Monday, 28 February 2011

Sosoetry - Sunboy

My brother from another mother.

there is a lad named Sunboy
knowing him is truly a joy
since he was a tiny tyke
he loved to go fast on his bike
soon he was training at cycling camp
and transformed into a racing champ
pumping ferociously those pedals
and winning fistfuls of medals
but one sad and fateful day
chance would make a cruel play
he sustained a serious head injury
all because a moron was in a hurry
he could have ended up dead
or confined to a lifetime in bed
for a time the grim reaper hovered
but in due course he recovered
he certainly beat the odds
possibly he’s smiled on by the gods
some would consider him a golden child
others might think he became a bit wild
taking acid at the grateful dead
did a lot to mend his scrambled head
he took his settlement cash
went to India and smoked hash
spent months in Nepal
and had a ruby temple ball
became a born again buddhist
and indulged his desire to be a nudist
bought many beautiful killims
and learned to use a chillum
he stayed at an ashram with a brahman
and came home looking like a rastaman
but to running a business he kept himself applied
keeping many artists well supplied
at various endeavours he is quite able
from mixing tunes on turn tables
and the ancient art of tattoo
well it seems he’s learning that too
he finds it tough to tattoo rigid shapes
but he sure can create wicked mix tapes
he always throws a fine birthday bash
at which he freely shares his stash
spinning sets of juicy beats
sharing with friends some tasty treats
on his shins are shivas from Goa
on his chin’s a chevron from Samoa
at one time he had dreads
now he simply shaves his head
his home is scented by nag champa
a house he shares with Yolanda
he lives with a cat that is quite mad
yet she loves him as though he is her dad
that nasty rotten surly cat
only he’s allowed to give her a pat
he speaks with a booming voice
and goes through life with honour and poise
he comports himself with more class than any royal
to those he loves he’s true and loyal
he’s devoted his life to a fine lady
together they’re soon to have a baby
I don’t think he’ll find it a bother
to be a really superb father
he’ll take the responsibility in stride
and see to it their child is raised right
to many people he is a great friend
let’s hope he remains so till a distant end

S.o.t.D. - Reflector - Medeski, Martin & Wood

Reflector – Medeski, Martin & Wood

I’ve been peripherally aware of these guys for a long time. Know people who really like them. I’m sure I’ve heard them at some point on the radio. Sort of a jazz influenced jam band I guess. But for whatever reason, they slipped under my radar.

While at the library the other day, the cover of End Of The World Party (just in case) caught my eye. Like the cover, maybe it’s time I check these guys out.

Oh do I feel silly now. I really like this record. It’s like these guys have a stew pot of influences and have been letting the various flavours blend into a really tasty creation.

Jazz, blues, funk, folk, psychedelia, dub, rock, electronica. Quite a blend of instrumentation as well. Some tracks will feature say a Wurlitzer and electric guitar, others will feature horns and a piano, and other will feature synths and a stand up bass. The switchups in genres and instruments I really dig, and I really dig what they do. I’m sure some deride them as nothing more than a noodley stoner jazz/rock band, but that is not a problem for me.

Clear the decks! I am definitely going back to the library to see what other MMW recordings they have.

Sunday, 27 February 2011


I left the tattoo shop and about a block away I heard a screeching sound so I looked up. I saw what appeared to be a falcon being chased by a big hawk, which then seemed to give up the chase and settle in a tree. Like it was too slow to catch up, so it saved its energy for something else. I could be entirely wrong of course, but I suspect that it wouldn’t be past a hawk to kill a falcon if it could. I doubt there is that much honour amongst raptors, or some sort of noble bond between hunters of the sky.
“Hey! Dinner. Bit more of a challenge this time.”
Wolves have no compunction about killing coyotes, so why would it really be any different amongst birds of prey.
Didn’t get any spectacular pictures of it, since I only have a hohum camera. Just cool to see it that big right in the city.
I walked underneath it to snap some photos of the other side. Right as I did it took off, so I missed my chance to photograph it in flight.

Bibliophilia: Daemon & Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez

I read a LOT of books, lots of thrillers, and it’s rare for me to find one that I don’t enjoy.
But these two books I LOVED!

I tore through Daemon and then Freedom in two successive nights. I can’t recall a novel or novels in recent memory which gripped me that much, where I found the characters that engrossing, where I was both filled with utter dread and then a growing sense of wishing that this could happen for real.

Great stuff! Some of the high end computer stuff went over my head, but at no point did it bog down into techno jargon. It helped build up the story, but the plot and characters drove it all the way. 

