Thursday, 31 December 2015

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Away With The Pixies – Ben Lee

Away With The Pixies – Ben Lee

Off of his debut album Grandpaw Would, written when he was in his early teens. Features backing vocals by my former sister-in-law, Allanah Russack.

Reptile Store

Got my nephew a gift certificate from the local reptile store for christmas. While there I snapped some photos of the critters.
Not sure what this is. Monitor of some kind?
Bearded Dragons.
Pastel Ball Python.
Chinese Water Dragon.
Golden Tegu.
Window licker. Some type of gecko.

The Dutch Touch

In a similar vein as my girlfriend on the Amsterdam Tattoo Convention posters, this delightful bit of naughty Netherlandic kitsch is by the great John van’t Hullenaar, from Dutchman Tattoos in Burnaby, B.C.

As a fellow Dutchman, I approve wholeheartedly.

Monday, 28 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Eden Acid - Tony Rohr

Eden Acid - Tony Rohr

I discovered this track on a 20 second loop of this imagery - a 1970’s era bluegrass or country clog dancing troupe - and the thing is, the dancing doesn’t look in the slightest out of place with the music.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - The 7th Element – Vitas

The 7th Element – Vitas

The video and the vocals are completely spun, but the underlying track is a pretty good little tech-house number.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Thursday, 24 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Cascade – William Basinski

Cascade – William Basinski

I guess I could say this is a distorted piano loop with some random textures on top, but I don’t think that does the complexity of this justice.  It’s beautiful, meditative, hypnotic, and subtly minimal.

“I wanted Cascade to become this crystalline organism like a star or a liquid crystal spaceship, a jellyfish traveling through the galaxy…” – William Basinski

To me it just seems like a perfect track to play on a wintry Christmas eve.


My paternal grandfather was a cigar smoker. During the 30’s he realized war was on the horizon. From about 1934 or 1935 onwards he bought extra cigars every week. Not to smoke, but to store away. All sorts of them. From the cheap to the expensive, and from all over the world. Even into the early years of the war he managed to continue squirreling some away.

He built up quite a stockpile, much to the annoyance of my grandmother. “Look at all that room those things are taking up!” He had hundreds of cigar boxes, and given how small that home was, I can see that it became a large investment of space as well as money. He dug out a secret compartment under the closet in their bedroom to hide them in. Their house was searched by the Nazis on several occasions to look for radios, “onderduikers” (Jews and others hidden in peoples houses), you name it. They never managed to find his stockpile of cigars. 

As the war progressed, their value became evident. Virtually everything was in short supply, the Nazis taking anything they wanted to fuel their war effort. If food, fuel and clothing were scarce, you can bet that tobacco was even more so. But as we all know, scarcity or prohibition is no impediment to people wanting the drugs they enjoy or are addicted to. My Opa had something that people wanted, and it allowed him to procure food for his family and others as well. (A family on the street that we grew up in, had hidden a Jewish man in a little cubby hole under a garden shed. This was done at unbelievable peril to themselves, but they managed to pull it off for three years, until the war ended. Another dilemma they faced was that since rationing was so strict, they couldn’t very easily procure food for their “lodger.” And since the food the Nazis doled out was essentially starvation level rations, sharing it with him became harder and harder. My grandfather was one of the very few people who knew about it, and since he had quite a few connections, got food from the black market to help feed him, using his cigars as payment.)

Besides the black market, my grandfather would also go out to the countryside and buy food directly from farmers. My mom told me that he was always very principled about it. When farmers would try to charge outrageous prices for a few eggs or potatoes he would always ask them what they charged for them in May 1940. 
“These cigars cost so much in May 1940. I’ll give you the equivalent for them.” He refused to pay extortionary prices for items. If a farmer was trying to get 10 guilders worth of cigars for 10 cents worth of potatoes he would go to the next farmhouse and try his luck there. He was willing to do fair May 1940 value prices for May 1940 value trades. If that farmer wanted to turn around and sell those cigars for an outrageous sum, that was his business. But he refused to go along with it.  

