About fifteen Christmas carols on a violin.
Vay. Cay. Shun! Woot! WOot! Huzzah!
When I walk out of the office later today.
I’m (not so) quietly noting that exactly one year ago today I was bumbling around Reykjavik with the family, fighting off jet-lag, and pondering our upcoming ten day driving tour of the island. While we do have some time off in the foreseeable future, it is as yet unknown if our modestly planned vacation of 2015 will be nearly as epic as that trip to that amazing country in the North Atlantic. On the plus side, I took so many photos while on that trip, and if I do say so myself many of them were awesome enough that I’ve been using them as backgrounds on my computer monitors, that I’ve been reliving that adventure for the last twelve months through pictures. I don’t know when I’ll get back, but now that we’re a year past our first trip it might be time to start thinking about a second. Or… maybe something more tropical.
a mash-up of mechanisms & nature
On the second day of February each year a vast cultural mechanism spins into gear as humanity pauses for a few minutes to celebrate the meteorological prognostication of a rodent. Groundhog day, according to various sources, traces its origins back to an odd sort of collision of culture, religion, dual calendar systems, and some pagan ritual mixed in for good measure. In modern incarnations, it involves a tongue-in-cheek reference on the morning radio to the various official shadow-spotters, and (if one is a true fan of the quasi-holiday) a re-watching of the Bill Murray feature film of the same name.
Predicting the weather (as the author has been not-so-subtly informed by personal conversations with actual human meteorologists) is hardly as simple as sky gazing. It continues to improve technologically, to be sure, with the expansion and use of vast satellite networks coupled to incredibly complex computer modeling systems harnessing the power of historical data and climate analysis. Yet, for all that technology, predicting the temperature a few days into the future is still mostly a blend of chance and educated guessing.
Since I have tomorrow off (booked it) and I don’t need to go back to the office until after the holiday long weekend, it looks like I’m officially in vacation mode.
Claire, on the other hand, has been in vacation mode for a few days… and spent this one (apparently) lounging around the house in her pajamas and (when her mother wasn’t making her do piano homework) making crafts and art. She’s knitting and drawing and stringing hundreds of tiny elastic bands together… but not necessarily in that order or simultaneously.
And just like that, we had a tree –glowing with hundreds of decorations– in our living room. I had nothing to do with that. Apparently, I’m no longer required.
It was a busy weekend. The office renovation continued, and I woke up at six, made breakfast, and was laying cork until most of the room was covered around ten-thirty. I only managed to injure myself once… a hammered finger, whilst tapping a stubborn board into place.
I went downstairs at various intervals, usually with a board-to-be-cut in one hand on my way to the garage, and as the morning went on the girls –but Claire mostly– decorated the tree.
No ceremony (at least not from me.)
And not even a single decoration hung.
But what do you know… she did a pretty good job of it, too.
The weather has been kinda nutty, hasn’t it?
We left for Florida in early January and we took a cab to the airport to avoid having to be outside for more than a few seconds in the minus thirty temperatures. It was cold. It was so cold I didn’t want to leave the car outside for two weeks for fear that it wouldn’t start.
Then we come back and it’s warm. Unseasonably warm. Melty warm. January is not supposed to be above zero… ever. It’s just –idontknow– wrong somehow. But yet there we were last week, our biggest concern was making sure the snow melt was draining properly off the sidewalks. There we were, chipping ice off the sidewalk in huge, graceless chunks.
Yesterday morning things seemed to have swung back to normal, at least for the moment: it’s dropped back into the cold of the sub-zero teens, and the forecast for the next week seems to have leveled back out to, well… normal for January. (It left all the ice on the sidewalks, though. Thank you very much fake spring!)
So, are you enjoying this winter? Or are you looking forward to something a little warmer?
Just a note! In case you’re wondering about the somewhat, well, droll topic, here’s the thing: I’ve been playing around with selective integration of the poll plugin… for various reasons. Y’know, like, making it appear in certain spots and not others. This is pretty much a test post. Give it a vote to let me know how it works!
