Monday, August 23, 2010


Time to unhitch ol' Black Jack and point our noses towards the setting Sun for the dusty ride westward. I'll write when I can and hope that the Pinkerton Men don't find me before the Pony Express does. In the meantime, keep yer backs to the corner and yer sideirons oiled and cocked.

I'll be seein' y'all soon, partners.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

If You Read Something, Set It Free

What do we do with books?

Libraries aside, we buy them, put them on a shelf for a bit, take them down and read them, and then put them back on a shelf. After a time, we might go back and read them again. Sometimes we lend them out to people we trust. Inevitably, they go back to their shelf to wait some more. Most of our books live on their shelf forever - collected and admired, but not feeling very useful.

It seems like a bit of a waste to me. All these ideas that someone laboured over to create. All the hands needed to print those ideas on a page and to sell those pages to someone like me. These are valuable things that deserve more than to simply collect dust for the majority of their useful lives.

I thought about all this after recalling an attempt to give one book its freedom. It was August 2008 and we were visiting Costa Rica. I was reading Joe Hill's 'Heart-Shaped Box' while on our travels and finished it late one night while a Pacific Ocean blow threatened to flood our hotel room. I loved the book, but I was thinking that maybe I didn't need to lug its hard-cover back to Canada.

My plan: I'd leave the book in the hotel room for someone else to enjoy. Lest someone think the book was left behind by mistake, I wrote a little inscription on the inside cover. I think it went something like this:

This is for you, Stranger. I loved this book and now it's someone else's turn to maybe love it, too. Whether you read or not - and if you feel so inclined - let me know what you think.

P.S. And when you're done, feel free to leave your own message and pass the book along!

No one ever wrote. But in my disappointment I like to think my book felt useful to someone else and maybe it's not sitting on a shelf somewhere.

Remembering this has me thinking about my books, again. I think I have too many books that I don't need, so it's time to donate a bunch to those who might find them enjoyable. It's a tough thing, cleaning off a bookshelf, and I know there will be many volumes that I will keep just because I can't bear not to have them around. As for the others, those that will earn their freedom, I'll hope they feel as useful somewhere else as they were to me.

Spammity Spam

Anyone who takes the time to leave a comment (or read what others have to say) will notice I've turned on the dreaded and annoying CAPTCHA feature (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). This is the little hangnail that makes you repeat a random set of letters and numbers to prove that you're not a spambot. As you can guess, I've been innundated with offers of good wishes, large genatalia, and web-based fortune-making - to the point where I'm tired of deleting such shite.

So for you kind souls who take pity and leave a comment from time to time, I hope this is not a pain in the ass. And for those who lurk and nothing more (I'm looking at you Disboards), just ignore this post.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Cowboy Cosplay

There is a peculiar brand of arithmetic in my house that I like to call 'vacation math'. It goes like this: since my daughter, BandGeek, will be attending university here in London, she'll be living at home (at least for the next year or so). Since she's living at home, we've avoided the expense of paying for her to live in residence in some other university town. And since we've avoided that expense, we must magically have extra money to do other things - like taking a family vacation this summer. Don't bother to quibble over 'expense avoidance' versus 'money in the bank'. This, my friends, is 'vacation math'.

The end result of this nebulous equation is that, in a few weeks, we're off to Arizona and Utah to visit the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, respectively. The Cowboy Way dictates a leisurely survey of this part of the world, but we don't have time for moseyin' down the dusty trail on the backs of shuffling steeds. Instead, we'll be joining up with a (sort of) adventure tour to pack as much cowboy culture as possible into 8 days and 7 nights.

The plan is to do a lot of hiking, river rafting, and off-road excursioning as we make our way through Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, and Moab. We'll even throw in a campfire or two as an excuse to empty the dust from our boots. I'm curious about the experience ahead because, truthfully, all I know about being a cowboy is what I've learned from the odd Hollywood film, my father-in-law's synopsis of Zane Grey stories, and tales from the virtual Old West.

As always, I'll promise to blog some photos and thoughts along the way and, as always, it won't work out as I'd planned. But if you'll excuse me, I need to go practise my tobacco chewin' and calf ropin'. I reckon I'll see you on the trail sometime.