Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Falldrums

Fall is usually a questy time for me. Looking back however, I haven't been able to catalogue anything I've accomplished as being particularly quest-worthy. It is typically the winter that leads me to become dispondant (quite looking forward to that). Not that I am particularyly dispondant of late, more... uncommunicative. Communication follows.

Anwyn has wanted to play basketball for 2 years now, but she is finally old enough (at 8) to participate in the 'Spuds' league through the neighborhood community associations. The UofS student, who was to act as our coach, didn't show up for the first practice so I got to help out. I think I shocked the kids (not to mention the parents) when I was seen repeatedly climbing up onto the back of the basketball nets in order to adjust them to the right height for our kids. Nobody else was even aware that the nets could be lowered to 8 feet much less capable of climbing up to do it. So, when our student coach was elected to the USSU and decided to bail on our team we needed a new coach. I was voted most-likely-not-to-say-no. Coach Mike at your service.

Like I said, not taking any pics lately. So you'll just have to imagine how awesome she is. No dunking yet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Just out for a stroll, officers.

A friend of mine emailed me this story. It seemed questy, and I wanted to share it with the my like-minded readers. My friend has a nephew who has recently left the county. I thought since he is now out of the reach of the applicable authorities, I could safely tell this story... Oh, If you open the title of this post in a new window, you get a map of the activities as described. I didn't embed it cause Vin whines is concerned about load times.
It's been a long time since I felt like getting into trouble on campus. To be honest, I didn't feel like it tonight. Sometimes I get to feeling like I'm too old to be climbing where I don't belong and like the magic of the night just doesn't do it for me anymore. That may be one of the reasons that I had children. Kind of cliche if it's true. Anyway, mine aren't quite old enough to be this kind of fun... yet. Fortunately, I have this nephew of mine. I'll call him 'David,' in order to protect his identity ;)

David had asked me on a couple of occasions if I would take him to the U of S campus and show him how to get into the maintenance tunnels that criss cross beneath the grounds. There had never seemed to be a good time. This evening I wasn't super keen, as I've mentioned, but since David was scheduled to be leaving the country for several months, I thought I had better give up the goods. I mean, if I had waited until he got back, he could very well have turned into a man when I wasn't looking and then how would all my boyish antics manage to impress him?

Off to campus I had to go. I decided to show him the one place that was sure to be accessible -- the air ventilation shaft behind the physics building. On the way we talked about several geographic features of the campus and a number of other places where doors lead into the tunnels -- if only they were ever left unlocked. We took our time and patiently scouted the area. It was late in the summer, so though there were few students around (at 11pm) there we a disconcerting number of workmen in various parts of the neighboring buildings.

We made our way to the shaft and lifted the aluminum cover off, using a flashlight to take a peek. David climbed in and tried to toggle the vent grating, but was a little uncomfortable to try and slide between the narrow slats without something to wedge them open. Coming back out, we replaced the cover and went in search of an appropriate size stick to manage the task. I was beginning to feel uneasy, having been at the location for 15 min, and suggested we go for a walk to check out some interesting man-hole covers that also might provide access. We had only walked 50 metres when we noticed a campus security car cruise into the area from whence we had just come. As we rounded a corner, we sprinted hastily to the end of the engineering building.

As fate would have it, it was just the location that a certain group of errant questers had passed long ago, moments before they were apprehended by campus security. I related to David the ancient tale of our exploits on campus that fateful night in 1991 and how we had been flanked on 3 sides by the cops. In the end they hadn't actually seen any of the childish fun that we were in fact guilty of and merely suggested we leave. I felt a little empty relating the story, as we hadn't managed to achieve any mischief yet and already I was on the run from the mere shadows of authority. After all, no one had pursued us. It was probably just a regular patrol, passing by on it's rounds. At the moment I felt much more of a coward than hero.

