Sunday, June 30, 2013

Template Troubles, Widget Worries

I've received reports that some readers are having trouble accessing The Earliad, so in an effort to streamline the site I've removed some widgets and changed the template. Of course, in doing so I added some new widgets I couldn't resist, including social media buttons that make it easier to share anything interesting you find here. If anyone has troubles with this blog's load times, please let me know in the comments.
And just because, here is a photo of Sylvia in a Star Trek baseball cap, photographed yesterday at Pigeon Lake.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sea-Derring-Doo

Today Sylvia and I took a short day trip to Pigeon Lake to visit with the Pitts. Sylvia, as always more daring than me, sea-jacked Jeff's Sea-Doo for a quick tour of the lake. "Faster!" she cried.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Interrobang Inspirations

I've long been amused by the interrobang, the unorthodox punctuation styled !? or ?!. The interrobang is used to express a combination of shock and inquiry - for example, "They made a sequel to Baby Geniuses!?"

It's made me wonder if we shouldn't start using some other handy marks. I've come up with a few:

The Extraclamation Point: !!
When one exclamation mark isn't enough to express the vehemence of your sentence, why not add another? "Editors will hate this!!"

The XXXclamation Point: !!! 
Triple the effectiveness of your sentence by adding yet a third exclamation point. Your readers will have no doubt that this sentence is made to be shrieked! "I stapled my hand to the door!!!"

The Ellipsibang: ...! 
Sometimes it takes a moment for the shock of a sentence to set in - you need time for that pregnant pause to deliver your novel or memo's most shocking yet subtle moment. "I think I just locked myself in the safe...!"

The Ellipsinterro: ...?
Some questions are almost too terrible to ask, and so you may need sentences that offer inquiries so gentle they're almost passive aggressive. "Do you think my editor will let this one slip by...?" 

The Slashbang: /!\
The slashbang is used when the villain in any piece of writing makes a declarative statement likely to give the hero the one piece of information he or she needs to foil the villain's plot. "Before I kill you, North Dakota Smith, it may interest you to know that *I was behind the plot to murder the Duchess of Stallisfair and, furthermore, I've poisoned this year's supply of royal wine/!\"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Escape Plan: Better Late Than Never


Like any guy who grew up on a steady diet of cheesy 80s action films, I've long regretted that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger never teamed up for one big testosterone-fuelled epic of mayhem and machismo. (The disappointing The Expendables doesn't count.) Escape Plan might be good or it might be terrible, but at the very least this new trailer sets up a workmanlike, efficient premise that puts Arnie and Sly together as allies at last. Their combined charisma will be worth watching even if the rest of the movie is dreck - but as a bonus, the movie features some of my favourite character actors from The Wire, The Office, Person of Interest and other television shows.

Plus the line "You hit like a vegetarian" is exactly the sort of cheesy dialogue I so adored back in the 80s. That alone will get me to the theatre when this is released.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tarzan's Housekeeping Philosophy

To Tarzan they were bones - just bones. He did not need them, for there was no meat left upon them, and they were not in his way, for he knew no necessity for a bed, and a skeleton on the floor he could easily step over.
- from Jungle Tales of Tarzan

Wise is Tarzan, mighty hunter, mighty fighter! Just because there's some debris on the floor doesn't mean you have to pick it up, especially if it's not harming anything. Pragmatic is Tarzan, mighty philosopher!

And yet when I attempt to emulate Tarzan, my she objects, for we do not live in Tarzan's wild and beautiful jungle. Alas.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kick-start My Heart

Now that I'm employed again, I'm having a hard time stopping myself from supporting various projects on Kickstarter, specifically a number of really cool-looking games:

Project Eternity: From the guys that brought us Planescape: Torment, several of the Fallout games, Baldur's Gate and more comes a new isometric 3D fantasy RPG that looks cool as all heck. This one's already funded, thank goodness, and I can't wait until it's released.

Wasteland 2: I remember being enthralled by Wasteland back in the 90s, when Jeff and Ron and Susan and Steven and Andrea and I gathered at Tony's place to guide our avatars - survivors of a global thermonuclear war - through the wastelands. If this is half as good as the original, it'll be worth playing.

Ogre: I had a heck of a time playing this back in the 80s, and now Steve Jackson's first game returns in a deluxe edition. I can't wait.

