Day 22 of ? – It’s Been a While

23 Mar

Yes, it’s been a while. A while since I’ve published an official movie review here on DieHardThree.com!

In fact, it’s been so long I can’t remember if I’ve ever actually written one. This is my 368th post and while most of them are unforgettable, many are just a blur. I’ve dabbled in politics, discussed the afterlife and debunked the existence of ghosts, written a poem, purchased a toilet, sold a freezer, visited Berlin, accidentally destroyed a friend’s bathroom (sorry Eva!), and I once wrote a take that was so scorching Ronald Reagan complained about the heat.* And with such a variety of topics on a blog that is explicitly named after one of the greatest movies of all time,** I feel a garden variety film review would not be out of place.

So with all that in mind, here are my thoughts on Pacific Rim 2: The Up Rising (2018). There won’t be any spoilers but this review will take you to the darkest recesses of your soul where you will be forced to question your most basic understanding of modern Hollywood filmmaking. Or you can just skim it over and go back to Facebook. Either way it’s all good – we here on DH3 don’t judge (except when we do).

So let’s begin…

I’m loathing to write this, but I have to include some kind of description of the movie’s predecessor for any of what I’m about to write to make any kind of sense. Yes, it’s really that stupid.

In the first one, the Earth is attacked by giant monsters emerging from a spacetime rift at the bottom of the ocean. The humans band together with our best and brightest minds deciding to solve this problem by building giant fighting robots to punch the monsters to death (why we didn’t just modify our existing weapons was not explained.) And then there…. there… there are… are the two subplots.

One involves (and I’m not making this up) the construction of a giant wall around the entire Pacific ocean to keep the beasts out. The other is…  one sec…

I’m back. Wait I have to go again… one sec….

The other is about how the giant robots are so big they need two pilots to operate. And I don’t just mean like Goose and Maverick or Luke and Dax I mean like the two pilots need to have their minds joined together because these machines are so… heavy? It doesn’t… It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I warned you it would get dark. And we’re not even at the review yet (which starts now).

So in the new one, there’s this one scene where they have to go and investigate a signal and instead of just sending a helicopter or tasking a satellite or something, our two heroes jump into their trusty giant human-shaped robot fighting machine and walk from HONG KONG to try and figure out what’s going on… in SIBERIA. And when they get there they just do a scan of some old factory. They didn’t need their giant robot at all – the only reason it was there was because the next (pointless) battle would have been over real quick without it.

And then there was this other part where I had my MacBook open and I was loudly typing away on iMessage with Nick and I remarked “as terrible as this film is, on the plus side there are no progress bars!” and as soon as I hit enter, one of the characters yelled out

Twenty kilometres to impact!

And this got me thinking – is something like “distance to impact” a type of progress bar?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the “progress bar” (or PB for short), is a filmmaking device that has been ruining movies for about the last 25 years. It attempts to inject some tension into the story by visually representing some fixed duration event that the hero either wants to ensure or prevent the completion thereof.  If you want to experience a progress bar ruining a movie in its purest, most uncut form you have to go watch the opening ten minutes of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). It’s epic.

So while I’m about 90% sure that “distance to impact” is technically not a progress bar, I’m 100% positive it was NOT helpful information for the people on the other end of the radio (nor the audience for that matter). For the distance to be of any value you have to know how fast you’re travelling. So the guy in the robot is going to have to go, “Hmmmm. I’m traveling at 120 km/h, 20 km (divide the distance by two) I’ll be there in ten minutes.” It would have been way easier to just give the time to impact. All this math probably distracted him from the battle.

Anyway, it’s this absence of a progress bar that prevents Pacific Rim 2 from being a completely awful movie. The filmmakers seem to have been aware of this fact so we should give them a tiny bit of credit.

