Friday, 30 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Such A Shame – Talk Talk

Such A Shame – Talk Talk 

Phenomenal song by a band I doubt gets the credit they’re due.
(Also check out the great cover by Replique.)


Grabbed an Adventura magazine a few days ago and two articles got me excited. 

If like me, you don’t own a car, getting to more remote areas to camp, canoe, snowshoe, etc., etc. can be problematic. It turns out there is now a bus that will take you from downtown Toronto to Algonquin Park (yay!). Last year was its first season, and it took 321 people up to Algonquin, dropping them off at one of five stops. A round trip costs $72 plus tax, which is very reasonable. An initiative of the Ontario Parks, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and a bunch of private outfitters and tour operators in and around Algonquin Park.

There is also a first come, first serve opportunity to bring bikes up to the park.

It appears there are plans for other routes to different parks in the future, including Killarney (yay!) and also up the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory (yay!).

For more info:

And read the article here.

A forum post with a bunch more info.

This has me super excited.

Lake Erie Bike Route

Grabbed an Adventura magazine a few days ago and two articles got me excited.

One dealt with efforts by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust to establish a 600 km bike route from Windsor to Fort Erie along the north shore of Lake Erie.

This organization has a very well developed 900 km trail system from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border, along the north shore of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. 

While I’m sure one could get on a bike and ride this route now, developing some infrastructure will help greatly. Wayfinding, maps, providing info about sights to see, places to spend the night, etc., etc. Things like this are great for the economies cyclists pass through as they tend to pick up the slack of off seasons, preferring to travel in spring and fall. The entire route would be through fairly flat terrain, not to mention the very reasonable climate, Carolinian forests, and great views out across Lake Erie. Highlights along the route include Provincial Parks like Rondeau, and Long Point, and National Parks like Point Pelee, all places popular with birders.

All this is meant to be completed by 2013.

Exciting stuff. Having cycled through large sections of the central portion, Elgin County, I can attest this is ideal country for cycle touring.

Read the article here.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Crimes of the Future – William Orbit

Crimes of the Future – William Orbit 

My favourite track off of Strange Cargo Hinterland. Still not certain if that is the name of the album or the project. In any case it is William Orbit, and it is a terrific album.

Words of advice for an 8 year old boy – Girls

I have mentioned some of the hilariously innocent, yet clever things my nephew said when he was around 4. He has aged (far too rapidly – where has all that time gone?) so the nature of how we interact with one another is a bit different.

Yesterday his little pal Lily called him up and asked if he wanted to come over and play Wii with her. He agreed but then acted all glum and said he only did it so her and her sister wouldn’t cry, and it wasn’t going to be very fun, and they wouldn’t have any good games, and blah, blah, blah. His dad and I teased him about being such a wiener. Lily and her mom came by and off they went. Andrew and I sat around and talked for an hour longer. Then I had to go to the groceteria, and since their house was on the way, I stopped by to see how he was doing. I told Ed and Nancy what a goof he had been, and all the time I’m hearing laughter, and jumping up and down from the back. Pretty much what I expected to find.
“They’re playing foosball in the back. Go say hi.”
I stood there for a minute, watching Anand with this big smile on his face, before I said hello.

“Oh hi Uncle Thomas! Is my dad here to pick me up?”
“No. I just came by to see what a terrible time you were having. But, gee, Anand, it sure looks and sounds like you’re having a lot of fun. Gosh.”
“Yeah we played Wii Dance and now we’re playing some foosball.”

“Wow. That certainly sounds like heaps of fun.”
Then I made sure Lily couldn’t see me, and I pointed at him, mimed laughing, and mimed his whining.
“Why you little....” shaking his little fist at me.
“Yeah whatever Anand. We’ll talk later.”

