Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Ned, What's Under Your Bed?
I was already impressed with Mason (and fellow actors Andy Jenkins and Jamie Dunsdon) as instructors at the Empress Theater summer drama camps, and as writers/actors in the Empress Theater's summer series plays. I had been struck by how much more effective this camp had been for Tigana than some of the others she had attended. Part of that was the camp's structure, which incorporated the children's performances into a Vaudville night along with skits and musical numbers by adult performers -- so that kids got to perform in front of a real paying audience, rather than just a room full of relatives, as is the usual conclusion of these sorts of summer camps. Furthermore, Tigana had the opportunity of going to the Empress Theater's summer plays and seeing her instructors actually acting which allowed her to "connect the dots" in a way she wasn't able to with the other camps, where the instructors were just another group of "teachers" to her. But mostly I was impressed by the synergism of the group of young actors/writers/instructors that Stephen Delano had managed to recruit for the Summer program. You could almost see the creative sparks flying between these people, and I loved that Tigana got to see and benefit from that.
So when Jeremy invited Tigana to take part in this play, we were delighted. This was Tigana's first opportunity to be in a real play run with multiple performances and to perform in a theater in Lethbridge. Indeed, Tigana would be in the children's play that we normally attend as part of our Boxing Day afternoon tradition.
Watching Jeremy rehearse the kids (16 of them), I was again blown away by what an exceptional teacher Jeremy (along with the rest of his gang) is. As a Faculty of Education professor, I have unrealistically high expectations teachers, but Jeremy is a natural. He had structured the play so that he was always with the kids when they were on stage; he explained how each scene worked in the sort of concrete ways I struggle to get my student teachers to aim for; and he has this natural charisma that makes kids love him. It was a pleasure to watch.
So...the end product this afternoon lived up to my expectations...it was a great kid's play, well performed by all. I was, of course, most interested in Tigana's performance, but enjoyed the play and the acting for its own sake as well. Most amazing of all, the play kept Kasia's (now age 3) undivided attention... something even a new episode of My Little Pony has yet to succeed in doing. And Kasia totally 'got' the play -- she kept saying to her mom, "That man is really mean!" whenever the villian (ablely played by Andy, who has I believe one of the best evil laughs in the business) was on stage.
All that remains is to see how Tigana copes with 9 performances of the same play, including several dates where she is doing both the matinee and evening performances -- a very different experience than the single school or end of camp performance. So far, so good -- she has already noticed the difference between performing for a full audience this afternoon, and a much smaller audience this evening....we subsequently had a long discussion about 'energy'. I am so proud of Tigana, and so pleased with Jeremy and his crew that I my gushing at everyone involved has become positively annoying... I'll have to try to tone it done as the play continues....
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Skating Party
When we arrived at the rink, I helped my daughter and another girl into their borrowed skates, then went in search of helmets. The rink staff pointed out that they did not have a key to the school locker that contained the helmets; the schools staff had assumed the rink would have a key. The rink staff produced a smaller bag of helmets for a few lucky kids; others came with their own; but my daughter and about 15 others were left standing on the sidelines watching the rest of their schoolmates skating. One of the parents (a male) approached the teachers with the problem. One of the teachers volunteered to drive back to the school for a key, but we were already 15 minutes into a one hour skate time, so calculating round trip and the time likely required looking for the key at the school, this seemed impractical.
Where upon another male parent said, "No problem, just give me a minute to go out to my truck." I'm wondering, who drives around with a truck load ot hockey helmets, but I figured, maybe he was a junior hockey coach and just happened to have the right size heluts on hand.... But no, he returns less than a minute later with his tools, and calmly proceeds to drill out the lock.
I have to admire the pragmatic logic of his approach...here is a guy who gets things done!
Ten seconds later, the helmets are handed out, my daughter and her friends hit the ice, life is good.
But I'm left with the realization that I could never be that guy. I mean, quite aside from the fact that any attempt on my part to drill out a lock would inevitably end with at least one (and possibly more, depending how close the spectators crowded in) ambulance being called, I suspect I lack the sort of male self-confidence that would allow me to drill through someone else's lock. I'm more like the guy in Dr. Strangelove who can't bring himself to break into a Coke machine to steal a quarter so he can use a pay phone to make the call to stop WWIII because, well, breaking into private property and stealing iwould just feel wrong.
