Friday, August 31, 2007

Should We Be Proud?

Canadian snipers in Afghanistan after September 11th made the longest recorded kills in history with this weapon. On a March afternoon in 2002, Cpl. Furlong of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) squinted through the scope of his McMillan TAC-50 and successfully killed an enemy combatant from 2,430 m.

The 11th Hour

Leonardo DiCaprio's powerful new documentary and environmental wake up call is coming soon to a screen near you. Watch the trailer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You'll Get Cancer And Die

Ok, ok, I admit, the title is not from me, it's from the excellent movie Crazy People with Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah where a couple of geniuses and nutcases produce truly hilarious ad campaigns.

But back to business. Today, I received a very touching e-mail about the contribution that Yoplait made to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The website was made by my good friend and competitor Julien Brunet at Cri Communication. Check it out, it is quite nice.

I think cancer reaserch or any research to cure us from such terrible illnesses is a good thing, and I'm glad that citizens and corporations alike join in the fight, but...

It made me think about the way we think. Despite the fact that each of us has more or less 50% chances of dying from cancer, what do we do about it? Nothing.

We (sometimes) give to research. That's it, nothing more; despite the fact that it has been proven that cancer is greatly influenced by how we live and mostly how we eat. Who changes their habits or their diet to get away from cancer? No one.

We hope that we'll be lucky or that by the time we get cancer (God forbid), a cure will have been found. Doesn't seem very proactive and it is our lives that are at stake...

Take fast food for example.

Dr. William Castelli, the former director of the Framingham Heart Study, used to say, “When you see the Golden Arches, you’re on the road to the Pearly Gates.”

Americans however, never ate so much fast food. Here are 2 interresting facts from Eric Schlosser's fascinating book Fast Food Nation:

In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2001, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computers software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined.

Anyone who brings raw ground beef into his or her kitchen today must regard it as a potential biohazard, one that may carry an extremely dangerous microbe, infectious at an extremely low dose. The current high levels of ground beef contamination, combined with the even higher levels of poultry contamination, have led to some bizarre findings. A series of tests conducted by Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, discovered far more fecal bacteria in the average American kitchen sink than on the average American toilet seat.

A BIG MAC anyone?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

This is a very usefull little book.

In a few pages, you'll learn how to:

- Hot-wire a car
- Survive a poisonous snake attack
- Escape from a bear
- Win a sword fight
- Jump from a moving car
- Perform a tracheotomy
- Deliver a baby in a taxicab
- Land a plane
- Survive an Earthquake

and much more.

And it's fun too!

Thanks to my good friend CGuy for the gift.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Interresting Way to Get Killed

My friend Rob is, let's say, on the extreme side of things.

Rollerblading down the streets at killer speeds is not enough for him.

He's looking for a rollersuit and mountains roads to go FAST, just like the guy in this awesome video:

Friday, August 24, 2007


Picture by offby1

Think of an eggs and bacon breakfast.
The pig is committed.
The chicken is merely involved.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Riding Giants

Probably the best movie I saw this year.

Legendary skateboarder/surfer turned movie director Stacy Peralta did more than just another good surfing movie in the likes of Billabong Odyssey and The Endless Summer.

Riding Giants isn't only about athlete surfers riding down mountains of water, but also about surfing history and way of life.

The way it was filmed, the camera angles, the sequences, everything is quite neat. Plus, the soundtrack is very good.

It's a feel good movie that makes you want to open the door and start walking toward your deams.

But enough said, watch the trailer!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Forgotten Airport

Gander Airport is located in a fog free part of Newfoundland in Canada. Today, it is only visited by a few local and cargo flights, but 50 years ago, it was the busiest airport in the world.

At that time, every plane traveling between North America and Europe transited by Gander.

In 1959, when traffic was at its peak, the Canadian Government invested $3 million to create a flagship airport and show to the rest of the world how modern and elegant Canada was. Queen Elizabeth II herself inaugurated the new terminal.

