Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I miss you all too

Natalie took this photo with
our fancy new camera.
Hopefully there'll be more shots
to come on the blog.
Hey all!

It's sad to see DarNat languish so. A quick flip down the page show posts from months ago. And while pictures of great Korean food are fantastic, those shots are from June 2010!

But we do have good reason. As Natalie noted in her last post, 2010 became a bigger year for us than expected. The campaign to elect Mayor Nenshi led us to become way more involved than we already were. Whether it's volunteer or work, we're made ourselves super-busy. Here's just a brief list of our most active files:

- Mayor Nenshi (Daorcey)
- Carshare (Natalie)
- Alberta Party (Natalie)
- The Review Crew (Natalie... and Daorcey helps from time to time)

That means a lot of time spent online writing stuff other than updates on our daily lives. Plus, now that we're both more active on the Facebook and Twitter, we tend to give our personal updates more there.

So, that's all to say: DarNat won't die, but it may languish a bit.

Peace out!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010: DarNat in Review

Since we didn't send out Christmas cards or anything, how about DarNat highlights from the year that was 2010?

Well, we went to CES much to some people's dismay. I don't blame her for saying so after going but it was an experience. If you like gadgets, gambling, and going for deep fried oreos, CES is the place for you.

I also reviewed Mass Effect 2, a game I had been looking forward to since I finished the original. I got to play at CES but also I got to review it.

We celebrated on year of carlessness. Check out the post that details how we feel about it.

If you know anything about us, you know that we love video games. Because of The Review Crew, we headed to LA for E3, a video game conference.

Besides eating good and bad food, we spent four days immersed in video games. We saw so many cool things and picked up some decent swag like a Bethesda hoodie that is the envy of many a gamer we meet. We also got to attend two Microsoft parties that included free alcohol, food, and video games. It was as fun as it sounds.

We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. I have to admit it's a little weird to be married for that long. Daorcey wrote a cute and touching post about it.

We also went to the Calgary Folk Fest like we do every year, but this time I went early for the Saturday tarp run. I lined up early enough that I brought a sleeping bag and slept in a lean-to with Tony. This city may love Stampede, but it's the folk fest for me. A beer, good tunes, friends you haven't seen in a while, and sun make for a much better time. Also, no need to wear a cowboy boots.

I'm putting these two months together because they basically blended together for us. For those two people who don't know, we volunteered for the Nenshi for Mayor campaign. The sharper folks will recall that Daorcey now works for Nenshi. So I think we did our job.

It was a lot of fun getting engaged and spreading the word about Naheed (the mayor and I are on a first name basis. I'm cool like that). I was a door knocker and I estimate conservatively that I knocked on 1,350 doors in 30 hours.

I don't think I can say a bad thing about anyone I met on the campaign. My time volunteering has been a highlight and I'm glad the mayor is turning out. Also, I made a lot of new friends which you don't really do as you leave school.

I joined the Alberta Party and I sit on the constituency association board. Yes, I've gone politics crazy.

But if I learned anything on the Nenshi campaign (other than eye contact is your friend), if you want change to happen you have to go out and do it yourself.

So those are the highlights of 2010. I'm not sure what other exciting things will happen. I know we are heading to E3 again and my high school friend is getting married in a castle in Scotland in May so that will be fun.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Three weeks with a Kindle.

I've had an Amazon Kindle, latest generation, for about three weeks. What is a Kindle, you ask? It's an e-Ink reader which means it mimics paper and ink pretty well. A very cool thing about e-Ink is that the reader only uses power when you turn a page or move the cursor. So when you're reading, no power. That means you can use a Kindle for like three weeks without charging it.

I have to say reading on the Kindle is easy on the eyes. Yes, it takes like half a second for the page to refresh, but if you time it just right you can hit the page turn button when you have two lines left and by the time you're done reading and at the top of the page, the refresh has happened.

It's also light enough to hold in one hand, either sitting or lying down. It's not a shiny or slippery plastic so fingerprints don't show up and it's easy to read on the train while keeping one hand on the pole.

So that's great. You can also buy books through and it's not a bad selection. What does get me is the price for books. There are eBooks priced at $10 when the paperback is $15. Now, why would I pay $10 for an eBook that I can't loan, can't back up (because of the DRM), and can be yanked back by Amazon at any time? So either, they up the features of a book when you pay $10 or somehow discount it. You know what would be awesome? A Netflix for books.

Well, what about the library you ask? Good question. The Calgary Public Library has a sizeable eBook collection and it's available in the popular .epub format. Unfortunately, to read these books on my Kindle, I download the eBook, strip the DRM, convert it into the correct format, and then put it onto my Kindle. This process involves a PC and a Mac, and emailing myself the books. Not ideal, but it's a ready source of free books that I will read once.

You can also leave notes in the text for yourself with the keyboard or bookmarks where you left off.

My only other major complaint is the file directory system. When you plug the Kindle into your computer (and it's not synced to your computer which is nice, unlike iPhones and iPods) the file structure opens and you place your books in the documents folder. Unfortunately, that folder system does not show up on your Kindle. If you want any sort of organization to your Kindle and don't want to scroll through your books, you make collections. Except there is no quick way to add them to collections. You have to physically go to each book and add it to the relevant collection. Lame.