Carmageddon Reincarnation: For folks with sick, twisted senses of humour, Carmageddon and Carmageddon 2 were gifts from the gods. Vehicular mayhem returns!

Deadwood Studios USA: I love movies. I love westerns. I love board games. This game combines all three, casting you in the role of bad actor struggling to make a living working in Z-grade western films. And it's from proven studio Cheapass Games! They're even offering the original edition of Deadwood for free on their website. Blam!

All Quiet on the Martian Front: This looks like the miniatures game that was specifically designed for me: Martian tripods versus puny but plucky humans of the post-Victorian era! The models are gorgeous, and it seems like the kind of game I could convince at least a couple of my friends to play.

Age is starting to make me a little cynical, but I really think the Kickstarter model has the potential to make all kinds of small-scale business ventures possible - projects lacking wide mainstream appeal, but with enough dedicated core support to succeed if only we could be made aware of the possibilities. Kickstarter brings creative folks and their fans together, and so far that looks like a pretty good thing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Woman with Keys

Here's another in a potentially numberless set of faux paintings by Earl J. "I'm-too-busy-to-write-anything-substantial-until-August" Woods. I call this..."Woman with Keys."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Three Little Sailors

Some more "art." It may not be pretty, but each of these little experiments teaches me something about composition, lighting or at least a Photoshop tool or two.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

They're Not Biting

Once again I've used Photoshop to transform an old photograph from the family archives into a faux painting. This time around I was a little more ambitious, applying multiple artistic filters to the original image. I'm sure any real artist will decry this as an abomination, but it's kind of pleasing to my eye, except perhaps for the upper right corner. Something seems out of whack there, and I'm not sure what.

The original photo depicts my maternal grandfather and a couple of other people fishing under the bridge over the Churchill River just north of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, sometime during the early 1970s.

I call this "They're Not Biting." It's meant to apply to the fish in the river and anyone reading this post.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Mystery of the Antique Car

HOW did young Earl J. Woods find himself precariously posed next to this stately antique automobile?

WHERE was this provocative image photographed, and what hidden clues does it contain?

WHY is young Earl J. Woods so small that he could easily sleep on the car's running board?

WILL his parents remember where and when this was taken?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Disaster Down South

Today I'm thinking of my friends in southern Alberta, who are struggling against a rising tide of floodwaters. Several years ago Sylvia and I enjoyed a lovely long weekend stay at a lodge in Canmore (Canmore Crossing, seen above back on Thanksgiving 2007), thanks to the generosity of then-MLA Bill Bonko. It's a beautiful town, and I hope its people and those in other affected communities recover quickly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Earl's Television Checklist: Addendum One

When I posted my television checklist a couple of weeks ago, I inadvertently left out a few partially-completed shows, as I knew I would:

Shows I'm Still Working On
M*A*S*H (one of eleven seasons, comedy, 1972-83)
Happy Days (two of eleven seasons, comedy, 1974-84)
Law & Order (one of twenty seasons, police procedural/legal drama, 1990-2010)
Chuck (one of five seasons, comedy, 2007-12)

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Air Show Gothic

I've lost count of how many air shows I've attended, and we seem to have photos of all of them. Most of our family air show shots depict little more than small dark pinpricks against oceans of blue sky, because of course I was shooting without the benefit of a telephoto lens. Mom had better results because she focussed on people. I like the ice cream theme.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Crazy Young Earl Set Up Us the Bomb

While scanning and retouching some of Mom and Dad's old photos, I came across what should have been a perfectly innocent Christmas shot. Unfortunately in this image I seem to be sporting the crazed visage of a budding young madman - there's something Joker-esque about the grin and the empty eyes.
Naturally I quickly took myself out of context in the hopes of creating an Internet meme.
Here's a sample LOLEARL. Maybe someone will put Crazy Young Earl on the front of an old poster for The Omen or The Shining. To think Mom and Dad could have put me up for audition in one of those creepy old 70s horror films...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Ferry Ride

Sometime in the early 1970s, before Sean was born, Mom and Dad took me on a vacation to British Columbia, probably to visit Aunt Jean and Uncle John in Kelowna. I remember this ferry crossing vividly because it was very hot, I was tired and Dad gallantly carried me around. I also remember consuming too much strawberry ice cream and vomiting pink muck everywhere shortly thereafter. Good thing Mom shot this charming father and son photo before that unhappy event. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Slightly Tarnished Steel

WARNING - SPOILERS for MAN OF STEEL

Man of Steel doesn't quite live up to the promise of its thrilling trailers, but considering the lackluster track record of its director and the sharply divided critical response, I was pleasantly surprised by what turns out to be pretty decent science fiction film wrapped up in the primary colours of a superhero movie.

