Monday, August 30, 2010

Musings On Cameras, iPhones and Hobbies

My birthday is coming up, and my friends are on my case about thinking of a gift idea. Normally we just go for dinner and skip gifts, but this year is a 'big' birthday for the three musketeers so a gift exchange suddenly came about.

I got to thinking about what I wanted/needed and could only come up with the usual: job, house, cat, soulmate - none of which my friends could buy for $120. (I suppose they could get me a cat, but that would only work if I had the house first. Such is the circle of my life).

Then someone mentioned a camera (which was actually this years gift for friend #1).

My camera sucks lots. It's a Nikon Coolpix 7mpx point and shoot. I bought it off of friends #2 and #3 for $100 when they won it at a raffle a couple years ago. I previously had a Nikon Coolpix 2mpx which I was very happy with - we travelled Europe together during the London years - so I figured the upgrade would be a good deal. Wrong. It's a crappy camera. It takes terrible terrible low light pictures and don't even ask about night shots. What bothers me most is that the colours are dull, even when compared to older point and shoots. It's a crappy crappy camera.

But, as I'm not much of a photographer, that's never really bothered me. I take pictures twice a year - when I travel and at Folk Fest. I usually get disappointed with the photos during these two weeks, bitch a bit about my crappy camera, and get on with life. I'm pretty nonmaterialistic/anticonsumerism-ish so since I really don't 'need' a camera, I have never been able to justify spending money to upgrade the crappy crappy coolpix. I have a camera. I take pictures twice a year. I can deal.

Or not.

Now I'm thinking maybe it's time to get a new camera. Follow my reasoning:

a) My friends need a gift idea for my upcoming birthday, and besides gas station gift certificates, I can't think of anything else. Apparently they don't think gas station gift certificates are an acceptable gift for my 'big' birthday.

b) If I got a new camera, I would actually take good pictures twice a year when I travel or go to Folk Fest.

c) If I got a new camera, maybe I would take pictures more than twice a year. I don't want to be a photographer per say, I've already got one hobby I'm terrible at (note photo in blog header). So I wouldn't go on photo walks or anything, but maybe I would have more incentive to take photos. For what reason I'm not sure. Help me out on this one. Do people just take photos for fun even if no one ever sees them?

d) I've been thinking of doing the whole 'photo-a-day' thing, it being a 'big' birthday year and all. Mostly it seems people do that to improve their photography skills. The take lots of photos, edit them, then post the best to show off what a great photographer they are. That's not why I'd do it though, remember I already have a hobby I'm terrible at, so I'd really only do it to chronicle my 'big' birthday year. It might be interesting to look back and see what happened. And I guess in the process maybe my photography skills would passively improve. I wouldn't photoshop the photos or anything; I'd probably just take one a day and just upload them to this blog/a separate blog. Friend #3 said I wouldn't have to upload them everyday, so I could take a photo a day and post it once a week - I would be ok with that. It wouldn't take that long, would it? See, the new camera would help with this (so would an iPhone*), maybe make it more fun and not disappointing. But do I really have time? I've been working full time for a week and already I'm having trouble keeping up with Twitter and all the blogs I follow. Plus the other hobby I have starts soon and that's pretty time consuming, what with the playing and watching and blogging and famous boy ogling and maybe this year practicing. Plus I've been considering re-taking up the fiddle (another story for another post perhaps). How many hobbies can I do terribly?

e) If I'm going to get a camera though, I'm not going to get another possible less crappy point and shoot. I think maybe it's time I upgraded to one of those fancy SLR/DSLR ones everyone has started buying. That's a price jump yes, but worth it in the long run (?). Friend #3 was mentioning mirrorless cameras that are all the range, so maybe I could get one of them?

I think we decided I would spend up to $500 and that I needed to get one by Christmas before I go travelling. I'm supposed to be watching the sales, but really, I reckon if I decide to go full out with this, I'll have one in a week or so. Patient I am not.

* But why spend $500 on a new fancy camera I might not use very much when I could just spend the money on an iPhone. Then I could take crappy photos and upload them to Twitter in a timely fashion. And I could take crappy guerilla photos during concerts that I could upload to my blurry concert album on facebook. And I could take crappy photos and super easily upload them online for the photo-a-day thingy. And I could tweet and check email and apps on the fly and I could finally belong to that secret iPhone society.

