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How About That Weather, eh?

Andrew

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January 22nd, 2013

Let me state the obvious: it’s cold outside. Really cold.

I think it’s impacting us a little more this year because it’s been over 600 days since it was last this freaking cold. It’s that cold period where it doesn’t matter how long you idle your vehicle, you’ll still be taking a 15-minute zip across town in an igloo (with a fan blowing cold air in your face the whole time, too).

I spent the last half of my teens and early part of my 20s growing up in Dacotah. We had horses, so we had to pay close attention to the weather to make sure the horses had blankets on or if they had to come inside for the day depending on how cold it was. I still check the weather quite regularly throughout the day, even got a bit heckling for it at my last job, like when I’d exclaim “THUNDERSTORM WARNING!”.  This weather is near where they cancel the school bus because they can barely get the school bus started and the kids could freeze to death if it broke down. No such luck waiting for the transit bus, though.

This is the period where my poor little boiler is working around the clock to keep it just bearable in here. It doesn’t get to take a break because it’s struggling to maintain a modest temperature. Hands and feet remain cold, too, so there’s no use cuddling. I used to protest my parents making me wear things like ski-pants and long johns because it wasn’t ‘cool’. Now I’m all for the idea. I’m even going to double or even triple up on the long johns.

Well, I really don’t know why I wanted to talk about the cold, because all it’s doing is making me feel colder. On the plus side, this says there’s only 56 days until Spring. That’s the one thing I can like about winter: it ends.

Dacotah Drive-In Film Festival – Call For Submissions

Andrew

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January 15th, 2013

Want to get an audience for your original content? We’re looking to fill our 20-foot wide screen with homegrown talent at our first annual film fest tentatively scheduled for June 22, 2013.

You can be one of the stars twinkling that night when you debut your feature to our loyal audience of film buffs. Between the features, you’ll have a chance to interact with the audience, and you may even be crowned the film fest winner of 2013.

The drive-in is located 15 minutes west of the Perimeter Highway just off the TransCanada Highway. We feature Dolby Digital surround sound broadcast to vehicles by FM radio, and we have delicious onion rings, homemade fries, butter boiled popcorn, and hot dogs at our concession stand.

If you have any original content, such as a short film or a music slideshow, we want to see it. We’d love multiple submissions, too. Give me a shout at [email protected] if you’re interested before March 1, 2013.

The Death of Two Fisted Fridays

Andrew

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January 3rd, 2013

As part of our alcohol standards assignment in Advertising 1 last semester, I chose to advertise Two Fisted Fridays at Gio’s Club & Bar. The assignment was to advertise a venue that makes most of its profit from alcohol sales while adhering to the laws set by the provincial and federal governments. I decided to draw people in for the club’s deal and address the requirement of individuals only consuming one beverage per ad as mandated by the province by having two friends share the deal. One guy, which I voiced in a Media Production radio class, was an over-the-top flamboyant queen and the other guy, voiced by the lovely Kris Shaw, was more of a butch guy.

Now, our impression was we were familiarizing ourselves with Pro Tools and only our instructor would listen to them to verify we didn’t waste the work period. Low and behold that fateful radio class the following week, our instructor played back the ads we had been working on. I was never able to live down that role but I do enjoy that the ad was effective and memorable.

So, I always enjoyed evenings with a wide range of friends at the club, particularly on the patio in the summer months. It had fallen on hard times in recent years with the proliferation of “super clubs” with fake niches. To stem the losses, phenomenal drink specials were introduced, to the tune of $20 getting you a total of eight drinks. Thus, Two Fisted Fridays: 2 drinks, $5. I think this was increased to $6.

This past Monday, the club announced it is shutting down on February 16, 2013, but promises it has enlisted a real estate agent to help find a new location. I have my doubts that they will in fact return, but I’m trying to stay positive.

Please, if you can spare any change or volunteer time for the club in its quest to return to form, do it. Take in a happy hour drink special after work, like their Facebook page, or dance with both of your fists full (there’s been no cover the last several times I’ve been there) on a Friday night, but I can’t let the section 3 tradition go on when the thing that started it all will be gone, perhaps permanently, in a matter of months.

Semester 1: Survived

Andrew

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December 7th, 2012

sec3

I’m sitting in one of my last classes of the first quarter of CreComm. Baked goodies, cards, and candy canes are being shared across the room and I’m feeling really sad. All of us in section three have grown so close. It’s like our little tiny family is being ripped apart.

You all made the first semester amazing. We all have our own quirks, but we worked together so well. I hope there’s some way we can keep the gang together through get-togethers outside of school.

Best of luck to all of you for the rest of CreComm. I hope many of our paths cross again throughout the future.

I raise my fists to all of you for one last genuine Two Fisted Friday!

