5 Foods We Can’t Live Without

The basics of cooking and food preparation depends on certain fundamental components – and not everyone agrees on what they need in their everyday life.

Onion-and-garlic-varieties
Many people agree that onions and garlic are two basics that cannot cannot be left out.

At Cin Cin restaurant, it was a slow night.  The open concept kitchen allows for a unique opportunity to discuss what foods we love, and in turn what food we can’t live without.

I decided to ask everyone working that night, front and back of house, what 5 basic items they had to have in their diets.  In this case, it was not food you could only have, if you were restricted to only 5, rather which ones matters most.  Check out the numbers and choices.

Mike Bartender tomato
avocado
onion
shrimp
olive
Jake Server tomato
basil
onion
pork tenderloin
mozzarella
Keagan Server bacon
bread
onion
garlic
potato
Ben Server peanut butter
bread
egg whites
chicken breast
beef striploin
Jamie Server peanut butter
sesame oil
mushrooms
soybeans
salmon
Kenny Expeditor rice
pork belly
soda
pasta noodles
egg
LT Server rice
chicken wing
beef tenderloin
ground pork
salmon
Sean Server rice
tomato
banana
chicken thigh
egg
Alex Expeditor mushrooms
sweet potato
chicken thigh
egg
rice
Carolina Busser onion
garlic
cilantro
romaine
egg
Robert Server onion
bread
potato
rice
banana
Stephanie Server bacon
gouda
bread
chocolate milk
potato
Elle Manager potato
tomato
olive oil
onion
garlic
Richard Manager bacon
butter
tomato
pasta noodles
beef rib eye
David Bar Manager onion
garlic
potato
bread
apples
Mitja Chef garlic
bread
avocado
mortadella
gouda
Michael Pastry cook bread
cheddar
chocolate
lamb shank
potato
Michael Line cook rice
pork belly
soy sauce
garlic
apples
Chris Line Cook mackeral
mushroom
bread
olive
anchovy
Jin Line Cook pork belly
tomato
parmesan
chicken breast
milk
Nate Line Cook onion
garlic
chilis
rice
pork belly
Michael Random Guest onion
garlic
lamb shank
chilis
apples

It would have been easier for people to pick items like pork or chicken, but we agreed on specific cuts or parts – otherwise plenty of people would have selected cow, pig, or chicken.

Certain composed items were allowed, like pasta and bread, as flour is not so much a food, as it can not be eaten on its own.

So what are the results?

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For the 22 people surveyed, only 5 food choices were permitted.   

So what are we to make of this data?  While the sample size is relatively small, some interesting similarities arise.

Clearly people believe in onion and garlic as the foundation of cooking and key parts of their home pantry.

Interestingly, even with gluten intolerances garnering a lot of attention, bread remained one of the top food choices.

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29% of Canadians are choosing gluten aware products. (agr.gc.ca, 2016)

So what about food that only one person had?  12 of 22 people chose at least one item that was unique to them alone.

LT Chicken Wing BEN Beef Striploin
  Beef Tenderloin    
    MICHAEL (BAR) Shrimp
JAMIE Sesame Oil    
  Soy Beans MICHAEL (COOK) Soy Sauce
       
CHRIS Mackeral ALEX Sweet Potato
  Anchovy    
    MITJA Mortadella
JAKE Basil    
  Pork Tenderloin RICHARD Butter
       
CAROLINA Cilantro MICHAEL (PASTRY) Chocolate
  Romaine   Cheddar

After seeing these choices, it got me thinking – what didn’t get picked?

  • Beans, lentils, or peas
  • Carrots or celery
  • Vegetable, neutral oils
  • Broccoli or cauliflower
  • Ground Beef
  • Popcorn
  • Lemon and lime
  • Mango, pineapple and any other tropical fruits

What are you surprised about not seeing? Also, how many Michaels work here.  It’s seriously ridiculous.

http://www.seangrayblog.wordpress.com

 

 

League of Legends: The Leader in eSports Viewership

As eSports continue to garner attention in the public eye, one game separates itself from all others in the digital gaming universe: League of Legends.

LOL stadium
The League of Legends World Championships attract thousands of live spectators and millions of televised and online viewers. (pcgamer.com)

Video games have been around for a long time but did not enter the popular mainstream until coin-operated Pong captivated people as one of the first sports-arcade games.

