28 December 2010

Christmas, unwrapped - Part 2

Time/Date: 1655, 28-Dec-10
Location: I didn't move too far since posting Part 1 an hour ago...

As some of you might have read here before, I'm not really a big fan of random, useless stuff and clutter.

I'm going through a phase in my life where I'm trying to live a little simpler & frugal, opting to focus on meaningful experiences, such as travel, fly fishing and becoming more financially secure. Did I mention fly fishing? I like to do that.

Of course, unfortunately for me, this does not coincide with what Christmas has become for an increasingly large part of society.

DJ B-Ray posted this video from Bill Maher a few days before Christmas. It is definitely worth paying attention to.

That provides a really good explanation for most of my Christmas shopping (& wish list) in 2010 (though, being as awesome as I am, I had most of my shopping done long before I watched the video).

I wanted to get useful gifts for the important people in my life. Not just 'stuff they might need' but actual, put-to-good-use types of things.

For some close friends & family, I took it a step further.

They received donations made in their name to Kiva.org. Kiva provides entrepreneurs in developing countries with micro-financing to help them get their business off the ground. It isn't 'just' a hand-out; those receiving the loans are required to pay them back. And most of them do. 98.91% of them, to be precise.

As for my 'wish list,' I didn't ask for much and was very lucky with what I received:

- my gorgeous gf picked me out a really cool book (Four Fish, by Paul Greenberg) and added gift cards for a bookstore & coffee shop.
- the folks & my brothers picked me up some very useful odds & ends (coffee, Esso gift cards, iTunes gift cards, etc).
- my roommates picked me up Fishpond's super-cool Southern Cross Fishing Journal.
- Chris & his fiance at Fredericton Outfitters gave me a classic salmon fly (pictured below), tied & mounted by Scott Doncaster.

All said & done, a pretty good haul for a quasi-minimalist :)

Thanks to my friends & family for the wonderful gifts; more importantly, thanks for being my friends & family.

Christmas, unwrapped - Part 1

Time/Date: 1515, 28-Dec-10
Location: snowy F'ton

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

My holidays are going quite well, though, like most people, it's been a little hectic. Made apparent by this being the first post I've written in eight days.

I was very happy to make it to the family homestead, if only for ~22 hours. I got to see my folks and grandmother, and my younger brothers both made it home from school. I've only been home for Christmas twice over the past five years; it was nice to be home.

On Christmas Night the entire Nicky Zees complex (of which Lava Vodka Lounge is a part of) held its 8th annual charity night. A portion of bar sales & cover charge was donated to the Fredericton SPCA for the second year in a row. Last year, over $2000 was donated to the SPCA.

This year, I went with a little side-venture for charity in addition to the SPCA: I decided a few days beforehand that I would donate all my tips & wages from working the bar at Lava on Christmas Night to charity: water.

My preference for charity: water comes from their policy of 100% of a public donation goes to field operations. If someone was to donate $20, all $20 goes to a project. No portion goes to administrative costs (one charity in Ontario was spending $61 to raise $100, a net benefit of $39 per $100 donated. Not cool, in my mind).

I am very pleased to announce the fundraising went extremely well. I set an (overly ambitious) goal of raising $500; when all was said & done, $495 was raised. I threw in the extra $5 to make it an even $500. Cheating to reach my goal? Perhaps. But who's going to call me on it?

With $500 raised, 25 people will now have the ability to drink clean water for the next 20 years.

Many people came in to Lava & tossed some extra money into the pot; without them, this wouldn't have been possible (for more info on how the night went & who helped make a difference, check out Lava's Facebook page). All things considered, all it took from me was a little typing on Facebook & Twitter and going without an income for one night.

I think that's an acceptable cost.

Music time:
This is one of the few overplayed songs on the radio I enjoy hearing 6 times a day. Enjoy!

20 December 2010

Anybody else looking forward to this???

Time/Date: 1750, 20-Dec-10
Location: F'ton

I am. Can't wait. Seriously counting the days until I can go see this:

I was a bit of a cowboy myself, back in the day in the rugged northeast of Nevada:

I really thought I'd get a call for a supporting role in True Grit, but the Coen Brothers must have thought differently. I thought I could win them over with this shot:

I guess I should have worn the eye patch.

Tickets for the Heineken Music New Year's Eve event are moving fast! The event features the David Myles Band with Ross Neilsen & the Sufferin' Bastards.

Tickets can be picked up at Read's Newstand, downtown on King Street.

