Tom’s Movie Review: West World 2016 TV Series.

It is not often that I get hooked into a movie, or television series for that matter, that I spend some time researching it even before I actually see it. Well, West World got to me, and I was counting down the seconds until it aired. Why? Well, it is simple, West World is based upon the original West World from 1973, and the Television series picks up after thirty years since. So, being that I was a somewhat fanatic of the 1973 version (yes, it is creepy and hits the right notes for me as a Sci-Fi buff) who could not resist robots that go all artificial intelligent like, and start killing everyone they see, following that philosophical argument that if you make a machine that is as intelligent as we are, you treat it the same way you would want it to treat you—right. Right? Not so fast; we build the machine to serve us, no matter how messed up we used them for.

So, I had just seen the first episode. My first reaction is, “Very cool”! I was focused, ready to have my mind blown, ready for the twists and turns that the plots were going to take me on as I spend the next nine weeks waiting for next nine episodes to finish the story. This first episode did what it had to do; I am hooked! I even watch the 1973 version, just to prepare myself for it. The 2016 version is way better. In fact, I was glad that the movie was not overly done with CGI and far out video effects. The actors did what they had to, too sell it to the viewer, and I think they did a pretty good job. So two thumbs up.

I watched my Twitter feeds while the first episode was playing out in real time, and the only real criticism was mainly regarding the “suggested” rape scene by the man in black with the black hat (Ed Harris) as he dragged the main character Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) in to the barn. Sure, I can understand how and why there are some who would think this should not be presented on public broadcasts, but I like to think that for the greater majority of humans, we can see into the narrative and deduce fantasy from reality, fact from fiction. I did not see anyone commenting on the lesbian scene where the female technician sneeks a kiss at one the prostitute androids after she had a good look at its breast. So, here in lays the argument that if a theme park of this type and scope were to become real, and allowed to run, I am sure the protesters would be out in full force to shut it down. But then again, this is an exclusive theme park, only for those who have lots of money and time on their hands.

I was a little weirded out about the nudity at first, but then came to the conclusion that we the viewer were to look at the “hosts” as just machines, or pieces of property. They get shot up full of bullet holes, pumped up full of sexual pleasures, and then they are hosed down with water, and fixed up good as new, ready for another day to entertain. I get that. But still, I think the line of nudity was crossed too many times for my liking in that it stepped on the real acting and storytelling—in my humble opinion. I will see how episode two goes, then make further comments on this.

As a Canadian, I laughed out loud when I read that Anthony Hopkins character’s name is Dr. Robert Ford. For those in the rest of the world, Rob Ford was the controversial Mayor of Toronto a couple of years ago. I should also point out that Anthony Hopkins was another draw for me to see this television series. He is a very good actor, one that gets my respect.

The one liner in the show that seems to be relevant and may have significances comes from Dolores, who repeats the phrase, “these violent delights to (or “and”) violent ends,” that her father told her, just before he went all short circuited, and had to be put off-line. Maybe theses words are what sets off the inevitable? Perhaps this is the queue of things to come? Why not, thirty years later since the 1973 rampage, perhaps we are over due.

So, I give this show 9 out of 10, and a good review. If you are into the Sci-Fi, thriller, (and a Western to boot) style of show, then this is it.

Why Having No Neighbours is So Nice

Listening to my ex-neighbour who moved to another neighbourhood, telling me about his new problems, makes me appreciate the peace and quiet of my little corner of the universe. I could not live in a trailer park, or condo, or any other place that has people crammed so close together. When I thought about his tails of the weird and wacky people that have moved close to him, I realized that half of his trouble were his alone: he wants his privacy, yet craves the social interactions at the same time.

Sure, having people around is human. We humans like to live in colonies, families, and sometimes in metropolitan centres and cities. I even heard this called “human nature” while taking my undergrad classes university. Ultimately, we take on a mate, and raise children, and build our own families. In turn, we live close to populated areas for jobs, schools and stores, which give us securities.  We in our homes, towns and cities, governments to give us Rule of Law and build roads, schools and keep us safe. Some how, in this human utopia, chaos can ensue.

