the coolest phone anymore. It’s about the coolest phone service.
Rogers has just finished putting together a high speed wireless data network in Southern Ontario. It’s the first of its kind in North America. What they’ve really done is connected the cellphone to the web like never before.
And they’ve upped the ante for every other cellular provider out there with video calling.
Up and till now, video calling has been relegated to landlines, clunky contraptions, James Bond movies and Skype. Going ultra-portable like this is a huge step.
The network is limited right now. And they only have one phone, the Samsung A706, that’s HSDPA ready. But the cell biz is a heavily competitive business. It won’t be long before Rogers expands the network, and adds more phones into the mix. And once some of the big players jump in, video calling should expand pretty quickly.
Here’s What The Phone And The Network Can Do:
- Video Calling. The big feature here. The cellphone paparazzi just got a whole lot faster.
- YouTube. That’s right, surf your way through YouTube right from your phone.
- Video on Demand. Sports clips, news, celebrity gossip … pick your poison.
- Radio on Demand. XM radio anywhere, anytime. How long is it going to take before everybody has their own ‘On Hold’ music.
- Music. Maybe radio just doesn’t cut it. You want to listen to what you want to listen to. Cool. Download music or listen to streaming clips.
- Mobile TV. How many people are gonna get fired over this one after taking an hour long bathroom break at the same time every day.
Check out the Rogers Vision demo. Cellphones and text messaging have changed the way we communicate on the go like nothing before them.
Well, hang on. There’s a new revolution in town.
Recipe for a good time: Get a bunch of friends together, find a beach, start a bonfire. Invite everyone who passes by to join the party. Groove with The Beautiful Girls.
Mat McHugh, Clay McDonald and Bruce Braybrooke are The Beautiful Girls. And while you’re missing Sublime and waiting for a new album from Slightly Stoopid, The Beautiful Girls will be the soundtrack to your life this summer.
Water is a compilation album of their coolest stuff. The band is from Australia and Water was released as sort of an introduction to North America. Nice intro. The band is a fusion of rock, reggae, ska, jazz and anything else they feel like throwing in. Lots of acoustic. Classic surf music.
They’ve been around for a while, but if you haven’t heard them, give Water a listen on the online jukebox.
I can smell the salt air and feel the breeze already.
The Zoomstart Whatsis category is the place I post about cool stuff. A paraglider is basically a plane in a bag. What’s cooler then that.
If you’re lucky, there’s a place to go paragliding near where you live. Here in Vancouver, you can go up to Grouse Mountain during the summer and experience the best ride in town thanks to the great people at First Flight Paragliding.
I took a buddy up with me just to do something crazy because it was his birthday. The experience was awesome. I think everybody should do it at least once.
My Paragliding Experience
Before you go, you get some basic orientation and training. Once you get up to the ridge above the Peak Chalet, it’s time to get your helmet on, your harness, and set up the glider. Just like tandem skydiving, you’re strapped to the glider with the instructor.
Then you just wait for the right wind to come along. Once it does, your instructor lifts the glider up and shouts “Run!”. On Grouse, you’ll get about 15 to 20 feet down the ridge before the glider picks you up and you swoop down over the Chalet.
My take-off went something like this: “Run! … Stop! … Run!”. We got a gust of wind from the side when we first tried to take off which pushed the glider sideways. Kerry, who was my instructor, managed to get it back on track and we were off. He said that our take off was a 7 out of 10 in terms of difficulty which doesn’t happen often.
You glide about 100 feet over the treetops. It takes your breath away, but this isn’t even the best part yet …
As soon as you pass over the Chalet area, you leave the top of the mountain on the West side. Suddenly there’s 2500 feet of nothing below you.
The ride lasts about 15 to 20 minutes. You weave around in figure eights looking for thermals that rise along the side of the mountain. Thermals are like elevators. When you catch one, the glider goes straight up. Of course, if you hit a pocket of cold air, the elevator goes down.
If the instructor has a good amount of confidence in you, he’ll let you pilot the paraglider for a while. I got to fly it for about 5 minutes and that definately made the experience better. They land down in a park at the foot of Grouse Mountain. And then you want to go again.
Some Paragliding Facts
- No one can hear you scream. The one thing you notice is how quiet it is up there. Just the gentle rush of the wind is all you can hear.
- It’s relatively safe. Unlike parachuting, the glider is already open when you leave the ground. The instructors are very well trained; as part of their certification program, they actually have to collapse their glider mid-flight on purpose and then recover from the collapse.
- Did I mention … it’s the best ride in town.
If you’re thinking about doing something different and edgy this summer think about going paragliding. If you have to work up the courage, start working on that part now. Make it a goal.
Who knows, you might like it so much you go out and buy yourself a plane in a bag.
Last week I started a new category here on Zoomstart called Whatsis. It’s just a place to talk about cool and interesting stuff. Today I want to talk about acoustic guitars because I love sitting down and jamming on one of mine every once in a while.
Let me get this dumb joke out of the way first.
I play a little guitar. Actually, it’s a full size guitar. I just don’t play it that often.
What Makes A Great Guitar
There are only two things that you need to make a great guitar:
- Great craftmanship
- Great tone woods
If there were one more thing that makes a great guitar I would say it is time. Over time, if you keep your guitar stored properly, the wood ages well and the sound gets sweeter. This means keeping it clean and storing it where it won’t get too cold or too warm, and where the humidity is stable (not too dry and not too damp).
I have two guitars. One is an Ovation Custom Legend. It’s a beautiful guitar and it’s better quality than the ones they’re making now. I bought mine back when they were still putting hand-carved walnut bridges on them. It’s a shallow body so there’s not much bass, but it sounds great plugged in.
My other guitar … my first guitar, is a Samick. My Samick SW-115 has a laminate top and was made in Korea. Basically it’s a budget plywood guitar made before Samick hired Greg Bennett to do a complete makeover on their guitar lines and move them into a higher quality market.
I paid 200 bucks for my plywood Samick and I love it. It’s aged well. The best thing about it is I can take it to the beach and not care if it comes home full of sand and covered in hamburger grease.
Michael Greenfield lives in Montreal Quebec and he crafts what are some of the best guitars being built today. He only makes 12 guitars a year.
Every guitar he makes is hand crafted using the best tone woods available; Aged Brazilian Rosewood, Honduras Mahogany, Big Leaf Maple, European Spruce and others. The wood for each guitar is selected for that specific guitar and he assembles them with animal hide glue which has been used by master craftsmen for centuries to build the finest instruments.
Even though Greenfield guitars are made using many techniques of the traditional masters, they have some amazing modern design features. Check out the beveled armrest in the picture.
He really is making the Stradivarius of guitars. It’s so hard to find craftsmanship like this in anything today. If you want one, you can only buy them through his selected dealers like 12th Fret and The Music Emporium.
Check out Michael’s website. You can see how he makes a guitar from start to finish with the online shop tour. He also has audio clips and a gallery of musicians like Don Alder, Melissa Greener and Keith Richards who love his guitars.