Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The very first non-symphony concert I ever went to was Leonard Cohen. It was on 'The Future' tour and I was still in elementary school so I was still very young. It was at the Royal Theatre and I just remember it being awesome!

Tonight, I will see him for the first time in roughly 20 years.

It will be awesome!

Update: It was awesome!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ode to the Hot Water Bottle

As if the small dump of snow this morning wasn't enough, it is howling in Victoria tonight. My deck chairs are no where near where they were this morning and my windows are rattling so hard I keep thinking they're going to break. I know that a few people will probably throw a couple of curses my way for saying this, perhaps even burn an effigy from some leftover hair in their bath tub, but I like snow. I'm not a huge fan of the negative temperatures that come with it, but I like snow.

Given the dip in the temperature, I got out my hot water bottle a few nights ago. My dad lives in an old house with an old furnace and just-as-old radiators. My friends referred to it as 'the cold house'. Two fire places at either end of the building supplied most of the heat which left the bedrooms in the middle of the house with a mean winter temperature of about 5 degrees... on the Kelvin scale. Hot water bottles were a must in my childhood.

I no longer need a hot water bottle but it's a ritual that I can't break. The return of the hot water bottle heralds Christmas for me in a way that TV, radio and print ads never will. It is winter, I must have a hot water bottle. As I filled it up last night, I remembered a writing project from last year. Our professor would give us a topic once a week and we had to write 100 words on it. No more, no less. On the topic of 'winter', this is what I wrote:

The hot water bottle creates a small area of warmth at the end of my bed. I creep my feet towards it until I hit that spot where it gets too hot and I pull them back just a little bit. I don’t need a hot water bottle but it wouldn’t be a winter night without it. My feet dance to find that perfect location. I find it; my stillness signals my cats and they jostle each other for the best position on this heat source.  Tomorrow morning it will be cold, but tonight it is a comfort to us.
Oh, hot water bottle, thank you for holding not just heat but so many wonderful memories.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting Creative

The weekend is finally here!! YAY!! I'm especially excited because in just over an hour, I'm going to see my Baby Bro for the first time in 7 months. He took off to Europe last April to travel and spend some time with our family in Ireland. We're going for Thai food because the only Asian food he could find in Europe was "crap Chinese" (his words, not mine).

It's been a very busy week for me and this weekend isn't going to be any different. The only change is that I've been busy being creative and that's much better than being busy cleaning the house. My employer is going to be showcasing various employee's artwork or other visual art. At the suggestion of a friend, I put my name forward for my photographs and received a very positive response back. On one hand, that's really flattering. On the other, I've never actually shown my photos as works of art (other than on my wall) so I'm now trying to narrow done my thousands of pictures into 10 which I will post on here and ask you to help me narrow it down to 5. So far I've narrowed it down to 49 possible photos. Getting closer...

The other creative thing I've been doing is writing. I submitted the following for a "What Does Dance Mean To You" competition at MoonDance. Your submission could be writing, drawing, photo, sculpture, any creative medium you wanted but it had to capture the love of dance. The song I'm talking about is Beethoven's Peasant Dance in Eflat major.
I take my place on the stage as she sits at the piano. I love dancing to live music--so much better than pre-taped in my opinion--and I hope my joy and excitement about it transfers to the audience. She looks at me as she places her hands on the keyboard. It begins. It's a song I've heard so many times I could hum it backwards in my sleep. I have lived this music; every note, every nuance, speaks to me and directs me across the stage, long and flowing with the legato, quick and lively with the staccato. I give my all to the audience and when the final chord plays I have no regrets. Every emotion in the music was transformed into a physical manifestation through my body and I became the dance; it is the best performance not just of this piece but of my life.

She gets up from the piano and moves to the kitchen for a cup of tea. I pick up my audience, my beloved bear Pola, and follow her.

"Perhaps it's time we enroll you in some dance classes."

It is the happiest day of my eight year old life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It Was a Weekend Fling But I'd Never Forget It...

