Thursday, 31 January 2013

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Floating – Julee Cruise

Floating – Julee Cruise

I haven’t listened to this song in close to twenty years, and I am kicking myself for missing out on all those years of this great tune. Stoopeedoh!

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies

Grandiose time lapse imagery. Well worth the 15 minutes to watch.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Great overview of external frame packs

Very cool blog post showing many examples of external frame packs from a broad swath of time and place.

Also a thread about woven backpacks:

On Surviving Alone in the Wild

On every forum remotely outdoors related, invariably, like clockwork, someone shows up to ask about going off to live by themselves in the woods. And, invariably the spectre of Dick Proenekke is brought up. How awesome it would be to do what he did. One forum I go to has a kid who I suspect isn’t entirely right in the head, who has asked a question along these lines once every 4 months, for years. 

I feel compelled to shout that this is a romantic notion, not very well grounded in reality. Mr. Proenneke was an exception. He was exceptionally skilled in a whole host of areas, had worked towards his goal for decades and saved, and had a support network in place. He grew up on a hard scrabble depression era farm where he had to do all the things he needed to do to survive. And I suspect he was also a realist. Don’t get me wrong. I admire the man immensely, and look enviously upon what he did. But I also grasp that I, with my life experiences, would likely be at a disadvantage trying to emulate his achievements. And I think that I am at an advantage compared to some people I read blathering on about heading into the woods to do what he did.

The early peoples who populated this planet, did it because they worked together in groups. In nearly every tribe, for time immemorial, they shared the workload as a community. The notion of the lone wolf, the rugged individualist using his wits to survive against nature, is just so much fanciful nonsense. Hunter-gatherers lived as part of a tribal unit. They had a social support network. People may have gone off to hunt or check the trap lines or forage by themselves, but they had a familial/tribal  support network that was doing the gathering, gardening, mending, sewing, tanning, tool making, etc., etc., etc. That’s why there was such an importance placed on having lots of kids. More hands to do the necessary chores around camp. Anyone that did live by themselves without benefit of that support, was invariably someone who had been banished. It was essentially a death sentence. 
I lived by my self for three years in an isolated hunt camp in northern Ontario. It was the hardest thing I have ever done - bar none. I had to fix structures, repair roads, prepare meals, bake bread, tend gardens, look after animals, do laundry, mend things, can, cut trees, chop wood, etc., etc., etc., etc. - pretty much entirely by myself. It was absolutely exhausting. And I had people who came up to help me once every two weeks or so, so I had some help at least. And I had running hot and cold water and electricity! Unless you have done this, alone, in less than ideal conditions, with primitive tools, you have absolutely no comprehension of how staggeringly difficult a task this is. Now imagine that scenario if you are really sick or injured.
A lot of the early mountain men dropped dead around forty or so. Not from disease or starvation, but just from having worked themselves into the ground. They were spent by middle age from the rigours of trying to do it all themselves. Tending horses, hunting, drying meat, fishing, running trap lines, gathering wood, building structures, making, mending and washing clothes, etc., etc., - quite often by themselves. While most of them worked in brigades, offering some form of support, largely they were on their own for long stretches of time.
Sorry to burst anyones bubble, but this is a  delusional pipe dream for the vast majority of people, that I know won’t end well. I have absolutely no illusions at all as to the feasibility of living by myself, far from anyone with no support network. And all those prerequisite tasks require skills, mastered skills, not fumbling to learn them along the way. I’ve been roaming around in the wilds for 30+ years. Hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, practicing survival skills. I think I’m reasonably fit, well equipped, and I think most would consider me quite competent. But I don’t even remotely think that trying to survive on my own is at all feasible. 

