My first Uber…

urlI know there are plenty of good taxi drivers but we’ve all had the stereo-typical experience with taxis – waiting forever for a taxi to show up; having a driver who has no idea where your destination is or argues with you about the best route to take; being cheated on a fare.  A couple weeks ago, I was in Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles and decided to try hiring an Uber taxi to get to the airport.

UberPicI had the app on my phone so simply set my pick-up location.  Immediately I could see real time car icons driving around, like this image shows.  I could see my car driving toward me with an estimated pick-up time of two minutes.  I checked the car – a black Prius with the driver’s name, picture and profile.  About two minutes later, he pulled up and off we went.  Prior to getting the pick-up, Uber told me that the trip would be about 16 minutes and estimated the fare to be $13-15.  Sure enough, after a pleasant trip, we arrived at LAX Terminal 2 and I was ready to go.  One nice feature of the Uber app is that Uber acts as the intermediary with the taxi driver.  I just jumped out of the car and my credit card was automatically billed; no worrying about finding change or if the driver had overcharged me.

I think Uber has had some growing pains and it has most definitely caused some conflict with local taxi companies and some city governments (see Toronto, Vancouver).  It will be interesting to see how this leading edge technology pans out over the coming months but my first experience was excellent and I look forward to using it again.

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Miserable Men

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 9.06.04 PMHate shopping?  You’re not alone.  I know I do with the exception of book stores, sports emporiums and CBWs.  Check here to see some pictures of suffering men – you might recognize yourself.  Have a fun weekend!


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California dreamin’

We just spent a week in SoCal, headquartered in Anaheim, maybe 2km from the Magic Kingdom.   It was a family holiday, highlighted by my niece and nephew Charlotte and Oliver, and we had  great times, lots of laughs and some fun bombing around Legoland, Disney, California Adventure and Universal Studios and a ridiculously low-priced NHL game.  The kids seemed to have a wonderful, if perhaps a little overwhelming, time visiting the theme parks.  A few impressions:

  • If you can avoid it, don’t visit the above noted theme parks at Christmas unless you enjoy sharing your personal space with seven other people.  Disney was especially bad – crowded beyond belief.  We even heard a rumour that the gates were closed at one point due to numbers of people inside.
  • Legoland was good but not worth the admission.  I preferred the one in Denmark, although admittedly I visited that twenty years ago so it may have changed significantly.
  • At the risk of making a sweeping generalization, I was very surprised by the overall lack of recycling.
  • Take advantage of the fast pass options at the Disney parks; you can reduce your wait time from interminable to tolerable.  California Adventure had less wait times overall.
  • Definitely visit the California Screamin Roller Coaster – amazing.
  • The house we rented was great for a family and close to I5  and Disney (five minute drive).  Buzz me for info.
  • We had to fly in to LAX due to subsequent itineraries but consider John Wayne as it is closer – LAX was 45 minutes from our house.
  • The CityPass from Costco gave us 5 days admission to various parks and was a bit of a reduced price.
  • Overall, the theme parks were fun (I’d been to Disney a couple times, Legoland in Denmark and Universal in Orlando) but busy.  The days were long (the kids did a magnificent job and I was very impressed with them), crowded and very noisy but for a short visit – very fun.  I was very glad we did LA-Hawaii and not the other way around as it is sure nice to have a quiet getaway after the hustle and bustle.

We had a really fun trip although it was so busy we didn’t actually get much time to socialize with each other!  Days were frenetic and then we were in bed early due to theme-park exhaustion!

Next update – Big Island Hawaii.  Have a great 2014!

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I just watched a video from my buddy this morning and it was about Phonebloks.  This is a really cool idea invented by a guy from the Netherlands, Dave Haaken.   The basic premise is having a phone which is customizable and which allows certain components to be replaced and/or upgraded rather than just throwing the phone out and getting a new one.  The video shows the idea in better detail.  Right now, Dave has a campaign going on Thunderclap to promote the idea of Phonebloks, an idea he isn’t even copyrighting – he just wants some company to make it happen!  Right now he has nearly 500,000 supporters on Thunderclap with an estimated social reach of 186 million!  Share this post if you think the idea is worth spreading!

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Would you like some racism with those chips?

This morning I was thumbing (or rather scrolling) through the multitude of news sources I read each day and came across this youtube clip from ABC News.  I won’t describe it in detail – you can just watch the clip – but I was impressed with the responses of most of the people in the clip.  In a ‘free’ society, I think we all have a duty to protect the rights of the individual, to speak up when we see acts of racism, discrimination and abuse.  Most of the people in this clip do just that.  Have a great day!

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Solar Roadways…

Check out this amazing video from a small company in the U.S.  What a novel idea with so many applications.  Apparently they are in full test mode with a parking lot at the moment and hope to have other projects up and running shortly.  The basic premise is using a new type of solar panel to build roadways (and/or any other area which is exposed to sun and currently made of concrete/asphalt).  There are many applications around the world and I hope this company really succeeds.  Maybe local government will see this and do a test or trial with it.

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend!

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Pet owners – please view and share

Summer is here and with it the heat!  One of my pet peeves is when I see animal owners leave their pets in a car, even if for only a couple minutes.  I confronted one dog owner who was just running in to get some milk at a local shop; “I’ll only be two minutes” he said, perhaps ignorant of the fact that his dog could die in those short two minutes.  I now have some posters printed which I keep in my car and I put them on the windscreen of anyone leave a pet in the car, even if it is shaded and has the windows cracked.  Anyway, I saw the video below on youTube; if you are a pet owner or know someone who owns a pet (hell, just watch it anyway) then take a couple minutes to watch this vet as he spends 30 minutes in a car.

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Space Oddity…from space

The most famous astronaut since the days of Aldrin and Armstrong, Canadian Chris Hadfield, is heading home!  Before he left the ISS, he did a version of David Bowie’s classic, Space Oddity.  If being a spaceman wasn’t cool enough, now he’s a rock star as well!  Enjoy

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You’re not special…

I was surfing around the other night and through the miracle of random clicks on youtube, somehow stumbled upon this video of the commencement ceremony at a high end school in the U.S.  I really liked how this teacher formulated his speech.  Take a few minutes and see if you agree or disagree with me!

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When we were on Zanzibar, we were fortunate to stay at the Kichanga Lodge on the East Coast of the Island.  We had a great three days and enjoyed meeting the owner of the lodge, Nigel Firman.  Through some discussion with him, we learned about the Kichanga Foundation, a group he created to help the school-children of the east coast by bringing clean water, computers and educational opportunities to them.

Nigel and I talked a little about where he wanted to go with the foundation and the plans were exciting.  For more information and some photos of the children, please click here.

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