December 24, 2012


This is Christmas Day, 1983.

Like any boy growing up, I went through phases. I had an outer-space phase, a dinosaurs phase, a cars-and-trucks-and-things-that-go phase. In 1983 I was heading full on into my road map phase, but at the time my meagre stockpile included maps of only Manitoba and Ontario (and granted, it was all the world I was familiar with).

That Christmas I'd asked Santa for a road map of every province and territory of Canada. I wish I could remember whether I jotted it down in a note, or if I asked my mom to relay the message. Times were tight for us then, but I'd hoped to the stars above that a stretched-thin and busy Santa Claus would be able to accommodate my complex request.

He delivered. Santa was out of Newfoundland maps, but I was OK with it. I hadn't expected ones of Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and he'd pulled that off. And to make up for the incomplete set, he'd included a Manitoba Vacation Guide and a collection of other local brochures.
I realized years later, road maps of other provinces were available free of charge at the tourist bureau in the Legislative Building.*
The next year I entered into my rocks-and-minerals stage. That Christmas I asked Santa for a box of different rocks.

* This is no longer the case.

December 17, 2012

274: The Icicle Thief

the icicle thief
We spent time this summer building a slideshow in honour of Kerry's parents' anniversary (me: scanning and designing; she, sneaking and supplying from their archives). We came across a photograph from the early 1980s of Kerry in her snowsuit, sucking an icicle outside of the family cottage. While it struck me as merely adorable, I realized when the first snow fell this winter that the photo would serve as perfect reference material for this year's Christmas card.

The image itself (below) is very pleasing. The clothing and film grain suggest a different era, but one not so long ago. In these wintry parts warmth still overpowers style for small kids – parents will, ideally, see to that until the end of time – but the utilitarian navy-blue suit with yellow striping has been largely replaced by shock pink and chichi snowboarder chic. I fear sometimes that icicle-suckery will go the way of tree-climbing and playing outside until dusk. I hope this isn't so, and I'm doing my part: I sucked on an icicle a few weekends ago while cross-country skiing. It was satisfying and thirst-quenching. And I hope that, one day, our kid will also suck on icicles.

Our Christmas card also doubles as a submission to Illustration Friday – which I haven't partaken in for some time – for their theme-of-the-week of snow. For those checking in via Illustration Friday, thanks for stopping by; this piece was drawn exclusively with a black Pigma brush pen, then scanned, coloured and stylized in Photoshop. You can click here for a closer, more detailed look-see.

December 09, 2012

273: Mo Money, Mo Monstaz

I recently completed a large freelance illustration assignment, a second go-around with three monster characters I'd developed for a local agency in 2011. The work was spread out over the summer and fall, and was a rewarding experience to reacquaint myself with the characters after more than a year apart.

The biggest difference this time was not having to develop characters from scratch, and in this sense it was like sliding my feet into a comfy pair of slippers. I was able to continue developing and exploring the characters' personalities, and their limits. And from a purely structural standpoint, the monsters were released from full-page comic-strip panels they'd been largely constricted to their first time out, in favour of more floating, spot-style illustrations and other 'border-less' scenarios. 

This became liberating and, combined with a greater familiarity and confidence in drawing the characters, made for a pretty smooth (and fun) ride. (A side note: the basic colouring and texturing done here was for the purposes of offering some vibrancy to this blog post. In reality, I handled only the character development and inking.)

I'd mentioned it the first time around, that I found myself gobsmacked at the prospect of drawing monsters for money. Completing this job has me closing my eyes and smiling at the very idea of it.


November 05, 2012

272: The Good Book

Above: Hardcover (left) and leather-bound edition with inset coin (right).

Until our flesh-and-blood baby arrives later in the winter, current "baby" status has been pinned to the commemorative history book I designed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company I work for. The 272-page tome is, by far, the single largest project I've tackled in my professional career. The project used solid eight months from conception to completion, roughly 550 man-hours of time, almost 100,000 words, over 20 rounds of revisions and at least a couple decent freakouts to ship one 3.4-gigabyte PDF to the printers in July.

Above: I lobbied hard, but alas, a scrapped cover concept.

