Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Collecting Vinyl and a Vinyl Challenge

I've started collecting vinyl .I like the thought of experiencing music, rather than just listening to it. I know these things can be done via CD, vinyl or digital, but there's something about stripping away all of the processing, decoding, sampling and digital stuff and listening to pure analog sound. Vinyl, among many other things, also forces you to listen to an entire album, rather than random songs or only the hits.

Of course, setting up vinyl is a complete mindblow if you start to read audiophile opinions and reviews on various components. I highly recommend not doing that, and getting a new system that works well enough to get you started is really all that is needed. Do some basic research, but do not waste your time looking for the best because you will drive yourself mad. Mad I tells ya!

Below is the sequence of events of turntable purchase and the first few vinyls to get me going.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP60. It has autostart functions, pretty decent sound and, well, works flawlessly for me. I like it.

My first album was Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World (2014). Amazing album from an amazing band. I was fortunate enough to see them live this past January in Calgary. Side B of this record is stellar.

Metz - II (2015). I saw Metz open for DFA1979 in the aforementioned concert, but I actually discovered METZ through theleake blog (sidebar). Noise rock at its finest.

Sufjan Stevens - Enjoy Your Rabbit (2001). I found this at The Inner Sleeve in Calgary before they closed shop. I have always liked Sufjan Stevens, and this is his first album. It's not what you expect, but it's worth a listen.

Sóley - We Sink (2011). I found her through a random Google search of Icelandic musicians. Apparently, there is an enormous music scene in Iceland. I'm a big fan of the band Of Monsters and Men, so I quickly fell in love with her music. 

Sóley - Ask The Deep (2015) . Her latest album. As I was following her on Facebook (not creepily), she posted a photo of her vinyl gatefold album prior to release. It was this photo that made me start wanting to collect vinyl. I saw that there was so much more to music than just the music itself, but the artwork and experience of reading through an album while you listen to it just makes it so much more enjoyable.
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz (2010). For years, I had only owned Illinoise, Michigan, Seven Swans and A Sun Came. My wife found a video of Sufjan Stevens on Jimmy Fallon, and at the time I had not really thought to look for any new music from him. Well, there it was, new music from Sufjan. This led me on an adventure of finding more music, so it led to...

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell (2015). Fantastic album. Absolutely stunning album. Stellar, all of the above good things to say about this. Brother John is a truly epic song. I highly recommend!

Sufjan Stevens - Michigan (2003). I only have ever owned this on digital iTunes, so I picked up the vinyl. The best song(s) on the album is a tie between "For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless is Ypsilanti" and "Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)". Give this album a listen, you will not be disappointed.

Violent Soho - Hungry Ghost (2013). I was looking for modern grunge music. I am a product of the 90s, so I grew up loving grunge. Google search modern grunge, which led me to Reddit, which led me to Violent Soho. For me, it was an instant like. I had to order this album all the way from Australia, which made it cooler.

Project86 - Wait for the Siren (2012). My wife and I have always liked Project86, and it had been a while since we've bought any of their new music. Well they were advertising an excellent deal on this album, so I picked it up. Fantastic presentation and artwork.

Project86 - Knives to the Future (2014). P86's latest album, and much grittier and harder than Wait for the Siren. I also loved the fact that this came on a white vinyl. I thought that was pretty cool :-)
So there is it, a catch up on the start to my vinyl collection. 11 albums, with one now on order. That should be here by the end of July (hopefully). I have also posted a vinyl challenge to myself for the next year. 52 weeks, 26 albums, each corresponding the next sequential letter in the alphabet. So every 2 weeks, I will post my new album. Of course this is not really a challenge, but something fun to do. Here is the list, which I will update each time a new album is purchased.

A - 
B - 
C - 
D - 
E - 
F - 
G - 
H - 
I - 
J - 
K - 
L - 
M - 
N - 
O - 
P - 
Q - 
R -
S - 
T - 
U - 
V - 
W - 
X - 
Y - 
Z - 

Until next time, and happy music :-)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dark Poetry on an empty stomach

"My hunger
creeps out from underneath me, subjecting me to the void within.

I cannot, shall not
further endure this desparing moment much longer.

Feed me my medicine, and cure me of

my sickness."

-on being hungry at work and waiting for lunch time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cochrane Foodie

I love our little town. Cochrane is a wonderful place to live. It is far enough from Calgary, yet close enough to commute. The mountains are a quick jaunt to the west into stunning Canmore and Banff. Wilderness and adventure await in Bragg Creek and Kananaskis, just a short drive south. And the endless and rugged Waiparous/Ghost region lay to the north. While those are the things that surround Cochrane, within the town are our own local gems.

