Tag Archives: adventure

Risk Obtuse and Danger Perception

If you’re reading this, you’re in danger.

Look out!  Caution!  Beware!  DANGER! OMG YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!

Overwhelming, isn’t it.   Our minds and our bodies are great at filtering risk and processing danger — if we let it.  Most people raised in a modern urban environment have very little experience  with actual, immediate, personal danger.  They just don’t grok it.

David Ropeik in his HOW RISKY IS IT REALLY? book talks about a ‘Perception Gap’ to try to balance actual risk with what people are afraid of and tries to get to the underlying causes of those fears.  Maybe what is dangerous for you, isn’t dangerous for me and vice versa?

Jeffrey Rosenthal in STRUCK BY LIGHTENING: The Curious World of Probabilities tries to help people get a better grasp on statistics and appeals to the math behind actual risk to see if that will make sense to people.  If you run the numbers, how bad is it really?  Do you know you’re most likely putting yourself in danger daily which far far exceeds any perceived threat you’re worried about?

Richard Louv in LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder devotes Part III of the book to “The Best of Intentions: Why Kids don’t play outside anymore” and gives many examples and descriptions of how parents have meant well, and inadvertently have done much more harm to their children.

Don’t be risk obtuse.  My advice?   Do something you feel is dangerous.  I didn’t say life-threatening, I don’t mean be careless, I want you to think about something you feel is dangerous, think about how you can mitigate the risk, and try it.  ‘Baby steps’ at first, but do some research and try to wrap re-define your baseline for danger.

There is a scene in the 2009 Australian film The Boys are Back that I often use as an example for people.  The movie stars Clive Owen as a widowed father trying to find his way raising his kids.  The scene in particular is when he hosts a kid’s birthday party and installs a high zipline for the kids to swing on and the mothers attending the party are agog.  “But what if he let go?!” one mum exclaims.  “That is why he is holding on so tight” replies Owen’s character.

“Better a broken bone, than a broken spirit” I’ve been fond of saying of late.

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Playing at The Toy Box

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Thanks to Playground Studios and Theatre Passe Muraille for a great afternoon yesterday. The kids were “having too much fun to leave”. It’s running at City Hall Rotunda until Saturday, and then will be back for a few days in December (at Theatre Passe Muraille, not City Hall).   Thanks to Fancy Pants Kids for the recommendation.

An interesting observation I made: we were barefoot (as we have been for months now), but instead of getting strange looks from people, instead many people thought that they too should shed their shoes while playing.  Goes to show you what preconceptions can do.

Selecting a Rugged Point & Shoot Camera for the Family

The family point & shoot stopped working months ago, due to sand getting in the gears.  It started last year when I did a bit of urbanexploring and I jumped in a lot of mud.  Then after a couple of days on the beach it seized up, limiting our photo taking on our holiday.  I cleaned it up a few times, got it working for a while longer with the caveat of not using the zoom but then the kids banged it one day and the lens assemble just wouldn’t retract.  I did take it all apart, got the sand out of the gears, re-seated it etc which got the lens assemble working again, but something I did while having it apart (probably snapping a couple of tiny plastic clips) prevented it from booting up.  Jen decided she missed having regular video & photos of the kids (we had been getting by using her phone occasionally, and sometimes lugging the full DSLR around) so I was tasked with selecting ourselves a ‘waterproof’ camera for our next holiday, but wasn’t looking forward to it since I was expecting bulky bulbous things that I wouldn’t use the rest of the time.

Slick product image of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20 L (L for Blue)First up it seems that ‘waterproof’ cameras are coming into a new class marketed as ‘rugged‘.  That means waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof, crushproof and shockproof but still with some style and not all designed to look like they float.  I’m hoping dust-proof means sand proof too, but we’ll have to see as none of the literature I reviewed is explicit.