Though large in scope, a solid design structure was established early and the book design flowed smoothly after the first hundred pages or so, becoming a fairly efficient operation as the production schedule was ramped up during the later stages. Considerable time was spent in the company library, poring over suitable archival photos and documents, then scanning and cleaning images in every worn-and-torn format used by mankind from the 1930s to present day. It was interesting to see and compare the level of care put into the photography during the first half of those 75 years, versus the hideousness of the Polaroid era and the full-flash, everyone-has-a-camera 1990s (the 1970s and 1980s were particularly hard – as rough shape as those photos were in, the fashion sense of people was far worse).

Above: Six of the 272 pages, sized so small you'll need to buy a copy of the book to read 'em.

For such a large project, the crack squad assembled to produce it was thankfully kept quite small: in essence, an author, an editor, a production manager and a designer (not to discredit the multitudes of other contributors involved in providing input and advice). An unfortunate perfect-storm scenario arrived in the spring – when I was gone for a month while the project reached a crucial production point – and I was hard-pressed to consider which outcome was less appealing to me: exhausting the global supply of midnight oil to play catch-up, or handing the book off during my absence. A schedule was crafted that could accommodate the former.

Above: Editor Meg and I squeal, the day the books arrive.

The author is a scientist (and essentially, the client) and we were on board early with the realization this book would be academic, orderly, grid-based (my words) and without too much "designerly fluff" (his words). A muted palette of primary colours (plus green) was matched with shades of warm grey. Typefaces selected were Gibson (gotta support the team) and Bembo, with Pompadour used for chapter numbers. A vector pattern by Von Glitschka was used sparingly for page accents. Colour was also supplied through photography, as selected images gained more and more vibrancy as the chronologically-arranged book neared its present-day wrap-up. But I'm a fan of strict organization on the printed page; I've been at this 14 years and can't deny it now. This book is ultimately a reflection of that.

Above: A happy ending in Calgary. Lookit me, I'm wearing the suit.

Now for sale, the book was produced as two editions: a hardcover version with dust-jacket, and a leather-bound issue with inlaid silver coin from the Royal Canadian Mint – which I sorely wished I could have also played a role in, but the government, I figure, doesn't like folks touching their stuff. The book was officially launched late in September at a function in Calgary, where our small and dedicated team was feted.

I'm proud of this book – but it's left me hungry, too. It's hard to return to meat-and-potatoes work. For all its trials and tribulations, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

October 23, 2012

271: Acme

I have no idea what kind of dad I'll be. 

I'm pretty quiet. I watch. When talking with kids I talk to them like adults, and ask them questions. I'm fairly patient with their response, and with kids in general. I need to loosen up. I'm not a rough-houser, but can learn. I've never given a proper piggyback ride. I was never tossed, squealing, off the end of a dock, so I'd like to try that. There's so many things I've never learned in my time, that I can now simultaneously experience from scratch with a tot by my side. I'll be a good dad, I'm not concerned about that – I have lots of love to give – but I'll be a constantly-in-training dad, too. I don't think I'll ever be able to remove that label.

I hope I'm not too panicky. Babies make me nervous – I've held maybe a half-dozen or so in my life. The first baby I held was Kerry's nephew, when I was 25 years old; he was so squirmy and hot, I was soaking underneath my sweater. My own niece I met for the first time when she was six weeks old. We had a photo shoot, I remember, on a bed where she fidgeted and quietly watched me the entire time. I could barely make out anything to her above a whisper, I was so scared. The moment seemed so fragile.

That will change, I'm sure. I hope. I'm decent with swings of things, once things become established. This baby of mine and I will have plenty of stare-downs, plenty of feeling-out periods. But we'll become good friends. We'll start to talk. I'll figure out that piggy-backing thing. We'll start to roll my blue, red, and white rubber ball to each other across the living room floor (and in time it will become kiddo's blue, red and white rubber ball).

I'll want to take my kid outside. I'm so excited to introduce someone to the world, showing them how things work. Showing them a curious ground squirrel, letting them chase gulls from a beach. Feeling a pussy-willow bud or a foxtail, and poking at a dead crayfish with a stick. Running through the woods with a rotten piece of deadfall, pretending it's a speeder bike blasting through the forests of Endor. I want to show my kid how safe most things out in the world really are.

But I'm not prepared. I suppose no new parent really is. One day my kid will be sick, and I can't guarantee I'll have any flat ginger-ale on hand. That I'll make it upstairs quick enough with a bowl for them to harf into. But I can stay up late at night and stroke their forehead like my mom did, change their sheets and wash their mess even if I have to peg a clothespin to my nose. I'm prepared for that. I'm saying it to myself, anyways.

