This Ain’t Your Mama’s Sackbut

In 1948, Canadian Hugh LeCaine invented the Sackbut.

That might sound like a style of jeans to you, but it was actually the world’s first music synthesizer. LeCaine named it after the mediaeval word for the trombone, which originates from a French term for “push and pull”. One of the instruments that LeCaine’s new device mimicked was the trombone.

Continue reading

Papa’s New Boots

Dsc_4636After sitting in the Bakerei for a bit Cole and I went outside to watch all the big machines getting the streets ready for the start of the Quest tomorrow. (Cole loves to watch bulldozers and stuff.)

Within moments my feet were blocks of ice in my ancient, so-called "winter" hiking boots. Enough, I thought to myself, it’s time to upgrade.

Since I managed to land a fairly significant government contract yesterday, I figured I had an excuse to treat myself to some warm feet. So Cole and I headed over to Hougen’s to check on the boot stock. Sure enough, a nice, hefty black pair of Sorel Glaciers were there in size 9.

$140 dollars later…

At last, no more icy cold toes after mere moments outside; no more snow-soaked socks after ploughing through drifts while taking Cole to day care; no more fifteen minutes sessions sitting on the floor tying up my old hiking boots. Not to mention these things feel like slippers on my feet (though quite heavy ones), they’re so cozy.

Who knows? These boots may actually make winter in the Horse bearable!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Dunno about you, but I think there’s something wrong with training kids to develop brain tumours before they even realize they have a brain…

Hasbro ChatNowIt’s a sick concept, but according to engadget, Hasbro has introduced a walkie-talkie based cell phone for 8 to 12 year olds. It’s pretty cool, actually, and can do photo and text messaging. But there’s just something wrong with giving a device like this to a little kid. I mean, it’s like those old Popeye cigarettes: cute, but derivative of all that’s wrong with society.

I mean, there are reports that cell phones alter DNA and harm blood cells. So do we really want to train kids to use these things?

It’s strange. Cell phones are marketed to parents as the ultimate security device. You can track your kid wherever they might be. Is modern life that bad? (It still escapes me how you might save your kid from a paedophile even if he manages to somehow notify you of the situation and you’re on the other side of the city – but that might just be me questioning the perfect logic of marketers. So never mind.)

When I was 11 years old I escorted my two little sisters to school on the streetcar in downtown Toronto (along Queen Street, to Brant Street) every day and we never had a problem. Has society become so hardcore fuct up that we need to run tracers on our kids all the time? Heck, if that’s the case, life in the Horse starts looking pretty good.

Really, what we need to do is reduce our focus as a society on gadgets that might protect us from the evil people and just figure out how to give the evil people a hand. After all, they’re really just people who can’t afford gadgets to protect themselves from evil people, right?