The Age of Impatience

Editor’s note: so, earlier this week I sent Kurt this infographic about impatience and asked him to comment on the two ideas below; hilariously, he wrote about 300 words for the first portion and left the second section completely blank (I did some editing to make it work). This kind of poetic irony is a beautiful thing. Enjoy!

Kurt and John identify with the infographic below for these hilarious/semi-problematic reasons:

Kurt Heinrich on waiting in line: The 2010 Olympics were lauded by many as a fantastic opportunity to take in dozens of unique exhibits, attractions, bands and other performances. But with Sochi House and the Dutch/Heineken pavilion came ridiculously long lines approaching Disneyland lengths. Each day, as I walked to work, the line to take one 15 second zip-line across Robson plaza grew by about 25 minutes until by the end of the Olympics, it took a 6 hour wait for the 15 second experience. Really, you have nothing better to do than cue-up for half-a-day? And this was only the most egregious example.

Across Metro Vancouver, long snaking lines sprung up like weeds; chock full of tourists, locals and angry looking Russian athletes. After hours of waiting (often in the pouring rain) line-goers were frequently rewarded by a half-baked hyper-commercialized “exhibit” crammed with bright oil company billboards or (in at least one case) an absolutely empty room. So much for the myths of wonder associated with Expo and propagated by my parents since birth.

John Horn on doing six things at once: it’s not a big problem, but it’s not not a big problem, either. When I’m working – at work or at home on this amazing publication – I like to be watching/looking at things on at least three screens. Within these three screens are a variety of open windows and tabs that yield exciting opportunities, ideas and projects on which I work and by which I am, at times, distracted (curse you, mobile-Scrabble!). Oh, and while all the spreadsheets and cloud-based-docs and mind-maps and timelines and mobile games are benefiting from my spectacular ability to multitask, I listen to music or podcasts or have some sort of sport or movie I’ve already watched playing in the background. Basically, if something doesn’t load quickly I flash to another screen and lose interest or – hey, do you guys wanna go ride bikes?!

This affects Kurt and john’s interactions with communities because…

Kurt: The longer I wait in lines, the more disappointed I am in the end result and the whole process. Maybe this means that I don’t have an patience. Or maybe it means I do not possess the psychological means to view a long wait as a worthwhile experience in itself (packed with good conversation with fellow line-goes) like Editor-in-Chief, John Horn. While my attention span is likely not as bad as that illustrated below by the infographic, when it comes to lines, I’m not to far off.

John: Multitasking doesn’t work and instead of doing one good thing really, really well I often do six things well or, on bad days, with unfortunate mediocrity. I don’t believe in mediocre community-making, so my habits need to change!

Instant America
Created by: OnlineGraduatePrograms.com

So, how do you identify with this infographic? And what does this say about our community?

Masthead photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon’s photostream on Flickr

Transformers 3: A Case Study of Flaws

This weekend my partner and I were travelling around Portland, Oregon. It was the July long weekend and we thought quite naturally, what better way of ringing in the 4th then watching Transformers 3. After all, it’s got all the bells and whistles, US flags and lots and lots of fireworks (aka explosions). What we witnessed that ill-fated evening was a Michael Bay monstrosity. After some serious consideration, I’m convinced that quite unintentionally, Transformers 3 has managed to highlight many of the societal issues afflicting both America and the Millennial Generation. It could be so effective if only Bay was being ironic. But no, after firing Megan Fox for her disapproval of being leered at his cameras it is hard to imagine Bay doesn’t buy what he’s selling.

Here are a few lessons the movie appears intent on teaching us in Bay’s latest movie:

Serving the US is Serving the World

We find the Transformers shortly after the movie starts running black-ops missions against people vaguely identified as Middle Easterners. Later we learn the Transformers are guarding humanity and protecting the Earth. Tell that to the poor conscript enlisted into the militia when a giant Mac truck transforms into Optimus Prime and blows up his little look-out tower with him in it.

Millennials are too good to deliver mail

That’s certainly how Shia LaBeouf’s character feels. He’s pissed off about having to work in the mail room because he’s convinced he’s too amazing to be bothered with a shitty job. When he comes into the presence of high-level officials he complains about how they are doing their job and rudely tells them how he thinks it should be done. Great. Thanks for the worldly advice Shia. And thanks for endorsing his arrogance Mr. Bay.