It was, and still is a design masterpiece. The terrazo floor tiles are inspired by Mondrian, and most of the furniture was created by canadian designers of the '50s, like the Primasteel chairs created by Robin Bush for Herman Miller or the space age black sofas designed by Christen Sorensen.

If you manage to visit the airport president's office, you'll see orange leather seats created by Jacques Guillon that once were in the VIP suite that saw the Beatles, Churchill, Kruchtchev, Ingrid Bergman, Ronald Reagan, Marlene Dietrich and Mohammed Ali.

But, as John Lennon said: "Life is what happens while you're making other plans.", and the following year, the advent of kerosene and fuel efficient jet airplanes made the airport irrelevant.

Today, who remembers Gander International Airport?

Like my parachute instructor says: "If you don't succeed at first, well, so much for skydiving."

For more info:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Double Your Money

Picture by Unhindered by Talent

"The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket." - Will Rogers

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Harry Houdini Was a Lousy Magician

Ask anyone to name you a famous magician, and they are very likely to come up with Houdini, even though he wasn't a great magician and didn't have the stage presence and charisma of other performers of his time.

In fact, he wasn't even a magician, he was an escape artist.

He created a new genre and that was made him famous.

In this light, we can considerd him a pioneer of the Blue Ocean Strategy popularized by Cirque du Soleil where, instead of competing in a saturated market (red ocean), you create new markets (blue ocean).

If this kind of outside the box thinking lights your fire, I strongly recommend you to read The Big Moo, by marketing guru Seth Godin and friends. It is a sort of sequel to his bestseller book Purple Cow and it is very inspiring. You'll learn more about the Houdini story and other fascinating ideas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Ultimate Knife

Any serious outdoorsman will tell you: "You are only as sharp as your knife."

A good, all purpose blade is the best survival tool you can bring in the wild.

If, like me, you sometimes happen to end up quite far from civilization, you might want to take advantage of all the R&D that was made by the elite of the elite in terms of survival: The U.S. Navy Seals.

The knife they use has been developped by SOG and it truly is a masterpiece. Unsurprisingly, they call it the Seal Knife.

There are numerous small details that distinguises it from ordinary blades, but just take a look at the groove in the sheat, to cut rope without having to draw the knife. If you happen to be at sea in rough weather on an inflatable raft, this might just save your ass.

For those interrested, you can buy this knife at Le Baron on St-Laurent in Montreal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wild Ponies

Approximately 300 years ago, a Spanish galleon wrecked off of a small island of the American East Coast.

Horses swam to shore and have since adapted to life on the Island.

Today, more than 2000 wild ponies roam free among the white sand dunes.

The good news is you can visit them as I did. Simply go to Maryland (10 to 12 hours drive from Montreal). The island is Assateague, one of the 10 best American State Parks, according to National Geographic.

It is well worth the drive.

Thanks to Burt for sharing the secret with me.

For more info:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Made to Stick

If you liked Malcom Gladwell's Tipping Point, you'll love Made to Stick.

It explains what makes ideas "sticky" (i.e. easily remembered and shared) like, for exemple, the urban legend about the kidney theft ring.

It's not only a good complement to the Tipping Point, it is a great book for people who want to be heard (or who want their clients to be heard).

You'll learn about:
- the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers
- the Sinatra test
- the Mother Teresa principle
- the army chef who restores morale in Iraq
- How the campaign "Don't Mess with Texas" changed youth behavior in the lone star state
- Jared, the 425 pound fast-food dieter who inspired Subway's most successful advertising campaign

and a lot more...

A really good eye opener.

Thanks to my good friend Fabien Fayard for forcing me to read this book.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Learn The Game

Play for more than you can afford to lose and you will learn the game. -Winston Churchill

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Best Steaks in the World

Picture by Jodamajoo

I'm on vacation starting right now and feeling dangerously good. That's why I am going to give you a piece of advice that will change your life forever - provided you are a meat lover.

