1 week ago

High Quality
Papa’s got a brand new bag.
Not that I read a lot, but I cannot even begin to tell you how much more convenient this is than Moon+ Reader on my cell phone or tablet. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of a mobile device when that device is perpetually connected to a wall.
So why did I jump onto this esoteric bandwagon? Surprisingly, 4 of my portaging comrades actually brought their readers along with them into Algonquin. In a situation where space and weight kind of matters, of all the items that you could possibly bring along, an ebook reader was somehow a common choice - talk about piquing my interest!
Anyway, I can at least tell you this right of the bat: eink battery life is insane. Kobo says that the average battery life on the Aura HD is about 2 months based on 30 minutes of reading per day, and it doesn’t even matter whether you have the frontlight on or off. If my (not so good) math is correct, that’s about 30 hours of reading time on a single charge. In comparison, I can probably get around 5 to 6 hours on my Galaxy S5…if I’m not watching porn doing other things on phone that day. 
After an initial full charge out of the box, I’m at roughly 16 hours of use with 65% battery left. Not bad right? I’m pretty sure that this was a good move…
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Papa’s got a brand new bag.

Not that I read a lot, but I cannot even begin to tell you how much more convenient this is than Moon+ Reader on my cell phone or tablet. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of a mobile device when that device is perpetually connected to a wall.

So why did I jump onto this esoteric bandwagon? Surprisingly, 4 of my portaging comrades actually brought their readers along with them into Algonquin. In a situation where space and weight kind of matters, of all the items that you could possibly bring along, an ebook reader was somehow a common choice - talk about piquing my interest!

Anyway, I can at least tell you this right of the bat: eink battery life is insane. Kobo says that the average battery life on the Aura HD is about 2 months based on 30 minutes of reading per day, and it doesn’t even matter whether you have the frontlight on or off. If my (not so good) math is correct, that’s about 30 hours of reading time on a single charge. In comparison, I can probably get around 5 to 6 hours on my Galaxy S5…if I’m not watching porn doing other things on phone that day. 

After an initial full charge out of the box, I’m at roughly 16 hours of use with 65% battery left. Not bad right? I’m pretty sure that this was a good move…

1 week ago

Another round of portaging #2: what makes a good campsite?

So day one was coming to a close and we were in pretty good shape. Our bellies were full of grub and our camp was looking pimp tight.

The hard work was done and there was nothing left to do but sit awkwardly upright on those uncomfortable log benches that weren’t actually that stable…and relax.

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I must admit that we really lucked out with our first campsite and, as I mentioned before, a campsite can really make or break your trip. Our plan was to spend two nights on Big Porcupine Lake and then make our way over to Parkside Bay for our last night.

According to the apathetic teenagers in the park office park check-in folks, all of the campsites on both of the lakes that we planned to be on were completely booked. Knowing that most people would spend the entire long weekend parked at one site (rather than portage like chumps us), we made the decision to linger on our third day before finally making our way over to the (presumably) full Parkside Bay.

I’m still not too sure whether that was the right move but that’s another story.

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So what makes for a good campsite anyway?

With regards to super subjective subjects, this is definitely one of them. In my (not so humble) opinion, it’s a combination of things…

The first is simple: easy access to the water, which usually translates into a nice view. What’s the point of having these beautiful/pristine lakes all around you if you can’t even enjoy them?

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It’s pretty rare that you would see a campsite with some sort of actual sand beach in Algonquin (although I have seen a few), but there are some with pretty decent “rock beaches” that are pretty nice. That’s more or less what we’re always after, since the sand beach sites seem like they’re always the first to go (we’re ambitious but not that ambitious).

To have an area along the shore that makes getting in/out of the water easy (and by easy I mean not having to claw your way out of the water and scrape up your arms and knees on the jagged rocks…or slip on some ridiculous algae then fall on your ass like I did last year) is a huge plus.

On some sites people have to tie their canoes to a tree because there was no place to store them on shore. On other sites you had to climb up a cliff just go get to the actual campsite area. Convenience is king out there.

