Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

The countdown is on for the new decade. This morning William made his reading challenge deadline and completed the 12th Darren Shan Cirque de Freak book. He had stopped 30 pages short a few days ago because it got too scary. I read the remaining and was inclined to agree (the character has to allow his body to be dissolved in some sort of magic acid where he dies and then has his soul placed into a golem/Frankenstein/zombie body build crudely by the main villain where he would live the remainder of his short life with no tongue or teeth). However, the chapter following that was very charming as the character goes back in time to the events of the first book so I convinced him to resume at that point and finish it off. This afternoon I took William to "The Fantastic Mr. Fox". It really was fantastic. I was really amazed by the brave framing and compositions. They veered away from the safe storytelling structure and were intuitively simple. This evening we built a time capsule for 2019 then Paul came over and William put on a puppet show and we all played Careers (I've not played it in 30 years even though I bought a vintage set at a garage sale 10 years ago and parked it on my shelf). It went well with the lemon gelato I made. Happy New Year all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Red Cam"

I bought a RedCam today!
.... well, it is red. ...... and it is a camera....
Last month we lost one of our cameras (the one that replaced the one we dropped a year and a half ago in Prince Albert). I keep expecting it to turn up, along with the kitchen knife we lost. However, I have given up hope that it is in the house and therefore, if it is found, it is likely under the snow outside and therefore in need of replacing anyway. I went out to get the 10 megapixel Canon but decided to spill another fifty beans and get the 12 megapixel camera that not only comes in red (if that isn't enough) but also shoots HD video.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Updating William Loves Lego

Lately I've been behind in my posting of photos and videos to William's blog "William Loves Lego", even though there has been a lot of material and I have been photographing it all along. Today I posted 18 items, each with one or more photo or video, onto William's blog, past dated between early October and late December. Please check it out.

This afternoon we went to the Science Centre for some rock climbing and then to Leslea and Leif's for their ceremonial smashing of the gingerbread house and eventually (and unintentionally) supper.

Monday, December 28, 2009


This afternoon we went to the Grzesina house to lunch with them and Jeff Hameluck who is a pretty interesting guy. He is still talked about in the Computer Science Department as a big success case because he went on after his masters to work at Disney and then on Lord of the Rings. He works for a gaming company now and so is based where ever he is at the moment, anywhere on the planet. He has great stories about his ongoing world travels.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


We went tobogganing at the incline by Chapters today. It was still pretty cold but not as bad finally. This evening I got together with Mike, Paul, and Kevin. An overall calm day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

We opened a box and played some Carcassonne this afternoon. We forgot to add last year's cults and siege set but we did use the tower pieces without the towers since Margaret doesn't like the idea of the tower and the capturing of pieces. Mike and Paul were over. Paul won but it was quite close. We went for left overs at Richard and Gerda's then came home for some more Monty Python. Margaret did some shopping but I didn't.

Christmas Day

A busy and exhausting day. William was very happy with his gifts which included the new Lego shark from Atlantis, a big motorized Lego creator set with a helicopter, a bionicle matoran with a gukko bird from 2003 new in its box from grandma, and numerous other things that sometimes weren't even Lego. We watched some season 2 of Get Smart before supper (I also watched half of my new Criterion copy of "Wings of Desire") and after our elegant sea food supper we watched some episodes of Monty Python from the complete collection that I bought for us as a family. William couldn't get enough but I was almost asleep so we had to insist he go to bed. I curled up with him and he stayed up reading his Darren Shan book while I slept. Now I'm awake and he has only been sleeping 4.5 hours.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

We ate goose at Gertrud's and opened a few gifts afterward. Mike and Paul and their parents were there. It was grand. William got some Lego. When we got home, Santa had filled the stockings and drunk the milk and bitten the gingerbread man in half. There were new gifts under the tree. William (pictured above with not-the-real-Santa at last week's school winter festival) has written his psychological study of the situation which will prove, definitively, the existence of Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

over night

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep so decided it was the right time to watch the pirated copy of Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist". When this semester began, it was the one film that almost every student of mine had seen and felt was highly significant. It was released in Europe after a premier at Cannes, and even though it's been making waves there, most felt that it would never get an American release. It is a rather odd film featuring only two actors (plus a silent role of a child in a couple of scenes) played by Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It bounces between being a Bergmanesque psychological/theological drama and a Korean torture/horror film. Sex and pain, although never rape or s&m, just somewhere else. I guess it did reach some new and very uncomfortable places using some unorthodox approaches. I loved the talking fox but didn't feel that it will be as influential as the students do.
My banana bread was undercooked, even though the tooth pick came out completely dry. I am able to eat the edges, and had to throw out the middle half. Pity, it tastes really good (I added walnuts).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

