Influence: Dazed and Confused soundtrack

How was I introduced to this album?

I’m not entirely sure how I was introduced to the album but I would think that I must have watched the movie before. Danny definitely introduced me to the greatest time capsule from the 1970s, Dazed and Confused.

While my love of music was firmly entrenched in all things alternative, a soundtrack snuck into my life and somehow was the genesis of my love of classiDazed and Confused: Chef: Musicc rock.

Why is this album influential?

I’m pretty sure everyone in Kapuskasing owned this soundtrack at one point and why not? It was a quintessential introduction to all things classic rock. I fondly remember one Christmas break jamming the entire album with John in my basement and we laughed at how well Jim Dandy by Black Oak Arkansas came out. It is now a staple in my songs that I play for a laugh.

The first half of the 21st century was ironically devoted to diving into classic rock music. I remember downloading something called Bacoben’s Top 500 classic rock songs and dedicated my musical journey to all things from this genre.

What do I love about this album?

With the knowledge I have now of the classic rock hits, I think I really love this album because it’s a gateway to a great era of music, without spoon feeding you any of the massive hits from the 70s. There’s no Pink Floyd or Zeppelin on this soundtrack. But it has such a great selection of tunes that say “Hey, if you like this, wait until you get a load of everything else from this era.”

Does it stand the test of time?

That’s like asking if classic rock has stood the test of time. Of course!

Influence: Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago

How was I introduced to this album?

It was 2008 and I was still taking night classes at University of Ottawa to get a degree in Communications. The majority of my classes consisted of students ten years my junior but they didn’t realize their was a thirty year old amongst them.

One evening I heard some guys raving about some new music and so I wrote a few albums down and one of them was by someone called Bon Iver.

Why is this album influential?

In 2008 I was already well past a decade of loving all things music related and I really didn’t have much time to check out new music. As in, I was Old Man Palmer not allowing new things to enter into my brain.

This album challenged me. I remember a lot of days and nights doing schoolwork and putting this album on and just not understanding it. But I was wise enough to realize that sometimes an album needs quite a few listens to unlock its mysteries and become one of my favourites.

It eventually did open up to me and I fell in love with this entire album. This album taught me I should open myself to new music and see where it takes me instead of putting up walls saying “If it’s not from before the year 2000, then I’m not really interested.”

What do I love about this album?

Once again, this entire album captures an emotion for me. It’s a pretty somber album, perfect for those cold winter days where it’s -40 outside.

Influence: Counting Crows – Recovering The Satellites

Why is this album influential?

Everyone’s introduction to Counting Crows was probably August and Everything After but mine was Recovering The Satellites.  Randy introduced me to this album as I was learning guitar.

This is the album that prompted me to learn guitar.  I still remember playing Daylight Fading a million times to figure out how to the guitar to it.  I also remember that while I had been jamming and playing tunes with Randy back home in apartment parties around Kapuskasing.  Daylight Fading was the first tune that I played in front of my extended family at Aunt Dinah’s and while it was a nerve wracking experience, it opened the doors to a bond between Troy and I to play guitar for the next two decades.

Where does this album stand in the pantheon of my favourites?

Still my favourite Counting Crows album and probably the best encapsulation of a depressing, depressing mood.  This is the album that made me realize that I prefer albums that capture a mood instead of varying the songs on it.  I point to Neil Young as an example of this…you can go from a rocking album to an acoustic album and I prefer this compared to a mix and match of songs on one album.

But has it stood the test of time?  Mmm…not sure if I would put this on my top 25 albums of all time.


Influential music

I have been seeing something on Facebook that has to do with talking about the albums that have influenced you over the years.  I was nominated by a few people and the latest person to do was Andre and it finally made me think about what music has influenced me and what does it really mean to influence?  Is it my Top 10 album list?

I don’t think so.  Definition states that influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Wow, that’s a lot to think about when it comes to naming the most influential albums of my lifetime.  Facebook doesn’t want any explanation about my choices, but damn the man, I’ll at least put up my explanations on this blog so future generations can understand why I am who I am because of my musical upbringing.

Ezra’s 9th Month

Has it been an entire month alone with Ezra and Sierra already?  While some days don’t feel like they are flying by, as I type this I have to admit that it has flown by!

