Friday, 30 September 2011

Vampire Babe

I rarely do any illustration, but I have been trying to discipline myself to do it more. I’ve been meaning to do an illustration for a halloween party invite. I have a vision of what I want in my head, and I tried my hand at it today. Turned out better than I could have hoped for. I was trying to achieve a fog effect, which didn’t really turn out as well, but this is only a rough first draft. Lots more to do. Fun. The ability to achieve gradients, transparency, layering, etc.  makes Illustrator a really fun tool. Well...Freehand would be even better of course, but I’ll take what I can get.
Did a little more today. Lots more to do, but really enjoying it so far. Hands are hard.

S.o.t.D. - Wuub – Woob

With what may be the best onomatopoeic name for an ambient act ever, from what is widely considered one of the best ambient albums ever, 1194. The far too short lived Em:t label released some stunning music. If NASA ever came to me and asked me to put together a compilation of music for astronauts to listen to while they floated around outside the International Space Station, I would pick this as one of the tracks.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Urgent – Foreigner

While I usually despise classic rock radio (really? there are seven oceans of music, and you play a parking lot puddles worth, over and over and over?), any time I’m subjected to it, this is one song I not only don’t mind hearing, I love hearing. Shit hot track. I think one of the reasons I liked this song then, and still do, is Thomas Dolby’s keyboard work on it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New Logo

Think I’m going to use this as my new logo.

Type Design - Alpenjager

A typeface I’ve been working on for a long time. Well, long in terms of years between spurts of effort, but it’s just plain taken me a long time. I started this back in 96, because I wanted something to set a resume in. Kookoo for cocoa puffs I know. Sure there were lots of other typefaces I could use, but given that I design typefaces, I figured I should try my hand at tackling something of my own. I had ambitions to do some narrow widths in addition to regular widths as well as italics. Yeah.....maybe one day.

Now that it is more or less done, I want to change quite a bit of it. I have ideas to redraw many of the characters, and add lots of little features to distinguish it. I think only real type dorks could point out all the things that distinguish it from Frutiger, Univers, etc. But it was fun for me to do and as always, I learn a lot from doing it.

S.o.t.D. - One Of Our Submarines – Thomas Dolby

While She Blinded Me With Science was regarded as merely a bit of a novelty song, albeit a big hit in North America, the mini LP this came off of was an absolutely fantastic record. Windpower was another great track on it.

Bibliophilia: Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? – Brian Fies

Traveling from the Worlds Fair in 1939, to the last Apollo mission in 1975, it’s a tale of science fiction, science, comic books, childhood, and America.

One of the things I liked the most about it was the pages between the sections. Done to look like comic pages from the given eras, right down to the artistic style and the printing technology of the time.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - The Things You Said – Depeche Mode

So absolutely brilliant, I had to post another track by them.


Being the geometric pattern nut that I am, this gorgeous animated piece is right up my decorated alley. Inspired by Persian architecture. By Cristóbal Vila of Etereae Studios.

Monday, 26 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Get The Balance Right (Combination Mix) – Depeche Mode

There are certain pieces of music that after hearing them things are never the same again. This is one of those for me. The part at about the 2½ minute to the 3½ minute mark, and the 4 minute to about the 6½ minute mark - totally did my head in. Almost 30 years old and still sends a chill down my spine.

Truly one of the greatest musical acts ever.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Psychoactivity – X-Dream

I...can....see...through time.....

Where that bass kicks in at about the 1:30 mark....mmwwwaaahhh....

And the visuals are fun to look at too.

Makeshift Magazine

Makeshift is a new magazine that celebrates people making things with what they have. DIY or maker culture, call it what you will, exists all over the world. Especially in areas of scarcity, that creative spirit is often strongest. Human ingenuity knows no bounds.

Friday, 23 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Your Silent Face – New Order

Your Silent Face – New Order 

And since I played Joy Division yesterday, I suppose it only makes sense to follow it up with some New Order. I started to lose interest with their later albums, as they hoovered ever larger quantities of coke up their schnozzes. But the first few years of their existence - totally dug them. This song in particular I absolutely love.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

If this doesn't say it all....

S.o.t.D. - A Means To An End – Joy Division

What? No Joy Division yet? Outrageous. Of all the stuff I got into way back in the day, this band still holds a special place in my heart.

Keys to the Kingdom by Tony Meeuwissen

I was first made aware of this by a blurb about in a Sept/Oct. 1993 Communication Arts. 

Floored by it then and I’m as impressed by it now.