I wants one. My precious.

Really though, $500 is only a few months of phone + data plan + buying out my Koodo tab. An iPhone is way more of a money suck. I already have an iPod touch which is sorta the same (no online/camera) so can't really justify the upgrade. And do I really need to spend more time online? And who would really see my crappy twitter photos? And aren't I supposed to be working on the other (three) hobbies I do terribly? And doesn't this not quite satisfy the birthday gift conundrum?

Oh my head hurts.

Do I buy a fancy camera? If so, which one? Can I justify it's use? Should I do the photo-a-day challenge? Should I just forget both, put $120 of gas in my car and work on my offline hobbies? Does it really matter and does anyone care?

Thought/comments welcome please and thank you!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Lord of The Libraries

I'm a librarian.

I'm a big Lord of the Rings fan.

Why have I never seen this before?

Brilliant - well, not counting the dodgy accents - otherwise brilliant!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Music Monday: Le Vent du Nord

Since Folk Fest a couple weeks ago, I've been listening to one band on constant repeat/shuffle  - Le Vent du Nord.

They were my Folk Fest 2010 favourite of the festival, and even after two weeks of constant car company, I'm not ready to switch out the cds just yet.

I've been listening to Quebecois music for years, and can honestly say LVDN are one of the best bands out there. They are great singers/musicians and seem to be really nice guys. Sure, I don't understand 99% of the words, but musically - c'est fantastique!

I'll let the music speak for itself - take 5 minutes to listen, and I guarantee you'll be tapping your foot by the end...

(with Nicolas Pellerin - the Legolas of Quebec)

You can find LVDN at:
Le Vent du Nord official
Le Vent du Nord myspace
Le Vent du Nord facebook
Le Vent du Nord wikipedia

If you like LVDN, you might also like:
La Bottine Souriante
Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs
De Temps Antan

Friday, August 20, 2010

Awesome Jobs On The Horizon

Wow. It's been a truly blessed week.

Remember this post from back in June? I lamented the loss of my life's purpose and mission. I quoted a presentation from Mastermaq: "Find something you are passionate about and do it here in Edmonton"

Well, I've done it, doubled!

First, the curling news. A twitter friend has asked me to be on the volunteer committee for the 2011 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships that are being held in Edmonton next March. I've been asked to do their social media - how exciting!! I'm looking forward to a) figuring out my plan b) meeting the rest of the committee and helping out and c) meeting the curlers, watching the curling and enjoying the event!

And my volunteer application for the 2011 Continental Cup has also been approved! I'm not sure what I'll be doing, but it's going to be exciting!

Secondly, the BIG library news. I graduated with my Master of Library and Information Studies degree in the Spring and have been looking for a job ever since. It's been an emotional roller coaster. Job hunting is stressful. Job interviews are nerve wracking. Getting turned down for jobs previously interviewed for is completely demoralizing. Classmates who I was friends with previously are now all scrambling to get the same positions. We've been stealing interviews and jobs from each other, crushing dreams and bruising egos along the way. I've had to make some tough decisions recently, but it finally happened...

I got library job!

As a real librarian!

In the library I've always wanted to work at!

And I'm being genuine about that - I am so excited to be doing the job I love at a library I love!

It's like all my prayers were answered.

Thus I've rediscovered my passions - curling and library work - and I now get to do both in Edmonton, the city I love. Thank God for the opportunities!

So stay tuned - life just got a bit more exciting!

Hopefully I don't get hit by lightning anytime soon...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Music Monday: My First Patio Series at Festival Place

While many Edmonton folkies were enjoying Van Morrison at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival a couple weeks ago, I was in Sherwood Park enjoying Festival Place's annual Qualico Patio Series.

I'd heard murmurs of this Patio Series over the years, but never bothered to check it out. Big mistake. Apparently I missed the Peatbog Fairies last month. Oops.

Here's how it works:

1. You buy your ticket online/at Festival Place - for a steal of a deal at $8.
2. You wander around the Sherwood Park Farmer's Market, conveniently located in the parking lot (don't worry, there is still parking, plus there's also parking nearby at the high school or pool).
3. You either a) eat dinner at the Farmer's Market (hot dogs, fries, fruit) or b) buy something from the Patio BBQ (sandwiches, burgers, beverages).
4. You wander back through Festival Place to the backyard. A small stage was set up on one side, the BBQ tables on the other, and a whole bunch of plastic tables and chairs make up the middle.
5. You sit and listen to the music.

