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Friday, August 31, 2018

2 Questions

When 15 members of the University of Alberta Star Trek Club and the University of Alberta Scuba Club crammed ourselves into a 15-person van for a road trip from Edmonton to Los Angeles, we had to find ways to amuse ourselves during the 27-hour drive. Some suggested 20 Questions, and when my turn came to ask the questions, sometime during deepest midnight, I started with the obvious:

"Is it bigger than a breadbox?" I asked Allan, who harboured the answer in his mind.

"Yes," he said.

A sudden flash of intuition hit me.

"Is if the pyramids?"

Allan's eyes bulged in shock, and he reared back in his seat.

" It's the pyramids."

Of course I'm not suggesting a paranormal explanation; it was just a moment of whimsy on my part that, against all odds, happened to be correct. But the look on Allan's face was spectacular. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018


To the best of my recollection, I was a reasonably well-behaved child. But three incidents still linger in my memory: 
  • One day, I stabbed a leather ottoman over and over with a nail file, ruining it. When asked why I would do such a thing, I had no answer. I certainly felt no malice or rage during my vandalism spree; it just seemed like an interesting thing to do. 
  • A few months (years?) later, I used a vise to crush several of the little green plastic houses from the family Monopoly set. Again, I had no good reason for my actions. 
  • Around the same time, I threw a tantrum while on a family shopping trip in Thompson (or perhaps even Winnipeg. I spotted this toy in the aisle, and had an absolute fit. Mom gave in and bought it for me, clearly extremely frustrated, and I immediately felt bad. 
What drove me to such lengths? I have no defence. Shamefully, I enjoyed the toy for many years after...but I eventually learned to miss the Monopoly houses. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Colourful Costa Rican Crab

Back in 2015, Sylvia and I visited Costa Rica. While relaxing on the beach at Playa Avellanas, this handsome fellow scuttled up to our loungers.


I felt bad laughing, but really, even Sylvia admitted in the moment that this was a very lovely creature. She just doesn't like things that jump, creep, and sneak. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Depressing, Scary Read of the Day

Lynn Parramore of the Institute for New Economic Thinking delves into the shadowy work of James Buchanan, who she identifies as one of the primary driving forces behind America's steady lurch toward oligarchy. 

Friday, August 24, 2018


It was great to see my old U of A friend Andrea and her fantastic husband Greg again last night; they've been living in the UK for some time and made it out to Alberta to visit relatives and friends. Always a great pleasure! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

That Sinking Feeling

While sailing off the coast of Costa Rica in 2015, Sylvia and I spotted this ill-fated yacht. If you must sink, doing so in water this shallow is probably the best way to do it. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Lenticular Crackerjack Elephant Time

While cleaning out my office, I found this, an old Crackerjack prize. It's a lenticular photo of an elephant; move the picture back and forth, and the elephant's trunk will go up and down as if the beast is lifting food into its mouth. Pretty wondrous stuff for a 70s kid. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Roadside Attraction

Once again, I endeavoured to create something reasonably sensible given a random assortment of Lego parts. I came up with this Yellow Submarine-like open air market.
Here we have the flammerjammer station.
And the duplibay.
Here's Asiagy at the refreshment kiosk. Note the fresh cup of carrot coffee.
Here's the dangerous automated Flam-bo-mat.
And here's Zombo in her Zipstooge flyer.

All told, I don't think this build was quite as successful as my roadside raider hideout. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Salt Lake Sunset

On August 11, Mom and Dad journeyed to Salt Lake (near Virden) for a community gathering and captured this sunset. It was 39 degrees C - a great day for a swim, and many locals took advantage.
 Here are Mom and Dad with my cousin David on the day. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

I Answered the Door

I answered the door.

"You're right; it's pretty smoky outside."

The door stood silent for a moment.

"I'll just stay closed, then."

I nodded and walked away. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stuff I Wish David Lynch Would Direct

Whatever the heck he wants to. And if I were a billionaire, I'd fund it.