It has always been on a list of things I should track down and buy for near on twenty years. The page was in a folder I went through last night and realized I had to share it. 

Originally commissioned by the Victoria and Albert in 1984 to create a set of playing cards based on nursery rhymes. The project was (as you’ll see) very complex and took Tony Meeuwissen more than a year. The Museum stopped sponsoring the project. Too far into it to stop, his agent Nicholas Dawe took over the funding and five year later they found a publisher, Running Press of Philadelphia in the US, and Pavillion Books in Europe, Australia and Japan. In 1993 the Design & Art Direction Club awarded Meeuwissen a Gold Award for Illustration - the first time they had ever given out that award in their up to that point 31 year history.

I think you’ll understand why. I’m not even going to address style or technique, which is very fine. Conceptually each one of these will leave you agog.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Divide By Zero – Evan Marc

His stuff under the name Evan Marc seems to be his thumpier stuff, more so than the Bluetech stuff. But it’s still got those magical sounds percolating around.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Good gawd! There’s 2 of him!

Obviously some sort of rift in the space time continuum.
I gave my nephew a couple of gifts this weekend. One is a bracelet of wooden Tibetan beads. It was too small to fit me, and I knew it would fit him. You can make it out on his right wrist.

He tells me how cool he thinks my hydration bladders are on a regular basis. I bought him a pack a few years ago, when he was four. (Somewhat similar-ish to this, but not quite.) It came with a Source 3L bladder, but I didn’t think he was ready for it at that age. Still not entirely sure he is now, but what the heck. I gave it to him and he was thrilled.

I had also bought him a Swiss Army Knife about six years ago. I was buying a knife from an online retailer and I got the My First Victorinox for him at the same time, figuring at some point in the future, the time would be right. Being quite the negotiator, he is forever asking his dad and I when we think he can have one. He had been given a small, unspeakably crappy, dollar store multi-tool, that he was using to separate parts when we were playing Lego a while ago. I was pleased to see that he was using it very safely and responsibly. Figured it was time. (That is the reason I got my first pocket knife - to separate stubborn Lego pieces. Still use it for that purpose actually. Yeah, I’m a dork all right?)

He got a very stern talking to, told what to do and not do with it, and warned that the slightest infraction of the rules would see it disappear, post-haste. (It’s funny that I was about his age when I got my first knife and carried it to school in my pocket every day from that point on. I’ve never threatened or stabbed anyone with a knife in the intervening 35 years - imagine that! But sadly, we now live in a lamer era. I mean.... a safer time of gentle, socially responsible, political correctness.)

It’s perhaps because of my disgust with these foolish and misguided efforts, that I want him to learn how to use a knife safely and properly. There is nothing wrong with a boy learning to use one of the oldest and most basic tools, for the tasks it was meant for. When I see grown men who are about as handy as a beached whale, I know I definitely don’t want him to grow up to be like that. To me a simple pocket knife is emblematic of that - a mentality of self-sufficiency.

I think I received high praise when I was told “Thanks uncle Thomas! You’re the most epic-est uncle ever!”

We headed off for a fun hike afterwards, which I was told was also “totally epic.” Which I guess is good. I don’t know any more – these youngsters and all their terms.

Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools

Kevin Kelly was one of the founders of Wired magazine.
His whole site is fantastic, but one of my favourite parts of it is the Cool Tools section. Reviews (both by him and other contributors) of really worthwhile tools. They’re categorized by a wide selection of subjects. Bound to be something that piques your interest.

S.o.t.D. - Right Thing To Do – SBTRKT (Feat. Jessie Ware)

Right Thing To Do – SBTRKT (Feat. Jessie Ware)

Thanks Lex for introducing me to this.

The Crew Scouters Handbook

Quaint as all get out, but there are some good patterns for DIY stuff in it.
On page 68, is a pattern for an anorak, pages 75 to 77 feature some patterns for rucksacks, and pages 80 to 89 a few patterns for tents and flies.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Fall Into You – Soulstice

Better Lacing and Shoelace Tying

Seems simple, but there really are better ways to both lace, and tie your shoes or boots.

The first link from New Balance, the running shoe manufacturer, but these ideas could be used in boots as well. Heel slippage, toe problems, high arch, pain on the top of the feet, and narrow heel-wide forefoot are covered.  Try it and see if it works for you if you have any of these issues to contend with. 