16 December 2010

Fish more (& 10 other things for 2011)

Time/Date: 1515, 16-Dec-10
Location: F'ton

Last night I wrote the following on my whiteboard:
  1. FOA FB Ev (translation: do the Facebook event for fly-tying night at Fredericton Outfitters & Anglers)
  2. H-wash trav tow (translation: hand-wash my new quick-dry travel towel so I don't turn blue in Senegal & freak out the villagers)
  3. compost/garbage/vacuum (self-explanatory)
  4. sort/shred paperwork
  5. WRITE!!
I have an unnatural affinity for whiteboards, ask anyone who has worked with me. I also like lists (more on this in a moment).

After accomplishing 1 through 4, I browsed my RSS feed & came across Thoughtwrestling's 11 for 11 posts. Simply brilliant. As I said, I like lists. I've been thinking about what's coming up for 2011. My fifth task on my whiteboard was write. So why the hell not.

Note: these aren't resolutions. I hate new years resolutions. They're 11 things I'm going to focus on in 2011. There's no binding contract with the New Year baby or anything like that. Consider this a framework.

1. Fish more.
This is a given. 

2. Travel more.
It's not like I don't travel a fair bit already; for instance, in 2010:
  • Feb-Mar: 5 weeks working in Northern Ontario;
  • June: 3 weeks working in Northern Ontario
  • July: 3-day vacation in Montreal
  • Aug-Sep: 3+ weeks working in Burkina Faso
  • Nov: 9 days working in Nova Scotia
  • Nov: 2 days fly fishing in Louisiana
What's frustrating is this: ~90 days were spent working out of town & I didn't bother, for whatever reason, to do anything but work. For instance: I spent 13 hours at CDG airport in Paris & didn't do anything. So that is definitely going to change (details of my 2011 travel goals will be in an upcoming post).

3. Walk more. Drive less.
This is not some hippy, carbon footprint thing. This just makes sense for physical, mental & financial well-being. Burn less gas, burn more fat, burn less money. And reduce my carbon footprint! Ha! Gotcha! (ps - add biking to that, too)

4. Train myself to eat more fruit & veggies.
I'd really like to get to the point of a banana, apple or pear is my first thought for something to eat.

5. Train Awesome to be an off-leash dog.
This is high on my priority list. I would love to take Awesome more places but...well, let's just say he's special (he's a rescue dog). I'm afraid if he was off-leash, he'd put the ears back and head back to Seattle. He dislikes winter more than I do.

6. Less bullshit.
I've been working on physical & digital clutter. Moving on: mental clutter. Examples: I don't need to read how much of an asshole Toronto's new mayor is. Or how ignorant the typical poster on CanadaEast & CBC-NB's comment section is. This means more time doing fun things. Like fishing. Or making LAVA even more awesome.

7. Read more meaningful material.
I already read a lot. Probably more than you. But I want to read more classical and/or thoughtful literature. First up: Generation A by Douglas Coupland. After that: Thoreau's Walden.

8. Fish even more...
...and practice casting, practice knot-tying, tie more flies, improve my ability to read the water, meet more anglers, so & so forth.

9. Get my financial house in order.
It's not like it's bad...I just want to make it better. My philosophy from 2010 hasn't changed: paying off debt doesn't mean having more money to spend, it means there's less pressure to make money. That equals more time...to fish more. Travel more. And train Awesome.

10. See more (local) live music.
This doesn't really need an explanation, but if you're so inclined, check my music page for how I feel about this.

11. Help more.
There are people & organizations I helped in 2010. They will continue to receive my help, though some may get more & some may get less. There are others I hope to start donating time and/or money to. I'll probably mention them here from time to time. Everybody's got something to give to help others, be it time, skill or money.


11. a) (Bonus) Learn to say 'no' more.
Some people don't understand "working for yourself" means I still have to work and it's not all fun times & lollipops. Whatever the reason, I won't be rude about it, and I'll probably provide alternative options & solutions, but I will have to say no. Yeah, I know, it sucks.

Any big plans or changes for 2011? Throw 'em out there in the comments section.

Here's some music:

14 December 2010

iPod/iPhone apps I like

I've been more or less obsessed with adding apps to my iPod touch in the past couple of weeks.

I started with some of the photography apps I mentioned in previous posts. I'm a really big fan of Hipstamatic, as I ended up shooting almost all of my redfish trip to Louisiana with it.