Here was where we stored our boats and, at that very spot, I actually tipped my canoe and fell into the water on two separate occasions (because I’m smooth like that).

My team was on the ball because, after hearing my girlish screams, they came over to laugh at my non-threatening situation.

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Another important thing to consider is having enough space to be be to do “stuff”. I should have taken pictures, but one of the sites that we scoped out/rejected consisted of nowhere to put your boats, a tiny little overrun path which split into two smaller paths leading to sketchy 6x6 clearings in some questionable (poison?) ivy patches. Then connecting those two “tent sports” was another tiny overrun path with a “fire pit” in the middle of it that only two or three people could sit next to. I don’t even think there were any log benches either! That campsite was BS and shouldn’t have even been on the map.

Anyway, we had room to spare on this first site. As you can see from the pictures in this post, with all that space nobody got in anyone’s face and my snoring was off in the distance rather than right next to you.

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You might not know this but I love me my ropes. I have a whole bag full of them for my hammocks, tarps, to use as clothes lines, tie food barrels up in trees, and whatever. You can never have enough rope, but it’s totally dead weight if there’s nowhere to tie them to.

Not only does having some good spacing between trees give you many opportunities for hammocks, but it also lets the breeze though, which really helps with the mosquito situation. You can enjoy the sunlight, enjoy the view and if it rains then there’s a bunch of spots to tie up some tarps.

You don’t want a large group of people to be cooped up in one tiny area for a couple of days…drama would surely ensue.

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If this were about car camping my list would stop here, but since it’s about portaging one thing to mention is the whole firewood situation.

It takes a lot of time and energy to process a bunch of wood into usable pieces. If you’re lucky, then you’ll get a site with lots of fallen trees/dry wood laying around. If you’re not, then you’re gonna have one hell of a time sustaining even the tiniest of fires.

On our first site there was wood everywhere - it looked like a camp ranger had recently come through with a chainsaw and just laid waste to that portion of the forest. On our second site it was a completely different story. Even though we were in a much thicker forest, there were no fallen trees to be found and we were basically keeping our tiny ass modest fire going with twigs. If you don’t know, fresh wood does not easily burn. The struggle was real.

A decent fire can make a big difference for morale, especially if you’re relying on it to cook food. Also, there’s nothing more comforting than a fire at night time when you’re out there in the darkness. It really lifts the spirits and huddling around a void to shoot the breeze is just not the same.

Now here is a picture of the infamous thunder box. We were doubly lucky that this one was (probably) brand new for this season.

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Speaking of thunder boxes, our second site’s toilet was pretty sketchy. Not only did you have to walk up an overrun path to get there, but it was also covered in moss, half rotting and tilted backwards. I even found a snake under the lid during a trip to it. Not cool.

Anyway, there wasn’t too much to report on our second day since we were straight cold chillin’. We basically had all day to play around, log some hammock time, swim and we even practiced flipping canoes and rescuing each other.

First of all, it’s super easy to flip a canoe (like ridiculously easy) and the last thing you want to do is flip a canoe full of gear. When we started the exercise my cousin was like, how do we flip it? All I did was lean a little too far one direction and we were both instantly in the lake, anime styles.

Secondly, if you’re out there all alone in one boat, then it’s (probably) impossible to flip it back over without flooding it again. I’m pretty sure you just have to swim that whole mess back to shore and deal with it there…or, if you can get back in, just paddle to shore with a canoe half full of water…if it doesn’t sink.

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We actually tried (with two strong swimmers) to flip the boat back over/empty it, but it’s so damn hard - it just re-filled with water every time. Maybe some more amazing swimmers could do it, but unless you can tread water without your arms and get well above the surface to hoist the thing straight up into the air and then throw it back upright without scooping any water up, it’s just gonna flood again.

With two canoes it wasn’t so bad. The basic technique is this:

1) Slide the upside down canoe onto the middle of the second canoe, thus getting it out of the water and draining it.

2) Flip the canoe upright and slide it back into the water.

