Author: Michael Kwan

Tazo Green Tea Latte

As I sat there in the Starbucks on the UBC campus, bashing at the keyboard to write my slate of Mobile Magazine articles, sipping at my vanilla latte, the nice young lady wearing the standard green apron came around with a tray of shooter glasses. Well, not exactly, but they were these little cups filled with non-descript bubbly green fluid. I’m not much of a morning person, so it didn’t dawn on me (no pun intended) right away that these were samples of Starbucks’ new “Tazo Green Tea Latte.” She offered me a cup, and how could I resist, despite the fact that my (purchased) grande cup was still half full. I put my huge latte aside and took a sip from the tiny white paper cup. Obviously, it didn’t taste quite as heavy as your standard espresso-based latte, so it was quite the refreshing change, despite the fact that I don’t believe this green tea latte is exactly anything “new”. Instead, it’s something that’s a little newly packaged with some extra marketing thrown in (they had their run-of-the-mill promotional posters and whatnot kicking around). The price is the same as the rest of their menu, so yes, a cuppa joe (or green tea, rather) will put you back almost the same as a full meal deal at McDonald’s. As I write this, yet another young lady came by...

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Still Recovering

This is a little disheartening, but it’s nearly four months since Christmas and I’ll still recovering from the holiday blahs. It’s not really the lack of the festive season or the onslaught of gift giving (and receiving), so it’s not that aspect that I’m talking about. It’s the fact that I haven’t been particularly active as of late, because, well, it’s Vancouver and the weather doesn’t exactly co-operate. I have been going to badminton (for 3 hours) on a weekly basis, which isn’t too shabby, but I need something else. I did have a chance to head out and play some tennis outside today, and that was certainly refreshing, but I still feel so sluggish a lot of the time. And no, it’s not for a lack of caffeine. It could very well be because I spend so much time staring at a computer monitor these days, and not nearly as much looking (or being) outside in the “great outdoors.” It doesn’t help that we haven’t been getting a heck of a lot of sun lately either. My upcoming trip to Los Angeles should do it for me. It’ll be warm, bright… and expensive. Send me those writing projects...

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Channel surfing

You know you’re getting old when you start saying things like, “I remember when I was younger…” or “Things aren’t like they used to be”, or — perish the thought — something as extreme as “Those were the days, weren’t they?” I find myself doing that when it comes to television programming “these days.” Growing up, not to toot my own horn, but I was always pretty good when it came to school, and as a result, didn’t spend nearly as much time doing homework and studying as the average chap. More of my waking hours were spent watching the boob tube — either actual TV programs or playing one of my many Nintendo gaming consoles — than shoving my head in the books. I grew up watching TV sitcoms and cartoons, and the combination of the two known as professional wrestling (who can forget the Hulkster and the Macho Man). Classic, cheesy after school shows catered to the younger set, like Full House (ABC), Saved by the Bell (NBC), and the like, were what filled up my weekday afternoons. Gone are the days of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and (I’m not ashamed to say) the Golden Girls. In their stead, we find the umpteenth reality show, be it some poor amateur thinking they can belt it out like Celine Dion, some fools running across the country...

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On The Line

I was On The Line with Joseph Planta earlier today, where I was on the receiving end of an interview. We discussed the meaning of life, whether a tree that fell in the forest would actually make a sound, and about potatoes. On a more serious note, we talked about, the phenomenon of trade shows (like the recent Vancouver International Auto Show, once known as the BC Auto Show and as as the Pacific International Auto Show), the Canucks chances (or lack thereof), and few other things as they came up. Check it out at:...

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Canucks, Why Must You Torment Me So?

Every year it’s same for the Vancouver Canucks, not only the squad that plays at General Motors Place, but even harkening back to the days of the old Pacific Colisseum on the PNE Fairgrounds where the WHL Giants play today. This year is a little different, however, not only because of the whole Todd Bertuzzi fiasco (from what seems like eons ago now, but still exerts its powerful effects today) that is leading Big Bert to play more like a wimped-out Ernie, but the possibility that the (arguably) best hockey team we’ve had in some time might not be making the playoffs. Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (which guaranteed the latter a playoff spot) was depressing enough, but to lose again tonight (5-4 overtime) to the San Jose Sharks (which guaranteed the latter a playoff spot… seeing a pattern here?) all but eliminates the ‘Nucks from post-season play. Come next season (I’ve already thrown in the towel for this year’s Stanley Cup. After all, if by the remotest of chances the Canucks actually hit the ice and make the playoffs this year, they’ll likely be the 8th seed and thus face off against the nearly unbeatable Detroit Red Wings. As much as the Canucklehead in me wants to cheer on the home team and see them through to glory, I don’t foresee that happening), we’re going...

