Archive for May, 2010

redesign part 2

I have the foam!!! This is exciting for many reasons. I’d made the old bed out of a 3rd- or 4th-hand foam mattress, seriously butchering it trying to cut it down to 4 inches thick from 6. Then of course there was the mold event, which left it looking even worse. And to top it all off there was the problem with the crack between pieces. So finally I have my very own clean brand new foam, sized to create my new living room arrangement (I called it limo mode in Redesign part 1), and best of all cut at an angle so there’s no cracks to fall in even though it comes in five different pieces. Here’s a photo of the pieces in bed mode so you can see the angle cuts, and a couple photos of how it looks with the new daytime living room arrangement. Way more comfy to do math in, ha ha. Come on over, you’re all invited!


swimming in the rain

Just a quickie before I get back to my math… long-time readers will remember all the times I’ve gone on about how important the pools are for van living and how much I’ve come to love swimming. So it was with great joy that I discovered that the outdoor pools opened up last weekend, and today was my first visit ever to the one at New Brighton Park. Beautiful! Underwater was warm and the usual startling blue of swimming pools, but above the surface was the rainy grey vancouver day. Drops pattered and steam drifted over the water. Just past the fence, trees and enormous granaries and supertankers and misty mountains. And above us only sky…

June 4: Today I came back to New Brighton… I swear you get more energy breathing fresh air as you swim, I felt like I could keep going forever! Anyway this time I took a photo so y’all can see it:

A friend told me that once upon a time she’d thought of becoming an architect too, but she’d been discouraged by the math involved. Is this common knowledge, that being an architect means doing math? No one told me! And somehow in the process of applying to architecture school I missed the fact that fairly high-level math is a pre-requisite to get into the program.

Dalhousie decided to give me a chance to make up that pre-requisite instead of just rejecting my application, and for that I am extremely grateful. Knowing that I’m a somewhat bright fellow I didn’t worry myself too much about it, I just signed up for a distance ed calculus course and waited for the material to arrive. Well the last time I did math was in high school twenty years ago; needless to say when the stuff arrived, it was totally senseless to me. I have a lot of catching up to do before I can even start the course.

There really is a vandwelling reason I bring this up, it’s not just that I want y’all to feel sorry for me. I’m getting to it… So here I am, doing math. All day every day, math math math. Except I don’t have a lot of stamina; my eyes go furry and my brain seizes up after an hour, sometimes less. So I take lots of little breaks, and I just try to be pretty rigorous about getting back to work. As it turns out, van life actually helps me break things up. It involves changing the scenery: when I’m sick of the library, I go work in the van for a while. And when I’m done with that I go to a café for a while, or maybe for my swim. Then back to the van, and when I’m really feeling squirmy then it’s time to drive somewhere… off to a park, or the beach… it’s still just me and my math in the van, but I’ve had a little driving break, and I can be anywhere I want. Now I’m in a new peaceful environment, all re-charged and ready to uh… do more math. Crazy.


A few weeks ago I wrote that people can’t really come over to my place, seeing as it’s just a bed in a van. That wasn’t entirely true; they can and they have, and in fact I’ve had a couple of really nice visits on cold sunny days, lying comfortably by the beach with a friend, sun streaming in the windows. Still, it’s only the most devoted of friends that are willing to come visit you lying down.

Anyway I thought a lot about how to improve the situation, and came up with a new design for my bedroom. I cannibalized the first bed and just finished reassembling the frame in its new form yesterday. It converts from bed mode to limo mode; so cool! The old one converted to a long sideways bench that wasn’t very comfortable, so it wasn’t worth the effort of tearing apart my bedding, only to have to re-make when it was time to go to sleep. This one is way more rewarding. It makes a cozy little social space for four, and one of the seats is angled backwards for more comfortable lounging. There’s a little ledge that can either be the place to rest our drinks, or be a little perch for a fifth person. Whereas in the old arrangement I could only drive in bed mode (the bed platform locked the bookshelf in place), with this arrangement I can drive safely in either.

I’m very excited about this… you know after a show when there’s a group of people and you’re all juiced up and not ready to go home but it’s late and you all live in different directions and you can’t decide where to go so you all give up and go home? Those days are over, my friends… now the afterparty’s right outside, at my place!

Next step will be to go to the foam shop and order pieces for the mattress/cushions (I’ve tried cutting foam myself before, with lousy results). Once I have them, you’re all invited! Check it out:


I’ve been burned before by putting all my eggs in one basket, so when I was looking at architecture schools I decided on three to put in applications for, mainly to trick the universe into thinking that I was taking the process seriously. Really I knew which one I wanted, and the others were only oh-alright back-up plans. Well I started to get a little nervous over the last week or so because I’d gotten a big fat no from the two schools I didn’t want, and hadn’t heard anything from the one I did, despite how late it was getting. To me that said they’d probably offered the first round of spots to other people and needed to get confirmations from them.