My father and uncle were also sent out to the countryside in an effort to secure food, always with the admonition not to pay outrageous sums for anything. They moved mainly at night, in an effort to avoid German checkpoints, who might well steal all that food from them at the point of a bayonet. I think they also did it to avoid Typhoon fighter-bombers, who would fly low and attack just about anything that moved. I recall my dad telling me of one time when he and his brother had to jump off their bicycles and into a ditch when one came tearing along behind them. They were convinced that he was going to stitch them up with 20mm rounds, but he fired up a target a distance ahead of them. They found out later that it was a German truck. While my dad was always happy to see Germans die, it unnerved them so much they opted to move as much as possible at night. Besides, they wanted to avoid having to dive into ditches as much as possible, given that doing so would jeopardize the more precious than diamonds eggs they were trying to get back to the city in one piece. 

My dad’s family probably fared a lot better than a lot of other people during that terrible time. The fact that my Opa had the foresight to cache a stockpile of cigars was a very wise move, one that my Oma never begrudged him again after she realized how smart it really was.

Another cool story about him was that he was an electronics engineer. He knew how to build radios and made the smallest possible ones he could so that people could listen to the BBC (an activity strictly forbidden by the Nazis). He did this at the behest of some people in the underground, who distributed them, and provided him with parts. Despite the huge risk he took doing this, these connections allowed him not only to get a hold of food, but also allowed him to pull in a huge favour. Anyone over the age of sixteen could be forced to go work in Germany, on farms or in factories, as my maternal grandfather was. (He was a skilled machinist, and was taken away at the point of a gun to go to Germany and work in the Heinkel factory.) He didn’t want this fate to befall his son, so he asked for a fake “Ausweis” (identification papers). It stated his birthdate as being in 1930, even though he was actually born in 1928. This bit of subterfuge may well have saved him from perishing in one of the many bombing raids that were decimating German industry.

I never knew my grandfather, given that he died of cancer long before I was born. (He died in agony, his body riddled with tobacco induced cancer. Sorry cigar lovers.) According to my mom, he was exceeded in quality only by my father. “He was an extremely fine man. I’m honoured that I knew him.”

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Gerber Shard

Gerber may have made good stuff at one time. Now they, like so many other US firms, are little more than a marketing department with a warehouse. And all the Bare Grills branded stuff? I’m not even going to go there.

They tried their hand at a one piece multi-tool, the Artifact (that I don’t think is offered any more), which was panned across the board. Being a long time user and fan of the X-Acto #11 blade, I thought it looked intriguing. Never did get one, mainly because the reviews I read dissuaded me.

This little gadget however has received more favourable press.

It was originally released as a give-away at...SHOT Show I think....but not as something to sell to the public. When photos of it emerged, people started asking for it, but they steadfastly refused to sell it. Finally, after months of badgering by consumers, they relented. 

This gives a sense of the size. Some kind of stainless steel and a TiNi coating. Not super high tech, but it should be fine for this application.
A few different angles. A pry bar, nail puller, two different sized slot screw drivers, a bottle opener (that also makes for an okay O2 tank wrench in a pinch) and Phillips screw driver.
Not very big at all. 7 cm long (2¾") by 2.5 cm wide (1") and not even 3 mm thick (less than ⅛"). Weighs about 17 grams (0.6 oz.)
2 1" pieces of webbing and a 1" space between them, to give another sense of the size. And also demonstrates how the hole is big enough for a carabiner to fit.

Close ups.
I wouldn’t want to use this for an entire night of opening hundreds of bottles of beer, but for a bottle or two? Just fine.

And I also wouldn’t want to use the nail puller for a day of framing, or the pry bar for a whole day of renovating. But for one or two things? Sure. Like so many multi-tools, they’re not the ideal tool for the job, but compared to not having anything, they are a more than serviceable option.

I got it for $15 Cdn at a retail store. All in all, handy little gizmo. I like it.

Not sure if Gerber has entirely redeemed themselves with this, but it’s definitely not a total turd.

S.o.t.D. - Abacab – Genesis

Abacab – Genesis

Wouldn’t really consider myself a Genesis fan, but some of their tracks I really like.

Lego MiniFig Self Portrait

Goofing around the other other day, I created an elongated minifig self portrait.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Teenage Riot – Sonic Youth

Teenage Riot – Sonic Youth

For whatever reason, this is a band that I haven’t ever really gotten into. I’ve known about them forever, always liked what I heard, but never bought any of their records, saw them live, etc. There is just so much music out there, it’s almost inevitable that some great stuff just slips through the cracks.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Laika – Bluetech

Laika – Bluetech

Whaaat?! The last time I posted a Bluetech track was April of 14?

