William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

14. a week that were

Saturday (July 28th)

Elektra: Saw it on TV (Teletoon), so I wonder how much of it was cut. The girl Abby is more interesting than the title character and really the only interesting part in general – though cute young girl™ is such an easy hook that it's not even really worth crediting the movie for using it. There's a fair bit of action in this movie, but the villains and the ninjas are generic and disposable (and, usually, disposed). I know for a fact that if you've been shanghaied into sitting with a friend and watching TV over a few beers, it's light fare that you can drift in and out of because the details of the plot and the dialogue hardly matter. 4

Tuesday

Right now I'm working on a basic website for Andy's studio. That means having to confront jQuery and CSS and ugh ugh ugh. But I got to apply what I learned from struggling to make my “responsive” portfolio for my Rich Internet Applications course. One thing I did was abandon the single-page design – yeah, there's a bit of duplicate boilerplate, but nothing that can't be managed with a good text editor. And I'm not under (perceived) pressure to do any particular whiz-bang, so I have something a lot less jumpy / glitchy.

The Sapphires: This is about beautiful indigenous Australian girls who go and sing in Vietnam for the US forces during the Vietnam War. Powerful performances, amazing voices. I loved it. It's not a heavy drama by any means, but it's not movie junk food either. It had a good balance of addressing serious issues and having its own fun. 8.5

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination occurs during the movie. Watching his “I Have a Dream” speech made me wonder where the frontier of social activism is now. Is it in George Takei's Facebook posts? Is it in shared images with incorrectly attributed quotes and sketchy figures? Is it with no-whites-allowed groups like Colours of Resistance? We may never see the likes of great leaders like King again. Everything* is many-to-many – everybody* has their tiller in the sea of collective consciousness. Provided governments aren't permitted to clamp down, an honest and untortured reflection of humanity might emerge. Sorry, I've been reading too much Carl Sagan.

* ... on the Internet. Which isn't everybody, I must remind myself. It just seems that way sometimes.

Wednesday

I just finished Cosmos, Carl Sagan's famous tome. I was expecting an astronomy book or a pictorial companion to the TV series, but it's a rich, florid tour de force. I've finished it on time for the book club meeting on Friday morning, but I'll be missing it since I'm going back to Halifax for the weekend. Astronomy books have embarassingly short shelf-lives - the field changes almost as quickly as, say, computers do, and so a book this old would seem to be only a dated curiosity with obsolete facts and grainy pictures. Well, this book has grainy pictures, but it's the farthest thing from obsolete.

Aside: When I was a kid, I read a book by Terence Dickinson called From the Big Bang to Planet X. It is concise. There isn't as much to get through. You don't have to work as hard. It's a good book in its own right, but now that I've read Cosmos I can see its influence throughout Dickinson's writing.

Cosmos is as broad as its namesake – it covers theories on the origin of life, a broad history of science (you'll be amazed at how close the Ionian scientists got to the promised land), the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, the nuts-and-bolts of space exploration. It's from 1980 – a heady time when nuclear war felt even more of a threat, when the Voyager probes hadn't yet reached Saturn, when the Martian rovers existed only in Sagan's imagination - in a stunning sort of prescience, he describes what they would be like.

I thought that reading this book would be a routine experience – just enjoying a bunch of astronomy facts I already knew and looking at pretty pictures. Cosmos has the pretty pictures, but for those willing to read, there's a whole lot more. The book is an antidote for parochial perspective. The spirit of enquiry imbues every page.

A worthy companion piece to Cosmos is Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, co-authored by his wife Ann Druyan, which I read last summer. It is the inner space to Cosmos' outer space. Both books are fairly long and densely expressive – they'll be an investment to read, at least for a relatively slow careful reader like me. Both books would, I am sure, change your perspectives on a lot of things - taken together, they form a coherent philosophy which I find much more palatable than Plato's.

While you're at it, watch Robert Sapolsky's Human Behavioural Biology lectures, too. Then, like I did last summer, you can go read A Song of Ice and Fire. You'd have earned it.

Andy asked me to help him cut grass at a place he's housesitting. We took a push mower with us and took turns. It was after 4, so perhaps we avoided the worst heat and sun of the day, but it was still hot, sweaty work. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, zipped the legs onto my zip-off pants, put on a hat, and applied a bit of sunscreen on the back of my neck and on my nose and cheeks. In the evening, I cleaned up another laptop for the Filipino girls, but there was another one that seemed to have some kind of wacky hardware issue – it only once made it through POST, and that time it died before the OS could load. I never managed to get anywhere with it – maybe Andy subsequently did.

Thursday

I’d asked Mom if we could drive back via Truro so we could stop and see Catherine and her parents, and she could and we did. Catherine’s grandfather and Grampy are siblings, hence Catherine’s father and my mother are first cousins, hence Catherine and I are second cousins. Anyway, she was just in town for another week before going back to her life in Toronto with husband Colin and dog Ren. Her mom Carol fed us a really nice lunch and her dad Mike told us about his 50¢ yard sale finds and other fascinating things. I don’t think I’d been to their house since I was driving the U-Haul, helping Catherine and Colin move.

Mike is quite a character – he was the one who first told me about the debug codes in Super Star Wars, and he’d just glanced at them in a magazine at a store! Literally, we’re in the living room and he’s saying, “A four times then X, B four times then Y…” He was also one of the first people in the Truro area to get MS-DOS 6. What with all the computers and video games in their basement, it was one of the coolest places I’d ever known.