When I moved to this town almost 6 years ago, there were only about 12,000 people. Now the town has grown to 21,000 with no signs of slowing down. Regardless, that is not the point of my posting here. I have always had the goal, if you will, to eat at every place in town. It's something achievable since the town is not too big. What I want to share is my own personal review of each and every one of these places. Yes, from KFC to Donair on the Run, I plan to spend the next "x" number of months reviewing each place in town. I do not have a timeline for this project since budget and waistline are always limited, but I will base my review on several aspects, such as:

1. Appearance
2. Atmosphere
3. Quality of Food
4. Selection
5. Uniqueness

I am by no means a qualified foodie (if there are even qualifications for such a title), nor do I claim to know much about all things culinary. My intent is not to raise one place above the other, nor write a smearing review. It is merely to provide my complete and total subjective opinion on the various places in town. I like to eat. I like to blog, so this makes sense to me.

Here is my current list of all of the eateries in town as of November 2014:

1. A & W
2. Bernie's Bavarian Bakery
3. Big Hill Pizza
4. Boston Pizza
5. Bow River Restaurant
6. Bullhorn Saloon
7. Canadian Pizza Unlimited
8. Chiang Rai Restaurant
9. Cochrane Cafe
10. Cochrane Coffee Traders
11. Cochrane Palace
12. Cochrane Peking House
13. COTO Japanese Restaurant
14. Cumbrian Arms
15. Dairy Queen
16. Donair on the Run
17. Ducks on the Roof
18. Eagles Nest Lounge
19. Edo Japan
20. Great Wall Fortune
21. Guy's Cafe & Bakery
22. Jaipur India Cuisine
23. Java Jamboree Coffee Co.
24. Jugo Juice
25. KFC
26. Killarney's
27. Legacy Guitar and Coffee
28. MacKay's Cochrane Ice Cream
29. Mary Brown's Chicken
30. McDonald's
31. Mehtab East Indian Cuisine
32. My Greek Plate
33. Olive 'R Twist Bistro & Bar
34. OPA! Souvlaki of Greece
35. Original Joe's
36. Panago Pizza
37. Papa John's Pizza
38. Pho Anh Huyen II Vietnamese
39. Portofino Italian Restorante
40. Prairie Smoke Country
41. Quiznos
42. Schooners on First
43. Smitty's
44. Starbucks
45. Subway
46. Sugarbritches Candy Co.
47. Sweet Temptations
48. Tea... and Other Things
49. Texas Gate Bar & Steakhouse
50. Thai Onzon: Vegan
51. Thanh Thy Vietnamese Cuisine
52. The Hideout Pub
53. Tim Hortons
54. Tim's Gourmet Pizza
55. Truly Asian
56. Twisted Basil Food Group
57. Yoshigrill
58. Watermill Bakery

My waistline is already expanding looking at this list. It's a good thing that I am an active person :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Into the Unknown

I miss writing on my blog. The open loop of posting on the internet serves no other purpose than to share my life with the world. If those that read care about what I do, it matters not. The wonderful thing about the internet, at least where I live, is that it is accessible to everyone. There are no chokes or limitations to what is out there. And the amazing thing is that the internet connects all of us. Think back to 10, 15, even 20 years ago, when our evening were not spent gazing down at the glow of a phone or staring in to the abyss of a screen. What did we do? It's honestly hard to remember how a Sunday evening would be spent. Today, with the tap of a screen, I can catch up on news around the world, check sport scores and buy my next outfit. That kind of thing did not exist years ago.

People often call the old days "Simpler Times". Perhaps they were, in that simplicity was due to focusing on what was tangible around you and not some network of invisible people and things. We weren't able to so easily distract ourselves. I believe that now, in our day and age, that life is much simpler and easier, yet more complicated. It's kind of a contradiction, I know. Everything is convenient to us. We can get pretty much instant gratification from anything, anywhere, yet we are also isolating ourselves to the world around us by making it more accessible. I can openly write on my blog about whatever I want and someone from Istanbul or Idaho can read it within seconds of me posting it. That didn't exist. Previously, I would have had to magically find a way to get in contact with one of those people and send posted mail out to them, wait for weeks for a response, and continue the cycle. Now I can converse freely and instantly. It's kind of weird, and a bit of a mind blow. It makes the world seem so very small.

That's why I like to shut down and get out there. That's why I enjoy doing the things that don't involve using Google maps to find direction. It makes the world seem big again. There is a lot going on right now on our planet, more than I can imagine. I can read about it, see it live, hear about it and make comments on it. Then within a day or two, it passes and the next thing happens. We always seem to rush through to the next thing, good or bad. At least I do.

So why am I writing all of this? I have no idea. I wanted to resume my blogging, since I miss it so much. Perhaps this is a segway into that adventure for myself. A first step. I'm not a brilliant person, I don't do brilliant things and don't have brilliant advice. But I do like to live and enjoy life. I like to get out there, to remind myself that there is so much to see, do, and it's a wonderful feeling to feel like you are a tiny spec of insignificance on a whirling orb of rock, dirt and chaos in a vacuum of unknown.

Standing atop of Yamnuska this past July

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fishing in Clearwater

I'm not trying to catch up. I'm not trying to show off what I've done. I'm just blogging. Here goes.

