All posts by Chase March

Long Live the Audio Book

Audio Books in Any FormatTechnology changes so fast that it is sometimes hard to keep up.

I remember when books first appeared on cassette. They were simply called Books on Tape at that time.

A few years ago, I noticed audio books available for free at the public library. Some of the stories take anywhere from 10 to 20 CDs to tell the unabridged versions.

As such, Books on CD aren’t that practical in the new digital age. Fortunately, we can get novels on MP3 CDs where the entire program can fit on a single disc.  Or, we can download the entire story to stream on our wireless devices.

Last week, I wrote about the need we have for good stories. Audio books are just one of the formats available to us to enjoy stories when we are on the go.

I always have one in the car with me. I’ve been making some fairly long trips and they are the best for those drives. 

I toggle between talk radio, music, and audio books. It’s a nice balance.

Some Stories Need to be Heard

Some of my favourite books sound better and need to be heard rather than read. Even Orson Scott Card agrees that the audio productions of his books are the way to experience his work. Sharon Creech’s Heartbeat falls into that category as well.

Hopefully good quality audio books can continue to be produced for an online audience. When I finally release any of my fiction, I will make sure that it has a good audio book version as well.

Love Live the Audio Book!

Exercise Trail in Cambridge, Ontario

Bob McMullen Trail

Last year, I showed you the running route I took along the Bob McMullen Trail in Cambridge, Ontario. Today, I want to show you the exercise trail that runs along the route as well.

Chin-Up

There are several of these stations placed along the trail route. Each station has specific equipment and instructions about how to do the exercises properly.

Exercise 1

This is the entire station and as you can see, there are four different exercises you can do here.

Exercise Station

I always wondered what those parallel bars were for.

Hip Flexes

Here are some exercises you can do on any bench. Lots of the trails I run on have benches throughout the route. Maybe they are for more than just taking a short break.

History Sign

This poster illustrates the historical significance of the area.

Exercise trails such as this one are rare. I’ve only seen this type of arrangement in a few places. I remember going to one of theses as a kid and I love running ahead to the next station. I will have to look that up again. I wonder if it is still there.

Do you have a great trail to recommend?

Please leave a comment below or take a few pictures and contribute a post to this blog. Just contact me and I’ll be happy to have you as a guest contributor for Silent Cacophony.

Thanks!

Brock’s Route Rail Trail

Let’s explore The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Rail Trail today.

This trail runs for 32 kilometers and links downtown Hamilton to Brantford.

I started my journey today in Copetown, Ontario on Hwy 52, just North of Highway 403. It turns out that this portion of the trail follows the route that Major General Isaac Brock took between Hamilton and Port Dover through Brantford during the War of 1812.

I love how every kilometer of this trail is marked so it makes it really easy to track how far you’ve run.

I actually ran this trail last fall, as you can see from this picture. I just hadn’t gotten around to posting it yet. I really should go back and run another portion of the rail trail this summer too.

The trail is very flat and only runs in a straight line, for the most part. That is because this used to be a railroad at one point on time. I’m glad it was re-purposed as a nature trail.

The trail continues on the other side of Highway 52. I ran a kilometer or so down it and it is pretty much the same. I should start there next time I am in the neighbourhood.

There are a few farms alongside either side of the rail trail. I was glad to see the plaque about the importance of farms.

Explore More Trails 

Photographic Tour Archive (over 4 dozen trails and counting)

Animal Man + Avengers + Xmen = Awesome

A + X = Awesome

This is a crossover book that tells several short stories. Each story pairs up a member of The Avengers with one of the X-Men.

There are twelve different adventures in this trade paperback that team up the likes of Wolverine and Hulk, Black Widow and Rogue, Spiderman and Beast, and many more. It’s light fair and good for a laugh or two, not very serious reading, and not connected to regular continuity.

Animal Man TPB

Animal Man: Volume 2 – Animal VS Man

I was pleasantly surprised to see the second issue of this graphic novel in the public library last week. The first volume captured my attention with an interesting take on a super-hero family. 