Good things come to those who complain loudly

Shia LaBeouf running away from work. Cause he's to good for it.

That’s pretty much the motto of this story. With Leboeuf spending the first third of the story complaining about how much he hates his life (despite living in a sweet DC apartment with a beautiful and loving girlfriend), the second third of the film reaming out senior administration officials about how to better do their job and the third part of the film getting responsibility and affirmation handed to him on a silver platter.

Militarism is good, Violence is awesome!

Talk about a macho, flag waving guns blazing, stuff-exploding tribute to violence. Most interesting is how Bay and his script writers have struggled to find a way of keeping the human soldiers relevant when they’re military power is pretty much the equivalent of ants armed with cap guns shooting a quick-moving, heavily Abrams tank (aka transformers) Nevertheless, Bay still manages to hold the human characters on a high pedestal as the heroes of the day, despite the fact it’s the Transformers who are doing 99% of the fighting. Turns out that despite their world changing service, they still take orders and remain mere pawns in the no-holds barred ground battle in downtown Chicago.

America will turn on their allies in a second

After the Decepticons threaten to attack the world, the US Congress votes (in like a day) to send the Autobots (the good guys) into space, betraying their loyal allies and dooming themselves. Fortunately, thanks to a kindly trick by the wiley Prime, disaster is diverted. But really, I wonder how it makes the Autobots feel that those who they protect and sacrifice so much for would so easily toss them into space. Talk about undermining their motivations in the workplace. Maybe they should have signed up with the guys in the Middle East who they were attacking at the start of the movie.

People can fly

Now that’s just cool. By far, the highlight of the movie. Want to experience it and skip the rest? Just click here.

 

Beercation!

The Clurnses just wrapped up our second annual February beercation (beer vacation). Last year we crossed the pond for British Real Ale and this year we headed to the Big Apple with our friends Val and Rod for a week of American Craft Beer.  The general format of our beercations are tourist by day, beer drinking by night. In this case we hit a lot of the big tourist destinations of New York City by day including the Museum of the City of New York, New York Transit Museum, MoMA, Museum of Sex, NBC Studio Tour and Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, etc. And we also did some interesting walks, including a misadventure through a few Brooklyn neighbourhoods. By night we sought out bars and pubs that had at least a dozen American Craft Beer on tap, doing our best to never have the same beer twice.

As a Canadians I grew up with some pretty negative views of American beer and pretty confident that Canadian beer was both better tasting and higher alcohol. And maybe for Bud Light Lime this remains true. But the reality is American Craft Beer has us beat. There are over 1600 craft brewers in the States. We’re just beginning to play catch-up. And unlike a lot of places with stricter brewing traditions (sorry Germany), American craft brewers are willing to combine styles or make new ones in the quest for delicious beer. The alcohol content for beers I drank last week ranged from 3% to over 11%. And the flavours ranged from fruity, floral, citrus, smoky, chocolate, hoppy, sour, malty and more. And all this great beer has been brewed and supported by a dedicated community of beer lovers long before craft beer was the next hottest trend.

If you are lucky enough to head to NYC here are the bars and pubs we visited and a sampling of some of the daily beer menus we got to enjoy.  And if not, check out America’s Top 100 Beer Bars as a starting point before your next American vacation.

The Pony Bar

This was our local for the week (meaning it was the only bar that we went to more than once and was a short stumble from our hotel). It was dedicated to all-American Craft Beer with 20 beers on tap and 2 casks. And while it wasn’t the best selection we saw, it rotated regularly with new beers coming online all the time. Every beer was also $5 (the higher alcohol ones came in smaller glasses) which made it easier on the pocketbook than some of the other places we visited. And it had one of our favourite snacks of the vacation, deep-fried pickles. Get there early if you want a seat!  And check out the beer menus we had to choose from: Pony Bar Beer Lists and the one from my birthday: Pony Bar Birthday Beers.

Rattle N Hum
This place had a huge beer list, with 40 drafts. Check out the menu when we were there which is printed daily: side 1 & side 2.  It was a pretty casual place, fairly close to the Empire State Building. While the staff seemed to know the beer, they were stumped when I asked for more information on the upcoming cask event they were having that weekend. And if you like cheesy nachos this is the place to come. We’re pretty sure they put down a layer of cheese before chips.