I thought there was a guy in Norway doing it. I had seen his blog a few times. Looked him up. Whoops.
This whole concept of “self-sufficiency” is one often touted in the whole outdoorsy/survival/preparedness world. Sure, it’s admirable and frankly fun to learn as many skills as possible, and becoming really good at them even more so. Some people might look at me and think it’s really something that I can make a lot of my own stuff. It’s fun, and I’m proud of what I’ve created. But I have no idea where I would be if someone else hadn’t made the fabric I had. I haven’t learned how to weave. Not that I don’t want to learn, but time and cost prevent me from delving headlong into that pursuit. So I am reliant on someone else for the material I need. Thread. So simple, yet try making your own some time. Needles. I would be screwed if I had to try and mine the metal, process it and then try to create something as mundane, yet as complex as a needle. Again, I am reliant on someone else’s expertise to help me do the things I need and want to do. We are ultimately a social species, reliant on the skills and resources that others have specialized in. Each member of a society has a role to play. This was as true ten thousand years ago as it is today. No one person can possibly hope to do it all by themselves for very long.
And this whole idea of living in the woods by one self really gets tipped on its head when winter rolls in. The caloric requirements to survive in winter, rise steeply over those in summer. Just to sit still in camp would require between 3 to 8 pounds of meat a day, depending on the species. If you didn’t have dozens of kids spending weeks and months in good weather collecting fire wood, you had to/have to do it yourself - in winter. Which burns calories. potentially thousands. Which would require more meat. If you didn’t have time to hunt and process enough meat to get you through the winter during the warm months, you need to go hunting. Which means more burned calories, which means even more meat. Having to process that kill and transport it back to your camp burns even more calories, requiring yet more meat. You may have to move camp to find game. Which burns even more calories. More meat. Trying to survive for long in winter, alone, is a death sentence. Before long the individual will go into a calorie deficiency. Sure, you can burn body fat for a little while, but a hunting gathering lifestyle works against storing much body fat. With a group to spread out the work load, more food can be gathered and preserved, more skins can be processed for warmth, more firewood can be gathered, etc.
The idea of anyone who has spent most of their life in a city, walking off into the wilderness, alone, with everything they think they’ll need on their back, with no definitive means of resupply, and most importantly, if they have little to no fooling them-self.

S.o.t.D. - Double Cross – Skinny Puppy

Double Cross – Skinny Puppy

I met a gal in 90 that I ended up having a relationship with, who I was to find out was friends with Mr. Crompton. She had gone to Papua New Guinea in 86 on a zoological expedition and he had given her a tape to listen to that he had called “Day in the Jungle/Night in the Jungle” that she made me a copy of. Very thrilled to get to listen to it. It contained some Legendary Pink Dots stuff, some Nocturnal Emissions, and some demo and instrumental versions of Skinny Puppy songs. And this track, which wasn’t to see the light of day until the release of Brap: Back & Forth 3&4. 

Still remains one of the most evocative pieces of music I have ever heard. It showcased some of the more ambient stuff they were doing, with as always lots going on in it when you listened to it on headphones. Like most of their stuff, it warranted very close listening to discover all buried in tracks.

Monday, 28 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Memories Provides – Addex

I reckon this lad has been influenced by the likes of Timewriter and Terry Lee Brown Jr. Which is a very good thing. Love that smooth, groovy funky deep house sound.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Friday, 25 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - The Goose That Got Away – Objekt

The Goose That Got Away – Objekt

The confluence of garage and dubstep. (The real thing, not that awful screechy shit that’s everywhere now.)


I’m not into booze in any big way. I like interesting beer every so often, I like cider, a glass of wine with dinner is nice, a few rum and egg nogs around yule time are swell, and a good friend has been educating me on the finer points of single malt scotch. Oh and I finally, finally had a chance to try braggot. Which I enjoyed. But by and large, just not much of a drinker. But one alcoholic beverage that I was introduced to over the holidays a year ago, and just had again, and really like, is Sortilège
Canadian whiskey and maple syrup liqueur. Yummy. From a company in Quebec, it was unavailable outside that province last year, but is now available from our liquor monopoly. Worth seeing if you can find it where you are. Delicious.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Colourful – Vaun

Colourful – Vaun

Tremendous tune and a sweet video to boot.

Bibliophilia: What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures – Malcolm Gladwell

What I love about Malcolm Gladwell’s books is that he can tackle the most mundane, everyday subject, and by the end you’re saying “now that was fascinating!” 

