Saturday, 31 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - You Often Forget – Revolting Cocks

You Often Forget – Revolting Cocks

I was excited by Revco when they first emerged in about 85 or 86, because it featured members of two bands I was really into at the time - Richard 23 from Front 242 and Al Jourgenson from Ministry. At first it was crunchy, beaty, techno-industrial. But eventually Revco, like most everything else Jourgenson did, devolved into absurd cock rock nonsense. Collaborators drifted away and others drifted in, but heroin and cocaine seemed to be the driving force. After about 1990, I lost all interest in anything the Hypo Luxa/Hermes Pan production team was involved in. Even listening back to some of the Revco stuff years later, it didn’t do a whole lot for me any more. This was about the only track that still held a bit of appeal.

Why your dream pack won't be offered by any manufacturer.

I was trying to find something I had posted on a forum, and came across this post. The thread was entitled “Features you wish your bag has but doesn’t.” Lots of people posted all sorts of things they fantasized about. Then I came along. 

Sorry to throw a big bucket of cold water all over these proceedings, but you all understand the problem here don’t you? There is no way that a manufacturer can accommodate every whim of every customer. “Can’t please everybody all the time.”

Some of these suggestions are fairly reasonable. Some of them are not. Yellow or orange linings inside a bag? Sure, that is one that could (and probably should) be done across the board. Stock every colour that anyone could conceivably want? “Okay, now that you’ve added purple to the list of selections, I think it’s too dark, can you offer a slightly lighter shade of purple?” It is just not feasible for a pack maker to offer every colour that every person could want. Most businesses are not in a position to keep every imaginable colour that someone could want in stock, certainly not in the quantities that they would need to purchase in order to keep the cost in line with what most people are willing to pay. It doesn’t make sense for fabric mills to offer every conceivable nuance of shade and hue. From a logistical standpoint it is just not feasible. Manufacturers can’t offer every imaginable permutation that a customer might dream up. Sure, suggest things. Some of them might see the light of day. Other ones you will simply have to add or make yourself.

-Pen slots in the shoulder straps (for easy access).
Not that difficult a modification to add yourself.
-Better internal organization pouches in the Admin sections of backpacks.
And if they offer a pack with an admin area that you think is just perfect, someone else will complain that they want to carry two more pens than you would, and their PDA is a bit wider than yours. They simply can not cater to every possible variation. Now if they were to offer up a Velcro area and then you make something to your specifications that can be put inside and attached to that Velcro, that is much more realistic.
- Metal buckles or find some sort of plastic that doesn’t get brittle when cold.
Very little hardware is made in both metal and plastic variants. One or the other. Metal is really only used in critical applications, where lives are going to depend on it (parachutes, scuba, climbing). Not to mention that the metal hardware is in many cases, much more expensive. Not a few cents more, many dollars more. And if they made gear with metal hardware, guess what? People would complain that it was too cold and their fingers froze to the buckle in winter, or they got a burn after walking in the desert sun all day, etc. High end makers use Delrin buckles, which will withstand extremes of temperatures much better.
- Silent velcro...ever try and open a velcro cover covertly?
Come on. Not going to happen. Velcro is noisy. Period. I don’t disagree that Velcro is used way too often in way too many places where it isn’t appropriate. Manufacturers use it because it’s often times cheaper and easier than adding buckles or other closure methods. Besides the noise factor it wears out and it doesn’t stick when it gets clogged with snow, ice, mud, debris. It sticks to things it’s not supposed to. I save Velcro for sticking my patches to hats and packs. There is the odd application where it is appropriate, but I find that is the exception. Saying that makers shouldn’t use Velcro with such abandon I will agree with wholeheartedly. Wishing that manufacturers would offer “silent Velcro”? Come on. It’s called something other than Velcro.

- Removable laptop sleeve.
Lots of them out there.
 And not a particularly challenging DIY project.
- Longer shoulder straps, less stiff fabric and maybe removable non-slip shoulder pad.
Get some webbing, cut it to the right length, singe the end, take the hardware off the too short strap and sew it back on. Simple and straight forward modification that anyone can do. Really. And removable non slip shoulder pads are available to purchase separately from a number of manufacturers.
- Rubberized or water repellent treatment on the outside bottom of the bag.
The more feasible thing to do is to put your stuff in water proof containers. Water will get into your pack, regardless of whether there is a rubberized bottom or not. Seams, zippers, etc. A rubberized bottom is nice, but it’s not at all a fool proof way to protect your stuff. Pelican cases, Sealine bags, etc. are far more versatile and stand a much better chance of keeping your stuff dry. When that water gets in (and it will) that rubberized bottom would then prevent moisture from getting back out, allowing your stuff to sit and stew in that moisture. I’ll take drain holes, and water proof bags inside over an impermeable bottom any day. Not to mention that a rubberized bottom would make a bag heavier, harder to make, more expensive to sell, etc. For instance, adding a Hypalon layer to the bottom quarter of a bag will cause the price to spike - a lot.