Part of me is still astonished that no one said, "Hey, what are you doing? You can't drill out an official lock" but of course nobody did because the guy just acted like he had the authority. Nobody questions that kind of confidence. With that kind of air of self-confidence, he could have walked into a bank, gone up to the vault, and just drilled away, and the only comment would be, "Hey, can't you do that any quieter?"
Friday, December 15, 2006
Santa and Imaginary Friends
Meanwhile, Kasia is impatiently awaiting the arrival of Santa. Having a three-year old around the house makes Christmas magical in a way it hasn’t been since, well, since Tigana was three. I love seeing the season through three year old eyes.
But I have to confess that when Kasia was still awake at 10:00 on Tuesday, after two hours of various unsuccessful bedtime strategies, ending with a round of pathetic sobbing/begging on my part, I kind of lost it, and said (Lord forgive me!) “KASIA! If Santa sees you awake at this time of night, he’ll take you off the “Nice” list!
Kasia stops dead in her tracks, turns around and throws herself onto her bed, clearly devastated at the thought of earning a place on the “Naughty List”.
Overcome myself with guilt at such a cheap tactic, I quickly reassure Kasia that – if only she would go to sleep right now – there might still be a chance that Mom and I could intercede with Santa on her behalf and explain that Kasia has been nice all year, and really, should still be thought of as “nice”. It may not be too late, if only she will sleep now. (I feel despicable, but I really need sleep myself by this time.)
At which point Kasia turns to me and sobs, “It wasn’t me dad! It was Doego!”
Textbook stuff, I’m telling you!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Playing with one's food
My 8 year old daughter, Tigana, finished the orange I'd given her for bedtime snack, and then sat playing with the peel as I told her her nightly bedtime story. This is the result.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The money is a small amount of the overall $1 billion package, and many museums were pinching pennies before the cuts, and the cuts will force them to reduce programs, cut collections, and delay renovations.
Then of course, there's the effect on students who will be woefully ignorant of local, regional and national history and culture.
Read the petition over, sign it if you want, pass it on to people you know.
I've signed it.
Here's the link:
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Penny, the Frisky Tardis
This is, in fact, my first actual NEW car, never having had the cash before for anything other than hand-me downs. My last two cars were from my Father-In-Law, and the one before that was purchased for $800 from a sympathetic co-worker. (Okay, the word "cash" may be a bit inaccurate here since we are buying entirely on credit, but you get the idea.)
The car is a Honda Fit, which is new to the North American market, but has been selling in Japan and Europe as the Jazz for several years. The "Fit" name is undoutbably to emphasize that it has a roomy interior, even though it is a subcompact. I confess myself surprised when I actually fit into it, since whenever we have rented cars, I've had to specify the high end models because at six feet, 250lbs there was never any possibility of my getting into the compacts. But damned if there isn't more head room in this new Honda than in the wagon we were driving before. It feels as roomy as our Van, for crying out loud.
Luggage space appeared to be a problem, but as a test we gathered up all the suitcases we'd actually used on our last trip to Edmonton down to the dealership to see how many we would have to give up, and darned if they didn't all fit in okay. Miracle of design engineering, because you would swear this car is bigger on the inside then the outside.
I hadn't wanted to buy a new car, but our current vehicle is on its last wheels. The transmission bumps with every change of gears, so probably only has a month or two left in it, and the cost of replacing that far exceeds the $1000 the insurance company tells us our car is now worth. And there are a myrid other problems, like the passenger door falling apart, something leaking out the front end, etc. etc. etc. Even so, I had wanted to wait until February to buy a new car, since I've always heard you get a better deal in Feb, but the deterioration on our current ride had reached the point where I was only putting in half a tank of gas at a time because I wasn't convinced it would last another full tank.
I love our new car. It handles like a sports car, it has a kicking stereo, and it parks unbelievably easily. Suddenly, driving is fun again.
