Late Night Excitement

Around 11:00 the other night we heard sirens and noticed flashing lights outside the bedroom windows. Police had sectioned off a bunch of road and firetruck after firetruck raced down our street, where it looked like a five-alarm fire was going on – there were four firetrucks, two ambulances, and at least a half dozen police cars, all summoned to what appeared to be a relatively minor apartment fire. Small enough anyhow that it didn’t make the news. (The next day we saw a burnt couch in the dumpster) Gladly, nobody seems to have been hurt.

Considering the number of vehicles that showed up, they must have been taking precautions against the whole building catching fire. Some serious anti-fire firepower.


I was browsing Google maps over the American Midwest when I saw a weird artifact in the satellite picture – or at least what I thought was a glitch. It turns out these checkerboards are real! Acres of clearcut land, forests, national parks and farm fields intermingled in an odd-even pattern across the landscape and up mountainsides.

This type of land distribution is (appropriately) called “Checkerboarding“, and was basically a scheme to encourage railroad development. Each block of 640 acres within a 40-mile swath on either side of the new railroad was divvied up odd/even between the railroads and the government, in a plan to increase the value of the land and foster industries and settlement. The railroads sold most of their land to logging companies, while the government gave most of their parcels away in the Homesteader program.

A century later, environmental groups are trying to buy up the missing checker pieces to fill in animal migration routes and rebuild the watershed along hillsides.

British Car Show

Back to the community centre on Saturday morning for a really cool British Car Show, where all kinds of strange right-side drive vehicles came out to spend a day being admired in the sun. The whole run of British cars were there – Land Rovers, Lotus, Minis and Rolls Royces were well represented, buffed to a shine and parked on the lawn.

The British car that owns my heart is the MG roadster convertible, and there was a formation of them spread out on the lawn in every possible colour a roadster fetishist could imagine. This (practically glowing) cherry red one made me want to steal the keys and find some winding mountain road to race down. So gorgeous!

Natasha was more partial to the “Morgan Plus Four”, which I have to admit was a classy looking piece of work, especially with the wooden steering wheel and soft leather interior.

Dancing Cheek to Cheek

When we dropped by the community centre the other night there was a shindig going down – the local seniors homes put on a big band dance in the summer and the old folks were cutting a rug under the disco ball. Old people are good dancers – they’ve had a lot of practice! Natasha and I joined in for a couple of songs, trying to keep up as best we could with the ballroom professionals.

Something to look forward to when I’m older – late-night weekday dance parties! 🙂

Kathryn Calder’s ALS Doc

I blogged earlier about Kathryn Calder’s Bright and Vivid album being one of my favourites, ever, and have since become a big fan of her work. Her ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) documentary kickstarter is on its final push and I think it could use a bit of a kick in the pants. She’s made her minimum, but maybe if we spread the word we can help her along with a final surge. Even the minimum backer rewards are really great – soundtracks and special recordings of her music, the digital download of the film, lots of neat things.

I’ve been burned on kickstarter before, but Kathryn Calder’s one of those prolific artists that obviously knows how to get things done. I have no doubt she’s going to produce a beautiful, touching documentary that’s going to affect a lot of people going through similar challenges. This is one of those projects where the product basically already exists, and just needs to be polished up, so I’m wholeheartedly pledging my support and encourage you to get on board.

Across the Universe

I’ve been pretty sick this past week, so I haven’t been motivated to do much but lie in bed and whine. You know you’re really done for when you can’t be bothered to read because it’s too exhausting. Anyhow, I pulled through more or less and I’m making a recovery, but just wanted to post something so people know I’m still alive. 🙂

And so, a propos of nothing, I present to you a really awesome Fiona Apple cover of Across the Universe that was tied to the 1998 movie Pleasantville, which I really enjoyed. What’s cool about the video is that not only is her cover of the Beatles song really groovy and pretty, but visually they’re re-enacting a pivotal scene from the film where the citizens of Pleasantville, a television town in a fictional black and white universe, start freaking out about the way colours make them feel.

I love the “split speed” effect and to this day I’ve never really put together how they did it – I know how I’d approach it as a vfx guy, but some of the techniques I’d use hadn’t been invented in 1998. Really neat stuff, and haunting song. Jai guru deva, om!