- Modular system...pick and choose interior compartments kinda like a camera bag
Lots of options exist. Blue Force Gear, Kifaru Marauder, Kifaru Foldout, CamelBak MedBack Insert, etc. Adding Velcro or PALS to the inside of a pack makes the construction  more complex and that combo of labour costs and extra material costs would cause the price of a pack to be pushed outside the range many are willing to pay for it.

- Stronger zippers!
You won’t find anything stronger than a #8 or #10 YKK zipper. What any reputable manufacturer uses.
- Magnetic or zipper closures instead of velcro, as was mentioned, too loud when trying to be covert.
See my earlier comments. And magnetic components would cause many to balk at purchasing it for fear of what it might do to ever present electronics.
- More attachment points on the shoulder straps, both on packs and slings. Not just molle, but a way to attach a chest pack if necessary.
Simple enough proposition to add in many cases. 

- More removable pouches that allow for multi configurations so we do not have to buy four or five other pieces to have them.
And if they offer you a pack with the components you think it needs, it will still cost you as much as you buying those components separately. Not to mention that what you think it requires isn’t what someone else might require. They simply can not please everyone, all the time. Get a MOLLE backpack and get the MOLLE pouches you need on it. That is your most realistic option.

- Easy access weapon pouches built and sized for guns and knives.
What guns? What knives? Again, this is an almost boundless arena of possibility. Expecting that any manufacturer can possibly anticipate any and every weapon and knife out there is just not realistic. Get a MOLLE pouch on a MOLLE backpack. That is your only realistic option.

- Make all pouches with side elastic so there’d be a greater range of phones, radios, digital cameras, knives, water bottles, multi-tools, etc., that would fit.
Elastic wears out pretty quickly. Yes it will increase the range of items you can put in, but one reason why it isn’t used that much is because it loses its benefits too quickly. Then you end up with a non stretchy, poor substitute for Cordura.
- Pre-made repair kits that you could buy at the same time you buy the pack. The kit would have common parts needed to repair that specific pack.
This I will agree with.

- Less advertising on a pack or bag: one small, discreet patch or logo is more than enough (Hey, I bought your company’s bag, what else do you want?).
Meh. Seam rippers are cheap. Don’t like the tag? Take it off. Or sew a patch of loop Velcro over an embroidered area. And I don’t recall ever really seeing any bag festooned with an excessive number of tags.

- Comfortable carry or drag handles at the top of the pack or bag.
Any good quality bag will have this, I’ve yet to come across one made from burlap or barbed wire, and it’s not impossible to add if it’s missing.

- More accurate descriptions of colors: when a website text indicates “Ranger Green” and the photo looks like “Ranger Green” why when I get it is it some other shade of green? The same is true for other colors. If the cloth is two tone (say, the main color is khaki with edging in olive drab) then the website photos and text descriptions should mention that little factoid.
Got some bad news for you. Monitors are no way to judge a colour. And there is no way that a manufacturer can guarantee that the “Ranger Green” they sell you is going to match the “Ranger Green” you bought a year previously from another manufacturer. How can they possibly control where a competitor buys their material, or how the manufacturer of said material dyed it? Dye lots vary from batch to batch. Well known fact in the industry. There will be subtle difference from lot to lot. Accept it. And exactly what is “Ranger Green”? Can you show me the scientific formula of what “Ranger Green” is? Is it a quantifiable thing? Is there a Pantone Color System for material? How do you know that the “Ranger Green” you’re using as a benchmark is correct? If you’re that obsessive compulsive about your colours matching, you need to buy all the packs and pouches from the same manufacturer, at the same time. Otherwise, you’re going to be disappointed. I have “Olive Drab” from a whole bunch of sources (packs, pouches, raw material {webbing. Cordura, etc.}) and none of it matches precisely. Go find all the “black” clothing in your house. Lay it all out. Is it all one uniform shade? Of course not. There is no precise scientific formula that fabric mills use to arrive at “black”. Not to mention that different materials take dyes differently, etc. Deal with it. Getting wound around the axle because a colour doesn’t meet your entirely subjective opinion of what that colour is “supposed” to be, is going to leave you open to a lot of disappointment.

And also “Ranger Green” isn’t that common a colour. A lot of manufacturers have to accept what they can get. They simply don’t have the purchasing clout to boss the mills around and order huge quantities of material. When the business is largely driven by the US military who dictates what the mills need to make, they squeeze in specialty colours like “Ranger Green” in between mammoth runs of “Coyote Brown” and “Foliage Green”. If that boutique maker of packs and pouches whines that it’s a smidgeon too dark, that it has 3% more brown than the last run, do you really think the mills are going to pull the 50 million yard run of CB off so they can rerun it to please you? Their response will be a harsh but entirely realistic ‘Tough. Take it or leave it.’ If they don’t take it, trust me, someone else will. Who will make packs to sell to people who don’t complain about the colour not being entirely to their liking.

- An internal LED or tag for clipping on one of the CoutryComm clip lights.
Easy enough to add a loop to the inside of a pack to hang a light.

