new tradition

It’s already Christmas day 2018, and I haven’t watched The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut, or Fiddler on the Roof (those are my favourite movies that I associate with xmas) this year. It’s been bothering me because I like those films, and I like getting into the spirit of the season with them, but there just hasn’t been a good opportunity to watch any of them.

But I’ve been thinking a lot this year about how, often, whatever you are doing at a certain time of year will end up inadvertently becoming your new tradition or a new thing that reminds you of that particular season or memory. For instance, before my drive to work this morning, I had envisioned myself listening to Angelcorpse’s Exterminate album on the short commute. I started the car and began searching through my music for the aforementioned album when I came across The Smiths album, The Queen Is Dead. I hadn’t listened to this latter record in many years and something about it just seemed right for this morning, so I went with that instead. I’ve always liked The Queen is Dead but something about it this morning felt different, more special — I don’t doubt that the ‘special’ ingredient is the fact that today is Christmas and that has me feeling more warm and emotional than usual, but that’s beside the point. The point is that after this experience this morning, there is a good chance that this Smiths record will remind me of xmas from here on out, and that I will tend to listen to it more at this time of year.

Similarly, because I’m working today, Jenn and I did our xmas stuff together last night. When we first set xmas eve aside for exchanging gifts, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea because it simply didn’t feel right — but no time except xmas morning seemed right and that wasn’t available so there was no way around it. But as I got used to the idea, I came to see more value in it and feel better about it. And what do you know, last night ended up being just as nice as any xmas morning.

It just goes to show that even when things don’t go like we’re used to or in ways that we might have initially wished they did, the results can be just as good. You can even end up with new traditions and new things that remind you of a happy time or feeling. So sometimes, it’s for the best to do something new, something different. I’m going to try to remember this and stay open to the unexpected, plan B, etc.

Merry xmas, droogs.

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I found a new tool that exemplifies old world values, and I’m jacked up about it.

For the first time in my life, I’m putting up some outdoor xmas lights. I came up with an idea for what I wanted to do, and got a bunch of old net-style xmas lights from Jenn’s parents. I got them home and set them up, plugged them in, and found that some big sections of the lights were burnt out. It looked like shit and ruined my setup.

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This is the kind of unsightly problem I am talking about.

I looked online to see if there was a good way to fix this kind of problem and couldn’t find much info — of course not, people love to throw shit out and buy new stuff instead of fixing anything. I saw a few references to a ‘light repair tool’ that basically looked like a red water pistol, and was dubious. But the more I looked, the more I saw it mentioned. I went to the Canadian Tire website and they had it for $30. I thought that seemed like a lot to fix a few old net lights but decided to give it a try.

Well holy doodle, am I ever glad I did. This is the kind of thing that people used to make many years ago, the kind of thing that is extinct now: a well-designed tool that easily fixes things that most people probably don’t even realize are fixable. I mean, in this day and age of rampant consumerism, everything is designed to break or become obsolete so that you have to go buy a new one each year. Who makes stuff so that you can fix that junk when it breaks?

The makers of the Light Keeper Pro do, and I love them for it.

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Oh heck yeah.

This thing can fix broken light strands in several different ways. There is a quick and easy way that fixes the majority of dead strands, but if that doesn’t work, the tool has several other methods to diagnose and fix problems. It’s actually a bunch of tools in one, as you can see below. It’s everything you need to repair light strands, in one tool.

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On top of the that, the instructions are really clear and well-written. They even include lots of information on how burnt out bulbs cause the other bulbs in the strand to burn out much faster — the makers of this thing don’t just want you to buy their thing and fuck off, they want you to use it to get the absolute most life out of your old xmas lights — they want you to keep your old shit working.

That’s awesome. That’s an old-fashioned approach to things that I can fully endorse.

The website is just as good as the instructions that come with the thing, too. It has lots of excellent videos that show how to use the Light Keeper Pro on a bunch of different styles of light strands.

So now I’m pumped up to finish replacing all the other burnt out bulbs tomorrow and keep those damn net lights going forever and ever.

