Monday, 31 October 2011

Marshland Meander

Rather than spend yet another day cooped up inside working on the endless minutiae of typeface production I grabbed my pack and went wandering. Decided to go to the far end of Cootes Paradise and also check out the new bike lane crossing the 403 at the Chedoke Golf Course.
Looking out across the Chedoke Golf Course towards Burlington.
Leaf on a moss covered rock along the Bruce Trail.
The fancy new multi-use trail along the railyard and Chedoke Golf Course. It’s not like you couldn’t get across the rail bridge before, but this makes it a lot more accessible to a lot more people. Anything that improves Hamilton’s bike infrastructure is good in my books. One annoyance though is that before I could cut across the golf course to the Bruce Trail or vice versa. Now a fence blocks that route. I backtracked several hundred meters along the fence and came around it, but I don’t know if the plan is to completely enclose the trail back to its start. Leaves me wondering who plans these things. Deliberately to stop the handful of individuals like me who use that route, or someone who doesn’t hike and can’t visualize that someone might use that route.
All that remains of a rail route that once stretched as far as Brantford is a marshaling area used by CP Rail. From the bridge here to about Rifle Range Road (oh, how I wish there still was a rifle range) there was still long disused track, which has now been removed and replaced by tarmac. Like I said, you could certainly cross here before, but this is a major improvement. Except for my shortcut cutoff.
Some old folks on their bikes, and wouldn’t ya know it, they were speaking Dutch. Figures.
The Escarpment from the other side of the 403. 
I went to the far left of the map to explore some of the old, long abandoned canal sections and where Spencer Creek flows into the marsh.
Grasses I could stand upright in and still be impossible to see from a distance.
Cat tails (or bullrushes depending on where in the world you’re from) taller than me.
Streamage.
That photo is taken where that red X is on the map. Wasn’t really equipped to go much further. Streams were too wide to jump, and didn’t feel like walking around for the rest of the day in sopping wet boots. If I had waders or even wellies with me I might have explored more.
See microscopic, see world view.
At the time of writing I have not pulled out my mycological guides to determine exactly what they are.
Lovely. From the end of Chegwin Trail.
Swan.
Gorgeous day, bit chilly which is ideal for hiking, saw an area that I’m not as familiar with, got some exercise.

S.o.t.D. - The Himalaya – Cosmosis

The Himalaya – Cosmosis 

While most Cosmosis is frenetic goa trance that only makes sense when you’re on acid, this is a really gorgeous ambient toe tapper.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Saturday, 29 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Charming the Serpent – Govinda


Smooth, relaxing, funky, sophisticated. Pretty much all the ingredients that make a great track in my mind.

Chairless

I’m all for free enterprise, and I dig a clever idea as much as the next guy, but this one has me shaking my head.

It’s a product from Vitra called Chairless, and the designer is Alejandro Aravena although I guess he got his inspiration from the Ayoreo Indians from Paraguay.

It’s essentially a strap that encircles the back and the knees and provides support when sitting on the ground. I have no doubt that it works. Certainly it’s small and lightweight, great for camping and such. And a strap could serve more than one purpose.
My objection to it is that they want €19.90 or about $27 Cdn. Uhhhmmmm....I applaud anyone’s entrepreneurial spirit, but I also applaud anyone’s DIY spirit. It is essentially 27¢ worth of seatbelt webbing, an elastic hairband and a few minutes of sewing. It’s a DIY project I could take hiking with me and complete under my hammock’s tarp while I boil water for a cup of tea. Making an honest buck is fine. Charging kooky money for something that anyone with a pair of oppose-able thumbs, a pair of functioning eyeballs and a bit of coordination could do? Come on.

So That Others May Live - Sgt Janick Gilbert, SAR Tech, RIP 28 October 2011

Sgt. Janick Gilbert, 34, of Baie-Comeau, Que., a search and rescue (SAR) technician with 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Trenton, Ont., was killed after he and two other SAR Techs jumped into the Hecla Strait outside the Nunavut hamlet of Igloolik from a Hercules aircraft with a life-raft around 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

They were there to help Igloolik hunter David Aqqiaruq and his son, who had left the community by boat Wednesday to go walrus hunting, but they reportedly had engine problems and called for help. Local searchers had trouble reaching them because of the icy, rough sea.

