for more information contact skot@penguinstorm.com

current
On Trump
Bob Dylan - Wisdom is Thrown Into Jail
Bob Dylan: Tempest
Adam West voices the Dark Knight
Apple's Calendar Inconsistency
Is Pono Dead?
Inbox Zero is Old News: Welcome to Inbox Negative One
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Effects Reel
Evolution of Stop Motion Photography
7 Story Cycling Centric Apartments


recent
What Happened to Jai Alai?
Greatest Text Conversation Ever
Quarry Rock in the Rain
Careless Reckless Love
Electricity, Heights and Women
Daniel Lanois and his AC30
How Can You Just Leave Me Standing Alone in a World So Cold
Today Was a Tough Day
The Resonant Frequency of Love - Rocco DeLuca with Daniel Lanois
Dan Mangan - Forgetery
Birch Tree: Toronto, 2016
Japan's Disposable Workers
Jeff Tweedy Plays Charades with Ewan McGregor
Steph Cameron at the Railway Club (February 1, 2016)
Wilco at the CityFolk Festival, Ottawa (September 20, 2015)
Rice Lake, North Vancouver
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Running Away
Stanley Rohatinski: 1925 - 2015
Chewie...we're home!


archives
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
October 2015
April 2015
March 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
August 2014
May 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
July 2003
June 2003
January 2003
November 2002
October 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
May 2001
April 2001
January 2001
October 1999


categories
America
Books
Camera
Canada
Cycling
Design
Entertainment
Family
Food
Friends
Inanities
Marketing
Music
Narcicism
Nature
Penguins
Politics
Quebec
Science
Sports
Technology
Travel
Tweets
Vancouver
Words


randomness
your blue hood
Thin Systems
Listen to the Bell, Mr. Premier...It Tolls for Thee
Gordon Campbell Won't Run Again?
Bike Maintenance Lessons: Disc Brake Pads
Cycling is Mainstream Transportation
Brave New World: The Musical
Perennial Also Ran?
Daniel Lanois and his AC30
Dan Mangan - Forgetery

I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see / I could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me.
— Woody Guthrie, Remember the Mountain Bed
January 29, 2011

The Bubars Coming West

Though I’m originally from Ontario, my family traces its roots back to British Columbia quite deeply. The fact that I was born in Toronto has as much to do with the Royal Canadian Air Force as it does with anything else: both Grandparents were enlisted, and moved frequently as a result.

Midway, BC is a town with a population of about 700 now. Like most small towns in British Columbia it’s dying—quite literally in this case, with an aging population and almost no jobs in town to attract new ones. It’s a charming place in the way that small towns can be, and a desolate place in the way they can also be. When I haven’t been in a while I miss it; when I’m there, I can’t wait to get back to Vancouver.

My family were early settlers in Midway, and farmed in the area for over 100 years. I have a branding iron from that farm in my one bedroom apartment: the kind of ironic accessory any hipster would love to have, but in my case it’s not ironic.

My family is a part of the history and culture in that part of the world, a history and culture that will slowly die as generations pass. We live in an increasingly urban society and young people from Midway and places like it gravitate towards Kelowna, Cranbrook, Golden and their ilk these days. Even these places seem small compared to Vancouver, but they’re the urban meccas of their regions. It’s a shame in some ways that this is happening, but it’s a natural evolution of a society that’s no longer tied to the idea of living off the land as it once was.

There was a time when people gravitated towards places like Midway, and this is the story of travelling from New Brunswick to Midway by horse, and how my family came to be out west. It’s worth reading.

The Bubars Coming West

Taken from the Boundary Historical Society Seventh Report 1976, pp. 46 - 51
By Beatrice (Bubar) Weed and Wesley Weed

The following story was found among the papers of Mr. J.M. Bubar. It was scribbled in pencil on the front and back covers of a B.C. Telephone Co. report (for the year ended 31 December, 1936). Although sketchy in places it does give us an idea of how difficult it was to reach the Boundary country in the early days.

The Bubars seem to have been always pioneers. They came from Massachusetts to the St. John River in Canada in 1765. Holding land first at St. Anne’s (now Fredericton), they sold that and moved up river to above Hanland. Increasing, they spread out, some back to the States, others West and ever West.

