Monthly Archives: June 2008

Ontario Place

We had a great day (and long and tiring day!) today at Ontario Place — they’ve put in a few new areas since the last time I was there and it really is top notch if you’re looking for a place to entertain someone between, say, age five and ten. The water park (with water slides and spray systems for people who aren’t comfortable swimmers) is as fun as I remember it over twenty years ago, and there’s a new enormous play structure with tons of tunnels and tubes to climb that replaces the mazes and play area of the past. There’s also a building full of foam balls and devices for shooting them that was fun, as well as the Cinesphere (the oldest IMAX theatre in the world) and bumper boats, “driving school” and so on.

The weather was perfect for the visit — bright and warm, but with the occasional bit of rain to keep it pleasant. I did get a bit of a sunburn (ouch) and am looking a little pinker than usual. Either that or I’m slowly transforming into a pigman. Both are reasonable theories. Oh, and it was shockingly empty, so there were never any waits and there weren’t crowds to deal with.

And I feel fine

You know, there have been a lot of storms this past week, with Toronto having two of the biggest thunderstorms I can ever remember having here, but I think that ABC news is revealing a little too much about the evangelicalization of America in this typically pointless article titled “Apocalypse Now? Floods, Tornadoes, Locusts”.

Weather of Biblical Proportions Sets Off Debate Among Theologians and Scientists… In the beginning, God created heaven and Earth, and he saw that it was good. So begins the Book of Genesis, the dramatic opener of the Old Testament. But things went downhill from there.

God’s wrath seems at work these days, as the heavens and Earth have unleashed earthquakes in China, a cyclone in Burma, killer tornadoes and record floods across the U.S. and even a plague of locusts (cicadas) in New England. Biblical imagery is all over the news these days — even including a story last week of a New York baby being enwrapped by a snake in its crib, harking back to evil lurking in the Garden of Eden.

Yeah, I’m real worried.

My neighbor apparently particularly pissed off “God”, or at least his car did. I’ve been posting lots of great vehicles over at the kit car blog, maybe they should “downgrade” to something more fun.

Montessori Grads

Had lots of fun at Nefarious’s school’s graduation ceremony. Her age group sang songs like La Poule Maboule and This Old Man. The structure of a Montessori school is that a single class is about the same size as a normal school’s class, but it’s got a three or four year age spread, the concept being that it’s good for social abilities to mix them, and also that older kids mentor the younger kids, which builds important skills. The school is also “non-competitive” and they’re also help each other with their work (which one of the kids called a “good kind of cheating” or something), with the idea that kids helping each other forces literacy with the work they’re doing and causes one to understand it far better than simple memorization. I agree. Anyway, La Poule Maboule by all four classes at her school —

She was a little sad not to see everyone she wanted to in the audience, but gleefully made binocular faces at Caitlin and I. At her first school concert she was very shy and actually left the stage, so it was great to see her happily belting out the tunes this time.

The graduating (grade six) kids all gave speeches about what their Montessori experience had been like, almost every one emphasizing how happy they were about the independent and self-disciplined work environment, and listing the similar ways in which it had helped them excel. I have to admit that both Caitlin and I were at first like, “um, is this propaganda?”, but the reality is that they were quite genuine “thank you” comments and I have no doubt that the kids were all thrilled they’d been given the opportunity to go through the program. Their achievement was underscored not just by their poise, but by the many prestigious (and difficult to get into academically) schools they’d been accepted to.

Although it’s not the core focus in the kindergarden program, Nefarious’s reading and writing and math is pretty good, and she made me a wonderful father’s day gift, an illustrated book with many short stories of different things we do together — and some she wishes we did, like driving our ice cream truck! I like that they start with cursive writing, as it’s becoming a lost skill.

We did bike to the park today, as most days, and must have stayed there for around four hours, as we bumped into an old classmate of hers that’s about the same age. Yesterday we were there with our neighbor, also five. It’s interesting though, because I don’t live in that wealthy a neighborhood, but the majority of the kids go there with nannies. I really have to wonder about people who work extra hours in order to make less money and spend less time with their kids. What’s the point? If you only want to have a kid for one hour a day, then why not just volunteer at a day care or something?

But I read today that there are a million slaves in America today, and that the average slave today costs $90. I sometimes wonder whether any of the pseudo-illegal girls I see working as nannies are slaves or their equivalents — servants that were brought in, unpaid or barely paid, without enough assets escape, perhaps with their passports taken by their “owners”, and the fear that the government will be unsympathetic to them if they say anything.

Speaking of, we are also working on a jail for Nefarious’s Playmobile world.

It’s drying right now, and in the morning before we leave for Ontario Place, we’ll spray it with silver spray paint, then another coat when we get back, so it’ll be ready for prisoners on Monday.

Stop Motion Test Reel

I did a quick test animation today. Here it is:

Music is White As A Dove by Kira Lynn Cain.

Everything in the animation is straight off my (still) camera with no editing other than cropping — even the credits. It was made by printing out frames from old footage of early atom bomb tests and I think the Enola Gay and pilot Paul Tibbets (that clip was cut too short — I wish I’d used a few more frames to capture him better). I then glued these printouts to various things and took pictures of them one by one. It was then assembled in Microsoft Movie Maker (I have literally no “real” movie editing software on this computer). Total time to make was about three and a half hours.

Anyway, it got me thinking about interesting things to do with this technique and when I have time I’ll do a full-length music video… It’s a little hard too because I have a really cheap tripod so I had to do some after-the-fact image stabilization by hand.

Sorry Saira!

Well, one time too many times in the sandbox with my poor old camera it seems. The lens is all busted up now and full of sand so it gives an error when it loads, and as you can see from the picture, the lens cover doesn’t open properly either. I say “Sorry Saira” because I was going to lend it to her because she leaves for a one month trip to India in a few days… We didn’t discover the problem until after she left for her house. Hopefully I can clean and repair it.

There was an enormous thunderstorm last night that lasted a couple hours and was one of the most, if not the most electrically active storms I’ve ever seen in Toronto. Nefarious somehow managed to snore through the first hour and a half, but eventually it got her up. She’s not scared of thunder and lightning or anything, but it definitely made it impossible to sleep as I’m sure everyone else in the city can attest to… So we put chairs out by the back window and watched the storm — the apartment building down the street was struck a few times — and talked about why clouds seem to change colors and other late-night talk. And she still had the energy to bike to school in the morning!

Anyway, tomorrow I will post something pretty neat… I have a stop-motion animation project that I look forward to trying out, assuming the weather is good.