- Mesh pockets in the bottom for dessicant packs; can get pretty funky down there.
Mesh pockets will get ripped to pieces at the bottom of a pack. A much better option is to throw in dessicant packs inside a rugged plastic mesh, (something like this perhaps {although it is just a odor absorber, not a dessicant}). It will stand up to much more abuse than any fabric mesh could, easy to take out and clean the bag, replacing it or to dry it out, etc.

You want my suggestion? Modify your gear to what you want it to be.

Oh I know, I know... I can just hear it now. “I don’t know how to sew.” “I haven’t got time.” “I haven’t got a sewing machine.” “I’m to macho to sew. That’s skirt work.” Blah, blah, blah.

Guess what? I don’t know how to sew either. But I sew. Instead of wishing things were to my liking, I make them to my liking. It’s not that hard. Really. I don’t have a sewing machine either. It hasn’t slowed me down at all. I use a needle, upholstery thread, a few other things, some webbing, some hardware, some material, and I get things just the way I need and want them. There is no mystery to it, it’s not that difficult. Like that famous sport shoe maker is fond of saying. “Just Do It”. I’m really not trying to be flippant. It really is not this insurmountable problem to add small features to a bag. You want somewhere to hang a small light from? Take a piece of 550 cord, singe the ends, a crewel, a meter of upholstery thread, tie a knot in one end, put a rubber thimble on your middle finger, fold the 550 cord over the interior seam, and if it proves to hard to push that needle through, use the pliers on your multi-tool to push it through. Go around a bunch of times. Imitate the bartacking you see on your pack if you are really concerned about its strength. Will it be pretty? No. Who cares? It’s on the interior where no one other than you will ever see it. Will it work? Yes. Will you have added your own stamp to it, making it uniquely suited to your needs and desires? If it wasn’t doable, I wouldn’t have dozens of examples on my blog of everything from straightforward modifications to more elaborate from the ground up constructions.

Think about it. The manufacturers already have your solution. It’s called PALS/MOLLE compatible. You buy a pack, you buy or make some pouches, you add them, your pack is exactly how you want it. That is the compromise you and they have to settle on. You either accept that compromise and set up a pack as close as possible to what you want, or you accept the inevitable disappointment that comes from expecting makers to offer any and all conceivable wants. Don’t like that chintzy water bottle carrier? Get a MOLLE water bottle carrier that meets your needs and add it to the side of a RAID pack. Not happy with the organization of the admin section of available civvy packs? Then you find a MOLLE admin pouch that you like or have one made to your specs and add it to the face of a Mystery Ranch 3-Day. Don’t like the internal organization of what’s available at the mall? Then get a Kifaru Marauder and use the PALS on the inside to divide it up just how you like it. Oh wait, I can just hear it now. Someone will then very predictably say “Sheesh, that Kifaru pack is kinda expensive. What I really want is a pack of great quality, with all the features I want, and it can’t be too heavy, and it has to be a dark shade of periwinkle, and be made in the USA, and not look all tacticool, and be eco friendly, and....oh and it has to be cheap.” Jumping jeebus on a pogo stick. You can’t have it all folks. Sadly, manufacturers can’t in anyones wildest dreams absorb the costs of offering every conceivable feature that everyone could possibly want. And still offer it at top notch quality and at a reasonable price. They can offer you a bunch of options, but not all options. They can offer you a cheap pack with fewer options. They can offer you a top notch pack that you have a large amount of customization options with. You need to weigh what is important to you. But you can’t expect that your every wildest whim is doable. The best you can probably hope for is a middle ground and then rolling up your sleeves and hacking your gear. Or paying someone to do it for you. Or paying someone to build from the ground up for you. Which will cost you.

Sorry to be the guy who farts at the party, but while it’s cool to dream and throw ideas out there, there are also harsh realities of running a business that makes and markets sewn goods. Making suggestions about things you’d like to see offered is totally cool, but holding your breath while you wait for your “ideal” pack to appear isn’t. My totally dorky advice is to try your hand at modding gear to your liking. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the features on my gear, so rather than wishing it was the way I wanted it, I bit the bullet and changed it to suit me. It certainly doesn’t look as nice as “professional” gear, but some of it is over 15 years old now and still going strong. And it has given me the tremendous satisfaction of coming up with an idea, and realizing it with my own hands.
- One of my biggest reasons for starting this thread is what I feel is a lack of innovation, creativity, and versatility with an eye on aesthetics (packs completely covered with MOLLE look like crap to me) by common manufacturers. Sure Kifaru packs are great, and versatile, but maybe I don't want such a militaristic look, or even have that philosophy of use. Also...I wouldn't totally mind adding pouches to a MOLLE pack...but the biggest issue is that often the best designed pouches range from $40-60 a piece. Throw on two pouches and you just doubled the price of your entire bag.
It’s that whole balancing act that is virtually impossible to get bang on. Bag makers would go completely insane if they had to get that balance of aesthetics, functionality, durability, price, etc. right for everyone. You may not like the look of PALS webbing, but it is still one of the most feasible ways to get packs set up to the individuals particular needs. And if you have it tweaked to such a degree that you know that is precisely what you need (all I want are those two water bottles on the sides) then you can always remove that webbing you don’t need. And yes, there is that issue of cost. But again, you can’t have everything. You can’t have a bag that looks good, and has all the features you want, and is durable, and doesn’t cost too much. You can get some of those qualities - but you can’t have all of them. Sorry. Harsh reality. People may not like my suggestion, but getting a bag that is most of the way to how you want it and modifying it the rest of the way, or having a bag made from scratch to your exact specs, are probably your best options.