And that’s all I have the brain capacity for right now. Usually when I’m writing something like this I like to have three examples for whatever the topic is – I feel it makes for more compelling reading. It’s a variant of what they tried to teach us in school – intro, idea 1, idea 2, idea 3, conclusion. But this movie was so stupid I feel my brain getting damaged when trying to come up with a third thing to write about. So I’m not going to.

In conclusion, the end.

*I know Reagan is long dead – he received this burn in the afterlife. Yes, that’s how hot my take was. You should go read it.

**A debatable point yes, but I would wager that the cab/subway chase in DH3 was so well executed, that this scene alone makes Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) better than 99.9% of all the the other films out there. Show me a better scene people. Doesn’t exist.

Pacific Rims Pu Risin

Day 21 of ? – The Local News

21 Mar

One of the more interesting aspects of modern-day overseas travel is how internet-based geolocation services determine what shows up in your newsfeed. I visited the Google News website this morning and unlike the app (which “knows” my “home” is Ottawa) it was filled with articles about Australia.

Now the default online media that’s presented to the masses these days is pretty much just a garbage dump of clickbait and softcore pornography engineered to sell ads, so it’s important to not be passive – take some time to set up a reliable newsfeed that is tailored specifically to your perversions and biases.

But what I find fascinating here is the differences in the headlines between two similar media environments (Oz and Can). The reporting is essentially the same but it’s also totally different. Take this one for example:

Mum of Four Charged with Murder

I have to admit I totally clicked through and I’m glad I did. First up it looks like the headline was written for the print edition. Did the editor’s choice of the word “mum” instead of “mother” save on printing costs? In addition to appearing very strange to my Canadian eyes, the cost of three more letters for the digital edition is effectively zero dollars. I know that margins are thin these days, but goddamn.

All that aside, what shocked me even more about the article was what they left OUT of the headline. Get this: the “mum” in question allegedly

– shot some dude with a GUN
– THREE times
– in the BACK
– EXECUTION-style
– in PUBLIC
– in BROAD DAYLIGHT
– in front of a bunch of WITNESSES

And she was PREGNANT at the time.

So much word candy to choose from. The editor assigned to this beat must have more restraint than, I don’t know, Superman? Who is known for their restraint? Not Batman. Anyway that’s unimportant. But what is important is that while my journalistic training has been mostly informal and self-taught, I feel one could write an entire academic paper based on this headline alone.

Moving along, let’s see how things are doing down in Melbourne.

Seven Charged After Bikie Taskforce Raids Across Melbourne

This one I specifically did NOT click on and it should be obvious why. The whole thing is a goldmine of mystery and ambiguity that would be ruined if the reader were to find out what is actually being reported. My understanding is that a bikie is what an Australian child calls his bicycle (like a blanket is a blankie) so logically a bunch of children raided some sort of “taskforce” all over the city and arrested seven people (the other possibility being the headline was written by a child).

Either way I’m pretty sure that back home it would have been a lot more clear. And I’ve only been to Melbourne once – I really should go back. It sounds like a helluva city.

And finally there seems to be this thing over here where the editors use quotation marks to entice the reader to click on the article. I think we have this one in Canada too, but check this out:

Police Restrain ‘Wild Man’ After Power Pole Mayhem

From what I can tell, this “quotation mark” technique (see what I did there) is used when nothing really interesting happened and the editor still wants to promote an air of mystery and intrigue. “So many questions. Who is this “wild man”? Did he grow up feral like that kid from Mad Max? Was he raised by dingos? Did his dingo parents provide a loving, stable two-dingo environment? Who knows the answers?”

So who does know? I can’t say for sure, but I do know it’s not me – because there’s no way I’m clicking through to find out. That headline totally smells like it’s sitting atop an article commissioned by Rupert Murdoch. And seriously, that guy is a giant turd.

