Saturday, December 12, 2009

To Kill A Mockingbird

-- guess I forgot to put a link to the great review we got in the StarPhoenix.

Ever since working on Cinderella(capO), Leora has been on my case to do more community theatre. When she heard the possibility that Gateway would be doing To Kill A Mockingbird(wikipedia), she would not let me rest. I had to repeatedly check the website for any hint of auditions. When we saw James Hawn (who was to direct it) there would be questions about when auditions might be scheduled, etc...

Eventually, there were auditions. Wendy, Leora and I all tried out for roles and Anwyn hoped to work as a crew member. Anwyn got her way, as did the rest of us. Short of patient, reliable children, James H. eventually convinced Anwyn to also take on a couple of roles in the show. So we were all in the show -- a first for our family. We were excited, yet trepidatious. I know how hard it is for the family with just me in a play. For this to succeed we were going to have to take special measures.

I took time off work at the library and I quit driving school bus. The bus decision was actually separate but was a happy coincidence that helped a great deal. Leora had a lot more rehearsal than the rest of us (at least in the early days) and I was able to make supper during the afternoon, allow us to eat quickly after debate or music and still stay with her at the studio for 2-3 hours during the evening. As the number and length of our practices increased, Wen cut out after work meetings, I stopped seeing family or playing games, the girls postponed all of their extra-curricular activities and I kept them home from school 2 or 3 days each to help them catch up on missed sleep. By the time we were ready for opening night, we were exhausted.

Performance itself is very rewarding and somewhat vampiric. The energy from the people who come to see the play--their laughter, intensity, misery and joy--is what keeps us going though the last week. Our daytime lives become a shadowy sleep, while at night we fed earnestly from the energy of our nocturnal prey, the audience. Life at such times has a special richness and the knowledge that it will "happen" keeps us toiling through the earlier stages. You make new friends at this time and dormant acquaintances kindle to new flame. You begin to wish it for a never-ending.

Fortunately, it does end. The enormity of my exhaustion slaps me hard until I sleep (no matter if I am on my feet) for a week. Then I steal an hour somewhere and take the time to reflect, sigh, and add a link to a few pictures.

To Kill a Mockingbird
** a note to the cast. These are the photos I was able to shoot on my own (plus a few from Catherine Hui, perhaps). I know they only represent a fraction of the process and sadly, I couldn't shoot when I was on or about-to-be-on stage. Sorry to any who suffer an absence in the photos because of this. AND, if you want a picture removed, please email me...

I also shot a video of an intermission ritual that most of the cast and many crew shared.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bagheera Kiplingi

Despite a lingering fear of larger specimens, I absolutely love spiders. When information about "vegetarian" spider started to circulate in October, I was thrilled. I've been busy working on the show and not had much time to look into it. Now that I have the week off during our performance run I've listened to a great radio interview and done a bunch more reading.

For the overly interested:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Leora's Birtday Cake

Yes, Leora's birthday was in the beginning of November. Let's leave it at that.

Leora and Anwyn think that it is their pleasure in life to come up with increasingly difficult cooking challenges for me. This generally culminates with their choice of birthday cakes. Leora, in particular will spend hours pouring through the dessert selections in our cook books. She currently limits her choices to things that have a great picture. I am frightened of what may happen once she can visualize the outcome just from the recipe.

Leo's inspiration this year was from a great garage-sale find of 10 or more years ago, Time Life's The Good Book: Classic Desserts( It's part of an awesome series, of which I own several. They give wonderful descriptions (with informative photos) of classic techniques followed by a series of recipes in the back to which those techniques can be applied. For anyone who has consumed it; my fudge comes from the companion book entitled "Candy".

Following is the page from the desserts book which inspired Leora. If you download the original from my Picasa site, you can read the text. The actual recipe we based the cake on is there too.

You probably know that I fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants... a lot! So we didn't bother about specific ingredients or shapes. By this time, even specific directions are optional, but it is nice to have a reference.

In short, we:
  • cooked a chocolate ice-cream(ish) filling -- twice, cause we wrecked the first batch :)
  • lined an angel-food cake pan with low-fat frozen yogurt
  • lined the yogurt with frozen garden raspberries
  • filled the centre with our chocolate filling
  • stuffed the gap with more yogurt
  • put in freezer

And above we have the finished product (half eaten already). It was a huge success with kids and parents alike. Having done it once, it would now be a cinch to do it again.