Mugs Alehouse
This place had a local vibe and was where we landed after an under planned walk across Brooklyn. We loved the super warm heater and the yummy selection. And the staff was pretty great too, taking time to provide some great recommendations.

Barcade
Prepare to geek out! This bar has 35 classic arcade games lining the walls of an otherwise industrial large room with only a few tables. There were also 24 taps with 75% of the beer from the northeast. And it was a dog-friendly bar, just watch out for the occasional tinkle.

The Blind Tiger
It is hard to judge this bar because we came during a Vermont cheese and beer festival. Our first try getting in didn’t work. But our second try we not only got in, we were able to convince a very nice smartphone addict to share his table with us. The beer list was great, with 28 taps, 2 casks, and 1 gravity keg. And this was where I had one of my favorite beers, the Von Trapp Trosten (a black lager). The downfall was the obnoxious suits that were one table over that were/left a mess.

Valhalla
We found this bar while still basking in our post-Colbert bliss. It was a random find (thanks Rod!) that had a wall full of taps and lots of beers that we hadn’t yet tried.

d.b.a.
This is one of the earlier bars that helped build the craft beer bandwagon that we found popping up all over the city. The selection was a mix of European and American beers and there was a resident cat that got our attention. While it wasn’t our favourite bar it was still well worth the visit.

The Dram Shop
This pub in the Park Slope neighbourhood of Brooklyn had a decent selection of beers but most importantly it had deep-fried mac and cheese. It had the feel of a local and very attentive staff.

Ginger Man
Another bar that was close to the Empire State Building (we went up it after finishing at the bar) and it had a few too many suits, but as the menu shows (side 1 and side 2) there was huge beer selection and despite how busy it was we were able to score a table and snack on cheese platter (the boys had charcuterie).

Other Room
This was a dark and intimate bar. Despite it’s small size it’s beer list still managed to keep us occupied for a couple of rounds and there was great music.

Waterfront Ale House
This bar was off the beaten track and definitely more of a casual vibe with friendly staff. While the food was average the sour beer was a highlight.

Exercising the Ridiculous: The Colbert Nation vs. Johnism?!

stephen_colbertCo-Editor Kurt Heinrich’s post has inspired me to write an open letter to Stephen Colbert on behalf of Ice-Holes and Syrup Suckers everywhere.

Dear Mr. Colbert,

So it’s a ridiculous gauntlet throw-down of ridiculousness you want? Game on, sir. And, before we get rolling: thank you so, so much for paying attention to us!

Once you, American speed skaters and The Colbert Nation have donned your bursting spandex and the official Pink Toque of Olympic Oval Ombudsmanship, there’s something else that we should probably talk about. As you know, sir, you have simply started another tired chapter in the history of Canadian/American binary opposition. We get it, man. Canada and America are the same, but different in minor ways. Hilarious! You know that whenever an American comedian (not Canadians who practice comedy in America) mentions Canada the Prime Minister drops everything, calls the CBC and holds a press conference telling us all to watch, right? We erupt with elation at opportunities like this. You’re doing us a great service (and probably boosting our maple syrup exports by at least 4%), but, my good man, there is more at stake than just speed skating. There’s a whole preconceived narrative we need to overcome. And we need to do it together!

22769_299422171938_6004081938_3591218_7812464_nWe’re “syrup-suckers” because Canada makes and consumes a lot of syrup. Hahahahahahahahaha! Oh Stephen, cut it out. Honestly, I – nay, we – expected more than this simple joke, but I guess from your gorgeous hair to your intuitive gut you’re just a simple man. Or perhaps you were being ironic. After all, even though 80% of the planet’s maple syrup is produced in Quebec, it is also produced in Vermont and up-state New York (and its production reaches as far south as Virginia). Also, when it comes to syrup-sucking, America has Canada and, well, the entire world beat into a fine, molassassy liquid that just seems to be in everyting from pizza crusts to Jimmy Dean sausage-wrapped-pancake on a stick. Whether it’s maple or high-fructose-corn syrup, a recent study by the USDA’s Agriculture Fact Book argues that Americans consume over 150 pounds of caloric sweeteners each year. If there was a syrup-sucking Olympics, good sir, your team would surely, and deservedly, win gold, silver, bronze, and delicious pies for the fourth-to-tenth place finishers.