As with the disappointing Star Trek Into Darkness, this film is well-served by a wonderful cast, from leads Henry Cavill and Amy Adams right down to supporting players like Chris Meloni and Laurence Fishburne. Thankfully the players of Man of Steel have a stronger story to work with: this isn't just the old story of baby Kal-El's flight to Earth from doomed planet Krypton, but a first contact story that shows just how unprepared humans are to deal with a civilization far in advance of our own.

Indeed, though we only see Krypton during the film's opening sequence, Superman's home world is more richly realized than in any other film or television treatment. This is a complex civilization with contentious politics shaped by a long, interesting history and technological leaps that have profoundly impacted Kryptonian values. The film's central villain, General Zod, is a Kryptonian revolutionary whose only goal is to preserve something of his planet's doomed civilization. Jor-El, Superman's father, stands in opposition to Zod - not because he wants to see Krypton die, but because he feels Zod's vision has been corrupted by the decadence of a society in decline. Jor-El and his wife Lara have conspired to share the first natural birth in centuries, giving their son Kal-El the freedom to choose his own destiny - a choice in sharp opposition to the Kryptonian tradition of tightly controlled population growth, with people genetically engineered into various castes.

While I've never been terribly impressed with the work of director Zack Snyder, I do admit that he chooses an ambitious structure to tell his story: a series of flashbacks thematically tied to present-day action. It doesn't work perfectly, seeming to compress years of time into the space of a lazy summer afternoon, but it's an interesting change of pace and a way for the film to differentiate itself from the strictly linear Superman films of the past.

The film's central theme is acceptance. Once he arrives on Earth, baby Kal-El is raised, of course, by the Kents, Kansas farmers who, as in the comics, try to raise their adopted son Clark as a decent man - or Superman, as the case may be. But because of his alien heritage, Clark lives as a freak and loner, unable to allow himself the release of loss of temper even in the face of outrageous provocation. To slip for an instant would mean someone's death. It's a heavy burden for Clark to bear.

Throughout the film Clark searches for his true identity and people, and when he finally learns the truth, the consequences for humanity are cataclysmic. Hunted by Zod and mistrusted by humanity, Clark (he's only called Superman once in the film) has to prove to the people of Earth that he's not a threat. "Are they ready for me?" he asks Lois Lane, but Lois can't answer the question. 

When General Zod and his revolutionaries finally reach Earth (they survived the destruction of Krypton thanks to their imprisonment off-planet), the stage is set for what has become for me, quite frankly, the least interesting portion of modern movies: the big battle sequence. Don't get me wrong - the action is well-staged, intense and the stakes are high. It's interesting to see the US military treat all of the Kryptonians as targets at first and only come around to Superman's side midway through the battle. The film is full of good people trying to do the right thing under harrowing circumstances.

Unfortunately, the scale of the destruction is so vast and terrifying that in the real world it would take literally decades for the affected areas to recover. This destruction is, of course, glossed over, which somewhat dilutes what's supposed to be a feel-good coda setting up the film's sequels.

There are other nice touches. I loved the steel-themed Kryptonian technology, which looks like nothing so much as ball bearings reconfiguring themselves to whatever purpose is necessary. A hologram of Jor-El walks Clark through the history of his people using this technology, and the result is an art-deco slideshow that wouldn't seem out of place in a 1930s Fleischer cartoon.

Long-time Superman fans will be troubled by one critical moment in the film. I won't spoil it here, but I will say that while the screenwriter and director make a controversial choice, in the context of the film I think it works.

It does trouble me that for a film that's supposed to be about hope and acceptance there's so much darkness. It seems that there's little room for joy left in our big summer entertainments, and while Man of Steel tries to be uplifting, there's a steel-grey hint of doom that permeates the proceedings. I would have preferred more humour and a somewhat lighter tone, but the filmmakers chose a different direction. Maybe this wasn't my perfect Superman movie, but it certainly isn't bad, and I'll be happy to revisit this version of the mythos again.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Tent Trailer Time Capsule

When we lived in northern Manitoba camping served as our main leisure activity. But before we enjoyed the relative luxury of the camper that used to perch atop our old yellow Ford crew cab, we explored the wilderness with our tent trailer. I don't remember much about the tent trailer except for a few hazy images of the interior and the way it seemed to take forever to open up when Mom or Dad turned the unfolding crank.

