Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Canoe

Gorgeous film about one of my favourite objects and activities and places.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

S.o.t.D. - Howling – The Dahmers

Howling – The Dahmers

Howling good time.

Jungle Style

Some lessons learned from time spent in jungles. Some learned first hand, some from guys that have spent a lot more time in them, and paying attention to what they did and had to say.

In no particular order.....

The ineffable:

The jungle is not evil, hostile, or out to get you. You are utterly irrelevant to it.

In the jungle you are not a predator, you are prey. Remember your place in the food chain.

There is no such thing as a shortcut in the jungle and if you can’t see your camp you are lost until proven otherwise.

If something looks dangerous or nasty, it is.

If something looks pretty and harmless, it’s dangerous and nasty.

Gringo “common sense” and logic do not apply and do not work in the jungle.

The locals are smarter than you are, it’s their world, and you ignore their instructions and advice at your peril.

Any gear that you “saved money on” will fail at the most critical time.

Things that work at home may not work in the jungle, but things that work in the jungle will work at home.

Always have a plan. Always have a plan “B” because your first plan will not work. Always be ready to improvise, because plan “B” usually won’t work either.

Don’t trust your “instincts” as you do not have any for the jungle. Do what you are told, and don’t do what you are told not to do.

DO NOT let your guard down or take unnecessary risks. Then you have committed the mortal sin of stupidity, and may receive the ultimate punishment for it.

The greatest survival tool in the jungle is your own brain, attitude, & sense of humor.

You can’t keep up with the natives, but try and copy their gait on the trails.

Don’t piss off the monkeys.

DO NOT wear cotton.

DO NOT wear shorts. You’ll be begging to have your legs amputated before too long.

DO NOT wear sandals. Look up Tunga Penetrans.

Boots. I like military jungle boots. Wellco and Altberg are two reputable brands. Make sure they are well broken in before you show up in the jungle. 

Wool and/or polypro socks.

Polypro undies only. Or don’t wear any at all. Synthetic t-shirts and undies quick dry, no chaffing. No cotton.

1 set travel clothes, 1 set sleep clothes.

Wash all your gear in plain water before you go. The bugs seem to stop bothering you after you spend a few days in the bush. It helps if you don’t reek of sweet-smelling laundry detergent when you set foot into the woodline.

More socks.

A sweat rag or two. Mountain biking gloves that have terry cloth on the back of them to wipe away sweat about to run into your eyes.

Admin - Camp:
Hammock. Period. Lots of choices out there. You need to sleep off the ground at night. Anything left on the ground will be eaten, carried off, or become home to something unpleasant. This includes you.

Tarp. Many hammocks come with a tarp, but if not, get one to go with it. Some of the tarps included with the hammock, like the hex one that comes with a Hennesy I personally find a bit small, so considers a larger one.

Two suggestions about any small items you carry - make them bright and tether them to yourself. If you drop anything, finding it back will be either impossible or involve a search so difficult it defies belief. Unless there is some good reason for you to be hidden away, any small items you carry (and maybe even big items) should be bright - day glo orange, fire engine red, screaming blue, fluorescent fuschia - doesn’t really matter. But anything earth tone will be gone forever if you drop it. Lighter, pocket knife, compass, bug juice, etc. - bright and colourful, or make it bright and colourful. Spray paint it, wrap tape around it, tie a big bright fob to it, etc. 
You lose your machete or parang and you’re in serious trouble.

Travel light. The more gear you haul, the more you will sweat.

Waterproof everything. It will still get wet, but not to so great a degree to destroy it. Plastic bags are your friend. And have some extra bags for backup.

You can eat anything with enough hot sauce.

Other Gear:
Bug Juice. Sawyer Controlled Release is the cats ass for bug juice. Keep some Ultrathon 100% DEET around too.There is a product called Bite Blocker which is good. If you forget to apply bug juice you will find out where you missed while squatting to shit. You want to pay attention to the areas on your body where your clothing sits flat against your skin; your thighs and the backs of your shoulders for example. Other areas that are preferred; your neck, the areas around your nose and mouth, and the area behind your ears. (Some speculate that mosquitoes can sense areas of the body that have great blood flow). They also “key” on carbon dioxide that you exhale and the lactic acid produced by your active muscles.

Small stove to heat water. A small alcohol stove will do.

Extra containers for water.

Machete or parang or kukhri. Whatever you carry, have a means to keep it sharp. It’s both safer and easier to cut with a sharp tool. Make a habit of sharpening it.

Good, small pocket knife. Never go ANYWHERE without your pocket knife.

Plenty of 550 cord, some zip ties and maybe some bungees.