Anyway, this “Power Pole Mayhem” “story” is probably at its base, just another sad, unfortunate (most likely preventable) case of mental illness. I don’t even have to read it to know that this part of the story will of course get left to the end of the article (that no one reads to) or get left out all together. Because the real story here is how our society has failed our most vulnerable by leaving them to fend for themselves. And a headline like this:

Incident highlights societal abandonment of Australia/Canada’s most vulnerable

would be uncomfortable for the reader as it would force them to examine their role in how their society treats the marginalized. And uncomfortable = no clicks = no money. Just like pigs need food, engines need coolant, and dynamiters need dynamite, capitalist media needs capital. It’s just completely unclear to me how this system can sustain itself. And this problem is everywhere, not just Down Under.

Whoa. Man, that got real serious there at the end – sorry about that! Oh, and I should probably be clear: I’m not being metaphorical when I claim the newsmedia produced by the Rupert Murdoch empire smells like turds to me. I read his stuff and I literally smell what can only be described as real, live, steaming turds. It’s called synesthesia. It’s an actual thing. Rupert Murdoch is a turd. You should look it up.

reporting

Day 19 of Who Knows

20 Mar

So we (Ross) tested the radio today and we’ve isolated the issue. Turns out some part of the radio is not working so we have to ship it down to Melbourne to have it repaired. That’s one day down, one day for the dude to look at it, and then one day to ship it back – figure three or four days.

In parallel to this radio thing we’re going look at fixing the batteries. I’ve been trying to figure out which of these two issues is going to be the most challenging to address and the best I can come up with is that it’s a tie.

The radio is out of our hands for a few days – but we can buy a solution (two grand for a new SSB or we could rent a satellite phone for a few hundred dollarydoos)

The battery situation is this: we need to buy some new batteries. Problem is they’re stupid expensive down here and they are needed for only this passage. The original plan was to replace them in a couple years (when the price will be lower) before the next round of passage sailing.

That’s it for now. More sailing stuff tomorrow.

Jason out

Stormy

Was really Stormy today. 

Day 18 of ? – More Boring Boating Stuff

19 Mar

(you don’t have to click on this one)

So here is where we’re at with respect to the passage. There are four main parts:

1. The Radio – not yet operational.

The VSWR meter arrived on Friday but without the correct cables. Ross called the guy back and he shipped them right away so they should be here some time today. The weather is supposed to be crap for the next three days so this will give us an opportunity to get the stupid radio up and running.

radio

I shouldn’t say the radio is stupid, he’s just misunderstood.

2. The Batteries – need to be replaced.

Long story short, the batteries are reaching their end of life and they are behaving too unpredictably for us to rely on them for passage. Charging them with the engines remains a good contingency plan but the way things are right now the contingency is the primary and that’s not something you want when you’re in the middle of the Tasman Sea.

You should really open up a globe and see how middle-of-nowhere we’re going to be on this passage. The 2D maps don’t do it justice – you have to go spherical.

3. The Food – needs to be purchased.

All the sustenance we need to survive is sitting right there on the shelves of the local food jobber. All we need is money and a few strong backs to help move our provisions from store to shore to boat.

4. The Weather – who knows.

We still need to wait for a proper weather window. The good people over at windy.com have a neat little service where you can see the wind forecast for up to nine days into the future. Just hit the play button at the bottom of the page and you can see all the colourful little arrows dance across the map. I still don’t know what they all mean, but they are nice to look at.

So how does all this affect our departure date? Well I’m not basing this on anything other than living on a boat for three weeks, but I imagine that we’ll be in a good position to start looking at the weather window by around Saturday the 24th.

Day 17 of ? – When Animals Attack!

18 Mar

(I don’t usually say this, but you should probably click through this time)

Since I’ve been in Australia I’ve gone on two separate mini-trips to play with puppies and do laundry visit with friends. One of the best things about knowing a local in a strange land is they are well positioned to tell you how their country is most likely to kill you. As I mentioned before, Australians are terrible at evaluating non-Aussie dangers but I have to admit they are quite adept at surviving in their own country.

So as a thanks to all the givers (and a notice for all the takers), here are some of the people and things on this trip that have kept me alive as well as some others who have tried to do the opposite.