3) Now here’s the tricky part. The two people gotta go on opposite sides of the canoe and try to balance each other out as they climb in. I’m pretty sure everyone got bruises from this step. Everyone.

We all tried it and we all managed to pass the test. How would we do if the canoes were actually full of gear? I have no idea. It would probaby just be a catastrophe.

And finally, I’m happy that the perpetual photographer somehow manged to get a picture of himself carrying a canoe on his shoulders aka portaging like a boss. I’m totally going to frame this one.

Next up, the move…

2 weeks ago

After drooling over this place for the longest time, I can finally brag say that I’ve eaten at Joe Beef, and that the foie gras double down totally lived up to it’s name.

Along with a couple of bottles of their house beer, we shared 4 appetizers, 3 mains and 1 dessert - they were all delicious. Trust me.

Descriptions in the captions.

2 weeks ago

High Quality
So this is a pretty neat little party trick.
Miracle Fruit or Synsepalum dulcificum is a plant (bush), native to West Africa. Miracle Fruit berries cause bitter and sour foods, such as lemons and rhubarb, consumed after eating Miracle Fruit berries, to taste sweet.
Other than confusing the hell out of your taste buds, I’m not too sure why I would pay anyone would pay $20 for this. *cough*impressyourfriends*cough*
It actually works!
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So this is a pretty neat little party trick.

Miracle Fruit or Synsepalum dulcificum is a plant (bush), native to West Africa. Miracle Fruit berries cause bitter and sour foods, such as lemons and rhubarb, consumed after eating Miracle Fruit berries, to taste sweet.

Other than confusing the hell out of your taste buds, I’m not too sure why I would pay anyone would pay $20 for this. *cough*impressyourfriends*cough*

It actually works!

2 weeks ago

It sucks, but this summer has been a real roller coaster ride for me and there’s no end in sight. Don’t get me wrong, it did have it’s moments but strange days were definitely coming and even I know that I’ve been acting uncharacteristically off my game lately.

I tell you, on top of all this house biz, work has been driving me bananamas. It’s pretty rare that I have work related stress but I’ve been getting giant donkey dicks shoved in my face left, right and center these days. It sucks (har har).

I normally get into work, put down my coffee, put on my cardigan boot up my computer and then just start killin’ it…but not so much these days. The amount of times per day that I have to roll my eyes at an incoming email or IM is off the charts. I need a legit vacation but I know that I won’t be able to take one until sometime after November. Lame.

I’m going to engage my broken record mode here, but there are times when all you need to do is unwind, there are times when you just need to disconnect, and then there are times when something’s weighing you down and you just need to unload.

Although exhausting, that trip to Montreal was a whole lot of fun considering that it was only a short weekend getaway. Portaging really helped me recharge my batteries and it felt so damn good to not check email, like crap on Facebook or gossip on WhatsApp for a couple days. And I also dropped a bunch of confession bombs all over the place managed to get a lot of stuff off my chest recently and that offered a great deal of relief - just talking to someone can be some pretty powerful stuff.

Anyway, keeping things pent up inside is no way to live but it’s also pretty tough to gather up the courage needed to confide in someone that you can trust. Strangely enough, aside from me spilling my guts all over the floor, I recently had someone drop some bombs on me too (instant karma) and that ended up being pretty intense (as expected). I totally understood where they were coming from though, so I just did my best to listen to their troubles, give whatever advice that I could, offer up some help and then I locked it up in my vault forever. I’m no expert at this touchy feely stuff, but that’s pretty much what I would want.

If you think about it everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. We just have to be kind because we’re all in this together.

Is it Friday yet?

3 weeks ago

2 note(s)

A quote from Abed Nadir, Community

"That’s why I was willing to change for you guys - because when you really know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for others isn’t such a big deal."

3 weeks ago

1 note(s)

Watching Roger Federer gave me some flashbacks of watching Pete Sampas. Good ol’ tennis! 

3 weeks ago

2 note(s)

Another round of portaging #1: no longer noobs.