Came the date about 1878 when one, a married man, headed for the Red River country. Riel has been squashed and the west new and it was easy money for a worker. One year later back came the call “come”. Some trip for a young woman and three children. The train carried them down in to Maine, back in to Canada, over to Detroit, on to St. Paul, up North again in to Canada by stage and boat and at last in to Winnipeg. Sounds simple now but there were only poor cars, no connections, nothing but more or less, guess work with no conveniences.

Continue reading "The Bubars Coming West"

Posted by skooter at 11:21 AM This entry is filed under Family.
Tags: Bubar, Family, History, Midway

January 28, 2011

A Long Walk in the Sun

A phone call comes in with sad news for a friend on a sunny day in Vancouver and really the only option is to have a coffee on the beach then take a long slow walk together around English Bay through Stanley Park across the Lions Gate Bridge and finally home to West Vancouver. When Vancouver’s weather cooperates, there’s really not a lot of other places I’d like to be.

Posted by skooter at 10:44 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Vancouver.
Tags: English Bay, Ships, Stanley Park, Tim Hortons

January 25, 2011

When a Typo’s not a Typo

A couple of days ago I wrote this bit about a typo on Granville Magazine’s site. I got a message from Granville Mag on Twitter and looked into it a bit more and it turns out it wasn’t a typo after all: sort of.

Firstly, congratulations to Granville Magazine for working social media effectively and well. Apparently my post was flagged in a Google Alert and they got in touch. That’s the kind of responsiveness you should have if you’re doing business online. Well done.

As it turns out Granville Magazine’s content management system has an RSS feed generator that takes its input from the URL. This means you can link to http://www.granvilleonline.ca/rss/yippee-ki-yay-mother-chucker and the last part—in this case yippee-ki-yay-mother-chucker shows up on the page. I mistook this for a typo, when in fact it was a bad link posted by a twitter user.

So another lesson learned about the impact of this type of URL fed search. It’s definitely not a problem—it can be a very effective way of doing things—but it can sometimes cause things that look like mistakes at first glance.

Posted by skooter at 5:34 PM This entry is filed under Marketing.
Tags: Editing, Granville Magazine, Typo

January 23, 2011

An Aperture Workflow that Works for Me

A while ago, even before I finally made the jump to a Canon 5d Mark II camera, I bought Apple’s Aperture. I had iPhoto, of course, and while I think that application is a fine choice for managing family snapshots I felt like I needed more.

Aperture is a big program, with a lot to learn. This includes not only the tools to process your images but also the tools it provides to manage your images. There are quite a few books, tutorials and guides to the various functions of the program and they’re worth reading. You can probably find the answer to a lot of technical questions on Apple’s support site, which has an entire section dedicated to Aperture.

What I couldn’t find, however, was a general answer what I thought was a simple question: How should I use Aperture? One of the great advantages of shooting digitally—especially in low light situations as I often to—is the ability to shoot a lot of photos. Of course that means when you get home you need to deal with a lot of photos, and that’s where the tricky part starts.

Given that, I thought I’d share a workflow that works for me. It may not work for anybody who reads this, but you never know. I’d suggest only considering it as a starting point. You’ll develop your own over time and it may serve your purposes better. Feel free to pass along any suggestions.

Continue reading "An Aperture Workflow that Works for Me"

Posted by skooter at 7:37 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Technology.
Tags: Aperture, Apple, Photography, Software

William Shatner: Rocketman


The man, he is a genius. Truly.

Posted by skooter at 5:38 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Music.
Tags: Elton John, Rocket Man, Star Trek, William Shatner

January 22, 2011

A Good Prominent Typo is Always Fun

Granville Magazine's Slide Sows A good typo hits everyone every once in a while, especially in the modern day and age when lax editorial standards seem to be the new norm. I once recall an errant t appearing on the end of the word far in an article I wrote for Beyond Robson. It was as much my fault as it was the editor’s, of course, though I never felt that much got edited at the time. I lament the days of working with a good editor.