So then the first order of business, according to the wife and kids, was to name it. Mary nominated "Frisky" because it is the same color as her late Aunt's old Colt, a car with very fond memories for both of us; Penny was an obvious alternative because it is copper color (officially Blaze Orange, but it matches the new penny in my pocket); and of course I suggested and Tigana seconded "Tardis" because it is, did I mention, larger on the inside than the outside. Thus we get today's column title, and the compromise long form, though Tigana and I like the idea of just going with Tardis -- as in, "Hey, Tigana and I are just going to hop in the Tardis to go down to Starbucks for a couple of Chai, but we'll be back before we leave!"
The other thing that has struck us, is how much we do drive. One doesn't normally pay much attention to the odometer, but one can't help noticing when you put the first 50K or 200K or etc on the car, and these milestones (kilometerocks?) have been coming a lot faster than we would have expected since we are only a couple of K from work. But driving the kids to daycare/school, going shopping, etc, apparently takes a lot of driving in a week. But at least for the time being all that driving is FUN.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Tigana and Robert Munsch
Munsch, as is his standard procedure, invited kids from the first few rows to either offer their names to be substituted into this or tht story, or occasionally to join him on stage while he told the story. Tigana inevitably put up her hand to be chosen, but I pointed out to her that since we were way back in row H, she might as well not bother. "No problem," she says, and calmly walks down, and then onto the stage. "Tigana, get back here!" I whisper shout, as Munsch, says, "Who would like to volunteer for...?" He turns and sees Tigana walking onto the stage. "Ah", he says, "Perhaps this young lady who is already on stage -- which I have to say is a bit pushy, but apprently effective."
And so Tigana got to sit on stage next to Robert Munsch and to say "No!" on cue to the story Johnathan's Snowsuit, magically transformed into the story of Tigana's Snowsuit.
The phtoto isn't very clear, but then I took it with my cell phone from row H and it had to cope with the too bright lighting of the stage enviornment.
And I must say I was impressed that Munsch got the pronunciation of Tigana's name first try. So either he is very good with names (well he'd have to be to pull off that aspect of his show day after day) or he recognized the title....
But that's my daughter... Not a lot of stage fright....
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Grant McCracken on China
"China is now finished with catch-up and will someday begin to pull away. This is a country moving at time-lapse speed. It won't be long, perhaps, before it passes us and disappears into the future."
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Anyway, while putting Kasia, our 2.5 year old, to bed last night, she started singing to me -- largely to forestall my signing to her, I suspect, but that is another story -- I was vastly entertained to hear her rendition of that old classic:
Have you any fluff?
This was followed by a rousing rendition of
Twinkle twinkle little star
How I know I know I know
which either indicates that she is a child with a high degree of certainty, or an odd attraction to existentialism.
Later in the evening, when I was trying to get her to lie down and actually go to sleep, as opposed to merely being in bed, I told her, "Kasia, you can't go to sleep if you keep talking to yourself like that!" to which she replied, "I'm sorry Daddy," and then proceeded to continue her self dialog in a whisper so as not to disturb herself by talking too loudly....
Which all goes to show that we say and what our kids hear may not have a lot of overlap.
But Kasia's speech has exploded since she had her tonsils out July 20th. Kasia spoke very little before that, to the point that I was becoming a bit concerned, especially in comparison to Tigana who was taking legal briefs at the same age. But we had a lot of trouble understanding Kasia, and it now appears that after saying the same thing four or five times without our getting it, she simply gave up and went back to pointing and speaking in monosyllabic grunts. Turns out there was nothing wrong with her speech, just that her adnoids etc were making her too nasal to understand, and once removed, her speech is suddenly significantly clearer, so that she now considers it worth her while to speak in 600 word monologue. It's like a switch has been thrown and all that speech that was trapped insider her is now able to flow out. Almost worth the operation alone, even if it doesn't completely cure the apnia...
Monday, July 17, 2006
Tigana learns about Meteghan
It does a little better on Yahoo --Page 5 (#41) for "Meteghan"; but then only #70 for "Acadians".
Hopefully, the site will rise as social studies sites start to list it and teachers click on it enough to increase traffic so Google and Yahoo promote it, so that more teachers find it, and so allowing the site to slowly spiral up. But feel free to link to it in your blogs etc to strt driving it up now....
