Can’t get enough of this one… the way it drives home on a powerful beat, following through the conversation between Ounsworth & Berninger down to the breath rhythms that take us out… I love it all.
“I can’t think of another reason why, it’s like it is.”
Gospel with hip hop & an acoustic guitar… pulled off quite well by a handsome gentleman from Atlanta, Georgia who was born when I was graduating from high school. It’s cool.
“As below, so above.”
This little ditty was just dropped yesterday & I’m already enamoured. Pronounces as the plural of Elvis.
Several years back, I went through a big Gordon Ramsay phase… Watched many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares & Hell’s Kitchen. When I was reading his book Playing with Fire I pulled together some notes on good life lessons I was picking up from him.
While I still have a bit of a predilection for English Chefs, I haven’t had much exposure to Ramsay’s recent stuff… but I found these notes in my drafts folder & decided to finish up this post. Mister Gordon Ramsay is a nifty fellow who made it from nothing to massive success in one of the most honest professions there is… cooking.
To prevent these little nuggets from being lost forever in a forgotten draft, I now offer my favourite life lessons from Chef Ramsay:
– Never apologize for being who you are.
– Pay the most attention to the step you are on… don’t wallow in worry nor regret.
– Place postage stamps on straight, because it takes the same amount of time to place them crooked.
– Keep a clean kitchen, or you’ll get rodents!
I released List Central almost exactly 5 years ago to little fanfare. I had some super supportive friends & family, but the site looked so sparse with few active users. Asking myself: How can I make this go? All I got were ideas of fake accounts to make the site look more fun & active. I enjoyed using the site myself, particularly for private lists, but driving up excitement for the network seemed beyond likely. A tepid submission on YCombinator brought down my sails, then getting hired at a new job sealed the deal. I would bring down List Central and call it a a great learning experience. Don’t build without a vetted business model.
Yesterday I decided to check out the state of List Central to consider re-skinning & to have it up to show potential employers. I put it back up at listcentral.brahminacreations.com… It took me a while to get it working again, I moved servers since then, so I was missing some modules. I had to update my name throughout & remember how it works again.
I have mixed feelings looking at it now. It looks clearly dated, and it fell short from my vision, that is clear, but there are some nifty features within it that I am proud of myself for designing & implementing, including…
In retrospect I am definitely impressed with past me for the depth & breadth of this project. I accomplish lots. I let it go fairly easy too… Maybe I didn’t fail as quickly as would have been advisable, but I never beat myself up over letting it go either.
If I were to start over I would use the Catalyst framework with Template::Toolkit & DBIC. I built the templating system in List Central myself, which works, but isn’t sustainable. So too my models for interacting with the database… what I built was smart, but not re-inventing the wheel is intelligent.
If you are interested in checking out what was List Central, go to the List Central About page… it is both explanatory & a demonstration of how the list functionality works on the site. I love when the form illustrates the content… so elegant.
I still have the notion in the back of my mind to reskin List Central one day, but have other projects of higher priority going on… for now I’ll leave it where it is, likely make some lists & see if my desire drives me in that direction down the road.]]>
A hand drawing is required for the tutorial… it uses a Mexican skull… I thought this a neat task to try… but because of this it took me 3 days to even get started the tutorial! I drew by hand my first skull & liked it, but it was a bit of a mess, somewhat asymmetrical & lots of eraser marks, so tracing a copy was the next step. Frustrated by the difficulty of this task on my dark table, I decided to look into making a lightbox. Turned out it would be easy, cheap & well worth the trouble!
To make this I first went to Michaels to peruse their unfinished wood section where I found what is called a shadow box, size 12″ x 12″. I also considered a box with a glass top & hinges, which may have been easier with the hinges & latch built in, but went with the shadow box because of the dimensions.
With the shadow box I headed off to the plastic supply place I found online called Plastic Works. There they cut me a piece of acrylic plexiglas to the exact size I needed. At Home Depot I found the rope light that I taped down in the shadow box after drilling the 1 inch hole for the cord to fit through.