Once the boaters were located, a radio was dropped to them by the rescue crew. In a statement, Col. Sean Friday, commander of 8 Wing Trenton, said that when it was determined the condition of one of the boaters was deteriorating and communications broke off, the three technicians parachuted down. The boaters were transferred to the life-raft, and all five men waited for about three hours until a Cormorant helicopter from Gander, N.L., arrived to pick everyone up. 

Capt. Jennifer Jones, a CFB Trenton-based spokeswoman for the military, had no specific information on where they landed, or what happened before the three members of the rescue team and the two boaters were transported by a helicopter — flown in from Gander, N.L. — to a medical facility in Igloolik.

Jones said she did not know whether Gilbert was alive when the chopper picked up the five individuals, but did say everyone else was in good condition. She said the boaters suffered minor injuries.

Celestino Uyaraq of Igloolik’s search and rescue group said people in the hamlet are saddened by what happened.

“The whole community is touched by this, and I’ve received calls that if we could only see their family members, just to be around them, to support them.”

Louis Tapardjuk, MLA for Amittuq, which includes the hamlets of Hall Beach and Igloolik, acknowledged the death in Nunavut’s legislative assembly.

He said it’s clear everyone involved worked very hard because life is so precious, and that the people of Nunavut are grateful for the work of search and rescue technicians.

In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the Canadian Forces’ search-and-rescue technicians “some of the best trained in the world.” 

“Canada’s landscape is one of the most challenging in the world in which to conduct search-and-rescue operations, and the area in which search-and-rescue professionals work is the largest in the world — it extends over 15 million square kilometres of land and sea and encompasses the world’s longest coastline. Sgt. Gilbert was an extremely brave Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice while proudly serving his country.”

“On behalf of the Defence family and our brave men and women in uniform, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and comrades of Sgt. Janick Gilbert, who died yesterday in Nunavut,” Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, said in a statement Friday. “He lost his life in the service of his country while unselfishly answering the call for help.” 

The military says the incident is under investigation.
Sgt. Janick Gilbert is lowered by a Canadian Forces Search and Rescue CH-146 

This is the purest definition of bravery - jumping from an airplane and into stormy arctic seas in order to rescue someone you don’t know. So that others may live.

My sincerest condolences to his family.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his brother.
   John 15:13

Friday, 28 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Transformation/bu_ist (Phutureprimitive Mix) – Zero One

Transformation/bu_ist (Phutureprimitive Mix)  – Zero One 

Blends bits of arabic and ambient and some electronica-ish elements together. I like it.

Bibliophilia: The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age – Simon Schama

I’m somewhat chagrined to say that I don’t know that much about the history of the country I was born in. I go to the library and the shelves are filled with books about the British Isles, and many about France, and lots about Italy and Germany and many other countries, but the Netherlands is apparently too small to rank. In Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire, this book was mentioned so I searched the library data-base and they had it. While I found it about as dry as a packet of rusks, I did gain a new appreciation of my homeland.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Najaf – Bob Holroyd

Najaf – Bob Holroyd 

I like music like this that sort of hangs on the edge. You think it’s going to pick up, but it just stays at that simmering pace. If I had this on vinyl on a 1200 I would likely pitch it up and up. Would be good builder in a set, add something with a faster tempo into it.

Bibliophilia: Devils in Exile – Chuck Hogan

Devils in Exile  Chuck Hogan

Last week I enjoyed The Town (or as it was originally called, The Prince of Thieves) enough to grab this one.

And I enjoyed this too.

Down on his luck former SF soldier, falls in with a tight knit gang of ex-soldiers who rob drug dealers of their money and destroy the product. But, things aren’t as they seem, and everything goes sideways.

Character development was good and the action moved along at a good clip. Didn’t like it quite as much as The Town / The Prince of Thieves, but liked it enough that I’ll probably grab his other novels. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Bang! Work the bolt!

I own a few Cold Steel knives. Not unhappy with them. They market (notice I didn’t say make) a few other things I’d like to acquire at some point.