I saw him later, put him in a headlock and gave him a noogie. Pointed out what a knucklehead he was for whining about having a
pretty girl call him up and ask if he wanted to come over and play video games and for thinking this is a bad thing. 
“I don’t have attractive women calling me up asking if I want to come hang out and play video games.” 
I told him that right now girls are kinda weird and annoying because they want to play sparkly princess rather than army guy nerf battle and talk about figure skating rather than hockey. But the day will come when having a pretty girl you like call you up and ask if you want to come over and do something with her will be the most important thing in the world. 
“Gals like a guy who is fun to be around, who knows how to do fun things that you can both enjoy. They also like guys who are nice, who take an interest in what she is interested in, and pay them a compliment once in a while, things like that. They also like boys who don’t act like complete dufuses. Times like this are a good opportunity to learn how to be fun and nice and cool around a girl. And dancing with a girl is always great too. So please don’t ever again give me that pitiful, waaahhhh, she isn’t gonna be any fun cause she doesn’t have Alien Zombie Blaster 5. Gals are fun to be around no matter what.”

Hopefully he will listen and learn something. I won’t tell him that girls will likely remain weird and annoying for a long time to come, but he will learn to love them anyway.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Angelica – Lamb

Angelica – Lamb 

Ordinarily I loathe Lamb. Like, have to change the channel when they come on. I think it’s her breathy, little girl vocal style that drives me mental. Whatever merits the music may have is spoiled for me by the vocals. But this track, which is an instrumental, I quite like.

Signage: We’r Open

I think they may have started out with the intention of going with a wide typeface to make it easier for people driving by to see that they were indeed open for business. They made that W really wide by sticking a big extender between the 2 Vs, some breathing room between the E and the , and then when they got to the end they realized they had run out of room for the last E.

Patch Hanger

I got my nephew a backpack a few years back that I sewed some loop Velcro to, and also got him some patches that I sewed some hook Velcro to. A name patch, a small Canadian flag, a White Stripes one, two Batman ones, a Star Wars clone trooper one. Recently I took a ball cap that he wasn’t so thrilled with, a New Balance cap, actually a very nice quality one, and sewed some loop Velcro to. Now he thinks it’s “totally epic!”

Not having much money to devote to Yule gifts this year, I got a few patches from the Boy Scout store (far more reasonably priced than any of the Star Wars ones I looked at on line), and a few others and again sewed some hook Velcro to the back of them. I also made him something I have been meaning to make for myself for a long time now, a panel to hang up and stick patches to when not in use. Took a length of stiff plastic to give it some form, a length of 550 cord, some 4" loop Velcro, 2 beads, and sewed this up for him.

I gave him some other things as well, but this one was the most fun for me.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Judgement of Paris – In The Nursery

Judgement of Paris – In The Nursery 

Another band I really liked in the 80s....and then kind of lost interest in. Except for this track, which has been in fairly regular rotation.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Christmastime Is Here (Instrumental) – Vince Guaraldi Trio

Christmastime Is Here (Instrumental) – Vince Guaraldi Trio 

From what I think is the only christmas record worth owning.

Bibliophilia: Anathem – Neal Stephenson

I was very intrigued by this, but ultimately had to put it down to return to at a later date. The book is set in a whole other world, and having to learn all the terms and such, when I’m already trying to fill my head with a pile of arcane knowledge was too much. It’s not a novel that you can just dive right into and breeze through. It requires you to learn the language, customs and cultures of an alternate universe. I’ll get back into this when I have a week or two without any other pressing mental challenges.

I had to make several attempts at the Baroque Cycle. I kept getting side tracked, brushing up on the history of people like Newton, Wren, Leibniz, and a host of other figures, as well as delving in to the subject of physics. so I could have a better understanding of what I was reading. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Hazey Daze – Chris & Cosey

Hazey Daze – Chris & Cosey

Of the three projects that rose from the ashes of Throbbing Gristle, Coil was definitely my fave. PTV just veered into weird cult territory too often for me, but Chris & Cosey I liked a lot.

Chris & Cosey played in the usually overlooked by touring acts city I grew up in in 1985. Desperately wanted to go, but I was underage and couldn’t get into the club. What made it even worse was finding out later that the unknown group that opened, Hell ‘O’ Death Day, was none other than misters Ogilvie and Crompton of Skinny Puppy. I’m still bummed out that I missed it.


In case the trailer isn’t enough (and I understand if it isn’t) it’s a full film.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Some observations about data and the storage thereof

I recently acquired something I’ve needed for a really long time: an external hard disc.

My computing power has been rather woeful as of late due to a lack of funds. One of the biggest problems has been a lack of storage capacity. 