So we made it out of our 4 day portage alive. Nobody got hurt, nobody cracked and nobody ran out of toilet paper. We learned a hell of a lot last year and that experience translated into me packing like 5 lighters and bringing way more clothes than necessary us being well prepared and not making too many wrong moves. I messed up on the first night, but more on that later…maybe.

We had a good mix of experienced vs inexperienced campers and our crew handled everything pretty well. Just like most situations in life, you have a lot more fun when you’re around people that you like and the fact that everyone contributed in one way or another made things so much easier. No free loaders allowed!

If you’re interested in checking out our route, then refer to this dope map.

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Anyway, we spent Thursday night car camping at Tea Lake so we could get an early jump on the next morning. It was the right move but history totally repeated itself and we ended up getting the jump on nothing/nobody. 

By the time we packed up, ate breakfast and headed to park office to get our permits, the access point parking lot was already full and there were tons of people ahead of us. They let us know that all the sites in our area were completely booked, so getting ahead of the crowd makes a big difference. Long weekend traffic.

After using a real washroom for the last time, we finally got onto the water around 11:15 - kind of late.

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If you don’t know, you don’t actually book a campsite at all - you book a lake. Once you make it to that lake it’s first come first serve for the sites. That first day of the trip (or any other day that you’re going to another site) is literally a race against everyone else.

I can’t stress it enough that the site you get can make or break your trip. It’s literally a free for all out there and the best sites always get snagged first. Let it be known that not all sites are created equal - we laid eyes on some pretty shitty “campsites” out there that really shouldn’t have even be on the map.

Shitty campsite = shitty time.

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Our first day consisted of roughly 15 km of paddling and two portages. Being dragon boaters, the paddling was the easy part but it’s the portages that you gotta watch out for. 

Our first portage was a measly 240 m and we cleared that fairly quickly, but our second portage was 590m and aptly named the Devil’s Staircase. If you look at the maps, you’ll see that they don’t really name portages except for (I guess) the exceptional ones. It was basically an uphill climb, but we took it like champs and I even ended up carrying 2/4 canoes #stealthbrag.

Having no neck The squats paid off.

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After clearing that portage we were about 3 hours in and on the lake where we needed to find a campsite. Right as we were loading the canoes back up there was a family with 3 boats just setting off at the same time. We needed to get ahead of them, so just like last year we sent out a recon canoe to out-paddle them and scope out the sites on the other side of the lake.

Fortunately/unfortunately all the sites on that first section of the lake were taken and we were able to pass them while they searched around. By the time we finally caught up with the lead boat, they were waiting for us on a site that had the most pimp tight fire pit I had ever seen. It looked just like the Skyrim Skyforge but in the woods. As cheesy at it sounds, that fire pit was epic. They layout of the site was also pretty nice but, unfortunately, there wasn’t much sunlight or wind on that site and that pretty much made the mosquito playground.

We were pretty tired as this was at the 4 hour mark, but we made the call to paddle to the other side of the lake and check out some more sites. Two of the boats stayed (and dealt with the insects) while the other two went out for another paddle.

That plan totally worked out in our favor.

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The second campsite that we landed on was a lot more open, had a lot more sunlight, gentle breeze and easy access to the lake. The fire pit was much less impressive but it was a better package overall…unless it were to rain. We accepted the risk and things worked out in our favor.

Because we knew that one boat might have to return for the others, we only actually packed one canoe full of gear because it was still a good 30 minute paddle to get to where we originally were.

So while the other boat went back to round up the troops, my cousin and I unpacked our gear, got our swim trunks on, had a few swigs and went for a swim.

Talk about refreshing.

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After the rest of the crew rolled up, we unloaded the rest of our gear and got camp setup. Everyone had a room with a view.

One thing that we had major issues with last year was gathering firewood - there were barely any fallen/dry trees around and we didn’t have the right tools to process wood and there. This year we had two saws, a hatchet and some big ass knives - we were prepared. Luckily there was a lot of fallen trees on this site too, so we didn’t have to look very hard.