Fern (life saver)

20120608_172256

After three terrifying weeks walking the streets of NSW and the ACT my good friend who works in a HOSPITAL informed me that in Australia cars have the right-of-way. Was it wrong and racist of me to assume every single Aussie motor-vehicle was a complete asshole? The answer, might surprise you.

cars

Yes. The answer is yes. Very racist. And very wrong.

But this country does make a lot more sense now that I have this important piece of information. And it’s definitely easier to get around.

Beach Creatures (life takers)

So here I am at the beach standing in the water minding my own business when all of a sudden I’m descended upon by two massive beach creatures! I somehow managed to survive the attack and upload the footage. Take a look.

 

My New Best Friend (heart breaker)

Mars

Fern’s dog is named Mars and I love her so much. She has more energy than all the other dogs on the beach and she’s super fast! Just beautiful.

 

The Sun (life taker)

Since the beginning of time, man has blah blah blah. But seriously the sun down here will kill you. It’s why I don’t go anywhere without my trusty patented sunhat.

Free Hat

Sunscreen vendors hate me!

Adelaide International Airport (life taker)

Boarding my flight back to Sydney, the plane was configured for ramp access at the front and stairs access (via the tarmac) at the back. I was one of the last people to board and I was walking down the ramp and I followed two other passengers whom I assumed were also seated at the back of the plane. Anyway when we got to the bottom of the stairs the doors were all locked and it took about five minutes for the authorities to come get us because of course the doors at the top of the stairs locked shut behind us.

Ramp

We were the last passengers to board.

So there you have it – all the things that have either killed or saved me so far on this trip. I expect I’ll have to modify the list after our passage to New Zealand – who knows what the open water has in store!

Day 16 of ? – Australia: So Close to Achieving Humane Air Travel

17 Mar

The main problem with modern air travel is that there are too many people alive who remember what flying used to be like and these people end up gumming up the whole system for everyone else when they invariably find themselves protesting some stupid security practice that is stupid. Because of this it’s going to be a few more decades before the people in charge will finally be able to celebrate the complete subjugation of all airline passengers – this will happen only when the old have forgotten (and the young will have never known) what things used to be like.

So on Thursday I was quite surprised when I took a domestic flight to Adelaide to visit with my all-time most botanically-named friend and I discovered that Australia seems to have rolled back (or possibly never implemented) some of the more useless post-nine-eleven performances of airport security theatre.

No Papers

Initially I thought someone messed up when I passed through the passenger screening at the Sydney domestic airport terminal when no one asked to see my ID or even my boarding card. Then when it was time to board the plane I was able to do so by simply presenting a digital copy of my boarding card. Ok, so that was cool, I thought – it’s possible to resell your ticket if you have to cancel your travel. Nice.

Not a Passanger

When I landed in Adelaide I was greeted by my friend at the gate and I was instantly confused as to how a non-passenger could have gained access to the forbidden zone. She explained that you don’t need a boarding card to get through security and literally anyone can go to the gate.

Speedy

I also found it didn’t take very long to get through security. Not having to show ID definitely sped things up, and it doesn’t appear that the additional burden of screening non-passengers slowed things down any. [Note the uselessly small sample set]

It Wasn’t all Positive

On my way home at the security check they confiscated my Finland baby-box scissors (you know the ones with the orange handle). This upset me because they were a special gift and they’d already been deemed acceptable for carry-on at the airport in Sydney on the way over.

So this is the state of modern air travel and I have to say it was encouraging to see some common sense security practices in place over here. I’m not holding my breath that my home hemisphere will implement any of these changes ever, but it was nice to be treated like a suspect for one brief instance on my Adelaide trip.

111.jp

My flight landing at the gate in Adelaide. Photo Credit FP

As I was writing this post I couldn’t help but think of the old “papers please” joke people make when poking fun at countries (USSR, Olde-timey Germany) that did not have freedom of mobility and how right now we are living in the future where progressive countries seem to be implementing (without a lot of pushback) policies (like this ID thing) that would have abhorred younger versions of their citizenry.