For my friend, in his trailer park, the mix was spoilt over time. Drug users, which are common among low income sites, were part of his problem as they moved in, but also tenants who wanted the joy and happiness that they claimed of their properties, also interfered with his peace and enjoyment. Then there were the whores and prostitutes that occupied the park as well; many are also drug users, and bring their own troubles. The neighbourhood is now labelled as a haven for lawlessness. Law enforcement even fears venturing into the area, and unless they have to, it is with body armour.

As I look across the farm fields and forests from my front door, I am happy. I live where many would not choose to. My neighbours are far enough from me that I like them. I can leave my windows open, and car unlocked and barbecue out on my patio without a chain. Good ridden to the trailer park trash; my friend, I feel for you–honest.

The BC Day Holiday

Oh yes, it is Long weekend time. Just enjoying the time off, sitting at home, in the heat, on a Monday. It is so nice out. We need more long weekends like this, with mandatory Mondays off. Aught to be a law, eh? Well, needless to say, I deserve having today off. I know I am going to pay for it at my work for the rest of week as they like to cram five days into four, but for now, I am not even going to thing about that. Yes, the official patio thermometer is saying, 28C out. Sweet!

HAPPY BC DAY in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada!

Thirty-Two Precent to Boiling

Well, we are now getting the summer that we so deserve; Three days in a row of sun baking weather, putting us into the 30C range. It is hard to work in this heat unless you are in a air conditioned room, and breathing is difficult for me outside with all the dust and air pollution hanging in the atmosphere. When will this end?

According to the Weather Office, the Environment Canada’s official weather website, this Sunday we will see some rain, or thunder showers in the forecast, but the heat will be with us until Saturday. So, one more day of this crazy heat. Sadly, September is not to far off, which is when the return to cool rainy weather starts around here.

With the heat, comes spending time at the beach. Hot weather like this, it is so nice to have a sandy beach to go to that is less than a five minute walk away. I have noticed a huge increase in the amount of people going there. Also, there are people across the river, in the new condos, who like to stand outside of their balconies with their telescope looks at us on the beach. Some of the Sun worshipers call them “Sixty Year Old Creeps.” Oh well, some people are just voyeurs, and need to get out.

I like to sit in the shade. My skin burns way too easily. A towel, sunglasses, and cool Root Beer is all I need. A Two hour rest, and I am fully rejuvenated.

Meeting Up With Other Criminologists and Friends

Last night I went out to the White Spot restaurant in Surrey, BC to gather with some friends and fellow graduates from last year. It has now been One year later since I graduated, and got together with my friends from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. We talked shop, careers and future.

There has been an on going theme with respects to graduates whose major’s do not reflect their current careers. I am one of those, as my degree was set upon majoring in Criminology, and I find myself working more as a manger for a service and telecommunication based firm, managing logistics and inventory while dealing with buying and working with sales staff and project managers. A far cry from what my academic qualifications are. Though not all dome and gloom, some of my academic skills do offer me a clear advantage in the field that I work in.

So, what are some of the other Criminologist saying from last night’s gathering?

I am not the only one with one foot in a total different career path and the other planted in academia studying and keeping current in the field of Criminology. It was refreshing to learn that all shared my point of view on the current state of Canada’s political and economic power shift effecting how academics are being integrated into the labour force. Out of the Nineteen of us, only Three are working as Police Officers, and Two are working directly in Corrections (both work Provincially). This paints a picture that the Current Federal Government is not committed to its political election promises of creating a safer Canada as the Conservatives promised. One point of the promise from the Conservative Government was to implement the “Safe Streets Act,” which says that laws would be firmed up to catch more street level criminals, and keep violent criminals locked up longer. Part of this initiative was to add more members to the workforce who would be employed to make way for net-widening of the laws just created. Facilities such as Corrections and Policing would see some funding added to make way for these changes in the Criminal Code. Instead, my colleagues have stated that the conditions and environment in the Police Force and Corrections as deteriorated. Underfunding and lack of resources are the results so far from both the Federal and Provincial Governments. The Federal Government has committed very little new funding to Corrections, and is even cutting some of the services in prisons and community projects while prison populations increase. For those who work in the Provincial Correction System, a lot of the changes to the Criminal Code have meant a downloading of services on to the Provinces, as most offenders are those who are entering Provincial jails only. The result is that Provincial tax payers are funding the Federal election promises.