Not even Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, creators of Atari Inc. and the tennis-imitating Pong, could have predicted 20,000 live spectators packed in the biggest indoor stadiums in the world, cheering on their favourite eSports team as they battled for international supremacy.

League of Legends, a Riot Games product, has done exactly that.  It has taken the boom of video games, integrated it online for millions of users, established multiple professional leagues, and generated $1.6 billion, 7 times more than it’s closest competitor, in revenue in 2015. (Superdata, 2016)

Amazingly, this game is “free-to-play” and requires no financial commitment to the user to play or watch online, and the people are flocking to it in droves.

What is League Of Legends?

Before we can understand why viewership is so strong, we need to understand the basics of League of Legends and how it is identified as an eSport.

In the case of League of Legends, 5 players play together as either the red or blue team and battle another 5 player team in a standardized online arena.  Working against each other, the red and blue teams seek to build their power, harass their enemies, and ultimately destroy their opponents home base, or Nexus, resulting in victory.

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Summoner’s Rift, the current League of Legends competition map, standardizes the game parameters like a football field or hockey rink. (na.leagueoflegends.com)

Each player on the 5 player teams selects a unique character or “champion”.  These champions are all different and their skills reflect the different positions on a team much like a winger, centre, defenceman, and goalie will do in hockey, for example.

This is a simple interactive introduction to how players move through the map and engage opponents.

What defines an eSport?

ESports, also known as electronic sports, competitive gaming, professional gaming, or pro-gaming, can be defined as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces (wikipedia.ca). League of Legends is classified as a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena eSport.

Chris Lefeaver, Lead User Researcher for the Studio Research Team at Microsoft and Coalition Games, contends that League of Legends is a perfect example of an eSport and reflects the characteristics of a traditional sport.

“The basic and fundamental side of League of Legends is that it is a professionally run league with salaried players who train and compete as a team every day.  There is a world wide audience, big advertising partners, and an organization that manages the competitive landscape.”

league fans
Fans watch the 2014 League of Legends World Championship closely. (theguardian.com)

Lefeaver adds, “even though the athletic activity may not resemble traditional sports, there is no question that it is just like real sports.”

It is important to understand that eSports receives scrutiny from sporting traditionalists, but once one examines the features of a professional sporting structure, League of Legends meets a lot of that criteria and attracts millions of viewers because of it.

Fair, competitive, and universal game play

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Players share the same rules and same game boards regardless of their amateur and professional status.(Sean Gray)

 

Sports, wherever they are played in the world, have a fundamental rule set that ensures the universal parameters.  While each match is fundamentally the same, unique drama proliferates in League of Legends.

“A lot comes down to the game play. It is fair at the beginning of the game. The cornerstone for any good sport is the rules are the same and any player starting the game has the same chance of winning.  The only thing that distinguishes the player’s ability to win is their skill. Plus it isn’t just about one player.  You can only win when the team works together.

A lot of free-to-play games have the option to pay to upgrade your skills and involvement in the game. League doesn’t do that.  The incredibly successful microtransaction model only allows cosmetic changes, but that doesn’t translate into any technical advantages.”

This is the foundation for creating engaged, repeated viewers.

The viewership numbers are undeniable

The 2015 League of Legends World Championship final was watched by 14 million people. Those numbers are hard to ignore when examining a global sport product.  In comparison, one of the largest events in traditional sports, the Champions League Final, saw Barcelona FC defeat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin with 180 million viewers. (uefa.com)

For the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Prague, total viewership for the tournament was just over 1 billion and was the most successfully viewed world hockey tournament in the history of the IIHF. (IIHFworlds2015.com)

League of Legends, using the metric of total cumulative daily unique impressions (the amount of unique viewers that tuned in every day via online and television channels) reached 334 million for the tournament’s 73 matches. Also, Riot Games, the creator and monitor for League, reported an average concurrent viewership (ACU) of over 4.2 million, with the average fan watching for well over an hour per viewing session. (lolesports.com)

While the numbers may pale in comparison to some of the biggest international events in the world, League of Legends is just 6 years old, and has only had 3 World Championships compared to 60 years of televised soccer and hockey.  The rise is evident.