On a good day, Ezra has slept from 7:30 until 7AM and my day starts.  I lift his blind and see his giant smile while he is standing up in his crib waiting to see what the day has to offer up.  I get a hug from him and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like my kisses along with the facial hair.

One diaper change later and we are sitting on the chair with six ounces of formula and CTV’s Your Morning to start off our day.  After he lets me get some food in my belly we sit around and play; passing a ball around, walking around the coffee table (he’s quite steady now and hardly falls down while navigating around a table or a couch), studying the quadratic equation.

We then start off with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and some other goodies like a banana.  At this moment in time we have been making it a point to video conference with Grandma and Poppa around this time as it’s always fun to see a kid eating food.

Then it’s just me and him until 9:30 – 10am when he takes his first nap.  I really like this time because we leave Sierra down in the basement to do her own thing (usually watching cartoons).  Parental leave originally had visions of bonding with a child all day long.  I now realize that with two children you try and sneak those bonding moments in wherever you can before chaos erupts!

A one hour nap is typical and then he motors around on all fours playing peek-a-boo with his sister or chewing on some rubber boots near the patio door.  Lunchtime is usually a long ordeal…an hour some days!  Currently we try and have some grains (pasta or toast), veggies (he really likes carrots), protein (meat or beans) and sometimes some fruit.  Mom is usually up for some exercise time with the kids after lunch which basically means they get to crawl all over her!

After lunch is a surprise each day…some times we go out on a bike ride with Sierra, sometime we just hang out in the living room until nap time at 2pm…it really depends on how I feel during the day.  Some days I’m still full of energy and others I’m looking forward to my own nap at 2pm!

Afternoon naps seem to stretch to 1.5 – 2 hours which coincide with when Mom is done her work day and we generally go outside in the backyard until supper needs to be made.

If he is lucky, he gets to now have a bath with his sister which he has a fun time with.  Sierra loves it and hates it at the same time (but only when he starts splashing her!).  Then it’s pyjama time and he roams around the living room, typically crawling over Maman and then it’s bedtime where Maman still breastfeeds and then puts him down for the night.

He’s a very happy kid and is very curious.  He really likes opening the bottom drawer and pulling out some silicone muffin liners and chewing on them.  He does not care for the jolly jumper or other things that make him stay in one place.

We just weighed him last night and he was 20.4 pounds.

A common sight when I’m trying to practice guitar

I can’t tell if Ezra has fun when Sierra hugs him like this

On the hunt for some Easter eggs

Look at the haul!

Taking shelter from the rain

He doesn’t listen well when it comes to fetching the ball

One day even this won’t hold him back

Not the faint of heart.  Pro tip: Don’t be lifting your son over your head a bunch of times immediately after supper or you’ll get some stuff in your eye and on your shirt.

He enjoyed this little doggy.  It’s a shame that for some reason it doesn’t walk any more

This was taken in the era of ‘Let’s try and cram in a morning adventure before Ezra’s nap!”  I realized that this was burning me out so now we generally wait and do something after lunch

Future Marvel fan

Typical after lunch exercises

I think this may have been the first bath together!  Ezra is having the time of his life

Pretty sure Ezra was the p’tonk

Sierra getting help from Ezra to look for pirates through the telescope

Hanging out

Taking in some sun

Typical evening before bedtime

We were probably waiting for Sierra to go for a walk as we usually do on the front lawn

There was a funny transition period where he could pull himself up but it was hard for him to get down without completely just collapsing

I love technology


Who doesn’t love a Star Wars book full of sound effects?

Ezra loves that we have a small hill in our front yard

Watch out for the kiss monster!

Another kiss monster!

Going out on patrol

Who’s happier?

This is typically what Ezra and Sierra see of their grandparents while on the iPad

It’s a tight squeeze but they made it in!

Drum solo!

A typical morning activity

There’s been some nice days with no flies out yet

Are these fiddleheads growing in our backyard?

Happy Star Wars Day!

Duet on the piano

Enjoying some time on the deck before supper

Look at this li’l hitchhiker!

He can hang out here for hours




Sierra’s 47th month

Because of COVID19, I have had Sierra in the house with me along with Ezra during my parental leave.  It wasn’t what I was expected but I suppose everyone says that about this situation!

