Tuesday, 31 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Slidub – The dZihan & Kamien Orchestra

Slidub – The dZihan & Kamien Orchestra

DZihan and Kamien had an opportunity in 2004 to present a show with 22 guest musicians, including former Miles Davis drummer Sammy Figueroa, and a whole bunch of Turkish musicians and their instruments, including a darbuka (a goblet drum) and a kaval (a chromatic end-blown flute).

Monday, 30 March 2015

Saturday, 28 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Deep South ​- ​Layo & Bushwacka!

Deep South ​- Layo & Bushwacka!

I pretty much wore this out when I got it. Stellar track. Uses samples from Nina Simone’s “Cotton Eyed Joe”, Billie Holiday’s “Lady Sings the Blues”,  Bessie Smith’s “Moan, You Moaners”, and Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Jazz”.

Friday, 27 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Big Ship – Freddie McGregor

Big Ship – Freddie McGregor

After a long, brutally cold winter, this soothing reggae track is so evocative of a summer day, it offers up a nice antidote.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - History (Repeats Itself) – A.O.S.

History (Repeats Itself) – A.O.S.

A very serene song, from a source you might not expect, if you didn’t know it – the soundtrack to Natural Born Killers.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Brutal But Clean – Cabaret Voltaire

Brutal But Clean – Cabaret Voltaire

The Conversation is just an amazing album. And sadly, also their last.

Graphic Means

I was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of how graphic art was done - pre-Macintosh. I did paste-up, shot PMTs, specced type for typesetters to compose, etc. And I consider myself fortunate to have experienced it. (I was even lucky enough to get an education that allowed me to set lead type in galleys and print it on a century old Heidelberg press.)

This is how things were done for decades – and then in a few years it disappeared. Don’t get me wrong – I was thrilled to get my hands on a 512K Macintosh running PageMaker with one floppy disc to run the system on, and another floppy disc to save the files on. I was happy to retire the waxing machine.

But I think there is a real value to some sort of a record of the history of the graphic art trade. I think it’s good for people getting into the field to see how much of an effort, not to mention art and science, it was to produce even something as seemingly straight forward as a business card. Future generations should be able to get a sense of what all went into graphic art at one time.

Please consider helping fund this project if you too can remember how things were done at one time.

Graphic Means on Kickstarter

Monday, 23 March 2015

Sunday, 22 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Punchbag – The Bees

Punchbag – The Bees

Bit of a melancholy trip-hop feel to this. I fear this wouldn’t have gotten the attention this deserved.

Bibliophilia: Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes – Alastair Humphreys

Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes – Alastair Humphreys

I wish I had the time or the money to go on long trips to exotic destinations. Alas, I do not. I suspect many are in the same boat as me. Jobs, family, etc., keep us tied down to a somewhat inflexible schedule, and houses, cars, kids, etc. means that our budgets are also not as flexible as we’d like.

That doesn’t keep me from getting out. Sure, I get two weeks of vacation a year, there are statutory holidays, weekends, etc. So rather than bemoaning my inability to go to Quetico for a month of canoeing, I venture out close to home in the time I have.

As Alistair Humphreys points out, you can even squeeze adventures into overnight trips. Microadventures. The focus of this book is very much UK locales, but it’s more about the idea that he plants in your head, more so than going to the locales he features.

He’s an engaging writer, and with this visually appealing book, I hope you take away some inspiration from his own examples. While he has done some grandiose adventures of his own, he doesn’t lose sight of the fact that even modest treks can be a good re-set. 

Do you commute via train? Why not get off a stop (or a few) early and walk the rest of the way. Seen a wooded area along the way? Why not get off and explore it in the handful of hours of daylight you have. Is there a river near you? Why not swim out to that island in the middle and camp out overnight. Do you have a friend driving somewhere? Bring your bike, have them drop you off somewhere and make your way home from there. Are there bus routes in your city? Take one out to the end of a route, somewhere you’ve never been, and walk home.

Lots of fun things can be done near you, if you just keep that sense of adventure in perspective. I mentioned something I did as a child that really kindled that sense of exploration and adventure.

Do what you can, with what you have, near where you are.

