Things learned on my first Trans-Canada trip

Saturday, February 28, 2009 | |

Vancouver, BC 1/30/09

  • The Vancouver sky train also goes underground.
  • Waiting 35 minutes outside at 5 am in Manitoba in subfreezing temperatures for a late bus leads to spontaneous jumping jacks and running in place which worked except for my toes that were nearly sacrificed. Expect no sympathy from the bus driver.
  • If Stuart Mclean of the Vinyl Cafe hears you are traveling across the country on train, expect to be called out during the opening of the show and have to say hello and introduce yourself to the audience.
  • Drinking a Canadian on the Canadian with Canadians in Canada is fun. A Beer on a train with citizens from a specific country.
  • Fill out the survey on the railways if they ask, I won 25 dollars for doing so.
  • People in Winnipeg are nice.
  • Book your hostel stay before hand instead of thinking there will be someone at the door, because that is not always the case.
  • Toronto is silent in the winter, it is illegal to play music in the subway with out paying the city for the rights to do so.
  • A tea bag is a sufficient substitute for an eye patch if you require such things.
  • Lockers in hostels greatly increase peace of mind.
  • CD and books don't mix well with a small backpack .
  • Can I help you find something? No I'm just looking.
  • I can't think of any reason for a "used toothpick" plate can you?
  • I might be considered a "vagrant" because I don't currently have a source of income and I am traveling around. The title was a punishable crime enforced in the "jail" hostel that I am staying in Ottawa in the 1800's. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be vagabond, in which case I am in good company (Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, William Hazlitt, Paul Erdös).
  • If the friend that you are visiting is leaving for Antarctica the day after you arrive, don't expect to be able to hang out with them much.
  • Just because you arrive in Ottawa in the middle February during their winter festival "Winterlude" doesn't mean it will be cold enough to skate on the 5 mile long canal, most likely it will be raining.
  • The Canadian Parliament is fun to watch, and the translating skills from French to English in near real time via head sets are amazing.
  • I found out what a carillon is.
  • Niagara Falls is one of the ugliest cities out there. One huge tourist trap. If you go, it's not worth spending the night.
  • Tenori-ons are awesome.
  • You will see old women exercising in pools, and you will talk about the experience with someone in Montreal.
  • The shaky guy spraying breath mint into his mouth 3 times in a row reminded me of the film Amelie.
  • French is assumed in Quebec.
  • The fast food options in Montreal's central station are fantastic; Spaghetti Carbonara for ~10 dollars.
  • I read this "I like to tape my thumbs to my hands to see what it would be like to be a dinosaur." and thought it was funny.
  • The Halifax Saturday food market is fantastic, it weaves in and out, up and down, in this building and around the next, and you guessed it, they are tearing it down to build condos.
  • Bhangra dancing is fun and tiring.
  • Coat zippers tend to break while you are outside on your way to the grocery store in Halifax.
  • It is completely possible to find people in Montreal who speak no English what so ever.
  • If you stay at a hostel that was formerly a jail, don't be surprised to learn that you are spending the night there on the 100th year anniversary of the last public execution.
  • If someone suggests you go to a specific music venue in Montreal while you are at another similar venue in Toronto, expect to see them in Montreal when you arrive.
  • Montreal's Metro is full of music, and you have to sign up for time slot to play at designated places.
  • Poutine
  • Some U.S. Border Patrol agents have heard of Couchsurfing, if you get one that has not, good luck.
Halifax, NS 2/14/09

Spring is comming right?

| |

It's a German Thing

| |

| |

Recently I've found that watching TED talks like this one are vastly more fulfilling than simply watching hilarious free episodes of 30rock or the Office on

Which reminds me of this book I read a couple years ago about technology trends, the future and robots. Ray Kurzweil makes keyboards, cures his own diabetes, and writes about the future. He's cool in my book.

I first heard about him from Our Lady Peace's album Age of Spiritual Machines (which is basically a musical narrative of a Kurzweil book of the same name). Big thanks to my bro for having some kind of prophetic ability to listen to good bands when we were growing up.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009 | |

Analogue Have Flicker Page

Sunday, February 22, 2009 | |

The thing on which I'm working.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | |

Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | |

I can specifically remember when I first learned the term "planned obsolescence." I was in 10th grade in History class, and it was with Mr. Wright. The idea of it must have been in my mind because it is one of few things that I remember from that class. (The others being the real definition of terrorism, and getting a bad grade on this wonderful rhyming paper I handed in.)