But there have been some interesting moments and I feel that Sierra has started to bond a lot more with her brother compared to the evenings and weekends she was limited to before.  Sometimes when we leave them alone they end up playing together.  When I say playing, I mean that Sierra decides to take a ball from him, or grab him when he’s trying to crawl.  But there are other fun times where she plays peek-a-boo or shows him new toys and he laughs.  It’s pretty amazing to see a bond form between these jokers.

Sierra has developed quite an imagination over the past year, no doubt fueled by the adventures that her parents bring her on.  Whether it’s looking for pirates on our walk around the block, or jumping onto her parents bed which has magically transformed into a boat surrounded by shark infested waters, she revels in the land of imagination.  Perhaps not so coincidentally we have also noticed an increase in her lying to us about certain things like brushing her teeth or other things.  I sometimes wonder if the concept of lying is tied to a great imagination.  In theory, we encourage a world where things aren’t really there, but she is made to believe that they are so perhaps lying is the same time of game in her head?

When she likes to help out, she helps out well: she helps sweep the floor and pick up toys.  We were also noticing she was trying to figure out how to open the baby gate down the stairs so I decided I better show her in case she figures it out one day and leaves it open.  Unfortunately that experiment failed miserably as she proceeded to leave it open twice over a span of a week and was punished for it but continued to do so.  In the end, she currently has to ask one of us to open the gate from now on.  As some wise man said in relation to his grandchildren getting in harms way…”Not on my watch!”

Sierra is transitioning from nap times to quiet times.  If she is being nice, then we offer her the choice.  If she’s being mean, then it’s nap time.  We have also noticed that she herself decides to go for a nap during quiet time.  Why not, if that’s what your body is asking for?  Quiet time has been a hit or miss.  One time I came into the room and she had marker all over her hands and feet and then she mentioned something about drawing on the floor!

A typical COVID19 day for her has transitioned to waking up and going downstairs to watch TV.  As I type this she is excited to watch Thundercats ROAR which is a new Thundercats parody cartoon which is quite funny.  It’s really neat to see her interested in things I have interest in.  I also saw her with all my boxed Thundercats toys out on the coffee table.  Part of me gasped, the other part of me thought “Well, why not?  She likes these toys.”

All in all, there are frustrating days with her where she leaves little things on the floor for Ezra to get a hold of, and then there are great days where she helps take care of her brother.  Probably pretty average for a soon-to-be four year old.

Sierra helping me take down the Christmas lights.  I refuse to take them off if there is still a foot of snow on the ground.

I spied outside the patio door to find this daredevil around the outer edge of the deck!

It’s still spring which means that there are some sunny days that still require being wrapped in a blanket on the front porch.

Sierra doing some repairs on the handrail down the stairs.

There’s not many opportunities in the house to play drums considering someone is usually sleeping!

Wow, it’s really strange to see this video from April Fool’s Day.  I will still working!  As I type this it’s already been a month I have been on parental leave with the two kids so it’s seems like a lifetime ago that I had the laptop set up on the kitchen table.

Sierra came back from a walk and noticed that someone had put some fishies on our window for April Fool’s Day!  I believe I witnessed two little friends on bicycles put these on the window.

While I work from home, I also take some time out of my day to teach the future labour force of Canada how to type.  I showed her a picture of my pal Mr. Clive and showed her how to talk with him online.  He was nice enough to reply with some emoticons like smiley faces.  She was quite excited whenever my colleagues would write back after she typed her name.  She’s getting pretty good at typing her name…Vero said she even typed it on her own the other day!

Poisson d’avril!

Enjoying the swing set

Doing some repairs to the tricycle

Taking in the sights of Vars from the top of the rock

Here’s Sierra helping Maman make muffins

Sierra stumbled on a DVD of Lavaleville and I told her that Maman was on it!  She was quite excited to see Maman in a ‘movie’.  I ended up digitizing this and putting it up on Youtube if anyone is interested in seeing Vero in a play.

Muffins are fun!

This year we couldn’t go to any sugar shacks but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy some crepes and maple syrup!

The end of an easter egg hunt

We were quite fortunate that the Easter bunny came to visit our house this year during COVID19.  Turns out he’s an essential worker!

There was a birthday that was celebrated in our neighbourhood so a bunch of a cars lined up for a parade.  You can’t see it but Sierra has a kazoo playing in the backseat.