I drilled the holes for the screws on the sides rather than the corners, both to avoid the joins of the box & to place them where I thought they would be least likely to bother me while drawing, and ta da!… my lightbox was complete. I fished up my pencil drawing of a Mexican Skull & was content.
Now… I’m off to start the tutorial on Illustrator!
I figured this debonair young gentleman required a decent place to hide & nap. In my earlier days I had made several cat tents for the felines in my family & I was pretty sure I still had the pattern… Yessiree! Simplicity 9004 from 1999, now out of print but available on ebay & such. I had found it, so I decided to try my hand at the fish bed.
When I first decided to set out on this trip little did I know of the odyssey I was embarking upon… one that involved 12 feet of foam.
I googled a bit for tips… if I hadn’t already been committed to making this thing I may have chosen a different pattern when I read one lady who wrote: “I left the eyes off because I didn’t want to look at it any more.”, but I continued on.
Turns out foam is mighty tough to work with, you need a decent sewing machine & heavy duty needles. I’ll add that if you don’t use a walking foot & some sort of interfacing, you might as well not bother. The foam is not only thick, but the dog feeds have a tough time grabbing on to the stuff. Even with interfacing & the walking foot getting through all the stitching was frustrating.
The pattern itself is not the easiest to follow. I probably added a good 6 extra hours on for mistakes made because I didn’t understand the pattern. The tail is quite tricky. The only modification was the eyes… using batting, buttons, material & cardboard where the pattern uses ping pong balls & felt. Here’s an image of it nearly being done, but still inside out. The inner lining includes its own layer of foam!
After all the hard work & a little time passing, I’m pleased with the result. He looks pretty good. Riley isn’t that impressed with it though. Turns out I have the one cat on Earth that doesn’t like caves & hiding places of this sort. Nor does he care for catnip, which failed to allure him into the snuggley fish belly. Who knew? I have had fun hiding his toys in the fish bed though. He pulls ’em all out when he finds them. Perhaps he’ll warm up to the crazy fish bed in time.]]>
I had a good visit… lots of good food, some shopping, a little exploring & good company.
I didn’t get too many great photos there… Teddy, the camera shy Shitzu-Bishon cross proved to be a frustrating subject, the bunnies & humming birds were far too quick for my camera. Some cacti stayed put, but the sun was too high… alas, a pity indeed, but the flight home proved abundant for captures by my lens.
I started acting on this dream late in 2014… shopping for used Class C RVs. I found one a while back that just seemed perfect, a 1976 21′ GMC Frontier. She was a cutie & had been loved to bits by her previous owners. When she was on the market I deliberated & researched until it was too late, she was purchased under me 5 minutes prior to my arriving to buy it. Sadness ensured.
I continued to watch craigslist for the sort of RV I wanted… they were few & far between. Then when Betsy came up for sale, I jumped on her… I didn’t want to miss it this time. Pity I later came to find this lady had not been loved nearly as much as the Frontier.
Now Betsy… a 1981 Vanguard is an old bird, I knew there were troubles & thought she needed me to love her back into shape in the form of repairs & TLC. One of the previous owners was a DIY sort of fella & had done some funny work on her. I took her to 3 different repair shops over the month to get her in travel condition. The first place, a run of the mill automotive repair shop, replaced a gas tank & exhaust system stuff, a battery & brakes on the front end & fixed up the steering block or something like that. When I picked it up from them they were adamant that I drive Betsy to Chillawack (about an hour away) & back then bring it back to them so they could re-check her. Well I did attempt this, but when I got to Abbotsford I looked the gas gauge & thought it best to stop for gas… thinking about how much of a gas guzzler she is, I searched through my purse & backpack, but alas, no wallet was to be found. Fuck.