Bibliophilia: Flawless: Inside The Largest Diamond Heist In History – Scott Andrew Selby & ‎Greg Campbell

Flawless: Inside The Largest Diamond Heist In History – Scott Andrew Selby & ‎Greg Campbell 

I love a good heist story, especially ones where it is done entirely with guile rather than violence. Not that I condone thievery, but you have to have some grudging admiration for the smarts and planning that go into it. 

And sometimes reality is a lot more interesting than any fictionalized tale could ever be.

Besides a good background into the world of diamonds, there is also quite a bit into how the criminals operated, specifically, one close knit group from Turin, Italy, who were the perpetrators.

Right from the start they were adamant that there would be no threats, or coercion, or violence. Instead they used painstaking observation, meticulous planning, and no small amount of courage to pull off an incredible scheme.

Besides technical know-how, they relied on the facts that they learned in two years of careful scrutiny: that despite some very formidable defences, there were chinks in the armour. And the most deadly one was the completely sloppy and lackadaisical human defences. An Italian crook with a 20 year rap sheet walked into the Antwerp Diamond Center and with no questions asked, rented an office. From there he could go anywhere in the building and watch the comings and goings. All the barriers were carefully studied as to how they could be overcome. Once the doors were locked on Friday evening, there was no human security left in the building until Monday morning. The reliance on electronic defences was deemed sufficient. Video cameras through out the building were only there to record - no one actually watched a monitor throughout the weekend. One of the most formidable, the foot thick door to the subterranean vault, was breached through the hubris of the indifferent caretakers. They noticed that they never removed the head from the foot long key that opened the vault. The head was meant to be taken with the caretaker. Having the two in separate places made it that much more difficult for any would be thief. Too much trouble to unscrew the head, so they left it attached, and put it in a box meant for just the pipe close to the vault door that could be opened with a low-tech crowbar. And worst of all, the combination that was meant to work in conjunction with the key - the caretakers were too lazy to spin the combination after they closed the door and then re-enter it in the morning. Combined with some very clever preparation and technical know-how, they were able to overcome the other defences and make off with anywhere between € 100 and 400 million.

But, the thieves were caught in short order because of their own sloppy mistake. The knife cuts both ways.

Great cat and mouse tale of a remarkable criminal escapade. 


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Bibliophilia: Kiss Me, Satan!: New Orleans is a Werewolf Town – Victor Gischler and Juan Ferreyra

Kiss Me, Satan!: New Orleans is a Werewolf Town – Victor Gischler and Juan Ferreyra

Engaging tale of a fallen angel, Barnabus Black, who left heaven to join Satan, but wants to get back into heaven. He roams Earth, in square jawed human form, and ends up acting as a protector for some witches. A crime lord/werewolf wants them dead, because they know about his secret. The oldest, most experienced witch knows that his soon to be born son doesn’t carry the mark required for him to be his heir. He wants to cover up this fact by putting an open contract on them. The hopeful killers includes a vampire disguised as a maid, a voodoo cowboy and the zombie ninjas he controls, a suave wizard and even a priest and nun assassin duo. All sorts of mayhem ensues. Fun read. And Juan Ferreyra is quickly becoming one of my favourite artists.

S.o.t.D. - Matrimony – Jigmastas

Matrimony – Jigmastas

Tend not to be a big hiphop fan, but really dig this.

Monday, 16 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - These Waves – Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook

These Waves – Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook

The album this hails from, Sleeps With The Fishes, has long been one of my favourite albums. One of the people responsible for it, recently had a fire at his Amsterdam home, and lost almost everything. In an effort to re-acquire some of his instruments, he’s launched an appeal. Please consider donating a few dollars.


Bibliophilia: Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew up and Tried to Be A Pop Star – Tracey Thorn

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew up and Tried to Be A Pop Star – Tracey Thorn

As a genre, celebrity (auto)biographies don’t interest me that much. I think Brian Eno’s “A Year With Swollen Appendices” might be the only one I’ve read. Saw this one and since I’ve always liked EBTG, decided to give it a read. (The common theme seems to be that as long as they’re low key British musicians, I can handle reading about their exploits.)