It was...quaint. Actually, the venue is pretty ingenious. Really, you don't even have to pay, because instead of a fence to keep cheap onlookers out, the backyard is bordered by a sidewalk that runs through the park. On the other side of this sidewalk is a grassy area and a lake, so people had ridden their bikes or stopped by during their walk. Some people sat on the grass or a picnic table, and some brought their own camping chairs to sit on. Honestly folks, it's only $8, help out the artist next time, k?!

The first act on the particular night I went was The Command Sisters, a U22 group consisting of two young teenage sisters. And you know what? They were really good! They were singer/songwriter/bluegrassy kind of, and regardless of whether they were singing covers or their own songs, it just sounded lovely. The harmonies were pretty and they were both talented musicians. They had quite the stage presence (especially the 12 yr old, that girl's gonna be a star one day - her banter was endearing). I hope the girls really do well with their musical career. I know I'll keep an eye out for their concerts in the future.

Listen to The Command Sisters at their U22 or myspace page.

The headliner was Matt Landry and the Dryland Band. Apparently he used to be the lead singer of Tupelo Honey, a local rock band that made waves recently (if you read their website, it doesn't sound like it was a good split), but this solo effort was more singer/songwriterish. Actually, compared to those girls that were on before him, his set was dry and forgettable. I didn't mind the music too much, and entertained myself by watching the fiddler, but my companions kept dissing the unimaginative lyrics until we left (early).

Sorry, no pictures, it seemed a bit weird to take photos in that type of venue. You'll just have to check out the websites. (Photo above from Festival Place's annual Qualico Patio Series webpage.)

I'm going again at the end of the month to see Lizzy Holt and Erica Viegas - can't pass up an $8 concert in such a lovely setting!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Life Is Beautiful: Folk Fest 2010 Wrap Up


What a weekend.

Once again, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival was full of amazing awesomeness!

amazing awesomeness = wonderful people + fantastic music

Ok, first of all, here are my musical picks of the festival...

2010 Amazing Awesomeness Top 5:

1. Le Vent Du Nord - I've long been a fan of traditional Quebecois folk music, and this great Quebecois band was most definitely my festival favourite of the year. I've seen them a couple times before, and I have a couple CDs already (um, double that now...) but I still stalked followed them around to all the stages they played. Their music is amazing, their banter is humorous, they play all my favourite instruments (fiddle, feet, guitar, bass, accordion - and hurdy-gurdy which is like a fiddle/accordion/vuvuzela mashup!) and they are fun to watch. It doesn't get any better.

1.5. The first hour of the Ceilidh session when LVDN and Genticorum played together. Too. Awesome. For. Words. French boys are lovely, that's all I'm saying.

2. Genticorum - Yes, the other Quebecois band of the fest. And yes, they technically play the same music, but I'd argue it's very different (which is why Genticorum is second and LVDN is first)*. But just as fun to watch/listen to.

3. Te Vaka - This Polynesian band absolutely rocked the hill Sunday afternoon. They were seriously fun. Perfect timing.

4. Jimmy Rankin - As a big Rankin Family fan, I always enjoy Jimmy's solo efforts, and I have seen him numerous times. Though not ground breaking or magical, I really enjoyed this session because I knew (and sang) every single word to every single song. And I quite enjoyed that. Also, Jimmy rocked the sneakers.

5. Our Sunday Morning Sessions - Our first session was LVDN, Lau, Ron Kavana, Brian McNeill and Luis E. Mejia Godoy. It was one big Quebecois/Scottish/Irish/Spanish jam session. So magical. Our second session was the gospel session (which I'd never been too before, why have my friends never coerced me into attending it? I tell you what though, I'll be there next year!) with Dailey and Vincent (most amazing cutie on bass vocals - seriously, how did that sound come out of his mouth?), John Boutte and Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens. So uplifting. Ah, Sunday morning bliss.

It was a different folk fest for me. Lately, as in the last few years, I've been pretty good at (slightly) branching out and hearing new bands and types of music. Recently I've come to enjoy alt-country and some of the indie and world bands. But this year I seemed to lapse into the routine of only seeing the 'fiddle' bands, a habit I had for the first few years I attended. And you know what? I really enjoyed the festival this year. The fiddle bands seemed to be lacking the last few years but were back in force this year (at one point I saw six fiddlers on the same stage, not kidding) and they did not disappoint. Sure, I didn't find any new musicians to devote my CD consumerism to, but I quite enjoyed reconnecting with my favourite bands.

As usual, I also got to see my traditional favourite sites of the festival: particular volunteers and folkies who come back year after year, the venue, our line up routines. I also made lots of new 'friends' by talking to strangers in line ups, at side stages, on the hill etc. This, besides the music, is my most favourite thing about the festival. I love talking to strangers.

I should probably seek help for that.

Anyways, it was another successful folk fest. This year it struck me that everyone at folk fest sees a 'different' folk fest - what I see is strikingly different than what my tarpmates see - and that is why everyone loves folk fest because in this case, you can please everyone (almost) all the time. And after reading others blogs/tweets and seeing other peoples photos, it also occured me (again) that I am a terrible photographer. No photo is as good as the memory though.

At one point, while sitting on the hill watching the sun set, it suddenly occurred to me that life is beautiful. Sure, sometimes every day real life sucks - being unemployed sucks, being single sucks, living at home sucks - but ultimately, as long as you've got good music and good friends, it's pretty darn good to be alive.

360 more days...

* For the record, while LVDN and Genticorum both play similar (and often the same) Quebecois music, they sound different. LVDN are moody-er, and almost medieval sounding (blame the hurdy-gurdy for that), whereas Genticorum are cheerful-er. I don't know much about music but I told a fellow tarpmate that LVDN sound like they're always playing in minor keys, where as Genticorum sound like they only use major keys. This is not actually true, misinformed and un-musically sound, but it seems to get the message across. 

Friday, August 06, 2010

Folk Fest Blogging

I've been asked/volunteered to write a bit for a local unofficial Edmonton Folk Music Festival blog that was put together but a local tweeter.

I suppose the intention is to post concert reviews and photos in a timely fashion, but I don't have a smartphone so that's out. Also, my concert reviews go something like this:
"The Quebecois bands are awesome!! I love fiddles and accordians and banjos because they're awesome and the French boys are cute!! And that three hour ceilidh, wow that was so awesome! Magic, it was magic! And [insert big name main stage headliner that everyone else thinks is amazingly awesome] was just a bit meh so I went home early to get some sleep." 
Yeah, no one wants to read about that. I'll leave the concert blogging to someone else.

So I've written a couple posts about going to the festival:
Folk Friends
Q&A for Newbies

See you on the hill!

(Folk Fest 'awesome' tally for this post: 4)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

It's Folk Fest Time Again!!

It's that time of year again - my favourite four days of the year - it's time for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival!!

Yes, I will once again, for the ninth year in a row, be spending the next four days braving the elements to sit on a hill and listen to brilliant folk music. Technically it should be five days, but we are missing out on the Wednesday night fundraiser show. Why? Because we don't really know Van Morrison because we are kinda young, and it was expensive, and five days last year was tooooo long which made Sunday even more exhausting. And sorry, if you want to go you can't, it sold out super quick!

This year I'm mostly looking forward to stalking the Quebecois boys and going to the Ceilidh session. And of course meeting old and new friends. Speaking of, sadly two of our usual tarp mates wont be there this year because they have a beautiful new baby boy - they will be missed. So this year will be full of 'new' experiences.

Catch up on my past posts:
2009 Wrap up
2008 Wrap up

You can follow the festival via the twitter hashtag #efmf - otherwise I'll catch up with you next week!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Music Monday: Captain Tractor

I remember Captain Tractor from back in the day, like back in the high school day! I'm pretty sure I had a cd - they were a cool band from Edmonton and that was a rarity in those days (at least to my knowledge anyways). Imagine my surprise then, when I saw they were scheduled to play ATaste of Edmonton on the night I had planned to go!

A Taste of Edmonton isn't a local festival I particularly enjoy, but it was fun to sit on the stairs and listen to Captain Tractor for awhile. They sound just like I remember. It'll be interesting to see if their new cd makes some waves.

Check out some vintage Captain Tractor:

The pirate song was filmed at everyone's favourite place to loiter, West Edmonton Mall (obviously).

You can find Captain Tractor at:
Captain Tractor official
Captain Tractor wikipedia
Captain Tractor myspace