I spent this past weekend in Vancouver visiting my dear friend, Carolyn, who had the misfortune of moving there roughly six painfully long weeks ago. Carolyn is not only a fantastic friend but she was my running buddy so it was a real Boo-urns moment for me. Yay for Carolyn for going after what she wants in life and all that, but if it's okay I'm just going to sit in the corner and be a little bitter about it. Originally my plan had been to surprise Carolyn by just showing up on her doorstep on Friday night (with a little help from the Boy, of course, because I didn't even know how to get to their place) but then she started saying things like 'come to Victoria' and 'visit' so I quashed that idea the only way I knew how: blowing the first surprise of the weekend.

I would have posted my own pictures but when I got home, I realised that the only pictures I took
were of wine bottles because they talked about Sheila having a few roos loose in the top paddock. Classy!

I still managed to surprise her with a little trip to the spa to get our mani-pedi's on because if anyone deserves a little spa time, it's her. It was great to be waited on by four women (even if one of them did nick my big toe and drew a little blood) but it was even better doing it while watching Sex and the City 2. Cheesy, girly good times! Other than a little stroll that same afternoon, we spent much of our time just hanging out at her apartment which is really want I wanted: spending time with an awesome friend. She lives sinfully close to Max's so we were never without good food to go with our good alcohol!

This was also the weekend where I met a bunch of strangers. Okay, it wasn't a bunch, it was two: Stacey and Shannon. Are they still strangers if you know them through the Internet and they're not part of Nigeria's royal family*? We had plans to meet at the flower stand at Granville Island Market. I arrived a tad early after lunch with another Vancouver friend so I wandered aimlessly around the market trying to eat up some time. In wandering, I realised that such a busy time at such a sizable location when they don't really know what I look like and vice versa might not have been the best idea. Oh well. I wandered back to the flower stand and hoped for the best. Not only did we find each other, but we had a really pleasant afternoon. The girl's were lovely to chat with as Stacey ate her cinnamon bun (Your secret's out, Stacey. Sorry.) and I drank my coffee. The conversation flowed, I never once looked at my phone to see my twitter updates (although I did look once to check the time), and I would gladly hang out with them again. If all blogger meet ups are this awesome, sign me up for more! Especially if they're part of the Nigerian Royal Family!

I was a little surprised how many photos of accidents appeared when I googled 'BC Ferries' but
then I thought of all the accidents I remember times by the number I probably don't...
I realise that I'm very trusting of a corporation which has crashed more times than Super Dave Osborne.

Of course, all good things must come to an end so I woke up Monday morning, packed my bag, figured out my schedule and then headed off for one last coffee with Carolyn in a downpour of epic proportions. I would just like to take this moment to give a shout out to the awesomeness that is Gore-Tex. My jacket is four years old and it has kept me dry in Tanzania's rainy season and in Victoria/Vancouver's mini-monsoon season. Worth. Every. Penny. The ferry ride was exciting as it was the first time I had ever used the wi-fi. I was thinking I would write a quick blog just say 'dudes, posting from the ferry!' but by the time I made it through the 100+ blog updates in my reader, I had 10 minutes before we docked. Egads, that was a lot of reading.

It was fun, Vancouver, if over a little too quickly. Here's hoping we get to do it again real soon.

*My favourite scam email was 'someone in Benin with a last name that is the same as yours has died leaving no relatives and we need someone to claim the money'. Honey, there's very few people in Ireland with the same last name as mine (my own family has two different spellings, true story!), never mind a small West African nation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Posts Are Brewing... Shortly

I had an awesome weekend in Vancouver. I have a lot to write about but a couple of things need to be tended to first. Blogging is my fun time so I'm holding it ransom until I'm done the other stuff. It won't be long but I just wanted to let you know that nothing happened to me so I can avoid worried phone calls a la my dad who left me a message about an hour after I planned to be home wondering if I made it home okay. That's the last time I joke that I'm meeting strange people as he and Big Bro drop me off at the ferry!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dork in the Key of G Major

I am very excited because this time tomorrow I will be in Vancouver and I will most likely be drinking. I say 'most likely' because there is an off chance that Carolyn and I won't bust out the alcohol as soon as we see each other (it's totally cool to drink in a Skytrain station, right?) but I figure it's pretty slim... like Kate Moss slim. I'm so excited about this weekend and seeing Carolyn that you'd think it had been six months, not just six weeks, since I last saw her.