I tried to keep up a brave front by doing a little climbing on some parts of the agriculture building, watching over my shoulder for patrol cars all the while. After a dozen minutes passed with little activity, my curiosity began to take over and we made our way back to the scene of our attempted crime. All seemed quite. The car had gone. I still had a bad feeling about the tunnels, though, and I suggested that we check out this great ladder that leads up onto the roof of Voyager Hall, the student residence. I'm sure David was disappointed at my show of discretion, but he was definitely up for a good climb.

Up we went. One long ladder (up about 3 stories) and two shorter ones we went, "swift as weasels in the dark and with hardly any more noise than bats." I immediately felt better. It is a great view from up there. Private, yet centrally located, it feels like you have a secret and intimate connection with the university and it's denizens. As we looked around I saw the flash of a meteor burning up. Then I realized that we were a mere 4 hours from the peak viewing time for this year's Perseids (picture courtesy http://meteorshowersonline.com). We watched for a while without much luck, as the moon was near full, but it felt like a treat none-the-less. We messed around for awhile, looking for other places to get up or down and then decided to call it a night.

Just as we were walking past the Arts building, two young students came flying out of the side doors and one of them (a young lady) tumbled and rolled out onto Campus Drive. Campus cops converged on them from two directions. One of them yelled something about "get the FUCK off the grass" (I think it was "grounds" but David insists). They bolted not ten feet from where we were watching wide-eyed, and then disappeared into the evening. As we continued, we saw a 3rd cop up on a balcony. He was watching from above and calling to the ground units on his radio. I decided not to show David that one last wall that I wanted to climb.

As we left campus, we saw the young questers, apprehended and awaiting... I'm not sure what. A stern lecture perhaps, or a 'real' police presence. We passed by and were approached by two of them. I asked what all the commotion was about, but they were unresponsive to my question. The officers asked us if we were friends with "these two" and if we had been up on the roof with them. I answered, truthfully, that we had not. They bade us have a good evening, not realizing that they had just made it for us :)

Pike Lake

Of course I went. The Chariot (bike trailer) that I have been using forever has in recent months been converted for use as a cargo hauler. Leora and Anwyn are such competent bikers (and lets face it a little large) that they have been getting very few trailer rides this year. Anyway, 4 bolts are removed and the fabric seats, belts and a couple of bars can be rolled up and tied out of the way. The result is that it is capable of carrying a surprising amount of cargo. My bike also has a double sided pannier on the back. Wendy has a rack with bungee cords on the back end and a wire-frame basket on the front. What did we take on this trip?
Large items included:
(x1) Tent, tarp, cooler, axe
(x2) sleeping bags, camp rests, pillows, folding chairs
There was all the miscellaneous gear that you might expect: Clean clothes, books, rain gear, bug spray, water, ropes, food, coffee press, cooking stove, pots, pans, fresh spices and some of the best salt in all the shire.
Moving on. With all the last minute planning (not the least of which was watering the entire garden and moving hanging plants and boxes into the shade) we didn't get a move on until after 2 p.m. Here is the route we traveled.

View Larger Map
It was hot. Dare I say "Africa hot"? No, I dursn't. We were bucking a bit of a head-wind, and with the heavy loads we were toting, we really needed a few breaks. We stopped at shady spots on the highway and had ice-cream and a head-dunk at the Berry Barn which, as it turns out, is almost exactly half-way.

The second half of the trip was quite uncomfortable. We both resolved to get better seats for our bikes before there would be any repeat performance. In any event, we arrived triumphant and found one of the few sites remaining.








You may gather from the picture that it was less than secluded.

