The Tiny House movement and travel

The Tiny House Movement and travel combine well together. In this video a Czech couple bought a fan and transformed it into a self contained home to live in for a year. They chose it because they wanted room for the surfboards, wet suits and more. It has space for cooking lamb shanks, socialising and sleeping. You can enter the van both from the front and the back.

I really like the idea of this van. It would be fun to travel for a few months from place to place, do what there is to do, see what there is to see and then move on. This would adapt well to hiking, climbing, via ferrata and other sports. It allows you to live comfortably without spending money on hotels, villas or other places.

The project cost them around 10,000 dollars to build so if you work and save up for a few months you could easily take a gap year and afford to do such a project. Working on such a project does require some skills in wood working. He said that it took hundreds, if not thousands of hours to prepare the van. If you’re travelling then a few steps a day for a few weeks would get to this final result.

At one moment they speak about the herb garden that they have in the glove box. As they had the space they planted some mint and other herbs for cooking. As a result of this herb garden they said that when driving on rough roads the Mint plant gets shaken about and in the process the van smells of mint. It’s a natural air freshener.

In a month they will move on and sell the van to continue travelling. If I was travelling to New Zealand I’d like to try living in a van like this and use it as a base to go hiking, climbing and enjoying other sports. This seems like a pleasant way of travelling.

 

The Golden Dream – The Golden Cage

The Golden Dream, known in Spanish as The Golden Cage is an observational film that follows three teenagers as they travel to Guatemala along railroad tracks north towards the United States. During the journey they need to work to make money, face attacks from the police, immigration police and gangs. When one of the characters finally arrives in the US he works cleaning a slaughterhouse after the workers have finished their shift.

Trump supporters and Brexit voters need to watch these films because the trip from economically less developed countries to economically more developed countries is not an easy one. It requires the taking of risks. In this context they face organised crime, heat and other challenges.

I watched this film at the Graduate Institute yesterday night. It was shown within the context of the Global Migration Film Festival. During the discussion at the end of the screening the panel spoke about some of the other challenges that people face such as human trafficers and more. Two aspects we do not see are the injuries that people sustain falling off of trains and rape is alluded to rather than shown.

The Invisible City [Kakuma] – Trailer (ENG) – Lieven Corthouts from Cassette for timescapes on Vimeo.

People need to watch these documentaries and films. Awareness of these issues needs to be endemic to the Western World. Yesterday they said something to the effect that “This is not a crisis, this is a norm.” They said that because this was a situation that has been going on for decades changes need to be made. Permanent solutions need to be found to improve the lives for all of those that are affected.

It is a shame that rather than see a growth in compassion and cooperation we are seeing people like Trump elected and ideas like Brexit adopted. The trend needs to be reversed and that is where documentaries and films can help open peoples’ eyes. Society needs to move away from populism and fast.

The Global Migration Film Festival
The Global Migration Film Festival

Steep – A Snowboarding, skiing, Parapente and Base Jumping game

Winter is coming and snow has fallen on the local peaks and then melted again. The temptation to go snowboarding in real life is back. While waiting to go and do sports in the real world Ubisoft give us the opportunity to simulate the experiences of snowboarding, skiing, base jumping and paragldiding.

I know three of these sports. I ski, I snowboard and I recently tasted my first paragliding flight.As I watched the trailer above and Jack Septiceye’s video of the game it reminded me of so many of the extreme sports videos I have watched. It also reminded me of the FIFAD event as well as the Montagne En Scène events. It pays a nice tribute to the culture of snowboarding and extreme sports that many of us have grown up with. It also harkens back to the days when I would edit the events that are mentioned in the trailer to this game.

This would be a good game to have in the chalet while waiting for the snow to fall or the conditions to improve.

I understand why the game filled me with passion. I liked seeing places that we know. It’s because the game developers are in Annecy so they’re playing in the same landscape as us. They’re snowboarders and skiers so they understand the sensations and they’re trying to emulate them in the game. When watching the paragliding sequences I like that we hear the flight computer’s beep as you ascend at different rates. It’s one aspect that you really notice the first time you try paragliding. That’s a nice touch for the game.