Some of the other apps added recently include:
- Orvis fly fishing app (extremely cool);
- ScotiaBank (useful for account balances & basic banking);
- PDF Reader Lite (very useful for viewing PDF files);
- Skype (looks cool but haven't used it much yet);
- eBay (good for keeping tabs on your account for selling & alright for searching for items);
- Kayak.com (for flight & hotel searches, still in 'testing phase');
- Blogpress, which I'm writing this post with right now (looks ok so far, we'll see how it posts online soon).

I'm having a fair bit of fun getting into this app craze. I know, it's been around for a while, but I was (am) a blackberry guy for my phone and my first iPod touch was only 16GB (and completely jammed with music).

I will tell you this, though: I will be getting an iPhone in 2011. This is just way too much fun & I like the idea of consolidating my electronics as much as possible.

I'll provide more detailed reviews of apps after I get to use them a bit more.

Let's see how this post turns out online, shall we?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


13 December 2010

Personal visions of hell

Time/Date: 1520, 13-Dec-10
Location: a very soggy F'ton

How soggy? Well, 80-130mm worth of rain is forecasted. Awesome the dog is risking his bladder bursting instead of venturing out in that.

This post was inspired by a bbm conversation with Bucky a few minutes ago:

Bucky: Canadian Sportfishing today did a special on icefishing brook trout
Mat: Ice fishing is the fishing they do in hell in my mind.
Bucky: Yeah! But they were landing 4lb trout
Mat: In the cold. And sitting doing nothing while waiting for the trout to come to their bait. In the cold.
Mat: Could I emphasize that whole 'in the cold' thing a little more? I'd rather go listen to celtic music & have someone call out 'sociable' after every song.

Lecture room for UNB Physics 1040
With that, I've decided to share with you my 2 main personal visions of hell, based on previous life experience:

1. Taking a full-year physics course in the summer.
I did this back in Ought-Three. The course started in the last week of May and finished in the second week of August. It ran four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, from 6:30-9:30PM. There were assignments due almost every class, so Capital O & I would be working on these assignments almost every night until midnight. This class was one of the worse experiences in my (lengthy) academic career.

During the last week of classes, I thought to myself, "My vision of hell would be sitting in this class for all eternity, and then, on the last day of class, the Devil would burst through the door, sodomize me with my failed final exam, tell me I had to do the course again, and make me pay another $800 for it."

2. The Irish bar
I was in shock when I saw the Sopranos episode with Chris, Tony & Pauly talk about the Irish bar in hell:

Christopher Moltisanti: I'm going to hell, T. 
Anthony 'Tony' Soprano Sr.: You're not going anywheres but home. 
Christopher Moltisanti: I crossed over to the other side. 
Anthony 'Tony' Soprano Sr.: You what? 
Christopher Moltisanti: I saw the tunnel. And the white light. I saw my father in hell. 
Paulie 'Walnuts' Gualtieri: Get the fuck outta here! 
Christopher Moltisanti: And the bouncer said that I'd be there, too, when my time comes. 
Paulie 'Walnuts' Gualtieri: What bouncer? 
Christopher Moltisanti: The Emerald Piper. That's our hell. It's an Irish bar where it's St. Patrick's Day every day forever.

The reason for my shock: because several years before, someone wanted to go see a certain celtic band at a certain Irish pub.

My response: "My vision of hell is a god-damned Irish bar with celtic music, probably 'Farewell to Nova Scotia' over & over again. The only break from the shitty music is the lead singer screaming out "Sociable!" every three minutes, you raise your bottomless mug of shitty, warm Keith's draft, and drink."

To me those would be the worse possible scenarios for my demise during end times.

At least they might let me go ice fishing for my 2-week vacation per millennia.

Do you have any personal visions of hell you want to share? Throw 'em down in the comments section.

Here's some music, enjoy.

09 December 2010

A Voluptuous Volume of Vodka (and music)

Time/Date: 1115, 09-Dec-10
Location: F'ton

Click to go to Lava's Facebook page
This was supposed to be a Vodka et Vendredi post last vendredi, but someone (me) forgot to bring their laptop when they went to work early that night, so here it is now.

As a bonus (and because I probably won't write a Vodka et Vendredi post tomorrow), you're getting a 2 for 1 deal on drink recipes AND music today. That's right! Two drink recipes AND two music videos. I'm good like that.

But first:

The crew from Here Magazine, a weekly "Urban Alternative" (i.e., entertainment) paper in Moncton, Saint John & Fredericton, popped in to Lava & really like what they saw, heard & drank. You can read what they had to say in Here, umm, here (pun kinda intended). Hats off to my buddy Dave for being an awesome host & mixologist!

