Floorball: Recovery

The 1st annual BC Floorball Federation Challenge this past Saturday was a major success! I was placed on Team Sweden, and despite claims of coincidence, I suspect conspiracy—I started participating in order to counter Swedish dominance with a surging Icelandic wave, and this is how they repay me?! Team Czech won the championship, which lasted all day at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver. Separate from the challenge, Swiss all-stars continued their dominance over the Canadian team in the middle of the day, and kids entertained the adults who deservedly rested after some pretty intense action. Each team had only one or two substitutes, making for some tired legs at the end of each game, but I scored twice and assisted once, so I'm pretty happy with how things turned out. Team Sweden lost twice, tied once, and won their final game.

I bought a stick at the tournament, a Salming with a hammer grip, and ball to practice at home, personalizing the stick with an sticker of the Icelandic national flag. (I fully expect to lose the ball at some point, which should be easier to replenish.) Other than the start time, having gotten up at 5:30 AM to catch a 6:00 AM bus to catch a 6:45 AM SeaBus to catch a 7:00 ride to have enough time to warm up for an 8:00 AM game time, there's not much I would change.

Photos to come, and today I recover from the weekend of physical activity (Sunday was dragon boat practice). I saw the Swiss contingent downtown today, where I bragged about my awesome Iceland hockey team jersey. For now, marvel at Roland's floorball photos, especially the Fossil in net and Frederik's penalty shot, as well as from the official BC Floorball Federation photo gallery, the championship team, featuring Urban Vancouverite Boris Mann.

Floorball: Everything I Know I Learned From Basketball

Stewart already addressed the issue I had about floorball, that is that tricks have more value than fundamentals. This is true of all sports, really, but it's also true that teams that best exploit the regime (the infrastructure of the sport, including the rules and how the refs call it) are the ones that dominate, not necessarily those that are the most skillful. Think the New Jersey Devils of hockey and the Detroit Pistons of basketball. But practicing tricks makes you better at the fundamentals: in basketball, getting better control of the ball involves playing around with what you can do, and the same goes with floorball. The more you're able to control the ball the more you're able to go around people and put it in the net.

Basketball is the sport I have most knowledge in, having played it most of my life. I'm relying on my basketball positioning in floorball, to possibly humourous effect. In basketball, when the defensive team gets the ball, if I'm not inside the key, my first instinct is to go towards the sidelines for the outlet pass. Same with floorball, but I'm learning to go from sidelines and cut to the middle if I can see that someone particularly skilled at passing has the ball. Also, I'm used to standing in front of the net in basketball, using my size to intimidate the offense. In floorball, this isn't necessarily ideal, since the goalie might not be able to see the ball as it's shot. I need to train myself to either not fear the shot and block it, or make a lane so that I'm not an unwitting screen. Another thing borrowed directly from basketball is to not cross my legs when the offensive player is in front of me while on defense. Instead, shuffling my feet from side to side may be a little slower, but at least makes it harder for the player coming on me to turn me around.

Things I've picked up watching other players: on defense while an offensive player is behind the net, their temptation is to come right out and wrap it around. As a counter-measure, I've been cutting off that angle. Another positioning moved I picked up in observation is to use my feet, placed one in front of each other and then putting my stick in front of both, forcing the player to thread the needle between my legs if they want to make a pass. This instead of facing the player directly, which makes a bigger five-hole.

Floorball: Video

As promised, some video of floorball in action. Izzard's video gives you a sense of what it's like to play pickup floorball in a gym, except we don't play to a Chemical Brothers soundtrack. For tricks (which floorballers seem to prefer to call skills), go no further than video showing the "Zorro" performed during games. I'm not so fond of the tricks, they intimidate me as a beginner, and besides, I won the award for best fundamentals on my basketball team (that's also why Tim Duncan has long been a favourite player of mine). For a good introduction to some of the rules, GlobalTV Quebec's This Morning Live did a short series one day on the sport, calling it "Floorball Fun With Richard" (hey I should have thought of that!): part 1; part 2; and part 3.

You might need to pump up the volume a bit on those.

There's video of floorball played in a small gym, and tricks dominate the list in YouTube, but in the end, I enjoyed the longer shots that showed match play, like Finland vs. Sweden, Finland vs. Czech Republic, and more from unihockeyportal's videos. The second one answered the question for me "do floorball players change on the fly in real games?" (correct answer: yes). The fine folks at BC Floorball no doubt can add to my list of must-see videos, including more about the tricks and skill play, not to mention penalty shots.