I keep trying to stress this. Modifying gear is not nearly as difficult as people imagine it to be. Everything you see there, was done by hand. No, doing it that way is not fast. But as someone who spent 4 years commuting 4 hours a day to work on the train, I used the time as productively as I could.

Friday, 30 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Oblique (Synkro Remix) – Sabre, Stray & Halogenix

Oblique (Synkro Remix) – Sabre, Stray & Halogenix

I have to love this tune just because of the sample of Against The Sky off the greatest album of all time, The Pearl by Harold Budd and Brian Eno (and let’s not forget the credit to local boy Daniel Lanois. The Pearl was recorded at Grant Ave. Studios, not so far from me.)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Arddyledog Ganu – Test Dept.

Arddyledog Ganu – Test Dept.

While everything Test Dept. did was awesome in every way imaginable, they may have outdone themselves with this.

Gododdin (pronounced Godoth-een) was a truly epic performance put on by a Welsh language theatre company called Brith Gof (an idiom meaning faint recollection), and Test Dept. Using the poem Y Gododdin as inspiration, the earliest poem in the Welsh language, it tells the fate of 300 Celtic warriors who set out to defend their homeland from 100,000 invading Angles around 600 A.D. at Catraeth. It premiered at the abandoned Rover car factory in Cardiff, transformed using 600 tons of sand, 50 trees, 30 wrecked cars and a set that flooded as the performance progressed. After the performance in Wales, it was also performed in Hamburg - Germany, Polverigi - Italy, Leeuwarden - Friesland – the Netherlands and Glasgow - Scotland.

I have the LP of this, which came with a 24 page booklet that just made me really sad I missed this performance.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - The Telephone Call – Kraftwerk

The Telephone Call – Kraftwerk

A lot of people would go back in time to kill Hitler when he was still a private. I would go back in time to see Kraftwerk on their Computer World tour. Then I’d get back in the time machine, find that shitlicker and kill him. I’d just want to make sure I got to see Kraftwerk live first, cause you never know how affecting the past might affect the future. Killing Hitler might lead to a future without Kraftwerk. Which would be terrible. But at least I would have seen them live.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Thrios – Bluetech

Thrios – Bluetech

Why do I live in a world where a no-talent strumpet gets an inordinate amount of media exposure, but a talent like this toils in relative obscurity?

Makers – Paul Elkins

A man after my own heart. Just love his sense of wonder, curiosity about everything, and willingness to tinker at whatever idea strikes his fancy.

Mocotaugan: The Story and Art of the Crooked Knife – Russell and Ned Jalbert

I’m rather chagrined to admit that I don’t as yet own a crooked knife. I hope to rectify that soon.

And this book only fuels my desire to get one. Or a bunch. Given that there is a profusion of blade shapes depending on the use, I may end up with a few different ones.

This book is free and downloadable in PDF format, albeit in sections. The portfolio pages are noteworthy, showing a wide variety of wonderfully creative handle designs, some of them very old.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Clipped – Curve

Clipped – Curve

Another of those bands that I liked a whole lot in the early 90s, and then largely slipped from my consciousness. Not really sure why. Love that sound that they had, the heavy beats coupled with walls of loud crunchy guitars and then the airy vocals mixed in. Oh and Toni Halliday didn’t hurt either.

Certain items I enjoy the process of doing the research to discover which is the best. Some items I find a mental burden having to wade through all the info.

I do want to get a good quality item, no matter what it may be. Whether due to my not being made of money, not being able to afford the cost of having it fail me, or because I don’t want to contribute to the ruinous ecological cycle of obsolescence/breakage and then needing to purchase anew.

And to be honest, most electronic gadgetry falls into the latter category. I appreciate what I can do with it, but I find having to decipher specs a painful bore. I have other things I need to do, and reading up on all the minutia of it is not what I prefer to do. For some that might be their passion - it just isn’t mine.

So I appreciate that there are sources of info that allow one to determine what is good without a whole lot of tedious comparison and study. Those people who do get tingly at the thought of wading through all the info have winnowed it down for those of us who prefer to spend our time on other pursuits.

The WireCutter is one such source.


Just learned about these folks, and I have to say I’m impressed and intrigued.

I have blathered on at length about my effort to find a way to integrate a backpack with all the stuff I want to be able to get at without a lot of hassle. It would be great to be able to carry what I need on a pack waist belt and be able to detach the pack from the belt - again, without a lot of hassle.

I mentioned High Ground Gear, and their kick at the can. I think it’s headed in the right direction, but I question how much weight that approach could realistically bear. 

