Monday, 30 November 2009

Strathcona School Garden

There have been plans afoot to do some landscape gardening in the kindergarten playground of the school that my nephew goes to. A landscape architect had drawn up plans, a promise had been secured of plant donations, our friend Tom had offered a dump truck of soil from Harper’s Gardening Centre, where he works.

I put the word out throughout the neighbourhood asking for some volunteers to come with shovels and wheelbarrows to help. I fully expected that it would look like a scene from that mawkish Worlds Most Extreme Home Makeover (or whatever it’s called – can’t watch that saccharine spectacle) with a hundred hopped up helpers. Alas, come Sunday morning, it was only the five of us.
First we pulled out a lot of dead plants and weeds, and broke up the ground where the soil was meant to go. What was there was hard and lifeless. Some of it looked like bags of portland cement had been poured into the ground as fill.
5 cubic yards of rich soil from the kind folks at Harper’s Gardening Centre.
Then came the back breaking task of shoveling it into wheelbarrows and wheeling it into place.
We hung up a bag to make it easier to put all of the dead plants, garbage and abundant pine needles in.
Besides putting soil into beds, the two pine trees were also pruned of a lot of low hanging dead branches.
Shoveling all that earth was a task and a half, but it felt good being able to help. Nothing will be planted until the spring, but it’s ready to go when it rolls around.

Friday, 20 November 2009

S.o.t.D. – The Power of Bhangra – Snap

The Power by Snap is pure brilliance, but this remix takes it a step beyond.

S.o.t.D. – The Power – Snap

Blew my mind the first time I heard it. Still unbelievably good. I would love to see a bunch of uptight religious fundamentalists try not to dance as this was being played.

S.o.t.D. – Untogether – Lush

Untogether – Lush 

Loved this band! Another of the bands that made 4AD so great.

S.o.t.D. – Six Days – DJ Shadow

S.o.t.D. – Sitting Still Moving Still Staring Outlooking – His Name Is Alive

Sitting Still Moving Still Staring Outlooking – His Name Is Alive

S.o.t.D. – Subzero – Nuspirit Helsinki

Kind of an evocative, funky, jazzy lounger.

S.o.t.D. – Funky Nawari – Jeff Stott

Friday, 13 November 2009

S.o.t.D. – Monument – Kilowatts

S.o.t.D. – Emotions of Paradise – Miro

Looovve the 303 bass line in this.

Sosoetry – Wanda

After writing one silly poem about a co-worker, I then wrote another one not long thereafter. This time about Wanda. Likeable little fuss budget who knew about everything going on in town and had no qualms about chewing some local official out if things weren’t being done to better the town.

With the fury of a sword wielding saxon

And a voice like an air raid klaxon
Like a grouchy biker on a Honda
Step aside, here comes Wanda
We can often hear her mumbling
Steer clear when she’s grumbling
She appears to be under a lot of stress
It gets that way working at the Express
Only after she’s put to rest the paper
Does her grumpiness start to taper
Sometimes she’s pretty cheerful
Screw up and she’ll give you an earful
Now why is she a curmudgeon?
She just saw a sidewalk smudgeon
And if she’s ever cursing and grumpy
It’s because the park looks dumpy
“Hey you workmen cease that fun!
Those road repairs must be done!”
You’d better mow that grass
Or she’ll kick your ass
Those skateboarders had best obey her
She wields more clout than the mayor
She can at times be preachy
And occasionally a little screechy
Some might say she’s a meddler
I think she’s nuts for liking Bette Midler
Even though she’s a Wetland Suzie
No one will ever call her a floozie
Often times she wears a scowl or a frown
But you know deep down she loves this town
She really cares about this community
Scofflaws will get no immunity
She’s been here since days of old
Through it all she’s had a heart of gold
Maybe it’s that fiery Greek blood
I hear it’s thicker than Catfish Creek mud

Why you little…

S.o.t.D. – Spinning Whale – Cell

A plane I’d love to have.

Went to Remembrance Day ceremonies yesterday. About the only time of year that I get a bit emotional. 

While hurrying to get there I heard that unmistakable sound of four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, as well as some others. A B-25 Mitchell came roaring over, followed by a Lancaster and accompanied by a C-130 Hercules, all of them quite low. I didn’t get my camera out in time to get any pictures of that awesome sight, but off in the distance I could see, but more distinctly, hear the snarl of three Harvards, with a PBY Canso bringing up the rear. Always thought it and its close cousin, the Catalina, were such cool planes. If I had the opportunity to get any plane, I think that would be it
. Cover huge distances and land on either land or water. Talk about an adventure vehicle.

Typeface Design – SubRosa

An early orthogonal typeface, dating back to 1992.

Gettting involved

I have a tendency to be a bit of an anti-social hermit. It’s just so easy to tinker in my workroom or sit behind a computer and design things. Or grab my pack and disappear into the woods for a while. But that is tempered by a sense of compassion and concern, and a desire to get involved on some level. That’s the odd dichotomy of me. On the one hand I’m a perfectly content loner, and on the other hand I quite genuinely like interacting with people, and I think I can establish a rapport with most. While I’m perfectly happy wandering far off into the forest, I also care about the neighbourhood I live in, and take small steps to make sure it’s safe and liveable for all its inhabitants. It’s where I live. It’s where Anand goes to school. It’s where my friends live and work. It’s where we walk and garden and shop and play and socialize. It’s important.

