Monday, September 22, 2014

Lego Minifig, Eh?

This is, quite possibly, the most Canadian looking minifig I have ever seen.  When I saw him, I had to have him.

I stuck him in a forest scene with some Canadian symbols to celebrate this find.  Pretty good lookin' eh?

The Rant

Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader.
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled,
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American,
and I pronounce it 'about', not 'a boot'.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.

A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced 'zed' not 'zee', 'zed'!

Canada is the second largest landmass,
the first nation of hockey,
and the best part of North America!

My name is Joe!
And I am Canadian!

(courtesy of Molson)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Things That Make You Go Hmm...

Spotted this little gem in Morganton North Carolina while out Geocaching.  It is a literal road to nowhere. I think its super nice how they painted the lines, installed a stop sign, and a lamp post. Bonus points for the lamp post having two lights, one shining on the road, the other on grass. Nice touch!

This is brand new, less than 6 months old.  Nice to see the world staying just a little bit surreal.

Final Approach: An Awesomsauce Geo-art Extravanza

On July 23, 2014 a new geo-art series called Final Approach was published just north of Greensboro North Carolina

As soon as I saw it I knew just the group of folks who would be perfect for this mission: Team Awesomesauce.

You may remember Team Awesomesauce from our powertrail adventure in Tennesee in early July. The team includes Yours Truly, HoosierSunshine, FailedApparatus, NCBiscuit, and the enigmatic NinjaChipmunk.

Yesterday Team Awesomesauce suited up and met in a Walmart parking lot near Greensboro North Carolina, jumped into a rented "Geovan of Destiny"-esque mobile, and set off on an epic quest to turn this series of artisnal question marks into smiley faces.

The quest led us on a series of back roads that weaved through some picturesque North Carolina countryside.
Most of the geocaches themselves were simple PnG style hides. We each took turns jumping out of the van to make the grabs.  Here NCBiscuit is doing her part.
I did the navigating, and jumped out on occasion to find a cache or two.  I tried to add some style to this one.
HoosierSunshine, despite having a sore ankle, also got into the geocaching log signing spirit.
 FailedApparatus did all of the driving (as the Geovan was rented in his name) but he still did his part to grab a few caches.
Alongside her cache retrieval duties, NinjaChipmunk took on her roll as photographer sniper. Here she is in a stunning action shot.  Note the intensity and sneakitude of taking the shot from the open van door.
There are 82 caches in the series.  We signed each long with Team AZMSCE (cause writing is hard):
6 hours later, including several pit stops, a delicious lunch, and... um... hair treatment...
... we accomplished our goal.  One airplane worth of question marks converted into happy faces.

That is a lot of smilies.

We found a few additional caches along the way. By the time we finished the day we had logged 94 geocaches in total.

Team Awesomesauce has now gone our separate ways, and slid back into the murky shadows of our cover identities as civilians.  However, you never know when another mission will call, and Team Awesomesauce will suit back up and ride for on another epic quest.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Collect The Whole Set

This just came in the mail today.

I now have my own trading card! 

Lifelong dream achieved. Not bad.

If you want an official debaere trading card, ask me for one if you see me at an event, especially Going Caching in Rome GA, October 18.

I Said Please!

This always struck me as a very polite "keep out" sign.   Spotted on Blue Mountain in central Ontario.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Scotland The Brave: Lego Edition

The Scottish Referendum is on Thursday, which I find kinda fascinating.  I am not sure why as I am not Scottish or English, so I don't have any skin in the game.  I think its the chance that a brand new country may be formed, and with a bit of luck, it will happen without blood shed or civil war -  a refreshing change from the Ukraine and ISIS issues elsewhere in the world.

So in honor of what will hopefully be a shining example of two civilized peoples settling their differences with peace and diplomacy - whatever the outcome - I present to you:  Lego Sean Connery playing the bagpipes.

(If you are wondering I picture him playing The Bonnie Banks O'Loch Lomond)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Guns N' Roses Appreciation Society

I listen to music a lot. I always have. Over the years I have listened to a fairly wide range of musical styles, but I tend to gravitate towards hard rock. There is just something about a hard rhythm, pounding drums, and an angry dirty sounding guitar that gets my blood pumping.

