Thursday, March 29, 2007

Benoit Virtual Book Tour

M. D. Benoit

Dominique Benoit is now in the second day of her virtual tour and can be found at Joshua Palmatier's blog for the rest of the day; i.e., will answer questions posted there today.

Check out the list of tour dates, and remember that Benoit will be appearing HERE on April 4th, 2007.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Fire on UofL grounds

Fire as seen from my wife's office window

This one is from my wife's cell phone, taken about a month back when there was a fire on the grounds next to my wife's office. About the time she snapped this photo it occured to her that the fire was also moving towards the parking lot, and ours was one of the half dozen cars in the stalls right by the front doors. She ran out and moved the car; we came back later and found the the burn line had come within about 20 feet of where we park.

But no harm done in the end, partly because one of the campus security staff stood between the fire and the building with a fire extinguisher. Not sure that holding off a grass fire that way is exactly my idea of a safe job.

More lunch time art

Tigana's serviette art

Tigana produced this "portrait of a young girl in dress with a bow" while we were waiting for our order at East Side Mario's the other day. Photo is from my cell phone again, so little blurry, but I think you can make it out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Three more videos

From John Herber's blog:

Why Star Trek Fans Can't Get Dates

And these two from Randy Reichardt's blog

Kids complaints choir (great example of class music project)

Stop Motion Battle (what a battle between magicians would really look like)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Upcoming Book Tour - April 4th, 2007

From 28 March to 11 April, M. D. Benoit will be going on a virtual book tour to promote her upcoming alternate reality novel, Synergy. During that period, ten people (myself included) will host her on their blog for one day. There will be discussions on the book, interviews with the author, and so on. Every day during this period, on her own blog, Life’s Weirder than Fiction (, she will announce where she will be that day, as well as talk a bit about her host.

Synergy’s Virtual Book Tour will culminate with a Virtual Book Launch, on 14-15 April ( M. D. can be contacted at mdbenoit (at) gmail (dot) com.

I'll be hosting the Benoit Virtual Book Tour April 4th. Please be sure to come by the blog on that day, as she will attempt to respond to whatever comments you leave on my blog that day.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


photo of our roof, showing replaced cedar shakes

Regular readers know that we have had problems on a couple of occasions with field mice; we've also had to deal with ants on an ongoing basis. But our current infestation is completely different. As we came home one evening, I happened to look up at the roof of the house as we drove into the garage, and saw that about 10% of the roof tiles were gone. Not just gone, but replaced with new cedar shakes. I stopped the car, got out, pointed up to the roof, and announced to Mary and the family the only possible conclusion: "Oh my, we have elves!"

Yes, hard though it may be to comprehend, we have an infestation of elves. This isn't the first time they've shown up either, On a previous occasion, we'd returned from summer holidays to find the garage doors re-painted, and the doors to the garbage bin replaced. And about half the time during the winter, my sidewalks are shoveled before I even get home, and the garbage put out on garbage day before I get up.

Well, okay, it's possible the sidewalks and the garbage are my retired next-door neighbour, Ralph, or the neighbour on our other side who often seem to trade off taking turns shoveling -- it's that sort of neighbourhood. I try to keep up my share and do their front walks whenever I happen to be out there before them (usually requires a continuous snowfall where I've gotten home after they've already each had a go, but it's a couple of inches deep again.) But painted garage doors? Redoing the cedar shakes on the roof? That is clearly beyond mere neighbourliness.

Okay, it's remotely possible that these home improvements are orchestrated by Joe, the previous, previous owner. Indeed, Joe originally built this house for his own family and as the showplace for his contracting company. He loved this house. He still thinks of this house as his masterpiece. So, since I am as handy as a Homer Simpson, and am basically incapable of even recognizing when something needs attention, we've told Joe that if he sees work that needs doing, to just go ahead and do it.

But while that sounds like a reasonable explanation -- at some point one would expect a bill to show up. But the roof been fixed for months and no bill has how could that be the contractor? I'm telling you, we have elves. It's the only explanation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Kasia Sings the Blues

(Again, apologies to Googlers looking for that Polish singer....)