Most of my colleagues seem to be working for small businesses, or they are themselves self employed. One of my friends who I graduated with last year has continued to remain in University taking on another major, Mathematics and Science. He has move over to the University of British Columbia where he has committed himself into another two year program of study.

It was awesome to meet and talk with old friends again. I enjoyed the gathering, and I hope that we can do this again. Although this was not a formal gathering of alumni, keeping in touch with my friends from University is the ultimate form of networking there is, next to an alumni gala.

I want to blog about this more as so much took place from last night to cram into one post. Stay tuned.

Saying Good Bye to Co-Workers & Congrats to the Grads!

Today marks the ends of a five year stretch for a friend and co-worker working with us. I have worked with on and off with her for this period of time, and today was her last day with us. She is now off to greener pastures, and hopefully to a better career than the one she had left behind.

Today also marks the start of a new era at my work. A new beginning for me too. I will be taking on more responsibilities and duties, and hopefully I should be brining home more pay, although that has not being formally talked about. The business is moving in a different direction that what it was doing previously for the last twenty odd years, so this change will be interesting and challenging. A lot has happened in the last few weeks, so many are still wondering what is next, and to come.

The end of May also marks the final count down from which I must move from my spot in Fort Langley. I just paid my pad-rent, noting that I only have eleven more months to go until May of next year when the new owners start rebuilding on it. Many good times here, but like everything else on the continuum of change, the good times cannot last forever. Change, you got to love it.

So, with that being said, I say good bye to May 2012, and hello to June 2012, and the start to summer. May Canada not sink into the pit of economic disparity, and we can still enjoy a good BBQ at least once this year without going bankrupt.

Also, a spacial congratulation to my friends who graduated from university today at Kwantlen. They had their convocation today in Langley Campus–the largest one to date.


What Has Tom Been Up To?

So much has gone on with me in the last four days, that even I cannot laugh it off, and I still have so much more to do. Right now I am living off of just a couple of hours of sleep as the wind storm from last night kept me up. The power outage from the storm, with the pounding rain and tree branches hitting my roof, sleep was just not going to happen so I stayed up. But I was tired before that too. Perhaps I should just start at Friday, and finish off my post with today’s events. You, reader, should be clear once I have itemised my last few days.

(pay no attention to the mistakes in this post – I’m exhausted and will clean them up tomorrow)

Friday was dedicated to the last day of a week from Hell. Both in terms of work, and my personal life, Friday was a painful one. Personally, I was just getting over a harsh flu. Compounded to the pain and suffering of the flu was an equally hard work week of tedious issues and problem solving. It was not the amount of work that created the harshness, but the quality of it. I learned that some players in the business really “kicked the can” as it were, with our forth quarter budget, and made some really bad calls. This translated into an extremely chaotic round of finger pointing at the retails side of it, but fortunately in my department, I only received the stress of working with these people.

On my personal side, I had made preparation to volunteer for the civic elections in Langley Township. I helped a candidate out. I only helped out becuase of my friendship connections and ties to this person in the neighbourhood, not my political colours. Only the ignorant and weak minded would accuse me of playing partisan politics at this level – you know who you are! So I volunteered, helping out a friend in need. I did enjoy myself.

Going into Saturday, the day of the civic election, my commitment to volunteering kept on going. The only difference, was I planned on taking it easy, but I was asked to continue to help out with my friend’s campaign. There was the striking of the political ads signs – which under law each candidate has but a couple of days to pull all the signs from the streets and road, or fine would be given out. So I helped pull signs.

My own personal candidacy was on Monday, so I had to focus on that. The magic balance was now lost, between helping a friend versus getting myself ready for my big moment. I was running for a seat on the Board of Directors for the Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Alumni Association, and I had planned spending most of Saturday working on that. Instead, my time ran out on Saturday–and I got to bed around 11:30pm that night.

I almost slept in Monday morning for work. Right from the start of the day I was chasing time. I ignored the other departments as much as I could, fearing that the spill over from last week’s “meltdown” could erupt again. This was the last thing I needed, more stress. While at work, I start sending out tweets to people that I knew who were alumni from the university. Regrettably, getting people to come down to vote on a Monday night was not going to happen. I was too new and had very little exposure to the alumni to get the confidence of voters from the student body. So I tried to conjure up any support I could before I headed down to the Surrey campus. However, not before my work would throw one final hard ball at me.