From the videos I have watched so far it looks as though they have managed to capture all of these sensations in the game. This looks like a really enjoyable game to play. The game should provide people with a nice amount of escapism. As they get used to the controls and as the community for this game grows so the ties that bind this community will grow. It looks excellent.

Negotiating Overhangs

Negotiating overhangs is physical, fun and sometimes scary. It is for this reason that the Via Ferrata de Thônes via ferrata section is such fun. It gets your adrenaline pumping as you fight to keep hold and clip and unclip in the relevant sections. It forces you to overcome your fear of being over the void. The third section of the Via Ferrata de Saillon is a challenge for the very same reason.

The video above shows rock climbers at the IFSC World cup negotiating an overhanging wall and trying various techniques to get further than other people. We see how they use heel hooks and go for it before losing their grip and falling. This footage is fun because we see them work to solve the problem in a number of ways and then fall. When they fall the belayer slows down but does not stop the fall so it looks as if they are falling towards the ground. Imagine an ordinary person getting that sensation. It would scare them.

Fear is good because it keeps us safe. It means that we’re thinking of the consequences and we are aware of the dangers. It means that we will only progress within our comfort level. If we have doubt we can climb down to the nearest quick draw and rest. If we ignore that fear then we may fall. By staying in our comfort zone we are safer.

When you’re climbing you know when you have good foot holds and hand holds. You also know how long you will be able to stay in that position. The more afraid you are the more energy you burn. That’s why positioning is important. In the video above we see that one person decided to climb feet first through the overhanging section. Our leg and feet muscles are much stronger than our arm muscles so they allow us more time to think of a solution. With time all of these climbers could have negotiated that section.

 

Watching independent film rather than mainstream cinema

When I saw the Wired headline below I was happily going to say that I haven’t been to see a film at the cinema in years but that isn’t strictly true. As you have seen from my blog I have been an active appreciator of independent films. I was at FIFAD earlier this month and I was at the Montagne En Scène a few months ago. I have been to a few film screenings at the Graduate institute among other places.

I have been to see quite a few films this year
I have been to see quite a few films this year

I love watching good films and I love going to the cinema but at the moment there isn’t a single mainstream film that I want to see. Every single film is filled with CGI and fantasy and as I have joked about why would I spend 25 swiss francs on a film ticket to go to a film screen at a specific time when I could watch youtube gameplay videos and discover the story at the same time as the youtuber.

Last week I decided to stop my netflix subscription for two reasons. The first reason is that the content is crap. As they have a selection of films that have recently been shown at the cinema there is nothing that makes me think “That’s what I want to spend the next 90 minutes of my life watching.

Imagine if Netflix showed more extreme sports, adventure, environmental and other films. Imagine if they showed films that make us dream and aspire to more. Films need to be for other people than sci-fi geeks. They need to be for sports enthusiasts, for people that follow current affairs and for people that live in the real, rather than fictional world.

When I was living in the South West of England I went to the cinema ninety times in 9 months and what burned out was not my passion for the cinema but my ability to watch the same story line over and over again. The lack of creativity and originality is destroying people’s desire to go to the cinema. I have no reason to go to Pathé or other cinema complexes around Geneva because they do not show the films that I want to see. They do not address my niche.

Montagne en Scène, FIFAD and I think the Coupe Icare film festival fulfil my desire to watch films. They cover topics that I am either interested in passionate about.

Les Icares du Cinema 2015 from coupeicare on Vimeo.

Doesn’t the trailer for the film festival make you want to go? Don’t you want to watch people pushing themselves to the limit of their courage and endurance? I watch a trailer for an event like this and I definitely want to go. It fills my desire to challenge myself through the sports I do but also to see beautiful scenery and lanscapes. Why would I want to go and see CGI films when I can see extreme athletes challenge themselves and their equipment to the limits. Watch the video below.

Coupe Icare 2016 from coupeicare on Vimeo.

I watched this video at least twice and you see that whilst hollywood is filling its films with make believe the independent sector is documenting those with a real adventurous spirit. Imagine going to the event for the film festival and staying for the aerobatics.

