Ryan Mahler

photographies, technologies, and anomalies

Five Thousand in Four

From the 5th to the 9th of this month, I drove 5000km (a bit more, in fact) across a good chunk of Canada via the Trans-Canada Highway. Some things happened, and I tweeted about them (in a safe way, of course).

I was guessing between 5 and 7 days to do the trip. I had to stop in Edmonton briefly, but aside from that I had no plans to visit anybody or stop unless the truck needed gas, or for sleep as required. Google Maps showed 59 hours of driving total, for an average of about 85km/h. I was aiming to average a full 100km/h, and actually came extremely close to that most days.

Off to great start – 350km out of Yellowknife (about an hour away from cell service), a transport truck seemed to hit a corner too fast, causing his trailer to fishtail into my lane. I was able to pull right and time my passing such that I went past in between oscillations into my lane. I doubt I would have actually hit it, especially since I pulled right, but that didn’t make the experience any less… exciting, shall we say?

Having only ever really made it to Peace River in one day before (about 300km before Whitecourt), this was what I’d consider a successful first day.

…and then this happened, resulting in a much-less-successful day two. After only three hours of sleep I tried to drive again, but within about 50km knew I was still far too tired, so pulled over for an hour-long nap, which helped immensely (along with the second nap in the afternoon).

Of course, waking up at such an hour did have its benefits!

huehuehue. (Lloydminster is on the border between the two provinces.)

It was almost surreal to see a crop sprayer tractor cruising along at nearly highway speeds (once the congestion cleared up, that is). You expect to see this out in the farm fields (and you do), but seeing it in the city was pretty… odd.

Second close call with a transport truck, happened in Saskatoon. Started merging, but then saw me and ceased their attempt at murder. Too many witnesses, I presume. I feel compelled to mention that, despite two close calls with transport trucks on this trip, I passed hundreds of them without issue (if not thousands), and they are very generally extremely good and courteous drivers.

It really is. It’s almost creepy.

It was windy. I am hilarious.

I am also not very smart.

I don’t like to rag on cities I haven’t lived in, but this place is honestly the most kitsch, fabricated place I’ve driven through in a long time. Every second store sells bait.

Specifically, it stated “No Parking odd calendar days between 9am and 5pm from November 15th to March 31st”. I would presume this has to do with snow removal, but goddamn. That said, since I didn’t park under a street lamp this time, I had a much better sleep. (Although I did use a suitcase full of books as a pillow.)

Sault Ste. Marie was also windy. I am not very good at jokes.

For context, that was 15.5 hours of driving on the fourth day, stopping at only the 6 hour and 12 hour points it was rough. Managed to do it in a day less than my least guess though, so it was worth it!

But anyway, managed around 14L/100km in fuel consumption (which for a 2002 Yukon XL ½-ton isn’t bad), an average speed of nearly 100km/h, and spent $918.04 on gas along the way. Trivia: the most expensive gas was in Thunder Bay. Weird.

This is a weird post.

Beginner PC Builder’s Guide

Writing this as a guide for a first-time PC builder. Usually these guides are just lists of parts to put together, but I’m going to try to make this one more detailed and descriptive. Parts listed here go for about $800 on Newegg.ca. For each of these items, go to the Newegg page and click the Specifications tab; that’s where the specs I’m describing are listed.

Some terms before we get started.

  • A CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the computer’s brain. Faster CPU means faster computer, in general usage.
  • A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the graphics card. Better GPU means better gaming performance.
  • RAM (Random Access Memory) is memory as people know it. The more memory you have, the more you can run at a time without experiencing slowdowns.
  • An SSD (Solid State Drive) is the modern, faster replacement for the hard drives of olde. Still somewhat new, so still somewhat expensive.

In addition, if you’re a person that is knowledgeable in this area and likes to tell people how knowledgeable you are (the term “neckbeard” comes to mind), understand that I tried to make this as simple as possible. This means there are some pretty big oversimplifications and generalizations. You can argue that CAS latency is critical to get the best performance out of your RAM all day, but the fact is that a beginner won’t give a shit. So before yelling at me, remember that.

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: Behind Enemy Lines [2001]

Based on a fictional US Navy F-18 navigator who gets shot down over a supposedly DMZ during what is supposedly the Bosnian conflict of the early ‘90s.

Good enough storyline, somewhat original. Cheesy special effects (it was almost 10 years ago, you know), and too many clichés. Evil Russian sniper anyone?