(btw, I didn't realize Here was owned by Brunswick News. Brunswick News being a part of the Irving Group of Companies and owns EVERY news outlet in the province. I wonder how a free, weekly "Urban Alternative" paper fits into their business model. Oh well. Irving family, if you're reading this, I will write & fly fish & put up youtube videos of music for you guys for $200,000. That's right, 411#3 has prices, not principles. They're just high prices.)

Enough of that. On to the drink recipes!

Here's a tasty cocktail that I call the 'Pom & Cran-It,' aka 'the Katie drink,' after my lovely coworker Katie. In a moment of pure genius, Katie decided that Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka would be delicious mixed with cranberry juice. She was right.

So here is the Pom & Cran-It:
  • fill an 8-12 oz tumbler with ice
  • 1 oz (or 2 oz, if you're so inclined) of Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka
  • top with cranberry juice
  • slice of lemon as garnish
That's it. Simple. Tasty.

For the anti-flavoured vodka purist, we have a special treat for you: Kissui Vodka. It's distilled in Japan from rice, so it leaves a faint aftertaste of Sake on the tongue. It's a special-order vodka at Lava, meaning you can't get it at NB Liquor. Our M.O. is get you hooked on something, and then tell you we're the only place you can get it. We're evil like that.

To best enjoy Kissui, I recommend:
  • small rocks glass, with 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1-2 oz of Kissui Vodka
  • squeeze in juice from 1 lime wedge (1/8th of a lime)
As, above, that's it. Simple. Tasty.

Now, music time. 

The boys (& my good friends) at BabZees Entertainment are throwing a New Year's Eve extravaganza, featuring local music superstars Ross Neilsen & the Sufferin' Bastards and the David Myles Band. Tickets are only $25, available at Read's Newsstand on King St. A portion of proceeds are going to the Jim Pirie Foundation, so get out, support a good cause & local music, and have fun!

Check out some tunes below.

08 December 2010

You never know what we've lost, unless you know what we had

Time/Date: 1300, 08-Dec-10
Location: F'ton

I just received the DVD of Rivers of a Lost Coast. It follows the story of the rise & fall of the Pacific salmon & steelhead fisheries on the California coast. It is extremely well-produced, and no writings of mine could really give it justice, so just watch the trailer below.

And if you're on the east coast, like me, I guarantee you're thinking of the Atlantic Salmon fishery while you watch this; it should be required viewing for every minister of fisheries, environment, natural resources, etc.

Keeping with theme of the title, 30 years ago today, John Lennon was taken from the world far too soon. I was only four years old when this happened. My dad loved (loves) the Beatles.

Contemplate & be thankful for what you have. You'll never know when you'll lose it.

01 December 2010

Post of randomness (& 2 cases against hero shots)

First off, I would like to thank everyone who checked out the site for my last post and posted comments & shared the link on twitter, facebook & their own blogs.

I'm trying to get back to my old-timey method of keeping posts to ~250 words (we'll see how that works out).

Today I was helping out at Fredericton Outfitters while the boss was outta town...to bring in a new line of gear!! I can't say what brand yet, but it's some pretty epic stuff. Trust me.

Capt. John Iverson emailed my hero shot from the redfish trip. It's a good thing I'm not all about the hero shot, because I suck at it. I'm not talking about taking it, either; I have that down. Let's review.

First up is the hero shot I snapped of Capt. John. Notice the stance, facial expression, how the red is held, etc...
(shot with Hipstamatic, on an iPod)
And then there's the shot of me. Though I look like I just failed a calculus exam and about to fall over, I'm actually really pumped up about catching this fish. Honestly.

In conclusion, not only do I agree with Davin Ebanks (Flatswalker) regarding being bothered by "countless grip & grin heros shots on the average fish porn blog" (which I'm really trying to stay away from on 411#3), but I have another good reason to dislike hero shots: I'm just not that effin' photogenic!

All said, it was an awesome trip. Highly recommend it. Capt. John Iverson can be booked through his email here or through Uptown Anglers, just next to the French Quarter in the Big Easy.

Click here for a video of Capt. John giving some tips for sight-fishing for reds on WFN. Here's another video with Capt. John talking about the effects of the Gulf oil spill

All for now. In an upcoming post, I'll write about what I learned during my first saltwater fly fishing experience (i.e. you can learn from my f**k-ups).

Here are some tunes: