Thursday, January 28, 2016

Laterally thought

It's Thursday, so it's time to make another post. Today's post is all about memory. First, here's a picture.

Zak and Samantha in the living room at the St Albert house, summer 2002.  This photo represents the strange convolutions of memory.

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. (I would have sworn it was a Monday in 1986, but a look at the calendar says it was in fact a Tuesday.) I can walk around the places of that day in my mind, rustling through chains of memories for which I have no pictures. Today's picture reminds me of things I miss, things we lose, and is therefore wistfully appropriate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Getting to know all about you

I receive a weekly newsletter from Michael Kerr, a professional workplace humourist. (Notably not a corporate jester, as I've learned others in this field call themselves.) In last week's issue he suggested a fun workplace exercise: getting to know you. I think this would be a great ice breaker for adult education classes (although I'd adapt it for time concerns) and also for upper undergrad seminars (where trust and openness may be important).

And so, as with other tasks I'd make students do, I have done this exercise myself and have elected to inflict it on you.

3 nicknames you've had
Meghan Mauve Muffin, Lester, Doc

3 jobs you've held
Counter staff at a bakery, pizza maker, executive assistant

3 places you've traveled
Edinburgh, Newfoundland, Ohio

3 of your favorite movies
Sophie's Choice, French Kiss, Hannah and Her Sisters

3 of your favorite foods
Pizza (despite the job above), croustille au fromage, raspberries

If you do this exercise too, please let me know!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Let's pretend it's still Thursday

Hello, hello. I've been tardy posting this week's Throwback picture. We were travelling on both Thursday and Saturday, and busy with friends on Friday.

In recognition of ferry travel, this is me and Zak in the queue for the ferry in late winter 1994 (early spring on the coast). On this trip, we visited Pender Island as well as Victoria and Vancouver. A good break from the routines of winter — much like the last few days have been for me and B.

 There are so many striking pictures of Zak in this series. I'll likely post others later. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

That was almost twenty years ago

Today's Thursday throwback comes from May 1997. This is the hair and makeup I wore to Nicole and Jim's wedding, thanks to an early-morning appointment at the salon. (Nicole subsequently divorced the stylist because she was unhappy with the wedding party's hair and makeup. So ...)

So many random details associated with this picture, which was taken in Nik's parents' house. For instance, I know Zak was in the limousine Nicole and Jim rented for the wedding, but I no longer recall at what point. And I really really miss the shirt I'm wearing in this shot — it's not mine, of course, but all my favourite shirts started out belonging to someone else. (I have, however, given up wearing the Bow Slope jacket: I take my professorship seriously, obviously.) Oh, and the art I'm standing in front of is by a semi-famous artist whose art is in the National Gallery. If this photograph were to be discovered in a few centuries, I suspect people will know more of the artist than of me — and I'm really good with that!

Phew! Got this throwback in under the wire. Thank goodness for the Pacific time zone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How it feels to be edited

This lovely illustration is from Today I Will Fly by Mo Willems. Elephant is in the process of explaining to Piggie all the reasons she won't fly today — or ever. For some reason, Piggie's expression reminded me of an author's expression when the author is receiving notes. Et voilĂ : how it feels to be edited, the visual edition.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winding river of memory

Well, we're back on the coast, and as promised, here's another photo post.

1. Me and the 'rents: I was surprised to find a picture of me in my twenties with my parents. My parents are not photo-taking people, and my mother usually actively avoids being caught in the camera's eye. This picture was taken on Long Beach, near Tofino, on the trip that produced our personal "trees and rocks, trees and rocks" meme.

2. Me on vacation: After the camping trip near Whitecourt, during which I illegally picked raspberries in a provincial park and earned the eternal vigilance of bears, I picked and then copped to picking these raspberries in a national park. Y'know, to up the ante.

3. Me at work: This picture was taken by Earl in my office at WBM in August 1995. (Nice string of prep phrases, eh?) Little has changed in my office habits, except that I'm perhaps even better at making piles. Note the photo of Zak taped to my monitor.

Thanks to Earl for inspiring today's post with his recent Polaroids post. Where better to hide from the present than in a box of old photographs?

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Boys to men

I've spent several hours digitizing photographs over the last few days. Lovely to see some of these pictures again — it's been years! Here are a few with a common theme.

1. One of my favourite pictures of Zak as a toddler. So cute! (IMHO, of course.)

2. B, Brian, and Doug on the day we moved into the Bonnie Doon house. What have they been up to in the basement? Hmm.

3. B, Mitch, Brian, and Brian on the day of Mitch and June's church wedding. (They were married in a civil service in the US a week or so before the wedding in Brooks.) How the decades fly!

4. B and Ken at our "grown-up" dinner at La Ronde. Regrettably, that dinner ruined La Ronde for us; and sadly, Ken is gone. But I still giggle ironically at memories from that night.

Now I have hundreds of scanned images to review, so you can anticipate more photo-based blogging for the next little while. And we're back to the coast again soon, so more "living the dream" posts, too. Ta!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Since we're home ...

A few weeks ago I wrote about a photo that Nicole took, years and years ago, that became the basis of "being cute" with Zak. (He was always the cute one, obviously.) Since we're back in the condo, I thought I'd try to find the picture, and here it is.

It was taken by Nik on New Year's Eve 1994. Quite a significant throw back!

Finding the picture has led to an afternoon of scanning other pictures, though. Nothing like procrastinating to make me resourceful...

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Two readings

Welcome to 2016! Here's my first exploration of the year ahead.

Significator: Queen of Cups
Environment: 5 Cups: disappointment, loss
Obstacles: 7 Swords: quarrelling, futility
Resources: Page Swords: direct observation, authority
Past: 3 Swords: sorrow
Best outcome: King Wands: loving, open-heartedness
What is coming: Queen Wands: honour, determination
Self and attitude: Page Pentacles: scholarship, reflection
Influences: 2 Cups: love
Hopes and fears: 7 Pentacles: work or business
Outcome: 8 Cups: walking away, stepping back, change

Significator: King of Wands
Environment: Queen Swords: Sadness, absence, separation
Obstacles: 3 Cups: plenty, happiness
Resources: 7 Wands: valour, combat, success
Past: 6 Wands: triumph, announcement, realization
Best outcome: Knight Wands: departure, change
What is coming: 6 Pentacles: money, prosperity
Self and attitude: Page Cups: a studious youth, communication
Influences: Ace Wands: creation, enterprise
Hopes and fears: Knight Swords: bravery, confrontation
Outcome: 2 Cups: love

Friday, January 01, 2016

The textual year in review: 2015

As has become my tradition, this post is a reflection on my reading and listening over the last 365 days. In brief, 2015 wasn't a great year for reading: I did much more writing than reading. It was, however, a good year for music, both recorded and live, and — surprisingly — a good year for catching up with television.

Music — Top Thirty Plays
Exile, "Kiss You All Over"
LP, "Someday"
Rosanne Cash, "Seven Year Ache"
The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City"
Duran Duran, "Hungry like the Wolf"
Brandi Carlile, "Dreams"
Queen, "You're My Best Friend"
Dead or Alive, "Brand New Lover" (single)
Joy Williams, "Woman (Oh Mama)"
Bonnie Pointer, "The Beast in Me"
Deep Purple, "Hush"
Jenson Interceptor, "Tiny Thing"
Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover"
Brandi Carlile, "The Eye"
Beyoncé, "Run the World (Girls)"
Nightwish, "End of All Hope"
Andy Gibb, "Shadow Dancing"
Max Webster, "Let Go the Line"
ABBA, "Summer Night City"
Klaatu, "The Love of a Woman"
Over the Rhine, "When I Go"
Sonic Youth, "Superstar"
The Doobie Brothers, "Long Train Runnin'"
Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules, "Mad World"
ABBA, "Take a Chance on Me"
Diddy with Dirty Money, "Hello Good Morning" (remix)
One Republic, "Love Runs Out"
Siouxsie and the Banshees, "This Wheel's on Fire"
Sufjan Stevens, "Once in Royal David's City"
Rage Against the Machine, "Renegades of Funk"

What I see in this list is a continuing trend of comfort listening — not surprising, considering the year that's been. I am happy to see a few new-ish songs in the top thirty, however. I also note an overall reduction in the number of repeat plays in my top thirty: no fewer than 25, but no more than 55. These play counts are lower than in the past, which translated into higher play counts in iTunes overall. My iTunes library includes more than 13,900 tracks; of these, 3,268 remained as "new" (play count 0) at the end of the year, meaning I listened to more than three-quarters of my library at least once. I listened to nearly 1,500 songs at least 5 times each.

Now my play counts have been reset and I'm tracking for 2016.

Although I got nowhere near my goal of 200 books this year, I did tally more than 150: 157, to be exact, or an average of three books a week.

Here were some of my favourite books in 2015:

• Michael Crummy, Sweetland
• Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
• Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes
• Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read
• Maria Nikolajeva, Power, Voice and Subjectivity in Literature for Young Readers
• Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places
• Mary Norris, Between You and Me
• Mallory Ortberg, Texts from Jane Eyre
• Andrew Steeves, Smoke Proofs

... as well as two books I was responsible for editing, but it seems biased to mention them (and perhaps unfair to the other authors I edited whose books weren't among my favourites).

According to LibraryThing, I have catalogued 4,217 books to date, although more than 1,500 of those are tagged "Read but not owned." Book ownership remains a "problem" for me: I love books and reading, but keep running out of shelves. I also have a weakness for books that need rescuing. Even living on the boat hasn't completely tamed my collecting. Maybe in 2016?

TV, by which I mean series on DVD and Netflix, has become a fun way to turn my mind off in the evening. Since May I've watched more television than I have in the preceding five years. When my evenings are once again overtaken by marking and prepping, my TV watching will presumably drop, but right now it's fun.

Series watched (all available seasons):

Gilmore Girls
Grace and Frankie
The West Wing
The News Room
The Tudors

Also bits and pieces of The Muppets and Black Books, as well as numerous movies. I'm also looking forward to new episodes of Downton Abbey in the new year.

So that's my year in textual consumption. Looking forward now to comparing lists and numbers with friends. Happy New Year!