Their marketing tactics are frankly a bit cringe inducing. The owner/president Lynn Thompson and his videos of him hacking and slashing at a variety of objects might be great fun for him, but they’re really over the top and  totally corny.

Well he has another video out that goes beyond over the top and makes me wish he would seriously reflect on his motivations. If he’s trying to market himself as some sort of self-defense expert he fails miserably. The safety violations, the questionable tactics. If he’s just wanting to blow money and film himself shooting guns, well, that’s just boring.

I’m all for people being allowed to own whatever they want, including firearms of all sorts, and all for people being allowed to defend themselves. But the kind of jaw dropping crap he does in this video doesn’t help the cause.

Besides the completely ridiculous ten camera set-up and the switch in views every five seconds, his antics are just too irresponsible for words. 


Firing a round into the ground almost as soon as he clears the holster?! Walking rounds on target?! Hey, shooting your downstairs neighbour is all part of the fun! “Rip the shit outta them if you don’t know where they’re at! It’s your life baby.” Seriously, you fucking tool? It’s called positive identification of your target. You shoot 32 rounds to hit 14 times? Where did those other bullets go? “Fuselage of Bullets”....brilliant.

He demonstrates that you can violate all four firearms safety rules and survive, at least temporarily. Darwin Award candidate waiting to happen.

I love the stupid smile on his face every time he fires a few round and hits the targets. You can tell he’s proud of himself and his superb displays of accuracy.

He claims 30 years of practicing martial arts, but he looks like Chris Farley’s stunt double and is out of breath from running between 3 barricades? Get outta here. Never trust a man out of breath who tells you he can move “faster than that”. If you weigh 300lbs, apparently taking one bowlegged step to the right qualifies as “running”. “And run... and run... and run...” Maybe he should take his own advice. He’s winded after almost no exertion whatsoever. 

Part of a 6 disc set, all for a mere $120. Seriously? 6 goddamn DVDs of this shit? 18 hours? Condensed down from 180 hours that took 2½ years to film? $120? The few minutes of that was all I could handle.

There are good videos available that really will teach you something. The MagPul ones come to mind. This assclown? Please.

He had it up on YouTube, but got hammered so badly over it there and every firearms board in the world, that he took it down. But, the internet being what it is, others made certain his display of dangerous buffoonery will live on.

“Bang! Work the bolt! Bang! Work the bolt! Bang! Work the bolt!”

Jeeeessus....

S.o.t.D. - Eerie – Laroca


Another act new to me. Nothing eerie about this track - just smoking hot jazzy, funky, grooviness.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bibliophilia: Sita’s Ramayana – Samhita Arni

Sita’s Ramayana – Samhita Arni

Ramayana is an epic poem, written sometime around 300 BCE. It is an allegorical story that contains important Hindu teachings, and it has had great influence on Indian life and culture over the centuries. 

The artist here is Moyna Chitrakar, and she has done the whole book in a style known as Patua. A style of art native to West Bengal, where handmade paper pasted on cloth, and is painted with vegetable and mineral dyes. Traditionally in scroll form, they depict stories from epics as well as mythology. 

S.o.t.D. - Brothers Chase – Plaid


An incredible song from an incredible soundtrack. From the Japanese anime film Tekkonkinkreet.

Monday, 24 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Monkey Drummer – Aphex Twin


I featured a Chris Cunningham video yesterday, and it made me think of this video. Would totally love to go to a concert that featured this contraption playing drums.

And, being the Lego freak I am, I hopped up and down in my chair at seeing this. A double dose of amazing.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Come On My Selector – Squarepusher

Come On My Selector – Squarepusher 

Just like yesterday, another video worth watching. But this time the creepiness factor is a bit higher. Totally gonzo D&B. Directed by Chris Cunningham.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Statetris

Tetris is a fun game and all, but it’s only a handful of geometric shapes. This version tests your geographic knowledge. Other continents and countries as well. Tried the one for the motherland and actually had a hard time with the cities.