A desperate plea to Winnipeg Transit: replace the optical door sensors

Andrew

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November 29th, 2012

This week I’ve been giddy to check Navigo, because it seems that instead of offering a completely random bus route and transfer every single morning, it is now optimizing the route suggestion.

See, I live by Grant Park. The trusted 65 used to travel in front of the mall, right to the outside of Red River College on Princess. The transition to rapid transit saw the 65 be re-routed through the Osborne and Harkness stations, then up Main instead of over the Donald Street bridge, and finally up Graham, where it turns around by the Bay.

Basically, this left me with the option of either taking the 18 Corydon with its 50 billion stops from Waverly to the concert hall, or the 66 which stops 25 billion times and leaves me at Graham waiting for a 33, 35, 44, 45, 18 (for the rest of the way), 16, or some other numbers I can’t keep track of.

That was my big beef. So now, as of this past Monday, Navigo has been suggesting I ride the 65 or 66 with a transfer to the 99, which stops outside the college. WINNING! I definitely tweeted Winnipeg Transit a few times and never got tweeted back, but it seems the pleas didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Now, after much hassle and being groped by Winnipeggers, I would like to desperately plea for one more resolution: replace the back door sensors. I know how to use the damn things and usually I can get them to work. When they don’t work, I get all sorts of other rider’s hands touching me all over as they offer their unrequested assistance to open the door. Seriously, don’t touch me.

For those that say “they’re easy, you have to push on the door to make it work,” it doesn’t work, and the strip doesn’t say PUSH, it says touch. That means make contact with it, not me. It’s an optical sensor, it is not like those strips that have an actual wire through them that you actually push.

For those that say “it’s not true you have to remove your mitts for it to work”, this is Winnipeg and we wear mitts eight months of the year or six if you want to argue with me.

Overall though, you’d have to persuade me to see any advantage to this technology in its current form: an unreliable technology worsened by its user interface. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t solve a problem, it creates more. Think of someone who never rides the bus, being trapped there as the bus pulls off, with no idea that you would yell “back door!” for a little bit more time. Worst yet, think of a tourist experiencing this in our city.

Transit, please do something about this. Heck, even go back to the fin/flipper mechanism- ANYTHING. Maybe add ‘clean the sensors’ to the driver’s cleaning responsibilities. Don’t make my commute home, which is already graced with either crotch or butt in my face (when I actually manage to get a seat) or face in my face as my body is being crushed by other bodies when I have to stand (four out of five days a week), any worse! Just realize there’s an issue here. You won’t find a person in bus culture that likes them.

You’re supposed to be adding new payment terminals or machines inside buses over the next year or so. It’s the perfect time to re-visit the other technology that you employ.

Personal branding and a new website, too

Andrew

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November 23rd, 2012

Among all the projects I’m juggling in my head right now, the Ad project to create a personal brand is one I’m fairly excited about. It’s a project that can be put into use almost immediately in that I need a site to show off my current websites. I’ve also been putting off getting business cards for too long, mostly because I could never settle on a look or especially a typeface for my logo.

The project prompted me last night to reformat this skeleton site I had sitting around with the colour palette and typeface/logo I designed yesterday. I also wrote all of the copy last night before I put it up. Check out Andy Mac Design and let me know what you think in the comments.

I used a blue close to my exact favourite colour but darkened it a couple shades. The sunny yellow colour is cheerful and represents morning, for my initials: A.M. The off-white background adds a subtle mute to the design. All in all it has a playful but professional feel.

This is the first true portfolio site I’ve built and mixes fresh, bright colours with large photos and a format similar to a resume. A big part of what sold me on the look was the typeface that Andrew McCrea is spelt out in. It feels personal, almost like a signature because you can feel how the lines flow, yet it still seems clean.

The site structure is very basic. I kept everything in two columns using the golden ratio and tried to make the pictures the main feature. I’d still like to find a way to only display the text if someone wants to read more, as the original look I envisioned was more of a newspaper design. I’m going to work on shaping the tone in the copy a bit more and I’m going to keep the content fresh and candid.

Let me know what you think in the comments. First impressions would be awesome. I’d also love to hear the type of personality you’re working on for your brand.

More homeowner woes

Andrew

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November 16th, 2012

“These things come in threes,” they say. This latest cycle for me has just come full circle and this weekend will be met with a few more repairs before the last three crazy weeks of semester one deliver their wallop.

So, the nice new hot water tank is installed and I’ve only managed to take one long scalding hot shower that emptied the tank (it was before an 8am class and at that point we hadn’t turned the heat on yet).

We have another plumbing issue: roots have grown in to our sewer pipe heading to the street, so we’ll have to operate an electric snake to chop the roots. Apparently, the snake is quite dangerous as it has a claw on the end and whips around violently, so I’m looking forward to helping with that (I’ll try to get some video).

