On Visual Storytelling

As the summer draws nearer, I’ve got it into my head to make some movies.

Well… filmmaking. Video production. Out in the wilds with a camera and an idea, at least.

I initially set up a Youtube channel for this blog over a year ago with dual intentions.

First, I needed a place to upload little video clips to accompany my posts. My cheap little hosting setup is pretty flexible, but streaming video directly from a discount blog host doesn’t make much sense when there are free services like Youtube.

Second, I had this crazy idea of trying to make some short films. Not a vlog. Not ranting into a camera lens. Not just reading my posts either. But putting together a little script, gathering A-roll and B-roll and mixing it all into a little short film about a very particular topic.

There are plenty of examples of this already on Youtube and my subscription list provides me plenty of inspiration.

So…

I’m finally jumping in with both feet and I’m going to make it happen.

I’m working on the first two films right now, gathering footage and writing the scripts, and this morning I finished editing and recording a short introduction and trailer for my new project:

To be clear, there’s not going to be any regularity, routine or schedule to this new thing.

It’s just a thing for now. It’s sporadic … and an effort I’ll pick away at until I can make that thing at a quality I’m happy with. Uploading as I find time and inspiration to make more of those things.

But stay tuned.

Oh, and I’m supposed to say something like “please like and subscribe” right?

No Mow, May…be

It was drizzling this morning as I stepped out to take the dog for her first stroll of the day, and for the first time in nearly six months I could tell that the lawn was starting to turn a familiar shade of green.

That’s not an exaggeration, either. As recently as this past weekend I spent the better part of my days out in the yard raking and cleaning and pruning and tidying and the dominant shade in my life was the colour brown.

But a little bit of TLC and a few days of light rain, and spring greenery arrives in force around here.

All this yard work got me thinking deeply once again about my small patch of grass.

I’ve never been a golf-green-perfect lawn guy. I keep it trim because grass can be low work and nice to walk upon in bare feet. It’s essentially backyard carpeting, and a bit of mowing and a bit of fertilizer and a bit of pulling some weeds makes for a pleasant outdoor space. Yet, having taken a lot of ecology and botany in university I look at the picture perfect lawns of my neighbours and rarely first see the intended suburban paradise, and usually instead ponder the effort we put into this single species of invited invasive plant we uniformly call grass. Biodiversity is rarely represented in suburban lawns, and many of my neighbours put countless amounts of time, energy and resources into perfect sod.

In fact, I was thinking about lawns so much that I was getting ready my rechargeable mower batteries thinking that the yard would be due for a trim as soon as mid-May.

Except.

Except, I’ve stumbled upon this online campaign twice now to support that aforementioned biodiversity and support neighbourhood ecological health by skipping the mowing bit for a month.

#NoMowMay suggests waiting until June before cutting the grass.

Skipping the mowing for a month is not exactly much of a hardship in Western Canada, I would caveat here. I may get to avoid mowing altogether simply by virtue of the weather. It could start snowing again before the week is out and the effort would be impossible. Or, on the other hand, the grass could be knee-height by the end of the week and I could be sending search parties into the backyard for the dog when she goes out to pee. This time of year is a botanical prognosticators nightmare.

The sentiment of #NoMowMay intrigues me tho.

I like the idea of thinking forward and holistically about the ecology of our spaces, rather than purely cosmetically.

I like the idea of putting insects and seasonal cycles and the complex system (even if it is a little artificial and of our own creation) of nutrients and water and growth and light ahead of a few minutes pleasure of being barefoot in the grass.

I like the idea that the lawn is actually more than backyard carpeting.

Sure, my little Canadian lawn just coming out of its winter hibernation might not be impressively overgrown by the end of May, but in its own way I think there is a lot to learn from letting nature do its own thing for a few weeks in the spring. It might be worth keeping the mower in the shed until June, despite what the neighbours might think.

A Good Life, Well-lived & Enjoyed Aloud

As I write these words the final month of the first year of this blog has arrived.

It’s December.

And after a mind-numbing and depressing 2020 I’ve been penning my thoughts and opinions here throughout 2021 to the tune of one hundred and seven thousand, three hundred and eighty three previously published words into two hundred and fifty three posts inside this digital space.

It’s been exactly eleven months as of today.

Deep breath.