You can see a few intermediate steps over here...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Five-fingers update.

I did my campus-tower-home run in my Vibram 5-fingers for the first time about a month ago (and several times since). Let me tell you, I was nervous. My last major run in them, the 10km with Jaime last month, resulted in 3 days of serious stiffness in my calves and not a little whining. I recognize that (re)training my lower legs and feet is a process of undoing 37 years of unwitting damage. Atrophied muscles aren't going to strengthen and flourish in a month or two. However, I do feel that I am well on my way.

I have started to think of running barefoot as a type of physiotherapy class taught to me by my own feet. I have found three distinct running styles while I am barefoot. When on grass, I jog with a typical "heel strike" method. Such as you would do all the time in running shoes. On harder surfaces, I run landing on the padding between the arch and my toes. This is what really gets the calf muscles working. When my muscles are feeling sore, or I am at a slower than usual pace, I jog with a hybrid of the previous two -- My heel barely impacting and then quickly rolling towards the front of the foot.

In the last few weeks I have started running to campus in my 5-fingers, taking a five minute break before attempting the tower, and then removing my shoes for the run home. It's 4km each way, plus the tower. I don't know how long this can continue as the weather is sure to be a limiting factor. Getting back into the fall schedule of driving bus and doing more of the home chores by myself has certainly put a kink in my running regiment

I am beginning to find that, for lengthy running, barefoot is even better than running in the 5-fingers. I admit to taking a great deal more care, and I am still 20% slower while barefoot, but it feels great.

FYI, I have added complete historical data on my Art Tower running to the spread sheet that appears at the top of the page. Naturally, it shows up at the bottom of the list. I hope to have the rest of the history data on other items available after the snow falls. Eeek! I didn't really type that, did I. After all, it did get up to 43C in my greenhouse yesterday :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Not so Lonely Mountain

This last QNY Dave off-handedly invited me out to Calgary to climb a mountain with him. I said that it sounded like a summit would be a great place to have a celebratory game of chess. Dave insinuated that should I bring the necessary gear to play chess, the act of carrying it up any mountain he chose for me would make it likely that I would leave the board and pieces on the mountainside out of sheer exhaustion.

I didn't take a chessboard, but after five months (and very near the end of my summer holiday) I managed to make it out on a tight schedule (if there is any other kind) to spend a fantastic day with a very old friend.

Dave drove out from Canmore to meet me at the Lac des Arcs campground at 7:15am. I was prepared to leave earlier, but Dave assured me he had not planned an overly ambitious hike. I pressed a quick bodum of coffee and we headed into the national park.

This is Bow Peak. I had to take this picture the next day after a lengthy debate with Dave over where the actual vs apparent summit was. I used all the power of my 12X Canon zoom and I believe that this image contains several pixels representing the cairn which has been built at the summit. About 1/3 from the left side at the top are two small pyramid points. The left-most of these is the summit. I swear.

We found a place to park the car and headed off into the bush. In short order we reached a ford where Bow lake empties into the beginnings of the Bow river, which is the most distant headwaters of the South Saskatchewan River. The glacial water was very cold and the rocks on the bottom uncomfortably sharp, but the crossing was easy enough.

Once across, Dave repeatedly scared the shit out of me with surprisingly loud guttural utterances. Designed to alert bears to our presence, I can vouch for my own alertness. And though we saw plenty of bear spore, we spotted little wildlife, save one very cooperative grouse and some interesting spiders. We spent about 1.5 hours under cover of trees. There were wildflowers at the beginning of our journey that only increased in number as we increased our altitude. The season in the valley seemed to be nearing its end, while higher up it was just peaking.

We came out of the trees and spent another 1.5 hours on a steep and rocky trail including a brief stop for a few energy bars. The views were already awe inspiring. Rock lining the slopes which had always seemed like grays and browns from the roadside, proved to be virtually every colour you can imagine only their variety and proximity caused them to be blurred into a common mass.

After filling my water bottles from a long lasting snow pack -- a sort of micro glacier, we began the scramble portion of our climb. It consisted of rocks of all sizes from those the size of my fist to blocks the size of a mini-van. It was tricky going. Even the very large rocks often shifted underfoot and made me nervous that I would wind up with a 500kg block on my ankle. I had been feeling the altitude for the last 90 minutes and this stretch was quite strenuous. We had to stop and rest every 5 or 10 minutes. I really enjoyed this section. It was the only part that required some upper body involvement. The gloves that Wendy suggested I bring were of great use since the rocks were all covered in lichen and quite rough on our hands.

