The dangers of a cross-country charity ride

Since I work for a newspaper that’s conveniently positioned right near the centre of the Trans-Canada Highway, every summer we are swamped with people passing through on a coast-to-coast journey, looking for a little publicity as the ride, glide, run, walk or bounce a few thousand kilometres for charity or some other cause.

It was big news when Terry Fox attempted it. And the hundreds (thousands?) of emulators since all seem to expect the same level of media attention. Sadly, when there is a new cross-country marathoner passing through each and every weekday, though, it’s no longer news.

(BREAKING! Sun to rise again this morning!)

So, you get people trying to capture attention by doing wacky things — they’ll dress as a medieval knight, for example.

Or, as one recent passer-through did, don a Guy Fawkes mask and a VERY revealing blue skin-suit — go here to see a picture of his balls-to-the-wall outfit.

That same guy posted this video to his website — a cautionary tale:


Keep track of Olympic medals

I am appreciative of the new site, done by Animal. The site does what it says on the tin: It keeps track of medals won by countries at the Olympics.

You can pick up to four countries on your “watch list.” There’s no Facebook or Twitter integration, you can’t earn badges, you don’t have to decipher a captcha, you just get numbers of medals. I don’t even think you can click through to see which sport the medals were won in.

It’s mildly zen. And I like it.

What would your 12 year old self tell you?

One man knows.  He had a conversation with himself, 20 years in the past.

Let me explain.

In 1992, Jeremiah MacDonald videotaped a message to himself.  That videotape sat dormant for 20 years.  MacDonald moved around, as one does in their early adulthood, but always that video traveled with him.  Finally, at age 32, he sat down and watched it.

Perhaps it is no small coincidence that MacDonald is now an animator and filmmaker.  Coincidence or no, he has used these skills to put together a conversation between his two selves, 20 years apart.

The result is funny and sweet and, somehow, just a little bit sad.

What would you tell your younger/older self?


Music makes the world go round, or something like that

What happens when you try to make music with musicians around the world?  Magic, if you are anything like the folks behind Playing For Change.  With a mobile recording studio, they travel the world creating collaborations and musical partnerships in the hopes of connecting the world through music.

A lofty goal perhaps, but the results — regardless of whether the world is more connected or not — are wonderful.

Check it out:


“Stand by Me” performed by musicians around the world from SKAT on Vimeo.

Newsman golfs across Detroit to explore his city

Charlie LeDuff golfs the length of Detroit

I meant to watch the video above when it first circulated, earlier this month. But, in the nature of the Internet, newer shinier things came along, and my attention span isn’t what it used to be.

Then I spotted a bit of an analysis on the video, which I read, and which re-sparked my interest in watching the video. So I did.

It was worth it, in an entertaining way, although I didn’t really learn much about Detroit that I didn’t already know.

But it’s a strangely compelling piece of journalism. It gimmicky, it doesn’t offer much in the way of reporting, and yet it’s a good-enough slice of life that it’s worth it. Not all news has to be of the hard-hitting, investigative type.

None of the little pieces that Charlie LeDuff uncovers in his golf-across-town amount to much more than an anecdote. He chips his ball through an abandoned house. He tries to get some cops to help a mother find her missing (and apparently drug-addicted) 20-year-old daughter. He fights with acres of overgrown grass on city land — grass the city can’t afford to cut.

And yet, taken together, the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s informative because it takes a wide view of the whole situation, rather than drilling down into the five-Ws of a single incident.

Would it work for all journalists? No.

And I’m a little uncomfortable with the implications of a white man playing such a white game, and using such overwhelmingly black neighbourhoods as his course.

But I could be inspired. I’m thinking, why not start a project called, say, “Blogging Brandon,” wherein I (and perhaps some colleagues) travel through our small city, and write a post about every single block, in turn. We could do one a week, and probably spend the next decade catching up, at which point we could start again.

(A very rough estimate suggests there are about 4000 separate blocks in my hometown, which means we could do a new one EVERY DAY, and it would still take more than a decade.)

Astonishing complete rebuild of a classic camper

With more than 100 photos, I really didn’t expect to scroll through this full gallery, but I found myself engrossed.

And impressed. Redditer imakethenews and his girlfriend completely stripped this ’65 camper — and I mean stripped, down to the chassis — before rebuilding it brand-new.

The interior was trashed, and I don’t know what it was like originally, but it now features a futon bed, a kitchenette, and even a bathroom area.

He even dropped a section of the floor so that he could stand in it.

Amy and I own a pop-up style tent trailer that looks like it has had some pieces replaced over the years, but now I’m starting to think …. hmmm, what if I had more money, more time, and more skills?

Check out the full gallery: 1965 Serro Scotty Sportsman – Imgur.

Our yard sale was a success

In preparation for a big trip planned for this fall, Amy and I started clearing out our house. But instead of throwing things out, we decided to make people pay us for the privilege of carting our cast-offs away.

Yes, I know, it sounds like Tom Sawyer whitewashing a fence, but apparently, you can do this if you call it a “yard sale”. Here was the ad we put in the paper:

Despite our best efforts, we did have some earlybirds. I was out, busy hammering signs into nearby boulevards, and Amy is too soft-hearted to turn them away, so we didn’t end up charging triple prices to anyway, but I did scowl a little.

Here is one fellow, perusing our tables:

We sold a LOT of junk. Sure, we were selling DVDs for $1 a pop, and CDs we let go a case for $5, but we still managed to net a hefty profit — well over $300, and probably closer to $400, although we’re not completely sure since we didn’t fully count our float.

Here’s Amy with just our paper profits:

And remember — this is cash money that people paid US, for stuff we didn’t want any more.