Even idiots have babies, is one of our few relatable mantras. They seem to turn out all right.

It just breaks my brain though, to contemplate a person – yet to exist – who will have their earliest memories ingrained with something innocuous in our house. Some tchotchke, the painting of Beeker on the wall or the smell of muffins that Kerry makes. Of a song I like, and play ad nauseam. Or a dorky Threadless t-shirt I might wear. Or of me without grey hair.

One of the oddest concepts to consider is that some day my kid may actually read this. So I have to ensure there's no typos, and that the value of the written word and good storytelling is paramount.

So. I have somewhat of an idea what kind of dad I'll be.

PS: Kid, I really hope you're not allergic to peanuts.

August 15, 2012


bursting in air
It's summertime, and I'm elsewhere. But I'll be back on the air soon, with some things to say. Enjoy the days, friends.

July 16, 2012

270: Artsy-Farts Europe

While in Europe this spring, I could not help but look at things in black and white. I loved our vacation for many reasons, but one was definitely exploring new environments – particularly urban environments – and being absolutely flabbergasted by camera-worthy scene after camera-worthy scene of potential greyscale goodness. When we arrived back home, I slowly got to work sifting through my stockpile of images and scoping out ideal candidates for conversion to black-and-white. There were so many. And these are them.

So if'n you have a couple of minutes/dos minuts/due minuti/dvije minute… take a gander at some of the output.

July 09, 2012

269: Festival Express

Top row (left to right): Beth Orton, Bahamas, Royal Wood. Middle row (left to right): Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso. Bottom row: Melissa Mulholland and Justin Rutledge.

This year's Winnipeg Folk Festival was only the second one in which I ponied up for the entire weekend pass (the other, 2009's all-star edition with Neko Case, Josh Ritter, Iron & Wine, Patrick Watson, etc.). I've attended 20 versions of the festival – Kerry notes that there's been more summers in our lives with time spent at the Winnipeg Folk Festival than without – and even if the dynamics have changed over time, it's always a good, good time. And it's always searing, searing hot. God must like the Winnipeg Folk Festival – not like the seedy, soggy Red River Ex, or the bedeviled Teddy Bears' Picnic.

I enjoyed catching up with a lot of our favourites like Justin Rutledge, Bahamas and Elliott Brood (who earned hardest-working-band title for soldiering on despite blowing the circuits twice). Reacquainting with big-shots who cut their teeth here, like Feist and Iron & Wine. Getting a taste for new-to-me stuff in Royal Wood, James Vincent McMorrow and The Head & The Heart. Finding out Beth Orton has recovered enough from motherhood to rediscover her performing chops.

But the place just makes us happy. And exhausted. After so many years it's developed into a kind of old comfy shoe sorta thing. And when it's finished, like last night when the sun finally let up and Bahamas just would not quit with the encores, it's sad. The next day is always a working Monday, but it's only 364 days until next time.

July 03, 2012

268: Here's The Deal

We spent the Canada Day long weekend at the lake. It was our first chance to get up to Kerry's parents' cottage this summer, on the west side of Lake Winnipeg.

Kerry spent entire summers of her childhood at this place. She swam in the water and played here as a kid, while I spent summer Saturdays at the beach with my family on the other side of the lake.

She wrote a poem about this not so long ago. It's beautiful. It makes me think there was invariably a moment when as a gangly little boy I stood on the beach scanning the horizon. On calm days you could squint and see the other side.

And on the other side, she stood on the steps of the gangly, gaunt pier at the end of her place's gravel road and squinted to see my side of the lake.

Now we sit together on a still and humid night in the verandah. Store-bought firecrackers are going off. She's playing solitaire and I watch through my camera.

June 04, 2012

267: Away

It's been ten days since we returned from our lengthiest vacation ever – four weeks for me, three months for Kerry – and what strikes me now is how average this weekend seemed. I'm churning out freelance work. We painted the bedroom. Planted the veggie beds. And tried my hardest to cling to the reality that 11 days ago we were tired and trundling the streets of Barcelona. That two weeks ago we were ascending and descending the cliffs of the Amalfi coastline. That three weeks (and more) ago we were twisting our tongues around the Croatian language, just competent enough to ask for bread and beer. And that 36 days ago, I popped out of a 12-hour series of flights in an entirely foreign airport, hoisted my bag off the conveyor belt and proceeded through the sliding doors where Kerry was hopping up and down, waiting for me.