Kasia has started to sing original compositions about her life -- commentary on events as they unfold. For example, on the way to day care in the morning, we often get this:

Oh, I don't wanna go to school,
Don't wanna go to school
Don't wanna go to school,
Oh, don't wanna go to school today.

The thing is, it comes across as the Blues, not as whinning or complaining, or as an actual request not to go to school. (She actually seems okay with day care when she gets there and enjoys being with her friends.) She just sings her stream of consciousness, and it often has this rythmic repetition and slight melancoly, as if she's been listening and preforming the Blues for years. But once out of her car seat, it's all smiles and and three year-old giggles.

What's fascinating to me is that Kasia's Blues style is developing in contrast to Tigana's more musical theater and country tendencies -- perhaps reminiscent of Carrie Underwood. I'm sure that the emergence of Kasia's self-compositions reflects Tigana's current preoccupation with singing and songwriting (Disney-style "why can't we all just love each other" compositions) as Tigana starts voice lessons...but how in the world did Kasia come up with the Blues as her own thing? We are not particular fans of the Blues, never play it on the radio or CDs... and lord knows neither Mary nor I sing about the house -- so how does a three year old reinvent such a distinct genre?

Though come to that, who allowed Tigana to hear country? I figured that must have been the inevitable fallout of living in Southern Alberta, even though Country is banned from our house. It is the one musical form I cannot stand. I'd much rather listen to traditional Chinese Opera than Country. Hell, I'd rather listen to Klingon Opera than Country. But living in Lethbridge, I knew that Tigana would be exposed, and now that she has taken to it, what can I say? I'm not about to tell her she can't sing that way. I'll just bite my tongue and attend her Country concerts, if it comes to that.

(Or is it just that Country singers all sound like 8 year olds, never having outgrown that annoying twang thing that kids get at this age?)

Some clips

This one forwarded by Chartlon Barreto is pretty funny:

Apple's iRack

And this one posted on Central Ganglion by Bernie Klassen is also hilarious:

British shopping channel

Monday, March 12, 2007


Tigana and Kasia inside their tent, enjoying being blown across the yard.

We're all sleep deprived today, because in addition to switching to daylight saving time early this year (insert standard commentary on American cultural imperialism) there have been exceptionally high winds last couple of nights, which in Lethbridge is really saying something. The noise of the wind buffetting our house was bad enough, but of course it also woke up the kids and drove them up to our room, to ensure that no one slept soundly.

I took the kids into the backyard after work to pick up our castiron garden furniture, which had been tossed about the place, and watched tiny Kasia trying to walk against the wind. It brought back the memory of Tigana at this age, playing in the playground at Montessori, when the wind literally picked her up and deposited her a couple of feet away. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I might not have believed it. But as Mary and I rushed over to see if she was okay, Tigana looked up at us mournfully and asked, "Mommy, why does the wind hate me?"

A couple of days later I was putting Tigana's jeans in the wash when out of her pants pocket pours a collection of rocks and sand. "What's this?" I demanded, having previously warned her about leaving stuff in her pockets. "I'm sorry, Daddy, but I was trying to keep the wind from picking me up." What could I say to that?

Lethbridge -- the city that blows you away!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Two Launches

On Sunday, we took the family to the Helen Schuler Nature Center for their 2PM nature walk program, but found that this week's program was instead sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency, and dealt with the sky. The talk was perfect for Tigana, bit old for Kasia, but the highlight was the launch of a model rocket -- read, 2 liter plastic pop bottle and pint of water. The speaker had the kids draw pictures, and then taped them to the rocket as payload. They launched the rocket from a safe distance, and its explosive take off ripped all the payload off in flight. To Kasia's great delight, her drawing drifted through the sky back from the distant launch site right into her waiting hands. It was way cool.

In other news, M.D. Benoit (author of Jack Meter mystery novels) is launching a new SF title in April, and will be conducting a national book tour -- and "I'M Not Boring You Am I?" is scheduled as one of her stops! Stay tuned for further details as they are finalized.