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Save Your Gas – Three Tips

Gas prices are growing faster than our wallets (industry experts are saying it’s going to top a buck-twenty this summer in the Vancouver area). There’s already the obvious stuff, like minimizing the number of trips you make, participating in carpooling, walking or biking short distances instead of driving, and everything else of that ilk, but for a lot of us, driving is a necessity sometimes. Here are three key tips will save you money and keep your fuel costs down. Regular oil changes: Different cars need their oil changed at different intervals, so check your owner’s manual. That said, most vehicles fall somewhere in the 5000-8000 kilometre (3000 to 5000 miles) range these days. Don’t cheap out on this. If your engine’s internals aren’t properly lubricated (clean that dirty mind of yours), it has to work that much harder to do the same amount of work, not to mention the potential damage that you can cause. Other regular maintenance things will also keep your car running efficiently, like checking on the fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs, distributor, and all that good stuff. Appropriate tire pressure: Under-inflated tires can have a significant impact on your fuel economy, and you should be checking your tire pressures every couple of weeks. That said, don’t over-inflate either. Over-inflated tires create a smaller contact patch with the road and can be quite dangerous...

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Save Your Gas – Introduction

I’m not going to bore you with a super long list of tips on how to improve your fuel economy. What I am going to provide is what I consider to be the top three reasons why people experience poor gas mileage, and can’t seem to figure out why. This will come as an entry in the very near future, but for now, I’d like to provide a tip that I think everyone should adhere to. Keep track of your gas mileage It sounds simple enough, but far too few people actually do this. The easiest way to keep track consists of three simple steps. Fill your gas tank and clear your trip meter Drive drive drive When you feel like filling your tank again, make note of what your trip meter is at. Fill as usual, and make note of how many litres (or gallons for you American folk) you had to pump to fill the tank. You now know what kind of fuel economy you’re getting. For example, if at the time of the second fill, let’s say the trip meter reads 400 kilometres and you had to pump in 40 litres. You are getting 10 kilometres per litre, or about 10.0L/100km (Canadian system). For our American friends, I’m sure you can figure out how to use the same system to determine miles per gallon. I like...

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Tomorrow is your last chance to head out to BC Place Stadium to catch the Vancouver International Auto Show, so if you want to catch a glimpse of a few vehicles that you probably won’t be seeing any time soon (if at all), and/or sit and play with the innards of cars without having to deal with heavy pressure from sales staff, you better get your ass in gear… so to speak (and pardon my French). In this installment of my series, I’ll give a brief runover of a few drop-top roadsters that caught my eye at the show, without delving into too much detail as to bore you half to death. I didn’t see the Honda S2000 at the show, and understandably so, I suppose, because that car has been on the market for more than half a decade already. The automotive industry is fully expecting a redesign of Honda’s track whore some time soon, but no new pictures have been leaked, nor have any details concerning power/suspension upgrades arisen. Don’t get pulled into the recent April Fool’s gag that had the “new” S2000 sporting a V6 and AWD. The Pontiac Solstice has been a moderate success, with very round lines and a bulgy nose. I find it much more appealing than the Chrysler Crossfire (for whatever reason), and it should compete quite nicely in the moderately-priced (read...

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Working Like a Dog

I’ve been meaning to put another entry or two in my series of pieces covering the Vancouver International Auto Show, and I fully intend on putting in at least two more before the car exhibition wraps up and jets out of BC Place Stadium this Sunday, but it’s been pretty busy for this lowly freelance writer. I’ve upped my production over at Mobile Magazine, continuing the trend that I started since first getting employed by the technology news blog nearly six months ago. Last month, I put in over 200 articles for the beast, but at the pace I’m running thus far this month, I’m going to go well over that number even though there are three fewer working days this month. In the past 3 days, I’ve written 46 news pieces for Mobile Magazine… that’s a lot. To add to that, I’ve been planted with a pretty substantial project over at LoveToKnow Video Games. In addition to my usual load of 20 high quality pieces each month (reviews, cheat codes, news, and the like), every article ever written needs to reviewed, edited and “fixed” for keyword spam and uniformity. SEO (search engine optimization) is not an exact science — far from, actually — so it takes the odd tweak or two to make sure you’re getting the best Google placement. Busy busy busy. But hey, I’m a glutton...

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Welcome to part two of the ongoing series on the Vancouver International Auto Show. Today, we look at the ultra compact segment, one of the fastest growing areas in the world of automobiles. Tiny cars have been popular in places like Tokyo, London, and other large cities because of their ability to zip around the narrow streets and fit into the tiniest of parking spots, but with the surging gas prices, they’re picking up speed — so to speak — in North America as well. At VIAS, there were a few of these sporty little hatchbacks that caught my eye and a handful that flew under the radar. From Toyota, we find the Yaris, which is available in a 3-door or 5-door hatchback as well as a super small sedan. Speaking of the hatchback only, it is perhaps one of the most bubble-like designs with a very round form factor. There is a large Toyota emblem in the front, the gauges are mounted in the center of the dash rather than directly in front of the driver, and you’ll get a fairly adequate MP3/WMA stereo system. Although it is underpowered at 106hp, you have to take in account how small (and light) this vehicle is. A race car it is not, but sure seems like a fun, zippy ride. Prices start in the 13s, but expect to be getting...

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Michael Kwan
Hi, I'm Michael. By day, I'm a freelance writer. By night, I'm still a freelance writer. I'm also a proud father, a voracious foodie, an avid traveler, a gadget geek, and a thinker who thinks he might be thinking too much. Beyond the Rhetoric is a reflection of my eclectic entrepreneurial life.

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Beyond the Margins, by Michael Kwan