One month ’til Xmas: Guess it’s time to decorate the blog for the holidays.
When I was a kid, I recall seeing a poster for sale in the mall that was titled something along the lines of “366 Excuses to Party.” On that poster, in relatively fine print, was a double column list of every single day of the calendar with a corresponding reason to raise a glass. Some were obvious. Some obscure. Some mundane. Some stretching. Some were perhaps even mildly offensive. But it has stuck in back of my mind all these years, as silly as it was, if only because it summed up an attitude that was so decidedly counter-cultural at the time as to stand out for me then… and maybe even now.
the defensive homogenization of our cultural identities
See, an era of so-called political correctness was in full blossom where I lived in the nineties. I write “so-called” because while the idea of political correctness arose from a good idea and a well-meaning philosophy, it’s application over the past decades has tarnished that spirit. Rather than a good thing to explain how we’ve become more inclusive or welcoming to a swath of differences, it has instead become a pejorative to express our distaste at the defensive homogenization of our cultural identities by those in charge. It’s what we curse –blame, exclaiming “damn political correctness”– when yet another tradition, habit, or norm –be those habits good or bad– goes the way of the dodo bird in the name of a “more tolerant” or “more inclusive” society.
But as I alluded to above, talk is usually quite cheap… it’s the application of ideas that is oh-so-very difficult.
And that one paper poster, hanging for sale in some random window at the mall, that poster that seemed so antagonistic towards the idea of political correctness then? Maybe because at every angle, or my perception of the same at a particularly impressionable young age, was that we as a society were moving in the opposite direction. We were looking for more excuses to avoid partying, to blur the days into a uniform, inoffensive wash of don’t say this, don’t wear that, don’t eat those, don’t… don’t…. don’t.
Or maybe it was just another one of those accidentally poignant tidbits of pop culture, catching the right person in the right frame of mind.
Yet here we are in 2013 and again I turn on the radio in the morning to hear the yet another incarnation of the standard march towards cultural homogenization as we swing into the seasons of holidays. Today’s sledge hammer of politically correct bluntness brought to you by the question: should we change Halloween into “Spirit” day and encourage people to just wear black and orange?
Look: you can be offended by whatever you want. You can be insulted. You can be frustrated and angry and pained by the actions of those around you. It’s your right. But guess what? Offense is part of the modern human condition: it’s your brain telling you that the world is bigger and wider and more complex — some would say more interesting — than you thought you had sorted out. Being offended by what someone is wearing, saying, doing, or just simply who they are, is like realizing a pair of jeans are too tight: it’s not the jeans fault. Your butt… or your mind (to swing back to the actual topic of offense) doesn’t fit into the desired space. So, you can find a different pair of jeans or you can lose some weight. And losing weight is hard — just as adjusting the size of your perception to include a world that is bigger and wider and more complex than you seem to fit into. But both are possible.
more excuses to celebrate what makes us interesting
So, do I think we should orange-wash Halloween? Do I think we should take away the candy or the costumes or the scary bits all in the name of avoiding a bit of perceived offense? Or do I think we should push in the opposite direction, take some advice from a corny poster in a mall window, and look for more excuses to party, and more excuses to embrace a tapestry of reasons, excuses –offensive and all– to celebrate what makes us interesting as human beings?
When you figure it out, stop by my house on the 31st for a mini-chocolate bar and we can chat — and scare some kids.
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth… or in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.It’s bitterly cold and shaping up to be a nasty and weather-non-compliant holiday season. As I write this I realize that my meagre six day break is officially half over — it being Sunday night and I getting just another three days off before I go back to work — and apart from a few holiday-ish events, I’ve barely done anything seasonal at all. Perhaps it’s being trapped in the house due to the cold. Did I mention it was cold? Bitterly cold? Oh, right…
I blew up my new camera on Thursday night. That’s right, I managed to push the darned little GoPro to it’s limits and — wham! — it failed. Epically.
So, long story short: I tried to film myself running. It was minus twenty. Celsius. And then I didn’t let it warm up enough and — blah, blah, techno-babble, blah — I did something that corrupted my memory card and left me with a bunch of unusable data scraped from the smouldering remains of my MicroSD card.