A solution to the issue of a belt that can be quickly detached from a pack, is what I perceive to be something of a missing link as far as gear design goes.

The site doesn’t go into too much detail about the packs themselves, and they look to be fairly bare bones. But most of the thought appears to have gone into the belt/frame interface. If it’s good, others could certainly tackle other pack designs. The colour choices are somewhat limited as well, but I get that, given they are a start up. And one question I have is whether the frame and belt can be used as a load carrying system the way the Kifaru PackFrame can be. Could something like the CargoChair be added to the belt and frame? But all in all, I think this holds promise and I’m curious to play around with it. 

I dig where they are headed with this.

Some videos of what they have to offer.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Shadowplay – Joy Division

Shadowplay – Joy Division

Still can’t make up my mind if Hannett’s production on this is muddy or brilliant, but the intensity of this, and everything else they did is undeniable.

Friday, 23 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Move Up – Visage

Move Up – Visage

I haven’t listened to this album much in 30 years, but after this passage of time, I realize how much this affected me, and how good the sounds on it are.

Third Floor View

Friends just had a new extension added on to the back of their house and the A frame roof replaced with a mansard roof. Much more useable space. And they have a nice platform out the back door on the third floor. Nice view too.

The Secret Story of Toys

One of my favourite places in the world is hanging out at my pal Anthony’s place. It’s got a passing resemblance to a dwelling, but it looks more like a workshop. This video reminded me of his place. A place I haven’t been to in far too long. There is something really magical to me about those little figures and heads when they’re in the Sculpey prototype stage. I envy anyone who can do this.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - The Calling – A Positive Life

The Calling – A Positive Life

First heard this on the One A.D. compilation, and it’s been playing ever since. One of the best examples from the era and the genre.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Escape That – 4Hero

Escape That – 4Hero

In honour of yesterday’s track, seemed only appropriate to play some 4Hero. Actually, no excuse is required to play some 4Hero. The album this is from, Two Pages, is an all time classic, totally solid record.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Concrete that actually lasts

On more than a few occasions I’ve pondered why balconies on apartment buildings not even as old as I am need to be replaced, and why bridges not even a half century old are crumbling. And that has led me to also wondering why stuff the Romans built is still standing millenia later.

I know infrastructure the latitude I’m living at suffers from salt damage from snow and ice removal, and also ground swell from thawing and freezing, but that doesn’t really explain balconies 25 stories up. Overpasses maybe.

I’ve previously pondered why no one seems capable of building a proper retaining wall anymore. The Romans knew what was required thousands of years ago, but now all we get are inept efforts guaranteed to fail. The cynic in me has to wonder whether this isn’t a deliberate ploy to generate a never ending stream of repairs and fixes and rebuilds.

Whether this will ever be adopted so that when expensive infrastructure is rebuilt it will actually stand for centuries rather than decades remains to be seen. But at least they know how the Romans managed to build harbour breakwaters and other structures that are still standing, still in use, no repairs necessary.

“The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms. The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated—incorporating water molecules into its structure—and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.”

S.o.t.D. - A London Sum’ting – Tek 9

A London Sum’ting – Tek 9

Only just figured out that this is Dego from 4Hero, before 4Hero. No wonder this is so tight. That internal organ re-arranging bass, those insanely snappy snares - and then when that “I know it’s wrong, but the feeling’s just so strong” bit comes in - mmmwwaaaaahh.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Saturday, 17 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Aeromonarchs Attacks – Kontext

Aeromonarchs Attacks – Kontext

You hear of movie directors and writers who can envision entire scenarios from a piece of music. I’m curious what they could concoct listening to the music of Kontext.

A Modest Proposal To Make The World A Better Place

I think much of what is wrong with today’s world, is people feeling compelled to force their moral viewpoints on other people. This incessant need some have to make others conform to their world views, leads to much of the strife in this world.

Whether it’s nanny staters and their “I don’t like guns. I think they should be outlawed.” Whether it’s feminists and their “I don’t like pornography. I think it should be banned.” Whether it’s the religious and their “My god forbids abortions. I think they should be forbidden.” Whether it’s the prohibitionists and their “I don’t approve of drugs. I think they should be made illegal.”

What it all boils down is a fervent world view that they feel everyone else should share. But others don’t share your world view  And trying to force others to do so is offensive.

Don’t like firearms, unions, porn, drugs, abortions, tattoos, unhealthy food, strip clubs, gay sex, gambling, etc.? Then don’t purchase, consume, join, engage in, get, etc., said things that offend you. Unless there is some demonstrable, immediate, clear and present danger to you and/or kin, bugger off. If I was to be candid, many things on that list aren’t my cup of joe, but what I find even more odious is others trying to legislate them away.

And what I always find most idiotic is fervent left wingers who will deny up and down that trying to deny someone the right to arm themselves, doesn’t make them just like fervent right wingers who try to deny someone the right to an abortion. Yes. Yes it does. Both of you are trying to force your viewpoint on others.