Gloves. Synthetic, quick dry mechanics type. Several pairs. Wear them at any time you are moving. There are trees that make poison ivy look like moisturizing lotion.

Sewing kit. The jungle eats clothes.

Headlight. Ideally one with different colored lenses or LEDs.

Cheesecloth to strain water and a filter to clean the strained water

Purification tablets or a reputable water purifier to kill the viruses in the filtered water. Or even better, both. I always thought it was a good idea to have both the filter and the tabs. Two is one, one is none. Just because the natives drink from the river does not mean you can. The natives shit Hepatitis virus into the water. Don’t discount this.

Fire starter that works when wet.

Survival kit heavy on water purification and fire starting.

1st Aid Kit. The jungle makes you bleed and it’s real easy to get infected there. Steroid cream is the UNIVERSAL jungle medicine!

Foot powder and a thick plastic bag. You can dump a good amount of foot powder into a (foot sized) plastic bag, place your foot inside, and “shake and bake.” It’s very neat and light weight; just stick your foot in and shake. Be sure the bag is thick enough to stand up to abuse, yet thin enough to where you can get the powder between you toes and around your toe nail.

Duct tape. Prevents and treats blisters, seals Bot fly holes, and repairs most stuff.

Reflective nylon sheet with aluminum side/OD side. A casualty blanket it’s also known as. Amazing how cold you can get still at night. Poncho liner stays wet 100% of the time. Good for warmth, shelter, wind break, etc.

Gookinaid or similar electrolyte replacement.

A clear pair safety glasses. All sorts of stuff to whack you in the face.

Do all your traveling during the day and never at night because that is when all the big mean, nasty, critters come out.

Never grab or part vegetation with your hands, always use a stick or you just might get thorned, stung or bitten.

Should you find any vines or rope placed across a trail, it usually means “Danger - Don’t Go There!”

Should you get entangled in some vines, try moving backwards in reverse to undo yourself.

Cross water slowly and only at shallow & narrow places, rush across only if you see danger.

Never camp near stagnant water, ant hills or where animals have been eating and staying. 

Rain water trapped in plants is the safest water to drink without filtering and purifying it.

Plants that produce a milky sap or taste sour and bitter are considered UNSAFE to drink.

Before putting your butt or hand on the ground, check for snakes, insects and reptiles.

Never urinate in water, and always check yourself for leeches after a water crossing.

Avoid stepping on slippery wet logs and rocks. Step over or around them instead. That has to be one of the easiest ways to get injured.

Never run out of salt. Whether it’s for preservation of meat or flavouring a piranha broth, salt is vital to keep the body working correctly.

Dig for water. When it’s low water season and all the small creeks are dry, the next water source is never far from your mind. If you don’t have accurate maps then you have to be able to think outside the box if the next river never comes. Sometimes you’ll hear the rumble of thunder and be saved by a deluge that you can use to collect water from your rain fly: a 10 minute downpour can yield 30 litres - enough to wash, cook, drink and fill your bottles for the next day. Sometimes you’ll be in places with nice thick water vines that will give you a vital rehydration. If you don’t have such luck and need fluid urgently you can dig a hole in a muddy area and allow it to fill with muddy water. This can be carefully scooped out when the mud has settled and purified to drink within 20 minutes.

Keep your lighter waterproof. Leave rubbing sticks or using a flint striker to the romantics. The savvy jungle local will never be without his lighter, often kept waterproof in an old plastic tobacco pouch.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

S.o.t.D. - Blue Calx – Aphex Twin

Blue Calx – Aphex Twin

More of that gorgeous ambient AT is so good at crafting.

S.o.t.D. - Funky Drummer – James Brown

Funky Drummer – James Brown

What every musical act needs. A funky drummer.

Bibliophilia: Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation by Kevin Donovan

Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation by Kevin Donovan

Ripped through this last night. Witnessed the whole story as it unfolded, but still worthwhile to read about the whole story in one place.

I’ve read at least one of the books about the Lance Armstrong story. For all the things that claim to reveal human nature, is there anything as damning as the willingness of the many people whose fortunes are hitched to the horse, to shut up and put up. Letting a decent looking person with an ability in a certain field and a bit of charisma, get away with utterly appalling behaviour. Abuse of all sorts will be condoned so long as it doesn’t upset the cart.

What a turd. There really is no worse example of a man who when brutality is rebuffed, resorts to “I am driving really fast on the highway and I am under a lot stress right now and if I crash it will be your fault.” Violence and threatening didn’t work, so now you’ll try to guilt trip. You really are one pathetic loser. A lack of consent from intimate partners, isn’t a forgivable sin in my world. Acting like a snivelling weasel is a close second.