Charming tale of an average middle class girl from an ordinary suburb with a typical teenage interest in music. She got the notion to buy a guitar, and learn to play. Starts writing songs and shows a knack for it. Forms a band with some friends, and gets some recognition. Heads off to university, the same one that a fellow called Ben who is also on the label her band is signed to, is attending. One thing leads to another and they become not only lovers, but creative partners as well. 

She charts the strange vagaries of a career in pop music. I think she enjoyed it, but always maintained an ambivalent attitude about. Throughout it all she seems like someone who always stayed humble and level headed. Anyone expecting anything salacious will be disappointed. Instead you get delightful tales of being starry eyed youngsters thrilled to do a show with Paul Weller, to many years later wandering around the Gap and Missing coming on over the soundsystem and having her child turn around in the pram with a surprised look and saying “Mummy! You are singing in the shop!” And everything in between.

The distinctive, soulful voice heard in her music comes through in this engaging look at not only one artists career, but also as an eyewitness to an era in music.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Supersex (Snooze & Morpheus Remix) – Morphine

Supersex (Snooze & Morpheus Remix) – Morphine

Apparently the main guy behind this band disliked this version so much, that he refused to release it. Felt it didn’t have enough of the original band in it. Not sure he grasped the idea of a remix. (Good thing he didn’t ask Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) to do a remix.) Personally I think this track is fantastic.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Enlightenment – Endemic Void

Enlightenment – Endemic Void

One of those acts that I was somewhat aware of at the time, but never really go into. Like yesterdays act, Skanna, the main guy behind this put out some very well regarded records at the start of the D&B era, then dropped that moniker to do other things.

This has a bit of a trip-hop feel to it. Good stuff. Will have to belatedly rectify my unawareness of them.

Friday, 13 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Find Me – Skanna

Find Me – Skanna

Skanna only ever released a handful of tunes around 92, 93, but they stand out now as some of the best from a genre that was then only in its infancy.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Out Of The Blue – Kruder & Dorfmeister

Out Of The Blue – Kruder & Dorfmeister

Stylish D&B with a fun parkour video.

Bibliophilia: Jaybird – Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen

Jaybird – Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen 

The art is really wonderful, the metaphorical tale is a bit of a headscratcher. Great paintings do virtually all the story telling – what dialogue there is will take you all of about 2 minutes to finish - if you’re a slow reader. (It won the 2013 “Comic Book Finlandia” award – but I have to wonder just how plentiful the competition is.)

Frightened little bird lives in a massive Winchester like mansion with his ancient, bed ridden mother. She has convinced him never to venture outside the boarded up doors and windows. He wanders through the halls lined with portraits of his ancestors. His mother rings the Goldbergian dinner bell and he scurries off to make her something to eat and deliver it. He cleans. He wanders through the halls, frightened of every shadow. The only other living thing in the house appears to be a spider. He has nightmarish visions of much larger birds in military uniforms rampaging through the house. There is an ancient long gun hanging on one of the walls. He uses it to kill a needy bird that shows up at the door, believing the stories told by his mother that it will kill him. He wanders through the halls, scurrying from every sound. His mother dies, dessicating in her bed. We see him as a much older bird, still wandering the halls, and in one of the last scenes, he uses a broom to remove the corpse of the spider.

Definitely worth checking out, if for nothing more than the gorgeous art. The story is really desolate and sad though. (Which seems apropos. I have heard more than once that the Finns are a pretty dour bunch. 60 Minutes years ago had a segment on tango and how popular it was in Finland. Which was considered odd given how it’s a very expressive and passionate dance. A stoic old Finn, commenting on how difficult they find it to show any emotion, mentioned how “a Feennish man myt ssay I luf youw to hiss vyf on hur dess bed to cumfohrt hur.”) I howled.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You – California Honeydrops

Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You – California Honeydrops

Wonderful rendition of the old Wilson Pickett song. I hope  these guys will become huge, and deservedly so.