Man alive, I love fixing junk, and I love good tools that allow me to do just that.

…and the recap

what is recap even short for? anyway.

since xmas, i’ve been thinking about writing a recap of my year on here. it’s terribly typical and i doubt many people would find it interesting since i certainly wouldn’t give a shit about reading some random person’s “we went camping in the summer and that was nice” thoughts. luckily, this whole blog is entirely self indulgent so i’m going to go for it regardless. i think it’s a good tradition to consider starting so that i can have a summary stored here for future perusal once i completely lose my mind.

so here goes with my fave moments of 2017. read on only if you’re incredibly bored with everything else.

  • i don’t remember much from january or february.
  • in march, jenn and i went to bamfield with our friends kristina and jason. they have a cabin there so we spent a few nights at it, and it was lovely. bamfield is such a remote, tiny, haunting, beautiful place.
  • i learned to humanely euthanize chickens.
  • i learned to slaughter chickens and make stew with the meat. i also learned that even the meat of spent old laying hens is just fine as long as you boil the hell out of it. don’t listen to all the dummies who tell you it’s no good, they’re just uppity bitches.
  • i finally started learning to play bass using the traditional slap and fingers styles. it reignited my love of bass guitar, and sent me on a long quest to find a 5-string that satisfied me.
  • we got a second dog, laika, and learned how poorly things can go with a new animal but my god, she was a sweetheart.
  • i helped my mom move from quesnel down here to the island, and got to try an $8,000 massage chair in the process. the move was fine, the massage chair was unreal. worth the price, if you can afford one.
  • i bought my first suit. each part of the suit is sweatshop-free. i felt really good about that and have made an effort to make sure all of the clothing i buy now is sweatshop-free.
  • we went to three weddings over the summer: steph and tony, matt and chant, and genevieve and matt. all of them were a lot of fun.
  • we stayed in strathcona park for another 4 days after matt and chant’s wedding and did a bunch more exploring there. we checked out gold river (which was neat) and tahsis (which was just sad) while we were in that neck of the woods. on the drive back to shawnigan, we went up to mount washington and hiked some more strathcona trails from that side of the park, and they were the best trails we’ve seen in the park.
  • we lucked out and were able to view the solar eclipse with our naked eyes thanks to the perfect amount of well-timed cloud cover. then, even more cool, we saw the two giant solar flares on the sun, once again with our naked eyes. the smoke from the forest fires made the sun a dull, hazy red, and we could see two small dark spots on the lower right face of it. i wondered what the hell those spots were so i looked it up online and learned about the solar flares. fucking incredible.
  • we had a good friend build a large garage with hay loft on our property. i helped him and learned a lot about construction, and the frustration of building inspections.
  • we retired jenn’s ’92 civic VX in favour of something that doesn’t leak when it rains and has a better crash rating.
  • i took july off of work due to problems with my back flaring up again. that sucked, but it spurred me on to try new forms of rehab which have worked out splendidly since. it’s now been 6 months since i last hurt my back. that’s great.
  • we got a second goat, fay, to keep jamie company when the horse is away for extended periods. we learned that even a formerly charming little fellow like jamie will turn into a disgusting rapist once a female goat is brought into the mix.
  • we bought 10 acres of land up in sointula, and went to the salmon days festival for the second time. we want to build a small cabin up there this summer. we’ve never built a cabin before so i’m a little nervous how it will turn out but i’m confident that with the incredible power of the internet, we can figure it out.
  • we hatched a half dozen chicks, just the second time we’ve done this. i’m a proud daddy.
  • jenn and i hiked out to an old hydro power plant just outside of victoria. it was nerve-wracking and exciting as all hell. the ice cream afterwards was to die for.
  • we got two black female kittens, jinx and wednesday. i quickly fell in love with them.
  • at halloween, jenn and i volunteered at a haunted house in glenora and it was amazing. really looking forward to doing it again this year. after that on the 31st, dante and i walked around the beach estates and hung out with sue and jim baker around their campfire. a jack-o-lantern may or may not have been smashed on the walk back to the car. what a solid halloween.
  • jenn sold her horse, ollie, to a very good home down in the US. then she got a new project horse, a neurotic one-eyed fellow she renamed marvel. despite his quirks, i like him. he’s very gentle and affectionate.
  • i played my first gig in 7 years with a misfits cover band. i had wanted to play a halloween show with the band but it didn’t pan out so we ended up playing a show in december that went pretty well.
  • the holiday season of 2017 was fantastic. my clan’s family dinner went as well as once can hope for; jenn’s family dinner was wonderful, complete with snow falling on xmas eve; spencer and julia hosted festivus and it was another great one; jenn and i hosted a new years party (our first ever, actually) and despite the short notice and a lot of people being sick, it had a good turnout of our closest friends. much karaoke and dancing ensued. i made brunch the next morning for some of our pals and that was a lot of fun too. i think it was only the second time in my life that i’ve made food for more than just myself, yet it went well.