Getting my mitts on an external hard disc has been a godsend. I have about 23 years of data. Over the years I have used floppy discs, Bernoulli discs, Zip discs, CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, and a variety of camera storage cards. Years back I transferred all the stuff I had on floppy discs onto zip discs. I kept the floppies as a backup. (I never could transfer any of the stuff I had on Bernoulli over. No longer had a drive, didn’t know anyone else that did.) Then I transferred all the stuff on Zip discs over to CDs. Kept the Zips as a backup. With each transfer, data was lost as sections of the discs were no longer accessible. 

Now that I am transferring a huge stack of CDs as well as a decent sized stack of DVDs, not to mention thumb drives and a bunch of camera storage cards onto one hard disc, I am losing even more data. Even CDs just a few years old, stored very carefully, have data that is on damaged sections of the discs. 

So over the years, by drip and by drab stuff has been lost, just due to the degeneration of storage mediums.

If you have data you value – photos of your kids, grandkids, parents, pets, trips, music, projects, etc., etc. – make sure one copy is not all you have. Back up and back up and back up and back up. For the cost, for the amount of room it takes up, relying on just one copy of irreplaceable info, is not worth the risk.

But another insidious loss of stuff occurs due to the fact that so much of what I have is no longer accessible due to software incompatibility. Transferring from Mac to PC, or from Mac to PC, or even in some cases from Mac to PC to Mac, has caused headaches. Getting files UnStuffed and UnCompacted when they’re 20 years old is often a nuisance. I have loads of files in FreeHand3 format. Illustrator refuses to open them. That really breaks my heart. I have a loads of Fontographer files which FontLabStudio won’t open. I need to get their FogLamp software for that to happen. I have stuff in CorelDraw or QuarkXpress which I don’t currently have access to. And even if I get some of these files open, I will quite likely not have the required fonts because they were done on a work computer fifteen years ago.

Computers are great and all, and I am in love with what I can all do with them. But there are aspects to them that are beyond frustrating. Data loss and software incompatibility being chief amongst them.

But I am glad to be able to get years of photos and music and creations together in one place. Sorting it all (I often have several backups, so getting it all untangled is quite a chore) is laborious. But rewarding.

But once I get this all done, once I have everything squared away, I will be acquiring another external hard disc and backing it up. And if I have any sense I may just look into online storage as well. A few options to be on the safe side. 

And then I am going to finally ditch the floppies and the zips. But I’ll keep the CDs and DVDs – just to be on the safe side.

S.o.t.D. - Remind (Live at Maida Vale) – Orbital

Remind (Live at Maida Vale) – Orbital 

From their final performance, broadcast as a Peel Session. Absolutely blistering version of one of my favourites tracks of theirs. And this is what they started the show with.

Friday, 16 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Olson (Laconic Flow Mix) – Boards Of Canada

Olson (Laconic Flow Mix) – Boards Of Canada 

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything by my favourite Scottish stonertronica band, Boards of Canada. Just discovered this terrific remix of Olson. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Ghosts – Japan

Ghosts – Japan

Pop music for sophisticates.

Bibliophilia: Dies the Fire – S. M. Stirling

Dies the Fire – S. M. Stirling

Found this tortuous to be very honest. I enjoy the whole post-apocalypse genre, but I had a major problem with the premise I just couldn’t get over. Okay, technology stops working – electronics and electricity fail to function. That, I can buy into. An EMP will see to that. But gunpowder no longer works? Huh? It’s about as simple a chemical reaction as there is. And steam no longer works? What!? 

And then all the wiccan, gaelic speaking stuff, got tedious fast. It was all a little to SCA for me. It is apparently part of a trilogy, but while I finished this, I wasn’t interested enough to want to get the other two.

(Right after I delved into Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, which was light years better in every way, merely serving to showcase this novels shortcomings.)