Back in Bedford, I ran some errands and then in the evening my high school friend Mike’s brother Paul (a friend in his own right, but that’s how I know him) picked me up and we went to Mike’s apartment to hang out. His other brother Steve was there, too. We went out for donairs at Metro Pizza – the place where I ran out of gas a year and a half ago. The donairs were tasty! though it should be said that they were a bit too messy to aspire to eating with your hands – if you’re doing take out, take them home (like we did).

Friday

I went to NSCC to get the letter sent to me from the Governor General’s Office. So, from graduating NSCC this year, I have that letter, a letter from the NSCC’s president, a medal, the diploma parchment, a certificate about getting the medal, and a certificate for getting the highest grades among programming concentrators. Fortunately Mom’s going to take care of framing most of this shit. j/k

I picked up the letter at the services desk, but sadly, it looked like nobody was around when I went to check around D-Wing 3rd floor. I was hoping some instructors might have been puttering around, but I should be glad that they’re way far away on the Friday before a long weekend.

I tried a Molson Canadian Cider. It was alright. It says it’s “best served over ice” – I’ll try that next time.

Saturday

Went to Brad’s wedding. Brad is my mother’s husband’s son, so he’s my stepbrother, though it must be noted we didn’t grow up together (he ‘was’ much older). It was a beautiful wedding and a beautiful day for it. Brad even baked the wedding cake, following his grandmother’s recipe. There was also some epic vodka punch. We drove up and back with Paul’s sister Judy. It was good to see her and see Angela (my stepsister, to whom I was also a sudden imposition j/k) and her kids and enjoy the shade, cool breezes, conversations, and wacky photo props. The decor deserves special mention - it was a blend of rustic and elegant that pleased the eye and warmed the spirit.

Stuart communicated his procurement of a vehicle for his and Eva’s trip to Sherbrooke, so he’s coming by in the morning to pick me up on their way. Road trip! Well, a short one. Off my shelves I’ve grabbed some CDs – maybe they have a player and are interested, who knows – and a few books, two of which I haven’t read, including one I’m supposed to have read way way back in a 2002-03 course on early English novels. Gosh, there might be a full year’s worth of reading I was supposed to have done but didn’t do. Maybe even two. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

Sunday

Stuart came early, but fortunately I had my stuff already mostly ready to go, and he and Eva chatted with Mom while I scrambled. We stopped at Tim Horton's and stuck our two small coffees in the tiny 1990s-Subaru pop-out cupholder tray. Eva slept in the back seat.

We planned to make a stop at Eva's parents' house on the way, and we did - Stuart also noticed her father going the other way on the road, off to church; Stuart honked the horn and we saw her father turn around and follow us to the house. We had a grand little visit, and we chatted about all sorts of different things, including apostrophes on signs. I made a grand pronouncement that if I were the Minister of Transportation, I'd put them back into place names / signs. Unless the community actually was used to not using the apostrophes, I guess. That I can understand. But simply not printing them regardless of existing usage is kind of lame. Later I learned her father is a sitting Government MLA, making my pronouncement an unintended hilarity.

When we drove up the driveway here in Sherbrooke, we saw Robert sitting on a chair on his driveway, seemingly contemplating his massive woodpile delivery that he's going to have to get in his basement at some point. I joked that he was watching his wood dry. Anyway, I guess I'd better keep track of where my work gloves are! You never know when you might get shanghaied into a pleasant work party.

I only slept for three, maybe four hours the night before, so I was super tired. I snoozed until Grampy woke up, then we had a late lunch. Then I snoozed until nearly 7, and then we had a late supper. Then I had a cup of coffee. Stuart texted me to say he was at his aunt's place in Jordanville, and later asked me if I wanted to come by for a drink. Sure.

Well, there were all kinds of people down there! Most of them remembered who I was, though some of them hadn't seen me since I was a child. Debbie's husband Leo offered me a non-alcoholic Old Jamaica ginger beer. It was quite good. I'd buy it if I saw it and keep it for things like this where I want to party but have to drive.

Tomorrow Stuart will pick me up and we'll go down to the beach with his family like we did last summer. Last summer I couldn't stay because I had to come back here to deal with the returnables (it was the Saturday for them - a van comes to the liquor store parking lot every second Saturday, though this year at least, during the summer, it's every Saturday). I literally went all the way down to that beach with Stuart and company, walked around for like five minutes, then walked all the way back out to where my car was parked (it's truck-only if you want to go down to the beach in that particular area). It was a bit of a farce. It won't be a problem this year - all I have to do is get lunch out for Grampy before I go.

August: A great month to live for the day. I'm reasonably healthy and have lots of friends and relatives to spend time with. I've got lots of books to read and things to do. (After I wrap up this post, I want to try writing some fiction.)

Monday

I didn't go to the beach; Stuart didn't text me like I suggested he might after he offered last night to pick me up, but I didn't text him either. I was ready to go but it really was something I was going to kind of force myself to go to because even with sunscreen I don't really enjoy getting cooked under the sun. Anyway, it was a thing for his mom's family anyway. Stuart and Eva dropped by to see Grampy before they left.

Hanging out at Andy's tonight, I learned he had to simply give back that other computer. It really was too much for us. Pity. Well, at least now I can upload this and stop being anti-social!
Tags: sherbrooke 2013
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