Reece Mills, a freelance senior gameplay animator and designer, believes that “eSports is going to take over traditional sports for viewership. I was lucky enough to play on my varsity Volleyball and Basketball but only 12 kids made it out of hundreds.  Anyone can play LoL!  No one is going to tell you you aren’t good enough to make the team.  Have you ever tried to play a real game of volleyball without being on an actual team?  It just doesn’t happen.  Every kid can play LoL, fully understand the game and appreciate the depth and skill that the game is played at a professional level.”

Twitch tv, youtube, and universal on-demand access

When Amazon purchased video game streaming website Twitch tv in 2014 for $970 million, the access to eSports was already well established.  Now, with a powerful parent corporation backing it, Twitch is controlling the streaming business.

twitch shares
Twitch tv, at peak online hours in the USA, dominates the internet world, accounting for nearly 2% of all traffic. (businessinsider.com)

When the user logs on to Twitch, they have infinite access to live eSports, archived content, can start their own channel or broadcast, and can do it all for free.

Mills views the success of free streaming websites as the perfect models for burgeoning eSports.

“There is too much current infrastructure supporting old business model and it’s easier for new companies starting from the ground up to create a business media model that supports it’s current audience.”

Newzoo, a gaming data and analytics company, reports that web savvy users who avoid tv and traditional marketing platforms, use websites like Twitch to consume their content. League of Legends and Riot Games have done an effective job of appealing to this generation of video gamers and made it simple to access their product.

IMG_1766
League of Legends has the players and the viewers as is evidenced by their domination of video game volume viewership. (twitch.com)

For traditional leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the NFL, access to live games requires a cable or tv contract.  Also, archived games and content online may require subscriptions or single payment schemes.  Twitch, youtube, and azuba are free and they make access to League of Legends easy.

The key to so much of this growth is the fact that users want to get their content with ease and they don’t want to have to pay for it.  League has capitalized and is letting the world know that they are a media super power.

 

The Construction of the Modern Wine List

By Sean Gray

Creating a relevant and interesting wine list takes more than picking a few bottles 

DSCF7207

A restaurant wine list is an ever-changing entity. Wine directors and Sommeliers have a seemingly endless selection of labels to choose from.

Building a list that reflects both the restaurant as well as the wine director is no easy task. The Sommelier must take into consideration not only terroir, year, and varietal, but also availability, their own purchasing power, and the wine’s image in the community when deciding what belongs in their catalog.

As guests of these restaurants, we are often overwhelmed by wine lists which contain 1000 bottles, like Cin Cin Ristorante and Blue Water Café, two of Vancouver’s top dining choices.

For the multi-province and multi-unit company Cactus Club Cafe, the wine list is handled with simplicity and approachability in mind.

What strategies do these Vancouver dining scene power player’s employ? How do they construct their lists?  The answer lies in examining the guild of the wine director and the passing of wine knowledge, the expanding understanding of the guest, the steadfast varietals that are necessary members of most lists, the wines that are making inroads in the last 10 years, food and wine pairing, and watching the mistakes of newly minted wine directors.

BEING A SOMMELIER

Knowing a lot about wine is an enviable skill. Not everyone understands the complex biology of viticulture or has the ability to interpret varietals, geography, and terrain. Schools and apprenticeship programs work hard to develop this talent set and in-turn issue classifications in expertise.

Essentially, we place a lot of trust in these experts to deliver an approachable and interesting wine list when we visit their respective restaurants.

William Mulholland, the Wine Director at Blue Water Café, says that the knowledge comes not just from formal education, but also personal experience gained in the guild–like atmosphere of the restaurant business.

“I worked for a couple guys (in Dallas and Vancouver) who were very education oriented and they helped develop my overall knowledge.”

Mulholland adds, “At Blue Water they stress, almost as your obligation, to pass your knowledge on.”

Like a carpenter, plumber, or chef, the apprentice is always learning, but the market remains competitive.

“If you are really good at something and you are worried about somebody else taking your job, you protect yourself and you don’t share knowledge as much. It depends on the guild you came through,” notes Mulholland.

Sebastien Le Goff, Service Director and Sommelier for Cactus Club Cafe, does not have the liberty of having a Wine Director, Sommelier, or Assistant Sommelier at all of the 29 Cactus Clubs scattered across Canada.

“Big wine lists require people to go from table to table. So a smaller wine lists makes it possible to train 2500 servers across 4 provinces. If you have a bible of a wine list, like some fine dining restaurants, its difficult to find servers who the know wine.”