Floorball: Nordic Rivalry Edition

Thanks to the fine folks at BC Floorball for the link back to yesterday's introduction to the series. Referring to me, they say "as soon as he realised Sweden is a top nation in Floorball he knew he HAD to play. Nothing like a bit of Nordic rivalry!" That's right, it took not Stewart's gentle pleas to get me to try the sport, but rather looking at the Wikipedia page for floorball and noticing that the Swedish men have won all the world championships to get my Icelandic blood boiling.

(The Swedes always beat Iceland at soccer, which started my mock hatred for them. After mock hating the Dallas Stars and the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL playoffs, I wondered if real honest hatreds began as jokes, as some of my friends do when talking about ethnic groups they have friends from, for example?)

Fred Herzog and Citizen History

You have a few days left to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery to see Fred Herzog's photographs from the 1950s of Vancouver and Vancouverites, which shows a short interview of the photographer and another room featuring his photos projected with the theme of The City as Art. (The city as museum!) I strongly recommend it, especially if you can go on a night where lots of people attend: as a 10-year resident of the city, and in my late 20s, I don't have much history here, but overhearing those who have lived hear reflect on the past of a city sometimes described as a city without a past. Almost too bad there aren't microphones recording these conversations: the photographs evoke memories of neighbourhoods lost or grown, some now barely recognizable but still with their distinguishing features. Call it citizen history or crowd-source history, which are new words for "people's history", but these stories and perspectives are important and interesting. Herzog captured the mundanity of a growing city, much like John Goldsmith in Vancouver and Kemp Attwood in Paris, France, do today. (To name two street scene photographers on my Flickr contact list, hoping not to intimidate them with comparing them with someone with Herzog's stature.) I'm just a beginning hobbyist photographer, interested in people and urban transportation (esp. trains) but I find Goldsmith's and Attwood's and Herzog's photographs, and the philosophy of documenting places and small events of the city that might blow away in the winds of history, very inspiring. But enough faux-pretentiousness: the exhibit shows until May 13th, so time is running out. As a bonus, there's even a Jeff Wall photograph on the bottom floor in the Photography as Theatre exhibit on the ground floor!

Letting Go

No more stats tracking, either internally or externally. Comments closed. Unused content management functionality disabled. In the spirit of doing less and making it count, it's time to mothball Just a Gwai Lo for a bit. Alternatives to writing pretentious sentences like "after listening to field recordings of electroaccoustic soundscapes and sound sculptures, I feel better attuned to the aural beauty and ugliness that surrounds us on a daily basis" include, but are not limited to, leaving the counting machine for healthier, more outdoorsy pursuits. Like regaining my figure, my jump shot, and my sanity. If the weather doesn't permit, then more creating and less consuming while inside.

I've consulted with a few about this, who argued I should continue, but instead, I am letting go. I'll return, but in the meantime, I'll see you in the photo galleries and comment threads.

Fake DJ sets, Weekly Recaps of the Internet, and Language Learning

After buying my second iPod, a svelte nano, I subscribed to some podcasts, unsubscribed from others, which I listen to while commuting from place to place. (And while ironing.) Here are the podcasts I'm listening to these days:

These days I'm wearing headphones more often, trying to listen to Fake DJ sets, weekly recaps of the Internet, and language learning, so I apologize if I'm not paying attention to you. If people don't support this podcasting thing, it might not make it.

I Attended Last Night's Lily Allen Concert and All I Got Was This Lousy Cameraphone Photo

I attended last night's Lily Allen concert and all I got was this lousy cameraphone photo

Two security guards, one at the front and another inside, at The Commodore asked me to leave my camera at the coat check. I tried to sneak it in anyway, but got caught, by a third security guard. My quick thinking (a lie about how it slipped my mind) got me off the hook, but I still had to check it in.

I left after 6 songs. I first considered it after she came on stage wearing jeans (and not a wide dress like I thought she would) but even her banter about men with small penises didn't push me over the edge. No, the cover of a Keane song was the final straw. She's pretty, sings catchy tunes, and has a wide range of vocal styles, but she's made entirely of evil.

TransLink Next Bus Information Via SMS

Gordon Ross points to two Simon Fraser University students who have created a service to get TransLink next bus information by text message (SMS), and an article in today's Vancouver Sun about Canadian mobile phone companies charging more than their European counterparts for Internet access. (Will Pate, in his bookmarks, points to an unscientific comparison between American and Canadian mobile data rates.) From the looks of it, Igor Faletski and John Boxall have next bus information for the 135, 143, 144 and the 145 from either SFU's main bus loop or residences, and the 145 from Production way, as well as whatever the next bus happens to be at any stop. TransLink has unique numerical IDs for each stop, some of which appear on the bus stop's sign, e.g. a stop in Coquitlam and another at Phibbs Exchange. The students are scraping the HTML generated by the TransLink website, so providing something like an open API or Google's Transit Feed will increase the opportunity for innovation around bus schedules, such as creating a site that lists events near bus stops and SkyTrain stations and the schedules for those stops without anybody having to manually update those schedules.