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Warm food and fire really lifts the spirits, so we got a that going shortly after and engaged in some campfire talk. We actually brought fresh chicken kebabs for our first dinner so we had to ensure that they got fully cooked over our uneven campfire…for our bowels sake.

Questionably cooked chicken never tasted so delicious.

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The hard part was over and there was nothing left to do but relax, enjoy the sunset and wait for the stars to come out.

Day one was done (son).

1 month ago

So I made it out of Montreal alive and accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish (despite not even winning a single medal).

I brought my GoPro and filmed 0 seconds of footage, I shared 7 (delicious) dishes at Joe Beef and a couple more at Restaurant Holder, I ate a Montreal bagel, drank some beers (and even had a bloody caesar) on the cobblestone in Old Montreal, and I managed to let my hair down Saturday night - it was a good time.

All I have to show for it are a couple of crappy pictures, but I ain’t even mad because Facebook was a flood of tags and notifications come Monday morning. We did well.

Despite returning to a veritable massacre at work this whole half-week, it was very much worth it. NO RAGRETS.

On the portaging front, I’m 100% fired up now. We’re leaving tomorrow and the forecast calls for rain every single damn day that we’re out there. It’s totally going to change up my whole packing situation (which at 10pm, I’ve barely started) because rain is a real game changer. But whatever, I’m sooo looking forward to this it’s not even funny.

I love having a story to tell but hopefully not too much goes wrong on this trip. I’m busting out the old X100 too. Lets go!

1 month ago

So I’m off to Montreal tomorrow and totally on the fence about making any sort of video about it. Do I want to? Yes. Do I feel like being that guy who carries a GoPro around everywhere? No. I just want to relax and cruise the town, not worry about b-roll and batteries..

Anyway, the whole paddling for two teams is a total mess again. Even though I tried to escape it by leaving the province, it’s exactly my luck that it didn’t make any sort of difference in the end. I’m pretty sure that we won’t be in the same finals but leave it up to the organizers to fate to put us head-to-head in our very first race of the weekend. PA seems to be on a pretty good streak lately, while Banana Boat’s attendance is at an all time low…we seem to be struggling pretty hard off to a slow start.

I’m actually not too sure why they even decided to do Montreal because it was thrown together at the very last minute…with a shit ton of reluctance. It was organized weeks after PA had already finalized their details/bookings and I think only 2/3 of that team is actually going. Aside from a team dinner on Saturday, I have no idea where they’re staying or what else they’re going to do.

Whatever, my plans are set. I ain’t got time to worry about that and with all the crap on my plate at the moment I just don’t care - I’m on vacation!

Bagels, foie gras and tourtiere, here I come!

1 month ago

High Quality
If’s official: I’m stressed the fuck out. There’s some heavy shit weighing on my mind and I’m totally trippin’ over it. The bad days are stacking up and it’s not a good look.
Somehow this Thirty Club is beginning to suck and I definitely need to go on a vacation.
The good news is that I’m off to Montreal this weekend to dance away the pain with my friends to eat some delicious food, not get enough sleep and (hopefully) pick up some dragonboat hardware. Then I’m off to Algonquin next week to paddle some more, sleep under the stars and get creeped out by seaweed touching my feet while swimming in some random lake(s).
Hopefully that combination of totally different (fun) experiences will help reset my mojo and get me out of this so called rut. If not then I’m loading up that 2012 save game and re-living my (at the time) motto of do what makes you happy and fuck the rest. That actually ended up being one of my best years.
You know that you’re getting old when…
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If’s official: I’m stressed the fuck out. There’s some heavy shit weighing on my mind and I’m totally trippin’ over it. The bad days are stacking up and it’s not a good look.

Somehow this Thirty Club is beginning to suck and I definitely need to go on a vacation.

The good news is that I’m off to Montreal this weekend to dance away the pain with my friends to eat some delicious food, not get enough sleep and (hopefully) pick up some dragonboat hardware. Then I’m off to Algonquin next week to paddle some more, sleep under the stars and get creeped out by seaweed touching my feet while swimming in some random lake(s).