In a corporate setting like Cactus, the guild of the Wine Director is not necessary, as the guides for the wine become the staff themselves, with a centralized group making the formal decisions on wine selections.

THE EDUCATION OF THE GUEST

The diner has more knowledge than ever before. Websites, mobile apps, movies, and branding, have all empowered the guest to make more educated decisions about wine lists.

Le Goff says “there are a lot of people who like to be a little more adventurous.” when it comes to wine choices.

“It’s a mix of a great cabernet from California, a great merlot, a great pinot but also a couple obscure grapes that people are like, ‘oh, let’s try something new today'” adds Le Goff when discussing the Cactus Club wine list’s appearance.

Shane Taylor, Wine Director at Cin Cin, remarks that people are dining out more than ever, and in turn are more interested in wine, especially in locations like Cin Cin with their expansive list.

“People are more open” says Taylor, to “regions they haven’t tried before.”

The Cin Cin list only has Italian and the Pacific coast. It comes across as restrictive but in fact is far from it.

Italian wines have over 1000 indigenous varietals that don’t travel well,” which Taylor suggests is great for unique drinking opportunities at Cin Cin. Also, Italy has sought to perfect non-indigenous grapes, adding to the variety of the wine list.

DSCF7200
Castello Dei Rampolla Chianti

“Italians are notorious for taking a product from another country and improving it. Risotto. Rice is not originally from Italy, but my god look what they’ve done.”

That being said, Shane warns of trying to be too smart for the guest and highlights the importance of the experience over the knowledge.

“We’re a restaurant, we’re not a school, as such, but if they want more knowledge, I’m happy to instruct.

I’m not going to talk down or preach to a guest. My job is to give everyone an outstanding time from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave.”

In Le Goff’s opinion, the diner chooses not to be educated by the wine program when they sit down at one of the locations.

“I think that most people that come to a Cactus, they just want to have fun with their family and friends, when they come for business, they don’t have a lot of time to spend talking about the wine and they want to make a decision quickly so it is important we are streamlined when it comes to choices.”

When recommending wine, especially something a guest may not have had, William Mulholland believes in “hedging his bets”. He is confident in his recommendations and if a knowledgeable guest declines after trying his recommendation, he avoids the “if you knew what I knew” response.

He admits that he does not mind paying for an open bottle that is sent back due to guest dissatisfaction, even if there is nothing wrong with it. Hopefully it is not a $1000 Bordeaux.

CABERNET ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE

Even with access to more wine than ever, there are certain grapes and regions that the people love, and the Wine Directors in-turn must deliver.

California cabernets, from massive vineyards, all over the state, still dominate lists around Vancouver. In fact, some wine producers in California produce more wine than the entire province of British Columbia, which makes it so accessible to drinkers.

Why do the guests want it? “I think it’s because that’s what they know, and they are spending money, and they don’t want to be disappointed, and they know they are going to like it,” contends Mulholland.

“I think there are a lot of wines that are taking advantage of a price point and economy of scale and therefore those are the wines that people get to know and that’s where their palette may start and stop.”

Le Goff contends that “where we are in the business districts (in Vancouver and Toronto) people drink lots more California wines.

The majority of the sales is still done with basically 4 grapes.  White with chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, and with red, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, regarding volume.”

Cabernet has legacy and financial power as well, which makes it a measure of status, especially when one drinks ‘the luxury labels’. Feeling safe associating oneself with a brand that is respected, and is a competition winner, helps cabernet stay relevant.

“When you are judging, you are not eating food and you have a lineup of 10 wines, 20 wines, 30 wines. So the wines that tend to stand out are the wines that tend to show off; higher in alcohol, fruit flavours, jammier. Those are the wines you remember.” Remarks Taylor.

The wine makers “have one eye on competitions. They have one eye on Parker score.” Notes Taylor. Whether or not you like it, as a purchaser, you have to have some on your list, if even just for show.

“It’s a consequence of geography, climate. They have lots of sun, lots of heat, so naturally have showier wines.”

Temperatures climb in California once you move away from the Pacific Ocean coast to the interior.

FOOD AND WINE – THE PERFECT PAIR 

Unlike bars, restaurants use alcohol and food together more often as a part of the dining experience.

“You need food to bring in someone first. People are hungry. You can’t just feed them booze and let them loose on the streets,” says Mulholland.