heavy christmas

Driving around today I heard the Black Sabbath self-satire "I am Santa Claus" (after "Iron Man"). I found a link to it and played it for William, along with the original. Now he wants Black Sabbath to go to sleep to instead of the classical music we have for him. Margaret is not amused (well, maybe just a little).
Not much happening at the office. Came home early to see William as it was the last day of school before Christmas. I baked banana bread and wrapped a couple more presents. Kept going with some good chocolate covered coffee beans I found in the bulk bin at the Broadway Avenue Extra Foods for only $1.20/100g (for those of you looking for such a buzz).

Monday, December 21, 2009

half baking

It's almost like I'm on vacation except that I can't seem to slow down and relax. Yesterday I did some baking and went to Kevin's for while (missing my sister who dropped by to give us gifts that we'd agreed we wouldn't be exchanging) and when I got home I sorted my recipes, found the one for Kahlua which required instant coffee but was otherwise good, modified it to use espresso (do you know you can dissolve 3.5 cups of sugar in 2 cups of hot water?). Today I started by stint as acting department head which should be painless since almost no one is around and I can't approve grades so I came home and baked more mini-cheesecakes and another batch of ginger snaps.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

party almost missed

William almost missed a birthday party today that we were certain was tomorrow. Got to the last half of it at the Science Center and finally got to try the liquid nitrogen ice cream. I didn't see it get made but did arrive back in time to get a sample - very tasty.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First day of holidays

I relaxed a bit today, did some house cleaning and baked some cookies including my first try at an "oatmeal wafer" which is not really a wafer but a thin cookies with walnuts and wheat germ. The problem was that I didn't have any wheat germ. Luckily I got ahold of Paul before he came over and he brought me some. They turned out well, although a bit too fibrey for me to eat in excess, and if you can't eat in excess, then it's not really worth it, is it?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

party on

I got my grades in this afternoon then I put up the Christmas tree (no decorations yet). I also baked a variation on William's cookies but without the coconut and a bit more flour, they were very good. I took them to the Filmpool party. William was in super-social mood, introducing himself and even announcing Margaret's entrance to everyone. We went from Filmpool to William's school winter carnival which replaced their pageant this year. It was quite fun. After that we went to Margaret's Dunlop party out in the east end (a couple blocks from Kevin's house).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

home grading

I'm not grading my home, I'm just home grading. I managed to not leave the house today and have been continuing to comb through projects and papers. The end is in sight, I've looked at everything but am now going through each individual student and comparing what they said they were going to do with what they really did do (I establish individual grading criteria with each student). I've got to be at a meeting in less than 8 hours so I'll have to call it quits soon. My big reward for grading, the fourth Popeye original comic strips book arrived by Amazon today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the cat's in the cradle

Not quite finished my grading. I spent the morning at the university meeting with Ryan to get his final images and report and then with Mauricio for him to present his term in review as part of his graduate program requirements. This afternoon I worked at home reading and watching assignments and getting distracted by our cat who is beside herself trying to find things to do while the temperatures outside are -30 or worse.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


William put his pants on at four o'clock this afternoon after spending most of the weekend in his pajamas. I envy his life sometimes.

Saturday at home

Graded some papers, baked some cookies, watched an episode of "Castle", played with some Lego (finished Paul's restoration of the robot t-rex). William kept his pajamas on all day, I only made it to 3:00.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Margaret and I went to Elaine Pain's dinner and roast that the students arranged. It was held at the German Club and quite well attended. Pictured below: Margaret explaining the birds and the beas to Elaine. Apparently Margaret and I encountered each other for the first time in Elaine's class when Elaine brought me in to talk to the students, Margaret being one of them. Paul stayed with William; they watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince together (it came out earlier this week). The event didn't go late so we built some Lego when we got home.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

staying warm

Except for walking William to school (at about -30 degree temperature), I managed to stay in the house all day today. I also stayed relatively focused, getting significant amounts of my grading done. I rewarded myself with building Lego this evening, restoring the Aqua Raiders shark that Margaret and William put together a couple of years ago and was NEVER to be taken apart. It's missing a couple of fins, they'll turn up on a space ship somewhere.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Margaret's Christmas cards