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Mary's article in Human Relations
How I spent my summer vacation
Tigana learns about the Acadians
I'd be keen to hear your feedback and or suggestions for improvement. Feel free to link to it in your own blogs so that I can drive it up in the Google listings under "Meteghan" or "Acadians".
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Quote of the day
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
Speaking of Airports
We are in Halifax airport. Mary and Tigana have gone off in search of Star Bucks; Kasia and I have settled into one of the three play areas thoughtfully provided by the airport authority in the departure lounge. Kasia climbs to the top of the Fisher-Price treehouse, looks out at the vast crowd awaiting for their various flights to be announced, and cries out at the top of her lungs, "F***, Dad! F***, F*** F***."
Somewhat taken aback to discover Kasia has added the F*** word to her vocabulary, I sweep her into my arms and ask what is the matter.
"F***, Dad, F***!
"Yes, well, um, can you use another word and tell Daddy what is wrong?"
"F***, Dad! Put me down!"
Um, Kasia, I can't see that there is anything wrong, and you keep using that word--"
"F***! Put me down! I want Mommy! F***! Mommy, help! F***!"
It begins to occur to me, that to the crowd of onlookers now starring in our direction, it looks very much like some white-haired guy (clearly too old to be this child's parent) is attempting to carry off a toddler who is swearing and calling for its Mommy, and that this could easily be misconstrued; at a minimum, I am a bad parent who has taught his kid how to swear colourfully and very loudly. I put Kasia down.
She immediately treks back to the Fisher-Price Treehouse and points at its plastic roots. "F***, Daddy, F***!"
I bend over, and detect, molded into the giant plastic roots of the giant plastic tree, a plastic frog.
"Oh, FROG!" You're trying to say, FROG!" I explain to Kasia -- and every passanger within a hundred foot radius --"the word is FROG!"
"That's right Daddy, F***!"
Next time I hit my thumb with the hammer, or otherwise require an expletive, I think I'll yell out "Frooooggggy!"
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
V for Vendetta Satire
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Anyway, here are a few of better shots I finally got around to downloading....
Tigana in local playground.
Kasia and Mom
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
I wonder how one should celebrate this historic moment?
About three or four weeks earlier Portia had suddenly started yelping in pain one evening, and I had taken her into the vet after hours. The vet diagnosed a pancreatic attack, gave her painkillers, and sent us home, but had me bring Portia back the next morning for tests. By that afternoon they had found a very large cancer in her pancreas and as tactfully as possible told us that the prognosis was not good. She explained that dogs will routinely conceal health problems from the rest of the pack as long as they are able, so there was really nothing to be done by that point. Nevertheless, we had held out some hope that with pain medication and a controlled diet she might enjoy some quality of life for at least a few months, but it was not to be. It quickly became obvious, particularly at night, that Portia was suffering terribly. With pain medication she would rally for an hour or two each day to bounce around in public something like her old self, but then would tire, curl up in a ball, and spend the rest of the day whimpering. I made the decision to have her put down sooner rather than later, and Mary reluctantly went along.
Telling Tigana was difficult, but at 8 years old this is already a kid who does not want things sugar coated. So Mary explained that we were going to have to help end Portia’s life because she was suffering, and resisted the temptation of saying that things like she was being “put to sleep “or as one of our friends did with a younger child, say that we had sent her to ‘live on the farm’. Tigana was tearful, but brave, and accepted that it was for the best.
Telling Kasia was a different matter, since we were not sure how much a two year old could understand. We were still debating the best approach when Tigana took the matter out of our hands. As Tigana and I picked Kasia up from Daycare, the following dialog was exchanged in the back seat:
Tigana: “You know Portia was sick?”
Kasia: “Portia sick?”
Tigana: “Very sick.”
Kasia: “Portia very sick?”
Tigana: “So they decided to kill her”
Kasia: “They killed Portia?”
Tigana: “She was sick, so they had to kill her.”
Kasia: “They killed Portia?!”
Tigana: “She was sick, so they killed her.”
