Thursday, 29 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Lost in an Imagined Labyrinth – Bluetech

I think “genius” is one of those oft overused words, kind of like “awesome”, but I think Evan is a genius and the music he makes is awesome.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Monday, 26 April 2010

Sosoetry – Hackysack

When I was living in the lovely town of Aylmer, there were always four or five of us who would scarf down our lunch so we could rush outside to engage in a round of hackysack. Great way to gather round with your friends, get some exercise, laugh yourself silly, and it really wasn’t competitive at all. I made up this silly little ditty about my hacking buddies.

We quickly down a snack
To get down to some hackysack
Our colleagues think we slack
But we know we’re really wack
Dave’s got quite a knack
For keeping aloft the beaded sack
Neil stops it on his back
And launches a surprise attack
Thomas with his boots of black
Gives it an almighty whack
Pete launches it with a smack
While uttering a quirky quack
But Brett’s the bravest hackysacker
Cause he stops it with his tallywacker

S.o.t.D. – Music & Wine – Blue Six

Smooth and sophisticated creaminess.

Ration Packs

While in principle the idea of an MRE or an IMP is great (everything you need for one day in one package), the few I’ve had the chance to try have been soso at best. Some of the individual components I don’t really like, and quite often the meals taste more like preservatives than real food. I guess they’ve been getting better and more diversified over the years, but the ones I’ve tried haven’t been that thrilling. (Maybe that’s why they’ve gotten all sorts of pejorative nicknames over the years. Materials Resembling Edibles, Meals Rarely Edible, Meals Rejected by Ethiopians, Meals Requiring Enemas, Meals Refusing to Excrete, or Massive Rectal Expulsions.) The other thing about them is that they produce a lot of garbage and they also contain all the moisture in the meals, making them a bit heavier.
What I did do though was to take the idea of all the food for one day in a package and make my own versions.

I’ve tried various freeze dried meals, and while some are great, some of them are just awful. I’d love to try them all out to see which ones are good and bad, but given their price, that becomes problematic. Their sizing is often a bit wonky too, as I find they’re a bit too big for one meal, and not really enough for two people. Making my own by preparing a meal and then dehydrating it, allows me to more accurately measure out a portion that suits me. 

I can control the calories, the salt, the fat, the portion, the taste. On a winter trip I might want to have more calories or fat, but on a hike on a hot and humid summer day, not so much. Making my own meals, allows me to set them up exactly as I like them. And if you’re making meals with stuff you grew or foraged or hunted – even better!

(Although in these photos I have a meal from MaryJanesFarms. I bought a whole bunch of them at one point, and I’m just using up the last of them. Of all the ones I’ve tried, these have been my favourites. As much as I like them, I doubt I’ll buy any in future since I’m committed to making my own, but if you’re so inclined, they’re good.) 

I have at least a week of these ready to go, and try to have at least two weeks ready to go. The older ones are at the front of a RubberMaid bin and I can grab them, stuff them in my pack and be off. I use these often enough that they rotate out fairly quickly, so expiry isn’t such a big deal. The only thing I’ve ever had go bad in them was some commercial beef jerky. The stuff I’ve made myself has been fine though. 
Each bag contains breakfast (in a freezer bag), hot drinks – my own hot chocolate mix (way better than any of that commercial hot chocolate mix) or tea with sugar packets), snacks, dinner, dessert.
  1. Bison Pemmican
  2. Cashew Larabar
  3. PC Fruit&Nut Mixed Berry & Almond Granola Bar
  4. Vector Chocolate Chip Bar
  5. PC Fruit&Nut Apple & Almond Granola Bar
  6. Clif Oatmeal & Raisin Bar
  7. MaryJanesFarm Curried Lentil Bisque
  8. Beef Jerky
  9. Vanilla Pudding (pudding powder and milk powder)
  10. Schuttelaars Salmiak Brokken (Dutch liquorice candies)
  11. Fruit & Nut Couscous
  12. Hot Cocoa (milk powder, real dutch cocoa, maple sugar)
  13. Tissue Packet w/ Antiseptic Wipes
  14. Fruit Leather
  15. Mixed Nuts
  16. Vegetable Curry
  17. Vega Food Supplement
  18. Multi Vitamin
Now, MREs have a fancy heater bag - you put the meal in the bag, add some water, close it up, some mad science exo-thermic reaction takes place and it heats up your meal. I just use one of the stoves I’ve made, boil up some water and add it to the meal.