Bibliophilia: How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche

How Shakespeare Changed Everything – Stephen Marche 

Undeniably Shakespeare has had a very profound effect on many things, the English language in particular. While my appreciation of Shakespeare has grown greatly since being forced to read him in high school, and have come to find the whole topic intriguing, the author was really reaching in an effort to justify a conclusion in many instances. Because of Hamlet’s skull speech, teenagers wear skulls on their shirts. Our modern take on sexuality is informed by Shakespeare. Our notion of teenagerhood is because by Shakespeare. All political revolutions draw their inspiration from Shakespeare. It’s all a bit over-arching. It gave me some things to ponder, and there are some fun factoids, but it started to feel a bit like a padded essay assignment. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Massey Lectures

The Massey Lectures are an annual series of week-long of lectures on a political, cultural or philosophical topic given here in Canada by a noted scholar. They were created in 1961 to honour Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada. Their purpose is to “enable distinguished authorities to communicate the results of original study on important subjects of contemporary interest.”

Some of the Massey Lecturers have included Northrop Frye, John Kenneth Galbraith, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Willy Brandt, Wade Davis, Douglas Coupland, Michael Ignatieff, and many other notable individuals. A book of the lecture is also published each year by House of Anansi Press.

They’re nearly always thoughtful and mind expanding essays (well Douglas Coupland’s didn’t do much for me personally). The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has put them online, so if you are intrigued, you can check them out. 
(scroll down for a list of all the lectures with a description of the topic and a photo of the book.)
(and if you want to listen to any of the lectures.)

S.o.t.D. - Fine Friend – Pale Saints

Fine Friend – Pale Saints 

Funny (and a bit sad) how some bands that you love, get shoved aside for other stuff that occupies your time and attention (and wallet). Pale Saints was a band I really liked, and I’ve been really digging digging out their CDs again. Just the 23 Envelope covers alone make them worth rediscovering, but the music contained within the sleeves is fantastic as well.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Signage: Harvest Burger

Harvest Burger is gone. A moment of silence please.... But the signage is still up. Figured that before it goes for good, I should snap some pics of what appears to actually be hand painted lettering.

Bibliophilia: Inside Delta Force – Eric L. Haney

Another former Delta guy who has a bunch of his comrades angry at him. Still, an absorbing look at the inner workings and early days of Delta Force. Besides apparently revealing too much information, he is also partly responsible for the craptastic The Unit. Which may be the more unforgiveable sin.

Bibliophilia: Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander’s Account of the Hunt for the World’s Most Wanted Man – Dalton Fury

The tricky juggling act of writing a book that may get you PNG’d from the brotherhood, but that has something important to say. Personally I thought this account of the very early days of the US going into Afghanistan is fascinating.

S.o.t.D. - Hunted - Pale Saints

Hunted - Pale Saints 

Another fantastic band on the brilliant 4AD label. Love that jangly, atmospheric pop sound.

Bibliophilia: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite – Gerard Way

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite – Gerard Way 

Sounds crazy, but I grabbed this primarily because James Jean did the covers. Not bad, the story had a bit of a film noir meets X-Men vibe to it.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Jack Chambers

Was surprised to see the name Jack Chambers on Tycho’s blog.
I never knew the man, but I do know the Curnoe family well, and heard much about him from them and read much about the role that Jack Chambers played in the really vibrant art scene in London, Ontario in the 1960s.
He painted this scene of Victoria Hospital, where he would later die, from atop the Curnoes roof.

This kid is awesome!

Warren Seely, barely into his teens, makes scaled down, working replicas of the machinery on his family’s farm...out of Lego. Just when you despair what boobs a lot of kids seem to be these days, you see someone like him and what he is capable of doing.

S.o.t.D. - Dark Angel – Solar Enemy

Dark Angel – Solar Enemy 

Solar Enemy was a project of some of the Portion Control guys, yesterdays S.o.t.D.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Havoc Man – Portion Control

Havoc Man – Portion Control 

This is a band I heard back in about 83. Weird, crunchy electronic, industrial stuff. Some of it was a fairly challenging listen. But then I’d hear something like this. Holy crap!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Afterhours – Sisters of Mercy

Sons of Freedom yesterday, Sisters of Mercy today. Another one of those bands that I was really into at one point, and then just got right out of.

Friday, 9 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Mona Lisa – Sons of Freedom

Mona Lisa – Sons of Freedom 

Kick ass late 80’s, early 90’s rock band from Vancouver in. Went to see these guys at Call The Office in London. Liked the show so much I bought a shirt. “Last one we have in XL,” the merchandise guy said as he took down the display one hanging up. Stuck it in my bag and went home. The next morning I got up for work and grabbed my brand new SoF shirt to wear. I pulled it on over my head and recoiled in horror. That shirt had hung up in every bar and club on their tour and the tobacco stench was unreal. So, I didn’t wear it until it had gone through the wash a few times.