This photo really captures the 1970s: Dad's wearing plaid pants, there are Rothman's cigarettes tucked in his shirt pocket (it seems like practically everyone smoked back then), and the milk carton is rainbow-coloured. I'm also amused by the way I'm standing at attention in the background, waiting for Dad's photo op to end, unaware that I, too, am being captured in the frame.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Bittersweet Joys of Joyland

Like a lot of Stephen King fans, I prefer the man's earlier novels to his later works. Where books like Carrie, The Shining, The Dead Zone and the original cut of The Stand are fresh, taut and vivid, some of his later works seem bloated, directionless and indulgent by comparison. That's not the case with King's newest book, Joyland, a coming-of-age story disguised as an amusement park mystery thriller. It's a welcome return to form for King.

My generalization above regarding the quality of King's work over time is somewhat unfair. I've already written about my admiration for the recent Under the Dome and 11/22/63; both are very long, and yet they're more compelling than, say, books five and six of the Dark Tower series or (shudder) Dreamcatcher. But with Joyland, King's steady efforts to recapture the magic of his early works pay off handsomely; he's delivered a short, sweet mystery novel full of melancholy delights.

Released under the retro Hard Case Crime imprint, Joyland delivers all the requisite mystery cues, but at its heart - and this novel has a lot of heart - this is a story about a young man who loses his first puppy love and learns that the real thing is more wonderful and complicated than he ever imagined. This is a book about your first summer job and those vital friendships you develop during university and those sunny months between terms, when your future is as uncertain, terrifying and wondrous as it will ever be.

Devin Jones, the hero, is a fresh-faced young man with a good heart; an unassuming hero who harbours regrets but never becomes bitter or maudlin. He's the kind of kid you can't help but like, and when Jones suffers, so does the reader. We feel his heartache and savour his victories.  Gradually accepting that his first teenage love is unrequited, Devin takes a job as a labourer at an amusement park on the shoreline of the southern USA. He's a hard worker, good with kids, faithful to his friends - but everyone around him can see that he's hurting, and the carnival community rallies around him. It's a refreshingly honest and non-cynical view of the value of civilization.

You might expect that Devin finds his true love at the carnival, but that would be a little too pat for King. Devin does find love - in a sense - but it's the kind of love that isn't meant for forever. It's the kind of love that gives you the strength to move on.

Joyland is a sensitive novel, gentler than many of King's works. There's death here, but it usually occurs offstage; there's only one moment of gore, and it's not gratuitous but the logical payoff of an artfully constructed climax.

Carefully paced and fully realized, with a deeply moral hero and a genuinely moving coda, Joyland is King's best novel in a long, long time.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Men Who Fell in Buses

The Confederation spans the great continent of Zaiul, bordered to the north by the Principality of Stallisfair and to the south by Tyranus. Its two greatest cities lie at opposite ends of the nation: La flourishes along the rocky, wind-tossed northeast coast, while Callidar basks in the sunshine and ocean breezes of the sandy southwestern shoreline. Both cities, like the nation, are rich, though vastly different in character. To understand these differences, we must first understand the story of the men who fell in buses: one in Callidar, and one in La.

The city of La is new. Her gleaming golden skyscrapers and arching, winged towers are modern, her culture cosmopolitan. La is the home of the Confederation's artists and engineers, its philosophers and scientists. The people of La pride themselves on their compassion and rationality. Life in La is good, and the people, for the most part, are happy.

The city of Callidar is old - older than the Confederation itself, by many centuries. Her castles and walls are ancient, weathered by time, and even the new buildings are deliberately constructed to echo times past. Her culture is traditional, with sacred rituals celebrated daily. Callidar is the home of the Confederation's entrepreneurs and writers, its explorers, healers and historians. The people of Callidar pride themselves on their wisdom and love. Life in Callidar is good, and the people, for the most part, are happy.

Both cities feature efficient and comfortable public transit, to ferry citizens to and fro from business to pleasure and everywhere in between. The service is reliable and fairly priced, and indeed so popular that its own success has led to one significant drawback: there's rarely a free seat.