For years now the film industry has been re-hashing the same content with no appreciation of societal changes. As a result they fail to capture our imagination and our desire to spend money. They need to inject new blood and find new creative directions that will make us want to go to the multiplexes rather than independent events. I enjoy the multiplex experience but the content dissuades me.

The Theta+ Video app is available

Yesterday the Theta+ Video app came out for Android. The Theta+ video app allows you to trim video clips and then share them to social networks. This means that you no longer need to wait until you get home to prepare content for sharing. You can do it while you sit and have a post activity hot chocolate or other drink.

Video options
Video options

When you select the raw video it is converted to be a spherical video. When that process completes you can choose between creating a 360 degree video or a cropped one. A cropped one is a tinyworld video.

Filters, Trim and music
Filters, Trim and music

The next menu gives you three choices, filters, trim or background music. I never bother with filters and the trim option is fiddly on the Sony Xperia Z5 compact with a 13 minute video. With a shorter video I would have found this process easier. Saving is not intuitive. First you trim the video and then you go back and save the changes. While saving you need to keep the app open.

The sharing options are to Facebook, youtube and other social networks. This varies according to which apps you have on your phone. I like that the two first options are facebook and youtube as these are the networks that I usually share to. When I tried to upload to youtube it failed twice. When I attempted to upload to Facebook it was stuck at 99 percent twice.

This is a great app to trim videos before sharing and add some music when required. What I would like to see in future versions is the ability to compile a number of 360 videos together to create edited sequences. They need to improve uploading so that it works better. At the moment of posting all attempts to share videos failed.

Colin Furze and the 360 Swing

When you have lengths of pipe, a welder, a water container and a big enough garden you can get up to some mischief. Colin Furze and the 360 Swing are an interesting demonstration of this. In the first two videos you see him build the structure and in the next two videos you see him do some 360 swings with the structure.

He is a plumber by profession but makes some fun and entertaining videos for youtube in his free time. In these videos he has built a flame throwing guitar, magnetic shoes, built a bunker, created eccentric door bells and more. He also made a firework shooting bazooka and put a motor bike engine in a tuktuk.

The video above is a behind the scenes look at part of the discussions and includes some drone footage of the swing being used to successfully complete a few 360 rotations on the swing with and without the motor.

When you see him add the paramotor to the swing you see that he has taken the idea too far. By the end of the video he feels a little weaker as you’d expect. I don’t know how many Gs he put himself through. It was enough to make him feel unwell by the end of the clip.

I enjoy watching the building process of these eccentric contraptions because we see that safety is taken in to consideration. In either the first or the second video he says that he usually does two things. The first one is built off camera to make sure that he knows what he is doing and when he is confident he builds a component for the second time on camera. In this project we see that there is a reasonable amount of testing to make sure that everything behaves properly before moving on to the next step.

There are a number of videos like this on youtube that teach you about engineering and building eccentric machines. Colin Furze is just one of many youtube video makers to build things and then use them.

Squadron Scramble – book review

Squadron Scramble is an interesting book to read in post-BREXIT England because it highlights aspects of the Second World War that BREXITers forget about. It looks at how the main character had to flee France via Dunkirk as well as the situation that Polish airmen had found themselves in. First they lost their homes, then they had to flee France when it was invaded and finally they went to England via North Africa.

You can read more about Polish Air Forces in France and Great Britain following this link for factual rather than fictional information and context. The book provides us with an easy to read, easy to understand scenario. If you had lost your country and you were flying for a third country would you want to shoot pilots as they parachute to safety or would you allow them to live.

If you were in England during the Second World War at what point would you have felt secure and confident that Germany would be overwhelmed and beaten. When would the battle shift from a fight for survival to a fight for supremacy?

This book focuses on the air war during daylight hours when Hurricanes and Spitfires were in their element and only glimpses at dog fighting at night. The book touches superficially on a number of topics without providing as much depth and context as it could.