Ice-Holes? Really? Because it’s cold here, right? Hahahahahahahaha! Oh Stephen. My friend, this is Vancouver, not Montreal, Toronto, Saskatoon, or Iqaluit. Have you been to Vancouver? I mean, the average winter temperature is about 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit). New York City’s is certainly below zero degrees Celsius, which is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Look, I’m not calling you an Ice-Hole, Wikipedia is; that’s where I got the data from. But, don’t worry, you can get in there and change it right away. Sure, Vancouver’s not Charleston, South Carolina, but it’s not Pierre, South Dakota, either. But you knew that because you’re a smart guy – and your Ivey League writing team certainly is – so you must’ve been talking about how speedskaters skate on amazing ice we build and export around the world. You were never on Talking to Americans, right? And you were also going on and on aboot how and we “Saskatchewhine” aboot it. First, one of our Saskatchewanian speed skaters, Kim Weger, just retired after a fairly fantastic eight-year career. I’m not sure if she’s whining too much about it, but, I’m sure your jab was thoroughly research-based and not at all an Ivey League pun that came from the gut. Second, if anyone plays “dirty beaver” (what many Canadians named John Horn call “whining while cheating”) it’s you and the Colbert Nation; your segment Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA teaches people how to break the rules of life-living while falsely representing the Fine Arts community. Furthermore, this whole Wikiality business seems to be chalked full of cheating the Hungarian people out of their history. And speaking of an hisotrical example of dirty beaver, well, you showed us all what whining and social mischief can get us. It got you a treadmill on a node and, more recently, it’s gotten you a Pink Toque of Ombudsmanship. Well played, sir. Well played.

Needless to say, it’s time to transcend this tired, simple and, I’m one to say it, cliched approach to nationalism. We knew this was coming before you did. I mean, come on, this isn’t a Molson Canadian beer commercial, right? This is speed skating! Here’s why you need to transcend the whole Ice-Hole thing. A Canadian member of your nation, The Colbert Nation, made a great point to kick off the blog-comment-thread on your Comedy Central letter writing campaign:

Stephen… What about your Colbert Nation supporters that reside in Canada? I would hate for this issue to divide your supporters. As a proud Canadian and equally proud member of the Colbert Nation I hope to be the voice of peace and reason. Let us skate together in Vancouver 2010! But this letter campaign to be honest doesn’t really threaten us… the US postal system will probably only end up delivering a fraction of the letters successfully.

Enter Johnism. See, fueled by democracy, the Colbert Nation, like the global political system is still built in a way that attracts and enables people who want to

First rule of Johnism: no whining. Second rule of Johnism: bears are amazing, naturally peaceful creatures!

First rule of Johnism: no whining. Second rule of Johnism: bears are amazing, naturally peaceful creatures!

be the world’s powerbrokers and reap all the delicious, material, ill-gotten/gettin’ goodies that such power allows. We need leaders for our communities – from local to global – but we need a new selection process. No dictatorial Colbertism. Free market, libertarian, open source Johnism. Recent findings show that there are approximately 942,564,723 people on the planet named “John” (translation and regional dialects were taken into account during this study). So, this up-and-coming ideology isn’t based on status or age or experience or ability or education or qualification or people named Stephen Colbert or being good at anything. It’s based on having a really common name. A name so common that, when the random, name-based selection of global leadership takes place, we can be sure that the new team in charge are truly drawn from all parts and places of society. Wow – think of how much extra cash we can spread around when credentials do not include the ability to raise $1 billion in campaign funds or being sponsored by Doritos! Fun fact: a study from The Recent Findings Institute indicated that nearly 11% of the Colbert Nation is made up of people named John, Jean, Giovanni, Juan, Ivan, Jens, Johann, Yochanan, or Yayha (all variations of the name “John”). Members of the Colbert Nation named John (or one of it’s variations), it’s time to think beyond America; take your ideas everywhere my friends, not just to the Olympic Oval – although, I must say, the architecture is spectacular.

If your community really wants to grow, Stephen. It needs to go beyond the simple binary of Canada vs. America – or America’ s nation within a nation. Take on something bigger than you. Challenge yourself and your nation to be more ridiculous that it already is. Then, and only then, will you have earned your Pink Toque of Ombudsmanship. For Canada – and the Johnists who herein preside – we embrace and love the ridiculous. Just look at our government’s stance on Climate Change!

Keep building communities around the world, Stephen. After all, people are listening. Thanks for the memories and for the attention.

Kindest regards,

John…ism