A crises started brewing in my department becuase one of my co-workers made some errors, and then refused to clear them up before the end of the day. We have a policy that of you make a mistake, you clean it up, even if that means staying some extra time in the day to clean it up. My co-worker refused, and left. I was responsible, and I made some quick patchwork fixes so that I could leave it until Tuesday. My time had already lapsed into my preparation time for the election, which, I had to be there for 6:00pm–less than one hour’s time. Leaving work, late, getting home, I had to forego the fancy clothing, and settle for just changing into a sweater and grabbing my laptop and bag. Yes, still wearing my jeans and street shoes.

The election was held after an hour of formalities with the KPU Board of Directors of the Alumni Association. Each candidate was given two minutes to make a speech, and then had to field only two questions from the room.  I spoke, and was never asked any questions. Sadly, out of the seven of us vying for the six seats, I came in last. I only received 12 votes out of the possible 19. Defeated.

However, I took with pride becuase this was my first time, and this was a learning experience, and learned from it I did. I was offered to join various committees in light of my interests in volunteering with the Alumni Association, but I made myself not make any promises until I had a clear head.

Monday night when I got home, there were weather warning posted on the net. I went straight to bed as it was past 10:00pm, and I was dead tired. Not even 30 minutes into my sleep I was awaken by the sounds of flying branches hitting my window, and the wind pounding my roof. It was brutal. Widows rattled, the walls shook and I could feel the cold air in the room. Then like clockwork, the power went out, just after the second gust of wind started dumping branches on my roof. No sleep.

The power came back on around 5:00am this morning, and soon after my alarm clock went off. I got dressed and headed off to work. Trees were down everywhere. Because of the darkness, my lack of sleep, and the slippery roads, I hit one of the wooden road barricades, as the main road was closed due to a tree down across it. I backed up, and took another route. I spent today being as quiet as I could. The only real interesting thing that happened that gave me contact with the outside world was the grounds keepers accidentally set off the fire alarm late in the work day. But I continued to lay low until I left for home. Now I am fighting to stay up without napping so that i can get my bio-clock back in sync.

A Weekend of Stuff To Do

I have so much stuff to do, I am way past laughing at it; I now just hit that stage where you just sit there and ponder the list, and mentally place priorities on each item. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. From winterising my place, to cleaning up unfinished projects, I knew time was not on my side.

I wanted to clean up my computer upgrade this weekend. Also, and unexpectedly, the latest upgrade of Ubuntu came along on the 14th, so I knew I had to get that done so that I could clean up all the parts and cases from the hardware I installed last week. When I started the upgrade, it went smooth, and quick. I was happy until I rebooted the computer and the dumb Unity Desktop popped up. I hate that desktop, so I went to switch back to Classic Gnome, and it was gone. In fact, a lot of the programs that I liked were gone. They were there, but they were not migrated over to Ubuntu 11.10, and there no plans to migrate them ever. So, I started searching for fixes to restore the Ubuntu Desktop back to the way I like it. This will take some time. I am frustrated about that.

The cost of things here in Vancouver are now starting to become noticeably high. I know the media is most always days and weeks behind on theses changes, but I do believe that inflation is creeping up at a faster rate then what I thought it was going to be. I went to buy some building supplies to start winterising my place and items like pink foam insulation almost double from six weeks ago when I bought them. Screws and nails really climb up in prices. I actually stopped short my buying spree, and focused on going back home and digging through my buckets of odd and ends for come items.

It is getting cooler out. I got out my winter quilt last night after I found spending more time wrapping my blankets around then sleeping. Maybe they are right, those weather predictor guys who are calling for a super cold winter this year, saying that condition are ripe for record breaking winter temperatures? I hope they are wrong, I really do.

Well, back to my list.

When Trust is Garbage

About a week ago I started seeing the Tweets streaming from members of the Kwantlen Student’s Association (KSA) with regards to the 2006-7 scandal involving allegations of election fixing, misappropriation of moneys, theft and fraud from that council. I was attending Kwantlen at that time, 2006-7, and I do remember having personal issues with the, then Student’s Council. But since then, with all the news about what was going on with that council, at that time, eventually student life mellowed down, and my time there as an undergrad went smoothly.