This is an interesting documentary about the Polish contribution to the Battle of Britain. It shows how effectively they helped to fight the German Luftwaffe and how they were betrayed by the British people once the war was over. They had fought to defend England and defeat the Germans in order to ensure that their country would be freed from the Germans only to be betrayed when their country was handed over to the communists. Some of them went back to Poland but had to flee to other countries. They were not honoured in the victory parade either. The documentary is interesting as it provides its viewers with a good account of the Polish contribution to the British and Allied war effort.

FIFAD – Day 7

When we watch the news and when we read articles from France we often hear about the disadvantaged youth and the mischief that they get up to. Par-Delà les Hauteurs, shown at FIFAD, is a documentary about a team of youths who go to the Alps and experience the mountains for the first time. The aim later in the film is to go to the Himalayas and experience the high mountains.

Bande Démo “Par-delà les hauteurs” from Monsieur Girafe on Vimeo.

This documentary is pleasant because it breaks some of the stereotypes that we have. We see a team of young people who are part of football teams prepare for and then head to the mountains. In the first instance they are introduced to the mountains and then they are given a medical checkup to see whether they are physically sound to go to high altitude for an adventure.

In the medical checkup they cycle at a simulated altitude of 4800 metres before being cleared for the trip. They are then kitted up and head to high altitude. In this trip we see them full of energy when they arrive before feeling the effects of altitude, slowing down and in two cases needing to be put in a hyperbaric chamber of sorts to see whether they can counteract the effects of mild hypoxia. High altitude is much about physical fitness as mental stamina.

In the end these young people have been given a fantastic opportunity to experience a different culture, to see how people react to them and to see a different landscape than they are used to in their ordinary lives.

On this day I had the pleasure of experiencing my first parapente flight and as a result did not watch the other films. One was about wildlife in the Alps and another of the films was Jumbo Wild. They cover topics that I am interested in. By this point in the week I had spent enough time watching documentaries and films.

FIFAD Day 4 – Youth and Alpinism

The fourth Day of FIFAD could have had the banner of youth and children of Alpinism. It began with a conference by Swiss university students who had travelled to Siberia for their projects, a short documentary about the actress who played Heidi in the recent film, disadvantaged youth who went to the mountains to help on a farm, The Makers of Dreams about the Geneva CAS branch and how it encourages young people to experiment with Alpinism and trekking. The last documentary of the evening was about Polish and British people going to the base of K2. Their parents were alpinists who went to climb the mountain but never came back.

K2 Touching the Sky

K2 Touching the sky was an interesting documentary because I cannot make up my mind as to whether the documentary is about death or whether it is a documentary about Alpinism and being a parent. The documentary starts with the question “Can I be a mother and an Alpinist” and ends with a shot of that same woman holding a baby next to a river. This documentary explores how children react and feel to the knowledge that their parents died doing what they were passionate about.

Face to Face

Degrees North is different from the other films because it shows nice images of two mountain guides climbing and having a conversation about the difference in attitude between climbers in different parts of the world. They speak of the Japanese climbers who spent one month working to ascend the North Face of the Eiger as well as of other routes and groups of people.

Degrees North

Freeride films are all alike once the people strap on the snowboard and head down the mountain. What makes the documentary or film relevant is how those people get to the mountains, the steep slopes and more. This film is fun because it combines parapentes, a propeller and drop-offs straight on to the mountain. They say “If we were using the parapente now we could be up the mountain in 10 minutes rather than spend four or five hours climbing up. They also speak of the ability for reconnaissance and appreciating the routes that are spotted.

Voyous à L’Alpage

Disadvantaged youth who have been locked up for a number of reasons at a young age are allowed to go up to a farm in the mountains and help with the daily running of the place. This is an opportunity for them to learn new skills in a nice Alpine setting. Imagine misbehaving in this part of the world and being sent up to spend time up in the mountains like this. In theory they can run away and one or two do but overall this is a great way to experience something else than the environment in which they might live or grow up.

Conclusion

The mountains provide a beautiful environment in which for people to grow up and enjoy snowboarding, via ferrata, rock climbing, alpinism and more. There is of course an inherent risk of death which did figure prominently in some of the documentaries. At the same time as the mountains are deadly they provide opportunities for the enjoyment of sports, people and more. Yesterday’s selection of films highlighted this well.