Obscure Words (part 1)

I think my vocabulary is pretty well endowed, but I always love learning new words. In the past few years I’ve gotten in the habit of making sure to record (the unknown to me at the time) words and the meaning I looked up. They’re suitably obscure that if I don’t write them down with their definition, I might forget them in time. Or it’s just good to go back and review them once in a while to help refresh the memory. This is the list I compiled from about a 5 year period. (And I think a good quarter of the words were from various essays by Christopher Hitchens.)

Words are cool!

Adumbrate: (v)
report or represent in outline; indicate faintly; foreshadow or symbolize.
Afflatus: (n)
a strong creative impulse, especially as a result of divine inspiration.
Aleatory: (adj)
depending on the throw of a dice or on chance; random.
Anfractuous: (adj)
sinuous or circuitous.
Angary: (n)
the right in international law of a belligerent to seize, use, or destroy property of neutrals, or to take over use of neutral ships in case of necessity.
Apodictic: (adj)
clearly established or beyond dispute.
Aporia: (n)
(“impasse, difficulty of passing, lack of resources, puzzlement”) denotes in philosophy, a philosophical puzzle or state of puzzlement, and in rhetoric, a rhetorically useful expression of doubt.
Ashlar: (n)
squared masonry, the finest stone masonry unit, generally cuboid or less frequently trapezoidal.
Asperity: (n)
harshness of tone or manner.
Asteism: (n)
polite irony; a genteel and ingenious manner of deriding another.
Besprent: (adj)
Boîte: (n)
nightclub (French - literally - “a box”).
Brattice: (n)
1. a partition or lining, as of planks or cloth, forming an air passage in a mine.
2. (in medieval architecture) any temporary wooden fortification, especially at the top of a wall.
Caesura: (Caesurae {pl.}): (n)
a complete pause in a line of poetry or in a musical composition; any break, pause or interruption.
Calenture: (n)
1. A heat stroke or fever, caused by the heat in the tropics.
2. A delirium occurring from such symptoms, in which a stricken sailor pictures the sea as grassy meadows and wishes to dive overboard into them.
Caryatid: (n)
a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head. The Greek term karyatides literally means “maidens of Karyai”, an ancient town of Peloponnese.
Celeritous: (adj)
Cephalomegalic: (n)
enlargement of the head.
Cineritious: (adj)
like ashes; having the color of ashes.
Cloaca: (n)
1. (Zoology)The common cavity that serves as the opening for the intestinal, genital, and urinary tracts in many vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, many fishes, and certain mammals.
2. A sewer or latrine.
Coarct: (v)
to cause (the aorta) to become narrow or (the heart) to constrict.
Concinnity: (n)
the skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something. studied elegance of literary or artistic style.
Congeries: (n)
a disorderly collection; a jumble.
Deasil: (adv)
to go clockwise or in a direction following the apparent course of the sun. Considered lucky or auspicious. (See also “Widdershins”.)
Decussation: (n)
1. a process of becoming or condition of being crossed in the form of an X.
2. Anatomy. a nerve or tract of nerve fibers that crosses from one side of the central nervous system to the other.
Degustate: (v)
to taste or savor carefully or appreciatively.
Descry: (v)
catch sight of.
Desuetude: (n)
The cessation of use; discontinuance of practice or custom; disuse.
Disquisition: (n)
a long or elaborate essay or discussion on a particular subject.
Effulgent: (adj)
shining brightly; radiant.
Elide: (v)
omit (a sound or syllable) when speaking; join together; merge.
Emolument: (n)
profit, salary, or fees from office or employment; compensation for services. (originally a miller’s fee for grinding grain, from the French ēmolere, “to grind out”.)
Encomium: (n)
a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly.
Etiolated: (adj)
1. (of a plant) pale and drawn out due to a lack of light.
2. having lost vigor or substance; feeble.
Filatory: (n)
a machine for forming threads.
(adj) denoting a type of consonant made by the friction of breath in a narrow opening, producing a turbulent air flow.
(n) a fricative consonant, e.g., f and th.
Gallimaufry: (n)
1. a hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.
2. a delightful collection of unrelated objects
3. a ragout or hash.
Gelid: (adj)
icy; extremely cold.
Glossolalia: (n)
speaking in tongues; incomprehensible speech in an imaginary language, sometimes occurring in a trance state, an episode of religious ecstasy, or schizophrenia.
Gracile: (adj)
(of a hominid species) of slender build.
(of a person) slender or thin, especially in a charming or attractive way.
Gravid: (adj)
1. pregnant; carrying eggs or young.
2. full of meaning or a specified quality.
Hegira: (n) (Islamic. Also, hejira, hijra.)
any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place.
Illaqueation: (n)
the act of ensnaring; a catching or entrapping
Immanent: (adj)
existing or operating within; indwelling; inherent
“the protection of liberties is immanent in constitutional arrangements”.
Ineluctable: (adj)
unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.
Irredentist: (n)
one who advocates the recovery of territory culturally or historically related to one’s nation but now subject to a foreign government.
Irruption: (n)
1. a breaking or bursting in; a violent incursion or invasion.
2. (ecology) a sudden increase in an animal population.
Laïcité: (n)
French secularity. The absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs.
Lambent: (adj)
(of light or fire) glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance.
Lamina: (n)
a thin plate or scale.
(v informal) To beat, flog, whip or thrash.
(n) A blow.
Lissajous: (n)