In the morning I take out a bag, get out the stuff for breakfast, boil water, pour it in the bag, put it in the cozy, make hot chocolate, fill a thermos with hot water, and put the days snacks in the cargo pockets of my pants (all I ever use them for). I set off after drinking the hot chocolate. An hour or two later I stop and have the breakfast. I eat the snacks as the day progresses. I may stop at lunch time and use the hot water in the thermos to make some tea or prepare a soup if it’s cold. At dinner time the meal is prepared by adding hot water to the freezer bag and put in the cozy and allowed to simmer for a while. Sometimes I’ll have pudding that I prepare with cold water in a bag and leave for a time in a stream or a lake to have for dessert. While that is happening, a bit of exploration, hammock set up, photography, whatever can be done. Later, the food is eaten, usually another yummy hot chocolate is drank, the garbage is packed in the large zip loc bag. While this obviously still produces garbage, it isn’t as much as the MREs produce, and the ziploc bags can be rinsed out and used for something else if need be.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Ivy and Neet – This Mortal Coil

All three T.M.C albums are epic, but this track is I think possibly my favourite off all of them. Hard to say for sure though. This track is (I believe) pretty much just Simon Raymonde from the Cocteau Twins.

Friday, 23 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Pump – He Said

He Said was a solo project of Graham Lewis, bassist for the seminal art punk band Wire. The album this is taken from, Hail, was a record I almost played to death when it came out in 1986. I don’t believe Hail has ever been re-released, or re-mastered, which is a shame.

Bearing Fruit

Well, not really fruit per se, but....

Last fall myself and some other like minded folks, engaged in some guerrilla gardening. At the time there wasn’t much to show for our efforts. I walked past one of the spots recently and some of the flowers had started to pop their heads above the ground. I don’t believe any tulip bulbs were planted, which tend to pop up pretty early. What has started to appear though are some daffodils. I’ll stroll past there some more in the next few days and weeks to see the rest of our effort flourish.

Words of Wisdom from a 4 Year Old – Authority

I can’t even remember the precise details, but I had cause to tell my nephew “Your dad is in charge and you do what he says.”
“No he isn’t.”
“Excuse me?!”
“Mommy is the big boss.”
I quickly bit my lip so I didn’t burst into laughter.
“All right. Mommy is in charge. But your dad is the second in command. He still has as much authority and what he says, goes.

Not to say that his parents relationship is anything other than well balanced and even keeled, but the precocious whippersnapper had already figured out who the ultimate source of authority was.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Several Times II – Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook

Off the heavenly 1987 4AD record “Sleeps With The Fishes.”

View From My Bedroom Window

Snapped a few photos of the view I have from my bedroom window before all the leaves are back on the trees. Not that I mind that view at all, but it’s a different scene, and I don’t see the Bay.
I like where I live.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Sphere of No Form – Biosphere

Sphere of No Form – Biosphere

The album this is taken from, Substrata is just a stellar album. A landmark album in the ambient genre. Geir Jenssen, is from Tromsø, which is about as far north as it’s possible to go in Norway. He is also an avid mountaineer. His music totally has the feel of sitting atop a mountain north of the Arctic Circle. It’s ominous and forbidding in one sense, and breathtakingly beautiful in another sense.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Said the Source by Micah Lexier

This is a piece hanging up in the Hamilton Public Library. The artist is Micah Lexier. The piece is about 7½ meters (25') by 3½ meters (12'), and made from laser cut steel. It is dated as 1990.
I remember when I used to get copy with notations like this. I remember when I used to send type back to the typesetting house like this, with notations for corrections. Now it seems no one really cares to put in the effort to make type look really good. Now all I see are people who paid a small fortune to go to a college, and don’t know the difference between an en dash and a hyphen, put primes where quotations are supposed to go, have no idea what I’m talking about when I say they that a headline needs to be kerned, and look at me with a look of incomprehension when I say they need to use proper small caps. They do work that would have gotten me fired or the type setting house looking for new clients, and yet it seems like that has become acceptable and the new norm. I suspect a lot of kids nowadays would be utterly lost if I gave them a sheet filled with proofreaders marks, the kind I used to get when I started out, and was expected to know how to read. It could be argued that with technology the way it is now, the lines between the writer and the typesetter and the proof reader and the graphic artist are blurring to the point of fading away entirely. Anyone along the continuum can now make those changes, but do they really do any sort of fine tuning any more? Computers are wonderful in that they’ve democratized what was once an arcane practice, but it also seems like people are willing to accept whatever some hack produces. I guess I’m just a crusty old fart, but I really do appreciate the history and art and science of typography, and think that if it’s going to be done, it should be done well and properly. More people should take the time to study a page of type done by Aldus Manutius, which is a thing of beauty, the format and the spacing is pristine, and each letter on that page would have been carved by hand. Typesetting and printing was difficult in his day, and yet he took the time to make it perfect. Now, with technology that would make what he did comparatively easy, so many just don’t bother to strive for such perfection.