I went in to try to bargain for gas, but failed horribly… there is really no sympathy to be found in a gas station, at least not at this one. I figured I had one option… head back home & hope for the best… well it was a heroing drive… watching the needle hover under the E for miles, then just as I was thinking I was going to make it, Betsy’s gas ran out in the worst possible place… smack dab in the middle of the Port Mann bridge. Now, not only is this super dangerous, it’s also illegal. No stopping no matter what. I was in the right lane with no where to pull over. There were semi’s honking at me & drivers giving me the finger as I was freaking out trying to find the stupid switch to turn the hazards on.
I had my phone, on which I found my AMA membership number & the number to call. While on hold for them the cops came to assess the situation. They called a tow truck in the hopes theirs would arrive more quickly & one of those massive yellow trucks with the big arrow lights to wait behind me. The cop didn’t ask for my license luckily… his aim was to get Betsy off that bride a quickly as possible.
About an hour later after dealing with two tow truck drivers who were both a little confused about who each should be doing, Betsy had 5 gallons of gas in her & I was headed to the nearest gas station, from which I took a cab to get my wallet & then return to fill ‘er up.
A day or two later I took her up to the RV specialist for work on the house, including a hot water heater, the only thing I knew I would have to replace when I bought her, some work on the plumbing, a little electrical work & the installation of a 100 watt solar panel system with inverter so I could do wild camping when ever I liked. The bill was high, but I was feeling good about Betsy’s ability to get power directly from the sun. My sights were on the road… but first, back to the mechanic so they could check ‘er out after I had driven her for a bit.
The next morning I went down to start her up & she wouldn’t even turn over. There was lots of gas in her & a new battery… wtf? I called AMA again, & they came to give me a boost. Okay… she started. Maybe they sold me a crap battery. Hmm.
Back at the first shop, up on the jacks they discovered the cause of her very terrible oil leak, which they likely didn’t tell me about it the first time, because they couldn’t identify the source. Oil was leaking rather persistently from the crank shaft seal that was not only installed wrong, but was totally the wrong part. This shop wasn’t confident to fix it so the sent me to an engine specialist as the whole engine would have to be taken apart to fix this. With so much money already invested I went for it. Canada Engines in Surrey did the job. I was super impressed with them. Seriously. It wasn’t cheap, but they were professional & clearly knew what they were doing. They were also able to sort out why she wouldn’t turn over. She has 3 batteries, 2 for the house & one for the starter, but the one for the starter was jiggered into the system for the house through a strange system a previous owner had been put in. They were able to change this around to how it should be… the starter battery isolated, so it’s always powered to start the truck, no matter the power usage in the house the night before. Getting this sorted was essential… I was so pleased they could fix it. After picking her up from them, with several thousand dollars spent at the 3 shops, I was confident she could get me where ever I wanted to go.
Umm… well… yeah. My confidence was unfounded.
I set out on my big trip, with the first plan being to make my way to Arizona to spend time with my Dad. I was originally hoping to spend Christmas with him, but Betsy spent too much time in the shop for me to make it there on time. Figuring its better late than never, I headed out.
With only an hour spent at the border, including a secondary search, I was certainly on my way. I headed to Bellingham to get an American cell phone set up & to buy some weed… ’cause hey… I can’t pass up on the opportunity to purchase marijuana legally! A rather civilized experience involving vacu-sealed grams. Not too shabby. Then back to the I5.
10 minutes in & she’s slowing down without reason… my foot’s on the gas and the tank is nearly full. She full out stopped & the engine shut down. Awesome. I was able to pull off to the side, start her up & drive to the next exit. I pulled off, headed to a gas station. I put $5 of gas in her, just in case she was out of gas but lying about it… nope… full gas tank. I head out, not really knowing what to do. I make some turns & end up on a quaint residential street. She slows down, stops & the engine gives out again, in the middle of the road. This is Christmas eve.
I call AMA again, they send someone out… I settle in to wait… & a bit of a breakdown ensues in the back. Where the hell am I & what the fuck am I doing?