The time away really worked. Even though it was our first large-scale vacation where we remained fairly connected to the outside world (a fact that both irked and saved us), the distance and the difference from our routine, in almost every facet of our days, was remarkable. Our formula of not packing our days (or most days), breaking the time into installments unique from one another (big city, small city, island-at-the-end-of-the-world, mid-sized city, coastal/rural hiking marathon, big city), was honed, making each section feel almost instantly weeks apart from the previous.

Carrer dels tallers
Barcelona, a bustle and blur, a jump on summer, toasty and sun-dappled. A world center with certainly enough pavement to pound to last more than the week we could offer the city. We walked everywhere, the journey just as anticipated as the destination, each day out. We found noise and colour, in busy squares, raucous May Day demonstrations, squealing parrots and (figuratively) cheese-filled fountains set to television and movie anthems. And we found quiet, in hilly forested parks, at galleries and on our tidy little beer-friendly home street.

Dubrovnik, with its dollhouse old town, like a living, breathing theatre set. It was here we crashed for three days and first dipped our toes into a country that admittedly knew little about beyond a pair of recommendations and a well-worn, hand-me-down guidebook. An easy transition, Dubrovnik is a decidedly kempt, visitor-friendly scene. We spent our time here in and around quaint, cobbled alleys, the lushly treed and bizarre just-offshore island of Lokrum and pacing many times up, and down, the 337 steps from the town to our apartment overlooking the Adriatic and the early May super-moon.

Far, far from the hectic urban scene of Barcelona – even the postcard-like Dubrovnik – we departed for the soothing centerpiece of our time away, the distant Croatian island of Vis. It was here for five days, during the thick of our trip, we disconnected entirely. The island still felt very much a genuine and unexplored place, particularly in the summery heat of the (decidedly) off-season. We developed a routine here – sleep, lounging, reading, jaunts to the grocery and bakery, gawkings off our ocean-front patio, belly-scratching the apartment owner's dog, and beer o'clock. Of all the places we visited, the sheer do-nothing-ness of our time on Vis may have it resonating for a long, long time.

Next back to the mainland to acquaint ourselves with the port city of Split, our last destination before leaving Croatia. A working and honest city, Split's core is a lab-rat maze where generations upon generations slowly claimed, and reclaimed, squatter's rights within the remnants of an ancient Roman emperor's retirement palace. We roamed single-file lanes and markets, dipped into the still-intact basement, and looked behind doors (including one in the old-town cathedral where Kerry surprised a nun doing her morning ironing).

Our finale, a one-week self-guided hiking tour of Italy's famed Amalfi coastline, began with a manic, mostly airborne, late-night taxi ride through the dark and rickety streets of Naples (the single, greatest taxi ride of my life). But it was hardly representative of our time in Italy, which was even more airborne – seemingly – as we snaked and laddered the cliffs, old mule tracks and stony staircases of Amalfi over a six-day sojourn through gravity-defying towns and hamlets situated in the nooks and crevasses of an almost impossible landscape – all the while peering down on endless dictionary definitions of Mediterranean blue. These days – along with their thousands upon thousands of stairs – culminated with the famous, well-trod trek on the Sentiero degli Dei into Positano, and celebratory seaside prosecco.

April 28, 2012

Bachelor Exercise No. 3

Bachelor exercise number three: documentation of a rarely-seen event – that of a modern bachelor wallowing in low, low, rock-bottom culinary standards. Peanuts & Corn Records' founder/producer/rapper mcenroe provides the soundtrack. Accompanied by a bowl of original shredded wheat bricks and brown sugar, a competent mix that provides the daily dose of both fibre and teeth-rotting sweetness.

So, milk carton is emptied. Fridge is bare. Bag is packed. And I. Am. Outtahere.

Addendum: add one more song to the list established in bachelor exercise number one.