A couple of weeks ago, Margaret was invited to join Operation Cards From The HeArt, a group of artists to the CBC to draw or paint some original Christmas cards that would be auctioned on EBay for the food bank. Her first card just sold today. Her second, a snowman playing air guitar with a broom, just went on-line.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Elaine's last class

Classes ended for the term today. Elaine Pain has emptied her office and will be doing her grading at home and then will retire. She's been in our department since before I took my first class there, over a quarter century ago. I've been trying to think of a good story to tell about her at the roast the students are holding for her this Friday but all I can think of are all the things she knows about me and none that I know about her. That in itself is funny.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ryan Birchard

I finally got into the studio with Ryan and we worked out a bunch of things I'd been suggesting to him regarding his long exposures directed study but that I admit I've not actually tried myself. It seems like we only have time for discussion and review of past work and actually making work in our contact time has rarely happened. Today we used a modified fan as an external shutter to create a strobe light out of a fresnel light and used a super-8 projector similarly. Some of the effects were pretty good. His new website for this is HERE. He also has a BLOG, although he has not updated it since I had him originally create it. Hopefully he'll put a couple of the images of me from today up there sometime.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St Nicholas Day

This morning our shoes were overflowing with gifts from St. Nicholas! I got a small bottle of coke and some chocolate and some bison jerky. William got a new Atlantis Lego set. This afternoon we went to "The Vampire's Assistant". William has finished the 6th book (there are 12 books in total, the movie is apparently primarily drawn from the first three). The title sequence was wonderful: animated silhouetted figures done marvelously. The movie was not bad although it lacked closure and I'm concerned that the lack of success of it at the box office will spell doom for the series continuing/concluding. When I saw Willem Defoe's name in the credits I was pretty worried that it would be too scary for William, but it ends up he played a rather campy character without the threatening demeaner he is so talented at.
This evening we had a big family thing at my parents. They are away for Christmas so we had dinner. We also gathered as a sort of wake for my Aunt Norma who passed away last month. The last time I saw her was when she came to Regina when we invited her (and a hundred others) to William's first birthday party in 2002.
Image above is the world's smallest snowman, 1/5th the width of a hair, cut with a laser.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas movies

Today William I watched "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians". I bought it two years ago in a discount bin and just haven't found the right moment to watch it. I've never seen it before and was surprised to find it in colour and quite entertaining. Yesterday we watched the recent Canadian one hour version of "Snow Queen". I've suggested that we watch a Christmas movie every day until Christmas, although I doubt we'll have the time or the range of films. I have lots of specials stored away but many of them he doesn't like (such as "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" - original not horrendous live action), hard to keep it fresh.

Friday, December 4, 2009

flu after effects

I had a fever most of the night, likely the result of my H1N1 shot yesterday. It subsided enough (or so I say) to teach this morning. It was the last day for my experimental film production (sometimes I think they all are. Experimental that is, not last) so everyone was supposed to screen their final project (most did, but there are a few stragglers). I escaped shortly after and had a nap at home. William had the day off but was at a friend's all afternoon so I had some quiet time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Flu shot

I got my flu shot today. There were about 30 people in line ahead of me, which a number of people pointed out was the very longest the line has been for the entire week. The whole process took about 15 minutes. I was supposed to sit for another 15 but I couldn't wait around. Now my nose is running and I feel like I'm getting a cold. At least I got my three syllabi completed and in to the department and my notes ready to hand out for tomorrow's class. I wish I could sleep tomorrow away... soon, soon, soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I worked on my three syllabi today for the courses I'm teaching in the new year. I have two done and just couldn't focus this evening on finishing the third one. William had his last class with Globe Theatre until February this evening. They demonstrated their creature actions for parents, very lively and passionate. Margaret spent all day in a Dunlop Art Gallery retreat.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Winter time; it snowed last night, William was overjoyed. He opened his advent calendar this morning (Lindt of course). The countdown is on. Margaret took him tobogganing after school (I had late class so couldn't).
Last night Margaret and I finished season one of Castle, the detective show with Nathan Fillian. It was very addictive but now we can't catch up on season two because it is only on ABC with no Canadian carrier and the ABC website won't allow us to view past episodes from Canada.