Throwback Thursday – A Different Kind of Church (April 2007)

In my first librarian job, my boss and I had the opportunity to oversee the move of a crowded small town library into a soon-to-be-vacated nearby church.

This photo was during our first visit to the church to see if it would be a workable space once all the pews and other church holdings were removed.

I was never more glad to have taken a class that had an element of library design to it.  The class was “Management of Special Libraries” but many smaller public libraries have some of the same characteristics of special libraries so those skills came into use during this project.

Comparing Some Swedish Guy’s 7 Year (7000 Hour) Guitar Progress To My Own 22 (!) Year, Didn’t Count The Hours Guitar Journey

I bought my first guitar after coming back from a University exchange to England in 1995.  It cost me $60 and I still have it.  It’s an El Degas model which is Spanish for “cheap crap”. 🙂

(Wow, Google tells me these guitars were actually made in Japan and mostly exported to Canada in the 1970’s and 80’s and make an excellent beginner guitar – who knew?)

While on that exchange, I lived in dorms where I ended up forming a “folk/punk” group with a group of American exchange students.  Most bands have names but we changed our name every time we got together to jam so that was part of the joke.

One of the guys in our band would borrow a guitar from any British student who had one (and was brave enough to lend us one), I’d play “drums” on an upside down bucket, one person had a Dollar Store recorder and one person, uhm, I think she also played a bucket come to think of it.

We’d go to a nearby Spar (a British Dutch version of 7-11) and buy a few bottles of the cheapest wine we could find (I think it was called “Rochelle”) then consume that and anything else we could get our hands on while trying to write the funniest/stupidest songs we could.  For example, the first half-dozen songs we wrote all had the word “Whitey” somewhere in the title.  “Whitey” was British slang for passing out so that gives you some insight into our band’s philosophy.

Anyhow, there are a lot of stories I could tell about that band (uhm, come to think of it, probably not) but getting back to my own guitar history, when I got back to Canada, I realised that if we could write songs when our main guitar player knew basically two chords, it couldn’t be that hard.

I found the El Degas, likely on some primitive online bulletin board system and began teaching myself how to play using tutorials, chord charts and tabulature I found online (all text files since this is pre-YouTube) as well as books and videos from the Regina Public Library (yay!)

Soon, I learned enough chords to play along with most basic songs if I had the chord chart and since then, have always played for my own enjoyment and entertainment but never dedicated myself to the guitar in any sustained or systematic fashion. (When asked if I play, I always joke that “own a guitar” but I don’t really know how to play.)

I’ve had that first guitar since around 1996 (supplemented by a cheap used electric Fender Squire I picked up, also while in University and just a couple years ago, another acoustic I found at a garage sale for about $40 so I now have an “upstairs” and a “downstairs” guitar – lucky or lazy, you decide!)

Anyhow, I came across the video below tonight and it made me think how much different my guitar playing experience might have been if I was as dedicated (obsessed?) as this young man who, as many of the YouTube comments point out, seems as good after 30 hours of practice as people who’ve been playing for years.

His progress is amazing but then again, has he written songs called “Whitey, You Suck”, “Who’s That Whitey?” or “Whitey #9”?  I don’t think so! 🙂


Every Stan Lee Cameo Ever

It’s not surprising when you learn that a 95-year old real-life superhero has passed away but it’s still sad.

Millions of kids (including me) were influenced by Stan Lee over the years – in making us into readers, in making us think about good and evil, in making us into dreamers –
but in his later year, he was perhaps best known for his cameos in the massively successful Marvel movies.

Music Monday – “Get me drinking’ that moonshine/Get me higher than the grocery bill/Take my troubles to the highwall/Throw ’em in the river and get your fill”

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was really getting into Tyler Childers – watching videos of him, reading articles about him, dreaming about taking “road” trips to see him, joining Facebook groups about him, playing his songs (badly) on guitar and listening to his music non-stop.

At the time, I made a Music Monday post about one of his more obscure songs but figured I should also highlight one of his better known songs as well (is it just the title or do you hear an echo of “Copperhead Road” in this song like I do?)…

Whitehouse Road” – Tyler Childers

And here’s a concert video from his home state of Kentucky to give you a taste of a full set…

Rating the Statutory Holidays

Our Family on Thanksgiving 2018

We have lots of official (and many unofficial – Halloween anyone?) holidays in our society.  So I thought it might be an interesting thought experiment to try to rank them in terms of how important they are to me.

Obvious disclaimer – how people feel about holidays depends on so many different factors – if you have kids, a “family” holiday might mean more to you then to others.  If you or a family member is a veteran, a holiday like Remembrance Day might rate higher for you than for others.  If you’re religious, certain holidays may have more meaning.  And so on.