any of an infinite variety of curves formed by combining two mutually perpendicular simple harmonic motions, commonly exhibited by the oscilloscope, and used in studying frequency, amplitude, and phrase relations of harmonic variables.
Longinquity: (n)
remoteness or isolation, or any vast distance in space or time.
Ludibund: (adj)
sportive, recreational, playful, frolicsome
Marmoreal: (adv)
of, relating to, or suggestive of marble or a marble statue especially in coldness or aloofness.
Mickle: (n) Archaic Scottish
a large amount.
Micturition: (n)
the act of passing urine; urination.
Muniment: (n) Archaic
a means of defense.
Nefandous: (adj)
unfit to be spoken of, impious, execrable, unspeakable, appalling.
Nictation‎: (n)
the process of winking or blinking rapidly, as in certain birds or animals or as the result of a tic in humans.
Niddering‎: (n) Archaic 
a cowardly person; a wretch.
Niddicock: (n)
a foolish person; a noodle.
Nuncupatory: (adj)
existing in name only. Can also be used to describe a verbal rather than written agreement.
Obambulate: (v)
to walk about
Obequitate: (v)
to ride about on horseback
Obscurantism: (n)
1. opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge.
2. deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity.
Opisthognathous: (adj)
having receding jaws.
Orrery: (n)
1. an apparatus for representing the positions, motions, and phases of the planets, satellites, etc., in the solar system.
2. any of certain similar machines, as a planetarium.
Pachysandra: (n)
a genus of five species of evergreen perennials or subshrubs, belonging to the boxwood family Buxaceae.
Palimpsest: (n)
writing material (ie. parchment) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
Panjandrum: (n)
a person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence.
(adj archaic) full of danger or uncertainty; precarious.
(adv archaic) greatly or excessively.
Parturition: (n)
childbirth, the process of delivering the baby and placenta from the uterus to the vagina to the outside world. Also called labor and delivery.
Pellucid: (adj)
translucently clear. lucid in style or meaning; easily understood. (of music or other sound) clear and pure in tone.
Perfervid: (adj)
very fervent; extremely ardent; impassioned.
Persiflage: (n)
light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter; a frivolous or flippant style of treating a subject.
Pervigilation: (n)
careful watching.
Phenakistoscope: (n)
an early animation device that used a spinning disk of sequential images and the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.
(adj) Of, relating to, or being a speech sound produced by complete closure of the oral passage and subsequent release accompanied by a burst of air, as in the sound (p) in pit or (d) in dog.
(n) A plosive speech sound.
Pollard: (n)
a tree or animal which has been polled (had its branches, horns or antlers removed).
1. A tree whose top branches have been cut back to the trunk so that it may produce a dense growth of new shoots.
2. An animal, such as an ox, goat, or sheep, that no longer has its horns.
Postprandial (adj)
following a meal, especially dinner.
Prognathous: (adj)
having protrusive jaws; in Craniometry, having a gnathic index over 103.
Pullulating: (v)
1. to send forth sprouts, buds, etc.; germinate; sprout.
2. to breed, produce, or create rapidly.
3. to increase rapidly; multiply.
4. to exist abundantly; swarm; teem.
5. to be produced as offspring.
Ragyaba: (n)
Tibetan “untouchables” who perform sky burials.
Rebarbative: (adj)
causing annoyance, irritation, or aversion; repellent.
Saccade: (n)
a small rapid jerky movement of the eye especially as it jumps from fixation on one point to another (as in reading).
Sinecure: (n)
an office or position requiring little or no work, especially one yielding profitable returns.
Sphex: (n)
wasp genus (commonly known as digger wasps) of the family Sphecidae that sting and paralyze prey insects.
Stepney: (n)
spare tire.
Sui Generis: (adj)
being the only example of its kind; unique; in a class or group of its own; not like anything else.
Syncretic: (n)
the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.
(n) a rapid gallop or ride
(adj) moving or riding swiftly
Tardigradous: (adj)
slow-paced; moving or stepping slowly.
Tensegrity: (n)
the characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure consisting of members under tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not.
Torus: (n)
1. (Architecture) a large convex molding, more or less semicircular in profile, commonly forming the lowest molding of the base of a column, directly above the plinth, sometimes occurring as one of a pair separated by a scotia and fillets. and column.
2. (Geometry) a doughnut-shaped surface generated by the revolution of a conic, especially a circle, about an exterior line lying in its plane.
the solid enclosed by such a surface.
3. (Botany) the receptacle of a flower.
a thickening of the wall membrane in the bordered pits occurring in the tracheid cells of the wood of many conifers.
4. (Anatomy) a rounded ridge; a protuberant part.
Totipotent: (adj)
capable of developing into a complete organism or differentiating into any of its cells or tissues.
(adj) a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise.
(n) an ultracrepidarian person.
Usufruct: (n)
the temporary right to the use and enjoyment of the property of another, without damaging or changing the character of the property.
Verbigeration: (n)
the involuntary repetition of meaningless words and phrases.
Volar: (adj)
the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot.
Widdershins: (adv)
to go counter-clockwise, or to go lefthandwise, “in a direction opposite to the usual”, or to walk around an object by always keeping it on the left. i.e. literally, it means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun viewed from the Arctic Circle. Considered unlucky. (See also “Deasil”)
(adj) proceeding by inquiry; investigating
(n) inquirer