Like most people who get to middle age, I am finding the current crop of music to be sub-par, so I have been looking back at the age when music was good to get my musical fixes.  Everyone has their own definition of when music was good, but it can typically be defined as "when you were in high school", which for me was the late 80s and early 90s.

You may recognize it as the golden age of the big hair bands.  Aerosmith, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Van Halen, they all had a place in the soundtrack of my life, but none were quite so favoured as Guns N' Roses.  At the time I couldn't say exactly why.  It could have been the lead singers unique aggressive growly voice, their bad boy, "don't give a crap" attitude, or the fact that the fuzzy haired fellow in the top hat could play his guitar like nobody's business.

All I knew is that they didn't sound like anything else I've heard before or since.  And it affected me like no music has before or since.  I was hooked.  I'd listen to their Use Your Illusion albums, I & II, on constant repeat for weeks at a time.

One of the great things about long car rides by yourself is that it gives you time to think.  A few weeks ago I went on such a drive. As a lark I put on the Use Your Illusion II album, and, as is required to appreciate a good hard rock album, I cranked the stereo up to 11, put my foot down, and soaked in the music while eating up the miles.

While I motored along I remembered how much I loved this album as a teen, and, armed with the additional perspective of having an additional 20-odd years of life experience under my belt, I finally started to understand why.

I believe that music should affect you in some way.  Good music should move you.  Great music should take you on a journey.  That is exactly what G'n'R did.  They took me an epic journey, and they do it like nobody else.

Many of their songs cover deep emotional topics in a no-holds-barred sort of way.  This isn't new, but where most bands hide their deep thoughts behind cryptic lyrics and basic hard rock guitar rifts,  G'n'R wears their emotions on their sleeve - lyrically and, most importantly, musically.

As an example, The Without You trilogy (Don't Cry, November Rain, and Estranged), is the painful story of a man dealing with the suicide of his girlfriend.  Estranged especially, in my opinion their greatest work, shrugs off the 'verse chorus verse solo chorus' recipe and heads off on a 9 minute roller coaster of grief, loss, anger, angst, gut twisting pain, confusion, and finally acceptance, presented in a series of lyrical thoughts followed by amazing guitar solos.  It is almost symphonic in presentation (as much as a rock band can be).  It is highly introspective, and raw with emotion.

It is tightly woven together: lyrics, guitar, drums, bass, piano.  Every note and drum beat purposely positioned in the song to take you on a journey, as if in lock step.  It is both beautiful and brutal.

It is a journey I've never personally been on, nor wish to personally experience, but I feel it in my gut every time I hear the song.  It is intense.  It is addictive.  It is genius itself, and in my experience, utterly unique.

I can't get enough of it. Luckily the G'n'R' catalog has plenty of these sorts of songs to fill the void.

Of course it doesn't hurt that the band had musical talent coming out of their ears. Axl Rose is widely considered one of the best vocalists in rock, and Slash's dominance of the guitar, and his unique sound, earns him a place on most lists of rock gods.  The rest of the band are not exactly musical slouches either.

 There are few lists of top rock songs that don't include at least one G'n'R epic, often several.

Its clear that the band had its issues.  They were famous for it, and it eventually tore the band apart prematurely. However those issues came out in their music in a very honest and palpable way.  They generated pure unfettered, brutally honest rock n'roll,  and let it all come out on the albums.

Its this raw talent mixed with the authenticity of their music that really speaks to me, and grabbed me as that high school kid.  Talent and honesty are things I value now in almost anything I tend to appreciate in life, and with influences like G'n'R, its no wonder.

So this is why I consider the Use Your Illusions II album specifically, and Guns N' Roses in general, as some of the best musical experiences in the world.  At least from where I sit.

Your opinions will likely vary, and I suspect by quite a bit. Music is, after all, a very personal thing. All I know is that when I finally shrug off this mortal coil, and St. Peter opens wide those pearly gates, the song I  really hope the choir of angels will be singing is "Paradise City."

Oh, won't you please take me home.