Saturday, November 28, 2009

Predictably human

I've been thinking about some of the observations Snoot has made about human behaviour at school. I found these links interesting.

I'd love to discover the source documents for those that are interested in manipulating various groups of people. In particular I'm interested in predictable responses.

The TV show called Lie to Me has been very stimulating to conversations here since we first became aware of it. It reveals many predictable human responses to situations that we predictably "tell" maybe without intending to. I find it all fascinating. Little tucks of the chin or maybe pursing of the lips being interpreted to indicate particular emotions that may or may not be in sync with other elements of the message being presented really piques my interest.

I happened to be sitting in the company of some border services officers for an hour or so today and could not keep myself from thinking about their training and what those manuals had for primary source documents. Terminally curious as always.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Raglan trial

I bought a big bag of wool I was pretty happy with, thinking that I am ready to bite into a real live garment. It's two ply worsted wool and has turned out to be a bit of a bust. I'll have to return it. I don't suppose I'll ever learn to follow a recipe to begin anything. Usually I just go out and buy the horse and then worry about what I'm doing about a fence, but that's part of an older story.

I tried much smaller needles and much tighter knitting, but there is no way I can make my gauge. I tried with other known weights of wool and didn't have any problems so, although it might be me, I'm guessing not.

I'll return the seven skeins of untouched wool and buy what's prescribed in the pattern and be done with it. In the mean time Karen's acrylic yarn has come to the rescue again. It has served to model a trial of the new stitches learnt for a raglan sweater back. I'm so jazzed! It looks so much more like real knitting. ;^) It's not entirely pretty technically, but I'm a long way from having my ten thousand hours in too. For the time invested I'm very happy with the results. Now lets get out of the pink and into something manly!



Recently I got stuck in a situation where I was desperate for a book to read. I needed it to see me through a boring night where I had to be up through the wee hours. I can't remember a time where I've had a book in hand that's been as poorly researched and as poorly written.

I finished the poor novel and then retreated back to Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin once I got home again. Right off the top I felt like I'd come home to a much different class of writing with this gem:

"She died before I was born, but from what I've heard she was as smooth as silk and as cool as a cucumber, but with a will like a bone saw."

With that, I felt like I was safely back in the arms of brilliant craftsmanship.

I've been fielding images of the conviction of a bone saw ever since.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Double yellow headed Amazons

This is for Lorne & Mich, to try and get the web bots and spiders to find their site. They raise and sell beautiful birds. They have some crazy videos posted to youtube. This is one of my faves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ian plays school teacher

There have been moments in my life that have given me cause to shake my head. At 7:40 Monday morning I was doing the shake thang. One's perception of ones self and that of others, combined with whatever evolution of personality and habit, lead to some odd checks and balances every now and again. School and I didn't get along very well when I spent time there as a student.

I taught school on Monday. A full day. Grade seven social studies and English in the morning and grade nine English in the afternoon. My day finished with a graphics communications class in the computer lab which was definitely a freebie for me.

I've got teachers all through my life. My Mum was a teacher and primed me well for entering school. I didn't measure up to expectations there, but that's a story for another day and no reflection on her teaching or parenting. My wife teaches, my middle daughter is headed to teaching and my wife's family is all about the teaching in one aspect or another.

Earlier in the fall I was asked if I would assist with the influenza preparedness plans by agreeing to substitute teach if it became necessary to reach out beyond the usual circles for teachers to fill in. I was a little taken aback. I'm not exactly rich in an appreciation for protocol, formalities and straight lines. Kids seem to "get me," but the adult world most often leaves me feeling grateful to be well off the beaten path. Hypocrisy still irritates the daylights out of me in just the same way it did when I was a teen. Most seem to learn to live with it. I never have.

I'm often prone to invoking discomfort by having read too broadly, thought too long or experienced details that are either lost on many grown up types or willfully ignored by them. In short, I'm often deemed a bit of a loose canon I think.

When I got the call to come into school the other day to fill in for a teacher I have the highest regard for, I was shocked at first. Then I was in disbelief that they were not bluffing when they told me I might be called. I never really thought they would. My second thought was about how ill prepared I was to do the job. I think good teachers are the bomb. It's performance art in my eyes and a very grueling gig it is. Once I succumbed to the invitation, I quickly began to put together my plan for survival.

