I haven’t written anything in a long time because the theme of this blog no longer suits what I am doing in life. The blog was originally a way for me see Vancouver in a new light. Vancouver is the easiest and most comfortable city to live in, with every type of Asian food, beaches, mountains, and a free bus pass at my finger tips. Brainstorming to “find cool things” in Vancouver was an exercise to see something ordinary from a different angle.
I’m now in Brazil which is the polar opposite of Canada in my mind so I haven’t been able to find anything appropriate for the blog. From now on this blog is “Sara finds cool things…. while having an amazing adventure!” I have been travelling to Rio de Janiero, Paraty, Sao Luis, Ilha Grande, Ubatuba, Sao Paulo, and Florianopolis. Then I bought a map of South America to put up on my wall and circled the places I’ve been to. The area of South America that I had seen was minuscule compared to how large the continent is. So it was time to plan a new adventure!
I’m taking off some time from school (let’s face it, my entire time here is time off school), and taking advantage of a holiday (our Santa Semana) to go to Argentina. According to google maps I will be on the road for 92 hours over the 17 days travelling, but of course theres multiple bus stops, weather, and traffic to take into account. It’s a good thing we are young and able to sleep on anything….plus they feed you dinner on Argentine busses! Anne and I will be seeing penguins, snorkeling with sea lions, kayaking amongst ice glaciers, hiking, going on a wine tour by bicycle, and going up to the highest point on the western hemisphere. Oh we will also be having steak for breakfast, because there are no parents telling us we can’t.
It’s getting hard to sleep at night when my head is full of BBC footage of Patagonia, but I will be there in 4 days, will write to the blog about it and take loads of photo so you can be there with me too!
Growing up, my family enjoyed exploring ski spots all over the world. Everywhere from Zermatt, Switzerland’s classy ski resort with heated chair lifts, to Darbansar, a mountain in rural Iran where you are screwed into a tin can gondola by a bearded fellow. We are fortunate to have such an adventurous father that was willing to open our eyes to the world of snow sports though we were living in a tropical country.
The mountains we visited had many things in common- snow (of course), ski resorts, apres ski, and pie. Though today I am writing about a key difference between the resorts, their culture.
When I think of skiing and snowboarding in Europe, the first thing that comes to mind is this:
Practical clothing sizes, straight back posture, and at least 30 years old. This is a gross stereotype but hey, it’s my blog.
North American snowboard culture is dominated by young, cool, ‘bros’. They have a language of their own that unite them further as a cohort. They shred gnarly pow, totes ride switch when they 180, and are always stoked. They also like to dress like this:
The picture shows two dudes wearing “Thuggie’s”, made by a Vancouver based company inspired by Whistler’s snowboard culture of oversized clothes. Thuggies are so ridiculous, that they are almost really cool? Cool enough that they can go for $80 per thuggie and still be a successful business. Don’t get me started on Japanese snowboard culture, because their fashion is always on another level.
So what happens when you mix North American snowboard culture with the Pacific Northwest lifestyle?
Snowboarding is a expensive sport by nature, and Pacific Northwest lifestyle is stereotyped as granola, laid back, and sleeping in till noon. This is why places like Whistler have successfully attracted Trustafarians- privileged kids who subscribe to the hippie lifestyle.
This weekend I overheard a lot of conversations about the surreal scenery, pow that blew their mind, and being overwhelmingly happy and at peace. Almost as if being at Whistler on opening day was a spiritual experience. My favourite moment was meeting a trustafarian who opted out of splitting a jug of beer and had a Hemp Protein Shake instead.
I’m not saying that everyone at Whistler is a young UBC granola lover, it’s a huge mountain with people from all backgrounds and cultures. Though trustafarians are real, commonly found on the west coast, and are highly compatible with the existing North American snowboard culture of being laid back.
So tell me! Have you met any trustafarians lately? Do you have any further insights into ski and snowboard culture?
1. Explore the world of Thuggies: http://www.thuggies.ca/
2. Check out my brother’s video on our time skiing in Iran: http://youtu.be/waMBt6EnsT8
3. A paper on the the Spirituality of Snowboarding: http://www.lhds.bcu.ac.uk/research/pdfs/Paper%208.pdf
Just by reading the title “Super Mario”, what came to your mind? Probably a small pixellated image of a meatball shaped man in red and blue. Next to come to mind is probably his mustache. Then the theme song complete with do do do’s and inflections here are there. Then maybe a memory of your friend saying “It’s a meeee a Mariooo”. This is all part of brand recognition, Mario’s character being the brand.
No matter how much exposure someone has to Mario (seen someone play it or actually buying a nintendo for the purpose of playing Super Mario Bros all weekend), Mario has a strong image that stays in people’s memories.
So… what’s with the fascination of Super Mario and people bringing to life aspects of the game?
UBC is sprinkled with Super Mario mushrooms. Every steam vent on campus has been given the royal treatment and been dolled up as a mushroom.
This one even has a knitted mushroom outfit on for those cold Canadian winters! And that’s not just it. How many of you saw some sort of Super Mario Bros character this halloween?
Check out Mario and Luigi spinning at The Waldorf! They and maybe 20 others at the party were some sort of Super Mario Bro’s character.
So why the loyalty and fascination for the characters? It’s definitely not the depth of their characters, or the game’s animation, or even the story behind the challenges in the game. Maybe:
1. Super Mario Bros represents a crucial part of our generation’s childhood. The game first came out in 1985 and has been a top selling game since then, meaning high exposure to the game. The simplicity of the game brings us back to a time where games where plastic blocks stuck into a game console, phones had wires in them and stayed where they were installed, and sandwiches arrived in front of you cut into 4 (preferably 4 triangles re-arranged to look like a butterfly). Super Mario let us into a world where we can be heroes, save the princess and defeat the king. People love to hold on to memories of a simple easy life when the imagination was limitless, so they hold a special place in their heart of Super Mario.
2. Maybe Super Mario represents fun and excitement. People who value those tend to also enjoy Super Mario? Dressing up for Halloween is fun. Spray painting steam vents in the middle of the night on a campus that has both a nude beach and a “Forbidden Forest” is exciting. Knitting for a steam vent is probably fun and exciting to SOMEONE out there.
3. Super Mario has a cult following and all those involved are sworn to secrecy, hence me being left out of club and writing this post to figure things out.
So help me out and comment with your theory behind the fascination with Super Mario Bros because it baffles me and I’m out of ideas
Vancouver is ranked as one of the most Bikeable Cities (ranking as the only Canadian city on the North American bikeable cities). There are a zillion benefits to having a bikeable city, but here are some disadvantages:
1. Bikes act like cars when its a green light, and then pretend they are pedestrians at red lights. On the continuum between pedestrian and car rider, Vancouver cyclists choose where on the spectrum they fit based on if they are on a hill, if its raining, if they are in a rush, etc.
2. With so many bikes around, how do you know which one is yours? Well, Vancouverites have found a solution, you need to pimp your ride.
Here are bikes I’ve seen around UBC campus, outside the Student Union Building:
Type 1: Cheap ride-pimping can be done using anything you find at a hardware store… or on the ground
Type 2: The childhood memory
Type 3: The extra wheel
And my all time favourite pimped ride: The rocking chair-bike hybrid
Rocking chair - bike hybrid, being riden by Ephick Wo