Buddy Baker is able to call on the power of animals around him, but his four-year old daughter’s emerging powers already surpass his own. She is destined to be the protector of The Red – the force of animal life.

The Rot is threatening to destroy all of nature. It has upset the delicate balance that has been in place since time began. Quite simply, it is death and decay. As such, this story is horrific and a bit scary, but it is a compelling read nonetheless.

I don’t normally like horror but I am enjoying The Walking Dead and Animal Man.

Avengers White Event

Avengers: The Last White Event

White Events have been happening since the very beginning of time. Yet, something has damaged the mechanism that controls them. As such, the system is broken and so is the universe.

The Last White Event created an extremely powerful being and it’s up to the Avengers to manage the threat. Even the Canadian super-hero team, Omega Flight gets caught up in the action. They begin fighting it but then start to protect it. What is this new system that has been brought into the world? We might have to wait until the next issue to find out.

My 2014 Reading Log (updated constantly with every new title I read over the course of the year)

Roth Park Nature Trail

Running season is back on!

I love exploring new trails and taking pictures along the way.

Let’s visit Roth Park in Woodstock, Ontario for the first Photographic Running Tour of the season.

This trail is very accessible. There is a paved trail that is good for strollers and rollerblades.

I love that there is a nature trail running alongside it as well. This symmetrical forest was really interesting to run through.

There were all sorts of dirt trails to explore.

I took a short trail right to this small beach. I didn’t stop long to admire the view. I just snapped a picture and continued my run.

I love all of the different terrain at this park. The only downside is that the trail is fairly flat. I enjoy running up and down hills. But I also enjoy running alongside the waterfront.

I really love thin trails along the water. The sounds of the city fade completely away and all I hear is nature and the pounding of my feet hitting the trail. Nothing better than that!

There is a nice picnic pavilion here as well. Looks like a great place to spend an afternoon.

Want to explore more trails? 

Photographic Tour Archive (3 Dozen Trails and counting)
Youth Start Trail (Woodstock, Ontario)
Scenic Trails (Ingersoll, Ontario)

Winter Camping

Scouts Winter Camping
Winter Camping – Scouter Wally and the Venture Company

This is one of my favourite photos of all time and does it ever have a story.

My father had been involved in Boy Scouts for most of his life. He was a youth member and a Cub Scout leader before I was even born.  When I was old enough to join, I became a Wolf Cub as well.

There are several different age groups to get involved in Scouts and I have been involved in all of them, except for Rovers.

Beavers – 5 to 7
Cubs – 8 to 10
Scouts – 11 to 14
Ventures – 14 to 17
Rovers – 18 to 26

The photo above shows a winter camping expedition we went on with our Venture Company.

I’m the third person on the left in the horseshoe formation. You can see my dad addressing us right beside me in the background. The girl on the bottom right of the photo passed away about a year later. So, rest in peace to both her and my father.

We had a lot of fun trying to survive an entire weekend in one of the coldest winters on record. We hiked in to our camp site and made shelters to sleep in. We were roughing it, that’s for sure.

We learned a few important things that weekend.

Number 1 – Don’t leave your water in the water cooler jug

We really should have poured the water into some pots because it froze solid in the water jug. As such, we had no water on our site and had to hike several kilometers to get new water in the morning.

Number 2 – Protect Your Insulin

One of the boys had his insulin freeze as well. I’m not sure what my dad did to remedy that problem.

Number 3 – Stay Warm

Once you catch a chill, it is nearly impossible to warm-up again when you can’t get to a heated building. My gloves weren’t the best and my hands got so cold that I couldn’t move them at one point.

I don’t think I’m selling you on the idea of winter camping, am I?

It was a challenge, but we came out of it okay. We did something that very few people can say they’ve done.  We slept outside in temperatures that felt like -20 degrees Celsius with the windchill.