I love my Kindle and would recommend it for those interested in reading books electronically. When I'm reading with it, I feel like I live in the FUTURE. Seriously, I named my Kindle PADD. The e-Ink is great, the form factor comfy, and the selection of books is good. But here's a caveat. If you want to read eBooks from the library, get a reader that handles them. The Kobo, Nook, and Sony eReaders all can. But they do offer a subpar experience. I've seen the Kobo and Sony eReader and I'm glad I went with a Kindle.

Last, you can now gift Kindle books. Hint hint.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

10 years ago...

Amongst the election hubbub in September, I forgot to note an important occasion.

I've known Daorcey for 10 years.

I know, round numbers are a big deal to our brains when it could easily be 12 or 6 that are big deal numbers had we evolved to have just 12 or 6 digits. Anyways, yes, 10 years. And I can tell you exactly the first time I met Daorcey.

It was Sept. 6 on the pages of the Gauntlet sports section in Adobe PageMaker, probably very late. Exact, eh? I think I can even picture where the computer was.

I was laying out this story and I asked Jan, the co-EIC at the time, who was this Day-orcey kid? I mean, his name's all funny and he's from Edmonton. The piece is well written, but he's kinda odd. She explained he had written for the Gateway but was coming to Calgary to do his degree.

If you click on the story, you can see the illustration and this is going to sound really odd. I thought for about two weeks that's what Daorcey looked like.

So that's how I met Daorcey for the first time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

We ate LA: Good Stuff

Umm... so it's been a while since we posted. I blame The Review Crew, but it might also be fair to blame a bit of laziness. Either way, I'm sure you've been wondering about that cliffhanger we dropped on you with the last post: what was that good food they ate in LA?

It's notable that our trip to E3 was filled with either horrific or boring food not worth mentioning. Sad, really. But I guess that's what you get when you spend the vast majority of your time in convention halls. To stave off malnutrition, we were treated to Cliff Bars by the lovely ladies of the media room. Those little bars were nice at first, but even free food becomes less enjoyable as you eat it for more than one meal a day.

But let's get back to the tasties.

Two days sit in my memory as the most flavourful. The first was our only free day as we walked down Melrose Avenue. Our goal was to see Darth Vader helmets, but we ended up doing a rather full day of shopping and walking in the LA heat.

As the hours passed, we realized it was get fed or get cranky time, so we decided to search out some chips and salsa and perhaps a drink. A store clerk recommended a place eight blocks back toward where we came, so we turned around to make our way up the other side of the street.

And that's when we saw the fruit stand.

Well, not really a fruit stand in the "BC Cherries" sense of it. Rather, it was more like a cart with a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies. As we walked past, a couple came up to the cart's owner and asked for a regular bag. And in a flourish of knifery, the owner chopped up a whole bunch of stuff, put it in a bag, added fresh lemon and lime and a few dashes of chili spice.

When you see something like that, how can you not get it yourself. So we ordered the same thing (orange, coconut, watermelon, apple and a few other things I can't seem to recall). It was just the right amount of sweetness, spice and sour. Ridiculously tasty and refreshing.

A "regular" sized bag of fruit.

(Since we've come back to Calgary, we've tried to recreate this masterpiece. We've not been completely successful yet, but a new chili spice was just given to use today. Perhaps this is the detail we've been missing.)

So while we're scarfing down a full bag o' spicy fruit, we look just half a block down the street and see something we've NEVER seen before: a Korean BBQ taco truck.

Intrigued, we move closer to the truck with our bag of fruit. Not only was this truck the home of the never-before-discovered kimchi tacos, but it was also the maker of vegetarian-friendly tofu kimchi taco. I don't care if I have a massive bag of fruit in my hand, this taco is about to be consumed!

And, yes, it was awesome.

It's possible we were getting a little full by now. The fruit and tacos were digesting as we moved further up the street. And then we came upon that Mexican restaurant that was our original destination. Well, maybe we'll just pop in for a quick visit.

An hour later, we'd consumed more than our fair share of some excellent homemade salsas and guacamole. As we nibbled away, we watched the foot traffic travel in front of us on the street. It was a pretty great ending to our mini-marathon of food.

Two days later, we found ourselves with an evening partially free enough to let us go out for a nice dinner. A quick Yelp search from the convention centre turned up Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant. Because of this experience, I will never doubt the value of Yelp as a restaurant recommendation engine.

Sure, our half-hour walk to the restaurant into Little Korea was a bit, um, unsettling as the sun set and the streets became not so busy, but once we found Beverly Soon Tofu, we realized the sketchy trip was worth it. If you ever get a chance to get there yourself, I strongly recommend it.

Since we had no idea what to order, we asked the friend waitress to help us out with my vegetarian needs in mind. The result was a cheap meal that had us filled to the brim with flavourful appetizers (all of our appetizers--which were included in the meal--are in the photo at the top of this post) and main courses including the following:

Tofu "steak"

Tofu Soon

Tofu appetizer


Yeah, that was a pretty tasty trip.