Grassi Lakes

A little while ago I went hiking to Grassi Lakes in Kananaskis. I hadn’t done this hike before because it was a little shorter than I generally hike.

I was pleasantly surprised about the hike. There are some great views of Canmore up the hike and some pretty little lakes at the top as a reward. I will definitely keep it in mind in the future when I have guests that drop into Calgary and would like to go on a hike that isn’t too strenuous, but has some interesting rewards.

It makes me think that I should go looking around for more hikes like this.

(Sorry for the graininess of the pictures. I didn’t have my camera set up properly.)

Nahoo? Yahoo!

You have no idea what I'm talking about!

Yes, well here they are, the CDs that I've been looking for for quite some time. Those CDs are: Nahoo, Nahoo Too [sic] and Nahoo 3: Notes from the Republic. Nahoo Too is still in the mail somewhere, but 1 and 3 have arrived. These CDs are by Paul Mounsey, who is all but unknown in North America. I first heard about him on CKUA, the Alberta Public Radio Station during the wonderful Celtic Show.

I found the album from the radio announcer for the track I heard, which turned out to be the album Proterra by Runrig, a Scottish folk/rock band that Mounsey teamed up with for Proterra.

Paul Mounsey is a Scottish born guy who decided to move to Brazil for a little stint (and marriage as well). Along the way he picked up several new musical styles, which I guess you could call Brazilian-Scottish fusion, for want of a better term, though even that doesn't really do it justice. There really is no way to explain it unless you hear it. If I can find a website that has some music samples I'll post a link here.

Back to the story: the Proterra album didn't have the song I wanted, despite what the radio announcer said and the difficulty I had in getting it. I was an excllent album, though. I've been looking for his Nahoo series of albums, where Mounsey is fronting the whole thing, in the hopes that I could find my mystery track.

Unfortunately these CDs are very difficult to find in North America, so it's taken a while to get a hold of them. I am very glad they came, and I am listening to the first one as I type.

It's a very good album. I don't know how to classify it. Sometimes I think Enya, then Braveheart, then Moby, then Hadhirgaan, then Spirit of the West, then Buckwheat Zydeco, then I don't know what.

And lo and behold, I've found it! The mystery track is called "Alba" and it sounds great!

It was worth the effort.

Now I'm wondering what's on Nahoo 3.

Here are some notes on the Nahoo project.

Oh yeah, I failed to mention his album City of Walls, which I acquired when I got Proterra. It is similarly excellent.

Check him out of you have a chance.

Don't Panic! It's a great movie!

Yesterday I saw the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. I had my doubts about this one, but I had to see it anyway.

Honestly, you would think that it would be difficult to make a movie out of something as quirky as Hitchhiker's. It was a great trilogy (in five parts), and I couldn't see how they could pull it off.

Well, they did pull it off. It was very funny and respected the original work. There were some changes, but nothing that I thought was worth mentioning.

I haven't seen a movie in the theatres since Christmas, so I'm glad I made the effort on this one.

Definitely worth seeing.

(Incidentally, I though the same thing about The Lord of the Rings as well, and Peter Jackson proved me wrong, happily!)

Answering the Question

I have, for some time now, been working on a piece for my website called "What is Zen anyway?". This is to try to answer this question from the people that ask it of me, as they know that I study it.

I haven't had much success in completing the piece. I have been banging away at it for a while and don't have much to show for it.

But maybe today I have been given some of the answer.

Today I received an e-mail from a dear friend, one who is in pain because of what has happened in his life. For a variety of reasons, it isn't possible for me to pick up the phone and talk with him to show my support and comfort him. Nor is it possible for me to meet with him and give him a hug, as I'm sure he needs one. Even if he didn't, I'd give him one anyway.