I'd have taken my guitar if I thought I could have kept it secure. I'd have worn some t shirt emblazoned with images of many of the world's most wicked looking pythons too, but instead I only took my A game of my love of kids. That extends mostly to the low end and cast a ways of the social strata, but not exclusively so. I think many kids like me because I'm as respectful of them as I would be to anyone else. I don't assume the negative, for the most part, and I really like the vitality that is inherent in young minds. This is all to say that I escaped the day without being crucified or permanently maimed.

The grade seven class was a horror show of lethargy. Just plain old, never really tried firing on all cylinders, bad fuel, cloudy day, seen it all, dead in the water at 13 years old... duh.

It was painful. Except for the bright eyed trouble maker in the back corner. She made the whole morning fly by with many laughs and great banter. Mr. X. might not be entirely impressed with the class output under my guidance, but I was very grateful that nothing got broken, no one had to go to the office and many students actually got quite a bit of their work done in class. Amazing.

What a difference two years makes. After lunch the grade nine crew came in, promptly sat down and read. What a routine! Everyone should take twenty minutes to read after lunch. The entire school shuts down to read. Brilliant!

The down side of the grade nine class was that it was painfully obvious that hormones were raging in some parts of the room. I was happy for their distraction and that the energy went places other than trying to skin me alive. In high school I was one of those back row kids that sent the weak teachers packing, in tears, or flailing their arms about in some kind of high blood pressure incantation designed to induce myocardial infarction. My grade five teacher referred to our back row crew as the future park bench sitters. True to his prediction, all of that crew, save me, are dead or in jail.

Teachers are a special breed. I had some very generous interventions through the day from several staff at Shevechenko. I felt like I had the support I needed even though I was woefully unprepared to be a professional.

It was the craziest adventure I've been on in a while. I had a gazillion forms to fill out in an attempt to get paid and I suppose someday I might find out whether it was worth it financially. I certainly don't have a clue what it was worth just now. Likely about a clocks worth. eheh It was certainly worth it to be able to peek into a world that I'd only ever seen from the other side of the desk.

Anne Stefanchuk and her Easter Eggs. One of the many gems of the area. Referring to both Anne and the eggs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Emotional Hokey Pokey

I don't know much about this budding site yet, but Katie Hahn's bit of writing there struck a chord with me this morning.

McSeeney's seems to be forecasting a place where I'll be very comfortable. The archives are fun to browse.

I'm torn about travel plans just now. It won't be for a while, but the planning has begun. So far it's San Fransisco, where McSweeney's is focused, and Portugal that are most distracting to me. My Portuguese is nowhere at all and McSweeney's has now made me homesick for a place I've never been. Just for the record, it took more than this piece of writing to do the deed and real live human contact has been established there for quite a while now.


You put your heart in. You put your heart out. You put your heart in and Ashley in accounting, beautiful Ashley, shakes it all about. And then she asks, "Why do you put your heart out so much? Why can't you just leave it in? It would help our relationship." And you say, "Because you shake it, Ashley." You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around—slowly, slowly, so she can't see your tears. That's what it's all about.

You put your deepest self in. You put your deepest self out. You put your deepest self in and you shake all about from the vulnerability and you start sweating and regret what you've done. You do the hokey pokey—is anyone watching?—and you turn yourself around so you can reject people before they reject you. That's what it's all about.

You put your naked anger in. You lash out. You put your naked anger in and you shake it hard—reliving your father's rejection and your boss's criticisms until you don't know your own name, or where you were born, or if you are a person or a jaguar named Maurice, or why it didn't hurt to jump through the plate glass window into the liquor store. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around until the police come. That's what it's all about.

You put your pure joy in. You put your pure joy out. You put your pure joy in and the world shakes it all about like a great white shark does a seal before swallowing it whole. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around and don't recognize the person you see in the mirror anymore. That's what it's all about.