And this book couldn’t help but remind me a bit of Robyn Doolittle’s Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story. Not just a headline grabbing story, but also some insights into what a journalistic investigation is all about.

Friday, 17 February 2017

S.o.t.D. - A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey – Leyla McCalla

A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey – Leyla McCalla

A young lady of Haitian origin, who grew up in New York and spent part of her teens living in Ghana, studied chamber music and cello performance and then spent time later living in New Orleans, immersed in the folk music of that. As you might surmise, this means she crafts music that’s as rich as her background.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

S.o.t.D. - Esther’s – Amon Tobin

Esther’s – Amon Tobin

Better than any of the Transformer’s movies. Although...isn’t anything better than those Michael Bay monstrosities?

The visual work is by Belgian director Charles De Meyer.

Monday, 13 February 2017

S.o.t.D. - South London Boroughs – Burial

South London Boroughs – Burial

Yesterday, Burial referenced the UK, and today the geographical Burial reference continues with “South London Boroughs”.

I think I’d dig this track more if I could slow the pitch down a little.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

S.o.t.D. - Love Me Forever – Death In Rome

Love Me Forever – Death In Rome

Fantastic cover of a Motorhead song. I also enjoyed the accompanying video of Allied air power laying waste to Germany.

Bruce Riley: Resin Painter

Bruce Riley is a Chicago based painter who creates paintings that look like what you’d see through a microscope.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

S.o.t.D - Sweet Magnolia – Seba ft. Jenna G

Sweet Magnolia – Seba ft. Jenna G

And this tune is pretty sweet too.

Bibliophilia: How to Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop – Dave Tompkins

How to Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop – Dave Tompkins
I only ever knew the Vocoder as an effect used in late 70s and early 80s electronic music. I wasn’t even aware that it was originally devised (by Bell Labs) during WW2 as a means of scrambling cross-Atlantic telephonic communications.

The title is “how to recognize speech” - as it would have been mis-interpreted on the receiving end.

The writing is wildly inventive, and I love how he goes off on all sort of tangents, deftly linking nascent electronic development, wartime espionage, military encryption, postwar paranoia, early electronic music and pioneering hip-hop into a wildly entertaining roller coaster ride.  

Monday, 30 January 2017

S.o.t.D. - Lonely – Rift

Lonely – Rift

This YouTube channel, has been feeding me tons of great tunes over the past few months. Solid selections.

Yellow Submarine

Here I am, back in the summer, ready to embark on another thrilling voyage of discovery in my bathysphere.

Here it is before funding cuts to the Lake Ontario Submarine Exploratory Research Society meant we could no longer afford to paint it.

It’s in Dunkerron, Ontario, across from 1812 restaurant, on highway 27. I have no idea what the story behind this thing is. How far down it could actually go, if at all. I suspect it could partially submerge, ride low in the water.

Bibliophilia: 750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé

750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé

I’ve never been to Paris, and it isn’t so high on my list of priorities. But I do find its history interesting. 

Starting 1265 and ending in 2015, Vincent Mahé has created 60 pages that focus on a single block, serving to highlight not just the changing architecture over the centuries, but also the historical events and time periods that shaped Paris. Fires, plagues, uprisings, revolutions, renovations, wars, strikes, terror attacks. They’re all there. The images tell a vibrant story without a shred of dialogue.

It reminded me a bit of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House.

It’ll appeal to fans of visual story telling, history, and architecture.

Sunday, 29 January 2017


Just an FYI for all concerned: No matter what your opinion is on any subject, typing a comment on the interwebs in all caps, using terrible spelling, poor grammar, and a complete avoidance of punctuation - save for the exclamation mark – is a surefire way to make sensible people complete ignore what you have to say. It’s a large banner that screams “IGNOR ME !!!”

While the internet is a wonderful thing, every time I see some ignorant dumbfuck spout off in a rant - all while showing a tenuous grasp on the niceties of the English language, I shudder. I miss the days the only real divergent commentary I read were letters to the editor of the newspaper. I may have disagreed with the opinions stated, but terrible spelling, abysmal grammar and poor punctuation wasn’t one of the problems. A letter that sounded and looked like the equivalent of a deranged street preacher shouting on the corner, was invariably tossed in the trash can. Oh yeah, and owning up to your stance with your actual name attached - priceless.

529 Garage: An effort to stem the scourge of bike theft.

Digital bike registry service. Considering the staggering amount of bike theft in the world, and the generally tepid response to it by law enforcement, all efforts to stem the scourge are good.