Food and wine are partners for these Wine Directors. Mulholland, when discussing wine dinners at Blue Water, believes that the chef should “leave the dish ¾ complete and have the wine fill that gap.”

In Italy, food and wine are inseparable, according to Taylor.  “It’s a marriage, or a partnership, there. Not one above the other.”

Thus, the list at restaurants like Cin Cin and Blue Water concentrate on ensuring there is ample wine to pair with what the Chef has created. The grill house at Cin Cin and the seafood specialist at Blue Water both have completely different constructions, with a few common dominators.

DSCF7198
Foxtrot Pinot Noir is one of the best in the Okanagan.

YOUTHFUL VIGOUR DOES NOT ALWAYS MAKE A SOLID WINE LIST

Every restaurant’s wine list is judged, sometimes by a respected wine organization, but mostly by the consumer. New Wine Directors and Sommeliers must appeal to these guests and having them approve of their selections gives credence to the order of these professionals.

However, mistakes are made, some of which can be avoided if the wine list creator is aware of certain pitfalls.

“Insecurity and overconfidence, at the same time,” says Mulholland. “If you are insecure, you are constantly worrying about showing everybody that you are good enough.”

As for humility, “you have to let yourself be surprised,” he adds. “Otherwise you are closing the door to an opportunity.”

DSCF7192
Large format bottles are popular choices at Blue Water and Cin Cin.

Shane Taylor thinks too many young Sommeliers are “treating their wine list like a museum. It’s not a museum, we are here to sell the wine.” If a wine list has 20 labels, with specific rare vintages, and there is a sales glut on a few bottles, what do you do once it is gone? Now you have only 15 labels, and are scrambling to keep the mystique of the list intact. You have failed the guest in Taylor’s eyes.

Taylor adds, “Building a wine list around your personal preferences is a mistake. Obviously it reflects your personal preferences but you still have wine on there that you don’t necessarily drink but you know makes people happy.”

So how does Taylor decide what to do? “Have wines for different budgets and different palettes without compromising my personal integrity.

Be conscious of the Wine Spectator Top 100, the Top 10, because people do come in looking for those wines.”

Mulholland agrees on having wines that are not of his own preference on the Blue Water list.

“Things like Malbec, in the last 10 years, have really jumped up. The varietal tastes like big cab, it’s tannic, it’s big, it’s chewy, and it’s cheap.

It’s not my favourite thing to drink, but there’s some good ones out there

Argentina-Malbec-630x416
Argentina Malbec is gaining in popularity due to its favourable price point.(decanter.com)

Mulholland also chooses to “stay away from Australian reds. They tend to be over ripe, sometimes lacking acid, and for pairing food with wine, acidity is the number one component.”

Does Blue Water carry Australian reds? Yes. The people like it.

25 DOLLARS 

If you had $25 dollars and was heading to the local wine shop or liquor store, what would you get?

“Something I’ve never had before and incorporate education into everyday drinking” Mulholland remarks. “A decent St-Joseph, red or white, or bubbles. In France they drink bubbles with everything.”

“For me it would be sparkling, and I’ll go Cava, Spain. For under $25 you have incredible quality, delicious wine from Spain.”

“Cava. Sigura Viudas, plus you have 10 bucks left to get a Big Mac and fries.” Quips Taylor.

Bubbles seems to be the name of the game.

 

 

 

The Best Outdoor Basketball Courts in Vancouver

There are great basketball courts all over town but some have more to offer than others.

By Sean Gray

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As an urban Vancouverite, finding exercise options is not difficult.  Whether you run, swim, cycle, ski, or play tennis, there are places to get your blood going. 

Basketball is no different, as is evidenced by the number of outdoor courts and rims scattered across the city.

The City of Vancouver has a website for finding these court spaces, complete with maps and brief descriptions.  However, for the player looking for more details, more photos, or more information, one is left asking friends or taking a chance on surface, rim, and overall court conditions.

To please the ballers and shot callers, we need a proper list of the best of the best.  The difference is that these courts give you something more than just a rim.

THE BEST COURT WITH THE BEST VIEW

It would be easy to pick Kitsilano Beach or Queen Elizabeth Park, but the best view in the city is West Point Grey at Trimble Park.

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From the top of West Point Grey, one can see English Bay, the North Shore mountains, and downtown from the courts.