Did I mention that Kasia currently has a bad cold and that she has just learned to say “sick” when she feels unwell and wants medicine? That she had in fact been saying “I sick” all that day because she wanted to stay home rather than go to daycare, but that we had taken her in anyway in order to deal with Portia?
Naturally, when I arrived home with Kasia, the first thing Mary asks her (in a depressed about Portia tone, at that) is, “How are you, Kasia? Are you still feeling sick?”
Kasia: “No.” *Cough* *Cough* “Not sick!”
Black humour notwithstanding, losing Portia has been hard, particularly on Mary. I find that many of our ingrained daily routines remind us of Portia’s absence. For example, Portia had the distinctly odd habit of eating anything metal (no vet was ever able to explain or address this obsession) so we had gotten into the habit of removing anything with metal from doggie reach. How often in a day we would bend down to retrieve a paper clip or pin or baby clothes with snaps or etc only became obvious to us now that we catch ourselves in mid motion and suddenly realize it is no longer necessary….
Since Pooka (our other canine) is a year older than Portia, and getting slower and grumpier every day, we are also having to face that he too has been hiding his decline from the rest of us. He is nearly completely blind, and increasingly deaf. But neither Mary nor I can deal with the thought of anything happening to him. Portia was our dog -- but Pooka is an old soul and, well, a pooka and no mere dog. Pooka has this profound wisdom about him, in contrast to Portia who as clearly just a dog, and not a particularly bright one. (During our Wake for Portia, Tigana remembered her by imitating a dog walking repeatedly into walls, which is a sadly accurate portrayal.) Pooka clearly understood that Portia was dying, and took to bringing her treats in her last days, though she had never been a good companion for him. He must be relieved not to have her constantly attempting to assert dominance over him in every action, but he is also equally clearly missing her.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Hoax Web Page Reaches 121
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Hoax Web Page Update
Well, the hoax web page experiments proceeds apace! As of today, the hoax page is the 5th web site out of 9300 listed under "grammar check" if one clicks on the "pages from Canada button"; it comes in at about 160 out of 313,000 sites if one includes the whole Google www. Not bad for a one-page piece of nonsense.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Hoax Web Page
So, anyone reading this, if you could be so good as to add a link in your blog to http://people.uleth.ca/~runte/research/surveyresults.htm and either email me or comment using the comment function to tell me that you have done so, I will track how many links lead to how big a rise in the hoax page ranking.
(The hoax page also shows up in Alltheweb, KillerInfo, Answers.com, Kartoo, but none of the others so far... And perhaps significantly, it doesn't show up in Google Scholar.)
Friday, February 17, 2006
The brrreeeport search engine test (in which lesser known bloggers use the invented word brrreeeport to have their blogs turn up in search engines in response to "the supposed Blog Club, where A-list bloggers only link to each other and thereby keeping lesser-known bloggers out of the loop of recognition" (Jason Miller)) is not unlike some of the informal google search tests I have been running on my blog. The "Corn pops and Pickles" heading used to bring one immediately to my blog, but no longer -- instead it takes you to Naked Bootleg unless you click on the "include excluded entries" button. I suspect that the lack of activity in my blog of late has decreased its search engine ranking to the point where it has simply fallen off the charts.
I haven't been posting much lately because this is my busy season in my day job... which is ironic because I am running two courses using blogs, and it would be nice if students could watch me role model the behaviors I am trying for...but my teaching/research/service load this semester is just too hectic, though things should settle down more in March, when my student teachers go out to their practicums, for which I have no responsibility this term.
I did, however, get up a fake webpage yesterday in the cyberculture course to illustrate (1) how anyone can post anything on the web of whatever degree of accuracy and (2) to see if we could move it up in the search engine listings by utilizing various search enging optimization tricks. So if you would like to play along, feel free to link to the page, since every link raises the sites rankings in google, etc. The site is fake Grammar page.
Incidentally, my favorite hoax site is the Dihyrogen Monoxide Research Division
Friday, January 20, 2006
Take a leap into hyperspace
* 05 January 2006 * From New Scientist Print Edition
* Haiko Lietz
An extraordinary "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government.
Thanks to Mark Shainblum for pointing these out to me.