Things I enjoyed about the trip:
-challenging ride
-free entrance to provincial park (no vehicle)
-camping during a great thunder storm
-getting looks because we biked into our site
-no one at picnic spots

Things I did not enjoy:
-crowded campsite
-listening to a Bluejays game on 4 different radios until 11pm
-my really sore butt

The whole thing made me wish for a bike trailer that could bring the canoe with us. It would be great to bike upstream for a day and then camp on the river on our way home.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sleepless in Saskatoon

My eyes struggle to open. I've been up a little too late... again. What's my excuse lately? Let's recap on my sleep excuses -- starting from the beginning of summer:

-- Cinderella (-- no, not the band, but a fine selection in video... land) Perhaps not the band, after all, but rather the play that I was in. You may have heard me talking/whining about it? I didn't post my show pictures? Well you should really trust me when I say that if you weren't in the show, you probably don't have a strong interest in seeing them. Since there may be those of you who don't listen, or who have lots of time on their hands to sift through pictures of people that they haven't met... here is the link to the album.

-- Erin, Colin, James and Brad helped me and Wen and the girls build a fence. It was... educational.
Jodi and Brad were my scapegoats for the next couple of weeks. Jodi kept me out to all hours playing pool and even when Brad wasn't directly keeping me up himself, his fiendish ideas were causing me to lose sleep. I'll remind you here that the single Prince Rupert's Drop that we managed to make was accomplished at about 1:00 am.

-- Overlapping their visit, was a visit from Wendy's father, Lee. While it can't be said that he stays up late, he does get up incredibly early. Add to this that I talked him into a leadership role in my overzealous greenhouse construction scheme and, well, late nights, early mornings, lots of physical labour -- you figure out how much sleep I was able to get.

-- When he left, Lee took Leora and Anwyn to Ottawa and I took the opportunity to celebrate by staying up late on the PS3

-- Did I mention that I walked around Saskatoon? Yeah, I thought I had.
    Why have I told you all this? Aside from the fact that if you didn't want to know what was going on in my life, you wouldn't be here... it is to provide the context for my latest feat of exhaustion...
    My eyes struggle to open. It has been about 36 hrs since I walked 70 km over the course of a very long day. Fresh brewed coffee ensures my waking-in-good-faith -- as does a hot Saskatoon-berry scone.  I mumble my thanks between bites of scone and the first sips of still-too-hot dark roast. Years of marriage have taught Wendy that it is now that I am at my most compliant.
    "We should go to Pike Lake for a couple of days."
    "...Camping?" Scone good.
    "I haven't been since I was a kid."
    Sounds relaxing. I can sit around and read... "O.K. Do you want to take the canoe?"
    The short curls on her forehead bounce slightly as she leaps onto the bed. "I don't think I could strap it to the trailer."
    She almost spills my drink. Normally, I'd mention it, but now I'm confused, "We don't have a trailer."
    "Sure we do." She sounds far too chipper as she says, "The bike trailer."
    I pick up my mug and take a long draught. My fingers trace the outline of the silvery quest symbol that I have painted on the surface. 
    "We're biking to Pike Lake?"
    That's kind of how it happened, anyway.

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    18h 38min

    I've done it again!
    Everyone has really been clamouring for details and it has become rather bothersome. I have taken the liberty of compiling an FAQ. I suggest you have a look at it.

    Q-What are we talking about?
    A-Saskatoon City Quest. A once-every-so-often physical challenge of titanic proportions.

    Q-And that is...?
    A-Essentially, it is a hike. I jog some, walk some. Visit when I have company and despair when alone. I take pictures when I can be bothered to carry a camera. The journey started out being roughly 55km (circa 1994) and now stands at 70km in 2008.

    Q-Why would you do that?
    A-Pleased to meet you. My name is Mike... Mike Diakuw

    Q-Can you give me that distance in miles?
    A-No.

    Q-Your time is slower this year, isn't it?
    A-You could say that.

    Q-Care to comment further?
    A-Not really. Why don't you try it and let me know where to shave off some time.

    Q-Did you hurt yourself again?
    A-Hurt myself? What would make you say that?
    Q-I'll be asking the questions here.
    A-Was that a question?
    Q-...