Borodin: I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck… maybe even a “recreational vehicle.” And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Ramius: I suppose.
Borodin: No papers?
Ramius: No papers, state to state.
Borodin: Well then, in winter I will live in… Arizona. Actually, I think I will need two wives.
Ramius: Oh, at least.

Day 15 of ? – Run like the Wind

16 Mar

Good morning everyone. I hope you’re all doing well on this fine day. Yesterday I posted about the radio and the batteries so today I’d like to write about the other sailing challenge – the winds. And while I’m still becoming learned in the sailing arts, I feel I have a good enough understanding of how everything works to take a stab at explaining this oft-neglected but important subject.

Like the most exciting games in the sporting world, the best winds are the ones that come from behind. There’s nothing complicated about this – it’s the sailing equivalent of “food goes in here”. Wind blows in the desired direction of the boat, the boat goes in that direction.

Next up you have the perpendicular winds. These are like the overtime wins of the sailing world – sure you get three points but your opponent still gets two. Perpendicular winds can move the boat in the correct direction but it’s a less efficient use of the wind.

The third type is called the headwind – they come straight at you. These are the worst ones – a playoff loss, if you will. By all scientific logic if you’re experiencing a headwind you should end up going backwards, but I’m told by a reliable source that this is not always the case.

The final type is no wind at all – a straight up tie. In the unlikely event of a perfectly calm sea one can simply turn on the engines and motor until the wind picks up.

Now what does all this mean for recreational sailing vessel One White Tree and her intrepid band of sailing people? Well, I’m going to reveal to you now the one weird trick of sailing between Australia and New Zealand (the one the fat cats in Canberra don’t want you to know about!)

Start in New Zealand

You see the prevailing winds in this part of the world go from east to west and this makes sailing in the other direction (from Sydney to Auckland for example) much more challenging. But not to worry. I’ve been reviewing the wind forecasts and it looks like we should get enough of the perpendicular winds to make it across without any problems.

Or so it seems…

Stay tuned for more technical updates and weather reports – only on http://www.diehardthree.com!

Boat View

OWT port bow and jib sail in national park.

Day 14 of ? – Travel Boat Update

14 Mar

So as of today I’ve been here two weeks and I feel it’s time to update everyone on the status of the Great New Zealand Boat Crossing of 2018. As it stands right now we have most of the necessary work completed. Fridge and freezer are good to go. The rigging is at the correct tension. Sacrificial anodes are verified (almost 100%). Engines are mostly fully operable. Zipper on the sail pack has been replaced. Hull cleared of barnacles.

The two main things we still need to do are:

1. Get the SSB radio working or find a different method for receiving weather updates.

When you’re out on the boat it’s important to know the weather forecast – it’s what prevents sailors from dying and keeps them alive. So this is a must-have. We’re getting a VSWR meter and test load today so I imagine the radio will be up and running by the weekend.

2. Verify the batteries are in a suitable condition for the trans-New Zealand passage.

Right now the batteries need to be recharged daily by the solar panels. While we’re in port and the sun is shining, there are no problems with power (lights, personal electronics, fridge, freezer, microwave, water pump). The oven and cooktop are both gas powered and we only run the watermaker when there’s an energy surplus (a very sunny day) – if we’re conservative with our water consumption we can get away with running it about once every five days (two or three times for the Aus-NZ passage).

So while we’re in port if we have a couple of consecutive cloudy days we’re ok – we have to cut back but we can recover by the next sunny day.

The problem is that when we’re on passage we need to run a bunch of additional electronics that eat into our power budget – the (non-inflatable) autopilot, chartplotter, SSB radio, the VHF radio, navigation lights, wind / speed / depth indicators. In addition, we have reduced control over the position of our sails (which can block the solar panels) – something we don’t have to worry about when we’re moored (the sails aren’t even up).

