The Legend Of

It wasn’t my pick. Honest.

No, it was the boy saying, “I want to be a bokoblin for Halloween” that got the whole train started. Now, we’re doing the Legend of Zelda costumes – the whole lot of us.

The forecast looks chilly for trick or treating tonight. Let’s hope our mostly-homemade costumes keep us warm.


Down On the Farm

I’m a gala man, but really any apple will do.

This year, it’s easy to get positively drunk on them. And with some cider varieties, that’s entirely possible.

I’ve always been an apple guy. As a kid, my mom would get bags of red delicious, and I would have half the bag gone in the first day. As I developed an actual taste, golden delicious and gala, jonathan, and fuji were all favorites. Just this year I discovered the pinova variety – what a beautiful apple!

Here in Michigan, it’s apple season, so we packed up the family and headed out to the countryside – our old stomping grounds – for the annual pumpkin and orchard trip. It’s easy to stick to the regular old apple varieties, so this year I looked for some new kinds. Apples, and squash. There are a million squash varieties.

And like apples, I’ll try them all.


Serving The Song

My first experience with the Tragically Hip was a memorable one. My friend Driver invited me to Pine Knob, the summer after our freshman year in college, to see this amazing Canadian rock band I had only barely heard of, with an enigmatic lead singer and bluesy vibe. I was really going to see the opening band, Guster, but the Hip were a new, added bonus. I had no expectations.

Then they opened with “Tiger the Lion,” a booming, slightly psychedelic rant on a hot July night, and I thought, “My God, where have these guys been?”

The rest is personal history. I’ve since seen the Hip more than any other band (more than a dozen concerts, easily), traveling back and forth over the Canadian border to see the North’s favorite rock and roll band. The last time, in January 2015 at the Windsor, Ontario casino, was just months before lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

The news hit last week that Gord passed away. I’ve spent the last week in mourning. It’s been rough.

Last Wednesday I loaded up my Hip playlist, grabbed my camera, and hit the streets for some fresh air and therapy. It’s all I felt like doing: playing music, and making pictures. What else can one do when a music hero dies?

All of Canada mourns Gord’s death. But we sure sent him, and the guys in the band, out on a high note last summer when the Hip headed out for one more tour.

Thanks Gord, for everything: the music, the memories, and that magical summer night in 2000 that gave me 17 wonderful years of your performances.


On Camera Reviews

Waiting For Another

Om Malik, on the cruddy quality of camera reviews:

All I want to know from reviews is how it feels in hand, the pictures it makes and what is the actual performance from a daily usage stand point. The sensor size, the sensor type and what kind of processors mean absolutely nothing — what matters is the photos.

Even more helpful: give me a year-out view, after you’ve spent some quality time with the camera, and really tested its capabilities.

What would make me love it more than what I already have? What are the limits of its use? Where have you taken it, and what did you see?

A few of the big photo sites take a stab at this philosophy, but I value reviews from individual photographers more than any review-heavy site.

(via CJ Chilvers)


Courtyard’s Courtyard

The Complete Lack Of [Explored]

It’s amazing: if you build a community place, a community will form, even if it’s a transient one.

Over the summer, we stayed at a Courtyard hotel – nice place, pool, convenient location, etc. And, as the name says, it had a courtyard in the middle of the hotel with picnic tables and trees and little walkways. Our hotel room had a porch that looked out on the courtyard.

The whole thing caught me off guard. Hotels, as I had experience them, were private places, where noise was kept down and you rarely saw the people in other rooms. But a courtyard? Where you could see people? Whoa.

And what do you know, people gathered there. A family brought a six pack of beer outside and sat on the picnic table to chat. People strolled by on their way to the pool. Kids ran around and played kickball. It was like being back in college, only with a more diverse crowd. It was great. We sat on the porch and watched the whole evening take shape.

If you build it, they will come, the saying goes. In this case, it was true. The evidence was gathering in front of us.

That made me think of the “courtyards” I’ve encountered in my online life: Twitter, my old Apple Newton blog, photography groups.I would still rather chat with someone in person about their (or my own) weird hobby. The nice thing about the Web is, you can have both in-person courtyards and online meeting places to talk about what interests you.

Make a gathering place, and like-minded people make a community. If you’re generous and open, those communities become stronger and closer.

Especially if you bring a six pack.