I've been bad

Last week, I bought an unauthorized water filtration system, (plus a generic flashlight to get over the free shipping limit). By "unauthorized," I mean "Uh, honey? Guess what I bought." I'll pay more than money for this purchase.

We get to test it all out in the field (the tarp, the sleeping pad, and the unauthorized water filtration system (plus a generic flashlight to get over the free shipping limit)) in two weeks. We're stoked.

We're trying to get another weekend at Sombrio Beach in August with both kids, too. This makes us happy.

Day Trip

This weekend Corinne, the kids, and I took a short day trip to Port Renfrew. This is my lovely daughter Laura and I a few feet from the surf.


What weighs 27 ounces but comfortably sleeps three?

This does, and it arrived today. It's over 11 square meters and you can pack it into a one-pound coffee can. The cord and stakes needed to pitch it would weigh more (but we don't use stakes on the beach, we use whatever driftwood and rocks we can find).

The sleeping pad came, too, but I don't have an opinion yet. It's light, sure, but right now it's recovering from the tight rolling they do in the factory. Trying to find a place where it can self-inflate without the cats walking over it was a trick (it's on the closet shelf), but hopefully it will all work out. We'd really like two of them, but we want to test it before getting another.

One really cool thing about MEC is their liberal return policy. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet (obviously), but my shipment came with a "fill this out to return your stuff if you don't like it" form. How freakin' amazing is that? I think I'm a fan.


Tarp camping/Beach camping

This mid-July, Corinne and I will be revisiting Mystic Beach.

We lost our beach camping virginity there six years ago, in a far-too-heavy tent, but haven't been back since. That makes us sad. Don't get me wrong. Our beach camping excursions since then have been wonderful, but we haven't actually hiked in to a site since that one trip. We're looking forward to taking what we've learned in the last six years and putting it to use at Mystic.

We've been experimenting with tarp camping, and have come to the conclusion that it's perfect for our needs -- at least at a beach where bugs aren't a problem. So last week we bit the bullet and bought an MEC Silicone Guides Tarp. It should arrive this week, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with various pitching methods.

Expect pictures.

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New template

Woo. Hoo.

I anticipate renewing my blogging vows this summer, for a few posts anyway. I foresee lightweight camping pictures and HOWTOs. Stay tuned. All two of you.


Here ya go, Kristian

As per request, I'm updating my fucking blog.



Dr. Doodoolittle

Last night we made a large pot of chili. Being a large pot, we had chili for dinner tonight, also. As you might imagine, after two days of chili dinners the discharge of flatus gases from my fleshy parts has been both loud and copious. Go ahead. Imagine it.

Just now I came inside from an amusing smoking session. Seconds after loosing a long blast of chili-flavored wind, a frog answered my call from a nearby grove. "I'll be," I thought. Having ample reserves, I released three more quick bursts: "toot-toot-toot." From the trees came a reply: three ribbits. My anal sphincter and the lovelorn amphibian discussed things while I smoked and listened.


I found the frog's capacity for mimicry astounding, and as I smoked I pondered whether the Discovery Channel would see in this an idea for a show. Not for an entire series, of course, but perhaps an hour-long special. Was I using intestinal gas to announce my willingness to act as mate to this frog? Were we discussing territorial issues, he with his larynx and me with my rectal opening? Was I misleading him toward food? I'm sure the Discovery Channel would know.

Sadly, I didn't record the exchange. All you have is my word. It was an entertaining five minutes, nonetheless.


To my Canadian Facebook friends

Please consider joining the Facebook group Fair Copyright for Canada.

If you don't live on the web, or if I haven't already talked your ear off about it, here's a quick run-down of what it's all about. Canada's Industry Minister Jim Prentice is pushing forward with a Canadian version of America's draconian DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). In fact, it will be worse than the American DMCA. Canada's version of the law will contain an "anti-circumvention" clause that prohibits breaking the locks off music and videos you already own. No exceptions.

This means that, if the law passes, it will become illegal to break the locks off your music or DVDs in order to move them to new devices. If the DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme associated with a DVD or CD "calls home" before allowing it to be played -- if that isn't happening now, it will happen very soon -- and the company it's calling goes out of business, or even merely changes its verification scheme, it will be impossible for you to continue enjoying what you've purchased. Not because DRM schemes can't be broken (they can, and very easily), but because it will be illegal to even try to break one.

If you make the terrible mistake of buying DRMed music and later decide you want to burn it to a CD to play in the car, or convert it to MP3 to play on your Creative Zen, you're shit outta luck. It will be illegal to convert it. Instead, you'll have to buy a second copy for the car, and a third for the Zen. A DVD that plays fine in the ultra-modern player in your entertainment center (because it knows how to handle DRMed discs) may not play in your Chinese cheapo portable player. Breaking the DRM to make it do so will not be a (legal) option. Compressing it to play on your video iPod will also be illegal. You'll be forced to purchase more copies of the same thing.

It's American companies that are lobbying Canadian politicians to push this law through. American companies want to force you to buy multiple copies of the same thing, removing rights we've enjoyed for as long as any of us can remember.

Joining a Facebook group may not feel like much (I sure won't stop you from writing your MP, too), but as the group grows it becomes something those who are actively fighting the Canadian DMCA can point to as evidence that Canadians just won't stand for it.

Please join. Please encourage your friends to join.

Click here to learn more about the Canadian DMCA and the damage it will cause you, your freedoms, your wallet, our artists, and our Canadian culture, and to find out other, even more effective, ways to fight it.


The End of America

Lisa recommended this chilling lecture by Naomi Wolf. She makes a very strong case. The only problem is, if you're willing to listen to what she says, you're probably already part of the choir. If you know anyone who's on the fence on this, though, it's worth sending it their way, or at least worth watching yourself to help you organize your own arguments.

Ten steps to start a dictatorship:

  1. Invoke an internal or external threat (real or not)
  2. Create a secret prison system and military tribunal system outside the rule of law
  3. Create a paramilitary force
  4. Create a surveillance apparatus against ordinary citizens
  5. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
  6. Infiltrate citizen's groups
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Restrict the press
  9. Recast criticism as espionage, and dissent as treason
  10. Subvert the rule of law / declare martial law



The graphic above asks "What's this?" The correct answer to the question is "a stupid user interface."

I'm seeing this on more and more sites. Double-click on a word and up pops a definition or a link to more information. Like on this page:

This isn't bad information, but it's bad UI design.

Double-clicking may or may not be how a user starts making a selection, but it certainly isn't how most users have learned to signal that they're done selecting text.

For instance, when reading the news story above, perhaps you want to learn more about Judicial Watch. You might double-click on "Judicial," drag your cursor over the second word, then release the mouse button to indicate that you've finished highlighting. Afterwards, you'd use your favorite method of searching for highlighted text.

Or maybe you'd do it differently. You have that choice. Just not on this site. On this site, double-clicking indicates that you're done selecting text. That's totally contrary to every mousing habit you've ever learned. This "feature" assumes we all have the same mousing habits as the designer, or what the designer thinks we should have, and if we don't we're shit out of luck.

I don't particularly want to have one site react differently to how I use my mouse than other sites do. It's akin to disabling my right-click menu or my browser's Back button. It's not a feature, it's a non-standard UI that users may or may not want to deal with.

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