Getting worked up about the environmentally unsound practices of a human rights abusing dictator on the other side of the world, strikes me as well intentioned but futile. While the results of simple actions in one’s immediate environment may not seem as profound, I think ultimately those are the things that do have real ramifications for the world at large. You know, that whole “think globally, act locally” maxim.

I recently got involved with a local guerrilla gardening group, and think that is great fun. I recently made the suggestion that if the idea is to make neighbourhoods more attractive and foster a sense of community, perhaps we could volunteer to help some seniors who can’t really do the physical aspects of gardening anymore. Everybody thought that was a swell idea.

I’ve been to some of the meetings of my local community council. I’ve sent info to them a few times. I’ve chatted with some of the members. I like what they’re doing. I got an email from them last week, asking if I’d like to join the council, as a member at large. No huge time commitment, no daunting responsibilities. Come out once a month and discuss things that are pertinent to the neighbourhood. Which I did last night. And thought it was a very worthwhile thing. Good group of people, interested and committed, and taking pro-active steps to making our little corner of the world better. And it just feels nice to be involved on some level. My contribution may only be a small one, but it’s still far better than doing nothing. I already somehow got roped into coming up with a logo. I think I can do that.

I can wrap my brain pretty easily around the area I can walk in a day. I can communicate with the people around me. I can contribute my time and energy to making a positive change.
I can very easily see the positive and negative outcomes of peoples actions. I understand the desire to try and address all the worlds ills. But it just ends up leaving you frustrated. I’ve come to the conclusion that doing small things in my neighbourhood to make it a better place is more immediate and controllable. And I guess it all boils down to Gandhi’s “be the positive change you want to see” adage. 

So I got off my butt to try and do my bit. And it feels…pretty darn good.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Logo – Skull Hand

A logo for a metal band.

S.o.t.D. – Descendants – Shen

Another guise of a fantastic Toronto DJ, Noah Pred.

Lego – F-13 Blue Jay

Thomas Industries has developed the new F-13 Blue Jay.
The F-13 is a sophisticated fighter-bomber.
Small and agile, it is a highly maneuverable air craft. It’s equipped with two 30 mm cannons.
It’s a two seater plane – the navigator/bombardier sits in the front and the pilot sits in the back.
The F-13 is both a nimble interceptor and a deadly accurate close air support bomber.
Equipped with the latest avionics and two side mounted turbo thrust engines that allow for its awesome agility.
The main power is provided by two massive ramjet engines.
It can carry just about any payload, including photo reconnaissance pods, humanitarian relief canisters, cruise missiles, whatever the circumstances call for.
This time it’s carrying two 10,000 pound RFD laser guided bombs.

Yet another incredible vehicle from the inventive minds in the laboratories over at Thomas Industries.

Friday, 6 November 2009


I had encountered a very friendly grey kitten around my place a few times. She was abandoned by someone in the neighbourhood, and it didn’t take long before she adopted the neighbours.
Anand decided that her name should be Mimi.
An incredibly sweet, and friendly cat (perhaps just a tad too friendly) who is nonetheless a killing machine. Her ability to catch mice (and birds, and snakes, and chipmunks, and squirrels, and insects) is prodigious. Her mousing sprees are interrupted only by trying to befriend everyone that passes by.
She’s always incredibly happy to see me.
Great cat.
I put my pack down and immediately she clambers on and uses it as a perch to check out her turf.


The neighbours were out for a walk in the park and were approached by a tiny kitten. So small it was having difficulty walking through the grass. It came right up to them and made lots of mewling noises. They waited around for a while to see if there were any others, but he appeared to be the only one. It didn’t take long before they decided to take him home.
Since they already had a cat called Mimi, Anand decided this one should be called Momo.
The vet told them that he was about four weeks old, and from a feral litter. Surprised that no other members of the litter approached them, the vet said that often with a litter of barn cats, if there are a dozen, 11 will have nothing to do with people, and one will be downright friendly towards humans.
While it was perhaps really foolish of him to approach people so brazenly, on the other hand, it was perhaps an amazingly smart survival strategy. He would now go on to have a really good life. Certainly compared to any of his litter mates living along the cliff would have.
From a tiny little fuzzball that looked small in my hand, he’s grown into an amazing character. His fur is absolutely the softest I or anyone else has ever felt.
He’s got lots of it, and most impressive is his mane, a ruff that encircles his neck.
Funny thing though is that come spring, you can hold him down and without any protest, pull big tufts of hair from his coat. His most striking feature is a long tail that would make a lemur envious. It can move in about three directions at once.
He’s incredibly floppy, and will jump up on your chest, and without any preliminary prancing around or kneading, will just flop down and go instantly to sleep.
I’ve found him lying on the floor, on his back, front legs pointed in one direction, back legs in another, sound asleep.
Couple that with really neat markings, a very distinctive meow, and a really nice personality, you've got a winner cat.
Mimi hates him, but that’s because walking around the house she risks an ambush at every turn. He takes any and every opportunity to pounce on her. He’s not being mean or trying to establish who’s boss, he’s just desperate to play with someone.
Funniest thing is that he may have been a feral stray, but I suspect if you took him to a cat show, he’d win every award.