The court space here has more than a view.  It has good conditions, accessibility, and even a lawn bowling club.

Pluses

  • 3 rims, two with mesh, 1 without.
  • Good surface with good drainage.
  • 1 Large court, to play either full court or half court game.
  • Great surrounding space, athletic field.
  • Free parking, 8th avenue bike lane close.

Negatives

  • Only 1 full court, but has space for a second full court and 4th rim.
  • No out-of-bounds, free-throw, or 3 point lines painted on the surface.
  • One of only a few outdoor courts around West Point Grey.

 

THE BEST COURT WITH THE BEST COMPETITION

When you need to get down and dirty with some solid pick up, there is but one choice in Vancouver: Kitsilano Beach Park courts.

kitsball2
A player takes it hard to the rim at the Kitsilano Beach Park courts. (www.kitsilano.ca)

Kits beach has it all in the summer time.  Swimming at the outdoor pool, the ocean, volleyball, and of course, beach relaxation.  However, when it is time to work it hard, the courts here have what you need as a basketball player.

Pluses

  • Excellent surfaces that are well maintained by the city.
  • Classic outdoor rims in good condition, complete with mesh.
  • 2 full courts that can be played as 4 half courts.
  • Bathrooms, change rooms, and water fountains.
  • Great everyday competition if you want it.
  • It is a place to be seen and a place to see others.

Negatives

  • Busy most days, most of the day.
  • Casual shoot-around is not always possible.
  • Intimidating for casual players.
  • Parking on weekends and weekday nights is tenuous.

 

THE BEST COURT WHEN YOU DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY

There is a time when you just want to shoot around with your friends, even those who don’t ball like the bigs at Kits Beach Park.  What better choice for your hipster crew than Cedar Cottage Park.

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A true East Van gem, Cedar Cottage Park has cool art, 3 rims, and a prime location.

Cedar Cottage Park is unlike most court spaces around Vancouver.  It fits right in at Clark and 11th with the skate park across the street, but hidden enough to keep it from being too busy in the high season.  Strap up the Chuck’s and rock some HORSE.

Pluses

  • Showtime! There are 3 rims, including a junior rim great for practicing your dunking skills with your friends. Who doesn’t love dunking?
  • Directly beside one of the busiest and most vital East/West bike routes, the 10th avenue bikeway.
  • Excellent shade coverage in the summer.
  • Painted lines, including, free-throw and lane markings.

Negatives

  • Lumpy, uneven concrete surface in certain places.
  • No changeroom, water fountain, or “extras”.
  • Older rims, some without mesh.

 

THE BEST COURT TO CURE A DOWNTOWN HANGOVER

When you live and play in Yaletown, the seawall pathway is the perfect way to remove the cobwebs from a big night.  For those casually walking and enjoying the False Creek breeze, or those looking to sweat it out, David Lam Park has what you need.

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David Lam Park has a great location, great surfaces, and 4 rims.

The courts at David Lam Park are a perfect fit downtown along the seawall.  They represent how diverse the city is, and how diverse the fitness choices are of Vancouverites.

Pluses

  • Even, well maintained court surfaces.
  • 2 full courts, complete with painted free-throw, 3 point, and boundary lines.
  • Directly along the sea wall, close to Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line station.
  • Good, quality outdoor rims, with mesh.
  • Good pick-up runs if you want to play competitively.

Negatives

  • Can be very busy on weekends and weeknights.
  • The courts have a natural slant towards the water, which makes one end moderately easier to shoot on (rim angle).
  • The 4th rim on the second court has been taken down, leaving just 3 rims total. Luckily, construction at the fourth rim location suggests a replacement.
  • No change rooms or bathrooms, but does have a water fountain.

 

THE BEST COURT AT A MODERN COMPLEX

The transformative sports space of Plateau Park at Empire Field on East Hastings should be envied by other cities.

Complete with an electric car charging station in the pay-parking lot, Plateau Park is a tasty athletic treat for many pallets.

Mix in an interesting off-road bicycle circuit built in a compact but usable space, tennis courts, and multiple soccer fields and you have an elite complex.

 

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The courts at Plateau Park sit above the soccer pitches, offering a great view of the complex.

Noise from the adjacent PNE makes for a unique atmosphere on the field, track, and of course, basketball courts.  A high quality surface with brand new rims and posts makes this a cannot miss basketball destination.