Describe your 2021
in tech or tools.

I’ve been blogging for over twenty years.

Unless you’ve cracked through my obfuscation of identity curtained across these words (hidden mostly because I work in an industry and culture where Google search results for my real name are akin to a business card and I like to keep my personal and professional selves separated) you are unlikely to know that while I’ve only been writing here for eleven months, I’ve previously managed a string of previous personal, creative, and niche websites over the past twenty-ish years. I’ve got a bit of secret tech cred. But just a bit.

In almost all those websites, December uniformly has become a time of self-refection and mindset adjustment for the upcoming year.

So, after eleven months of scattershot posting here about cooking, adventure, firepits, travel, sketching and all those other little analog and outdoor enjoyments, I’ve once again set December aside for a string of thirty one posts about … well … cooking, adventure, firepits, travel, sketching, and all similar sort of those things, but in the context of the past, present and future.

Call it a quasi-resolution-twist to wrap up the year with a bit of grace and style.

Because routine and tradition can be a good thing, even in technology where we seem to think we want fresh and innovative turned on like a firehose.

My 2021 was a technology reset year.

This year I came back to a pattern of regular writing in (and this is important) a space I fully control. We take that for granted because so many of us cede that control to the social media algorithms of big private media platforms, offloading the decision-making to money-generating, click-baiting software systems that slurp up our creative effort and spill it out to the rest of the world in a way that usually makes other people rich and famous. I was tired of shipping my photographs and art and writing off to the likes of Facebook and Reddit and crossing my fingers that an invisible software system saw fit to give it some daylight online before it disappeared into a vast, bottomless pit of old posts.

I may not have yet obtained the same quantity of folks reading what I choose to put online, but I think the quality of what I choose to curate here has elevated the whole experience for me … and hopefully anyone who chooses to join me here.

I’ve all but vacated those controversial social platforms, maintaining a minimal presence, and definitely not a preferential one.

This blog was my 2021 experiment, and the experiment was a success. Dozens of you read it and check in. And tho my daughter would scoff at that number saying “dad, such and such a youtube streamer has six million subscribers and makes more money that you do at your real job!” I would retort that I’m giddily loving entertaining any size of small crowd with genuine content that makes me as happy writing it as I hope it makes others reading it.

In other words, the experiment will most definitely continue into 2022 and beyond.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

The Value to Comment

Readers may have noticed that I don’t make commenting available here.

This is a conscious choice on my part to limit the conversations about these things that I write about to more open and public platforms and in doing so keep this blog something more personal and deliberately curated.

I tend to lean towards the idea that comments have a strong role in social media but not an obligatory one.

I only bring it up because yesterday the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, announced that they would be turning off Facebook comments for one month on their news posts if for no other reason than to give their reporters a break from the never-ending barrage of attacks that fill those comments.

(If you thought Canadians were polite, look no further than Facebook for evidence to the contrary, I guess.)

It makes me wonder if there is a better way to create interaction with people in a public space like this blog than simply having a text box for someone to type their thoughts into. Why? Because as I post each of these articles each and every day, yes, I do care that someone is reading them, I do care that someone has thoughts about them, and I do wish there was a better way to interact with my readers than the comment firehose that comes with creating a community around a topic I love to write about.

On a side note, I do not use Facebook. I have my reasons. In fact, I deleted my account a couple years ago and have no interest in diving back in.

I do use many other social platforms, however, and enjoy the conversations I have there.

I enjoy them so much that often I’ve been tempted, holding my finger over the toggle switch on some posts, to turn on the comments here just to see what happens.

I know what happens, of course. I’ve seen it for years.

Spam, mostly. Then a large collection of negative comments. All that peppered with a barely visible seasoning of enjoyable feedback.

Comments are not just about the positive love-giving vibes, but it helps. Comments are not exclusively for validation, but people who validate are often less likely to write something than those who are just out to quash ideas. Comments are meant to be about exchanging ideas, but too often boil down to anger and disagreement.

So… I don’t turn them on. Even though they would have some value to me, I would rather lose that value and continue to write, curate, and share in my own little bubble, than to have a few happy comments at the price of wading through the garbage that would certainly crush my spirit.

I get why those reporters need a break, and I’d rather not need one too.

So. Thanks for reading… even if you can’t drop a note back.