This one’s at Granville Magazine is fun though because it’s so prominent and in the header of Oink Magazine it would be completely appropriate. It’s part of a template, and probably appears on quite a few pages. I’m curious how long its been there.

Posted by skooter at 10:59 AM | TrackBacks (1) This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Granville Magazine, Online Publishing, Typo

January 20, 2011

Portraits of Heroes

Star Wars LegoStar Wars LegoStar Wars LegoStar Wars LegoStar Wars Lego

More Star Wars Lego means more portraits of heroes.

Posted by skooter at 1:15 PM This entry is filed under Camera.
Tags: AT-AT, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Lego, Luke Skywalker, Snow Trooper, Star Wars

January 19, 2011

Nadia von Hahn: Winter is Nearly Over


Vancouver’s beautifully voiced and wonderfully talented Nadia von Hahh has a new video out. Photos from her recent CD release party are on my Flickr photostream.

Posted by skooter at 7:14 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Music, Nadia von Hahn, Videos

Why I Stopped Reading “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”

Far be it from me to suggest that one of the best selling books in the world isn’t good. Clearly, popularity is a judge of quality: that’s why Oprah does so well. Nonetheless, this is the paragraph that made me drop The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in favour of The Hotel New Hampshire in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea.

“Unsurprisingly she set her sights on the best available alternative; the new Apple PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz in aluminum case with a PowerPC 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960MB RAM and a 60GB hard drive. It had BlueTooth and built-in CD and DVD burners.

Best of all, it had the first 17-inch screen in the laptop world with NVIDIA graphics and a resolution of 1440 × 900 pixels, which shook the PC advocates and outranked everything else on the market.”

A lot of people have told me the plot was well written and suspenseful. I’d seen the movie, so the plot wasn’t really gripping me. This wasn’t the only example of needless detail in the book, but it was the most egregious in the first 300 page.

The fact that you can’t get a computer with two memory slots to 960MB of RAM? That’s didn’t even bug me that much.

Posted by skooter at 10:22 AM This entry is filed under Words.
Tags: Books, Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, Literature

January 15, 2011

Ten Dire Straits Songs Better Than “Money for Nothing”

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council recently ruled that Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing, which includes the use of the word faggot in a satirical sense, can no longer be played on Canadian radio unless the word is edited out.

The fact that the song was recorded in 1985 and has probably had less airplay in the last fifteen years than any number of misogynistic and profanity laden pieces of popular music released since appears to be lost on the Council. The decision could lead to subsequent bans on songs like The Pogues Fairtytale of New York no more television airings of various Austin Powers movies, all the while allowing Ice T to scream Copkiller, Britney Spears to implore someone to Hit Me Baby One More Time and Biz Mark E to sing about Sittin’ on a toilet / Waitin’ for my bowels to move. Well played, CBSC. Well played.

The fact that a regulatory body has the time to waste something like this while virtually every other similar institution does nothing is astonishing. (Hello CRTC? Have you noticed that cell phone rates in Canada are amongst the highest in the world these days? Maybe you should get on that.)

The ridiculousness of the situation has generated tonnes of press coverage, all of which has seemed to gloss over a simple but critical fact: Money for Nothing is a horrible song. Dire Straits is a legendary band and Mark Knopfler’s guitar playing is astonishing to listen too (he was once described by Douglas Adams as having “…an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff drink.” but Money for Nothing is not his strongest work. It was a huge hit, and took the band’s popularity to new levels (particularly in North America) but there are at least ten songs that you should be listening to instead of it. Even Knopfler has said in the past that he’s not happy that the song has become the band’s best known legacy.

There are at least ten songs you should be listening too instead of Money for Nothing though, and here they are.

Telegraph Road


Epic and thirteen minutes in length when played live, Telegraph Road eschews the conventions of the rock and roll epic and remains beautiful throughout. The version on Alchemy: Live remains high on my playlist.

