desoto_hia873: (Effulgent Spike - red_sunflower)
::crash landing::

The last few days have been a wee bit busier than I normally like my life to be. On Friday, I had a meeting in Toronto during the day, followed by a three-hour drive to Ottawa that evening. All told, that represented ::counts on fingers:: about seven hours in various cars with a four-hour meeting in the middle of it all. Yargh. Jim, Bella, and I arrived at Mom's house in Ottawa around 10 pm, which gave me enough time to say hello and suck back a glass of wine before I went into a state of collapse.

I got my hair cut on Saturday morning and then took Bella to Bruce Pit, a huge off-leash dog park with fields and forests and about a hundred other dogs of all shapes and sizes. Bella was intimidated by the newness of it all for about five minutes, then leapt into the fray and ran around like a happy, crazed thing for an hour and a half until her feet iced up. She was walking around with snowballs the size of walnuts between her toes by the end of it--I must get her a pair of Muttluks.

After that, we repaired back to Mom's house for Christmas, The Sequel. My sister and her hubby spent their Christmas in Indiana with hubby's parents, and I stayed in Peterborough for mine, so this was our somewhat belated family Christmas together. Bella got to hang out with Xavier, my sister's border collie/basenji cross, and Jilly, my mom's sheltie/corgi cross, and a good time was had by all.

Sunday was a late-getting-up day, followed by an Atlantic Voices concert in the afternoon. They have a Newfoundland dog as their official mascot, so I phoned one of the board members to ask if Bella could come as honorary assistant mascot seeing as she's a member of Nova Scotia's official breed. The answer was yes, so Bella got to meet lots of people and listen to a concert in an echo-y church, so it was a great socialization experience for her. She was very well behaved, and no accidents were had in the church (phew). Then it was time to drive back to Peterborough. I was so tired by this point that I spent most of the trip dozing, which I don't normally do because it's nicer for Jim if he has someone to talk to.

Yesterday I felt like I'd been run over by a truck and couldn't really do anything. Fortunately, I'd anticpated this and had booked the day off, so home I stayed and did very little other than nap and occasionally eat. My various past afflictions have left me with less stamina than I once had: a weekend of mild exertion to most people is a marathon for me. I've been doing better in this regard in the past couple of years, but last weekend saw me pushing--and exceeding--my limits. Hence yesterday's collapse. It's annoying, but I'm used to it, and fortunately I have a job with floating days off that I can rearrange into "collapse days" when I need them.

Bella's training kind of fell off the itinerary too, which is unfortunate. She had her first group session with PADOC last Thursday and wasn't really at her best. Being in a room with ten other dogs was VERY distracting for her, and she had a complete brain dump of previously learned manners. ::sigh:: I get kind of upset about that if I spend enough time thinking about it, so I have to keep reminding myself that there are other things she needs work on--like her timidity--that did get worked on this weekend. The concert was a great experience for her, and so was Bruce Pit--every dog deserves some fun now and then. And so I'll take it for what it was and put our noses back to the grindstone this week.

Also, the Canadian Figure Skating Championships were on this weekend and I saw NONE OF THEM. ::weeps:: AND I forgot to set my VCR before I left Peterborough. ::wails:: I can't even remember the last time I didn't watch Canadians. I am welding myself to the TV set for Worlds in March.

Also also, we discovered last week that the VCR in my bedroom doesn't record, and I missed my chance to tape Victor, the film about Victor Davis starring Mark Lutz. WAH! If anyone has it on tape and wouldn't mind making me a copy, please do let me know.

Time to go home and practice heeling.
desoto_hia873: (William the Bloody - awmp)
Victor, CBC's movie about Victor Davis that I posted about quite some time ago, finally has an air date: Sunday, January 13, 2008. The film was written by and stars Mark Lutz, a/k/a Groosalug.
desoto_hia873: (Jayne - Cheers - soniablu)
Filched from [livejournal.com profile] ponders_life who got it from [livejournal.com profile] mochi_tsuki:

Two high school students who are made of awesome.

Yesterday was not a good day. This kind of thing restores my faith in humanity a little bit.

Tommy Makem

Aug. 3rd, 2007 11:04 am
desoto_hia873: (Lorne - Good Night Folks - madelineanne)
Tommy Makem died of lung cancer yesterday.

I saw Tommy Makem perform live twice while living in St. John's, Newfoundland. He was, for lack of a better superlative, amazing. The first time was a concert at the Arts and Culture Centre. I had a seat at the far right end of the first row, which was a little hard on the neck, but certainly gave me that up-close-and-personal feeling. The second time was at an Irish music festival. He was the closing act at the end of a long evening, and many people in the audience had consumed quite a lot of beer by the time he came on. Drunken hecklers had given a couple of the later performers a bit of a hard time, and I was worried that they'd do the same to Tommy.