I used to have another way to tie laces that works well. Essentially the way most people tie their laces, but instead of one loop around their thumb before pushing the bight through to form the second bunny ear, I would wrap a second loop around my thumb. Worked well to keep it in place, and still easy to undo with one tug on the bight. But there were still occasional circumstances where it would work itself loose. Eve since discovering this site and lace tying method a few years ago, I’ve used this method instead. Easy to tie, won’t come undone and still easy to undo when the time to do so arises. And this benefits from pictures and not my half assed written description.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Aids To Survival

Excellent desert survival manual (well, I wished they used better illustrations than those crappy ones from FM-21-76) from the Western Australian Police. Given that they have to patrol huge swaths of the Outback, all their members are trained in how to survive and rescue others in that environment.

The chances that I will ever spend much time in arid environments is likely very small, but I think it’s worth disseminating this to others that might.

S.o.t.D. - Tswana Dub (Brendon Moeller's Beat Pharmacy Dub)


Artspiration - Skelewags

Four years ago, I came across a post about some really clever grafitti. Little characters that used the texture of walls and various other surfaces as backdrops. At the time it was a bit of a mystery as to exactly what it was. It seemed to be telling a story.
I had forgotten about it for all this time, but some synapses fired and the name popped back into my head. 

“Hey I should type that name into a search engine and see...”

Fun stuff.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - This Beat – The Jazzual Suspects

This beat is phenomenal. I’ll have a glass of jazz to go with this funk sandwich.

Bibliophilia: Red: A Haida Manga – Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Red: A Haida Manga – Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Enjoyed this one a lot. Story was fine and absolutely loved the inventiveness of the approach. Instead of the usual boxes and straight lines inherent in the comic book tradition, the author/artist used the gorgeous curves inherent in the NWC artistic tradition to separate areas. If you were to tear out all the pages and lay them out in a pattern, it would form an image of its own.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Roger Hiorns’ Seizure

Most conceptual art leaves me completely cold. This was so freaky and over the top I found myself liking it. British artist Roger Hiorns pumped 80,000 litres of a copper sulphate solution into a hole in the floor into an apartment below. After a few weeks the temperature of the solution fell and the crystals began to grow. After the remaining liquid was pumped back out, what remained was an other worldly blue crystalline landscape.


Don’t know why I’m only learning about this now, as they’re close to reaching their goal.

Group of six paddlers are crossing Canada by canoe. Envious.

Part of why they’re doing it, (besides the sheer coolness of it), is to bring attention to the value of Canada’s waterways and raise awareness for the efforts of the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Heritage Rivers System

S.o.t.D. - Brancaster Coast – Ochre

Brancaster Coast – Ochre

Like a lot of his stuff, haunting and evocative.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Innis & Gunn

I enjoy beer. I’m not a huge drinker of beer, but I do love the occasional bottle or two of beer. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a two-four of beer. I’ll pop by the liquor locker once in a while and buy a few cans or bottles, usually of something I haven’t tried before, or something non-commercial. And I don’t ever get hammered on beer. Don’t ever get hammered on anything, really.

One beer that had absolutely blown my socks off, one that I’ve been drinking for a few years now, is Innis & Gunn. I hadn’t had any for a while, and drinking it again reminded me that I must rave about this deeeelicious brew. Bit more expensive than your average bland beer, but so worth it.

What makes I & G so special is that it is aged for 77 days in oak barrels, that have previously been used to mature bourbon. The taste is just out of this world. Another variant is aged in barrels that previously matured rum.

I like the stuff so much that I keep hassling them to put out some promotional schwag. I often make cracks about people whose entire wardrobe consists of T-shirts they got as freebies in cases of swill from Labatts or Molson (or any number of other mediocre beer makers) but I would happily wear an Innis & Gunn shirt. And that is saying something.

Another indicator of how much I like this beer is that a few years back the liquor monopoly (don’t get me started on it) in this province threatened to go on strike. The warning was short, and the night before it was destined to begin, I raced down to my nearest LCBO and bought up the last 9 bottles they had. They never did go on strike, but I didn’t regret my impulse buy. I can’t imagine that there is any other beer I would get that worked up about.

I can’t really claim to be any sort of beer expert, but folks that are far more knowledgeable than me, have very complimentary things to say about it.It wins awards left, right and center.

Its distribution isn’t really widespread, but hopefully that will change as word spreads. Even if you have to mail order it, even if you’re not a huge fan of beer, this is one I strongly recommend people try.

S.o.t.D. - Forever – Seba

Forever – Seba 

Totally soaring track and then that rumbling bass that kicks in a minute into the track, and then a minute after that those pummeling drum breaks unleash. Wow. Huge tune.