I may or may not be posting over the weekend (it depends on how much writing I get done tomorrow morning), but I wanted to leave you with some music geek humour before I check out. After hearing about my mom phoning me to laugh about the Corb Lund video, a friend asked if my mom was a fan of country. Prior to six months ago, the closest my mom ever came to listening to country was Beethoven's 6th.

I'll let you all go google that so you can see why I think I'm funny.

Good night, folks!

The Least I Can Do

Last year, I stepped out of the elevator and came face-to-face with #408. He was decked out in his dress uniform with all his insignia and medals carefully placed on his left breast from his time served in Korea. He had a small bag of what I assumed was garbage hanging off his cane handle. We smiled at each other as I stepped of the elevator. I put my hand out to shake his and said 'thank you'. He grabbed me in a hug, "no, thank you." With a lightness of foot I've never seen from him before, he jumped onto the elevator as the doors closed and was gone before I could react. I managed to keep my composure until I got to the door of my apartment and then I started crying.

A simple thank you will never be enough for all the men and women who served and who continue to serve our country. They do a job which I am far too selfish to ever do and they do it day-in day-out without question. Unfortunately, thank you is all I have. May you see many Remembrance Days and know how much you are appreciated.

Lest We Forget.

If you'd like to send a letter or postcard of thanks: Any Canadian Forces Member

Sunday, November 7, 2010

GBC Book Review: The Universe in a Mirror

Robert Zimmerman's The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and Visionaries Who Built It is a look at the minds and politics behind the Hubble Space Telescope written for those of use who are not rocket scientists. It begins with a quick look at how the atmosphere has always been a hindrance in the study of astronomy before moving into how the Hubble came to be.

Again, all photos are property of NASA and their "you can use it as long as you give credit" awesomeness.

I picked this book up as after seeing the Imax: Hubble and hoping to learn some more about the impact that Hubble has had on our understanding of the universe. On that front, I was sorely disappointed as the book skims over Hubble's contributions to our understanding. Truthfully, it's my own fault because the book very clearly states what it's about, I just didn't read it that closely. I did, however, garner a greater understanding of exactly how difficult it was to even get Hubble made in the first place.

I posted this picture before but an explanation is in order. To test the Deep Field Infrared, it was
decided to point Hubble at an 'empty' part of space, one that had no readings on any system ever used.
This is what Hubble was able to show us.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. There were parts I felt like I had to slog through usually when three new people were introduced within a paragraph of each other and I found I had to go back to try and remember who worked where on what with whom. I occasionally found that I was learning more about people's personal lives than I felt I need to for the purpose of the story, but it was also the intent of the author to show how pursuing the dream that would become Hubble destroyed more marriages, careers and lives than we will ever fully understand.

The book takes an incredible amount of data and condenses it into an easy 240 pages (with the afterword which was added to the paperback) and it was clear that the author had the support of pretty much everyone he was writing about as the majority of the non-universe pictures are listed as 'from the personal collection of...'. Zimmerman does a great job of showing the number of people who were instrumental but also at showing their own flaws and limitations. These were ordinary humans after all trying to do what many in their own field of study thought was impossible. He was also very good at showing all the errors which led up to the wonky lens being given the okay. It was fascinating to see how it all played out and when it came time for 'second light', I found myself feeling giddy knowing how well it was all going to turn out.