It was a weekend I will never forget. I’m glad we had an amateur photographer in our group as well. I so love that photo!

The Best Word You Can Use in Your Teaching Practice

Carol Dweck talks about her favourite new word – Yet!

She says that she hears students complain that they are not good at a particular subject. They may say, “I’m no good at math” or “I’m not a musician” and as teachers, all we have to do is add one word to those statements.

Yet.

I’m not good at math yet.

That’s a very powerful word and quite possibly the best word we can use in our teaching practice.

Saying this simple word helps to communicate that . . .

“This is a skill that’s acquired over time. It’s not something you are good at or bad at. There’s a learning curve and you’re on that learning curve. When I say to you, ‘Yet,’ it means get back on that learning curve.

Some kids wear this badge of honour

– I’m not a math person

And you have to say, ‘Yet’

because everyone can learn math or music. Everyone can get better at it. They just need to get in there and keep trying.”

Yet is a very powerful word.

And one that I will make sure to use more often.

More Danger from the Living

 

The Walking Dead: Volume 6 – This Sorrowful Life

Once again, this issue of the series deals more so with the violence between the survivors of the zombie apocalypse than between those of the living and the dead. But the stakes are just as high. This volume of the popular series is quite graphic in its level of violence. It is gory and scary.

 

The Walking Dead: Volume 7 – The Calm Before

The characters in this series are so well-defined and diverse. It is so easy to get into the story of the few survivors and how they have banded together in an effort to have some sort of normalcy in an otherwise insane world.

I think that is the reason I am enjoying this series. I am not normally into horror, graphic images, and such scary content. It’s the story and the characters more so than the content that holds the magic to this series.

The calm wasn’t exactly peaceful in this issue either. And war is inevitable in the next issue. The last splash panel sets this up brilliantly and has me yammering to read more.

My 2013 Reading Log (one more book to blog about and I’ll be done)

Batman Knightfall – Comic vs Novel vs TV Show

Batman: Knightfall

This is an iconic story in the Batman universe. It was a huge event starting in 1993 and it crossed over into every related Batman title. The main story ran in Detective Comics, which introduced the character in 1939 in issue # 27. Batman became the star of the title shortly thereafter and remained so even after the introduction of his self-titled series.

This is a huge graphic novel that collects Vengeance of Bane # 1, Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-660, Showcase ’93 #7 and 8 and Batman: Shadow of the Bat #17-18 and clocks in at 640 pages.

The story revolves around Bane and I don’t think there are any spoilers left. The cover art pretty much gives it away. Bane is the man who broke Batman’s back.

This story was reworked for The Dark Knight Rises, which really let me down.  Incredibly, I much prefer the novel version of the story as opposed to both the comic and the movie.

 

I read this novel as a teenager and it was brilliant. It is still my favourite way to experience this iconic story.

Although, I really enjoyed how Bane was portrayed in the Animated Series.

 

I think he was much scarier in the cartoon than he was in the latest feature film. I really need to get my hands on the DVD collection of that series. I would so love to watch it from beginning to end one more time.

There are two more volumes to this story in graphic novel form. I will have to read those at some point. I still don’t know exactly what happens in the aftermath of Banes destruction and the devastation he unleashed on Gotham City.

I’m currently reading a modern Batman comic. Stay tuned to this blog for my review of that story as well.

My Reading Log for 2013

The Humans are Worse than the Zombies

Walking Dead TPB

 

The Walking Dead: Volume 4: The Heart’s Desire by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

The Walking Dead is a very popular television series that was based on a comic book. I read the first hardcover collection a few years back and am only just getting around to reading more of the title.

The story is centred around a small group of survivors. Zombies are everywhere and they are fighting hard to stay alive and stay together.

The survivors are literally prisoners in this issue. They have holed themselves up in a prison. They have cleared it out and barricaded themselves inside. The zombies stay on the other side of the fence eerily watching them.

One of the survivors on the inside had this to say, “I was a prisoner here. It’s weird how different this place can become just by sleeping with the cell door open. . .

I was never out there. I was never in danger, hunted, terrorized by those things. I was here BEFORE they came to life and started killing people . . . And I was in here after.

So yeah–it’s a new world, but God help me . . . I like this world better.”

The appeal of this series is how it is so character driven. It’s not so much about the horror. It is more about the relationships, the fight to survive, and the drama.

Walking Dead TPB

 

The Walking Dead: Volume 5: The Best Defense by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

The real horror in this volume comes from how the humans treat each other. A global tragedy like the zombie apocalypse should have brought people together. That’s what has happened so far with the small band of survivors that Rick has been leading and keeping safe for nearly a year now. But when a helicopter crashes and he goes to investigate, he is met with a bigger horror than the zombies outside the gate.

My Reading Log for 2013 (with links to each title)

Long Live Daredevil

 

Daredevil: End of Days by Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Alex Maleev

Daredevil meets a violent end at the hands of his arch-nemesis Bullseye. That’s not a spoiler alert either. This book is about the final days of our favourite super-hero.

The strange thing about this story is that the main character dies at the beginning of the book. He says one word just before dies, however. A word that completely unravels Bullseye.

Reporter Ben Urich starts an investigation to find out why Daredevil had been absent for years, why he returned to crime-fighting, and why he died. It’s personal because he has always respected and admired the super-hero. He even knew the man behind the mask.

 

He starts writing the story of Daredevil’s final days. He interviews many of Daredevil’s allies, enemies, and former lovers and pieces of the story start to come together.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written and beautifully drawn by some of the best writers and artists to ever work on the ongoing series. It’s a dark tale that wraps up Daredevil’s story nicely

My 2013 Reading List (tons of great novels, comics, and teaching-related books)

The Final Days of Captain America

Captain America: The Chosen by David Morrell and Mitch Breitweiser

Ever since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, comic writers have been inspired to tell the stories of the final days of our favourite superheroes. Origin stories have always been popular, but now exit stories are becoming all the more frequent.

This graphic novel tells the story of Captain America’s final days. He is a soldier right until the end, but he realizes that sometimes fighting isn’t as important as inspiring others.

The story starts off in Afghanistan and we are introduced Corporal James Newman. He tells us that he’s been fighting in the war for quite some time. “I’m so used to being scared that I’m numb.”

 

This opening sequence really hits home and shows the harsh realities of war. It seems like the Corporal starts hallucinating when Captain America shows up at his side and helps him save his squad.

Spoiler Alert

It seems like Captain America is dying and reaching out to this soldier via some sort of telepathy. He is inspiring him and teaching him how to become a hero. It’s almost as if he is grooming him to become the new Captain America.

The story is very well done. I didn’t want to put it down. It is inspiring and tells a superhero story that is grounded in the real-life heroes we don’t seem to celebrate as much as the fictional ones in this culture.

I really enjoyed this story and I think you will too.

My Complete (and ever-growing) List of 2013 Reads

Batman, Robin, and The Red Hood Join Forces

 

Batman & Robin: Dark Knight Vs. White Knight by Cornel, McDaniel, Tomasi, Gleason, Winick, and Tocchini

There are three stories in this graphic novel. My favourite is not the title story, however. I much prefer the story arc that had Batman and Robin joining forces with The Red Hood.

A little bit of history here that shouldn’t come as a spoiler to any dedicated Batman fan. The Red Hood is a vigilante that doesn’t have the morality of Batman, although he has a history with him. He was Robin at one point in time.

 

But he met a nasty end at the hands of the Joker.

 

Jason Todd’s story was brilliantly presented in the animated feature film, Batman: Under the Red Hood. I highly recommend this movie.

Spoiler Alert

In this graphic novel, Jason Todd is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. He makes an appeal that he doesn’t deserve to be held in a facility for the criminally insane and as such, gets transferred to a regular prison. He unleashes havoc in the general population and kills several inmates.