    Q-Do you have a map I could look at?
    A-Funny you should ask... Here it is. The dark orange line is my route from 2006. The light blue is from 2008. The push-pins are commentary and pictures from the 2006 trip. I will add colour coded pins for this year as I have time.


    View Larger Map

    Q-Impressive...
    A-You should really brush up on your questioning skills.

    Q-So, if I can't see your pictures on that awesome map, where can I see them?
    A-Unless I am wrong -- and I am never wrong -- they are located here:


    City Quest -- 2008

    Q-Are you getting tired of this "FAQ"?
    A-I thought you'd never ask.

    Well, I was worried that the first time might have been a fluke. It was a great start to the day. James arrived at 4:11am and we were gone by 4:32. Some might have thought that the inverted pick-up truck atop Stonebridge was an ominous tiding, but I chose to think of it as one more reason to do more walking. I was a little nervous about taking pictures, but any injured people seemed to have been efficiently whisked away already, so I didn't feel too paparazzi.

    The morning is always the most fabulous time for a walk around the city. Don't get me wrong, getting up at 3:30 to do it is a little wacko, but the resultant sunrise is very sweet, indeed. We did a little jogging and James and I goaded each other into semi-dangerous feats of physical prowess. Other than a little incident at the train bridge involving James' map and a 15 meter drop into the Saskatchewan river, there seemed to be no stopping us.

    We had some help, of course. Wendy, Jaime and Vin all came out to the Husky on highway 4 to share lunch with us. It was a terrific feast. I especially enjoyed changing into sandals for the next section of the walk. The fresh Saskatoon pie was my favorite. Wen and I picked them at the Strawberry Ranch earlier in the week. With the girls out of town, picking berries was our version of a 'date.' cooking the pies was steamy too. Just like that movie, chocolat. Ahem! To get back on topic, here are my little elves. With them, every walk around the city is like Christmas.


    I'm not going to give a full journaled account of the trip. Most of the page would be taken up by "and then I took another step followed by another and eventually, I looked like this..."

    So regrets to all the former participants who couldn't make it with me this year: Dave, Geof, Nathan, David and Kyro.

    Special thanks to Erin for giving Wendy the ride and to Ellen for calling to offer support.

    And Wendy. You make so much possible.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Vacation back log - part the first

    Brad and Jodi were up visiting for a couple of weeks. We managed a trip to the Narrows out at Waskesiu. Click below to see the photos with my oh-so-witty commentary.
    Waskesiu
    Later, Brad and I managed to melt glass with my new oxi-acetylene torch and to manufacture 1 Prince Rupert's Drop (Wikipedia.com) at a bargain price of about $100 *ouch*

    Prince Rupert's Drops

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    An unexpected party

    Ancient CCorner-friend, Simon was flying across the country and decided to stop in and see what had changed in Saskatoon. Thanks to Anita and Facebook, several of us got together at Lydia's for veggie burgers, nachos, poutine, beers and coffee. I invited everyone for the impending City Walk. Let's just say there may have been some 'loose shoes' in the room. I hope some of them manage to lace up for the event.


    Ani took some photos, which she will hopefully cough up at some point and link for the rest of us. Thanks for the invite, Anita

    ***update*** The photos have been up for a looonng time now. I've just been goaded into grabbing them from facebook and putting a couple here. Thanks again, Anita :)

    Geof, Me, Anita, Simon

    Chins R Us

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    What's it going to be boy?

    City Quest 2008 is upon us. Grab your backpacks, fruit-bars, a bottle of water and a good pair of shoes. The date for this year is Sunday, August 3. Call or email me if you want to take part. You need not come for the entire day. Any distance is appreciated for the company.

    Departure time is estimated at 4am

    Lead-up and Break-down for last year.
    Or you can go straight for the pictures of last year and the year before...

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    Mouse Troubles

    From Cinderella-Mik's Piks


    Pippin, our new cat, certainly has her work cut out for her...
    One thing certain is that this fellow was of no help whatsoever!