So I have to respond through e-mail, that accursed business tool that dilutes everything. I'm here on my lunch break and attempting to form words, any words that can possibly help. But my mind refuses to cooperate. I am still in work mode and still thinking in work ways and I need to stop this in order to provide any response that would at all be fair to my friend. So I try again. And again. And yet again. At last, my mind has moved somewhat into a space where I feel I can write from the heart, rather than the mind. And I begin to write to him.

So I look at myself, and I see something very different right now. There is a line of teaching in Buddhism that says that all you need is to be compassionate to everyone in every way. Yes, well that's a very nice idea, but try to do it for any stretch and see if you can.

However, there is something here.

When I open my heart to answer my friend, my entire body changes. I feel the pain I imagine he must be feeling, feel its heaviness, and I also feel the caring for him that has been built up by knowing him over the years. I would like to protect him, as with all my friends, from pain and suffering that always comes along with the joy in life, but I know that I can't. The best I can do is be there when he needs me, in whatever way that that means.

But my mind is somewhere else than work mode. I wonder if I can have both. Can I be similarly compassionate all the time? I don't know.

But maybe today I have been given some of the answer to: "What is Zen anyway?"

My other piece on this subject will have to wait.

They Call Me "Tree Killer"

Microsoft is certainly causing me to kill off a few more trees.

I've been spending some time learning .NET. I've quickly discovered that you pretty much need to do this through books. You can stumble around a bit, of course, but really you need to read something. It isn't that any of it is particularly hard, it's just incredibly detailed.

Unfortunately, I've never been very good at learning from the screen. I need a book so I can flip through it. Reading on paper just can't be matched by the screens yet, though what Sony is doing is quite promising with their cool electronic ink technology. Not for me yet!

I've acquired quite a bit in the .NET world, mostly from O'Reilly. I've long been a fan of their nutshell books, and so it was a natural that I would go to them for .NET help.

Tonight I was pouring over the .NET Windows Forms in a Nutshell. This "Nutshell" tome is almost 900 pages! Ack.

Anyway, here is the current list of the books I've had to reference to figure things out. I don't even want to think about the cost of these things.

  • Programming C#. A very good introduction to C#, especially for Java or C++ programmers.
  • .NET Windows Forms in a Nutshell. Big and beefy, but has some good material at the front.
  • .NET Framework Essentials. A great book that explains what in the world is going in on .NET and why you should care.
  • Programming Visual Basic .NET. Not bad, but I've been resisting reading it, because I want to get used to C# first. Use VB as a last resort, I say. Heck, I'll even try IronPython before going to VB.NET.
  • Programming ASP.NET. Looks like a good book, but I got stuck because I need MS SQL Server (nor do I want to use Access), and I'm not paying the fortune for that. Believe it or not, many of the examples in the book require ADO.NET, even though it's an ASP book.
  • Mono: A Developer's Notebook. Perhaps I can connect MySQL to .NET using Mono. that's the theory, anyway. We'll see if I can pull it off. Then I can go back to the previous book.
  • C# Language Pocket Reference. Pretty good. I'm starting to use it more, though I still refer to Programming C# more for now.
  • Programming .NET Windows Applications. This one is in the mail. I did a demo chapter from O'Reilly and learned a lot. That tells me that this book can kickstart the whole application part of windows.

    Whew. This is turning into a bigger job than I'd initially imagined. Hopefully I can wrap by brain around it all eventually.
  • Vanity on the Internet

    Welcome to my website!

    Well, here we go. There's a lot I want to do with this website. It's certainly been around for a long time. I can't remember exactly when I bought I only remember a couple of people scoffing at me, calling the website the internet equivalent of car vanity plates. Well, maybe so, but it seems a lot of people have done similar things since.

    You may also know that I'm not terribly interested in fiddling with HTML or any of its unholy bretheren and minions. So, all you've seen up until now is a blank page when you come here.

    There's still a lot of things I need to do, but I'm focusing mostly on .Net and mono, specifically towards learning how to make a board game website. more on that later.

    At any rate, the vanity site is up. It will look pretty later. Welcome!