He escapes the prison and once again dons the mantel of The Red Hood. In the panel before this final page teaser to set up the next issue, he mentions how he had to improvise with his costume . . .

 

This make-shift costume is definitely inspired by Punisher but I like the new look. And I am interested to see where this character goes next.

My 2013 Reading Log (every title I’ve read over the course of this year)

Recommended Reads: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In the near future, we live in one of five factions. Each group is conditioned to think, act, and behave in a certain way. When we turn sixteen years old, we are given a test that assigns us to one of the factions. We then have the choice of staying in the faction of our family or transferring to one of the other four.

We are introduced to this world through the character of Beatrice Prior. Her test proved that she didn’t exactly belong to any of the factions. It turns out that she is “Divergent” and that this is a scary and pretty much unspeakable thing.

She renames herself Tris and abandons her home faction for a new one. She tries to understand exactly what she is and why.

The writing is fast-paced and brilliant. This is a world that mirrors our own. We have all been conditioned to act and behave in certain ways. This is science fiction at its best. It shines a light on our own reality while delivering a spellbinding story. I simply couldn’t put the book down.

We get a resolution at the end of the book, but I am left wanting to read more about Tris and this dystopian world she seems destined to overthrow. Good thing this is a trilogy. I will be reading the next book, Insurgent, very soon.

I’m adding this title to my Recommended Reads section. You should check it out.

My 2013 Reading Log (Every book I’ve read this year with links to each title)

The Great Gatsby on the Boardwalk

Fan-created cover by Stuart Ward for Hfour.ca 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I didn’t see the new feature film of this story that came out last year. I figured I should read the book first. After all, it is a classic.

I have to say that I was not all that impressed with the book. It is told from a relatively insignificant character. We don’t even meet the title character for quite some time. And when we do, there is more mystery of who he is than anything else.

One thing that did interest me about the book was the connections I made with the television series Boardwalk Empire. They are both set in the 1920s and mention some of the same historical events. It was cool to have some visuals in my head from the series as I read the novel.

The novel is pretty much a tragedy and a sad tale but it didn’t really tug on my heart-strings. I have to say that it was a bit of a let down for me.

Boardwalk Empire – Seasons 1 – 3

I just finished watching the first three seasons of the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. It revolves around the exploits of Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, and his rise to become the kingpin of the bootlegging industry.

This period piece is set amongst the prohibition era in Atlantic City in the 1920s. It even has a young Al Capone in it. I am not sure how historically accurate the story is but it makes for compelling television.

Just be forewarned that it is an extremely violent show riddled with course language, nudity, and graphic violence. I am surprised that I have stayed with it this long. This is not usually my cup of tea.

My 2013 Reading Log (with links exploring each title in detail)

Silent Cacophony is Moving Soon

I’ve built quite the estate here over the past seven years and blogging has taken me to places I never would have imagined when I first started Silent Cacophony back in March of 2007.

If you access my blog via http://chasemarch.com you won’t notice any difference.

If you have been coming here through my Blogger address, you will need to update your bookmarks soon.

If you subscribe to the blog via email or a reader, things should remain the same. Please do me a favour though, if you don’t see my weekly posts showing up, send me a line and let me know. I iwll do my best to correct the problem quickly.

It will be nice hosting this party on my own domain. It will give me some freedom to try new things and to own all of my content.

I think this move will be a great thing and I hope you will follow me to my new digs. We’ll continue to build together. Big things have been happening and I am really excited about all of them.

Cheers!

Chasing Content – December 2012

CalStateArch_Tour3 by vlasta2

It’s time for another edition of Chasing Content – that monthly feature that has us digging through the archives to unearth of all of the good things that were happening here last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from last December

or just these favourites

My Year in Review

Wow, looking back at this is rather telling. There were four goals that I completely failed on and I didn’t do any better this year either. Those four things are still on my radar. I am just going to have to find time to fit them into my busy life in 2014.