The wind had been blasting down below as it whipped between the mountains on either side of us, encouraging me to don a toque, but coming up over the ridge the wind was surprisingly calm. The way from here was fairly easy, yet the best views down both sides at once were provided only with a bit of climbing effort. Eager for my first taste of the spectacular scenery, I hopped and pulled myself to the top of any pile of rubble that looked marginally higher than its neighbours.

I bubbled inside and the feeling poured out of me in a constant stream of laughter. Fortunately, Dave took a slightly different route at this point so he wasn´t forced to listen to my idiotic giggling. Every time I looked from side to side or down the side of a steep cliff, I was struck with awe and I couldn´t deny the joy inside me.

Here we are next to the cairn at the summit. Dave didn´t want to stay too long at the summit for fear of bad weather and stiffening legs. I managed to squeeze a half hour out of him. At that altitude it was just long enough to give me a light sunburn on my nose and cheeks.

We were nervous to try the boulder slope on the way down as it would have been harder to spot our foot placements while going backwards and onto sketchy footing. Luckily there was a scree strewn slope that made for a much quicker and safer decent. It was hard on the ankles and we had to travel different lines so as to avoid tumbling rocks down on one another´s heads. This part of the slope was a parabolic oven. The sun was at just the right angle as we did this part to force me to strip down to my lightest shirt for the first time all day. Even skidding down this part was difficult and I required several stops. Dave had climbing poles which I eyed jealously and my gloves once again proved useful.

The way down was just as beautiful, yet I failed to enjoy it very much. I was fatiguing and I grudgingly took each step. Re-fording at the mouth of the river was heavenly and I was compelled to fall backwards into the icy waters. Very refreshing.

The whole event was life changing and I rank the experience right up there with my marathon and my trip to Italy.

A few other photos are available here . With any luck I will soon acquire some of the terrific pictures that Dave took (which are almost the only ones that I am in).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tricks with Hands and Feet

Several weeks ago, I posted on Facebook (via Twitter which now ends up at the bottom of this blog) that I have managed to beat the first of the records I am pursuing vis this year's Quest goals. I've been actively seeking the push-up goal, working on the plan posted at hundredpushups (which I have a few issues with). I came to the conclusion that I was not going to dedicate the time (right now) to making the hundred push-up goal. So, after eight weeks, I bailed out during "week 4" of the program. Anyway, I managed to eke out fifty consecutive push-ups.

I am very excited by the success and am now looking forward to trying to get my right elbow back in shape from the injury I suffered a couple of months back.

I am only posting this now for historical purposes. I actually typed this post weeks ago, but forgot to publish it. Sorry that you have to suffer. Old data. Pay it no mind.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Toys and Tape Make Food Taste Great

Our microwave oven stopped working on Wednesday. Actually, it continued to work, but the door wouldn´t open. Something inside the door-latch mechanism seemed to be jammed or broken. I was more than a little perturbed. After all it´s only a little more than a year old.

I´m not sure about you, but I am a heavy user of the microwave. It´s primary purpose in my life is to warm the many forgotten mugs of coffee that I perpetually leave around the house. That´s enough of a blow in itself. Of course there are other tasks for which it is suited and, short of baking bread, it is part of virtually every meal I make.

Wendy began to get alarmed with how panicked I was becoming over the loss of this small appliance. I felt thrust back into a dark age of wood ovens and feudal servitude. I don´t mind daydreaming about such things, but not over a cold cup of coffee -- especially when the weather has been so dreary again. Rain about 4 or 5 days running and a high temperature today of 14 C. That´s 11 degrees below normal for anyone who is keeping score.

After 24 hours without microwave bombardment, I was climbing the walls (but, not in the good climbing way).

The solution... duct tape AND Lego. The holy-grail of home repairs. I have to admit that the Lego was Wendy´s idea (and yes, I´m bragging about her). Brad, if you´re concerned, I was very mindful of the capacitor inside. It was well shielded. If you were here, I would have enjoyed a trip to the source to pick up a 20,000 ohm resistor to discharge it safely. As it was, I did it my way and skipped that step.

