Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year, Marrow Bones, Camping Equipment, Stevie Wonder

Alright then - let me tell you about the swag I got for the holidays!

Spring got me a a promissory note for gift-certificates to Bass Pro Shops and/or Lee Valley Tools - that way I can decide what I want. I also got from her "Bushcraft by Mors Kochinski" (a complete surprise, I had no idea, I was not directly involved in choosing this classic book that I wanted for a long time, nothing to do with that at all, really. Honestly).

So we made it up to Bass Pro this week and I got the following:

  • 20 oz Nalgene bottle (to replace the one I melted the cap to in the dishwasher). Note: If you are washing your Nalgene™ bottle, ensure that the separated cap does not risk falling onto and melting into the element in the dishwasher, as it did with me).
  • Campsuds™ - I feel guilty using regular soaps/detergents in the backcountry, so I'd rather use this stuff. For dishes, self, toes, ears, dogs, cups, and other mucky objects.
  • A second MSR fuel bottle - since I invested in a white-fuel stove and lantern, I wanted to make sure I had reserve fuel for my next trip. More for the lantern than the stove, but the stove does come in handy when I want to quickly boil up some water or rice etc...
  • Diamond knife sharpener. My carbide sharpener is pretty good, but this new one is aggressive and I can use a beach stone etc... to smooth out the polish if needed.
  • I have yet to get a Hook Knife and a package of WetFire™ Cubes (both from with my gift certificate). Good tinder, especially on a rainy day.

Spring is happy with her plinkah-plonkah, and we got a stand for it so she can do a Stevie Wonder imitation. And Monty got a set of beef marrow bones which we roasted and gave to him one by one over the week. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein

It is reported that Saddam Hussein has been executed. I am against the death penalty, but don't know how to reconcile that belief with my feelings that he deserves this. A tortured soul no doubt.

How will he be reborn?

Well, it is 10:10 PM EST and Iraqi state television is reporting he has been executed. A friend of mine in University put it in perspective once - he said "people die everyday". I guess somehow it put a numbers/biological spin on death. It makes me a number too.

The U.S. was complicit in his power - he attacked Iran in an era of the U.S. Embassy being attacked, and so the U.S. supported his government - to make both parties fight it out and tire themselves out. But that doesn't make his crimes any less heinous. That the U.S. behaved in an immoral manner does not make Saddam's crimes less immoral.

If I am to believe Karma (the kind beyond our lifetimes) exists, then I can put some meaning to the banality of his evil. If I am to believe only in the Karma that exists during our lifetime, then this world is so much sadder.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Down By The Seaside

Years ago I was taken on a whirlwind tour of Cheshire by my uncle. He'd been in the army for years, strange cold-war postings near Norway and all that - or so the legend I've constructed goes. We explored the Mersey River mudflats, and found a corroded magazine containing live cartridges - from a Messerschmidt 109 fighter plane. The Germans had flown over and strafed and attacked ships on the Mersey a few years back - and anyway we brought the magazine back to my uncle's shed, and detonated the cordite left over. Amazing - live rounds after decades of immersion in mud. We then had a curry lunch heated over an outdoor stove somewhere on a river bank. He told me then that the best spice is hunger. I always remember that when I go camping.

Years ago again the family was at the seaside somewhere in England. Receding tides exposed sand and seaweed and shells - Cockles and Mussels alive alive-o. I have sporadic memories of England - ponds and shops and greenery and daffodils and the smell of diesel fuel and the feel of coins and the taste of cereal and tea had with the newspapers and small living rooms with electric fireplaces and a people ill at ease. At least, these are my memories. Double-decker buses and three-wheel cars - my gran had one I think. She later had a mini that sat in a shed at the end of the road behind her house with a brick wall encircling the back garden. I played in the meadow out back behind the road.

I walked Monty at Cherry Beach last evening, it was dark and drizzling and filled with gusty winds blowing off the lake. After cursing my firesteel and having a hard time finding tinder that would catch, I got a smoky fire going, and soon the smoke left and I sat on the beach with a fire in the darkness. Walking there amongst the trees and through the grasses and vegetation I smelled England again. It was a transitory smell, it flickered on and I was there again and then it went away, replaced by old memories.

Down by the seaside,
See the boats go sailing.
Can the people hear,
What the little fish are saying.