S.o.t.D. - Where’s Your Head At – Bassment Jaxx


Fantastic, if rather creepy video.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Paper Airplanes

Paper airplanes are always good fun. Here are two links with ideas. 

http://www.zurqui.com/crinfocus/paper/airplane.html

http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/planes.php

Lame product pictures

I probably have more pet peeves than it is healthy to have, but one in particular is the generic ¾ product photo.

It seems like so many manufacturers, and by turn retailers, rely on that one photo and almost seem to be telling their potential customers “Too bad.”

While it might give me an idea, it never gives me the whole picture.

I’ll give you a case in point. Bergans. Norwegian company, I’ve always read good things about them, but they seem to have only a Scandinavian/northern European market presence. (Scandinavian outdoor gear makers with great reputations and their stuff nowhere to be found here in Canada is another annoyance, but let’s stick to one thing at a time.) While looking around on Bergans’ site, I came across their Langevann Hip Pack. Looks interesting, and I’m trying to figure out some kind of hip pack that suits my needs. (Although, I suspect that making it myself is what I will end up having to do.)

So, there is a picture and a bit of a written description. 
Another similar, but made in a different material model as well.
I can tell something about it, but certainly not everything. What is that belt like, what can I attach to it, what are the pouches on that belt like, what does the inside of that bag look like, etc., etc., etc. So I run a search, hoping that maybe some retailer has gone to the trouble to take some photos. And no. All the companies, all of them in Europe of course, all use the same manufacturer provided photo. Really, not a single one of you can go to the trouble to take a half dozen extra shots, from all angles, insides, on a person to gauge size, etc.? It’s not like it’s a printed catalogue where more photos add up to more pages which adds up to more paper which adds up to more printing. It’s the interweb, where those concerns are largely moot.

Maybe a kind blogger has gone to the trouble to take photos and write a review. But, no. I know from my own stats that lots of people looking for info on products have come here because I did a little writeup on them. And I sincerely hope that I gave them some good information that allowed them to make a more informed choice. Everything I’ve discussed here has been purchased with my own money, and my reviews were entirely voluntary, and I received no compensation for them. If a manufacturer wanted to send me stuff or pay me for what I did, I wouldn’t say no. And maybe that’s what manufacturers should do. If they aren’t willing or able to give their potential customers more than the generic ¾ product photo, and a bland writeup, and no one has yet written up a review with some photos to accompany it, maybe they should approach a blogger to do just that. I know speaking for myself, an objective 3rd party review, or two, or three, is more likely to sway my opinion than an ad in a magazine. I just find it frankly weird that a lot of manufacturers still seem to think that old fashioned, non-interactive ads in magazines are the way to go. Or that a good reputation alone will sell their products. That picture on Bergans’ website alone isn’t enough to make me want to have it shipped from Europe to me, only to find out that it doesn’t suit my needs. And it also seems that a company that could potentially do very well in a market like North America, when they are an entity known only in certain geographic locales, like Scandinavia or Australia, could benefit from some non-professional, non-commercial endorsement.

So Bergans, or any other manufacturer or retailer reading this – and I may have singled them out, but there are many, many, many manufacturers like them – give your potential customers more info than the scant drips and drabs you give them now – especially more detailed photos. And if no bloggers are writing about your products, and filling in the scant photographic evidence, approach some that appear to be sympatico and offer to send them some products to review. Either as a give-away or a loaner. Or slip them a $100 bucks for their trouble. It is bound to be cheaper than ads in magazines. And if the traffic that comes to my site is any indication, people are hungry for a lot more info than you are providing them. The old ways of doing things are obsolete. A blogger may not take the greatest photos and may not always praise a product effusively if they find flaws with it, but I think the legions of people reading what they have to say appreciate a sincere and honest look at a product, and also appreciate not having smoke blown up their ass. The ability for a real world user to see what a real world user has to say about it, to see photos of the product from all angles, inside and out, filled with the things that would go into it, etc., etc. is the way that things are going. Giving a potential customer a way to ask questions about the product, either through a website, discussion forum or even of a blogger (like me - I’ll happily help a fellow enthusiast) is to my mind really important and very worth it. And pretty cheap in the long run.

Manufacturers and retailers need to adapt to that new paradigm of marketing or see their market share dry up.