Bibliophilia: Seven Pillars of Wisdom – T.E. Lawrence

I’ve seen this book mentioned for decades, especially how it relates to asymmetric warfare. Seeing it mentioned again recently prompted me to pick up this classic. Great read and insights into a very engrossing character from history.

Friday, 9 September 2011

I love merino wool!

There are all sorts of reasons to love wool. It keeps you warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot. It’s a strong, resilient fabric that resists wrinkling and snags. It’s resistant to flame and doesn’t melt. It will insulate even when wet (something a down garment won’t do), and wicks away moisture, and dries out fairly quickly. (Not as quickly as a lot of synthetics, but much, much faster than cotton.) It’s non-allergenic and doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria, ie, it doesn’t get stinky.

What’s even better than regular old wool is merino wool.

I was willing to investigate the petro chemical industry’s hype and frankly, I’m sorry I wasted my money. I am a firm believer that Nature had it right all along. I will happily pay an equivalent amount of money or more to wear something that grew in the mountains of New Zealand rather than something that was pumped out of Saudi Arabian soil.

Sure, synthetic base layers wick away moisture, but after a while those base layers started to stink. I engage in strenuous physical activities, and hours and hours of sweating made those shirts reek. I was mortified by how bad they smelled. I could wash them all I liked; as soon as I started hauling ass, my body heat would make that same, only ever compounding stench, recur, like some monster that refuses to die in a horror movie. Companies making this stuff came up with all sorts of voodoo to counter the ungodly funk inherent in synthetic clothes. Their marketing hype tries to convince the consumer that their creations are superior to what Nature is offering us. Silver ions and amino acids now, and I’m sure all sorts of other technologies will be unfurled in future to cut down on the nasty funky odor that are the unpleasant side effect of synthetic clothing. It’s a whole lot of smoke and mirrors to try and convince us that they’ve reinvented the wheel.

I gave up on synthetics and went with the miraculous alternative – merino wool. Sure, it may be more expensive, but amortize the cost over time and it isn’t so bad. And given that inferior choices like cotton, can quite literally contribute to your death under certain circumstances, I think it’s well worth it.

Let me cite some examples of why I think it’s so great.

I went on a week long canoeing trip a few years ago. I wore the same few merino wool shirts all week. I paddled hard for hours every day. They remained quite dry and kept me comfortable whether the sun was shining or the wind was howling. And at the end of the week they didn’t reek like a wino’s ass crack. There were numerous times where I was up to my waist in water, clearing blockages, sawing out fallen trees, pulling canoes over beaver dams, roping canoes through flats, etc. Two or three hours later, my long johns were dry. Not dampish – dry. I could sleep in them. And at the end of the week they didn’t cause me to recoil in disgust, like a pair of polypropylene long johns would have. I could sit around the fire at night and not have to worry that an ember was going to melt a huge hole in my merino wool sweater. I’ve got more than a few fleece jackets that have had oddly placed ventilation holes involuntarily added to it.

Another example from a recent canoe trip. One day we got up at 04:00. I got out of my hammock wearing two merino wool shirts - a short sleeve and a long sleeve T-shirt. Packed up and loaded the boat. Paddled across a misty lake, at or slightly below freezing air temps. Did an 800 meter portage (covering the distance 3 times) carrying all of our personal kit, the boats and a whack of camera gear. On the other side we paddled the whole day, in steadily rising temps, both with no wind and sunny and windy and overcast. Activity ranged from coasting and taking pics to paddling furiously into headwinds. We did another portage, this time about 2300 meters, then more paddling. I can honestly say that those two shirts kept me remarkably even, comfort wise. At no point was I too warm or too cold. Just right at all times. While my friend was constantly stripping off layers, or adding them, (either thermal or wind protective) or changing out of sweat drenched shirts into dry ones, my next to skin shirt was only mildly damp below where my ruck had sat, and then only for a relatively short while. They kept me at an almost eerily perfect temperature. Only when we finally made camp, and at about 21:00 did I don a thicker (wool) sweater.

Some examples of what is out there.
Of all the merino wool I own, this is the nicest. Certainly in terms of fit, and the quality has been superb too. Sadly, while the wool may come from New Zealand, they, like so many others, have the actual product manufactured in China. The colour choices are a bit limited though. Predominantly the colour choice is black, and I wish they offered some more earth tone colours
A bit looser fit than Icebreaker, but certainly nothing wrong with it.
MissionPac were good to deal with and their prices, shipped to me in Canada were very reasonable. I got the zip neck polo, a neck gaiter, a balaclava and a beanie. From Australia to Canada cost $175. I thought this was a great value since a mid weight merino piece of comparable quality would cost me that much or more in a store here.

