In Tents

Wilderness Inspiration

This year we went camping without our usual partners in crime. While I missed hanging out with one of my really good friends, the time alone with my own family allowed for some quality time with two people for whom I care very deeply. We might not have done everything that we had planned to do (or wished to); but it was a great week none the less.
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If a Tree Falls In the Forest…

My Kid Would Probably Hear It First

Have you ever looked at your child, and felt a twinge of jealousy?

I look down at little J and marvel at all of the opportunities that she has that I never did. This is in no way me tooting my own horn, either; really it’s about how much more is available to her in general due to the way we have grown as a society; my first camping experience, for instance, was when I was 14; I first tried sushi when I was 20. Our kids have a great deal accessibility to everything, much more than we ever did.

This isn’t always a good thing, though; more access means more ways to pass off the responsibility of being a good parent.

This is something that Mrs. J and I try to avoid. Certainly, we let the squirt watch a little TV from time to time; allowing some face-to-face time with Sid the Science Kid while we get dinner ready, for instance, is a good way to occupy her until she is ready to help out (which she actually does sometimes).

A recent camping trip really made me feel happy with how she is growing up. Other than her skittishness about certain insects (flies: freakout; arthropods:cool!), she is fearless, and endlessly curious about everything.

We took her on some relatively large hikes (for her). The first trail was essentially flat, but we taught her how to pick a trail without really disturbing the wilderness; the rule is: as long as she’s within view, and not destroying any foliage or tromping on wildlife, she’s good. She got the hang of this pretty quickly, and demonstrated this on our second hike that was mildly challenging in some places.

I can’t wait until next year!


Weather or Not Batman has a Set List

WTFW?

What the hell, weather? You’d think that we lived in Vancouver and not Toronto given how much precipitation there has been this month.

Earlier this month saw me with my snow shovel moving water out of my backyard and over the lip of the asphalt that is the top of my driveway. I cannot even hope to tell you how much I moved. Needless to say that I was doing this for an hour.

After a leak in the basement last year, I’ve been a bit paranoid about lots of earthbound skywater.

Mrs. J called me in a panic, indicating that it had been raining for an hour where she works. Considering that it wasn’t raining at all where I was, on the other side of town, I was a bit nervous so I asked my awesome neighbour to check.

The report came back: No Puddles. PHEW!



The Dark Knight Semi-Triumphant

I posted a comment across my various status updates stating that I was not as impressed with The Dark Knight as I thought I would be…

Predictably, a number of people sent me messages imploring me to like the movie better.

Um.

I never said I didn’t like the movie. I just said it didn’t live up to my expectations.

I think that Heath Ledger’s death has catapulted this movie into that fuzzy area where people need to make more out of something to justify the loss of life.

I will tell you right now, that the movie is great. And whether Heath died or not, he was perfect in this movie. Absolutely perfect.



Camping Guitar Challenge

So Dave and I were talking about how camping always reveals how little we know about music. Specifically, we’ll start up a song around the campfire and inevitably trail off after the first verse and chorus.

So this year, we’re going to learn a bunch of songs in their entirety, so that we don’t look like ignorant jackasses. Here’s my list…

BRr>

  1. Redemption Song – Bob Marley
  2. Jack & Diane – John Cougar Mellencamp
  3. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
  4. Sucker – John Mayer
  5. Some Fantastic – Barenaked Ladies
  6. One Thing – Finger Eleven
  7. The Luckiest – Ben Folds
  8. Everlong – Foo Fighters
  9. First of May – Jonathan Coulton
  10. Disarm – Smashing Pumpkins
  11. The Last Saskatchewan Pirate – The Arrogant Worms
  12. Down to the River to Pray – Alison Krauss


Not really the easiest songs to learn. This could be great or it could be a disaster. I’ll let you know how it turns out next week, unless my camping friends murde rme in cold blood and dance about on my grave singing Allelujah


Progress…

Crazy

That’s a good word to describe my state of mind.

Why? Because I always take on a lot of projects.

Observe. Current projects…


  • Create a DVD celebrating my daughter’s first year.
  • Learn some songs for our camping trip.
  • Organize my hard drive.
  • Write some more articles for Toronto Thumbs.
  • Get into shape.
  • Learn some new languages.
  • Try to learn how to write lists without ending the list prematurely with an item about learning how to write lists.



The DVD

I like to celebrate things. My favourite things to celebrate are people.

When we were kids, my brothers and I would look forward to the times when my dad would set up the slide projector and the screen and we would watch slides of all of the photos that had been taken over the years.

It was pretty awesome to watch ourselves grow and there would always be a new “chapter” to look forward to.

In the digital age, it is so easy to take pictures and just leave them there to look at later. How many people actually go back and look at them all?

One thing I’ve heard a lot of since I’ve become a parent is that it’s easy to forget what your child used to be like. I have a pretty incredible memory when it comes to important things like this, but even I will admit that sometimes I am amazed when I look at a picture from the beginning. She was that small?

So I decided to make a photo/video slideshow with a soundtrack based on the songs we listened to during Little J’s first year on the planet.

Sounds simple enough, right?

WRONG!

The DVD has spiraled out of control. Check out this meaty feature list…


  • Main feature is a two hour slideshow made up of at least eight hundred photos and forty videos, chaptered by month.
  • Songs from the soundtrack fill almost every moment, attenuated manually to allow the audio in the video clips to be heard clearly.
  • The great Don Lafontaine himself was kind enough to provide a birth announcement for us.
  • The Main Feature is encoded in high quality format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
  • The second disc (yes, you read that correctly), will have all of the video clips from the year sorted by month and named for the sake of context.
  • This disc will also have a little video showing how Little J has grown, thanks to some foresight by us. We’ve been taking pictures of the three of us in the same pose/position relatively consistently over the last year.
  • Labels, case, the full nerdery.


So yeah. The main feature is done. The first burn didn’t work out well, most likely due to a disc defect. This worked out for the best, as there were some minor corrections to make.

Now onto the second disc!



The Song List for Camping

I usually bring my guitar with me on car camping trips. Two years ago, I bought a Martin Backpacker Guitar knockoff to bring into the interior.

It was nice to have it with us, but all of our songs eventually turned into mumbling and shitty fretwork because on one had we didn’t practice, and on the other we didn’t know all of the tabs for the songs.

That knock-off didn’t last very long, due to the poor quality of construction, so I dropped the money for a real one.

I’ll be damned if I spend good coin on a nice guitar for camping and don’t learn any songs all the way through.

So Dave and I have an agreement that we will each learn ten songs all the way through. Some of the songs on my list…


  • Sucker by John Mayer
  • Some Fantastic by BNL
  • Redemption Song by Bob Marley
  • Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden


Of course, I don’t know how committed Dave is to this venture. One time we had a deal that ended up with me owning every Mortal Kombat inspired music CD and him asking me why I expected him to own every KMFDM disc on the market.



To Be Continued…