This picture of the Eta Carinae was taken at 'second light', the moment when the scientists would learn
if their plan to correct the flawed lens worked. Astronomers had know for hundreds of years that
Eta Carinae was dying. What they didn't know was why it didn't appear to respond like a regular Supernova.
This picture answered what 300 years of study could not.

If you have an interest in astronomy or the Hubble, this is a great book to read. In the end, it made me both laugh and cry which is not an easy feat for a science book. In the words of John Bahcall, one of the lead scientists, "[w]e all have a deep desire to know what exists out there. A desire so basic, so beautiful, so much fun, that it unites all mankind." This book is a fantastic 'thank you' to everyone who made it possible.

Alberta: Part Two

Part One

Summer in Alberta meant driving to see family; Christmas meant seeing them all in one place. It was a mini-reunion for us every year we were there. This house which was so large and empty in the summer suddenly seemed too small. The adults took over the upstairs, spilling from the kitchen to the dinning room into the living room. Discussions of family updates since the last time they had seen each other, confirmation on who was doing what for Christmas dinner, shouts of 'Ernest' and 'Julio' while bottles of wine were being opened all filled the space not taken up by people.

Ernest! Julio! Uncles Dave and Phil at Writing-On-Stone.

Not everyone actually stayed at the house--some had other family to stay with, some lived close enough to drive--but it seemed like everyone would come each day in the lead up to Christmas Eve. Fourteen cousins would take over the basement, sometimes we'd be a cohesive unit playing 'what time is it, Mr Wolf?' but usually it was a free for all of games, TV, noise and fun. We'd escape upstairs to refill our snack stashes from the goodies table in the backroom and to make sure we weren't missing anything exciting upstairs before getting shooed back downstairs.

To get us out from under foot while dinner was being cooked on Christmas Eve day, we'd bundle those without other family to visit into as few cars as possible and head out. On one of those trips we went curling. I've never been very good at it, but I've had a love for the sport ever since. There were a few trips out to Writing-On-Stone. On one particular trip, there was no snow on the ground but the river was frozen so we had to walk on it.

Victoria and Taber Contingents on the Milk River

Usually we'd go to the farm. Trips out there were different when there was snow on the ground and cows in the barn.
Big Bro waves for the camera and incidentally covers my face. Thanks a lot!

I can't really explain why it always made me so happy to see the cows, but I loved it. It means, however, that there are a lot of these pictures:

I'm going to guess I was around 2 in this photo.

This wasn't at Christmas but while MTV was promoting the Spring Break beach theme,
I was spending my Grade 11 Spring Break in Milk River.

It was the lead up to Christmas that I enjoyed most. Don't get me wrong, Christmas with the entire family is pretty awesome, but you knew that was the beginning of the end. Everyone would dissipate back to which ever corner of Alberta they came from and it would be done for another year. It was that weekend or week before, with everyone under one roof, which were some of the best times in Milk River.

I liked spending time in Alberta in the winter. Not just at Christmas, but also when we'd come out at Spring Break or at Thanksgiving. It's so different to the Alberta of my summer memories. The fields are barren nothingness as far as you can see, there's no seeder or combine to break up the view, and yet I loved the feeling I'd get when I looked out at it. It's an emptiness which begs for you to walk through it, sit down for a spell and just watch the world go by. For better or for worse, I will always love Alberta.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Tableau to Taber Corn

While while pretending to research online for a blog post but really I was just procrastinating doing my dishes working on the Alberta: Part One, I came across a few interesting tidbits which I want to share.

First, I may wax poetic about how good Taber corn is (seriously, to die for. If you live within an 8 hour drive of Taber, do yourself a favour next August and go get some) to the point where my coworkers just walk away from me shaking their heads, but did you know that there are unscrupulous people out there who actually sell fake Taber corn?!?! That's how good Taber corn is: people are selling knock offs just to make some money on unsuspecting tourists. Apparently you should always ask to see their seal of authenticity. Or you can follow my method and get your family in Taber to go get it because, really, they should know where the really good dope corn is.