One essay, “The Pitchman” deals with Ron Popeil. I was vaguely aware of him as a late night kitchen gadget salesman. After reading it, you come away with a whole new appreciation for the man, the products he has created, infomercials and the job of the pitchman. Another essay is called “The Ketchup Conundrum”. Come on, 20 to 30 pages on ketchup? Who cares, it’s made from tomatoes and you put it on your burger. Well, I doubt I will ever look at condiments the same way after reading it. Another essay deals with hair dye. Who gives much thought to it? It is an education not so much about a chemical to transform the colour of hair, as it is a product that transformed society, and a history of advertising and the role of women in it.

Those and several others, (and all of his books) take pedestrian topics no one gives much thought to, into shining investigations into extraordinary knowledge and ideas hiding just beneath the surface.

Monday, 21 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Echoes – The Wilderness of Manitoba

Echoes – The Wilderness of Manitoba

Despite the rustic name, these folks hail from the urbanity of Toronto. Remind me a bit of Fleetwood Mac, with the jangly guitars and the male, female harmonies.

Signage: Bertozzi Roofing & Sheet Metal

Another old sign that likely won’t be fixed up. Better photograph it before it gets taken down and replaced with something charmless.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Positive Notion – Intense

Positive Notion – Intense

Holy sweet shiva! An 8 minute sax drenched slice of creaminess! While Intense’s other stuff tends to be, well, intense, this is a little more laid back. Still has an awesome drum track, but it has some smoother, jazzier elements as well. 

Friday, 18 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Ave Maria – Paul Schwartz

Ave Maria – Paul Schwartz

Wow, is this ever good!

Hipster Bushcraft

I’ve recently begun to notice what I can only describe as “hipster bushcraft”. It’s the outdoorsy equivalent of chocolates or bath products or sea salt being sold at ludicrously high prices because it has a fancy label.

Came across a company yesterday called Bush Smarts. They seem to like red a lot. It’s their motif.

I’ll grant them that they have a clever little device for storing your bear bag line that doubles as a throwing device and has a line clip. $85. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth it or not.

I’ll concede they have wool base layers (in red of course) (long john bottoms, and tops, T-shirt, boxers) that are a decent price, comparable to similar products on the market.

And they sell a crooked knife with a good cover for the blade at what seems like a fair price.

But some of their stuff is just outrageous.

$20 for some birchbark? Sure it comes in a tin, but is that tin very different from ones that cough candies or the like come in? I can find as much birchbark as I want for free whenever I go for a hike.

$30 for a Nalgene water jug? Amazon has the same thing for half the price. Your logo on it adds double the value?

$15 for 10 6" zip ties? Because they’re red? I can buy an entire container of hundreds of various coloured zip ties for less than that. Oh, but in every colour but red....

$15 for 50 feet of red paracord? I can buy a 100 feet of red paracord for $7. Double for half the price.

$30 for a pair of red boot laces? I can use that 100 feet of red paracord I just bought, make boot laces for all my friends, and still have enough money left over for several other colours of paracord.

$40 for 4 titanium tent pegs? Sure, it comes with a little leather cover for the tips, but that isn’t so hard to fashion yourself. Given that I can buy 10 of the same titanium tent pegs for that price, I’ll just spend ten minutes fashioning something out of some scrap leather or ballistic nylon.


They even sell an “insta-beard”. Jeebus. I can just envision the sort of ironic hipster that would wear that.

There is another company here in Canada called Base Camp X that sells axes. They don’t actually make axes mind you. They merely come up with a comforting narrative to enshroud other people’s work in. They sell (the now apparently out of business) Snow & Nealley and Tautahi axes, where they’ve added a paint job to the handle and then sell them for very inflated prices. $75 for a double bit S&N axe at a company that deals with forestry supplies, versus $315 for the same axe at BCX. You can get a Tautahi work axe from them for about $200 to $225, versus the $445 for the same axe at BCX. That’s a lot of money for a paint job.

Come on.

I certainly don’t mind paying for quality. I have and I will. But exorbitant prices for average stuff that has a cute label or a fancy story attached? Get lost. This stuff seems to appeal to a bourgeois demographic possessing more money than sense. It all seems like a desperate attempt at “authenticity”. Doesn’t matter that you have a physique like Olive Oyl and live in an absurdly over priced urban loft. Buy one of these bedazzled, absurdly over priced axes, hang it on your wall and you too can pretend to be a lumberjack.