Whether that’s the case or not, they called yesterday and invited me to join them, with a few provisions (there’s a pre-req I still need). So come late summer I’ll be driving my little home out to Halifax and going to Dalhousie.



This post has nothing to do with vandwelling whatsoever, it’s just where I share music with people. Right now there are about 25 hours of music you can download here, and more on the way… Check back here periodically, I add new stuff on a random basis.

This is all electronic music… intricate rhythms, dark mood, and most important, lush bass that you feel deep in your entrails. I don’t like to call what I listen to dubstep, because that genre’s conventions (e.g. the bass wobble) often get mishandled, and people come away with a narrow idea of what it sounds like. What I love about these mixes is that they all span they potential richness of that sound, in very different ways. Down toward the end of the list I have some bouncier stuff for those who find dubstep a little too dark :)

INSTRUCTIONS: right-click (mac users ctrl-click or 2-finger tap) on the link that interests you, and from the list of options that appears choose “save as” or “download linked file”. That’ll save the mp3 to your computer so you can listen to it any time. Here we go…

Vancouver has a fucking amazing music scene right now, these are just four of my local faves…

  • Michael Red: The core, the keystone of Lighta… This mix is murky and subterranean in mood; rhythmically blinding in speed and complexity, a rich juxtaposition… good legs and a long nose, with notes of wet concrete, flickering street-lamp, and human pineal gland. It’s also beeeautiful.  filter phase delay. Give that 4 or 5 listens to let it really get under your skin, and then come back for the next three one at a time, you’ve gotta savour these: not giving upthe opposite of fearbolt of blue – live ableton dj mix @ level one lounge
  • Max Ulis: This is gritty and heavy for the first half, with fantastic reworkings of Skream and Dead Prez, then it gets a little quieter, and gorgeous… a good wind-down mix… max ulis 2008.
  • Taal Mala: This rocks!!!! I played it for my friend and I kid you not, she started humping the floor. It builds intensity slowly for the first half hour, then takes you for a wicked ride. Have a listen! Collapse of the Wave Function Mix
  • The Librarian: From Whistler/Pemberton, this is Andrea Graham, promoter, festival organizer, DJ extraordinaire, definitely BC’s reigning dubstep queen… DUBFORMS.Librarian.practiceset, and Nocturnal_The Librarian_Bass Coast

San Fran… I think the whole Burning Man phenomenon has helped develop a community of very unique san francisco electronic musicians, here are some of them…

  • Ana Sia: Oh my god. She’s so little, and full of totally explosive energy… next time she comes to town you have to see her, that’s all there is to it! She’s a genre-bender, undefinable, but always bringing some much-needed female energy to the bass-heavy world. Here are two of her mixes… this one is older, a little slower and more worldy: 160 dripHOP And this one is a live recording of a show she played in Vancouver in November 2008, more on the dubsteppy side, but still smooshing it up with pop and funk and strong female vocals: DubForms11.
  • ESKMO: I think of this as sex music for mastodons, slow and heavy and unstoppable… his sound is somehow industrial and liquid at the same time, incredibly textured. Two mixes for you: Colorbrain, and The Ancestor Mix. These are all tracks that he produced and/or remixed. Again, if this guy comes to town please don’t miss it!
  • Mimosa: Melodic, without holding back on the grime one bit… I get a guilty little kick out of dubstep remixes of commercial hip-pop characters like Lil Wayne, and there’s a few of those on here. So good… remote viewing MiXxx.
  • El Papa Chango: famous for his super-sexy near-dawn sets on the beach stage at Shambhala. You’ll notice some overlap with the Zizek mix below, they’re all part of  the digital cumbia sound. They’re tracks worth repeating, and he definitely brings his own flavour… feb 26 2010.

Moving south to LA…

  • Here’s the famous 2007 Glitch Mob podcast for XLR8R, fucking amazing: Glitch Mob mix 2007. And here’s a more recent one, this has eclectic bits of Eskamon, Cat Power, The Very Best, one of Jack White’s incarnations and many more things strange and beautiful that I don’t recognize… 01 2010 Podcast for XLR8R.
  • Also check out The Gaslamp Killer: We Make It Good Mix Series Vol. 05


Alright, now for some bounce for those of you who find dubstep a little dark…

And a little more glitch to round things off…