Second, the Senior Centre in Milk River is named Heritage Hall. Just think about that for a moment. These people are already aware that they're old, they're going to the Senior Centre to play bridge, do you really need to rub their faces in it by calling the place Heritage Hall. "Hey, old people. Go to the building about old things. Yay, we know there's nothing in there but tables. We want you to be our tableau vivant."

Third, I had forgotten that the river which runs through Lethbridge is called Old Man River. Guess what I've been singing all week.

Hopefully I'll dig up a few more tidbits while avoiding cleaning the bathtub researching for Part Two.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Highlights of an Otherwise Normal Wednesday

1) While at work I received a phone called from my mom who was in hysterics because I posted the Corb Lund video for 'The Truck Got Stuck' on my other blog and she had never seen it ("The part with the Hudderites, hahaha!" You're welcome, mom.).

2) I learned Gordon Campbell was resigning. Gordon Campbell is a bully. Nothing indicated that more clearly than the way the HST was introduced. Whether you support the Liberals or the NDP, his resignation is a good thing... albeit a little bit too late in my opinion. Man, I really wish I was in a Canadian Poli Sci class right now because no one at work wants to discuss the long term ramifications of this on BC politics with me.

3) I had Thai for dinner with a bunch of the fellow MoonDance people. I love living in a place where there are so many good ethnic restaurants to choose from. Variety is the spice of life!

4) My little brother agrees that we need to do a road trip to Seattle for the BSG exhibit at the EMP. I can't tell you how happy it makes me that I'm not the only dork in my family. I was worried for a while that I was going to be the odd one out because my older brother and stepbrother were always waaaaay too cool for me, but Little Bro totally gets it. He also gets Doctor Who and Star Trek and Halo and the Simpson's and South Park and Cannibal! The Musical and Team America World Police and Fawlty Towers and Monty Python and Lord of the Rings and Shaun of the Dead and... well... he gets me. It's nice to have someone in your family who does.

5) MoonDance is talking about going back to Guinea for another dance/drum intensive learning holiday in 2012. Actually, Lynn suggested it a few years ago and then later said it wasn't a firm plan. Tonight Erin and I decided that we're just going to talk about it like it's happening because then it will. So, I'm totally going to Guinea in 2012. You heard it here first.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm Not In Denial, I Just Refuse to Believe It

Apparently today is November 1st. I say 'apparently' because I'm pretty sure I've gotten sucked into some kind of time vortex which has created a slingshot effect landing me in a future time line while in my own time line, it's really October 15th.

In this alternate time line in which today is November 1st, I have failed to finish my October book but I'm so close. If I was in my correct time line I would not only finish it, I would perhaps even have time to finish a second book.

In this alternate time line in which today is November 1st, I didn't get all the prep work done for Nanowrimo done that I was aiming for and I've also taken on a few too many tasks for November to truly give it the go that I want to give it. If I was in my correct time line, the prep work would have been done and I'm sure I would have remembered Nanowrimo and therefore would have declined a few current obligations.

In this alternate time line in which today is November 1st, I haven't cooked any of the meals I planned to cook because I'd get invited out or ended up just opting for something less involved. If I was in my correct time line, I'd totally get a chance to crank out a few of those meals, blog about them and even post a few pictures.

In this alternative time line in which today is November 1st, I'm still working on part two of my Alberta post which I started almost a month ago. If I was in my correct time line, I'd still be working on it, but I'd take a little over a week, not a little less than a month to finish it.

As it stands, I will have to read two books in November to keep on track for the book challenge. I am doing the right thing and foregoing Nanowrimo this year as I have some writing I have to do (for money) and can't afford the time needed for Nanowrimo. I'm making myself cook in November by setting up a couple of dinner dates at my place. I will have the second Alberta post done by this weekend or I will leave it on my computer forever as a 'draft'.

Obviously, I need to find the Doctor so he can fix this time vortex issue that I'm having because I really need those additional 16 days back.