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sunday, 8 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - PS – DJ Q & Flava D

PS – DJ Q & Flava D

This sounds like a garage revival to me.

Modular Gear For The Rest Of Us: SmithFly

Continuing my series chronicling examples of modular carry equipment geared to non-military endeavours.

This time it’s a company aiming its wares at the fly fishing community.

SmithFly is a company based in Troy, Ohio and founded by Ethan Smith. While none of it will come as a revelation to anyone familiar with MOLLE/PALS compatible gear, that to me is the beauty of it. Why re-invent the wheel? It’s a proven system, and there are many other manufacturers out there, and a host of attachment systems work with it. If something isn’t entirely right for your needs, someone else will quite likely have what you need, or heck, make something yourself. I’m living proof of that.

Something else I like about this company is that they are committed to having their goods manufactured in the USA, and that they care about how sustainable their manufacturing process is, and how much of an impact it has on the environment.
The Naked Switch Belt. If you have one of the dozen plus different MOLLE/PALS battle belts that are out on the market, you could use it, rather than this belt. If you don’t, this is a fairly no-frills take on the concept.
The Naked Switch Vest. While nothing new if you’re familiar with military style vests, (which seem to have faded from use largely), this is a great way to overcome the restrictions of fixed in place pockets on fly fishing vests. 
The Naked Switch Bag. 12" wide x 12" tall x 5" deep, with a zippered pocket inside, PALS on the front, back and sides, and a shoulder strap and carry handles.
One thing I really like is these flaps you can get. Featuring imagery by Louis Cahill of Gink and Gasoline, the Art Attack series can either be purchased separately or included with a Switch Bag.
5" wide x 7" tall x 2" deep, the 1X Pouch attaches with fairly standard looking MOLLE straps. The flap is held closed with magnetic closures.
Like the 1X, the 2X Pouch has an attachment grommet under each flap on the sides so you can attach retractors to hold hemostats, nippers, bear spray, etc. 9" wide x 6" tall x 2 or 3" deep. 4 pockets on the outside, 4 pockets on the inside.
Finally, the Digi Pouch. If you’ve seen my review / modification of the Simms Dry Creek Camera Bag (no longer offered), this will look familiar. Whereas I had to modify it to be MOLLE compatible, this one is ready out of the box. It also allows the user the option of mounting something on the front. Made from RF welded 18 oz vinyl. If you need to carry a large camera or other electronics in and around water, this looks to be a good substitute for that discontinued Simms pouch.