There was also apathy on my part becuase as I looked at the student’s council as nothing more than just a group of students having fun. I never took into account that that was my money they were squandering with. In fact, I now wonder why I even had to pay into it. I now believe that students should have a choice as to whether they wish to become a member rather than being held hostage with the tuition. I see a need that the government needs to change the law regarding societies, and that students must have the op-out option. Sorry present day KSA members, but this is how I feel about it right now.

Yes, I am that mad about it. When this trust is broken, it can never be rebuilt, because in Canada, white collar crime seems to be nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Justice is lacking here.

I believe that the student’s council must be reconstructed from the ground up, reflecting these past years of abuse, so that transparency and integrity are forged into law. Having elected officials secretly spending money with no worries, covering their tracks  – is – sickening, disturbing and weak.

Very rarely did I have the option of participating in any events with the KSA during my time as an undergraduate. I was a student who worked during the day and did my classes at night. I commuted to the campus, attended my classes, then commuted home. When I think back now, I fed these guys very well with my forced contributions, and that angers me when I read the Forensic Accounting Report of 2007. It is one thing when our Federal, Provincial and Civic leaders miss use our tax money, but quite another when it is a society whose acting in my best interest. Listening to it all over again on the news just opens old wounds again.

What triggered me to write this post?

When I read this news story from the Surrey leader, titled: “Kwantlen student lawsuit on ice,” August 5th, 2011, it made me want to write this post. However, it was not until I read the Forensic Audit from 2007 today that I started writing this post with heated energy. You can read the document here, PWC Forensic Audit 2007, as someone secretly posted it on line. The PDF file is 8.1MB, at 108 pages, and covers a lot of details and heart wrenching accounts of what was going on during that time at the KSA.

This is the first time in a very long time that I had to stop and really focus on what it was I was writing becuase of how much, and how close, this hits home. In hindsight, I should have paid closer attention to the KSA, perhaps even getting involved with it more, but my situation at the time limited me from doing that.

It all seems to be coming out in the wash anyway. Thanks to some students, both members and non-members of the KSA, for caring and taking on the fight to rid the bad, dirty and disgusting from a place of public privilege and trust. If it were not for them, I would be too ashamed to tell people that I was student associated with the KSA.

As for the future students who will pay their fees to the KSA: beware, be forewarned, and be suspicious by keeping an eye on your representatives. These people, your elected council, are there for you. Vote, participate, and get informed becuase without this attitude, the chances of this repeating again in the KSA is a possibility.

Fitting into Change

It has being six weeks now since I started with the new job, new position and new pay. I have made it my mandate to keep everything on track, and to redefine my new roles as they present themselves, plus manage my time efficiently and accordingly so that my life fits comfortably with the changes. Keeping on top, and on track, has made a difference regarding my quick fit into this new world.

My friends have noticed the changes, probably more then me, so that will be something that we will all have to work through in the coming weeks. With these changes comes changes on how we will connect, so we will have to figure out how to deal with spending time and communicating from here on in.

Getting paid was a real experience. First, getting paid, that was kind of nice, but this was my first full pay period, so seeing that much money on one cheque was a very nice feeling. Now the dash to buy the necessary items that I need to work in my new environment. Buying a landline phone was done last week, but that will take some getting used to as I have not had one for nearly 15 years now. I will have to wear a tie from time to time, as looking the part and wearing the uniform of authority and business will now become the norm. I will resist the Bank for as long as possible. Cashing such large cheques is going to be a problem as my employer’s Bank does not like letting go of that much cash in one cheque at one time. (I often wonder if they can really give back all the money that people have in their institutions). This leaves me with my next really big investment, a vehicle, which I will need as there will be lot of commuting form one area to another. Should I buy news, or used – that is the question?

From living as a student for so long, and now finally getting paid a real sum of money, and keeping it, is nice – really nice. Giving the bulk of my money to the University for over six years, and only being able to earn so much, has left scars. It now seems all worth while. The only component of my student lifestyle that is still sticking around into my work lifestyle is the stress. Perhaps I could throw in “lack of sleep” too as the transistion from student to career moves forward?

Anyway, it is all connecting together. Finally, change that I can whole heartily embrace and welcome.