Sadly, I had to take it apart two days later and add a couple of bolts because the tape was just too stretchy. I thought that would be the case, but I was nervous to drill into the existing plastic unless it was totally necessary. Seems very solid now.

-------More Detail for the Interested------

The pad that gets pressed on the outside of the microwave pushes the large black piece in the picture above. It rotates on a pin and an arm at the end of it toggles a switch that checks to make sure the microwave is off and then a second lever that opens the door. The arm in question, being the smallest piece, snapped off. The Lego was the perfect dimension to replace this arm and came in several lengths, allowing me to select a piece that could be adequately secured to the existing block. In the end, the tape was only functional as a method of holding the pieces together while I drilled through the original piece. I like to use bright colours of tape, to alert anyone who goes into the devices that I have worked on that things are no longer in factory condition. This is usually me -- and yes, >I need the reminders.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Everyone is home

There has been a constant flurry of activity around the house, now that school is over. My usual slow paced serentity has been replaced by a frenzy. It's mostly good, but always takes some adjusting. Wendy comes home in full battle-school mode. Leora and Anwyn come home forgetting that the whole world doesn't celebrate summer holidays like elementary school children.

Parents, see below...

Anwyn - "I thought summer was for totally relaxing and doing what you want."

Father - "Right. But between you and your sister being home, that's eleven extra hours of home and yard messing that happen every day."

Leora and Anwyn - "Daaaaad!"

Father - "I'm only giving you an extra hour of chores per day. compared to your share of five and a half hours of messing, that's a pretty sweet deal."

We have now all signed up for a summer chore schedule which takes a lot off of my plate. This is good, because I am taking a lot more library shifts now that my school bus is parked for the summer. Speaking of which, it is very nice to have our driveway back.

My quest-training schedule is getting back up to speed. I haven't been doing many stairs lately, but I have been keeping up with my running and my right arm is almost not a total nuiscance. Wen and I have been trying the very agressive push-up regieme at hundredpushups. I made it to phase 4, but was forced to retreat. I think we will both be on phase 3 a few times.

June 20th, I biked out to Osler bearing Father's Day stewed rhubarb for my dad. It was 40km following the river, while in town, and on gravel roads, once out of the city. Took me two hours with a lovely tailwind. I got a ride home. It will be quite a challenge if the girls want to accomplish this. So far, they like the idea, but haven't been motivated to train.

BTW,  Doctor, if you are in a location with internet access... I am still interested in coming out to see you this summer for an aggressive climb if you schedule permits.

Last night the girls and I went to the fireworks at Diefenbaker park. It was quite beautiful, but the atmosphere was a bit smokey and assy(urban dictionary) for my taste. Last year we tried to drive, but were deterred by the traffic jam. This year we biked and were rewarded for our efforts. We scooted past many frustrated drivers, both on the way there and on the way back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I'm driving myself mad. It's kijiji's fault really -- too much free stuff. Add that to my very flexible schedule and you have an exhausting combination.

On the right are the straw bales that I brought from out of town to mulch the garden with. I didn't want to make two trips, so I wound up with waaay too much. Should have taken Wendy's advice there :(

I've also been hauling a lot of rocks which are getting put to use for some nice front yard landscaping. Many are still in "storage" until I have time to do some more sod removal.

All this might be somewhat diverting if I weren't continuing to attempt all the new food production things that I've learned recently. Casualties are mounting. Yesterday I killed millions of bacteria when I messed up making yogurt. When will the insanity end? Wendy told me to stop doing extra shit and start behaving like a human being towards my children. Do you think she is trying to tell me something?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Being injured sucks.
We've talked about this before. My elbow is still nagging me but, I have started a slow program of push-ups again. As well, you may have noticed that the spreadsheet up top has a couple of new times for the Arts Tower. Neither of them are PB's but both are very strong and I am encouraged by how good I feel at the top. Today I ran to campus (20min), stumped heavily up the first 8 floors of Arts (40sec) and then ran home (20min).

My computer is back. Against what they told me were the odds, the data on my harddrive was indeed lost. Soooo, I have lost about 3 months of pictures. Ouch. That really hurts. You may recall that my ambitious photo campaign has been to assist my pathetic memory. Loosing 3 months is a blow that will certainly result in more regular back-ups.

I do have all of the last 4-5 weeks of photos that I accumulated while my computer was in the shop. This is the one that I want to share with you today.