Igor and John are my new heroes, at least until the end of March, which is when they say on that the experiment is slated to end. “If there is interest, we will work to make it permanent,” the site notes. I'm definitely interested, and I know others that would use this service multiple times a week, especially those who will have phones that integrate mapping directly.

A Certain Quotient of Unauthorized Excitement

Arthur Lubow: “The history of photography is stocked with precedents [of photomontages], dating back to its earliest days. You think there is something new about seamless photomontages? In the 1850s, Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson made elaborate composites from multiple negatives. Or staged tableaux? Hippolyte Bayard depicted himself as a drowned man in 1840, and photographers have been staging such shots ever since, with F. Holland Day’s hammy impersonation of Christ at the end of the 19th century anteceding Wall’s more restrained performance in the role. Yet the use of photomontage and the staged tableau seemed fresh to Wall, [Ian] Wallace and their friends because they were using these techniques in the self-reflexive Modernist spirit of their age. Their versions were patent contrivances, calling attention to their artificiality.”

Peter Schjeldahl: “It may be enough to know that, in theory-drunk circles of the period, any sort of aesthetic appeal could be regarded as a stratagem of “late capitalist” ideology or some other wrinkle of malign social power. (The enemy’s identity was never entirely clear.) Artists were obliged to signal knowingness on this score. If critical paranoia poisoned visual and imaginative pleasure, that was unavoidable: a toll of enlightened consciousness. A lot of preachily condescending work resulted, and Wall was not exempt. But a certain quotient of unauthorized excitement, in “wow” effects of what amounts to single-frame cinematography, always set him a bit apart, as did a restlessly experimental drive.”

Both articles via the Flickr Vancouver group discussion on Jeff Wall.

This Is the Year I Read Books and Review Them

Up until about 2003 or 2004, I read up to 20 books a year, mostly on my way to work on the bus or in my copious free time not working, since my job was less than half-time. Since working full-time and on salary—meaning no set start or quitting time—priority given to dead tree editions of pretty much any written text went to reading digital ink in the form of weblogs and the delicious articles they link to.

Already this year I've read three books: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by John Robert Greene, [Amazon], Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen, and most recently, Social Acupuncture: A Guide to Suicide, Performance, and Utopia by Darren O'Donnell. I am currently working my way through Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, and have purchased Dreaming In Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg, which sits patiently on my coffee table.

All the books have reasons why I either read them or bought them: the book about Gerald Ford because he had recently died; the Buddhism book partly on the recommendation of Web Worker Daily but also partly because my girlfriend is a practicing Buddhist (I was reading the book as a Valentine's Day gift to her, but I was afraid she was on to me when she published that); Social Acupuncture on Karen's recommendation; and Wikinomics because Will Pate attended the Wikinomics book launch in Toronto and made note that some consider Tapscott to not be a citizen of the community he writes about. Will calls him a translator and diplomat, but popularizer might be a better term. at about the same time as the Internet, and therefore. He has it right, and those that don't yet understand it or know how to benefit from it, particuarly in the business sense, are the target audience, not people like me who live it. (I bought Dreaming in Code because I have a weak tie to one of the book's protagonists, Ted Leung.)

I intend to write and publish reviews of all books mentioned, but as you can tell I'm already two books behind with a third book soon added to the queue. But this is the year I read book and review them. For now, though, that's a window into what I'm reading and thinking about these days.

Spoke at Nothern Voice, Impressions of the First Half of the Conference

My session on Blogging 101 went okay: I didn't demonstrate nearly as much as I wanted to (and when I did demonstrate how to blog, I did it at the end rather than the beginning as planned), but I was pleased with the amount and type of questions asked. For next time:

  • less boring slides, or even better, less reliance on slides
  • drink more water
  • press record when the people podcasting the session ask you to (I completely forgot, so I'm hoping that there are notes people took, which I will happily point to). Time passes, and you can cancel that regret call: I understand the podcaster involved had the presence of mind to press record for me, and they have posted the audio to my Blogging 101 session, though I understand the questions may be less audible.