Pipes and Rails Skatepark Tour

This is one of the best places to skate in the winter. I don’t even mind having to go out of my way. The ramps are very well-designed and look stylish as well. It’s a great skateboarding spot.

Know Your History – The Famous Sample

I love producing a radio documentary on hip-hop music and culture every month. This is one of my all-time favourite shows. I look closely at one record and how it has been sampled over and over again in all sorts of creative ways.

Tallest Silver Brings Comics to Life

I absolutely love her. She is a cosplay artist who manages to bring comic books characters to life in a breath-taking way. She is launching a webseries entitled Sweethearts of the Galaxy soon too. I can’t wait!

Comic Strip Newsletters

This is a great way to communicate with parents. Send home a newsletter in comic strip form. I did it last year and it was a lot of fun. I need to do this again soon.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

INTRODUCING. . . Sweethearts of the Galaxy

Sweethearts of the Galaxy is a brand new webseries starring my favourite cosplay artist, Tallest Silver and her best friend Kit Quinn.

If you don’t know about the art of cosplay, you haven’t been paying enough attention to my blog or my Tumblr. Shame on you!

The term cosplay is an amalgam of “costume” and “play” but these two ladies are very serious about their craft. Their costumes are very detailed and they embody all sorts of characters in creative and fascinating ways.

This webseries revolves around the fact that Kit Quinn starts to believe that she actually is the character she was merely pretending to play. And hilarity ensues.

I’m looking forward to seeing these two ladies every week for the next little while. Now, shush! \The show is starting.

Jet Aircraft Museum

The Jet Aircraft Museum is located at London International Airport in London, Ontario, Canada. I visited the museum for the annual Doors Open London in September and had a great time.

This is the T-33 577 Mako Shark. I got to see it taxi and then take off.

And while I took in the other sites and attractions, the plane did some maneuvers overhead. It kept looping around in a sort of one-plane air show. It was great.

Inside, you could try your hand at some realistic flight simulators. These planes are quite difficult to pilot.

This single prop two-man plane came in for a landing and taxied right up to the yellow rope. It was loud and glorious.

I’ve also had the chance to visit The Warplane Heritage Museum, in Hamilton, Ontario.

Here is a little more info about the London museum . . .

The Jet Aircraft Museum (JAM) exists to create and maintain a dynamic and living history of the modern age Royal Canadian Air Force and to provide permanent honour for those valiant Canadian men and women who flew these aircraft with distinction in periods of war, peace, and peace keeping.

JAM is a not for profit foundation that has as its primary purposes the acquisition, display, preservation, maintenance and, most importantly, providing in flight demonstrations for the people of Canada now and for generations to come.

The JAM mission is to combine the creation and operation of museum housing: aircraft, historical artifacts, records, and salient memorabilia, while simultaneously keeping representative historic aircraft in the air whenever and wherever major aviation events are held across Canada and at appropriate international centres.

A Warm Up That Pays Off

I normally have some kind of class warm-up, whether it be a line of music, the Bb Scale, or playing a pattern that I write on the board.

So today, when I asked my students to play this pattern on the third note of their Bb Scale, they didn’t bat an eye.

I then had them play quarter notes in this pattern.

They looked at me like I’d asked too much. I don’t normally have them bounce around with the notes much for this kind of warm-up, but they did it.

Next, I had them put both parts together.

They needed to repeat the first portion two times in a row and then finish the line.

Most of them figured out what I was having them do. They realized that we had just played “Jingle Bells” and that I had kind of tricked them into playing it.

I asked my students to figure out the rest of the piece by ear. I gave them two minutes to do so. I then handed out the sheet music so we could play it together.

You can find all sorts of great music for band at MusicEdMagic. My students really enjoyed playing this piece. It is completely in unison and really easy to play. It’s the kind of piece that lets them achieve success fairly quickly.

There are many other Christmas Carols for band available for you to print off right now. There are several other songs there as well. It is a great resource just like this weekly series.

Thanks for stopping by and remember to come back each week for Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive (Close to 200 tips and counting)