    From Cinderella-Mik's Piks


    In case you have been under a rock, our show goes up tonight and runs for 10 days (with Canada day off). If you think this show isn't for you, think again. Princess, pumpkin, punctuality, ... er ... posture?!? And don't forget True Love :)
    Oh, the other 'P' word. Price. Tickets run about $40 (ouch!)

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    City Quest 2008

    It is time that you were training mentally and physically for this year's event.

    Here is the scoop on last year, if you need a refresher as to what City Quest is all about.

    I don't have a firm date yet, but it will definitely be after Cinderella is finished for Leora and I. That means after the first week in July. My summer will book up early, so if you want a say, speak now.

    As a primer, Leora, Anwyn and I are planning to bike out to Osler to see Grandma and Grandpa. It looks to be about 36km of backroads. Should be a good challenge in itself. Look for this to happen near or just after the end of school.

    I guess I would be remiss if I didn't plug the show. Leora and I both have small roles in the production, so no star value here, but if you like Cinderella (not the Disney version) and waltzes...

    Park Quest

    You may have heard me mention this at one time. The girls and I are planning to visit as many parks in town as we can this summer. We will take pictures and rate the parks, posting the results. Google has kindly rolled out their google sites for everyone to use, so I am.

    As usual, the project is way too ambitious for my available time. Per usual, I will at least start!

    The fun (and time consuming) part for me is linking everything together. You can get to these things from picasa, google maps, google sites, and now my blog. Anyone want to wager how many parks we get reviewed by Sept 1st?

    Here are the girls 'testing' a hill in John Lake park for its playability :)
    The look on Anwyn's face tells you how much 'work' it is.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Kite Day

    I've been away from you all for a while and we have a lot to catch up on (depending on how much I feel like typing). But, that will have to wait. We have had our first nice weather day in quite some time and Anwyn insisted that it would be windy enough to fly her kite. One of us was wrong and one of us was right. Anwyn's friend, Tianna, also had a stellar dragon to fly. The picture below is a link to our after-school fun.

    Kites

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    CC

    Cookies and Cream was our cat (for those who don' t know). She was 3 months old when we rescued her from the SPCA last year. I was opposed to 'owning' a pet, but a compromise was struck whereby we could have a new family member -- so long as she was as free as we could possibly allow. This lead to her having her own door which she happily used at all hours of the day. It also meant that when she brought in mice and birds to show us, we would make no serious effort to deter her (much as Wendy tolerates my coffee drinking, my vegetarianism and general odd behavior).

    Without getting sappy, suffice it to say that CC was great pleasure to live with.

    She is dead. . She was about 15 months old on April 1st when she was hit by a car crossing Clarence Ave.

    Despite my resistance to eating meat, extreme respect for life, and a general feeling that animals ought not be treated as slaves, I have never previously mourned for the death of anyone (animal or human). It was with great surprise that I discovered just how devastated I was by this one animal's death.

    I carved out a niche in the frozen ground near our compost pile where she was often found reaping a bountiful harvest of mice or chasing leaves and insects.
    Cookies and Cream 07-08

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Qe18 - Coffee event

    I told you I was somewhat miserable this week. One of the reasons being that I had accepted a mission last QNY and as of 9pm on the 16th, I had not completed it. I was certain that I didn't have the time or resources to manage the job. Another failed project to add to the list. Not really what I was hoping for. I think I'm growing a beard to compensate for my failures as a person.

    Fortunately I have a Quest cheering section all for my very own. Wen talked me through some ideas and, eventually, I became convinced that there was still time to do something. The something that I am talking about was the box/chest that I was elected to manufacture last year in the hopes of storing a "Quest Fund" of sorts. My revised plan was to spend all day on the 17th purchasing materials and constructing this receptacle. Word must have been leaked to my enemies, because a virus with an agenda (perhaps doing the bidding of old "Rust") infected Leora as she slept soundly two days ago. That made it considerably more difficult to accomplish my goal. In the end, however, I was successful.