Mountain Biking In Utah

After this I decided I would never go to Utah, but things like this make me re-consider.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Digi Out – Infinite Wheel

I got this record on a trip to Montreal. It got played many, many times throughout the mid 90’s. Once I went to a party at the house of some friends and brought it along. A while later I couldn’t find it anywhere. Damn. A while after that I was back at the house of the same friends. 
“Hey, is this your CD?”
“It’s fantastic. Thought of keeping it.”
“I wouldn’t blame you, but your honour and honesty are appreciated. Mainly so I can answer the question of where it went.”

I think I may have been somewhat inebriated when I left their house that night. Ahem.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

S.o.t.D. - Endless Festival – Anne Dudley & Jaz Coleman

Endless Festival – Anne Dudley & Jaz Coleman 

Songs from the Victorious City is a fantastic album by Anne (Art of Noise) Dudley and Jaz (Killing Joke) Coleman. Recorded largely in Cairo (the album name is a reference to Cairo) in collaboration with a variety of Egyptian musicians in 1990. This record pulsates with energy.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Working With Search And Rescue Helicopters

A publication from the RAF to assist people in understanding the process involved in employing Search and Rescue helicopters.

I sincerely hope no one ever needs to be winched out of some remote and inhospitable place via helicopter. But I suspect that if it were ever to befall anyone, most of us would have no idea what to do when that helicopter arrives on scene.

While it is a UK document, might be a good idea to read it now, so that if you’re ever unlucky enough to need to be rescued in this manner, you have a sense of what to do.

And it is just an interesting document regardless.

Now to ....“get to da PDF of da rescue wits da choppa!”

Valdez to Whittier: A Family Canoe Expedition

Fall Falls pt. 2 – Balls to the Walls

Last Sunday I wandered along the Niagara Escarpment, and had such a swell time I did it again this Sunday. Like last week, it was a grey, rainy day, but I will take a cool autumn day over a summer scorcher any day.

Partly I went because I just enjoy going wandering, and also because I had the idea to get down into Scenic Gorge to take some photos of the falls from below. It’s a steep descent and right now with freshly fallen leaves and quite a few rainy days in the last several weeks, they’ll be slippery and the ground underneath will be muddy. That’s what held me back last week, but all week I kept thinking about throwing caution to the wind and making my way down. It’s an intermittent waterfall, only making an appearance after rainfalls or spring melt. Best time to get some photos of it is now, after weeks of rainy weather. The descent involved a mud skidded ass and hands that required a rinse off in the creek, but I made it down in one piece
Start of the trail.
Made a little detour into Chedoke Gorge. Didn’t go in that far.
Remarkable where foliage will take hold.
From here I opted to check out the rest of the gorge. All those rocks you see on the ground – they covered the entire floor of the gorge from one end to the other. Some the size of a fist, some the size of a toaster, some the size of an oven, some the size of a car. Not to mention then being covered in leaves, and plenty of fallen trees. Made for treacherous footing.

I decided to explore another avenue out of the gorge further up and once I figured out that was a no go, I came back down and had a pucker moment when a rock slid out from under my foot, one leg went in one awkward direction, another foot slid and got wedged in behind another rock. My body, my legs, my knees, my ankles were in a strangely disjointed pose before I plunked myself down on my ass and stopped before anything snapped. Deep breath. And...on we go.
It seems that this is an area not frequented by people that much, simply by the lack of garbage. I only found three beer bottles and four beer cans. Probably too much trouble for shitheads to scramble in and clamber back out. What garbage there is looks like it is carried down here by the creek. A couple of tires, a completely rusted out wheel barrow, a destroyed suitcase. I’d like to organize a clean up of this area and one other in the spring. Do it with a group of people, some up top with ropes that can haul the stuff up and out. Trying to climb up the walls with tires and garbage bags in my hands doesn’t seem so feasible.
One last look around before clambering back out.
Even within the confines of a big city, and a highway not too far away, a really peaceful spot. Getting to sit on a big rock for a while, with the sound of a waterfall and a burbling brook right nearby - fantastic.