Archive for July, 2009

Don’t Be A Crab!

July 29, 2009

deadlyDon’t be a crab fisherman in Alaska, that is.  If you’re wondering why, just watch a couple of these clips (especially #10 Weather) from Discovery Channel’s hit reality series Deadliest Catch and, trust me, you’ll understand.

The show, which follows a handful of Alaskan crab fishing boats on the storm-tossed Bering Sea, has developed a surprisingly sizeable following over the past five seasons.  And now fans can get an up-close-and-personal look at these commercial fishermen’s world without having to brave the monster waves and brutal cold that go with the job.

Since one of our guiding principles states that “Reality kicks virtual reality’s butt every time,” we’ll only mention the Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm video game in passing.  Better to get up off the couch, put down your Xbox 360 controller, and head for downtown Seattle’s Fisherman’s Terminal where you can tour the Sea Star, one of the fishing boats that starred in the show’s first season.

For a more immersive experience, book a spot on the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour that sets sail from the port of Ketchikan, Alaska.  Climb aboard the 107-foot Aleutian Ballad, the only crab fishing boat designed and licensed to carry paying passengers, for a three-hour tour where you can watch the crew set and haul in 700-pound crab pots filled with a variety of marine life including crabs, octopus,  cod, and even sharks, all of which get plopped into a live tank for your viewing pleasure before they’re returned to their watery home.

If that’s just not authentic enough for you, check out this page on the Deadliest Reports blog for tips on finding a job on a real Alaskan fishing boat.  And if you’re, ahem, lucky enough to land a spot working on one of these boats, well, just don’t say we didn’t warn you!


Going “Postal”?

July 21, 2009

Look, I spend a lot of time online and like drooling over the latest high-tech toys as much as the next guy.  But I also realize that there are an awful lot of stubbornly low-tech folks out there who remain convinced this whole email thing is just another passing fad.

phonecardWhich is precisely what makes this new goPostal iPhone application so cool.  Once you download the free app from the iTunes Store, you’ll be able to shoot photos with your iPhone’s built-in camera, add your personal message and an address, and send the image as an actual full-color postcard via good old-fashioned snail mail.  If you don’t have an iPhone yet, you can also use the service from your computer by visiting this page on the company’s website.

Best of all each postcard costs just $1.29 including postage, which makes this personalized service comparable to the generic store-bought cards you’ve been sending for years.  Neat.

Picture Perfect

July 13, 2009

penguin_photographyOver the last, oh, century or so National Geographic has developed a well-deserved reputation for stunning photography.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say having even a single image published in the magazine would be a dream come true for any serious amateur photographer.

Which is exactly why I think this new contest from, Gap Adventures, and the National Geographic Channel sounds like such an extraordinary experience.  The winner will accompany noted wildlife photographer Jason Edwards as he shoots an assignment for the magazine in Antarctica November 22-December 2 and will have their photos and journal entries from the trip put up online for all the world to see.  To secure this spot, you’ll have to show the Jason your best photojournalism stuff, including a series of up to five narrative photos and a 300-word essay on why you think you deserve to be the lucky wiener.

If it turns out you’re not chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, you might want to check out NatGeo’s long list of photography expeditions that let you explore exotic locales while getting tips from the pros on how to make vacation slide shows that your friends and relations will actually want to watch!

Summer Skirmishes

July 5, 2009

beltring06_024Okay, time for a show of hands: How many of you out there grew up playing army? You know, running through the woods attacking an imaginary enemy in mock battles where there was just as much glory in leading your squad to victory as there was in faking a highly melodramatic death?

Well, the annual War And Peace Show in Kent, England later this month takes that familiar childhood fantasy to a whole ‘nother level.  In fact, the four-day event pretty well proves that old line about the difference between men and boys being the price of their toys is more than just another cliché.

One of the largest events of its kind worldwide, the show draws thousands of hardcore military history buffs, grown men (and women) who roll into town with some serious toys including more than 3,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery pieces.  There will be static displays and live battle reenactments on the ground and plenty of action in the skies, including a simulated dogfight between a WWII German Messerschmitt and British Spitfire fighter planes.

If you can’t make it to this show, not to worry.  You’ll find a long list of other military reenactment groups—from Roman Legionnaires to Viet Nam-era GIs—and events online at