I’m a proponent of the free market economy. I guess if people are willing to buy your package of boutique label sugar and colour and flavour at a ludicrous price, over the generic brand of Kool-Aid™, hey good on ya. If you can make a successful go at running an artisanal pickle shop, more power to you. If people are willing to pay a premium for what they could easily do themselves, right on. But you’ll have to excuse me for snickering in derision at your effrontery, and the suckers who buy into your marketing over substance.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Bem – Lhooq

Bem – Lhooq

As Jian Ghomeshi would say, “Nicely done!”

Artspiration – Android Jones

I’ve been awestruck by the very, very involved work of Andrew Jones (aka Android Jones) for some time now. I think his work could best be described as hyper maximalist. A DMT trip leaves Shangri-La at 01:13 travelling at 53,849 KM an hour. PhotoShop leaves Xanadu at 13:07 at 23,403 KM an hour. When and where do they collide?

The music on this is worthy of turning down the sound on, but incredible to watch his process. I’m curious as to whether he has much of a vision in his head of where this is supposed to end up, or whether it is largely play, adding things whim-fully and seeing what works or doesn’t.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

100 Wild Huts

Fella in Scotland, Kevin Langan, has a blog up chronicling his efforts to build 100 huts out of natural materials. I too have a bit of a thing for building shelters and shacks and shanties. Lanark county was at one point littered with several that I had made. Nothing fancy at all, but it allowed me to go wandering with minimal stuff and if I was forced to spend a night out, I could have a reasonably warm and dry place to hole up. I’ve been cobbling together sticks and leaves and boughs and bark since I was a teenager, and still get a kick out of it. So I really appreciate what he is doing, and have been following his progress for a while now. Up to #13 at this point.

S.o.t.D. - Stardust – Doomwork

Stardust – Doomwork

Funky bootyshaker.

99 Life Hacks

I came across this and thought it was so clever I had to share. They’re all in the household organization/keeping stuff clean/handy kitchen hints category, but I suspect you will adopt a whole bunch of these ideas. 

“Put coffee in an ice cube tray so when you make iced coffee it doesn’t get watered down.” Ingenious!

Monday, 14 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Jamming – Bob Marley & the Wailers

Jamming – Bob Marley & the Wailers

This would have to rank on a top 10 desert island picks list for me. Can’t be bummed out listening to this.

Made in Hamilton Patch

Dave at MixedMedia has produced this image as buttons and stickers (one of which will grace the inside of the kayak somewhere) and he recently had some patches made up. Had to grab one. Whenever I make something I can show off some home town pride by putting it on before snapping some photos.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Misunderstanding – Chris & Cosey

Misunderstanding – Chris & Cosey

Sadly, I haven’t kept up with what they have been up to in the last bunch of years, but Technø Primitiv was a pretty great album. Given how harsh the stuff they had been doing with Throbbing Gristle was, this dreamy, more poppish stuff was a nice change.

Friday, 11 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - One and Only – PFM

One and Only – PFM

Not just a fave track from the whole liquid DnB genre, but just a fave track in general.

Bibliophilia: Catching Fire & Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

After reading the first one and enjoying it a lot, I grabbed the other two as well. Don’t pack  quite the same punch as the first one, but I still enjoyed them. I find the characters a bit wooden, but I did dig the world that had been created. The setting is more appealing to me than the mindset of the characters.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - The Snow (Answers Come In Dreams 1) – Coil

The Snow (Answers Come In Dreams 1) – Coil

I had to transfer this to tape shortly after I bought the 12" because I feared I would wear it out if I didn’t. Got a CD copy as soon as I could get my hands on one. I already loved Coil in spades, and if I wasn’t aware of it already, it proved to me how amazing an artist Jack Dangers was.

Paracord 2L

The Paracord 2L, for storing and working paracord, is a small, simple, inexpensive molded-plastic unit that neatly stores up to 100' of 550 cord, and it has a ruler, blade, lighter, and burn slots built in so you can measure, cut and then heat seal the ends. Kind of an all-in-one-tool for paracord. (I think the burn slots for finishing off the ends are a clever idea.) 
A Kickstarter campaign at this point, so if you dig it, throw your support behind it.