Any one coming to work with me had better have an E scale, and have memorized Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst.

New Release Sticker

A techno label wanted a sticker to announce a new release, but asked me to make it fit within a rounded box. I guess they had done a sticker for something else before and couldn’t afford to get a new cutting die made up. Fine with me.

S.o.t.D. – Vanity – New Model Army

Vanity – New Model Army

Love this song. Love this band. The late, great Rob Heaton’s drumming is particularly fantastic in this. One of the only bands I ever went on tour to see. 4 concerts in 4 cities in about as many nights. Ate ramen noodles for the next week, but worth it.

First Tulips of Spring (A Week Later)

I posted some photos of tulips I snapped on the stroll to the shop last week. Walked past there again on Friday and decided to show how they’ve changed in that time. Interesting to see how the yellow seems to be bleeding out and taking over from the red.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Hammock Hang

Went for a hike and went into the forest to hang out for the night. Nothing particularly scenic to look at, but a nice, quiet spot. Some might think badly of me going into a forest and pitching a hammock if it’s not really an “official” camping spot. I don’t really know who owns the land. Don’t really know what they might think of me doing it. I get if they object to a bunch of drunken teenagers having a loud bash on their land, smashing bottles, setting fires, etc. My hammock leaves no marks, I’m not damaging any plants, I’m not hacking down trees, I’m not starting fires, I’m not making any noise, I take out all my garbage, I’ve never stayed in the same place twice, the muted colours of all my stuff means I doubt anyone could see me unless they walked right into my site, and five minutes after leaving, anyone other than a really experienced tracker would be hard pressed to know I’d been there. Maybe that makes me a scofflaw, maybe I’m justifying trespassing, but doing this doesn’t gnaw at my conscience. *shrugs* 
Other than the first photo, most of these were taken about 15 to 20 paces away. Not easy to spot at all.
The view around my hammock.
The view above my hammock.
Making dinner. Quiet, no smell, no damage caused to the ground.

S.o.t.D. – Scheming – Lusine

Scheming – Lusine

Saturday, 17 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Wandering Around, Lost – Genuine

A song title that to my mind really evokes the feel of the song. It does seem like the perfect soundtrack to meandering around aimlessly in a sun dappled forest. I gather this is another guise of Chris Zippel. And it also sounds like something that could come off the next Legion of Green Men album. If those buggers won’t hurry the hell up and put out another album, I’ll just enjoy this instead.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

S.o.t.D. – Squadron – Trace & Nico

When it comes to drum & bass, I tend to prefer the more mellow and melodic end of the genre, generally the sort of stuff that LTJ Bukem and his collaborators are known for. But on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I love the dark, ominous mælstrom that Ed Rush and his collaborators (Fierce, Trace, Nico, Optical) are responsible for. The album this is from, Torque (which featured virtually all those lads), comes across as the soundtrack to a dystopian sci-fi movie where drones circle a nuclear holocaust battlefield as robot tanks do battle. Sounds very unappealing, but I LOVE this album. This track sounds like they sampled every sound that a Challenger or Abrams tank can make. The point at about 2:30 where the song really kicks into gear - good gawd!

Wondrous Weekend Wander

The weather was far too nice for me to sit inside this past weekend, so I grabbed my pack and followed my nose. I didn’t have any firm plans in mind, but I wandered along the ridge and ended up down in the Grindstone Creek area.
Hawk circling overhead as I strolled through the cemetery.
Carroll’s Point.
Willow starting to bloom.
Blackbird Marsh and Osprey Marsh.
I wonder if it’s even physically possible for a chickadee to hold still for more than a second?
From there I wandered over to Carroll’s Point.
My place on the left, just to the right of those apartment buildings.
Mother goose giving me the evil eye.

After spending a few hours happily taking in the sights and sounds, I considered myself very fortunate to see a bald eagle working its magic.
I’ve already shown these two pictures, but I think they’re so cool, I’ll show them again. :-)
Willow Point.
I explored along the shore until the light started to fade, clambered back up the cliff, wandered around in the cemetery for a while, sat atop the cliff looking out across the Bay, then walked home.

The next day, glorious once more, and still not having any desire to sit inside, I went back. I suppose I hoped to see that eagle again.
My destination once more.
Burlington Bay from atop the cliff in the cemetery.
The Hammer.
That dark spot in the center, the eagle swooped down from the trees there.
A pair of kayakers exploring the shoreline. I hoped they would come around to my side so I could say hi and have a chat, but they never did.
A vulture soaring through the air above me. They’re not pretty up close, but they sure look amazing in flight.

Good times. While I had stuff I needed to get done at home, going for a stroll, goofing around on a beach, taking photos, exploring, and enjoying the show nature puts on are important too.