One of those tracks I can play on repeat for hours.

I think I’ve said this at least a dozen times, but Bluetech is absolutely brilliant.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Burning Inside – Ministry

Burning Inside – Ministry

(Yesterday we had Devil Inside. Today, Burning Inside.) Oh did I ever love this when it came out. Come on. I still do. Saw them three times on this tour.

Become an organ donor

I’ve made mention a few times that I donate blood, and encourage others to do the same.

But I just registered as an organ donor. Couldn’t be any simpler.

Go to (This is assuming of course, you’re in Canada.)

Enter your health card number and answer a few questions. Like, not even two minutes of your time.


Once you’re dead, you don’t need your organs any more, but someone else might.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - The MacGuffin – The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

The MacGuffin – The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

The track by them I featured yesterday, I likened them to having a bit of a Hidden Orchestra mixed with Earth feel. Yesterdays track was more in keeping with the former. Todays track is more in keeping with the latter.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Deeper – Rameses B

Deeper – Rameses B

I have some Rameses B stuff on here before, and some of his soundtrackier stuff is great. But then most of his other stuff I absolutely loathed. Dubstep with that gawd-awful buildup to the crescendo. Ugh.

This however? Fantastic.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Friday, 4 December 2015

S.o.t.D. - Grindhouse – Chroma

Grindhouse – Chroma

Really have to check out this Program label.

Tap’mups Mk. 1

I’ve been using a Presto pass for a while now, and for the most part it’s a good thing. The fact that I can use it on any transit system in the GTHA area is undeniably handy.

What I haven’t been so keen on is that with GO Transit, I need to tap on when I enter the bus and tap off when I exit. When getting off, I’m usually up and moving down the aisle as the bus is still moving. I don’t want to have my wallet in my hand as I do. Also that aisle is narrow and trying to swing a bag forward to get at a wallet or dig it out of my pocket with everyone else behind me having to wait while I do, didn’t suit me. I wanted to be able to quickly tap off, without having to access a bag or wallet.

I wanted some way of getting at both of them without much fuss. Figured the Swipe’mups was the best approach.

I thought of just cutting a rectangular slot in the top of the card. The problem with that is that the Presto pass, when I put cash on it, needs to be handed to the attendant. Given that the Swipe’mups is firmly attached to the belt, often on the left side, having to undo my belt to get it off would be a total nuisance. I needed to have it firmly attached to me, and still be removable if need be.

I looked all over for a credit card / business card sized holder for months. And one that wouldn’t be a huge pain to get the card out of if need be. Finally found one at Europe Bound in Toronto.

Since I use my library card a lot, I figured I may as well use the side opposite to the Presto pass for it. While I don’t currently need a work related swipe pass, if at some point I do, I’m hoping I can put it between the other two cards. Might cause interference, but we’ll see.
Reinforced the hole with a grommet. Thought of all kinds of fancy knots to attach and in the end just mashed something unfancy together with Spectra line.
I can slip it in my pocket if I need to do any high speed ninja manoeuvres.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

When Did Repair Become a Radical Act?

Interesting article from Patagonia (the clothing manufacturer) about repair.

I love repairing things for a variety of reasons: self empowerment, frugality, environmental concerns, growing discomfort with consumer culture.

When Did Repair Become a Radical Act?

Paracord Needles

Made some paracord needles tonight.

For anything where you need to weave the running end through (finishing something off by burying the end, the snake knot, whipping, etc.), this is handy.

I found something on Instructables where the poster suggesting using brass rod and cutting it to length with a Dremel tool, then drilling out the rod with a drill press and then tapping the open end, and then shaping the tips with a grinder....yeah right! Take the path of least resistance.
I found some 5.5 mm knitting needles at a thrift shop for 25¢, took a hack saw, maybe ten strokes to cut each tip off, a rat tail and flat file to clean the ends up and voila. I really only needed one, but since my extravagant expenditure netted me two knitting needles, why not make two paracord needles out of them.

S.o.t.D. - Easy Love (DJ Zinc Remix) – Sigala

Easy Love (DJ Zinc Remix) – Sigala


The reader

How most of the world sees me