Tell you what. You leave me alone to lead the life I deem appropriate for me, and I’ll leave you alone to lead the life you deem appropriate for you. As long as no one is being harmed, it’s no one’s business. Seems pretty simple to me. I wish it was that clear to others.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Brother Where Are You? (Matthew Herbert Mix) – Oscar Brown Jr.

Brother Where Are You? (Matthew Herbert Mix) – Oscar Brown Jr.

The entire Verve Remixed series is top-notch. And the album covers are pretty great too.

Lego Self Portrait

Found a little plastic container at the shop (found out later that the little rubber nipples on needle bars where they go on the armature bar pin come in these). Had an idea for something I could do with one.
Namely, a Lego self portrait.
It’s like a Lego terrarium. A Legorarium.
Or maybe it’s really an existentialist reflection on our modern existence – I’m trapped by an invisible wall, imprisoned inside a plastic bubble not of my making. Or some such thing.
It looks a lot like me – big pack, gadgets strapped to myself, walking/wacking stick, tan carharrt pants, binos, orange shirt, hat, sage green gloves, standing atop a rocky scrub covered Canadian Shield like setting – but realism points are lost because my head should be hitting the top of the bubble. Maybe Lego should make some taller than average Mini-Figs.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Redreaming – Zero Cult

Redreaming – Zero Cult

The imagery of jellyfish used in this video suits the music really well.

Stuff Your Rucksack

This just seems like such a simple but good idea. If you’re travelling to an (underdeveloped) part of the world, perhaps the area you are going to could use some help. Maybe you have some extra room in a rucksack, so stuff that space with something that someone there can use. Tools, hardware, medicines, books, clothing, etc., etc. This is a way to find out what worthwhile causes are where you are going.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Spastik – Plastikman

Spastik – Plastikman

I can still remember a reaction something along the lines of “Holy moly!” when I stuck the NovaMute compilation cassette I had just received in my walkman for the train ride to work one morning back in 1993.

Discovery Channel’s The Colony

I’m likely several years late, and I suspect every preparedness type forum had a field day discussing this when it came out. I haven’t had a TV in forever, but recalled seeing ads for it, and the memory of this show popped into my head the other day. Looked it up and managed to watch the first episode on YouTube, but subsequent episodes were blocked. Signed the DVD out of the library and thought I would give my as I watched it observations. Good or bad. The pessimist in me is expecting bad. 

The whole genre of “reality TV” is one I steadfastly refuse to watch. I watched the first episode of “Survivor”, was very unimpressed, watched half of the next episode, and my feelings turned to disgust. I’ve never watched anything like it since. I see ads for that execrable “Big Brother” show and I want to punch out the collection of hipster douchebags that seems to make up the show. All of them seem to thrive on phony drama, and encouraging the worst of human nature for manipulated ends. 

I would love to see a show where people have to put aside their egos and work together for a common goal. I’m sure TV executives are laughing at my naivete. “Our manufactured dramas only work when people are catty, backstabbing bitches.” Of course.

Anyway, I wonder whether this show will have anything to teach, and whether it will have what I know a survival situation requires – working together.

So, here we go.

Did they choose the clothes they were wearing? Or were they given clothes to wear, with no say in the matter? The woman in the green belted rain coat, in particular makes me think that.

Were they given any options of what they could carry? Stuff in their pockets, stuff on their belt, stuff in a back pack? (I guess I’m really looking at this with my own set of prejudices, namely that I’m prepared for a whole hell of a lot, all the time.)

No weapons? Really? I know it’s likely some Hollywood liberals behind this, but come on. Simunitions or a MILES system? Paintball even? Be able to defend, but also face the potential that members of your community are wounded or killed by attackers. You know, make it realistic, present scenarios that might happen in real life.

First thing I would do is paint over that Sanctuary sign, if the place is somewhere I planned to stay. Unless they want to attract more people.

John is 49? I would have figured 69.

Michael is 47? I would have figured 57.

Wish they would do 360° panoramas in the yard and building to give a participants view of the place.

Morgan seems weak and whiny. She’s got some excess weight though so she can survive a bit longer than the others.

Nurse girl (she of the green belted raincoat) wearing strappy high heeled sandals? Are you kidding me? Big diamond earrings? Is she really that out of it, or is that a costume the producers made her wear? Seems kind of useless and loud.

If staying, they need to find a better way to transport water from the river.

Get right on setting up ways to gather any rain water that falls. Far cleaner than anything they could get from that “river” for very little effort.

A still to purify the water?

SODIS to purify water?

Story of John’s kid. Meh. Seems like maudlin emotion.

Why bother using water to flush toilets? A waste of water and what if they back up, are the pipes working, is there a break in the pipes that will send effluent spraying out somewhere else in the building? Dig latrines. Should have been one of the first orders of business.

Shut up. They’re all too damn loud.


Calisthenics as a group maybe?

No weapons? Seriously? Security seems to be the last thing on their list of priorities.

All sitting around eating? Eat in stages. Someone on security detail?

Allison - the nurse - daintily digging through a bag of whatever to grab some food. Hell no! Get your filthy unwashed hands out of there. One of the best ways to spread disease is for everyone to rummage through nuts or candy or whatever with their filthy booger pickers.