Very nice colour, very soft and very warm. I wore the beanie out hiking when it was -19˚ and had to take it off after a while since my head was too hot. And this from a garment about the thickness of cotton T-shirt material. The polo fits me like a glove, and is plenty long for even a galoot like me. All of it together compacts down very nicely to fit in my day pack. A bit thicker than perhaps an average NTS/base layer garment would probably be considered. Maybe about 260/300 gram versus say the 150/200 gram that is usually used for a T-shirt/underwear type of garment. I personally would happily wear it NTS. I got the balaclava with the idea of putting it in my day pack so that if I have to spend an unplanned night out, I can keep my head warm. It’s not really something I would wear that often to be honest. But I find the cut of it a bit restricting. Perhaps by big noggin may play a part too in all fairness. Someone with a smaller head may not be bothered by it at all. It squashes my nose when I'm wearing it, and I like balaclavas that I can pull the bottom part down to expose my whole face, or pull the top back and pull the whole thing down around my neck to cool off. On the whole the MissionPac balaclava doesn’t really allow for that. For my intended, not very often wearing, not that big a deal.
I also got some of the Woolrich merino underwear, coyote brown in colour. (long johns, long sleeve and short sleeve shirts – not offered any more.) For me it’s always a matter of do I get the medium for the girth and have it be too short or the extra large for the length and have it be too wide. Well I opted for the latter and the stuff is absurdly oversized. I felt like a toddler playing dress up in his big burly dads clothes. I think the waist on the pants was 54" if I remember correctly, and the shirts one could cultivate one hell of a beer gut in. Ran it all through the serger to make it fit better. Still kinda floppy though. Definitely not the snug fit I get with the MissionPac or Icebreaker stuff.
I have two orange short sleeved shirts, some boxer briefs and long johns. Happy with all of it. And nice surprise – it’s actually made in Canada. Imagine that.
Can’t remember what it’s called (believe it was the Regent) but I also have a wool cardigan/zip sweater from the dirty bird. They don’t make it any more, but I’m really glad I got it. Sweet piece of insulation.
As far as I know, they don’t do anything more than socks. Tried a bunch from both, and nothing but satisfied.

All the above I have personal experience. The ones below I just hope to have some experience with one of these days.
This is one company I’m itching (something merino doesn’t induce :-Þ) to get some garments from. That Scout Vest looks like the hotness. Lots of variety and colour choices.
Another company I’m anxious to try out. Like that they offer olive drab as a colour.
I'll never deal with them again, but their stuff is well regarded.
Seem very geared towards skiing/mountaineering.
For those into more staid designs. (I love Orvis’ stuff, but sweet jeebus, can we upgrade the designs from the ones they started with in the 1890’s, please?)
Venerable hunting/fishing outfitter, who even offer stuff in camo. They have some other wool clothing, not just in merino.
For those who want something brighter and more colourful.
Small selection of stuff, but I've read nothing but good reviews of their clothes.
I like that they have a sweater vest and a hoodie.
New to me, but folks in the know have good things to say about them.
Seem a bit more every day fashion oriented, and not much in the way of colour choice.
Appears it can only be purchased by agencies, not individual civilians. I like the look of it though.
Just socks.
Merino underwear designed and manufactured in NYC.
Merino blankets, that come in a variety of colours. Based in England, but the prices are reasonable.

If anyone knows of any other manufacturers, please feel free to pipe up and I will add it to the list.

As for care, Woolite (no fragrances or brighteners), in cold water on gentle cycle. One suggestion is to get some lingerie bags from a place like Bed, Bath + Beyond to protect it in the washer. Hang to dry. Very simple, just keep out of the dryer! I usually hand wash my wool stuff in baby shampoo.

Another interesting thing about wool is that it can be dyed. Very light coloured wool obviously.
But interestingly, Kool-Aid will also work well as a dye.

Missed Opportunity

Walking back from a friends house last night, I reached an intersection and encountered two, ahem, I believe the politically correct term is “caucasian hip hop fashion victims.”

I’m always switched on, but these two made my scumbag alarm tweak a little harder than usual.

I heard what sounded like a sizable rock dropping on the ground.

“Awww fuck dude, that’s like my favourite rock.”

The other one say to me “Hey buddy, you got any rock we can smoke.” 

Okay. Scumbag alarm is ringing battle stations now. I’m turning around to follow them, when I hear “SMASH!”