I wouldn't be able to resist asking him to look at the screenplay for Toilet Chase, though...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Red Wall in Space

Well, maybe if you squint. I still need to paint this thing. It's a miniature Deep Space Station from Star Trek

Friday, August 10, 2018

Golden Boughs

The tree outside our bedroom window was cast in golden light a couple of nights ago. The wildfires are no fun, but they certainly create some spectacular sunsets. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Surreal Worlds of Maya Deren

Up until a few days ago, I had no idea Maya Deren existed; today, I'm a huge fan. Deren was an experimental creator of short films, primarily active during the 1940s and 50s. I've now seen all 10 of her films, most about 15 minutes in length, her earlier work perhaps more gripping (to my tastes) than her later work. "Meshes of the Afternoon," above, feels like it was made in the late 1960s or early 1970s, not the mid-1940s; that's how far ahead of her time Deren was with regard to cinematography and editing and directorial techniques.

"At Land" is even cooler. Deren, as well as directing, plays the lost central figure.

Deren returns again in "Ritual in Transfigured Time." If you're of a mind to, you could consider these three shorts as a connected trilogy following the strange adventures of Deren's character.

All three films are well worth the time invested in screening them, particularly anyone who loves horror, surrealism, and film noir, or anyone interested in the impact of women filmmakers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Ramshackle Shack

I've been rediscovering my love of Lego for a few years now, but only this weekend did I finally break free of instructions to try my hand at building something uniquely my own - at least, for the first time as an adult. I deliberately limited myself to working with two bags of parts, one composed mostly of red and tan bricks, the other mostly of grey and white. I also pledged that I would use each and every piece.

I call it a Ramshackle Shack. Sometime before the fall of civilization, the little building at left was a workshop or perhaps a store for automotive parts. At right, the remains of a playground. Once upon a time, it was a nice neighbourhood, until the bombs came. Note the old engine block left to rust next to the barred and alarmed door.
The main edifice at left has been fortified and boarded up, though the wastrels who have made it their redoubt haven't fixed up everything yet; witness the collapsed roof.
They installed a fence, both decorative and defensive.
The rear gate opens and closes. Note the bin full of junk near the centre of the image; a bit of a cheat, as I used it to store the pieces I couldn't use anywhere else. Now it represents the various odds and ends you might find at a junkyard.
Only the merry-go-round remains of the playground.
A look at the building's west side. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Riverside Starship

"I'm from Iowa, I only work in outer space." - James T. Kirk, circa 1986. 

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Return of Jean-Luc Picard

For the first time since the framing sequence of Star Trek (2009), we get to see the future of the future as Jean-Luc Picard returns to the small screen. Patrick Stewart broke the news today, giving few details other than he's returning to the Picard role and that Picard may be a very different man, 20 years after we last saw him in Star Trek: Nemesis. I can't imagine that Picard will still be captain of the Enterprise, and given the character's history it's tough to see him accepting a promotion to Admiral. Maybe he'll tool around the galaxy, indulging his passion for archeology? 

Friday, August 03, 2018

On the Cruise Ship

The skipper flung his cap on the deck and shouted, "I won't have this warbling gargler barking on this barge of a barque during the BBQ! Park him in the brig!" 

Thursday, August 02, 2018

At the Furniture Store

Victor  the sales associate shook his fist and growled, "I will not countenance these contretemps on my countertops!" 

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Lost Lucky Starr Novels

In the 1950s, Isaac Asimov wrote six novels about space adventurer Lucky Starr:

1. David Starr, Space Ranger
2. Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids
3. Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus
4. Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury
5. Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter
6. Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn

Each of the novels features Starr having an adventure on one of the planets of the solar system (and the asteroid belt). Asimov, of course, covered only six of nine in this series (Pluto still counts! And Mars is covered in the first book).

I propose the following novels to wrap up the series:

7. Lucky Starr and the People of Earth
8. Lucky Starr and the Renegades of Neptune
9. Lucky Starr and the Icefields of Pluto
10. Lucky Starr and the Gases of Uranus