I’m crying as I hear a knock at the door. Its the people who live in the house I broke down in front of coming to offer assistance. So nice! I tell them I have a tow truck coming. They insist that I come in while I wait. The offer me whisky & food. I had a really nice time getting to know these people as they prepared a roast for their beef dip Christmas eve dinner. It was so good to be welcomed so warmly by complete strangers as my dreams of my grand trip were fizzling under a shitty alternator in a 33 year old RV.
Eventually the tow truck driver arrived & Betsy & I got a ride back to the border, where we were met by a Canadian tow truck who towed us home. She is now sitting in the parking lot below my condo, waiting for me to get her towed to the shop again, to get her alternator fixed or replaced.
Three calls to AMA… the signs abound. Now is not the time for this trip. Through all of my experiences over the past month trying to get this old girl road ready I’ve got to say that it’s as though the Universe is saying to me… Brahmina, you are really more of a princess than a trailer park girl, stop trying to fit a round peg through a square hole… live up to your new name! You deserve better than this. So I’m letting Betsy go… I’ll get her towed back to the shop to fix her alternator so she’ll start again & then put her up on craigslist or something. She is so much improved from when I got her… someone will love her right, someone she would like to travel with. Someone who is not me.
I have enjoyed this process of taking care of Betsy… I learned lots about RVs, which I know will serve long term, because my grand trip will happen… but with a vehicle that wants to go with me. I also re-sharpened my sewing skills making curtains for the RV & a bunch of fluffy pillows that fit just fine on my bed at home. I got into creating things I otherwise wouldn’t have… & learned some stuff too. All is well… the RV the suits me is one her way… I’m looking forward to to meeting her.]]>
Benny was diabetic.
A few years back Benny was drinking so much water he was flooding the litter box on a daily basis. He slept most of the day sleeping & was downright lazy & maybe even a little depressed. I took Benny the Fatso to the vet & discovered that the poor little guy’s pancreas wasn’t working the way it should any more & he needed insulin, every 12 hours (EVERY 12 HOURS!!), to get better. In addition he had to be switched to expensive, special, low calorie, diabetic cat food that can only be purchased through the veterinarian.
But I learned how to give Benny his shots twice a day, switched his food… we managed.
Until one day my other kitty, Trixie, got very, very sick. I rushed her to the emergency clinic. A couple of hours & a $1000 charge to my credit card later, she was gone, having been full of cancer.
I was completely devastated. I have been fortunate that I had not yet had to cope with any significant loss in my life & this was my first experience with the death of a loved one.
Through my devastation from the loss of my pretty girl too early (she was only 9), I was blaming myself for her sickness. I took to the internet & read up on cat health. What I found would change the fate of the Fatso & bring him genuine health and vitality again.
Enter YourDiabeticCat.com, a site created by American veterinarian Elizabeth Hodgkins. It was on this site I learned all about the truth of cat diabetes & the protocol: a means by which I could improve Benny’s condition & maybe even eliminate his need for insulin all together!
I followed this protocol to a T. I took his blood sugar levels with the same tools diabetic people use & recorded the findings religiously. I tossed the expensive diabetic food in exchange for high protein/high fat canned cat food & I weened him off the insulin. It was really quite quickly that Benny’s need for insulin fell away. Meeting his carnivorous needs with proper meat made a huge difference!
Within a month or so my Benny was insulin free & acting all kitten-y again, lots of energy to boss me around again. It was so wonderful to have him back! Changing his diet to what is logical for felines to consume is really all it took.
Looking back I wonder how I could have been content to feed any of my cats that corn kibble garbage, no matter the price tag. I’m sure my Trixie met an early end with cancer because of the poor diet I provided. Never again will I feed my cats less than meaty-meat-meat! Cats are carnivores & only meat will suffice. Corn is not meat. I usually fed Benny really expensive food from ZiwiPeak… rabbit!, but also found that the pates from Fancy Feast were quite good at meeting the protein/fat requirements of the protocol.