I take off after them, running as hard as I can. They reach York, which is 6 lanes, separated by a median. One of them almost gets hit by a car as they try to escape the pissed off giant. There are times when York hasn’t got a car for 500 meters in either direction. Suddenly, right at this crucial point, there are a dozen, dozen and a half cars, in a tight formation. Godgloeiendegodverdomme! I stood there prancing like a schoolboy bursting to go pee. I was pretty damn close to being able to tackle at least one of them, but this cut the distance too much. I had my phone out and called the police during these precious seconds to tell them what was going on. By the time I could get across, they had deked behind a building. I had my F off bright flashlight out, and was using it to search, but I didn’t know if they had gone left or right. I went right, running up the street, talking to the dispatcher at the same time. I couldn’t see them. I shone my light around, into bushes, driveways, under cars. No sign of them. I cut back to the street on the left at the cross street, but they were gone. I ran back to where I heard the glass smash and saw four people out, two with brooms outside a green Subaru station wagon. The affected couple and their neighbours. For no apparent reason, these two losers had hurled a rock through someone’s car window. Causing all sorts of hassle and aggravation, and increased insurance rates. Ggrrrrr!!!!
“Are you the guy that chased them?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I couldn’t catch them.” I told them all that had transpired.

A cruiser pulled up, and gave the cop a quick description of the perps and what I had seen and heard. Another cruiser pulled up and the first one went back to look around for them. I gave the second officer a description, and what they had said.
“Two teenage white males, medium height, medium build, one in a dark hoody and dark ball cap with a flat brim, one in a red hoody and a red ball cap with a flat brim – you know, like every other scumbag in this city. Sorry I can’t give you a better description. Too dark for me to get a better look at them.” Gave him my particulars. Said goodbye to the victims, who thanked me for my efforts, and backtracked to where I had lost them, jogging around for a while in the hopes I could spot them. No luck of course.

I was sort of, kind of hoping that I might be able to nab one and accidentally lean my knee on his head for a while or inadvertently twist his arm up behind his back a little beyond the comfort threshold or something like that. But alas, no such luck. Hate those missed opportunities to lay some pain on someone so richly deserving of a good dose.

I guess someone will argue that it isn’t so big a deal. “Come on, it’s just a rock through a window.” But, yeah, it is a big deal. One day it’s a rock through a car window for kicks, and the next time it’s a rock through a car window to steal stuff, and the next time it’s a rock through a house window to steal stuff – and it just escalates. It’s my neighbourhood, and if I don’t do something, who will? Maybe those two shitstains will think twice about doing it around here, after being chased by an irate behemoth. One can only hope.

S.o.t.D. - Get A Move On – Mr. Scruff

Surprised I haven’t thrown this fun and funky number up before. Uses samples from “Bird’s Lament (In Memory of Charlie Parker)” by Moondog and “Hyping Woman Blues” by Shifty Henry. I know it was used in a kooky number of commercials, but so what.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - The Truth – Jedi Knights

Air Drums From Outer Bongolia was the better titled track on this record, but I liked this track more. Another guise for the stupendously great Global Communication.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Niagara Falls Tailrace Tunnel

Just like some of the smaller waterfalls that tumble over the Niagara Escarpment near me were harnessed to power mills, the most famous waterfals to tumble over it, the Niagara Falls, was also harnessed for power.

Hydro electric power.

More than one scheme existed to produce electricity. One of them was by the Toronto Power Company. A century ago, a ten story deep shaft was dug so that water would pour down and cause turbines at the bottom to spin. The water would then have to go somewhere, so 9 meter high, half kilometer long tunnels were dug, that came out behind the Falls.

The two power generating plants are now out of use.

Several very brave (or foolish, depending on your perspective) individuals snuck into one of the plants and descended down the shaft and explored the tunnels. I know one of the guys who took some of these pictures.

Truly awe inspiring. To contemplate that people dug and built these mammoth brick lined tunnels, and then to stand at the end of the tunnel, with the full ferocity of Niagara Falls right there in front of you - wow. Just seeing the pictures gives me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be there for real.
(Links with more pictures below)

S.o.t.D. - Numb – Linkin Park

The whole rockin’ DJ thing is still a bit off to me, but I really liked their Meteora album.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Afterglow (dBridge Remix) – Phaeleh

Really like that blend of relentless rhythm, the bubble-gummy vocals, the 80ish synth sounds. Genius.

Sosoetry – Niece J

It was my niece Josie’s birthday a few days past (yikes, 13 already – where does the time go?), and I went up to visit yesterday. While underway my mind started to percolate and I wrote a goofy poem about her. It didn’t take me long to figure out some rhyming couplets to try and sum her up.