A few months ago, I was on one of my last business trips (with my then employer) in Florida. I had been there countless times since 2011, and I had never been deep sea fishing. Also, one of my "bucket list" items is to be on a boat and look around 360 degrees and not see land. So I guess I was due for a fishing trip.

A quick Google search helped me find Queen Deep Sea Fishing from Clearwater Beach. A red flag went up for a tourist trap, but I didn't care because I wasn't looking for the authentic deep sea fishing (and I was playing tourist). I just wanted to polish some items off of my list. There were 4 hour and 8 hour trips, the latter being far more deep sea than the former. However, I was with coworkers and they weren't up for a full day of fishing (or getting up at 5am to get to the boat for an 8am launch). So off we went. I GPS'd the adventure, even though they asked us not to. Rebel Canadians...

Pelicans from the docks at Clearwater Beach

I'll bet that this boat went pretty quick.

These lucky bums get to live right on the harbour!

Sailing always has appealed to me. Luckily, I don't have to go all the way to Florida to sail.

First catch, and it was a yellow tail, I think. I'm not a fishy guy.

We mostly caught grunts. They were good eating :-)

Easy fishing. Toss in a hook with some bait, pull out the fish. It restored my faith that you can actually catch fish in the water.

Mighty hunter can provide for his family now.

We were about 7 miles off shore, so....

....the coast was still visible. Bucket List item: Incomplete.

This bird's name was Furuno. I think...

Fishing trawlers off the gulf coast.

I thought it would be deathly hot and humid out, but it was a pleasant day. We had shade on our boat, which was really nice to keep from dehydrating.

The community fishing catch. There were about 90 people on board, and there were lots of fish caught, most of which NOT by me. Someone even caught a pufferfish!

The three of us caught about 12 or 14 fish! They fried up nicely.
This was my catch!

These were the fish that the 8 hour trips caught. Much bigger (and possible next time).

The crew from the boat cleaned all of the fish for us! That was really nice, but I would have liked to do it myself.

The next day, we had a fish fry.

The fish fried up really nicely with blackening spices. It was super tasty, made all the more tasty by the fact that I had caught the fish myself!
All in all, it was a fantastic experience with delicious results. I didn't knock the items off of my bucket list, I just whet my appetite even further. I'm always glad for new experiences, and I now believe that fishing and actually catching something is possible. It had been probably 15-20 years since I had last caught something...


Monday, February 17, 2014

XC Skiing in Bragg Creek

Well, I finally made it out to do something interesting. Not that everything I do is uninteresting, but I'm sure most blog readers do not want to hear about my day working at Solidworks, or what I had for lunch, or driving to Edmonton to attend an association meeting. Yesterday, a friend and I headed out to West Bragg Creek to do some cross country skiing. GPS data can be found here

I have not been out West Bragg for some time. I've actually not even been out to Kananaskis since prior to the June floods. Gack! I need to get out more. This is so close to where I live, less than 30 mins. This is the road just west of Bragg Creek, and Moose Mountain is in the background.

There weren't many skiers out yet, as we had an early start. But there were tracks set in the snow (for the most part). 

This is along the Crystal Line trail, a straight cutline with some great downhills and challenging uphills. It was a lot of fun.

Outside and loving it!

The snow was fantastic. I had not yet been out on my skis yet this winter (gack!), but my former skills came back quickly. I only "inspected" the ground 3 times at key moments.

Along the trail back, the winds really picked up and it made for some interesting skiing. There were eddies of snow everywhere and with the wind at our backs, we were pushed back to the start.

Upon returning to the trailhead, the parking lot was filling up with lots of people.

Lots and lots of people!
 It was a good jaunt out in the snow. Temperatures were around 0, so nice and warm for high output activities. The wind was a factor, and if you stopped, you would get cold. But the beauty and thrill of skiing kept me moving! It was a great outing, and I cannot wait to get out again!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Moon Joggers - Blast off to Venus

So a friend of mine referred me to a group that is collectively running to the planet Venus. Yes, you heard correct. Venus. The lovely planet of toxic gases, extreme temperatures and goddess of beauty. Last year, this group, aptly named MoonJoggers, decided to run to the moon, and together they pooled 557,000 miles (896,770 kms) in less than a year. So they made it to the moon and back in less than a year. That's pretty cool. Check out their video below.

This year, 2014, they are trying to collect 25,000,000 miles (40,250,000 kms) to run to Venus. I have opted to take part. Why not hey? After all, running is all about community. At least it can be. There are several membership options and you get some pretty cool swag, but I opted for the free membership. If you do pay, money goes towards Little Heroes Foundation charity.

So sign up, why not? There are many different distances to commit to. I committed 1000 miles, and I know that is achievable as I am training for my first ultra marathon this year. Yeah, I've said that before, but I want to complete this goal before I turn 30 (this June). I have a few races picked out however I have not registered for anything. I want to get my training at least a month in before I do register.

 See you all in outer space :-)