Sadly, a few years later, Benny left me, at 15 years old… having loved hard & having taught me the importance of going with the flow of nature. I’m happy I could give him a better old age than was ahead of him with the diabetes. I highly recommend YourDiabeticCat.com for anyone who has a diabetic cat… the vets’ have money to make & it comes from the industry, not from the butcher shop. Cats deserve so much better than corn kibble.]]>
10. Roam – WiL
My introduction to this song was from the travel advert of my home province… Alberta. Wil’s simple & beautiful lyrics celebrating the wonders of nature paired with stunning cinematography of my home takes my breath away every time… remember to breath. Roam… it’s all home.
9. Original Don ft. The Partysquad – Major Lazer
A ridiculous hard hitter from Major Lazer, aka Diplo & Switch. So fun & powerful with the pounding percussion, horns & vocals… plus the video is so silly it can’t even.
8. Hallelujah – KD Lang, song by Leonard Cohen
My most favourtie song for singing in the car… Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah as done by KD Lang, so very memorably at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies. The lyrics beautiful, hopeful & pained with love are dressed up so wonderfully with KD Lang’s powerful vocals… So very lovely.
7. Alright (Brad Carter Remix) – Red Carpet (Hetrix)
Everything is going to be Alright, well likely far better than Alright, but the sentiment is so comforting & reassuring… as faithful as the sun, my love for you will keep on rising. There are quite a few remixes of this song, but this one is by far the best… I included a radio edit for your listening pleasure.
6. Lose Control (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) – Missy Elliot
Rock Your Body
Through many distortions, this thick mix pounds from start to finish. Missy Elliot’s unique style is given the Jacques Lu Cont, Stuart Price, Thin White Duke treatment for a hypnotizing result like no other. Still one of my faves as it gets my attention every time it comes up on the stereo.
5. Big Bird in a Small Cage – Patrick Watson
Patrick Watson’s sound just drips of Montreal to my ears… so lovely, cultured & classy, but different & wildly accepting. The beautiful sadness painted in this song gets me every time it comes on. The caged bird sings… so beautifully is mourns for it’s freedom to fly. Freedom missing though it springs from the core of what the bird is. This song is so beautiful & poignant. Freedom is.
4. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart – Wilco
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is an album the pleases from start to end. The opening track, I am Trying to Break Your Heart is dynamic & bizarre, a full listening experience best had with high quality headphones. The effective use of a metronome & alarm clock open this track with organized chaos. The tortured vocals of Jeff Tweedy illustrates the pain & sheer confusion of love lost. A song that can completely consume me when I let it. Ahh… Wilco. Discover all about this the creation of YHF with the documentary of the same name as this track I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.
3. Innocent When You Dream – Tom Waits
Tom Waits has long been one of my top artists… I’d be hard pressed not to include one of his tunes in my top 10… but I have a difficult time choosing my favourite track from his substantial catalogue… so many to choose from. Innocent When You Dream from Waits’ 1990 album Frank’s Wild Years, is a classic plain & simple. A delightful sing along of truth & beauty wrapped in lies, as only Tom Waits can do… dream away.
2. Looking for Astronauts – The National
So catchy & lovely… delicate & enigmatic… take all your reasons and take them away, to the middle of nowhere, and on your way home, throw from your window your record collection… because well, we’re all out looking for astronauts. I came to love The National late in the game, but man oh man, I just can’t get enough. Beringer’s lyrics are like written for me or something & the interplay of Dessner brothers’ melodies inspire me to compose. So very good.
1. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
Still my top song of all time… Road to Nowhere has been one of my favourites for nearly as long as I can remember. Having first heard it in the late 80’s in my sister’s living room on vinyl, because it was the only option. I loved it so much… it became a sort of theme song for me… I don’t care where we’re going, but I know it’s good… and the journey is what it’s all about. As I put it before… the wacky genius of David Byrne is showcased in this simple ditty… putting words & a marching beat to my philosophy in life.
Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there…take you there
Sing loud & proud… we’ll make it there.]]>