No bragging here, but a fundamental truth. It's not an overstatement when I say best steaks in the World. I had the chance to eat fine steaks all over the World, including at the overrated, overpriced Queue de Cheval Steakhouse in Montreal and trust me, nothing comes close to the steaks you can cook using the tricks I'm about to give you.

I'm a lousy cook, and I know only 3 recipes: taboulé, profiterolles au chocolat and steaks on the grill; but for these, I'm like the autistic geniuses, I can work miracles. Steaks, of course, are my weapon of choice.

Here's how to cook the best steaks in the World:

First, get good quality steaks. Not the second hand meat available at your average supermaket. Personnaly, I buy mine at Boucherie Côté. They have first quality AAA beef from Alberta that has rested for 21 days. I usually go for a T-bone 3/4'' or 1'' thick.

Second, the rub. I use a mix of honey, dijon mustard, steak spices and herbes de Provence, but it is not the biggest success factor. The only thing is to go light. If the meat is good, you do not want to kill the taste with too much seasoning.

Third, cook the steaks over a medium fire (I prefer charcoal), not too hot or the steaks will burn and become tasteless black rubber. Watch carefully during cooking time (approximately 4 minutes) and cut the meat to see how it cooks. When it becomes pink inside with a red line in the middle, take them out of the fire.

Fourth, and here's the secret : THE FOIL. Wrap the steaks in aluminium foil and let them rest for 3-4 minutes. I place them in a small cooler preheated with a hot water bottle. What will happen is that the heat will distribute itself evenly within the steaks, they won't seize due to a sudden change in temperature and the internal juices will flow back inside the meat.

Five, serve bare and enjoy (preferrably with red wine).

Try it and let me know how it went.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Greatest Mathematician of All Time

A few months ago, I read a very interesting book on networks theory by physicist Albert-László Barabási. The title is Linked.

With the same models, it shows how the humain brain is like an AIDS epidemics and how the human cell can be understood with the same laws that govern power grids in a big city. It is, indeed, fascinating.

The whole theory is a bit complex to explain in a few lines so I encourage you to read the book, but I wanted to share with you an interresting bit of history about one of the greatests mathematicians of all time that I found while reading the book. Here it is:

Euler, a Swiss born mathematician who spent his career in Berlin and St. Petersburg, had an extraordinary influence on all areas of mathematics, physics and engineering. Not only was the importance of his discoveries unparalleled, their sheer quantity is also overwhelming. Opera Omnia, the still incomplete record of Euler’s collected works, currently runs to over seventy-three volumes, six hundred pages each. The last seventeen years of Euler’s life, between his return to St. Petersburg in 1766 and his death at the age of 76, were rater tumultuous. Yet, despite many personal tragedies, about half of his works were written during these years. These include a 775 page treatise on the motion of the moon, an influential algebra textbook, and a three volume discussion of integral calculus, completed while he continued to publish an average of one mathematics paper per week in the journal of the St. Petersburg Academy. The amazing thing is that he barely wrote or read a single line during this time. Having partially lost his sight soon after returning to St. Petersburg in 1766, Euler was left completely blind after a failed cataract operation in 1771. The thousand of pages of theorems were al dictated from memory.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Take Me to The Riot

Montreal's phenomenonal Canadian indie pop band Stars recently released their new album In our Bedroom After the War.

It contains a fantastic song you oughta check out on i-tunes: Take Me to The Riot

As for the rest of the album, its almost as good as their previous one Set Yourself on Fire.

And for those of you who, like me, fell in love with lead singer Amy Millan's voice, check out her solo album Honey from the Tomb.

Rising Stars

In the midst of a nostalgia attack, I was parsing through my treasure chest, looking at old photographs, birthday cards from high school and other paraphernalia when I came across this old poem I wrote for my good friend Ben Z. during a summer trip in Switzerland some 13 years ago. I seemed unaffected by the passage of time, even a little prophetic I should add. So here it is:

The night is falling to pieces
While our sun's rising
There's plenty of time to burn
Before we're put to sleep
Here's a last one
To you my friend
Let's be rising stars
Among fading lights