In the city of La there lived an entertainer named Natit. Natit was young and fit, and could have endured many minutes of standing in the aisle of a crowded bus. But Natit was lazy. And so one day Natit, fuming over the perceived injustice of being forced to stand, hatched a clever plan.

One morning, Natit boarded the bus and squeezed himself between two other riders standing midway down the aisle of the bus. He clasped the overhead safety strap and waited.

When the bus made its first sharp turn, Natit cried out "Oh!" and allowed himself to fall, propelled by force into the laps of two passengers seated nearby. "I'm so sorry!" Natit cried, helping the stunned citizens gather up their belongings from the floor. Then Natit took his place in the aisle again, smiling weak apologies at those he'd disturbed.

Then, when the bus came to a sudden stop for crossing pedestrians, Natit allowed the inertia to fling him headlong down the aisle. He landed with a crash.

"Young man, are you all right?" asked another passenger.

"Yes, yes," said Natit, climbing to his feet. "I'm so sorry. I seem to have developed a problem with my inner ear, and so it's very hard for me to retain my balance."

Several passengers made sympathetic noises at this, and many offered their seats. Natit held up his hands and said he couldn't possibly take anyone's seat, but the chorus was unanimous: sit, sit.

And so Natit, by deception, prospered, and never again did he lack a seat on the bus.

At nearly the same time, in faraway Callidar, another man relied on the bus. This man, an aging marine biologist named Eldir, one day developed an infection of the inner ear that went undiagnosed and permanently disrupted his sense of balance. After years of riding his bus from home to the oceanographic institute and back without mishap, Eldir suddenly found himself teetering over like a felled tree the moment his bus took even a gentle turn. Like Natit, Eldir found himself crashing to the floor or falling across the laps or shoulders of his fellow passengers.

But on the buses of Callidar, poor Eldir found no sympathy.

"Faker!" cried his fellow passengers. "Charlatan!" "Shame!" Eldir repeated his heartfelt apologies daily, but in the end he joined a car pool and rode in safety - though at greater expense. And so Eldir, by disability, suffered, and never again did he enjoy the communion of bus riders.

Why then did the rational people of La not recognize the probability that lazy Natit was lying? And why did the loving souls of Callidar not see the truth of honest Eldir's condition?

The answer lies between the lines, dear reader.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Child of the Sinkhole

Sometime during the early 1970s, before my brother was born, Mom took me for a walk through the Leaf Rapids wilderness and shot these photos for a contest. She won, although I don't remember which shot got her the prize. I'm thinking perhaps the last, because it seems to best express the wonder I felt at living in such a strange, isolated, magical place. If there was ever an environment to foster a hyperactive imagination, this was it: a forest that went on forever, sparkling lakes, exotic wildlife, crashing rapids, colourful personalities in a bustling frontier town, and the sinkhole, a lovely place with an ugly name.

As much as my parents' good example, Star Trek reruns and Superman comics shaped who I am today, so too did this now nearly abandoned outpost on the edge of nowhere.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Consider Banks


Sometime during my first year of study at the University of Alberta, during one of my regular trips to Greenwoods' on Whyte Avenue, I purchased a copy of Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks. In this novel Banks introduced the Culture, a magnificent post-scarcity utopia comprised of humans and Artificial Intelligences known as Minds. I loved the book, particularly its stunning coda - a dry recitation of statistics showing the cost of the war depicted in the book.

And yet, for whatever reason, I didn't read another Banks novel until picking up Transition a couple of years ago, and only this spring did I read two of Banks' early mainstream novels, The Wasp Factory and The Bridge. All three are thought-provoking, richly textured works, and online reviews tell me that his Culture novels get even better. I have most of them on my bookshelf already, waiting to be savoured. But there is only one more Banks novel to come, to be published just a couple of weeks from now.

Today Banks died, stolen away too soon by cancer, denied the utopia he imagined because we haven't yet built it. During the past few months several great writers of science fiction have passed, but Banks' strikes me as particularly sad because of his relative youth and the vitality of his imagined worlds. In the Culture, Banks could have enjoyed centuries of life in a world of plenty and justice. Instead, living as he did in our imperfect world, he had to create something better, a target for human aspiration.

Banks was no starry-eyed idealist. His works are laced with arch satire and self-awareness; The Wasp Factory in particular is not for the faint of heart. But despite this dark mien, Banks has left us with a hopeful vision of the future that challenges us to work toward something better than the fatally flawed civilization dancing on the edge of catastrophe we endure today.