S.o.t.D. - Where The Wild Roses Grow – Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue


Mmmm Kylie. Oh and a great duet as well.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Bittersweet – Late


More of that ambient dubstep sound that is really growing on me. And like yesterdays track, another one with a great vid. I’ll never get tired of time lapse imagery of landscapes with clouds and sun rises and sets and stars and the like. Magnificent stuff.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Foldboat

I’m big into anything collapsable, foldable, inflatable, expandable, retractable, stackable.

I even own a book devoted to the topic.

Just found out about a company called Foldboat. It’s like they took the idea behind Orikaso and took it in a larger, different direction. I’ve been aware of companies like Folbot, Klepper, and Alpacka Raft for some time. Neat to see another concept added to the list of options. Looks like this could lie flat on the bed of a pickup or floor of a van.
Cool stuff.

S.ot.D. - Fly Into The Night (Instrumental Mix) – Schodt


Bit trancy, but I like it. Awe inspiring scenery too.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Performance – Tones On Tail


Brings back fond memories of listening to the London Underground on CHRW.

Door

Door on the Church of the Ascension on John Street in Hamilton.

Eva Titling Sequence

Mmmmmmmm.....I’ve seen these before............
Title sequence to the film Eva. Not only do I want to see this film now, but I believe Delicatessen has a competitor for my favourite titling sequence.

MapRank

MapRank is a search tool from the David Rumsey Map Collection that allows you to find a historical map of a given area using Google Maps. No guarantee that any maps will exist for the area you choose to search, but a very cool tool.

http://rumsey.mapranksearch.com/

Bibliophilia: The Town – Chuck Hogan

Still haven’t seen the movie, but at least now I can complain that the novel was better than the movie when I do.

Monday, 17 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


One thing everyone should strive to do before they die is go and see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds live. Nick and the fellas never put out a bad album, but Kicking Against the Pricks is among their best.

Nursing School Pin

I was asked to recreate a pin given to graduates of the Hamilton General Hospital Nursing School, for their 50th anniversary.
And that’s pretty much all I had to go on.
Trying to locate an example of the old City of Hamilton crest proved really tough as well.

Anyway, this is what I drew in Illustrator. Still a bunch of things that need to be tweaked on it, colouring, etc. but I figure this is a good framework to go from.
Okay, first crack at adding colour to it.  I realize there is probably all sorts of things wrong with it, the light doesn’t hit at the right angles in certain places, yadda, yadda, but it can all be fine-tuned.

Anyone reading this looking for a vector drawing of the old City of Hamilton crest, get in touch. I’m sure we can work something out.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Hosanass from the Basements of Hell – Killing Joke


Don’t listen to a whole heck of a lot of aggressive music, but Jaz and the fellas do it better and have always done it better than practically all of their contemporaries.

Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera

Want!


Bibliophilia: The Klondike – Zach Worton


The Klondike – Zach Worton 

Minor quibble in that I found some of the characters a little tough to differentiate, but I liked this look at some of the larger than life personalities that were a part of the Klondike gold rush. Not so surprisingly, it seems that gold rushes bring out the most venal qualities in people.

Friday, 14 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Redeemer – Underwolves

Redeemer – Underwolves

Is it weird to describe a track as being “Bukem-y”. Hopefully anyone in the know will know what I’m talking about.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

S.o.t.D. - Inspiration – Section 25


Given how little info Factory Records ever put out about their artists, I wasn’t sure whether to believe the rumours this was just New Order recording under a different name. As it turned out, they were a distinct act after all.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Harbour Hike

Went wandering down James Street on Saturday morning and ended up at the very end, down by the lake. Went a while back, but it was a grey day then. Not this time.
Leander yacht club.
McQuesten High Level Bridge, and the Niagara Escarpment behind it.
A tour around the docks. Looking towards Cootes Paradise at first, then Burlington, then the Skyway Bridge and industrial Hamilton and then back towards Burlington again.
Okay, admittedly Dofasco isn’t the prettiest sight, but all in all, I still think the waterfront here is a rather picturesque place. Far worse places to go for a walk.

I still want to get in a canoe one of these days and go for a paddle all around Burlington Bay. 

The second part of this, my tour of the Haida is here.