So... you shake it. Yeah, you knew that already. Do it in a container at least 3 times the volume of the cream you start with. It makes the shaking much easier. Shake until it becomes whipped. Then continue to shake REALLY hard until it begins to separate and look like cottage cheese. Alternately drain off the butter milk (or just drink it) and continue to shake to get all the butter into one lump. Then you "massage" it if you want to get as much milk out as possible. Try it. There is something very satisfying about the whole process. I feel embarrassed that I never made anything so simple before the age of 30. Talk about prolonged infancy.

The thing that isn't omnipresent is price comparison information. Unsalted Butter (454g) =$4.50 or roughly 1 cent/gram. Whipping cream (1 litre) =$3.55 which produces (based on 6 trials so far) 350-400g of butter or roughly 1 cent/gram. Based on butter alone it comes out a stalemate unless you buy salted butter, which strangely is cheaper. However, the homemade process also yields 500ml of the most delicious butter-milk you've never tasted.

As a final note, I bought all my whipping cream 3 days before the best before date (1/2 price!), turned it into butter and froze it. If you can manage that, it's a hands down win for do it yourself. Plus, it really is empowering. You won't know until you do it. And the butter is really good.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


My grandiose exercise plans were brought to a screaming halt by a weird injury that I suffered in both elbows. I´m not exactly sure what precipitated the painful swelling. Could be over training... Could be an imminent battle with arthritis. I don´t really know, but it has been discouraging.

After a month of nagging twinges and stabbing pain, I decided that my third round of Strep Throat was long overdue. I initially blamed my nephew, but further observation has indicated that it is ¨going around.¨ So far I have made sure that Wendy got her share. I am expectantly watching the girls.

Naturally, in my pre-injured state, I was ambitious and the weather good. This overzealousness has lead to far too much time spent covering various plants in my yard to prevent freezing during this recent clinic of good old Saskatchewan weather.

I have some pictures that I have been wanting to share and lots of good posting ideas, but my main computer -- the one I do all my major typing and graphic goodness on -- decided to kick it. Fortunately it was only three months minus 2 days old. Warranty and several weeks at Future Shop should have things back to normal this week (hope, hope).

I think that covers the whiney parts of this post.

Since I haven´t been able to push ahead on my major Quest goal and I haven´t been able to hold myself to the Lord of the Rings readings that Vin has been cheer-leading, I have really been going through a kitchen renaissance of sorts. I´ve had experience making my own butter (and lots of it), I´ve started making my own soy milk and have just completed my first batch of homemade yogurt.

Anyhow, I´m almost healthy again. I´ve started to lightly excercise again, but it will probably be at least another week before I can push myself to high performance levels.

For posterity, I shall mention that Greta, Teela and Merlin are visiting for about ten days. I´ve been a crappy host so far, but I look forward to the last half of their visit. Those following my facebook or twitter know that Teela´s husband, Peff was turned back at the border over a small disagreement about policies governing air travel between our two countries. We miss you Peff.

Thanks for reading these last couple ´texty´ posts. Hopefully, I can get some pictures going soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek

The Doctor requested a review of this movie, which I saw over the weekend. I am, as you should know, a great fan of the original series. Bear that in mind.

I´ve told you before why I identify with Kirk. It´s the struggle. It´s a fight against authority, ill-doers, women, and against the odds. In a nutshell, that is what I like best about TOS and I think it is what had me enjoying every moment of the movie. Now understand, I really wanted to like the movie. I was there for a thrilling, authority-bucking ride. I was there for hommage-a-plenty and I was there to see Kirk make it with a green-skinned babe. Check, check ... and ... check.

Was it a sucessful ¨re-boot¨ of the franchise? Meh?!? It was no ¨Batman Begins,¨ but it was a damn sight more interesting than most of the movies the series has produced.

Did they really throw away the Canon of the Star Trek universe? Nope. But they did leave themselves free to do so at any time.

I didn´t read anything before I saw it, but here are my thoughts on these that I ready today. Eberts review is accurate enough. He only gives it a 2.5 out of 4, but I´m guessing he only saw it cause he had to. I like The Guardian´s review much better. I pretty much fits what I´ve been saying.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And Then There Were None (update)

I´m finished with my play. I don´t really think it was ready for the stage, but such is life. I had a great time AND am glad it is over. That is really the best I could hope for. The Star Phoenix review of the show didn´t encourage last minute ticket sales, but there were a couple of nice words for yours truly. Considering the opening line of the review, I´m not sure you can take any of it seriously (good or bad).