Giving out way too much info to those new comers. STFU. Morgan is definitely the weakest link. Those “let’s be nice” people are fools.

Nobody has a can opener or one on a multi-tool? Using side snips to open cans of food? Come on.

Who is out scavenging or foraging or fishing or hunting?

Do they all have to stand around as a group and clap at everything? Too much of that corporate team building, “woooohooooo” bullshit. Shut up. Don’t they have more important things to do? Like security? Like finding something to eat?

Old naked man was creepy, but it is a smarter way to get clean that hauling water, purifying and boiling it first to use to wash with.

Electricity shouldn’t take precedence over food.

Too much impractical gadgetry. It’s turning into a post apocalyptic Monster Garage.

Why stay there? Take the good stuff and find somewhere more defensible.



A diary painted on the walls? Far more important things.

Unless they want to attract all and sundry to their location, they should consider not yelling so much.

They’ve resorted to stealing stuff from a tent of what appears to be homeless people now? My opinion of them went down a lot.

A shower? Not high on the list of priorities. Make do with a sponge bath for the time being.

I’lll say it again. Trap lines? Some kind of unattended fish catching system?

Wouldn’t a steam engine be a lot more energy efficient than a gassifier? To burn wood to get gas out of wood doesn’t seem like the wisest course of action.

Joey is whining about not having power for his circular saw? “I can’t put the shower together without power.” Are you for real? How about a hand saw? Hammer and nails? A brace?

If they have a doctor and a nurse, couldn’t they be building local good will by offering medical services in exchange for trade goods or information?

They head out to get solar panels and Allison is standing around in a skirt and CFMs? Seriously? Right now, right that instant, run for your life. Walk 40 clicks. Can’t? Then lose the impractical footwear.

Speaking of which, they all need to be ready at the drop of a hat, grab their stuff and get the hell out of there.

While a motorized way to have their solar power array follow the course of the sun is slick and all, couldn’t a person have gone up every hour or two to angle it a bit? More fancy gadgetry that doesn’t get them food.

Self defense chick made a punching bag and a gym? If you want to get fit, go forage, haul water, chop wood, etc., etc. Flaky nonsense. If you still have any energy left to expend on a punching bag at the end of a day, you’re not doing enough. Teaching them high kicks? What hokey bullshit is that?

She’s an idiot. “Do you want to go to the mat?” Bwahaha. Stupid games end up winning you stupid prizes. Say that to the wrong person and just to show her up for the fool she is, they’ll use vastly superior fighting skills than she learned in her McDojo, and fuck her up. Like so many other participants in “unarmed/self defense courses” they’ve given her a false sense of ability, and she frankly doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.

They need a strong leader. Or at the very least someone to delegate tasks. They seem to be working at cross purposes.

Those women have all watched too much Oprah. They need to put aside their feelings, stop getting butt hurt about everything and do what is required for group cohesion. Whatever flaws that group of people has, it has been infinitely better than trying to manage on their own.

Mike may be a callous jerk, given to petulance, but he is usually right. His priorities are more in line than many of the others. But I still don’t think he is a leader.

A flame thrower? Another ridiculous gadget. Too dangerous. Waste of fuel. How about slingshots or bows and arrows? Double use. About that food situation...

They need to move through that building with a weapon on them at all times. Expecting everyone to come running to their aid when their non existent security breaks down in a building that big might not work out so well.

Be quiet.

I keep seeing a garden. Is anyone tending it?

Somebody needs to be up on the roof on watch at all times. Putting up a platform of some sort on that sign on the roof should have been a priority.

Using an electric jigsaw to open a can? Are you kidding me?! Really, no one could have scrounged up a can opener? Or fashioned one?

Morgan is working on a phonograph? How much time did she spend that day hunting or fishing or foraging? I’m still not convinced she’s anything other than baggage. 

A radio? More time and resource wasting gadgetry. Yank a CB radio out of a truck in order to communicate.

They took apart shotgun shells to make fireworks? WTF?! Oh right, they needed another excuse to all stand around as a group, be distracted, and yell “wooooohooooohooooo!!” Given how easy it is to make a shotgun, likely not that hard to procure a real one somehow, use them as a trade item, use them for defensive booby traps, etc., taking them apart for something frivolous strains credulity.

Fireworks and a big sign isn’t “getting George back”, it’s “come and rob us.”

That Vlad guy seems okay, but his supposed “combat experience” sounds like a crock to me.


I still can not get over the fact that no one has a weapon. A broom handle? How about putting something heavy or sharp on the end? Is that too aggressive for California?

Sorry, those women are really unimpressive.

That Allison was merely annoying before, but acting like a petulant child because Mike was yelling at her to come and deal with an injury, turned her into a liability. Do your damn job. Sure he’s an asshole, but up to this point, his contribution was far greater than hers. Fix him up and deal with his abrasive attitude when calmer heads prevail. Seriously unsat behaviour.