Slick system to record all the details of your bicycle,

Mystery Ranch NICE Frame

Just to clarify: I don’t consider this a review of the product, the Mystery Ranch NICE Frame. I have no appreciable time carrying or using this, so all this is meant as is a photo chronicle of an excellent piece of kit. This was lent to me by Andrew Kent, (who also lent me the ERYX Frame) because I expressed an interest in it. I hope that someone considering purchasing one might glean a little more ideas what it’s all about from these photos.

Being a lanky 203 cm (6'7"), the main reason I haven’t put much time under it, is that it’s not so well suited to my height. I know OV Innovations have their load lifter kit, which might make it a little better for the vertically advantaged. The Kifaru Duplex Frame, up till this point is still a better option for me.

This frame was devised by Dana Gleason to be a better ALICE frame. NICE stands for Nylinear Individual Carrying Equipment. (I chuckle every time I see it written as MR NICE, as it makes me think of Dennis Howard Marks’ autobiographical Mr. Nice.)

As is to be expected from Mystery Ranch, this is a very well built pack, made to exacting standards. It’s certainly a very viable option for anyone looking at a pack frame system. I like the look of the Crew Cab, that’s an option for this system. From my admittedly limited use of it, my only issue with it, is that isn’t suited to my galootish frame. Since I’m an outlier, many others will likely find this a good choice.
Two views of the face with the vertical compression straps.
Two views side on.
A view of the shoulder straps and back side.
The load lifter straps, both connected and disconnected, as well as the carrying handle.
Hydration tube (and maybe comm wires) management. Present on both shoulder straps.
Sternum straps.
Logo at the bottom of the shoulder strap and shoulder strap adjustment tri-glide.
There’s no quick release feature on the shoulder straps NICE frame.
Bolsters on the sides. Relevant mainly to anyone wearing body armour. The zippers allow for washing or replacement I think. There’s no zipper pull because it’s not like it will be opened very much. There’s a gap behind it.
A better view of the back panel and waist belt with the shoulder straps folded out of the way.
And a more detailed view of the waist belt. I like how the waist belt and lumbar strap connect with the pack. A centre pad with kidney pads on each side, and then adjustable waist pads. 
Kidney pad.
Kidney pad and waist belt.
A view of them from underneath.
Another view from underneath.
And another.
One thing I wonder about though is that the (attached) straps aren’t that long. 
The straps use Mojave Auto-Lock Buckles.
Strap ends feature Velcro to manage excess length.

S.o.t.D. - Lost – inVAin

Lost – inVAin

Really sweet tune.

Bibliophilia: Wrinkles by Paco Roca

Wrinkles by Paco Roca
Another of those wonderful graphic novels that doesn’t deal with superheroes in sweeping scenarios. It deals instead with an elderly man in the early stages of Alzheimers, who enters a care facility. Scenarios switch from the present to the youthful memories of the characters. Confident characters of the past abruptly segue out of flashbacks to their confused, bewildered present, struggling to come up with words and recall details. The stiff and formal Emilio strives valiantly to hang on to his mind and his memories, dreading the thought of having to go to the second floor, where the severe cases of dementia end up. With his brash and dastardly room mate Miguel, he does his best to hang on to his dignity and reality, even if it is the hum-drum existence of an old folks home.

There’s a parallel in my own life, as my mother is now in a care facility gradually succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimers. Witnessing it is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. So this was a pretty wistful read for me.

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Anyone with elderly parents or grandparents slipping into dementia can relate to this, and it may even help you come to terms with it a little. As nearly impossible as that is.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

S.o.t.D. - Videoman – Nucleus & Paradox

Videoman – Nucleus & Paradox

Dark and hard.

Spectator Article on Cottage 13

Terrific article on Jen and the shop.

“With its elegant façade, Cottage 13, looks more like a private club than the rustic tattoo parlours of the past. With the art-filled walls, music and humorous banter it’s a pleasant place to have your body punctured.”

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

S.o.t.D. - 003 B – Hostom

003 B – Hostom

The A side was featured a few weeks ago.

Nations Packaging

Nations Fresh Food is an Ontario based Asian super market, with a lot of Western fare as well. It’s a bit on the weird side (for a really long time their web site was an image of their weekly flyer - no contact info, job applications, info about products, etc. – it now looks to be considerably improved.), they only take Canadian cash and debit cards, they tell you you can’t separate bunches of bananas (ha!), their closing time seems to be whatever the staff feels like, I’ve had to chew out a manager on more than one occasion about their bait and switch pricing tactics, etc., etc.)

But the wacky packaging! Oh the packaging. Sometimes delightfully charming, and other times just “WTF?” bizarre.