We can also charge the batteries by running the engines but this can be problematic depending on the sailing conditions.

In addition to the batteries and SSB radio we still have to procure provisions – fuel and food mostly. I need to get some more (paper) books because I have feeling that personal device charging will be a low priority on this journey. And right now my copy of Dune is an electronic one. And there will be no Internet.

Boat for batteris post

 

Day 13 of ? – This Things I Believe

14 Mar

Have you ever found yourself surprised to discover something you believed to be true was not? This happens to me so often I’ve started taking notes. I will list three examples for you now:

1. Canadian newspaper reporters don’t get to write their own headlines. It was when I was in the UK last year I discovered this crazy piece of information. Reporters spend all their time and money arranging the words of their article just perfectly but they have no control over the only part that anyone reads (most people don’t make it past the headline). [Full disclosure: one hundred percent of the headlines of the articles you don’t read on http://www.diehardthree.com are written by yours’ truly]

2. The word “prohibit” means “illegal.” Crazy, I know. If you’re “pro” something, it means you’re for it. I have no idea how this word came to be, but it’s confused me for the longest time and my explanation for this confusion was dismissed as invalid almost instantly by the presiding judge.

3. Star Trek is Space Communism. This is the one I found to be the most perplexing. I’ve been watching this show for a long time and its economics went right past me. I think one of the reasons I never noticed is that many of the people I know who love Star Trek also love capitalism (or hate communism – not sure if this is the same thing, but you get the idea).

So how is Star Trek Communism in Space? Well for starters

  1. It takes place in space.
  2. There’s no money. And not like in the “cashless sense” that is heavily promoted by the Apple Corporation, but more in like the you-don’t-ever-have-to-pay-for-stuff sense (a practice that is actively discouraged by the Apple Corporation).
  3. If you look closely, the characters on the show get to do the things they like – Guinan tends bar, Geordie optimizes the ship’s engines, etc. This is the opposite of the capitalist system where most people do something they don’t particularly enjoy during the day in order to free up their evenings so they can play a few games of Ticket to Ride before sleep.
  4. And finally, Star Trek has this race of beings called the Ferengi who are basically avatars of the capitalist class. “A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.” – Rule of Acquisition #18. These guys are the villains.

So there you have three things that I had wrong all these years. I have a bunch more and maybe I’ll write about them one day, but for now I’m going to sit back and enjoy the lovely weather in capitalist Australia where the minimum wage is $18.50 CDN* / hr (for full time work) and around $30 CDN / hr for part time casual.

Come to think of it, the more I learn about the economics of this country, the more I feel I should dedicate some words to the subject. Stay tuned!

Capitalist Oztralia

Sydney at dusk

*the actual currency is in AUD.

Day 12 of ? – I believe it was a boking accident.

13 Mar

So I think it’s time I showed you guys what the boat looks like. In one of my previous posts I used some words to describe One White Tree but I don’t think I’ve included any photos. Words are good for some things but most times people are lazy (I know I am) and just want to look at the pictures (like I do).

Boat View

The view from the bort bow.

Boat Far

One White Tree from afar

Boat Bottom

The underside or “bottom” of the boat – this is probably the single most important part of any sea-going vessel – if you have no bottom, there can be no boat.

Boat Side

The sides of the boat are almost as important as the bottom. The sides are actually what makes a boat a boat (a sideless boat is called a raft)

Boat Keel

The keel is an essential part of any boat – helps with stability.

Anchor

One White Tree’s anchor, while beautiful, would not make a very nice tattoo.

Boat Front

Here’s another picture but from the front – note the expertly cleaned hull – barnicle free!

Boat

This should give you an idea of the mass of OWT. She’s pretty big.

So there you have it. The lower outside of recreational sailing vessel One White Tree. I’ll write another time about the upper outside, the lower inside, and then finally, the toilets.

So stay tuned to http://www.diehardthree.com for more exciting boating action!