April 27, 2012

Bachelor Exercise No. 2

beard devolution I
In preparation for my trip overseas and anticipation of my reunion with Kerry, I underwent the process of bachelor-beard removal via three steps. It's not quite the 12-step opus of recovering alcoholics, but a man's return to civilization via grooming is no less important. Step One (above) is possibly the most important: Acceptance. Acceptance that not all men are created for beard growth – case in point the two months it took to even concoct this scraggly thing.

beard devolution II
Step Two (above) is Denial. Chiefly, denial of beard failure as displayed through a final fling with one of facial-hairdom's most shunned and misunderstood creatures: the porn-star look.

beard devolution III
Step Three (above) is Cowboy. This step needs no further explanation beyond the fact it is awesome.

April 22, 2012

266: Red Sky At Night

I almost missed this year's nocturnal owl survey. Anyone who's been around these parts knows it's one of my favourite rites of spring (as evident here, and here, and here, and here). This year the stars weren't aligning, as buddy Jason couldn't make it to town in time to squeeze into the early April window the survey results rely on. Too bad, since the astoundingly early spring would come with excellent road conditions – after our 2011 survey fell short due to heavy snowpack on the route we take.

But we learned on Friday that late-April results would still count so we made a go of it, building in an early burger run to Blondie's. The evening was incredible. Shoe Lake, a popular canoe launch in Nopiming Provincial Park where we typically stop and wait for sunset, was completely thawed. In our ten previous owl surveys the lake ranged from slushy to completely frozen, even in the warmest of springs.

And there was lots of activity. Our 20-mile route resulted in 18 owl recordings, among our best years on record. The results would have been more fruitful had the pitch-black forest not been inundated by thousands of calling spring peepers and wood frogs (especially because normal interference from geese, ducks and grouse didn't seem to be an issue). But no cause for complaint; even in years where numbers are low it's a treat to stand stark-still on an empty logging road in the dark and listen to the sweet nothing that envelopes me. Or the slap of a beaver's tail on water, which can darn near empty my bowels. Either way, it's cool.


And of course, we are not above spoiling the serenity of it all (photo by Jason).

Want to take part in the Manitoba Nocturnal Owl Survey? Head here. And stay out of the Nopiming – that's our turf.

April 07, 2012

265: That's A Paddlin'

that's a paddlin'
My brother and his fiancée are getting married later this year. As part of the preparations, they asked me to craft their über-simple invitation that would take the form of a postcard featuring an illustration of the two of them in their "engagement canoe". They were angling for a look very similar to a self-portrait I'd done a couple of years ago as an homage to Hergé, one of my few select illustration heroes. The style, all crisp, defined lines and doses of flat colour, was right up my alley. So as daunting as it was to honour them and their big day – almost as daunting as the invites for our own tiny, perfect wedding – it was a request impossible to say no to.

One hitch: with the ask coming during the onset of winter, reference material for a soothing paddle in the water would need ample assistance from my imagination. So in its place, the equally soothing sensations of a faux-paddle through the snow in a neighbourhood park…

The postcards are in the mail now (we've got ours!). All that remains between now and the big day is that pesky little matter of summer.

Click here to have a closer gander at the finished drawing.

March 29, 2012

264: The Leaf Charmer

the leaf charmer
This was fun. This fellow and his leafy prey is about an hour's work all-told; output from last night's meetup with good friends Allan and Chris at Pop Soda's Coffeehouse (and brief after-party at my pad). The three of us had hooked up on a couple of other man-date occasions to talk shop – and decided for "ManDate III: The Reckoning" that there would be instruments of sketch destruction involved. It was some mid-week loosey-goosey catharsis.

As to where the idea came from for the drawing, I have absolutely no frickin' idea.

Check here to see a more detailed look.

March 27, 2012

263: The Music Man

the music man
This illustration – as a sketching exercise – goes way back to those hazy, crazy days of the summer of 2010. I signed up and vowed an online pinky-swear with my American friends Melissa and Amy to try a little exercise in collaboration. Each of us would blast out an hour of sketching with some Pigma Microns, filling roughly one-third of a page, then mail it on to the next participant. Then repeat, and pass it on again. The end goal would be three filled pages, with illustrations shared and completed equally among the three of us. Easy-peasy.

Except that after two rounds of play, life set in and the exercise disappeared into the ether. I can't even remember what happened on my end of the deal, with the third piece, to let it sit on my desk for an eternity and a day. But fast-forward almost two years when, during a cleanup of my drawing space, I came across the incomplete final installment.