Aahhh....just because my Monday morning needed a WTF?!

The “Mo! Mo! Moooo” part is also....unsettling.
An individual packet of the sugar and palm oil filled cookies. Where there is even less evidence of it being an udder.

“We have bought NTD 10,000,000 product liability insurance for this product.”

They look like something you’d find behind under your fridge. They’re like corn puffs, but with a choco flavour coating. Ate two. No need to eat any more.

I have no idea what these are. (Like much of the stuff Nations sells, there is no English or French labelling. How they can legally get away with that is beyond me.) Hot rocks you put in your bath water, spicy oils that make you sweat more to get out the impurities? Who knows.

But the packaging is great.
Spicy candies, nasal spray that clears up your sinuses? Who knows.
Rose scented bath oil, candy that leads to demonic possession? Who knows.


That’s what she said to me last night.

Nope. No desire to try it. Might get it just for the can to make a stove out of though.

It’s pretty clever. Knife and fork. That and a spork and you can conquer the world.

But I fear that a $1.49 for this will lead to disappointment. Call it a hunch. 
But even if the product sucks, just that description alone will give you years of joy.

I don’t know about you, but preventing skiding is also a pre-occupation of mine.

The product itself just isn’t appealing, but the packaging is lovely.

Be my soul mate. Be my waffle mate.

Okay then.

“Love of Office Lady”. I think I saw that one. Busty strumpet, tight skirt, low cut blouse, hunky guy, and oh...the things she was willing to do to get that promotion.

It’s a pretty great porn star name. Cookie Rolls.

Show your children love the only true way. With soft cookies. Not hard biscuits, you cruel monster! Soft cookies!

I’ve been to some parties where mushrooms were consumed, and things got weird, but not Donald Trump in drag dancing with a Green Bay Packers fan weird. 
Even anthropomorphized gourds Yvette Bombardier the brothel keeper and Buster McGillicuddy the sheriff aren’t enough to make me want to buy this package of pickled vegetable snacks.

Oh look! It’s Penishead, the Unicorn Boy, that loveable mascot drooling into his hybrid afro/neck beard, enticing you to buy some spicy pig intestine snacks.

Kirin Milk Tea “the Pungency”. With the characters from Frozen on it. I had to do a double take to make sure I was seeing this correctly. Yes. “Pungency”. In relation to a drink. Using Disney characters on the label. “Pungency” is a word used to describe the guy whose BO hits you from 5 paces away. Not a drink. I will not be purchasing this. 

I love orange too. (So you don’t have to strain your eyes to read the text, just scroll through to the next picture for a close-up of the whimsical cautionary text.)

Yes. You’re reading that right. A “Tultipurp Ose Tool.”
Can rotate 180°, can clip area more fill dish of dish.
The handle into product PP material, grasps the comfortable and beautiful shape.
USES the high quality stainless steel material seiko makes clip more firmly.
Product Instruction:
This series product has peeling, planing silk function. Human nature design, use more flexible, convenient and easy to clean. Widely used in melons, chips of bio-control technology, brand and a fruit peel, planing silk function. Let your kitchen cooking light more creative. 
Please use the multi-purpose thoroughly clean the plane of residue, put in ventilated dry place. 
Please placed on children is not easy to take place, avoid to touch to let children play 

I don’t even think the Chinese made sense before they translated it.

You know how pandas are all cute and cuddly? This one is like the main character in some totally demented panda horror movie. 
The freaky thing to me is that they all look like faces that’ve been peeled off of a carcass. 

Yay! Mommy! Buy me this sugary drink because it has a cute monkey and his buddies from a TV show driving a car! 

This one caught my eye, because I thought it was quite an elegant package. 

Isn’t everyone’s reaction to dried tofu a put up your dukes / fist pump?

Look, it’s dried tofu guy again, in some sort of infinity mirror like thingy. Himself, pointing to himself, pointing to himself, pointing to himself... These are ... dried fish snacks I think?

Did this influence Designer’s Republic or were they influenced by Designer’s Republic? Things that make you guy “Hmmmmhhhh.....”

They may also make you go “Mmmmmm....” I don’t know. I didn’t buy them.

The look on that kids face is either “I’m expected to grow noodles?” or “You expect me to eat that?”

I just like this packaging. I’m not even going to comment on the “Creamy Flavoured Melon Seeds”.

I’m not sure. Do you win a prize or are these just dynamite candies? And is the estate of Roy Lichtenstein going to sue?

These just don’t appeal to me.

Again, no idea what this is, but I like the packaging.

Just like this packaging.

Mmmm.....Apparently the Chinese have managed to raise peanuts with no fat and lots of sugar.