Hopefully that combination of totally different (fun) experiences will help reset my mojo and get me out of this so called rut. If not then I’m loading up that 2012 save game and re-living my (at the time) motto of do what makes you happy and fuck the rest. That actually ended up being one of my best years.

You know that you’re getting old when…

1 month ago

And just like that, another dragon boat season comes to an end.

Paddlers Anonymous is headed to Montreal next week for our final race of the season and, aside from the end of season party, it’s a wrap after that. I can honestly say that in my 6 years of paddling no season has ever felt like it flew by this fast. I’m not forgetting about Banana Boat - their season is only 1/3 through - but I’m missing so many practices and races that it’s almost a non-season.

The shitty part is that for most of the summer it just felt like I was going through the motions. Show up, sweat my balls off, bail. Sure, I got a nice little tan going and my pants are a little looser than they were in the fatso off season, but I can’t say that I ever got legitimately fired up about anything dragon boat related…yet? And you know me, I just love getting fired up about something.

But regarding Montreal, I sure as hell am treating it as more of a vacation than anything because I sure as hell need a vacation (holy stress balls, Batman). I have reservations at Joe Beef, Restaurant Holder and you better believe that at some point I’ll be sitting in Old Montreal, sipping on a beer. Hell, if I’m taking a day off work then it’s officially a vacation.

Paddling with a hangover? No big deal.

1 month ago

This video popped up in my subscriptions feed the other day and, after watching it, all sorts of alarms started going off in my head about this upcoming portaging trip.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna be just fine but it’s the other people that I’m worried about. This time around our crew consists of 4 girls and 4 guys, but at least 3 of them are total greenhorns when it comes to any sort of camping. Especially with newer campers, I would hate for them to have one of those I’m never camping again experiences, but it happens. Trust me. It happens.

I love getting people out there but the worst is when someone has a bad time because they just didn’t listen. Despite everyone’s warnings, advice, emails and text messages, there’s always someone out there who thinks that they know better…but they don’t. Then they gall to complain. Knickerbocker please!

Even with car camping 4 days is a relatively long time for most people, so if you’re talking about 4 days of portaging then you better put some consideration into the things going into your backpack. There ain’t exactly a MEC, Walmart or hospital around the corner to run paddle to in case something happens.

It could rain (people always underestimate the rain), someone could get hurt, equipment might fail or you could drink some bad water and get the runs…and then run out of toilet paper. My motto is that a little preparation goes a long way. I ain’t trying to get out there and start a fire with sticks struggle, I just want to relax, enjoy nature and go for a swim.

There’s a big difference between being brave and just straight up not knowing any better. Like most situations in life, it’s good to be at least a little scared because it means that you probably understand what’s going on.

For the rest of the herd, you know the saying: if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.

1 month ago

1 note(s)

High Quality
Friends be like, my vegetable garden is pretty big.
Cool story bro.
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Friends be like, my vegetable garden is pretty big.

Cool story bro.

1 month ago

I tell you, all that’s on my mind these days are girls is the house.

I have my electrical appointment today and the whole thing about the actual layout of the town home being the flipped version of the paper floor plan really threw me for a loop.

Strategically placing all the outlets and wiring is turning out to be quite the challenge. I’m most definitely probably overthinking it, but the last thing I need are random wires laying all over my hardwood floors and carpet.

The second floor is presumably where all the so called action will take place, so I really want it to be comfortable, open and inviting. Unfortunately, the damn layout of this living room/computer nook area is proving to be trickier than I imagined.

I know that I want two TVs and a sectional in this area (so I can just pass out after a long night of movies or video games reading books), but the space isn’t totally huge and I’m not sure that fitting more than one couch in it is possible.

One of the good things though is that the computer nook is much bigger than it looked on paper, so I’m probably going to make it into a pimped out version of my (currently struggling) bedroom setup. Well, hopefully…