I wanted to do the Brian Lamb thing and take a picture of the audience and post it. It would have made a good demonstration of posting photos to Flickr, but also, it turns out, out of the scope due to time. That tells me that not only can we do Blogging 101 sessions for a while to come—or, more likely, Blogging 201, which is how to do more than post but rather promote and do it really well—but Social Web 101, or rather, how to strategically use the tools I'm very familiar with to promote whatever it is you're interested in promoting (yourself, your company, or interesting and pertinent ideas).

Kris Krug Takes Anil Dash's Picture During Northern Voice 2007

While we're speaking about people using the tools, Northern Voice, not to mention other conferences like it, are great demonstrations of people documenting an event in real time. I wish I could do it better, that is, take photos faster and publish them faster, but since other people do it well already then I don't feel the rush. I'll post them on Sunday. Says the guy who's writing about the first half of the day before the first half of the day is over: Anil Dash's speech was an interesting, different take on why blogging is important and meaningful, I learned a little more about the subject while holding a session on it, and Travis Smith, a journalist in his own right, had a fair and balanced approach to the new and emerging citizen journalism.

Speaking at Northern Voice 2007: Blogging 101

The last couple of weeks I've been fighting a sore throat and an ear infection. It was probably about time I got sick, since everybody around me had gotten suck some way or another, but the timing is less than great because on Saturday I'm speaking at the 2007 Northern Voice blogging conference. I'm a little nervous about it, part out of lack of preparation (more about that below) but also because while the infection's gone, my left ear sometimes goes partially deaf. (I rarely talk about my health in public like this—same goes for my family—but this time I'll make an exception.) My doctor assures me it will heal fully, and it 'pops' every now and then, but it got me thinking about how Stephen Colbert, whom I learned from his Wikipedia page that he is deaf in his right ear, deals with it on a day-to-day basis. Does he, when he holds his wife's hand, stand on her right side so that his functioning ear is directed towards her? Looks like it on the photo that currently adorns the Wikipedia page.

About the lack of preparation: for three summers I did group and individual Internet training, and I've been blogging for 6 years plus now, so I know the subject matter inside and out and have experience public speaking (and enjoy it very much, I made a note of it to my colleagues at a retreat and they responded positively). It's just that I'm a little rusty, the ear infection/sore throat threw me for a small loop, and regardless of that, I'm sometimes stutter when in unfamiliar situations, making them a little scarier than they already are. (Breathing exercises help, so that should not be a big issue, plus audiences are often forgiving. Barack Obama stutters when he starts sentences, especially when he's out of rhythm, but this humanizes him.) I'm keeping slides to an absolute minimum, since I want to keep the session interactive, encouraging questions getting people to start a blog if they don't already have one. Maybe they can use it to post notes on the next session they attend!

I'm not as nervous as I let on, though, because I have a backup plan if the wireless Internet stops working (a conference full of bloggers and photographers itching to be the first to post their thoughts and photos sounds like trouble to me), and I'm confident that I know my stuff. So why so much digital ink spilled over this? Darren Barefoot wrote that Twitter doesn't solve a problem for him, but it does for me. Like Anil, I originally wanted to hate it, but I use it for one-liners, and as Tanya writes in Darren's comments, “transparency has become a part of my life, so when I saw through Tod [Maffin]’s blog that a ’social engine’ has actually made its way to the mainstream, I was pleased.” I'm pleased that blogging is mainstream, because I too like the transparency, and it's fun to share (not all the time, but a lot of the time), and admitting vulnerability every now and then lets yourself off the hook when you weren't on the hook to begin with.

Photos of the 2007 Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade

The Emperor at the Chinese New Year Parade in Vancouver

[Cross-posted from Urban Vancouver.]

Karen and I went to the Vancouver Chinese New Year parade on Sunday, but we arrived late, just catching the last 20 minutes, and even then, we were situated right at the end of the parade in front of Andy Livingstone Park (that's the soccer park in Chinatown). I took a few photos, as did many others there.

A quick search on Flickr finds some good shots. My favourite from the Chinese New Year parade set by hernandez photos is "look, a parasol!". From Tanasha's great-looking set comes the great "After Party". vfkf has almost 600 photos of the parade, probably best seen at the 'detail' version of it (still 30+ pages of photos to go through though). Be sure to check out Photocat62's photos tagged with 'gung hay fat choy' as well.

I no doubt missed a bunch, so if you have a set on Flickr or elsewhere, please drop a link in the comments and I'll add it to this list.

Overheard on the Bus, February 9th, 2007

One of the guys who were discussing what "the American version of The Office" meant, and how the survivors from Lost got to where they were, also said, not necessarily in the context of TV:

Discovery does not equal creation.

I immediately thought of the Web 2.0 equivalent: "sharing does not equal creation". Discuss.