Both my nieces are really great kids. I don’t see them nearly as often as I would like, but even my infrequent visits are a delight.

My niece Josie seems shy and quiet
but I know her and don’t really buy it
prone to bouts of silliness
given to fits of giddiness
she giggles
she squiggles
you’d never know it seeing her pull goofy faces
but all of her examinations she easily aces
this girl is certainly no fool
doing quite well in school
she reads loads each term
proud to be a total book worm
she’s always in a cheerful mood
knows to eat only healthy food
helps her mom in the kitchen
gladly offering to pitch in
Josie thinks her Wii is totally gnarly
and loves her adorable puppy Marley
she’s best of pals with Annie, her little sister
but they can squabble with the fury of a twister
she can dance up a storm
with fine acrobatic form
she’s proven to be very athletic
her soccer skills anything but pathetic
doesn’t complain if her knees are skinned
still managing to run like the wind
even her long legged uncle she can outpace
when he foolishly challenged her to a race
but the poor thing has never seen Star Wars
this should be rectified very soon of course.

Bibliophilia: The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World – Michael Pollan

I absolutely loved The Omnivores Dilemma (please read), and while this didn’t cause quite the paradigm shift of TOD, I enjoyed this a whole lot. Humans like to think that we control plants....but perhaps plants are far more active participants in the whole affair. One of the most mind blowing sections of TOD was on corn. This is a continuation of that exploration of the link between people and plants.

He examines four plants and the things that we appreciate about them: Apples and Sweetness, Tulips and Beauty, Marijuana and Intoxication, and Potatoes and Control. Each of those plants was at one time endemic to only a small part of the planet, but the qualities that humans found attractive about them meant that we spread them across the globe, a feat that would have been difficult or impossible without the intervention of humans. In time humans tweaked these plants into ever newer strains and variants, that, again would likely have been impossible without the brains and hands of people. But could it be that there is some vast plant intelligence that knew what it was doing and used unwitting people to help in its aim to spread throughout the world? Do we control them or did they seduce us into controlling them?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

S.o.t.D. - Schooled in the Trade – People Under The Stairs

I tend to not like the majority of hiphop. Largely because it’s become the mating call of the Common North American Shitheel. People Under The Stairs are one act likely not being listened to by any of the scummy, posturing, wanna-be thugs I want to punch out whenever I walk around downtown.

Artspiration – Complexity Graphics

I’m really into geometry, fractals, patterns, data visualization and the like. Complexity Graphics is Muscovite Tatiana Plakhova, and her work is an absolute visual feast for me.

Some of the work on here site are just static images, but she has also produced some videos, usually accompanied by terrific music. (I can think of some instances when they would be particularly enjoyable to watch.)

A small sampling.

Animals are more aware than we realize.

Whenever I visit some friends, one of their cats, if she’s outside and sees me approach, will come running. After some meowing and rubbing against my leg and letting me scratch her head and rub her belly, she’ll either follow me inside or stay outside, depending on her mood.

When I came walking up the other day, I didn’t see her. I knocked on the front door, and no one answered. I looked and she was hiding under the car. I called to her, but she stayed put. I walked over and she very hesitantly poked her head out. With a bit of coaxing and rubbing her head, she finally emerged. I heard everyone out back, so I scooped her up and walked around. I put her down, and chatted with everyone about this and that.

An hour later, we went outside to look for her, and she was across the road under a car. We called to her, but she stayed put. I walked over, and once again, she only very reluctantly came out from under the car. I picked her up again and walked her back to the house.

It didn’t occur to me until I was walking home, that we had felt the effects of the earthquake that had hit Virginia. Even several hours later, she was still really skittish, and I guess to her, underneath a car was a safe place. Maybe she could feel barely perceptible to us after tremors. Who knows. Awe inspiring how sensitive to natural phenomenon they are – and scary how not sensitive to natural phenomenon we are. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if she was cowering under that car for a while before the tremors hit. But likely none of us would have noticed anything unusual about her behaviour.

Friday, 2 September 2011


When Cottage 13 got its start (mind you, in a different guise than what it is now) {well, technically it isn’t the original Cottage 13}) it got me looking into the number the 13 and all the mystique surrounding it. 

We found out that a triskaidekaphobe is afraid of 13, so I guess that makes us triskaidekaphiles.