Out he came around 11 pm, dressed like a janitor and with no backup musicians. It was just him, a stool to sit on, and one of the oldest banjos I've ever seen. He said a few words, then started to sing. He had the entire stadium mesmerized before his first song had ended. Really. Mesmerized. No one in the previously bawdy crowd even spoke while he was performing. I've never seen anything like it.

I've a fine, felt hat
And a strong pair of brogues
I have rosin in my pocket for my bow
O my fiddle strings are new
And I've learned a tune or two
So I'm well prepared to ramble and must go.


Rest ye well, Tommy.

Jon Lien

Jul. 1st, 2007 06:45 pm
desoto_hia873: (Chosen - vampkiss)
I did my MSc at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in the early 1990s. My supervisor was Jon Lien, "the whale man" of Newfoundland. Collisions between humpback whales and codtraps were a big problem in the 1980s, so he set up a provincial whale entrapment network: fishermen who found whales stuck in their nets or stranded on beaches could call, and a team would be sent out to release them/roll them back into the water. It was a very win-win arrangement. Most inshore fishermen only owned one or two codtraps, and they had only a couple of months in which to use them and make the bulk of their income for the year, so the loss of one of their traps to a whale was a serious financial blow. It didn't do much for the whales, either--often, they'd become completely ensnarled and would drag the entire mess around with them until they died from starvation or infection from the lacerations caused by the ropes.

Jon figured out a way to get whales out of nets quickly and with the least amount of damage caused to both whale and net. He also developed alarms that could be mounted on the nets to alert whales to their presence and prevent entrapments in the first place. The alarms proved so successful that they were sent to Australia to keep sharks out of sharks nets that protect the beaches there.

Jon is a really neat guy and one of my favourite people in the entire world. He's orginally from St. Olaf, the same town that Rose Nylund told stories about in The Golden Girls. As a grad student, he helped train the chimpanzees that NASA sent into space in their earliest flights. "Jon stories" are legendary. He once hit a grouse while driving home from an entrapment; not wanting to waste it, he hopped out of the truck, threw it into the back, and took it home and cooked it for his wife for their anniversary dinner. Anniversary dinner = roadkill. That's our Jon.

Another time, he lost his Visa card *in* a dead humpback from which he'd been taking samples, which made for an interesting phone call when he reported the loss. During a trip to test the whale alarms on sharks nets in Australia, he somehow managed to jam a large fishing hook through his hand and then fell out of the boat, bleeding like a stuck pig, into waters where a great white shark had taken a swimmer just a couple of days earlier.

Someone really needs to write this man's biography--it would be such a fantastically entertaining read.

Jon's retired now and has had some serious health problems in recent years. Every time I see a reference to him, I fear that it will be his obituary. My father sent me an email yesterday titled "Jon Lien" and I dreaded opening it. But it was good news: the Governor-General is appointing him as a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to science.

Which is just awesome beyond the telling of it.

You rock, Jon.
desoto_hia873: (Effulgent Spike - red_sunflower)
I love watching the Olympics. Summer, winter--it matters not. If it's Olympic, I will watch it. I will sit in front of the television for twelve hours a day, seven days a week and watch it. Figure skating? I'm there. Diving? I'm there. Track and field? I'm so there. Greco-Roman wrestling? I don't understand it, but I'm still there.

I also have a slight tendency (OK, maybe slightly more than slight) to hero-worship the athletes I'm particularly interested in. I made spreadsheets to keep track of decathlete Michael Smith's scores over the years. I rewarded myself for passing my PhD comprehensive exam by driving through a blizzard to Barrie, Ontario, to watch figure skater Elvis Stojko train at his practice rink for a day. I went to Oakville for the "Welcome home, Donovan Bailey" parade after he won the 100-metre sprint in Atlanta. I had a crush on high jumper Greg Joy for years after seeing him in person at the Montreal Olympics (hey, I was 13 :-). My perfect man is diver Greg Louganis.

When I was an undergrad at the University of Guelph, swimmer Victor Davis came to town for an autograph-signing gig at the mall. I still have the signed pic I got from him in one of my photo albums. My residence went on a pub crawl to a place called Uncle Sam's somewhere in New York that same weekend, and you can just imagine my delight when I discovered that Victor had some friends at U of G and turned up on my bus! After fortifying myself with a few drinks at the pub, I worked up enough courage to ask him to dance with me. He declined--graciously; there was no chair-kicking--but gave me a kiss on the cheek. I twittered for the rest of the night.

Just a few years later, he was dead. He'd gotten into an altercation with someone at a bar in Montreal, and that someone hit him--apparently, deliberately--with his car. Victor suffered a skull fracture and never regained consciousness. He died a couple of days later from his head injury. His funeral was held in Guelph (his hometown), but I couldn't go because of a prior commitment in Toronto. As per his wishes, many of his organs were donated by his family to patients in need.

Why am I bringing this up? CBC will be airing Victor, a film about the life and death of Victor Davis, later this year. Who will be playing Victor? Mark Lutz, our very own Groosalug.

That's just... neat.

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