Press format. Start over.
The camera was okay, but the footage was not. And as proof, I shot this little baby in the backyard about thirty-six hours later, capturing some snow-play with Claire in 120 frames per second glory, and editing about five seconds of the ten minutes I captured into a reduced speed leap from the deck into the heaps of fresh snow.
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But still no running footage.
Obsessing Over Minecraft
I pay a few bucks every month and rent a Minecraft server. Generally it’s pretty awesome. Great customer support and fairly stable. But the latest update came out last week and — wham — something crashed, somewhere, somehow. And — long story short — my Minecraft server has been in various states of repair for the last three days.
This is unfortunate if only because I finally have some time to play, and the weather has been cold enough to justify hibernating in front of the computer… and my Minecraft server is broken. Insert sad face here.
Oddly enough, despite my inability to play it, Minecraft has actually been featuring fairly prominently in our house this past few days. Not only did I spring eight bucks this morning and buy myself a digital copy of the new Minecraft documentary, and not only did my Creeper hat finally arrive in the mail after waiting for the confluence of international postal services for over a month, but Claire has been, well frankly, obsessed.
We have Minecraft on the iPad and she has been going to town building and crafting (all in Creative mode) enough that I think she managed to grind her Minecraft Skillz up to a double-digit level this weekend. Enough to make a dad proud, anyhow.
Apart from that, it’s been a kind of stop-and-go busy. I helped out at Claire’s Kindergarten party for her last day of class. We went that afternoon to the theater and saw the re-release of Monsters, Inc. (but in 3D). We’ve been doing the last bit of shopping. I’ve shovelled the sidewalk three times and completely avoided putting on my running shoes thanks to the cold weather. We did a pot-luck brunch with my running crew this morning. And we’ve been wrapping, cooking, and finalizing all the last minute details for the next few days…
And speaking of the next few days… I’m signing off until at least Boxing Day. Enjoy your holiday. Celebrate how you see fit and enjoy the warmth of your friends and family. Peace.
Here we are in the last weeks of June… Summer has officially arrived, school is out for the season, the days grow a little more lazy and for the second year in a row I continue partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a question-and-answer theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. Still no planning. Still no writing of these words days in advance. Still just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 25th // Something You Want To Taste
Apparently I’ve ill-timed my holidays this year.
Karin and I coordinate our lives a few weeks ago and planned out some summer break time in the soon-to-be July warmth. The notion was that even if it turned into a week of stay-cation and we didn’t make it out of the city, we could pepper that one glorious week with some local family fun-times and — at the very least — have some quality time with Claire.
It was a good plan. It still is. There is just one glitch…
It turns out that one of my favorite downtown festivals is running concurrently with our planned vacation time. Taste of Edmonton the “dazzling array of tastes and sounds that fill Churchill Square” each summer, is nothing short of an epic, outdoor, downtown food fair that feeds the masses with (slightly) over-priced — but exceedingly delicious — fare from close to what seems like a hundred local restaurants. Usually — or last summer and one of the highlights of now working downtown — this festival is a hop, skip and a jump from my office. I could cavort through the food stalls, pick from an array of tasty and delicious mini-meals, and savour the summer with something more interesting than the standard food fair fare.
But now? Nine of those ten days coincide directly with the days I was planning on specifically NOT going downtown. Nine of those ten days the festival — while not out of reach — is not as convenient as I’d been anticipating.
So… perhaps a plan? When life tosses you lemons — as the saying (sorta) goes — make a delicious frozen lemonade beverage treat. Assuming we don’t disappear from town for too many of those hot July days, I’m thinking we might just need to take this opportunity to make a family-focused trip downtown. Transit? Driving? Who cares. We’ve got no where else to be. We need to pick a nice sunny day. We need to let Claire wear her swimsuit so she can frolick in the City Hall fountain. We need to buy a heaping wad of food tickets. And we need to have a family food-cation… an afternoon of tastes, as it were.
And that’s what I want to taste this summer.