Gateway ends season with uneven production
REVIEW By Tom Eremondi
The StarPhoenix
16 Apr 2009

“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.” You also have the latest presentation from Gateway Players. The company’s final play is a stage adaptation of the Agatha Christie murder mystery And more...

I would have just given you the link to the Star Phoenix, itself, but I am really excited about the newspaper service called Press Display. SPL subscribes to it and it is free to use for anyone in the library or out (if you have a valid library card). It is a very powerful conglomeration of world newspapers that you can browse page by page, ads and all. It is the closest thing to reading a newspaper but with all the search-ability that I rely on from computers. It will read to you, if you like, or translate, etc...

If you have trouble logging into Press Display, go to SPL´s website, click ´reference databases´'--> ´magazines, journals and newspapers´ --> and finally ´press display´ Don´t forget that you´ll need your library card #

To be honest there is a lot of really awesome stuff in the reference databases section of SPL´s site. Nice of them to pay me to browse through all of it last month during my ¨phase II¨ library training.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Earth Hour, 2009

Earth HourWell, there is nothing for it. I have to plug Earth Hour on my blog. If only to improve upon my percieved sincerity for those of you who read or will read the article in today's Star Phoenix.

Betty Ann hooked me up with the reporter who did the story. She seemed to think that I was doing somebody a favour, but I feel that I am the one who benefitted. The hour that I spent talking to the reporter was quite enjoyable and a good opportunity to continue to reflect on some of the lifestyle choices that many of us have been wrestling with over the last days, weeks, and years.

I am only advocating for Earth Hour because it is an avenue for self-reflection. How much will your life be changed by turning off your lights for an hour? Not at all. I don't really care if you "believe" in global warming. This issue trancends the concept. For me it is about wanting and having less. Using what we need and no more. Enjoying your loves -- be they people or activities, or things -- and dispensing with that which cost much and gives little.

Don't grimace, I'm convincing myself here. I struggle with the desire (especially for new tech) on a daily basis as well as for many other frivolous things. In January, I joined the pact with my brothers not to purchase anything new that can be had used and to not purchase anything at all that I don't need. Tricky word, 'need,' as we all know, but a fundamental one that I must continue to analyse. The pact (for my part) is going well. The simple solution I've found is to stop going into Futureshop and Home Depot. Goodbye 90% of my pointless spending.

So, whether you sign up for Earth Hour or not. Maybe just join me in taking an hour to think about what makes you happy. Grab a beer, or glass of wine, or cup of organic/fairtrade coffee, light some candles, and turn off the lights.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Captainorange's Log

Stardate, blah, blah, etc, etc...

O.K. I've included a spread sheet of my activities at the top of the blog now. Now you can all keep tabs on my attempts to break my records. I'm not going to record everything I do (not yet anyway), just the serious attempts to increase my current record. I intend to eventually add all the old "book" data and highlight the current records in each category. It will stay until I become embarrassed by it's presence. I hope to hear of everyone competing and logging your own personal bests at home. You will be glad of it.

Saw a story on Oprah, (get over it, I sometimes watch) about calorie restriction (wikipedia). Looked fun. I'm always put off by how rabid ( people are about these new heath fads, though. For now I'll just stick to whole foods and plenty of coffee.

And if you give a damn about twitter, but don't have it (probably not eh?) you can see my most recent tweets down at the bottom of this page. It is kind of embarrassing saying 'tweets'

Monday, March 23, 2009


I was 24 years old . The previous year had seen me secure both my degree in English from the U of S and my wife. It would still be 2 1/2 years until Leora was born. In the most cliché sense, I had the whole world ahead of me.

Of course I had just spent the last 4 months of 1995 living apart from Wen (as she tested out her first teaching job in Rosetown (wikipedia)). Shortly, I moved out of 518 Albert Ave. and into our first apartment. Small town life didn't agree really agree with me. Being an unconventional egg-head/vegetarian/freak from the big city, I felt watched and overtly judged wherever I went (but only because people were watching me).