    I completed construction at 7pm and promptly headed for the Tim's on Cumberland and 8th. I threw down my coffee credit card and the rest of the night was 'on me.' The usual people were there. Vin and the Dr had eaten supper there and Geof showed up sometime between 6 & 7pm. Sadly, I missed seeing Jan and 'Telle, as they were only there for a short time. James taught a late music lesson, arriving shortly after 8pm. The conversation ranged from current local and national events to our picks for greatest sci-fi movies of all time. I threw in my latest ruminations about how to continue to make questing relevant to our present, and, of course, we always present our favourite books of the year. for each other to read.
    I find it a useful exercise. Not only do I get to read good books that have been vetted by people I respect, but it ensures a common experience -- valuable when we see so little of each other during the year.

    James recorded some of our conversation on his mini-disk. Hopefully, there will be a link to add to this section if and when he posts his material. Another contribution he often makes to the celebration is to bring some interesting candy offering. This year his selection was particularly inspired.

    The conversation was wide-ranging and will not be in any sense transcribed here. Although, I think there was one girl taking notes of our discussion. You'd have to contact her directly... My only disappointments were that we didn't discuss last years books and the dubious tradition of making new-year's resolutions was wholly abandoned by all. Considering the Dr's admission that last year he swore off tobacco and is currently at 360 days of abstinence, I owe it to him to resolve... something. That will have to wait or I will never make this post.

    At the end of the night, Vin elected to be the first of us to take the box home for the year. It will be his responsibility to guard its treasures and to further customize its appearance.
    I took several more pictures during the evening. The curious or bored may click on the picture below to see (or download) the Picassa album.
    Qe18 - Full album HERE

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    QE18

    That's right. It is once again Quest New Year.

    For any requiring some historical info... here are my last 3 years posts:
    But these posts are hardly Questing in themselves. They do, however, represent to a degree what my mental space is like during this spring-time of change, challenge and renewal.

    Last night I was up with a serious case of angst-induced insomnia. I have been concerned all this week that my old nemesis, Rust, was up to his deleterious ways. I'm finding it hard to push myself. To drive boldly ahead. Or rather, I'm not sure what those things are anymore.

    Winter is certainly playing a part, as it always does. But there may be more here... I've been Questing since my first year in university. QE1, for me, was March 17th, 1991. I draw a large part of my Quest 'mojo' from those formative years. The problem is that those years were about becoming an adult, not just nominally, but literally. Transitioning to adulthood without losing sense of who I was or what I wanted to become. Questing in the early days was an unquenchable thirst. It was adversity and learning. It was about freedom of choice.

    I'm 36 now. I have so much of what I want. My day-to-day life is exceedingly free. I have created the family of my dreams and I have the time and ability to pursue any interest that strikes me. The challenge has increasingly become to describe to myself in what ways can my Quest continue so that I can continue to strive for it. Because without the struggle I feel weak.

    I can't continue to fight dragons like when I was 10. I can't surf on the city bus. I can't wear my cloak and army boots to class just to make a point. O.K., I could but it would be a waste of time. They all served their purpose, but they are done and put to rest. To add to what I have learned. To find new ground -- not just a new skill, but a new part of me.

    Not much to live up to... but, that's what today is for.

    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    @#$%ing Fathers

    Sister moon will be my guide
    In your blue blue shadows I would hide
    All good people asleep tonight
    I'm all by myself in your silver light
    I would gaze at your face the whole night through
    I'd go out of my mind but for you

    Lying in a mother's arms
    The primal root of a woman's charms
    I'm a stranger to the sun
    My eyes are too weak
    How cold is a heart
    When it's warmth that he seeks?
    You watch every night, you don't care what
    I do
    I'd go out of my mind, but for you
    I'd go out of my mind, but for you

    My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
    My hunger for her explains everything I've done
    To howl at the moon the whole night through
    And they really don't care if I do
    I'd go out of my mind, but for you

    Sister Moon

    -Sting-


    The recent lunar eclipse was on a Wednesday. What fortune for me and what a night. I got lousy pictures with my camera, but this is pretty much exactly what it looked like.