You put your disappointment in. You put your disappointment out. You put your disappointment in and you leave it there, intending never to look at it again. You do the hokey pokey and then think about what you are doing and don't bother to turn yourself around. What's the point? As if you can really leave that disappointment behind, as if it won't stare you in the face for the rest of your life and hasn't changed you forever. That's what it's all about.

You put your resentment in. You take your resentment out on the person standing next to you. You put your resentment in and with your hands free you shake the person standing next to you all about. You make them do the hokey pokey, moving their arms like you are a puppet master, saying, "I am the puppet master!" You turn yourself around and it feels really, really good—better than you ever imagined. That's what it's all about.

You put your dreams of greatness in. You put your dreams of greatness out. You put your dreams of greatness in and everyone starts shaking you down saying, "Can I get a loan since you're going to be so rich?" You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, knowing one day you will do this all alone, because that is what happens when you are super successful from doing something no one else understood early on. That's what it's all about.

You put your hope in. You put your hope out. You put your hope in, and it starts shaking and shivering on the cold tile floor of the rec center. You are about to pick it up and put it away deep, deep in your soul where no one can hurt it. Then you see that everyone else has put their hope in too. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, pretty sure no one will take your hope while your back is turned since they all have their own. That's what it's all about.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Glasses on line

I've never bought glasses before and by many peoples standards I don't really need them. My prescription is very slight for sure. The mild error hasn't stopped me from being very frustrated at the theatre, opera and especially with my vision when driving at night. My depth of field sucks! I've been unable to justify a large investment to restore my sight with prescription glasses until I began to look at buying glasses on line. Buying on line is cheap, but like most things like this it required that I learn a few things become I could become an informed consumer.

I bought some flexible, rimless, progressive bifocals with clip on sun shades and anti reflective coatings for $71.00 with the shipping included. At the optometrists I was quoted prices that ranged between $700 and $1000. From what I've learnt from others that have made the transition to buying eye wear on line, the quality between the two sources compare well. At these prices I'll likely invest in other more specialized glasses. Especially reading glasses with a longer focal length for clock work. The possibilities are nearly endless.

My eldest bought glasses from Coastal Contacts recently and was thrilled with the results. They ship from Canada which is attractive to many here.

Edit: They ship from the NW USA.

Earlier this year I sought out some resources to begin to narrow down the options when buying glasses on line and came up with two big ones that have finally helped me pull the pin on this project and put my money down. They are related sources. The Glasseye blog has a lot of resources for answering many of the common questions about buying on line and their support forum has proven to be a wonderful place for me to get answers to the questions I had that I couldn't find answers to anywhere else.

I'll start with this choice and maybe get straight reading glasses later. Having flexible frames while reading in bed is going to be sweet, but I suspect I'll want a little longer focal length on my readers than they prescribed. It's been an interesting process so far. I'm so excited.

One of the things the optometrists try to keep out of your prescription is your pupilary distance. Knowing these pupil distance details is critical to ordering effectively on line. They reflect the distance each pupil is from the centre of the bridge of your nose and the total distance between your pupils. I've read recently that Walmart, Costco and Sears will often willingly measure for and provide those numbers for you if you ask.

I measured my own and had the opportunity to check my measurements against the professional tool results and I was bang on with the optometrists measurements. So it's not impossible to do with the many on line tutorials. With the need for bifocals, I also had to come up with the pupil distance for viewing far away objects and the reading distance measurement. The most common measurement is the far focused distance. Mine was 67mm. The close focus will be slightly less, as your eyes tend to cross slightly and come closer to each other when viewing objects closer to you. Mine measured 64mm.

Fun eh? I know... Mr. Distractable strikes again. My pupil to centre distance differed from eye to eye by 3mm. I've been told that symmetry in facial composition is key to the perception of beauty. I lose. :P
their 1.67 index lenses are from Seiko

Investigative report


fit - ordering

reviews with details I like

From Zenni:
"Dear Ms./Mr. Timshel,
We have cancelled this order, since we do not process glasses with discrepant mono PD 35.0/32.0"

Disappointing! My second kick at this cat is with Coastal Contacts. I couldn't include the relevant input when I placed my order on line, but they were able to include the detailed changes over the phone. More will be revealed I'm sure.