View Larger Map

A perfect example is the cooking job that I got there at the Blue Baron -- a restaurant attached to a road-side motor inn. I was ´let go´ there after my 3 month probation. I challenged the owner (who was almost never in the kitchen) to tell me why I was being fired, and I was told that it was because the quality of the food had been going down during my employ. People who know me and my affinity for cooking should realize that me being fired from a job as a cook is a laughable state of affairs.

I wasn´t the head chef. He had recently quit and been replaced by a young man who grew up in town. Mark was really good at throwing the various types of knives in the kitchen, AND he knew a lot of things about cooking, BUT he hated Rosetown. His interest in his work was low and he was often drunk, though not at work, as far as I could tell. Anyway, at a bar and grill it was questioned whether or not an alcohol-abstaining vegetarian could possibly do the required job. So, I believe that I was the scape-goat for the head chef´s flagging enthusiasm. Incidentally, Mark quit about 2 weeks after I was let go. ¨no hard feelings,¨ he told me.

I put in motion the necessary cogs to cash in on my unemployment for the first and only time in my life. IE payments began just after I started my next job :) However, before that, I had a wonderful few months of unemployment. The time was productive in the classic ´Quest´ sense. Which is to say I did some fun, but non-paying, things.

During said time I finally managed to finish the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (wikipedia). I read a-book-a-day and was done within a week. There was a quote from one character, Foamfollower, which really connected me to the story and my own sense of the physical in this world:

¨Stone and Sea are deep in life¨

Obviously ´stone´ represents permanence and the ´sea,´ change. I copied the quote at the beginning of a blank book and began recording some things about what I saw as the stone and sea of my physical being. As with all such things, I am big on concept and not so big on follow-through. So, the entries are sporadic at best. But I have managed to keep the book and it does have some really interesting facts about me from 1996 until just before Leora was born. I have physical measurements for everything (seemly) that I could think of from bicep circumference to the length of my inseam. I also recorded a progression of my personal bests in the following categories: Arts Tower sprint time (basement to 11th floor), resting pulse, chin-ups, push-ups, hand-stand duration (no walking), and center-splits measurement.

My physical goal for this year, at 37 years of age, is to equal or best each of these categories.

Incidentally, this was also the year which I began jogging. I started out with jog two blocks, walk one. March 23rd, I have it recorded that I ran from the University bridge to Sid Buckwold bridge in 10 min 4 sec (with my black book bag and wearing a long-coat, no less). Dispatching this time won´t be a challenge, but I put it here for posterity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nearly spring again...

Once again I thought spring was certainly here this time. I was wrong of course. Below minus 20 before the windchill on March 17th is depressing. Never-the-less, a scant two days ago, it was marvelous and sunny.

Wen and I got a bit edgy and decided to do some seeding in the greenhouse. It was between minus 5 and minus 3 outdoors, but in my little haven the temperature (at waist height) was 24 degrees celsius, in the shade. The sunny parts were making me sweat as I did a little caulking that I had neglegted in the fall. I seriously considered trying to put up a hammock in there and spend the day reading.

It really is a bit early to plant and when I do, it will still involve a lot of transporting things back to the house for the non-sun hours. Currently the temperature will still rapidly drop below freezing inside the greenhouse if the sun isn't shining pretty hard.

Later that day, Leora and Anwyn wen't to Liz's to help with some party preparations for Anthony's birthday "tea party" which left Wen and I some spare time. We elected for a river walk culminating in a terrific lunch at the Museo Cafe( in the Mendel Art Gallery. The food was fantastic and the the coffee worthy of my attention. Next time I'll try the esspresso instead of the cappuccino.

I'm not going to comment on the art. There was only one thing that was really of interest to me.

I've included this photo of the banana plant(wikipedia) from the conservatory to show James just how small (relatively speaking) it is.

Monday, March 09, 2009


An early celebration was had last night. The core group of Questers was in attendance. As a first order of business we discussed last years quest books. A general favorite was "How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read," which, humourously, Dave hadn't. You could look up the less than favourable Guardian review, or you could take my word for it and have a good read (and a good laugh).

From there we moved on to this years reading list which, I'm sad to say, I did not contribute to. It will be a light reading year (for must reads)...

2 Picks (Filthy Lucre/Heath/Starcat, Notes on Democracy/Mencken/rainswept)

I will also attempt to read Dave's attempted pick (which is in 6 volumes and he hasn't quite finnished yet) entitled The Nature of Order - Christopher Alexander

Follow this link for my pictures from the evening...