    Kyro invited the Diakuw boys out to his ranch to watch the Blu-Ray DVD of Bladerunner - The Final Cut. The digitally remastered footage was stunning. Close to the 42" screen, in 1080p resolution, it looked so much sharper than I had ever imagined. As we watched Deckard,-- a goddamn one man slaughterhouse -- inside, outside the Earth's shadow slowly vivisected the Moon for our sinister pleasures. We took periodic breaks to revel in our time and watch the death and rebirth of our silent sister.

    Watching all the carnage on Kyro's big screen and on the even bigger one outside made me a little twitchy. Nothing that a little 4-player Ghost Recon on the PS3 couldn't cure. We played for an hour -- handily dispatching the vile terrorists and completing our objectives to finish the mission. Nothing that the god of Bio-mechanics wouldn't let us into heaven for.

    Weary and sated, I stepped outside. Midnight was sliding past, but the harbinger of this new day would not be the sad and pale Sun that has been skulking, barely above the horizon for the past months, but rather her Nocturnal Other. Furious at being sullied by the Earth, she seemed determined to reclaim her purity. The Moon was BLAZING and full. Stronger than any recollection of evening adventures, her brightness cast striking shadows across the sparkling snow.

    If you think my language is too strong or somehow ridiculously romantic... I forgive you. And to those whose eyes shared with mine on that night... Hail! Hail! Hail!

    Info Dump

    My sister-in-law, Teela, came to visit recently and with her came a marvelous young child. You will all be jealous to know that his name is Merlin! If you can't make up your own name, at least use one with a bit of flash. Anyway, it was a terrific visit. Merlin is nearly 8 months and loves to wake up early in the morning. Since he was visiting over reading week (when we might have been tempted to sleep in), it was kind of him to make sure that no one in our house frittered away a moment of the day. Merlin's favorite activities seem to include eating when someone other than his mother is feeding him and sleeping when someone other than his mother is holding him. If he had one wish it would be for world peace (and he looks dynamite in a one piece swimsuit, too).

    During an overlapping interval, Greta came to visit along with her new boyfriend, Anthony. They are buying a house together, but it's way too early to talk about marriage. With all four of the sisters in town, it was very loud. Did I mention that it was my week off?

    Anthony was kind enough to bring a couple of oak practice swords and teach me the most rudimentary basics of Iaido (wikipedia), which is all about the drawing of the sword. Sadly I was too enthralled to think of getting some pictures. We didn't really have enough warm weather to spend much time on it, but I hope he will bring his weapons again in the summer months.

    On the most beautiful of days we had planned a skiing trip. I have never been downhill skiing before and it was quite a thrilling experience. The Jr Questers were quite timid at first, but soon were whizzing down the slopes of Table Mountain at top speeds.
    Click to see all 20 pictures
    And here is a bit of video commemorating the event...



    In other news, Leora and I are proud to have been cast in Saskatoon Summer Players production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Leora asks me nearly everyday when our first rehearsal will be. It is still a couple off weeks off, I suspect. I have been cast in a couple of supporting roles (not sure how involved they are yet) and Leora will play a young girl as well as a mouse. We will be performing in the new Persephone Theatre starting at the end of June, and no, just because we are in such a great theatre does not mean we get paid ( I've fielded the question several times already).

    And that's all I have to say about that!

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Cosy Corner

    Those of you who know me may know that I rarely take an escalator. What can I say? Today I was weak. I had a date with the Cosy Corner and I was excited to get there ASAP. Let this be a lesson to you all. "Preventative Maintenance" sure is an uncommonly apt name for it!Finally, there was the corner, beckoning to me. I ran with arms outstretched, despite the odd looks from passing students.