Then her self righteous horseshit about Joey “hitting” Amy. He was absolutely right, and none of those deer in the lights dipshits get how vital security is. If I hadn’t realized it by then, either she would be going or I would be. An utter inability to grasp that her “feelings” need to be subsumed for the benefit of the group. Don’t like it? I’m sure André would like you.

A by-product of all braves, no chief.

Yup, post-disaster Junkyard Wars.

Those rats are tame pet store rats. 

Wasting time on a kooky contraption like a dirigible? That time could have been used to find food. For them not to know their surrounding better is almost inexcusable in my mind. Sending out reconnaissance and force projection patrols should have been happening from day one.

“The only chance they have to find food is Mike’s Trike?” Seriously? What about a bicycle? How about on foot?

Okay, I still have a few episodes to go, but I think I’ve said all I need to say. Scripted, reality TV nonsense. I feel my IQ will need a few days to go back up after watching that. More an object lesson of what not to do.

Friday, 9 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Die Welt Ist Nicht Genug – Extrawelt

Die Welt Ist Nicht Genug – Extrawelt

That’s German for “The World Is Not Enough.” I am so multilingual.


The FlameStower is a field charging unit that allows the charging of USB enabled devices (cell and satellite phones, handheld GPS units, AA and AAA batteries, headlamps, digital cameras, etc.). Place the blade on or near a heat source, (camping stove or fire, candles even), and put water in the reservoir. The heat is transferred to the Thermoelectric Generator (TEG), the hot side gets hot, the cold side stays relatively cool, and the temperature difference generates electricity.

Unlike solar chargers, this has the capacity to charge devices at night or in very overcast conditions. Cook a meal and charge your devices at the same time. It would take about three hours to fully charge a phone. That’s a while to keep a fire going, but the ability to charge stuff in addition to/instead of a solar charger is a great thing. I often hike with just an alcohol stove, and have it going long enough just to boil the water I need. But at other times I hike with a BushBuddy. This, if (more likely when) I get one, makes it likely that the BB ends up as something I carry on more than just trips of longer duration. 

It weights 225 gr. (8 oz.) and its collapsed size is 19.5 cm (7.75") x 5.75 cm (2.25") x 2.5 cm (1"). The rated voltage is 5 V, standard power  is 2 W, and maximum power is 3 W.

I almost think I like this earlier prototype a little more than the slicker production version. It looks a little more compact.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

M1 Garand Animation

I’ve known about this for a bunch of years, but seeing it again just now renewed my appreciation for it. Excellent Flash animation of the working of the superb M1 Garand rifle. Gives me a new appreciation for what John Garand created. Compared to the relative simplicity of a bolt action rifle, the inner workings of his semi-automatic rifle are a feat of imagination and technical ingenuity.

S.o.t.D. - Folding Time (Ambient Mix) – Nuclear Ramjet

Folding Time (Ambient Mix) – Nuclear Ramjet

A project my old pal Mr. Nivoc is involved with.

Coldwater Creek Cleanup

Spent an evening a while back helping clean debris out of Coldwater Creek, one of the many watersheds feeding into Cootes Paradise. It is one of the only ones cold enough for fish to hatch in it. The name is something of a giveaway. The biologists at RBG have identified the shopping carts and tires in the creek as a problem. While they would love to have them removed, staffing and budget limitations prevent them from doing all they would like to do. This is where volunteers come in. (Although sadly, Alan and his 9 year old son and I were the only ones, as two other volunteers never showed. As I was to find out, this is a job for more than two people.)

I have been through a lot of areas in Hamilton, but this one was new to me. And it was rough. Getting in wasn’t so easy, especially carrying equipment, and I can only imagine that trying to haul some of this junk out is even more of a challenge.
Decided that since I would be up to my waist in water wearing waders, to bring the Map’mups with some tools on it so I could easily access them. I knew I would likely be cutting away wood, debris, rope, wire, etc. And I did.

Only took a few furtive pictures. Standing up to my waist in water, trying to maintain my balance on uneven, mucky creek bottom, with wet, filthy hands, in the moments between doing stuff, didn’t lend itself to photo taking.
The first of several shopping carts being dislodged with the aid of a come-along.
Alan back up on shore operating the come-along.
I really don’t think these could have been gotten out without the use of a winch. Those carts were stuck in there. Even when they were dislodged, they were often laden with sticks and the foulest smelling muck. And they were HEAVY! I think I’m pretty fit, but having to manhandle four of these things to dislodge all that shit, moving them so I could disconnect under tension chains, and then haul them up the bank - after two hours of that, I was beat.
The first of several tires.
Yanking another tire right out of the creek bank.
The creek in either direction of where I was standing.
The light was fading, I was pooped, and we still had to make our way out with chains and come-alongs and a few other tools, so we called it a night. There will still be shit for us to remove another time.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

S.o.t.D. - Shady Grove – Garcia Grisman Rice

Shady Grove – Garcia Grisman Rice

I was at a friends house the other day and I had to lie down on the ground for a while. He understood and went off to keep painting trim. While he did that, he played this record which I had never heard before. Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and Tony Rice. This was the track I liked most on it.