I have always hated the idea and have been disgusted that weaknesses are built into our system of building things.

I think this will be one of the next books I read, and it's called "Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America" if you couldn't tell from the title, and it's by Giles Slade over at MIT. I'll let you know how goes it when I am finished with it, that is, if the book doesn't fall apart before I'm done.

Here is an audio interview on the author talking about the book.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class

| |

I thought this was interesting, the first few minutes are all introduction (there is a lot of it), so skip it if you want.

From Youtube:
"Distinguished law scholar Elizabeth Warren teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law at Harvard Law School. She is an outspoken critic of America's credit economy, which she has linked to the continuing rise in bankruptcy among the middle-class. Series: UC Berkeley Graduate Council Lectures [6/2007] "

I'm From Barcelona Wants You To Shake It

Sunday, February 8, 2009 | |

When I was working as a music director for KNDS in Fargo, North Dakota, I entered a song competition put on by the music publicists Team Clermont.

The rules: make a song with a kazoo in it.
The prize: a present from the Swedish band "I'm from Barcelona."

Just my luck I had a Kazoo, I had also just recently finished up creating the Midi Foot so I used it to loop the kazoo. The song I entered was created in my dorm room around 2:30 am, the day before the contest ended. The song entered is a remix of sorts, the material I remixed comes from the internet, I will not disclose it here, but if you have visited this site you will recognize it where it came from.

So there I was in my room trying to figure out how to make this song, and I ran into a problem. I was using my laptop to do the looping so I couldn't use the sound card to access the websites sound because it would have also looped. So I had to use my desktop to play the website, and it's hooked up to a stereo system. Remember it's 2:30 am and 2 of my roommates are sleeping. I type in the un-nameable website and yes, I know it's not a thing to be proud of but I did it, I spun myself. I listened to the audio, recorded my kazoo loop, then very slowly I increased the volume of the stereo, and because I was using the built-in microphone on my laptop I had to nearly max out the stereo to get the necessary volume on the recording. After my roommates woke, the recording still was not over because I had to fade the volume down to end the song. I all survived and there was no lasting damage.

Spinning by Paul Sobczak

Then I entered it, and I won!

This is what I got:
1 Harmonica Flute with the text: "Don't give up on your dreams buddy"
1 Tambourine with the text: "I'm From Barcelona wants you to shake it"
1 Musical Triangle
2 Small Cymbals
1 Hollow wood block and other wooden stick thing to hit it with.
2 Maracas
1 Clapper

Thanks to I'm From Barcelona and JJ at Team Clermont, you all have great taste!

Here is a bonus music video, it's I'm From Barcelona doing "We're From Barcelona"

Exit Does Not Exist

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 | |

So I've been busy, (as my recent lack of posts would show) creating things that make noise at my job. If that's what it can be called. Also, I just don't feel my posts are as interesting as another author's posts of wandering North America.

I'm still completely hooked on Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, which takes everything I love about AC and amplifies it tenfold. I saw them perform once already this year and will probably see them again in May. This show also caused my discovery of nyctaper, who faithfully recreated both NYC performances of Animal Collective and made them available for free download here and here.

It should also be noted this album recieved a perfect review at:

No Ripcord
Slant Magazine
Observer Music Monthly
Delusions of Adequacy
The Onion (A.V. Club)

Also, fans of sarcasm might enjoy this.

Big Ears 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009 | |

I was reading a copy of Wire in a small diner in Minnedosa, Manitoba, when I saw an add for Big Ears 2009. It's in Knoxville, Tennessee with an amazing line up:

Antony and the Johnsons
Michael Gira
Larkin Grimm
Phillip Glass
plus others...

the "inner ear" all access pass is about 200 dollars. I could get a plane ticket out there and back to Canada for about 800, I am not sure if I should do it, I am moving back and forth on this one. It would be so spectacular, but it puts me on a pretty tight budget for the rest of my traveling, and not having a job and all back home worries me a bit.

I would fly out of Winnipeg and into Knoxville, and then back to Ottawa. I am thinking I would do a bit of couchsurfing while I was there so I would not have to pay for a place to sleep. I really want to go, but 1000 bucks is a pretty large price tag.

What do you think, should I go or not? and on that note anybody want to attend with me?