Pluses

  • Amazing view.
  • Easy access via Second Narrows bridge and East Hastings with a parking lot directly beside it.
  • Modern facility with a great surface, new court infrastructure, and line painting.
  • Bathrooms and water fountains.
  • Great bike access.

Negatives

  • High volume of people due to its desirable location.
  • Concrete wall is close to the baselines; beware when running through the lane.

 

 

The Best Court at the Biggest Court Complex

With a name like Queen Elizabeth Park, this sports complex needs to live up to its regal moniker. It does.

A vast collection of 17 tennis courts, a pitch-and-putt golf course, 2 fully boarded hockey and lacrosse rink, and 4 full basketball courts makes this one of Vancouver’s best athletic destinations.

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The basketball courts perched on the side of the “Little Mountain”, Vancouver’s highest city limit point, draw ballers from all over.

Pluses

  • 4 courts, 8 rims, all of which are located close to each other.
  • Bench space for seating, fenced perimeters to protect the courts.
  • Painted free-throw, 3 point, and boundary lines.  The lines need to be redone as they are fading.
  • Great view at the highest “Little Mountain” in Vancouver.
  • Not overly busy, even at classic high times.
  • Parking and bike access is excellent.

Negatives

  • Bumpy court surface in certain places, leading to odd bounces when dribbling.
  • The court surface dries slowly.
  • Exposed to the sun all day and can be breezy in the afternoons.

 

 

Note:  This list excludes public and private school grounds due to time restrictions during school hours.

 

Guadalupe Fur Seal Rescued in Pacific Rim National Park

With the help of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, a near death Guadalupe fur seal was rescued near Ucluelet this week.

The male fur Guadalupe fur resting after being rescued off the coast of Ucluelet. (Photo:cheknews)

The Guadalupe breed is a rare sighting in the North Pacific, as it tends to live its entire life near the Baja peninsula of Mexico and the Southern United States. The Guadalupe fur seal is not even listed in the Canada as a native species.

“It’s extremely rare for these animals to strand in B.C.; we’ve never responded to one before.”

The west coast of Vancouver Island; far from the Baja Peninsula

 

The Vancouver Aquarium was quick to let it’s twitter followers know that the male seal was safe and sound even though it was emaciated and dehydrated.

 

Researchers are uncertain as to why the seal was so far north, but speculation about the above average temperatures in the East Pacific, especially with El Nino affecting the globe, has forced even this warm water dweller to cooler temperatures.

Scientists will continue to examine tissue for toxicity, though results take several months.

 

Where do I get my news?

The question that was proposed to me recently was where do we get our news?  How do we process news?  It is obvious that in order to answer this effectively, one must look at the sources that build our day-to-day content.  For me, I took some time to think about this and what I came up with is this list of content sources:

FOR NEWS

  • BBC: for international content (mobile, web)
  • CBC: for Canadian content (web)
  • CNN: for American content – mostly due to my parents (tv)
  • Reddit: for all things “interesting” (web)
  • Economist: for in depth domestic and world news (magazine)
  • Facebook: (mobile, web)
  • Twitter: (mobile, web)

SPORTS

  • ESPN: for NFL, NBA, NCAA, analysis (mobile, web)
  • TSN: for Canadian content, Hockey (tv, mobile, web)
  • SPORTSNET: for Canadian content (tv)
  • NBATV Canada, NFL Network (tv, web)

These are just the initial sources of information that I use on a regular basis.  Where I go after I initially access these sites, these channels, or mobile applications changes constantly.  So why do I use these options?

Trust.  It is the most important aspect of news delivery.  However, when I start to think deeper about it, most of the sources are just stepping stones. If I become intrigued by a topic that has more questions than an article or show or podcast can answer I know I can find out more at any time.  So perhaps what I am actually looking for is an initial stimulation so that I can delve deeper.  Yes, that is it certainly.

Hold on a second. This is just my critical mind thinking about what I should do more often.  Really, what I ACTUALLY do more often than not is trust my primary source articles and run with them.  So what does this tell me about myself?  That I stick with the big dogs of news because I trust them and because I know I will get relatively unbiased, reliable information: their reputations as professional organizations are at stake, if even just to me.

So as I move forward with Online Journalism as a class and online journalism as the source, the answers to why we choose what we do will become more obvious.  Where do I want to get my news from?