People turned away.
People turned away.

Down in the city streets,
See all the folk go racing.
No time left,
To pass the time of day.

People turned away.
People turned away.
So far away, so far away.

Do you still do the twist,
Do you find you remember things that well.
Some folks twistin' every day,
Though sometimes it's awful hard to tell.

Out in the country,
Hear the people singing.
Singing about their progress,
Knowing where they're going.

People turned away.
People turned away.

Sing loud for the sunshine,
Pray hard for the rain.
And show your love for lady nature,
And she will come back again.

People turned away.
People turned away.
Now they know where they're going.

Friday, December 22, 2006

This Year At Work

Here in Toronto, Ontario it is 4°C with light drizzle. Not bad really. I'd prefer 14°C with bright sun, but hey, it's a few days before Christmas. And as of today, the days are getting longer, more sunlight...

This past year at work has been pretty crazy. I started this job in January and fell straight into a dual role of site and software project management along with online broadcast production (oh, and account management too) - with the two biggest clients at our company, and by all accounts the most difficult clients. I have been through the grinder with these clients. I am too sensitive at times, and let them in under my skin. Well, I have learned a lot about online media, and of course given that this is primarily a broadcasting company - I have learned a lot about operating under strict timelines. This has been good - all my other jobs have involved projects that existed on floating timelines, geared more to political or organizational weather systems. Here things need to be done to the minute because many of the projects involve live broadcasts.

Well, as the year passed I began to spend more and more of my energies on writing requirements and business analysis documents to support projects and initiatives and then recently I focused on writing technical business proposals. We ended up winning a big contract due in large part to one of my documents. As a result I am getting the opportunity to submit a business case to my boss to change my role around here to become a custom development business analyst/project manager - now that the company is growing and maturing, and standardizing our processes, we are going to need a specialist who can document requirements and solutions and control project scope and definition. And that'll be me (hopefully)!

Let's see how the new year goes, but I'd like to hit my birthday (in June) with my PMP designation. This is the Project Management Professional designation that is will mark me as someone who has both substantial experience in all phases of projects, and who has taken courses and also one who has written a horrible exam to get the designation. I will need to take a series of top-up courses for as long as I am a PMP, so I have to factor this in to my desires - they cost serious money.

Well. Back to projects. Enough chatter. Have a great Christmas holiday all - and enjoy your New Year!

Cheers from Mungo.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Videos of Monty our Beagle

Time for more Monty.

Playing with Kibble.

Playing with Garfield.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Axe, Paracord, Tarp, Palm

Today was cool, windy and bright. The pooch and I went for a stroll along the pier and enjoyed the sunshine in the morning - no-one was around, most folks were likely sleeping in, perhaps in their hammocks. Speaking of hammocks, not sure if I would use a hammock when camping but if I did, I would tie it to a tree thusly.

Here is an article about Gransfors Bruks Axes - this is what I am asking for for Christmas. If I get the axe for Christmas, I intend to put it into action on a nice standing dead tree in a nice old stand of trees.

I sold an old, unused Palm IIIc on eBay the other day, and also my old HP laser printer. I am going to list a bunch of other electronic stuff I've got sitting around in boxes here in the office. I also bought 45 feet of green MIL-C-5040 Type III paracord (for camping) and two 20-litre dry bags from Mountain Equipment Co-op (for canoeing and camping). It was really inexpensive, and I suppose the trick is just to explore and eventually you'll come up with a deal.

I'll be picking up the bags and getting the cord in the mail soon enough. Paracord is good for anything from tarp setup to camp setup to an emergency fishing line (flexible outer sheath contains 7 nylon inner strands), to snares and more.

I'll likely use it for setting up the tarp and makeshift construction in the camp. The dry bags will help me organize my stuff in the canoe and backsack and - equally important - keep food and equipment dry. I can even hang them in the trees as a bear bag to keep critters away. Last year I awoke to the sound of nibbling - a racoon had scaled 10 feet and was putting holes in my garbage bag tied on to a branch. This will be a little sturdier, and I can free-hang it.

You know - I'd like a tarp. I use a big blue Canadian Tire tarp now, and it is huge, bulky and not so good. I'd love a proper one. Perhaps for my birthday next June...