Bibliophilia: Bill Reid and the Haida Canoe

Bill Reid and the Haida Canoe

Bill Reid ranks up there as one of the greatest and most important artists that Canada has ever produced. (
His iconic sculpture The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, a monumental bronze canoe filled to overflowing with creatures of Haida mythology is to my mind the most spectacular piece of art ever made in this country.) This look at his efforts to rekindle the incredible canoe building traditions of his own Haida people, and other NorthWest Coast people is further proof of what a sophisticated culture they were. Being both enamored of canoes of all sorts and the art of that region, I found it compelling on several levels.

“Western art starts with the figure—West Coast Indian art starts with the canoe.”

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Ode To The Big Sea – Cinematic Orchestra

Ode To The Big Sea – Cinematic Orchestra

The original album version of this is spectacular, but a nearly fifteen minute live version of this knocks it up several notches.

Bibliophilia: Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths – Shigeru Mizuki

My opinion of WW2 era Japanese soldiers is not at all favourable, and likely politically incorrect. This classic Japanese graphic novel describes the authors experiences in Papua New Guinea. To say that their existence was miserable is an understatement, their lives squandered by officers making decisions that could only be described as insane. It would appear the Japanese brutalized everyone: Allied POWs, conquered peoples, civilian internees, their own soldiers.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Garden of Your Mind (Bluetech’s Mountain High Mix) – Hawke

Garden of Your Mind (Bluetech’s Mountain High Mix) – Hawke

In Japan, certain craftspeople and artisans are declared National Living Treasures. I vote that the same is done in the US, and that Bluetech be the first person nominated for the honour.

Monday, 7 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Starlight (Maurizio Remix) – Model 500

Starlight (Maurizio Remix) – Model 500

I’ve posted the original of this before, and I love it, but this one I like just a little more. While this could be argued to be a DJ tool, ie a track to layer other tracks over top of to build more complex tracks, I totally dig this on its own. Love this sort of minimal stuff. Bass and drums and that’s about it.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Retro Drumbase – Ten Madison

Retro Drumbase – Ten Madison

Is D&B old enough to be retro? Don’t know, but it is a killer track.

Dealing with spam comments on Blogger

Getting comments from readers is always good fun. Well, real readers that is. That lowest form of bottom feeders, spammers, in their pathetic attempts to get whatever worthless crap they’re peddling out there, have gleefully embraced the idea of spamming blogs. 
A commenter suggested to me to get rid of the Captcha feature on comments. She said that since I screen comments anyway, why have Captcha? Which made sense. I have to say that they have gotten to the point of being completely stupid now. Perhaps a computer can’t read them - but neither can a human! I don’t know about you, but after three failed attempts to decipher the modern art in a Captcha, I give up. So for word verification I clicked “No”.

I had it set up so anyone could comment, but I kept the moderation feature so it would have to go through me first.

But before long I kept getting anonymous comments along the lines of
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Who writes this gratingly insincere gibberish? Borat? Maddening. And it kept increasing.

Then in the settings I clicked the "Registered Users" button.

No word verification, I moderated the comments, and only registered users can comment.

And the bullshit spammers and their gratingly insincere bullshit have stopped.

If you’re a Blogger user, you might want to try that. No redonkulous Captcha, no more Hamid the penis enlargement pill peddler.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Skin – Front 242

Skin – Front 242

Those 303 riffs are so good.

Norse Shipbuilding

I’ve become increasingly interested in how the Norse built their ships. Just wooden ship building in general. I guess building a kayak has whetted my appetite for building bigger wooden vessels. A silly notion to spend any time dreaming about maybe, but still a fascinating subject to study.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

S.o.t.D. - Wayfaring Stranger (Burial Remix) – Jamie Woon

Wayfaring Stranger (Burial Remix) – Jamie Woon

Nice vocal track to begin with and then when that beautiful but kind of eerie Burial sound is added to it - choice. Love the little tinkling sound of spent brass here and there.