  • 13 lunar cycles in a year
  • 13 witches in a coven
  • 13th guest at the Last Supper was Judas
  • 13th floor is invariably always missing
  • 13 Colonies
  • Luft Stalag 13
  • Prohibition lasted 13 years in the US
  • Minnesota 13 was a corn whisky popular during Prohibition
  • Odin’s son Balder, the god of peace and light went to a banquet in Valhalla. Loki, god of discord, was the uninvited 13th guest. He tricked Hoder, the blind symbol of darkness. to shoot and kill Balder with an arrow of mistletoe
  • 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, was the abolition of slavery
  • The Alamo lasted 13 days
  • Bakers dozen
  • On the masonic inspired US Great Seal, the pyramid has 13 steps, the eagle is clutching 13 arrows, the olive branch has 13 berries and 13 leaves, there are 13 feathers in the eagles tail and 13 stars over the eagles head, and 13 clouds around the stars. E Pluribus Unum and Annuit Coeptus both have 13 letters.
  • Dionysus, the 13th god, the god of wine, ritual madness and ecstasy
  • Constantine called himself the 13th apostle
  • 13 is the atomic number of aluminum on the periodic table of elements
  • Apollo 13, launched at 13:13 hours from rocket pad 39 and was aborted on April 13, 1970
  • Friday the 13th – a year can have no more than 3, and some have only 1 (Months with a Friday the 13th always begin on a Sunday. Friggatriskaidekaphobia is fear of Friday the 13th.)
  • The missing ingredient in LSD is POC 13
  • 13 Years War 
  • There were 13 Pope Leos and 13 Pope Innocents
  • The Egyptians saw life as a ladder with twelve steps. There was an invisible 13th step which was the step souls took into the afterlife
  • 13 twists in a hangmans noose
  • 13 steps to the gallows
  • 13 feet for a guillotine to fall
  • 13th card in a tarot deck is the death card
  • 13 players in a rugby league team
  • 13 cards in a suit, representing the 13 months in a lunar year.
  • The Browning Hi-Power pistol holds 13 rounds. (At an inquest following the shooting of 3 IRA members in Gibraltar by the SAS, one of the soldiers was asked why he had pumped 13 bullets into one of the terrorists. He very drolly replied that it only held 13 rounds.)
  • Two Formula 1 drivers were killed in crashes in cars with the #13. Now, there are no more Formula 1 cars with the #13.
  • Pillar 13 at Place de l’Alma, Paris, was what the car with Princess Diana in it hit. 
  • The controversy about the Procter & Gamble logo was in part about the 13 stars. 
  • In Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, the 13th district has been completely destroyed for their rebellion.
  • Bohlen–Pierce scale, a musical scale not built upon a standard octave but a different arrangement of 13 ascending tones. 
  • The Winchester Mystery House, built by Sarah L. Winchester, lunatic heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. Started in 1884, construction continued non-stop until her death in 1922, eventually topping out at 160 rooms. She thought that she was haunted by all the people killed by Winchester rifles and that she could evade their ghosts in the labyrinthian twists and turns. Perhaps not surprisingly, the number 13 played an important role. A partial list:
    - 13 cement blocks in the carriage entrance hall
    - 13 blue and amber stones in the spiderweb windows
    - 13 bathrooms
    - 13 panels in the wall by the 13th bathroom
    - 13 windows in the 13th bathroom
    - 13 steps into the 13th bathroom
    - 13 windows & doors in the old sewing room
    - 13 hooks in the seance room
    - 13 Ever-Flow drain holes in the Italian sink
    - 13 rails by the spy hole in the south conservatory
    - 13 steps on the last flight to the 4th floor
    - 13 ceiling panels in the entrance hallway
    - 13 subpanels in the ballroom ceiling panels
    - 13 glass cupolas in the greenhouse
    - 13 holes in the drainhole cover
    - 13 gas jets on the ballroom chandelier
    - 13 stones in the Oriental bedroom windows
    - 13 squares on each side of the Otis electric elevator
    - 13 armed channdelier
    - Every Friday the 13th, a bell is rung 13 times at 13:00

    Her will had thirteen parts, and her signature appeared in it thirteen times.
  • American poet John Hollander has a poem called “Powers of Thirteen” that is 169 (13 x 13) stanzas consisting of 13 lines of 13 syllables each, resulting in a poem of 28,561 words (134). It specifically examines  the nature of the number 13.
  • American poet Wallace Stevens has a haiku influenced poem called “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” 
  • American poet Ogden Nash has a poem called “A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor.”
  • Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” is a monumental sculptural piece, featuring a triangular table, with 39 important women featured (3 x 13).