i wonder what other notable events i’m forgetting. whatever, that’s a way longer list than i even expected to come up with.

happy new year to all you sons of bitches. looking forward to another year of this shit, provided we don’t die somewhere in the middle of it, which is a persistent possibility. do you ever wonder if this new years eve/xmas/birthday/etc was the last you will ever see? i do. i think about it all the time.

and that’s why you should make the best of each day. you don’t want to be dying in a ditch or hospital bed somewhere this year, thinking, “i really should have gone out and seen my pals last new years.”

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2018, i’m ready. let’s do this.

to judge a man by the length of his hair

last xmas, jenn and i spent a few weeks in kauai. while cruising around exploring the island, we listened to the local radio. one night on the way home from another day of adventures, a funky old tune about hair came on that i fell in love with immediately. i waited to hear the name of the artist or song but never caught it so when we got back to our place, i hopped on my computer and started searching for said tune. to my amazement, i couldn’t find it. i spent hours but came up empty-handed. i was shocked and disappointed.

since then i’ve thought about that tune a few times and wondered if i would die without ever finding out what it was. i could tell it was old but i had never heard it before so i thought if i had gone 36 years without hearing it before, i’d probably go another 36 without hearing it again.

fast forward to yesterday when i was watching slap bass lessons on youtube. in the related vids section, i noticed a song called hair by graham central station. i furrowed my brow and wondered, could this be it?

yep, that was it, and it’s as awesome as i remember.

i love when happy coincidences like this come occur. i was totally resigned to never hearing that song again, and now i can not only listen to it whenever i want, but i can also play the bass part whenever i want. i would never have imagined it.

fucking eh.

additionally nice is that this song will probably always remind me of nights in kauai with jenn, driving home in the dark after checking out tiny towns, meeting wonderful locals, witnessing the oddness of xmas decorations juxtaposed against flip flops and humid tropical weather, soaking in the unique culture of the island. that’s my fave part about this. my love for nostalgia is strong.

shitty xmas decorations

each xmas over the last few years, i’ve noticed more and more crappy giant inflatable xmas lawn decorations that people have bought from wal-mart. i hate em.

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spot the white trash house

i don’t mind holiday decorations. what i mind is

  • wal-mart
  • people believing that giant things are automatically awesome, as if size can make up for a lack of quality and originality
  • everyone buying the same generic shit as their neighbours
  • giant inflatables are doomed to pop, get tossed in the trash and taken to the dump, get blown around by the wind, and likely end up in the ocean to become a part of the plastic garbage gyres out there. like the rest of the shit there, the decorations will slowly break down into tiny pieces and be eaten by fish, which will then eaten by us — we will end up eating these fucking stupid decorations yet we will continue to wonder, “why are cancer rates perpetually on the rise?”

we don’t need a cure for cancer. we need to stop happily giving it to ourselves in the first place.

so inflatable holiday decorations just make this season even more depressing and frustrating for me than it was already. hot dog.

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happy holidays