Our other issue is our brand new (well, 2 year old) Whirlpool refrigerator is not staying cold. The freezer is super cold and a Google reveals many people with the same issue on the Canadian model. I don’t know if they stereotyped us and said “well, it’s pretty cold up there,” but the part is $15.90 plus whatever the labour will be. I’m crying about the beer money that has to be re-budgeted, but warm beer wouldn’t do anyways.

Oh well, the cycle is complete. Next purchase is either a nice stove, a hot tub, a couch, or a dishwasher. Well, I can dream.

 

 

Watch out for that shifty Dodge Pinto…

Andrew

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November 6th, 2012

So, this past weekend I had another bizarre dream, this time, I was in a world that looked like cross-process photography. There was a gang driving around in a mint-coloured Dodge Pinto (don’t ask). There were five people, all wearing Emo Girl-style masks. There was an old lady standing between our house and our neighbour’s house that someone in the group gunned down. They came to invade our house, but I managed to lock the door just before they got it open. They would rove the neighbourhood, so it was a good idea to stay indoors. I totally got the vibe of that movie The Strangers. I decided to sneak out and head to a neighbour’s house up the street. When I got into their backyard, I fired up their barbecue, and discovered BBQ chicken already inside, which I grilled up. The neighbour came out to see what I was doing and then asked me to stop using his BBQ. I asked if I could come in so we could talk about these guys terrorizing the neighbourhood. I ended up fleeing his house when the situation turned dangerous, and ran up the backlane. I found the mint Dodge Pinto parked behind my house and the trees in the backyard lit on fire. Then I woke up.

 

Mi casa es su casa

Andrew

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November 2nd, 2012

So, Louis and I are getting some new roommates this weekend! His cousin Adam and his girlfriend Amy are moving into our second bedroom, formerly my office, so I’ve set up in a corner of our basement.

So far, I’m enjoying my new digs! I am a web developer, after all, and we seriously thrive in basements. My creativity continues to fire up and now I’m starting to feel like a creature that’s been released back into the wild. Taking a change of scenery is good thing, even if I’m looking at 70s faux wood paneling in the basement instead of the remnants of the original kitten wallpaper in my office.

I’m really excited too, because I’ve never had true roommates. They’re also bringing a cat. Cats are like garlic… You can never have too much!

CreComm is also starting to get VERY busy, so it will be nice to be able to work on my homework or client projects and know that Louis isn’t just sitting alone if he doesn’t have to.

I’ll keep you guys posted, but welcome Adam and Amy!

 

Reflecting on a fifth drive-in season

Andrew

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October 23rd, 2012

This past Saturday we wrapped up our fifth season at the Dacotah Drive-In with our first successful triple feature. We ran the Scream trilogy in our first season on the May long weekend of 2008 and learned a couple of things: triple features have to be carefully programmed, triple features have to be scheduled during the early and late parts of a season because of the time the sun sets, and people will not come to the theatre on a long weekend!

This season we attracted between 25-33 people a night. Our double bills with a family movie followed by a more adult oriented movie were the most popular (Puss In Boots/Anchorman and The Muppets/Bridesmaids). June is a quiet month no matter what we program. It was also the first season we expanded the season to Easter and Halloween, and it couldn’t have gone better. We got perfect weather every night!

We brought back a double bill of Twister/The Shining from our first season due to popular demand but because of technology problems, we unfortunately lost The Shining. The first time we ran those features we had such a severe storm sweep in we also lost that original showing. It seems to be a cursed double bill.

This season we finally kicked DVDs and moved on to high-quality encoded DivX movies played from USB storage. This has been a lot more reliable and also allowed me to focus on other things since I’ve been able to create auto show starts and seamless changeovers between features and intermission.

This was our first season with a concession stand. We started with a popcorn maker for the first night and added the deep fryer on the second night. The concession stand has been wildly popular and I think we serve the best onion rings, curly fries, hot dogs, burgers, and of course popcorn (my secret recipe). Deep fried pizza pops have also been like crack for anyone that’s made it out for the shows.

None of this would be possible without all of the fans we bring the experience to. We just can’t let the drive-in die and people who come out to the shows make it all possible and worthwhile. Thanks to everyone for letting me indulge in this passion. I absolutely could not do this without Rauri Qually. Thank you so much Rauri for providing us with our venue. You don’t even know how much it means. Thanks to my partner Louis Beales for helping me set up and tear down everything each night and for making it through to the wee hours of the morning. You help me put the finishing touches on each night. Thank you to my best friend Ashley Ohlson who has been there since the start and even jumped on the grill this past weekend to help us out! Ash, when I first dreamed this up you encouraged me to go for it. You even drove me to buy the projector!

In just 5 months we’ll be firing the projector back up for our 6th season! Until then, hang tight. We’ve got a few upgrades and plans up our sleeves already.

*Special thanks to Natasha Woloschuk for the pictures.