If you’re into fly fishing, or need a way to keep a camera/electronics dry and want it to be PALS compatible, check them out.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Jeff’s Topo Maps

Thought I would share this very useful resource for anyone up here in Canada.

Jeffrey McMurtry of Jeff’s Maps is one of those people I hope is nominated for an Order of Canada really soon for all of his fine work. 

He’s singlehandedly created the best map of Algonquin Park. He taught himself Adobe Illustrator, and 140 layers, 17 million points and 250MB later, he had something both beautiful and useful. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, he then went on to do a map of Temagami and a map of Killarney. Oh, and you can download them for free. You can also buy a waterproof printed version.

His Facebook page is worth following as it’s always a goldmine of information.

And as if all this wasn’t enough, he’s gone and done something equally useful.

Sadly, the Canadian government has washed their hands of the business of maintaining the topographic maps they once published. They did however put them up on line, as one final hurrah. Searching for the ones you needed wasn’t so easy though. If you had a key that told you what code to look for, you could find it.

What Jeff has done is made a map that allows you to scroll across the whole country and find exactly the area you need. Much easier. You can view areas in either 1:50,000 or 1:250,000 scale. Once you find what you need, you can zoom in, and choose the map you want. You can then choose to download a PDF or TIFF version or purchase a paper or tyvek map. 

While nothing would make me happier than seeing the sort of attention to detail that countries like the Netherlands devotes to its maps applied here in Canada, I’m happy this resource exists.

Maybe Mr. McMurtry can be convinced to get working on updated topos of the whole country. 

Jeff’s Topos

S.o.t.D. - Hammond HQ – Smoove and Turrell

Hammond HQ – Smoove and Turrell

Love this duo’s stylish blend of funk, soul and jazz.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Word-Hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

Longish article, but well worth the read if you have any interest in words, language, nature, or the history and cultures of the British Isles. It makes you realize that while English is a really rich language, it could be a lot richer. I learned a while ago that the Japanese have a word, komorebi, which means “sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees”. Do we have a neat little word for that phenomenon? No.


S.o.t.D. - Dive – Flite

Dive – Flite

This is how you do D&B right. The core of it is a beautiful, haunting song that could probably work on its own - without the rolling beats and the bass licks.

Bibliophilia: Cochlea & Eustachia – Hans Rickheit

Cochlea & Eustachia – Hans Rickheit

I was totally unaware of Hans Rickheit, until his very creepy “Cochlea & Eustachia” wormed its way into my eyeballs. Cochlea and Eustachia are twin girls, clad in skimpy ass revealing camisoles and zorro masks, trapped in a bizarre mansion. The place is inhabited by creatures from a bad acid trip, and curios from an expedition to hell. They meander through the place, through demented passageways, eventually escaping. I think?

Is it just weirdly surreal images for their own sake, or is there some kind of narrative logic that escaped this reviewer? Perhaps it’s a bit of both. Certainly interesting, if unsettling, to look at. 

It reminded me a little of another book I reviewed here a while back: Weathercraft by Jim Woodring.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

S.o.t.D. - Lonely Road – Night Trains

Lonely Road – Night Trains

I suspect something is being sampled in this slice of trip-hoppy goodness, but I can’t figure out what. The vocalist reminds me of Marc Almond. Crazy to think this is from 1994.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bibliophilia: Richard Stark’s Parker, Vol. 4: Slayground – Darwyn Cooke

Richard Stark’s Parker, Vol. 4: Slayground – Darwyn Cooke

I really hated the character in the first two books, warmed up to him in the third adaptation, and didn’t mind him at all in this fourth one.