First time I’ve ever felt compelled to write an author and tell him how much I enjoyed their work.


Here is trainee covert agent (code named) “Curly Red” of N.E.R.F. (National Emergency Response Force) undergoing arduous training by experienced members of N.E.R.D. (Netherlands Elite Recon Detachment). The trainee has just been handed an Exploriment Laboratory Nerf’mups to test and evaluate. The Nerf’mups is the latest in elite tactical specops commando Delta Ranger sniper covert SWAT mission counter-terrorist SEAL operator hostage rescue gear!! Red’s face has been obscured so that if he passes the rigorous selection and training and goes on real covert missions, he won’t be recognized by the evil forces arrayed against good order, decency and sanity.
Here is the Nerf’mups fitted with the Exploriment Laboratory Nerf StrikeFire Holster’mups.
On the right hand side is a Maxpedition Holder for his HyTek Komms X-5000.
Closer view of the Exploriment Laboratory Nerf StrikeFire Holster’mups, with a ready array of D.A.R.T.s (Debilating Ambulatory Resistor Traumatizers).
On the left hand side is a Maxpedition MiniRollyPolly, for quickly stowing spent mags in the heat of fearsome exchanges.
View from above.
Ammo ready and loaded for instant reloads. Strikefire ready and loaded for immediate response.
Besides chest rig mode, it can also be worn as a shoulder bag....
...or in bandoleer mode.
Easy access to the all important communications gear.
When fighting the fearsome foes the agents of N.E.R.F. will undoubtedly face, spent mags can be quickly stowed.
Some agents prefer their Holster’mups on their leg, but some prefer them high up on the chest for quick reaction drills when their primary weapon goes down.
The grooming standards in the elite N.E.R.F. are fairly relaxed. In order to blend in, hair is kept longer than usual, and clothes are casual and loose for strenuous physical combat, and emblazoned with familiar local symbols in order to not arouse suspicion on top secret covert missions. The Nerf’mups and weapon systems it supports is deployed only when there is no other option left but to engage the opposition. But make no mistake! These are the most fearsome foam flingers the world has ever seen!

I had the idea to make him a holster and a chest rig for his Nerf setup. He was running around trying to cram a Nerf pistol in his waistbelt and lugging a sleeping bag sack filled with magazines and loose darts around.
“No really, this works fine.”
“That nonsense makes the baby Buddha cry.”
So I built him this. I admittedly didn’t make it to the highest standards. I used up some crappy fake Cordura from a “Flash In The Can” conference attache case, some 420D-ish material, and some crummy floppy webbing I had from ages of scrounging. I didn’t sew it to exceptional tolerances. No bartacking, no triple stitching. It’s a kids plaything. No need to go overboard.
I would have made this out of something that photographs better than black, but I want to keep that for real stuff. And this also gave me a chance to purge some lesser quality stuff from the bins. 
Elastic retention on the mag pouches to allow for security and quick access.
Fun project to do. Just the satisfaction of making him something unique myself. I had previously made him a Batman Utility Belt, and this was just as much fun to make.

S.o.t.D. - Dynamite Walls - Hayden

Just heard this on Vinyl Cafe for the first time. Beautiful song.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Bibliophilia: Red – Warren Ellis & Cully Hamner

Red – Warren Ellis & Cully Hamner

Gritty, blood soaked tale of a former CIA assassin who wants to be left alone to live his last days in peace, but who the new DCI wants dead. No reason given is ever given, but be sure that mayhem ensues.

S.o.t.D. - Travelling Light - Tindersticks

Great band, great singer. Actually, two great singers on this. I tend to like more upbeat stuff for the most part, but melancholy stuff like this I find undeniably appealing.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Modified 82 Pattern Field Pack

Going through some old photos recently I came across one of my very first attempts to modify gear to suit my needs.  Funny to see it again. This stuff goes back at least 15 years.

I used military gear in ways that was entirely unintended, and used whatever suited my needs. Stuff from a few different countries, and a bit of civvy stuff as well. I was hauling around a pack filled with freight and still wanted to have some snivel gear that I could detach in a hurry, and then attach to a belt. At the time, I figured a butt pack was my best option, and got a Canadian one. 
Proprietary attachment system (a bit more on that later) removed, and enough of the webbing that held it in place left to allow insertion of ALICE Clips.
Another change was to put a carry handle on the top.
I also put webbing on the sides to attach canteens to. All I had access to was webbing that was ultimately too floppy to really support the weight of full canteens. It held up I guess, but it didn’t work that well either. I learned.
In time it too was taken apart to serve in the making of other stuff.