And who knows? Perhaps a Mind from the distant future or some parallel universe brought into being by the power of Banks' imagination has already breached the barriers of time and space and saved the author's consciousness, ferrying it to some brighter, better place, a world of wonders. I hope so.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Project Burger Baron

While on my way to Bonnyville yesterday I spotted a Burger Baron as we passed by Lamont. I've always been fascinated by the Burger Baron phenomenon; no one seems to know how the chain started, menus across the quasi-chain are wildly different, and the restaurants themselves are often in disrepair.

And yet Burger Baron provides wonderful comfort food with often outstanding service. Knowing that the chain is restricted to western Canada, I thought a travelogue of Burger Barons might serve as an ambitious but achievable long-term project.

As seen on the map above, Burger Barons are concentrated in Alberta, spanning the breadth and width of the province. There are also locations in Kelowna, Regina and Prince Albert.

Here's my plan: over the course of the next five years or so, I'll visit, review and photograph each and every Burger Baron. I also hope to provide some sociological insight: what kind of communities support Burger Baron? In what kinds of neighbourhoods do Burger Barons thrive?

I'm hoping that Sean, Sylvia (who shall be named the Burger Baroness in these reports) or some of my other friends will accompany me on most of these road trips, particularly the ones that involve long drives. I think it could be a great way to explore some far-flung communities.

Next weekend I'll visit one of the Edmonton Burger Barons to begin this culinary odyssey. Hold the mayo, extra cheese!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

You Animal

Still capture of a climactic moment from Paranoid Productions' Generous Nature.
"You animal! AAARULGGHLGGH"

While Jeff and Ron have both moved on to bigger, better things, I like to think that this instant captures a pivotal moment in each man's artistic growth. Ever defiant even in the face of doom, Roarke Norway (Jeff Shyluk) spits out an agonized epithet before Pliers (Ron Briscoe) does his own interpretation of the "Is it safe?" scene from Marathon Man. Jeff's performance echoes - but does not ape - that of Humphrey Bogart's in The Petrified Forest, while Ron seems a 90s reincarnation of a demented Claude Rains.

Watch Generous Nature!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Stump Speech

In politics, a "stump speech" is a standard speech delivered by a party leader over and over during the course of a campaign. Here is a bad pun to illustrate the concept. Click to embiggen for a bonus play on words!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Big Bird Cage

I shot this a couple of weeks ago and posted it today because over the weekend I watched a couple of episodes of AMC's remake of The Prisoner. He or she is not a number, but a free bird...or is Earth simply our largest cage?

Monday, June 03, 2013

At the Electric Company

Today was my first day at Atco Electric, where I now serve as a Communications Advisor. I'm very excited; the work looks challenging and creative, and the people are wonderful. I'm eager to contribute to a company that plays such a huge role in Alberta's economy, especially one that clearly cares about its employees and giving back to the community.

A number of people made it possible for me to reach this new career milestone, while others helped me earn a living during my transition. Still others provided crucial moral support or sent me job opportunities. So in no particular order, I'd like to thank Brian, Neil, Leslie, Andrew, Rick, Amanda, Kim, Tanara, John, Steve, Jeff, other Jeff, Mom and Dad, Sean, Dr. David Swann, Kent Hehr, Tracy, Karen, Colin, Pete, Kyle, Mike, Scott, Nik, Michael, Susie, Jackie, daveberta, the many fine people who endorsed me on LinkedIn, and of course Sylvia, who supported me through twelve months of job-seeking and the precarious tides of self-employment.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support and assistance. You helped me begin this new chapter.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The End of the Interlude

A little over a year ago I said goodbye to my friends at the Alberta Legislature. I knew it was time to move on, but like any transition the last few months have been spiced with adventure and uncertainty.

In terms of clients, I've had the busiest freelance year of my career, and serving as a guest speaker and instructor at MacEwan University has been an extremely rewarding experience. I saw the east coast of North America for the first time and stood in the shadow of one of the wonders of the world. I wrote several short stories for my own pleasure, won a CBC Canada Writes prize, revisited the Etsell farm and Kenora, finished my library and theatre room and learned how to fix our refrigerator.

Most importantly of all, I spent many hours of quality time with Sylvia. While the stress of unemployment was never far from my mind, this long interlude has been a genuine blessing - a time to recuperate, reassess and realign.

I'll have more to say tomorrow. But for now - I look forward to joining the full-time workforce again.