    The years had not been kind. While my memories of it remain bright and clear, age and disuse had caused a pallor to descend on the place. The sound of my boots echoed a dull thud as I inspected the area.

    At least the fire escape was as I remembered it. Alas the door had cobwebs stretching across the threshold. I reverently stroked them aside as I recalled many hasty exits, vaulting me from darkness to sunlight.

    I looked around and was unable to find a place to sit -- save the stairs and even then , the angle was all wrong -- the air not quite right...

    Just then, I was struck with a solution to my problem.
    Dusty it was in that place and hot, but I felt a presence, something I have not felt since...

    A familiar, nostalgic feeling washed over me. Leaping down, I dusted off my filth covered blacks, grabbed my coat and bag and ran up the stairs. Once again, I wouldn't be going to class today.

    It is a rare day when I do something new on campus. I thought I had done all the things there that I wanted to do at least once.

    The snow was fresh and even and the students were avoiding the larger patches with strange reverence. The pure white obviously contrasting with the bile resting heavy on their melancholy spirits. Then I made my mark. Already indelibly woven in the unlit spaces of my gray-matter, now for all to read -- to take from it what they would.

    Flush with success, I looked for a way to record the event. A rusting fire escape caught my attention. One that I had always by-passed as being too visible to be of use -- especially in the middle of the day on a crowded campus. This day it was cold and most students were lounging inside during their midday torpor. Seizing the moment and the rungs, I clambered up three short and unsteady ladders until I had achieved the summit.

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    Big Bad (and fun) Corporations

    Most of you are now painfully aware that my fine wife gave me the perfect gift for Christmas. For those of you not in the know, that gift was a Playstation 3. Peace on Earth was actually my #1 pick, but she said Vin and James already went in together on it. I wonder when it will show up?

    In the mean time, my birthday rolled around and lo-and-behold, what should show up in Saskatoon on the very day? You guessed it -- Rock Band for the PS3. It is now quite clear, I suspect, why there have been no updates to my blog for the last month.
    • MotorStorm - there was a brief time when this was my only 'action' game. In the first couple of weeks, I have managed to get about 75% of the way through the solo game.
    • Eye of Judgment - It's a card game that the PS3 moderates for you, or competes against you via the camera. It is just as geeky as it sounds. I've put about $25 into booster packs of cards, and not played since Jodi and Brad left shortly after the New Year. Kyro, sounds like you and I might need to go at it...
    • Trials of Topaq - my first downloaded game. It cost $6.99, so naturally it has a ways to go before it could be considered a fully formed game, but at the price it was a huge bargain. A great proof of concept for a game with no buttons or joystick.
    • Rock Band - Wen and I are in a band together, Leora and Anwyn have a band that Wen and I join periodically, and I naturally have a solo career to think about.
    • Burnout Paradise - What a visionary game! Nice integration with the camera, brilliant, open-ended 'Sunday' driving, freakishly easy multi-player online play. I've got nothing bad to say about this game except that my neck hurts! Don't think the law makes provisions for virtual whip-lash yet. Got my Class 'A' license yesterday.
    • Installed a powerPC version of Ubuntu Linux on it the second day I had the machine. Works well except for the wifi. This more than anything makes me crave a hi-def television. The internet wasn't meant to be viewed on 480i.
    • I'm serving media to the PS3 over the network. It was really easy to set up using TVersity. I can watch/listen to virtually everything on my hard-drive downstairs via the PS3.
    As if this level of distraction wasn't enough, I'm heading into volleyball playoffs this weekend and I'm slated to be the master of ceremonies for this year's Broadway Bash (read, I will not be singing). Most of you will not be aware that the 'Bash' is a couple of hours of famous (and not so) musical number performed by many of the most talented actors and singers in the city. We've got about 22 numbers this year and the show is looking really good. It's about $20 to see it at The Refinery Friday, Saturday (7:30pm) and Sunday (2pm).