And I thought, nuts to this, finished the thing and mailed the finished three-person creation home to Amy in Arizona. I'm also holding fast to the assignment's original rule that no one finished piece be displayed until all three return to their humble place of origin. But in the meantime, here's a rejig of my original drawing that got it all started: a one-hour pen drawing of Canuck gadzoople-threat entertainer C.R. Avery, who I saw at the 2009 Winnipeg Folk Festival – run through the Photoshop-machine.

Click here to nab a more detailed look.

March 20, 2012

262: Drawing The Shades

collect all four!
Kerry and I bought ourselves an introductory class in letterpress and bookbinding techniques at Winnipeg's Martha Street Studio for Christmas. The sessions began later in January, just wrapping up last week. It was an invaluable experience for myself – I've always wanted to plant my butt at Martha Street and get dirty doing something decidedly un-digital. That it was something the two of us could share made it all the more sweet. The place kicks ass.

The basic bookbinding stitch techniques we learned bent my brain into a pretzel – always a sure sign that I'm learning something. I'm now unashamed to admit I had never needle-and-stringed anything before, beyond coasting through one term of a junior high home-ec class on charm and procrastination. Though I didn't exactly master the skill, I can at least be a tiny bit pro about it now and say hey, the stab stitch is my favourite stitch.

I was more enamoured with using the ink, chase, quoins and other old-timey tools of my trade with the presses. Again, all very basic stuff in this class – which was ideal. Scrounging through the studio's trays of type I found a face I liked, and set to work making these flash-cards – for lack of a better word – to underline yet-to-be-created illustrations I'd create to hopefully match. These pieces eventually became a quartet of simple, geometric – and above all, hand-made – cards featuring two-toned songbirds, shaded in brown and black for Illustration Friday's current theme of shades.

No computers were consulted/harmed/touched/even thought about, in the creation of these pieces.


March 18, 2012

261: Summer/Winter

summer/winter IV
I took a road trip today, to see if the countryside had transformed from winter to spring at as rapid a pace as it has the city. This past week has been unprecedented, with the weekend a staggering twenty-one degrees above seasonal average. It's been enjoyable, if not completely oddball – and thus, a little frightening.

summer/winter II
I drove a circuit from the Seven Sisters Falls dam and Whitemouth Falls, up to Pine Falls and back down to Grand Beach where I snapped these photos. I went for a walk in the heat and humidity(!), the still-frozen-solid lake evaporating and shimmering out to the horizon. In these parts Lake Winnipeg usually doesn't crack and melt until the end of April, so I was encouraged by the ice not budging. But the temperatures were throwing other aspects of nature a curve: pussy-willows budding, but flocks of snow buntings still poking around in the sand and slush.

summer/winter III
I like to make an annual pilgrimage to Grand Beach in the spring, trying my best to time it with break-up on the lake. I've never witnessed the place at its crazy flesh-parade peak, opting to visit during spring thaw and autumn – and winter, too, since we discovered the park's network of ski trails. The beach was fantastically empty and nearly winter-free. On my way back I stopped at Patricia Beach, a few kilometres to the south. It was completely socked in, nary a place to scramble without my bare legs sinking to the knees in snow.

summer/winter I
The furnace has been off for three days now; I suppose I should be thankful for that. Windows have been opened, briefly. Bike tires pumped. The lawn raked of spring detritus. It's been a strange and incredible weekend. I was skiing a week ago. Now I'm not sure what to fear more: a slap-in-the-face return to the season we should be experiencing, or the possibility of this freakshow as the new norm.

This site never does justice to such horizontally-skewed photos. Click on the images directly to view them in greater detail.