82 Pattern was Canada’s web gear for several decades. Pretty decent I suppose, although I never really used it the way it was intended. The proprietary attachment system was what I personally wasn’t so keen on. I guess it was fine for a military obsessed with uniformity like Canada’s was for a long time. (Fortunately that mentality is changing as the reality of conflict in Afghanistan drives home the point that the one size fits all approach doesn’t work beyond the parade ground). I suppose the option of adding private purchase gear or home made gear or equipment from other countries wasn’t ever an option for Canada’s soldiers back then. I had no such restrictions. I had some British and American pouches and none of them worked together. At the time US ALICE clips seemed to be the best option out of all of them (I wasn’t as savvy at the time), so I decided to switch over to that.

I never took photos of what the attachment system looked like, and I can’t locate any with a search engine. To give you an idea of what it looked like, here are some diagrams from the instruction manual.
The 82 pattern belt was a wide belt with grommets along the edges that the prongs from the plastic attachment system went into. Since I didn’t have the belt, only an American pistol belt, it wasn’t much use to me. Not to mention that none of the American or British or Dutch stuff I had worked with it.
For some more views of it:


Nifty online graphic novel that deals not with superheroes, but instead delves into the industrial decline of the United States. (And I guess by extension much of the one time First World.) Sounds kind of dry, but it’s a good introduction to a few different theories as to why countries that were once industrial powerhouses are now in decline.

It’s worth checking out just for the art. When I first saw it I thought it was from the same team that did Ex Machina. It turns out that neither the artist or the writer of the Ex Machina are responsible for this. I love Tony Harris’ artwork, and I’m equally impressed by the work Jan Feindt does. Glad I discovered her.

S.o.t.D. - Sunrise – Simply Red

Sunrise – Simply Red

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

S.o.t.D. - So Far – Lacarno & Burns

So Far – Lacarno & Burns

Sosoetry - LakeFlake

I went on a canoe trip years ago that one of the participants insisted on bringing his girlfriend to. Several of us objected, but somehow or other we were over ridden. I love canoeing more than many things, but this to put this....she made it suck. I just don’t even know where to start. How about I let the rhyming couplets I jotted down as a bit of therapy after the fact do the talking.

is that a mosquito whining
or someone fretting about dining
why waste all that time cooking
when you could be atop a hill looking
I’d much sooner explore a hunch
than worry what to eat for lunch
I’d rather be out on the lake
than humouring a flake
the food isn’t even that delicious
and I can’t be bothered with dishes
I don’t mind if you’re a hippy
I do object to you being dippy
certain tasks must be done
before you can have fun
the unpredictability of the weather
means you must have your act together
you have trouble lifting your pack
and lose your way on a marked track
people lacking common sense
tend to make me very tense
I think I’m really quite convivial
just don’t annoy me with the trivial
I like someone who hustles
and can use their muscles
this is no place for the anal retentive
only those who are attentive
you need to have a clue
to go tripping in a canoe
I want to be out with paddlers
not meandering dilly daddlers
I think I’ll pack my ruck
I want to flee this clusterfuck

Bibliophilia: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell

An illuminating look at how we make snap judgments about things – and how they’re often better decisions than ones made with a lot of reflection and input and analysis. In this age of information overload, we often make better decisions with snap judgments than we do with volumes of analysis. We have come to confuse information with understanding. There are dangers in over-analyzing. Decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately. To trust our instincts more and that first impressions can be educated and controlled. Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.

It all dovetails nicely with my interest in Col. John Boyd’s O.O.D.A. (Observe•Orient•Decide•Act) Loop, which boiled down to a far too imprecise nugget, is the ability to parse dynamic situations into split seconds, and react so that you overwhelm your opposition. And it also ties in with another book I highly recommend – The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker – which deals a lot with trusting gut instincts, and listening to that ineffable “little voice in the back of your head.”

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

  1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
  4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
  6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
  7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
  8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
  9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
  10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
  12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
  14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
  16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
  17.  ____________________. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
  18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
  21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
  22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
  24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our "noodle."
  28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
  29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
  30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
  31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
  34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
  35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
  36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.
  37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
  38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
  39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
  40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
  41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
  42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
  43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

Badass LEGO Guns

If anyone is scratching their head wondering what to get me for my birthday....

Badass LEGO Guns: Building Instructions for Five Working Guns

S.o.t.D. - Aloo Gobi – Neotropic

I like this in the way that I like Future Sound of London; it’s catchy yet ominous, like a soundtrack to an eerie movie that still has a hopeful subtext.

Saturday, 19 February 2011