Getting some lessons on how to play Rain Rain Go Away

I can’t remember if this photo was before or after she complaining of getting water inside her boots!

She was definitely complaining after this puddle!

A rare quiet moment

We had a silly walk competition

Not sure if she will make it far on this ride

Two minutes later, she has to bring it back because it’s too hard.  I knew it!

Thanks to Uncle Rob and Aunt Jan there is some more music in the house

I have to get my weight training in somehow!

I have found a new card playing buddy!

Hanging out

Pyjama song and dance

Blowing bubbles has kept us all sane around here

I’m glad we have a kid who insists on doing some work around the yard!

Sierra’s Kraft Dinner song!

Sierra doing some fishing



Buying Canadian: gasoline edition

More than ever, I am seeing a lot of chatter on Facebook about how we should ‘buy Canadian’ and ‘support Canadian companies’.

That’s a fantastic idea and for those who post these types of messages on their Facebook feed, I ask you to put your money (literally!) where your mouth is!

Let’s take a look at the gas stations around me.  I have the choice of Esso, Ultramar and MacEwen.  I always go to Ultramar because a) it has the cheaper gas compared to Esso and b) it has more pumps.

There’s a really neat website out there called Made in Canada which has a database tracking products that are Canadian.  It also does its best to show you what does that really mean…is it controlled by a Canadian company, is it foreign controlled but manufactures the product in Canada, etc.

Lo and behold, it turns out that the MacEwen right next to the Ultramar is actually the Canadian owned company!  So I suppose that I should drive the extra 20 metres and go wait for a pump to open at the MacEwen so I can support a Canadian company who also seems to purchase their gas from Canadian refineries.

In my case, I believe the price between the Ultramar and the MacEwen are the same so it is a no brainer.  I shall go to MacEwen from now on.

But if you are driving by a Canadian owned gas station one day and they have more expensive gas compared to the American owned gas station across the street, put your money where your mouth is and support Canada even if you end up spending an extra buck when filling up a tank of gas.

For the folks up in Kapuskasing wondering which gas station they should go to in order to support Canada, that’s a little more research.

Shell is a British-Dutch owned company.

Flying J seems to be an American owned company.

Is that itÉ. Also, why is my keyboard stuck in the French mode and not giving me questions marksÉ. This is frustrating!

I suppose someone in Kap can do the next round of research and figure out if these companies obtain their gasoline from Canadian refineries or not.  Until then, have fun supporting Canada!

Instant pot: plant based spaghetti

  • 4 cups water
  • 56 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or best quality crushed tomatoes)*
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, tightly packed (or chopped spinach)
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 can of mushroom (your choice of size)
  • 1 can of lentils (your choice of size)

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the water, tomatoes and their juices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, kosher salt, spinach, and whole basil leaves.
  2. Ladle just enough of the tomato mixture into the Instant Pot to cover the bottom.
  3. Break the spaghetti noodles in half. Working in batches, add the noodles to the Instant Pot in a fan shape so that they stack on each other, making as much space between the noodles as possible (if the noodles are directly next to each other they clump up — it doesn’t have to be perfect, just try to fan them out to make space).
  4. Pour remaining sauce over the spaghetti.
  5. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 10 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  6. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid.
  7. Open the lid and stir, removing any clumps. Then remove the pot from the Instant Pot and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken slightly. The sauce will thicken even more as it cools. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Note that this recipe makes a lot for leftovers.

The second time we made this recipe we added the spinach, a can of mushrooms and lentils.  It was great!  This concoction is very large in the pot.  Maybe next time I make it I should fan out some spaghetti, put some sauce, fan out more, put some sauce, etc.

Things I’ve learned two days into parental leave

My parental leave started yesterday when Vero went back to work.  So far she is able to work from home which is great!  I have Sierra and Ezra to take care of when she’s working so it’s a handful.  Not going to lie, I have been looking forward to nap time in the afternoons.

Here’s some important lessons I’ve learned so far:

  • When the baby is screaming at you when you’re putting on his coat, it’s probably because his finger is caught and is so far backwards on his hand that it looks like it’s broken.
  • When putting a baby into your backpack, do try and remember to attach the straps over his shoulders.
  • After a hearty meal of kidney beans, asparagus and formula, don’t try and start to do bench presses using the baby because you will most definitely get vomit directly in your eye and all over your shirt.