So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here’s how I rank the statutory holidays we (typically) celebrate in Saskatchewan:

  1. Christmas/Boxing Day (December) – this is the big one for me.  Food, fun, gifts, love, presents, joy, music plus one day to overindulge in all of the above and one day to recover (and try out the new toys!) 😉
  2. Canada Day (July) –  The heart of summer begins with kids out of school.    Parades. Fireworks.  BBQ’s & beers.
  3. Victoria Day (May) – May long weekend kicks off the summer season, especially for campers who usually start in earnest this weekend.
  4. Good Friday/Easter Sunday (March/April) – the best part of these two days is that they’re one of the few times in the year (Christmas/Boxing Day being the other) where you have two stats so close together.
  5. New Year’s Eve (January) – the promise of a new year is usually pretty exciting.  In my younger years, this was also one of the biggest party nights of the year. 🙂
  6. Saskatchewan Day (August) – summer’s feel so short in Saskatchewan which is why I weight the summer holidays so highly and am also a big fan of adding another stat holiday – National Indigenous Day – in June!
  7. Remembrance Day (November) – perhaps the most sombre holiday of the year, this one is a good fit for the cold, dreariness of November (I’m respectful of the day to a point but on November 12, all bets are off and the Xmas music goes on as does the annual battle with Shea about how soon I can set up our Christmas tree!) 🙂
  8. Thanksgiving (October) – this is a time for family to gather and enjoy each other’s company while enjoying great food but, just as Valentine’s Day isn’t much of a holiday for single people, Thanksgiving can be a tough holiday for people having a rough year or who feel like they don’t have as much to be thankful for.
  9. Labour Day (September) – I’m a big fan of unions and what they do to help working people (whether they’re in unions or not, most workers benefit from the gains of unions – including many stat holidays come to think of it!) But I’m also not a fan of a day that essentially marks the end of summer.
  10. Family Day (February) – the newest stat holiday is appreciated for bridging the “no stat holiday” gap between the start of January and March or even April that we used to have.  But it still falls in the middle of winter so isn’t a favourite – although we do tend to go out and do something on this day as a family which is nice (and why I value all statutory holidays so much.)

Saturday Snap – Family Movie Night

Friday Fun Link – All Logos for 2018 US Midterm Candidates

This site is pretty cool, doubly so as it allows you to winnow down logos by colour, typography and other characteristics.

Throwback Thursday – Saskatchewan Promotional Video (1985)

Someone posted this on social media and I thought it’d be good for a bit of a different take on my usual Throwback Thursday personal photos…


Big Winners of 2018 Midterm Elections

Sure, this clip is from Fox News but with such a beautiful grammar error, how can I not post it? 😉

US Midterms 2016 – Random Thoughts From Tonight

I didn’t live blog tonight but roughly, here’s how my night went…

I’ve been waiting two years for this night – yay!

I realise I can’t read 10 open tabs in my browser simultaneously – boo!

One of the first polls to close, Kentucky District 6 is really tight – if the Dem wins, that portends a Blue Wave – yay!

Oh-oh, Florida races (Senate *and* Governor) aren’t going as well as projected – boo!

Beto is keeping pace with, and even showing Texas in blue at times as he pulls ahead of Ted Cruz – YAY!

Georgia Governor race isn’t going well for Democrats – boo!

Some Russian dude got arrested today overseas for being involved with a suspicious real estate transaction at a Trump property – yay!

KY-6 goes to Republicans in a squeaker – boo!

Kansas elects a Democratic governor – yay!

Andrew Gillum loses Florida governorship after polls showed him up by ~7 points – boo!

Democrats flip House seats in various red states including Texas and Oklahoma – yay!

Trump appears to have given solid bumps to candidates in most areas where he campaigned – boo!  [Edit: Also WRONG!]

The Democrats elect a lot of firsts – the first gay governor in Colorado, the youngest woman to ever sit in Congress, the first Muslim women to sit in Congress, the first First Nations women to sit in Congress (one of whom also happens to be a lesbian) – yay!

Beto ultimately loses to Ted Cruz even though it’s extremely close – boo!

Not a yuuuge surprise but Bernie Sanders wins handily – yay!

The loss of the Democratic senator in North Dakota clinches the Senate for the Republicans – boo!

Michigan legalized marijuana – yay!

North Dakota didn’t legalize marijuana – boo!

Democrat Jon Tester is leading in Montana (though it’s early as I write this) – yay!

Republicans win or look like they’ll win some of the largest governorships up for grabs including perennial battleground states, Florida and Ohio – boo!

As projected, the Democrats retake the House by picking up (at least) 24 seats which restores at least some balance to the US political system and gives Democrats power in various committees as well as subpoena power – yay!

As projected, the Republicans retain the Senate and even pick up a couple seats (as of this writing) which gives them some power, especially to seat Supreme Court Justices if there are further vacancies in the next two years – boo!

Even with the not-as-good-as-hoped results in many cases, it appears that overall, left-wing/liberal/young/minority voters were energized and hopefully that momentum will continue leading into 2020 but also in terms of local/state-level engagement as well – YAY!