5.2445/10, for lack of imagination and trying to make me take Owen Wilson seriously.

Originally posted on Facebook on 2 February 2010 at 19:42

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: Starship Troopers [1997]

Sci-fi that “follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit. Rico’s military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as “the Bugs”.“ – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers_(film

Special effects that make some newer films look amateur, this is a surprisingly funny (read: over-the-top and ridiculous) parody of militarism and totalitarianism. Lame storyline and acting, but hey, this is science fiction. Get used to it.

7.56/10

Originally posted on Facebook on 3 February 2010 at 19:48

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: Fight Club [1999]

“Fight Club is a 1999 American film adapted from the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton plays the unnamed protagonist, an “everyman” who is discontented with his white-collar job in American society. He forms a “fight club” with soap salesman Tyler Durden, played by Pitt, and becomes embroiled in a relationship with him and a dissolute woman, Marla Singer, played by Carter.“ – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight_Club_(film)

An intricate (but not overly confusing) storyline, intense (yet believable) acting, and a kickass soundtrack. Oh, and a sick sense of humour throughout the entire thing. No wonder people love this film. Definitely a new addition to my top ten. Messed up and awesome.

9.9999/10, because nobody is perfect.

(As a not related note, is there a single film Edward Norton is in that ISN’T awesome? I mean, seriously…)

Originally posted on Facebook on 4 February 2010 at 20:28

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: (500) Days of Summer [2009]

“(500) Days of Summer is a 2009 romantic-drama-comedy film. It was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, directed by Marc Webb, produced by Mark Waters, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The story is presented in a nonlinear narrative structure and depicts a memory-driven look at a failed romance.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(500)_Days_of_Summer

Not a movie that I would usually like, but I was somehow smiling the whole way through. Then again, that could just be Zooey Deschanel. One of those films that bills itself as “quirky”, this is one of the few that does it relatively well. Not sure that the comedy tag fits this film – although amusing, I’m not sure that I ever actually laughed. Well, except at the impromptu musical number.

8.5/10 – would be 7.5, but Zooey Deschanel’s cuteness gives an extra point.

Originally posted on Facebook on 4 February 2010 at 23:58

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: Top Gun [1986]

“This film stars Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, and Tom Skerritt. Cruise plays Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a young Naval aviator on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. He and his Naval Flight Officer (Radar Intercept Officer – the “RIO” – the “back seater” in the two-man F-14 Tomcat) Lt. j.g. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw are given the chance to train at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, after the pilot above him in the squadron rankings resigns from duty following a very stressful mission. This film depicts Maverick’s progress through the training, his romance with a female instructor, and his overcoming a crisis of confidence following a fatal training accident.“ – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_gun

No idea why this film was so popular. Maybe it’s just the 80s hairstyles, but sitting through the entire length of this film was actually quite excruciating. Not sure if it’s action, romance, or just a blatant US Navy recruiting project.

Originally posted on Facebook on 5 February 2010 at 20:28

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: The Boondock Saints [1999]

“The Boondock Saints is a 1999 crime thriller film written and directed by Troy Duffy. The film stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as Catholic Irish American fraternal twins, Conner and Murphy MacManus, who become vigilantes after killing two members of the Russian Mafia in self-defense. After a “message from God”, the brothers, together with their friend David Della Rocco, set out to rid their home city of Boston, Massachusetts of crime and evil; all the while being pursued by Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe).”

Irish wit. Excessive use of the word “fuck” (in all senses). Bloody violence. And Willem DaFoe dressed as a woman. What’s not to like? Well, not overly great storytelling and a sense that this film has no point is what’s not to like.

6/10. Entertaining, but not stellar.

Originally posted on Facebook on 9 February 2010 at 00:03

Very Short Reviews of Movies Other People Have Already Seen: Constantine [2005]

“Constantine is a 2005 American film based on Vertigo Comics’ Hellblazer comic book, with some plot elements being taken from the “Dangerous Habits” story arc (issues #41–46) and others—such as the inclusion of Papa Midnite—from the Original Sins trade paperback.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_(film)

Keanu Reeves being moody. Shia LeBoeuf being annoying. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

3.9999999999/10 – Only redeeming feature is Peter Stormare’s short part as Lucifer and about 2 amusing lines.

Originally posted on Facebook on 27 February 2010 at 20:20