March 14, 2012

Bachelor Exercise No. 1

Bachelor exercise number one: a list, of the songs in our iTunes library that I'm pretty confident I could sing all the words to, if someone were to put a gun to my head and instruct me to (in alphabetical order, by performer):
  • Take On Me, A-ha (see above)
  • Already Yours, Bahamas
  • A Day In The Life, The Beatles
  • Because, The Beatles
  • I've Just Seen A Face, The Beatles
  • Maxwell's Silver Hammer, The Beatles
  • Norwegian Wood, The Beatles
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, The Beatles
  • Rocky Raccoon, The Beatles
  • Taxman, The Beatles
  • Stand By Me, Ben E. King
  • Oh Alberta, Elliott Brood
  • I'm Popeye The Sailor Man, Face To Face
  • Business Time, Flight Of The Conchords
  • My Daddy Was A Rock N' Roller, Jason Collett
  • Back Dirt Road, Oh Susanna
  • That Was Your Mother, Paul Simon
  • Jeremy, Pearl Jam
  • Big Time, Peter Gabriel
  • Even Better Than The Real Thing, U2
  • With Or Without You, U2
  • Our Retired Explorer, The Weakerthans
  • One Great City!, The Weakerthans
  • Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure, The Weakerthans
  • The Hardest Button To Button, The White Stripes

March 04, 2012

Technically Speaking

Me and tech, we begrudgingly share an OK relationship. I've warmed to it in recent years but by no means do I chase technology. Case in point my Canon Rebel. It's responsible for taking all the lovely pictures you've seen here since the fall of 2005. Technically, anyways; if it hadn't been swiped from me in the ballsiest of brazen swipe jobs almost two years ago to the day, I wouldn't have upsized to a newer model like I did out of necessity a month later (in the thick of my photo-a-day challenge).

And that's my point: if it hadn't been stolen, I'd more than likely still be content with my 2005 camera, rather than salivating once a year (or more) for a newer model. That sounds like crazy-talk in 2012, but it's how I roll. The old Rebel did the job of capturing, and I could handle things from there. And like my friend Ian I think once said, or typed, or something: the best camera for you is the camera you have. Truer words were never spoken.

The newer, replacement Rebel takes pictures X times larger, and that's come in extremely handy. And it has the ability to attain a higher ISO setting, which is great in the dark (even though the noise levels suck). And it shoots HD video, which I frequently forget when I'm trying to nab a tricky moment all the while not realizing hey, I could shoot a video of this. Like I managed to convince myself with the above snippet.

131 \\ 15-06-10 \\ hey 
Consequently, it bugs me that my second-generation iPod sits behind me collecting dust simply because my computer doesn't have the proper Firewire ports to sustain it anymore and our sound system's dock doesn't configure with it. The thing works like a charm, even if it holds a charge for an hour (tops). If my Touch lasts anywhere near as long, I'll be a happy digi-camper.

It bugs me that the immediacy of iPhone cameras and Instagram filters makes my habit of uploading photos the next day seem archaic. It bugs me that a well-planned and wordy blog post, like this one, seems archaic – because I could tweet it (which I will, later) or find a near-identical diatribe someone else wrote and share it and say yes, this is how I feel too.

So I dig tech, to a certain degree. When it suits my needs – just not when I need to suit its needs. I can be amazed that, for example, right now as I type I'm waiting for Kerry to arrive, knackered, at her hotel in Córdoba, Spain, so I might catch a glimpse of her on Skype or hear her voice via GoogleChat. And I can suitably relax knowing the money I don't spend on gadgetry and upgrading will go handily towards that plane ticket that will have me there with her in a few quick weeks – camera and iPod in tow.

260: Brushing Up

Up late-late at night, dickering with a recently-doodled office-meeting doodle and trying out some freshly downloaded freebie Photoshop brushes from Chris Wahl (I think it's set seven, if you're scrolling through his wares). Please click here for a crisper, better view.

And now I am zonked. Good night, all.

February 13, 2012

259: Holy Canadiana

holy Canadiana
There was a recent and amazing stretch of winter that almost made the season's dearth of snow worthwhile. First there were four consecutive days of hoarfrost-birthing fog, captured at work with my camera in an earlier post – and then again here, and here, and here.

the loneliest position in hockey
And then, when it finally lifted and the sun returned, there was a single brilliant Saturday morning where the frost and crisp blue sky coexisted. I took the camera down to the river to scope things out, and stumbled on a kiddos' outdoor hockey tournament. Much Canadiana ensued.

super sunday
On the next day we went skiing at Grand Beach. We'd hit up the trails at Birds Hill the previous four weekends because it was the only park nearby reporting decent conditions. But the artificiality of Birds Hill was beginning to wear, and the thicker forests and lack of highway noise of Grand Beach was a decent tonic. It's a beautiful trail network. Next weekend we're heading even farther afield, to Pinawa and the Whiteshell, and I'm excited. I hope the winter doesn't turn on us.