Continue reading "Ten Dire Straits Songs Better Than “Money for Nothing”"

Posted by skooter at 9:21 PM This entry is filed under Music, Politics.
Tags: Canadian Broadcast Standards Board, Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, Music

January 11, 2011

The Right Look Should Suffice

Posted by skooter at 5:15 PM This entry is filed under Marketing.
Tags: Commercials, Dos Equus, Marketing, Most Interesting Man in the World

For All Our Failings, We Humans Are Capable of Greatness

Posted by skooter at 12:31 AM This entry is filed under Science.
Tags: NASA, Science, Space

January 8, 2011

Perseid Meteor Shower 2010 from Crescent Beach

Perseid Meteor Shower from Crescent Beach

This is a 45 minute exposure of the sky above Crescent Beach south of Vancouver during the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower in August of 2010. You can view a much larger version of it as well or just visit Flickr directly.

The meteors themselves are the streaks that you can see moving in linear paths. There is one in the lower left and lower right that’s easily visible, as well as one that starts just slightly to the left of centre at the top of the frame. If you spot others, feel free to let me know.

Posted by skooter at 6:55 AM | Comments This entry is filed under Camera.
Tags: Astronomy, Crescent Beach, Long exposures, Perseid Meteor Shower

January 7, 2011

Lea Nelson: 1917 - 2011

Grandma Nelson, my brother and I at Prospect Point I have better photos of my Grandmother than this somewhere. Like so many of them, they’re tucked away as negatives in a binder and I haven’t scanned them. I like this photo though. It was probably from my first visit to Vancouver, though it may have been my second. My brother and I stayed with them and we visited the sites. I’m the one who gives people tours now.

In August of 2000 I came out to Vancouver for a vacation with my soon to be wife and to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. I hadn’t seen them in a very long time at that point: these are my father’s parents, and my relationship with them was strained by his departure. When I moved here I made it a point of visiting my Grandparents though. Once a month, at least, I’d drive down to White Rock to have lunch with them. It was nice.

When my wife told me she was leaving, White Rock was the first place I went. I remember standing on the steps of their house and being completely unable to speak for what seemed like forever. They were the first people I told.

My grandmother passed away a couple of days ago, gently in her sleep. For the last few years of her life she had been in Peace Arch Hospital after having had a heart attack at home that was quickly followed by several in the hospital. She never recovered and her mind started to go not long after. My Grandfather lived across the road and went to see her once a week, but it was hard for him: she’d ask him to stay, or wanted to go home with him and didn’t really understand what was going on. He told me once how hard it was for him. I think it was hard for him to tell me that.

She was a very proper lady—a fact which drove my Mother nuts sometimes. She was the only one of my Grandparents who wasn’t born in Canada too: my family is very Canadian, but Grandma Nelson was born in Europe and her family settled in Manitoba as farmers in the early 20th century.

The last few years haven’t been kind to her. I’m going to miss that very proper old lady.

Posted by skooter at 4:07 PM This entry is filed under Family.
Tags: Grandma Nelson, Grandpa Nelson, Obituaries

January 6, 2011

Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues on the David Letterman Show


Bree is there on the upright bass, but it’s just not the same with Josh on the fiddle. Fun nonetheless.

Posted by skooter at 3:55 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Justin Townes Earle, Videos

January 2, 2011

I Forgot The Sadies

A few days ago, I posted my list of the best concerts in Vancouver in 2010. The year is long and with a lot of shows seen I naturally forgot one, and the funny thing is it was probably the best all round show of the year.

The thing is, I didn’t have my camera with me. The show was actually before I bought my Canon 5d Mark II, and I didn’t pack my G11. Without a photographic record of it, the concert sort of slipped from my memory.

Often called the best live band in Canada, The Sadies stopped by Vancouver’s Legendary Biltmore Cabaret in early June. By the end of the almost four hours of music I’m surprised the place had a roof left on it.

To this day I find listening to The Sadies on album a bit uninspiring. It just doesn’t do that much for me. When these guys get on stage it’s like setting a fire. At a gas station. With a dynamite truck filling up at the time. I frankly thought they were never going to stop playing.

So, to Mike and Sean and Dallas and Travis, my sincere apologies for leaving you off the first list. It wasn’t intentional, and I’ll blame a memory which relies on a camera as often as not. I’ll be there next time right at the front of the stage.

Posted by skooter at 7:32 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Biltmore Cabaret, The Sadies