Set in late 60’s wintry Buffalo, N.Y., Parker and his crew crash their getaway car as they make their escape after a heist. He’s the only survivor and thinking to lie low, he makes his way into a closed for the season theme park. Two crooked cops observe all this and inform a local mob boss who thinks he has found an easy score. But Parker is no fool and engages in a deadly game of cat and mouse. 

I enjoyed this story, and as always, Darwyn Cooke’s two tone artwork suits the era and material nicely.

S.o.t.D. - Faint – Northern Zone

Faint – Northern Zone

Perfect way to start the month of March. Bodacious bassline.

Gigapixels of Andromeda

You’ll want to watch this in full screen mode.

NASA and ESA have released a new image of the Andromeda galaxy. The total image has about 1.5 billion pixels, and shows over 100 million stars across 40,000 light years. Zooming in, the dusty swirls resolve into a vast sea of individual stars. And you’re still only seeing a fraction of the trillion stars it contains. And it’s estimated that there are 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe.

And it features Koda’s “The Last Stand”. Greatness piled atop sheer mind imploding awe-inspiringness.

Bibliophilia: Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries – Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell

Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries – Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell

I think this may be the first time that a work by Neil Gaiman left me underwhelmed. It is Gaiman, and it has P. Craig Russell’s fine art work. But it just didn’t satisfy. 

Maybe I just can’t get past my dislike of angels. 

The angel Carasel is murdered, and Raguel, the “Vengeance of the Lord”, is awoken to find the murderer. And no, Lucifer wasn’t the murderer. 

The part that left me scratching my head, (oh sorry, maybe I should interject a spoiler alert warning here) is why or who apparently killed the woman Tink visited at the start of the story. I just didn’t understand what motivation there was. There didn’t appear to be any conflict between them. Did the vagrant/angel he met do it? And if so why? Probably missed something. I’m not sure it really grabbed my attention enough to want to go back later and give it another shot.

(I think this may be my most flippant book review.)

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey – Nick Bertozzi

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey – Nick Bertozzi

I posted a scant review of another book Bertozzi did, one on the story of Lewis and Clark.

I gather he is doing a series on explorers, and this time he tackled the story of arguably one of the greatest of them all, and certainly one of the most incredible stories of survival against unfathomable odds. While I was fairly familiar with the story, I think this was a great telling of it, and worth it whether you do or don’t know the story. It’s a tale that has been told in numerous books, and this is a worthy addition to that canon.

If he does other books on that theme, I will definitely check them out.

Rig’mups Redux

First, a few pictures of the item this pouch is intended for, what I’ve always known as a rigger’s key.
In the hand, giving a sense of the size.

Several years ago I posted something about this pouch I had made several years before that.

The closure for it broke, namely the button.

Came up with a different approach. The button obviously proved the weak point, but getting the elastic through the slot in the skein proved to be a bit fiddly. Besides that, this approach meant that it could really only be mounted on the front of something to be able to open and close it. If I carry this, (and it is admittedly a tool that I haven’t so much use for), it will likely sit behind another pouch. I wanted something that would allow me to open and close it from the top, not the front.

Opted to sew two lengths of Mil-Spec elastic cord to it with a pull tab on each one. The cord is only under tension when it’s pulled up to release it. 

Front. Cords in place. The key is held in place very securely. 
 Front. Cords released. 
Back. Cords released.
Close up on the tabs. I only have to release one for me to be able to extract the key, but both open is a little easier.
Hanging upside down, no amount of shaking to and fro, no matter how forcefully, will release it.
Mounted behind a pouch.
 Tabs and cords pulled to the side.
Tool being extracted.

Part of me thinks I should have sewn tabs to the pouch and then secured the bungee cord to those tabs rather than to the pouch itself. If I have to replace it, that would make it easier. But the elastic is very good quality, they aren’t going to be yanked on dozens times a day, and really, if I have to replace the cord, I may just take a different approach and make a whole new pouch. But for the foreseeable future, this will work just fine.