For those curious, I selected the Sony Cyber-shot TX20 (DSC-TX20L).  After reviewing a lot of info I realized that it really came down to size for me.  This guy is speced to be 96x56x18mm and only 133g with battery and memory card.  I think they call this a ‘slim’ or ‘pocket’ profile when it comes to camera sizes?  It was only 2mm wider than the old canon and the same weight, and 30% thinner and 40% lighter than the other rugged cams I researched.  I typically only have one bill, one key and 7 cards in my pocket when we’re out of the house so my pockets feel empty.  With the last camera I noticed it there (and it even wore out a pocket in one pair of pants) but it wasn’t a supreme encumbrance.  Plus it was on sale $50 off at *shudder* Futureshop (that sale ended, but it’s still $20 off for the rest of the month) (and for the record there were none of it, or the previous model the TX10, available on Craigslist or Kijijii).

The trade offs from some of the others: in the higher end of the price class, lacked GPS which the others in that price class had, and didn’t have the biggest aperture (f3.5 vs f2.0 from the Olympus TG-1), and it was also the least rugged of the lot (but that mainly means it’s not for scuba diving or the arctic).  I do like the idea of geo-tagging the pics, but I think the battery drain and boot-up delays that feature might cause aren’t worth it yet, and low-light is always a problem and can usually be over-come with using the DSLR since we’d probably be at home in those situations anyway.  Also, there have been problems with Sony’s Video codec and mac compatibility in the past, but they seem to have resolved it recently?

For those looking to continue their own research you might want to start here:

I tried out ShopBot.ca for searching Canadian retailers for the product, here’s an example for the Olympus TG-1.  It lead me to where I’d expect for high-end camera choices in Canada: Vistek and Henry’s (not that these models are high-end, rather consumer grade).

My other contenders were the Olympus TG-1 (they have an entire LifeProof line), the Nikon AW100, and the Lumix models.

And to finish with some fun-stuff: during my research I came across these really cute babies underwater, also this kid has lots of fun with his sony in a pool.  Wonder if we’ll try to get around the City of Toronto’s camera at the pool policy or not?

I look forward to posting more photos on my facebook, and more videos to my youtube channel in the next while.

Review of Zot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991 by Scott McCloud

 Zot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991 Cover ImageZot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991 by Scott McCloud

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read Scott McCloud‘s later treaties on comics and their form & function I snatched up this collection of his earlier superhero comics when I saw it on the shelf at the library.

The book is divided up into two parts: Heroes & Villians, and The Earth Stories. For me, Part Two was far superior to Part One.

As Mr. McCloud would say: “comics are a medium not a genre”; and I think in Part One he was still figuring that out. As these are “The Black and White Collection” we’re missing out on the first 10 or so issues of Zot! and I never really felt like we got the exposition we needed to fill us in. Zot! is a teenage superhero of his Earth. He travels to our Earth and is dating Jenny. They adventure back and forth from the mundane (a good thing!) to the idyllic. For me, I like to know the ins & outs of my superhero. All I knew of Zot!’s (or Zach as he’s called sometimes) was that he could fly (anti-grav gizmos?) and had a stun gun that frequently ran out of shots (later he gets an invisibility device too). Also, nothing of his ‘origins’ until many issues in when we learn his parents were killed (and that’s why he lives with Uncle Max) (insert joke about a hero’s dead parents here).

Once the portal to the other dimension is closed, and we begin Part Two: The Earth Stories, the black & white pages really started to gleam. “Looking for Crime” (#29) was a great bridge as it still featured Zot!, but in this case he was trying really hard to be a crime-fighter and he just couldn’t find any crime to fight in New York City. “Autumn” (#30) opens with a beautiful splash page of Zot! and Jenny landing in her backyard, but that’s about it for the super-heroics in that this is Jenny’s Mom’s feature. Wonderful nostalgia and reminisces on her part help us experience the world as she sees it: a frustrated mother and wife dealing with regrets of her past, and hopes for her future. The next two stories, “Clash of Titans” and “Invincible” are the weakest of the single character stories, in my opinion, but never the less feature real kids dealing with their lives. “Normal” & it’s follow-up were well done, irregardless of the fact that they were one of the earliest depictions of homosexual teens in near-mainstream comics. The nuances he included were palpable. The gimmicky ending has me laugh out loud too. The twisted metaphors of Jenny finally going into Zot’s box I won’t comment on. And, I won’t say anything about the final issue of the run, I’ll leave a little suspense in the collection for you. I will say Mr McCloud that when you complete your next work of fiction you’ll have yourself another reader.