I have set a few goals for the coming year:
  • First I plan to beat the 24-year-old me. I'll explain that one another time. 
  • Second, is a money saving goal to facilitate travel to perhaps Australia or the far East. 
  • Third is to actually "understand" my guitar (as James puts it).

Friday, March 06, 2009

A couple of days ago I went out searching for something to brighten my spirits. QWednesday it was trying to melt and I was excited by the prospect of early spring. I failed to make the outdoors a priority and promised to do it the next day. Thursday, I took a few pictures but it was already back to bitter winds and cold. This was all the run-off I could find. My fingers numbed and people stared at me wondering how someone's ears get this red.

It doesn't look too bad, here, but I'd already been in for about 5 minutes at this point. Whining? Maybe.

Today I had to shovel huge drifts from my driveway. Uphill, too.

I've consoled myself with this great orange flower. I try to look at it several times a day. It might be helping...

I really need it to be helping.

Monday, March 02, 2009


With any luck, I will be meeting with the Quest over coffee something like a week early. I haven´t heard from Geof or Handwing yet. The proposed date is March 8th and we are, once again meeting at the current favorite location. Problem is Spring. It hasn´t come a week early. In fact as of this morning, it is still blastedly cold here. I´m going out for a run later today, but I really need things to warm up or I just don´t feel like Questing. The original celebration was due to a warm wind blowing through town and causing a big melt. I have trouble generating the necessary feelings of adventure if the wind doesn´t smell adventurous.

I know, I know. You´re thinking to yourself, ¨he´s always like this at the beginning of March.¨ And, you´re right, of course. Without a little anguish the Quest just does not seem worthwhile. I´ll go anguish for a bit and be back when I have something productive to add to this discussion.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Minor (and not so) repairs

You likely recall that I got Rock Band last January (I considered it a birthday gift from the Universe). I intended to post about my first repair, but perhaps I forgot. I won't bore you with the details other than to say that an integral component in the guitar stopped working. As it turns out, there was a broken spring involved. After 12 or so screws that stood in my way, the repair itself was fairly simple. I feel great when I repair these things because it saves both me and the companies involved money (Well, technically the warranty wasn't expired -- the first time, but who cares, it was fun)
  • I don't have to be without the controller for 4 weeks
  • No one has to pick up the tab for thousands of miles of shipping
  • I (hopefully) learn a bit about the electronics involved
So, I refashioned  the existing spring -- simply stretching it out a bit further and making a new loop so it could reattach to where it had fallen from. The repair lasted about 4 months only to surface again. Small surprise really, since it was the same crappy spring only a centimeter shorter. The second time, I found a perfect substitute: a spring from a clicky pen.

In January, (now a year since purchase) the drums suffered a critical failure. One of the pads ceased to accept any input. The drums were much more difficult to get into. The culprit was a broken wire. With quite a bit of luck and some soldering skill, I managed to extend the origianl wires and put Humpty together again. There were any number of hidden screws in this process and in the end, I'm pretty lucky that I didn't break anything that I could not fix.

Keeping active

My volleyball season is winding down. It has mostly been an enjoyable season. My team is in the "D" division of our co-ed league, and if you were to break "D" into pieces... we would be in the "D" part of it. In case you don't get the picture -- we suck sort of hard. I say 'sort of' because, on this team, we don't do anything all the way. I guess that's part of the problem.

It's been good for me, really. I've helps me to focus on my game and not get frustrated with things beyond my control. For my part, service reception has been quite weak all year. I don't quite know how to shake off the nerves of making that first good pass. Aside from that, I am very happy with my game. My vertical has been coming back over the last 6 weeks as has my general bounciness. I had a bit of a knee issue all through the late fall and right up until the end of December. I was starting to feel age seeping in through the vulnerable places and setting roots.

The Doctor's threat to take me mountain climbing coincided with a renewed effort on my part to get back into better shape (I hadn't run since late September). So far the effort has really paid off (and look, I suddenly feel like blogging again... connection???)

In further news, I have accepted a part in another Gateway Players production. I am to play the role of William Blore in Agatha Christie's play And then there were None adapted by her from one of her many novels. ( It will be my second Christie play, if any of my readers remember my posts on The Mouse Trap (although, I had vowed never to speak of it again). The cast I am to work with is much better seasoned than the last group and I can only hope that the experience is more fulfilling.