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Aug. 23rd, 2016

08:10 am - 202

Tomorrow I get on a motorcycle and ride east for about 2000km. Then, I wander around until the campgrounds threaten to close. Then, I ride home. I guess I could make a post about “how,” focussing about gear. “How” has certainly been on my mind for months.

But “why?”

The simplest explanation seems to be Space.

Space to be an individual for a while. Space to grow in ways that are not so easy when one is not alone. Space to think, space to be. Space to reset habits and reflexes. Space to calibrate expectations, desires and needs.

I have versatile camping gear and no concrete plans beyond the first night’s billet at a friend’s house in Perth, Ontario. I will ride until I am tired of riding, then I will stop, and when I am tired of being stopped I will ride again.

I will explore. I will take pictures. I will sketch. I will write. Probably speak to people. May make friends. Might frolic naked under the moon on the easternmost point in Canada.

I really don’t know for sure what will happen, except that at some point I’ll get back on my motorcycle and ride west for about 2000km.

Sometimes it seems scary as hell, other times it seems the most natural thing in the world.

Aug. 15th, 2016

08:25 am - 205

I'm just back from a week away at an intensive advanced acting retreat, so I thought I'd write about my motorcycle.

It's a Honda NC-750-XD. This is not a sexy name, but it suits, because like the bike itself, it doesn't give anything away at all. The machine is mostly black and grey. The fairings and profile make it look serious about not giving a shit about much of anything. Not purely form-follows-function military -- it does have a sense of style -- but it is not showy. If the bike was a person, it would be a calm, confident decathelete with nothing to prove.

I named it "Normandy" and replaced the bland factory decals with blander still ones I made (in the typeface Microgramma Bold Extended) to suit. Readers of a certain inclination may recognize the name from the Mass Effect video game series, one of my favourite series, and containing my favourite character (HaleShep). The bike is, more or less, carved from the same style and attitude as the protagonist's ship in the game.

A friend was writing recently about the decision process for a new car purchase, and now that I've done about 3500km on the Normandy I feel like I can comment on both before-purchase and after-purchase impressions of the process and the experience.

I've had the Honda SH-150i scooter for five years, and ridden it over 32000km. It's a great bike. Light, nimble, almost tossable, very economical to ride. But those qualities that so endear it to in-town use are in opposition to making longer trips. I've ridden the scooter hundreds of kilometres in a day, even on superhighways, and while it's comfortable to ride, it's never confident at speed, and especially in traffic, can be dangerous to operate simply due to lack of power. 115km/hr is the absolute fastest it will go, and sometimes even 100km/hr is out of the question in a headwind or up a steep hill.

So when I began planning longer trips, I started looking for a bike with a bigger engine. Pre-requisites included: first tier major manufacturer, confident at highway speeds, able to handle dirt roads adroitly, good fuel economy, fuel injection, suitable for long-legged riders, able to haul significant amounts of luggage, automatic or CVT transmission. Many people stare at me when I mention preferring motorcycles that I don't need to manually shift. It is for safety reasons, and not negotiable.

The need for an automatic transmission vastly reduced the pool of options, seating position reduced it further, and ability to handle uneven surfaces even further. Sorting on price left me with one very, very clear choice that hit every requirement: the Honda NC-750-XD. With such a clear winner on specifications, what remained was to test-ride, to make sure I could safely operate it, and would I enjoy operating it. I did take that test ride, and determined I could, and I would, so I bought it.

It is not the sort of bike that inspires passion. It is not flashy or brash. It is not loud or angry or aggressive. It doesn't call attention to itself. It does what it's told, confidently and competently, even forgivingly, without excessive noise or excitement.

But there's something there, something wonderful. There's something to a tool that does what you tell it, willingly and unerringly. To a machine that helps you do what you want to do, and in so doing makes you better at doing it.

Because it has ABS, I know that if I need to stop, I can stop very quickly while focusing on steering. Because it's an automatic with lots of extra power, I know that if I need to jackrabbit out of trouble, I can twist the throttle and very quickly be somewhere else. Because it has an excellent suspension, chined tires and neutral handling, I don't have to baby it over shitty bumps and can confidently tackle dirt roads, and that wet conditions, if encountered, will not simply result in me on my ass.

I like riding it. It feels good. It feels right.

When I bought it, I did not love it.

I am not sure if I love it now, 3500km later.

But maybe I do.

May. 31st, 2016

09:36 pm - cherry blossoms fall

Jack (cat) got diagnostic imaging today and when the vet begins her report by saying, "I don't have good news," then one can be pretty sure that a hard decision will need to be made shortly thereafter. And so we gave him such love as we could, and he purred madly for a time, then was ushered gently into whatever comes next.

It was not a great day.

Chop wood; carry water.

May. 27th, 2016

10:18 am - Jack (cat) status update

Jack (cat) is ailing, getting rather thin. He's seen the vet last week with "disinterest in food" and his blood work suggests a bit of hyperthyroidism, which would also explain why he's rather annoyingly alert at times.

We agreed to try to see if he picked up an appetite over the weekend with vast selections from the Anything You Want buffet and that worked for a few days. He's not even responding to tuna now.

I syringed some food into him earlier today to keep his motor running and am hoping he keeps it down. It will be hard to treat his thyroid condition if he's having additional problems from not eating enough, so it may well be a couple weeks of syringing Hill's A/D to get him on his feet again.

He's got another vet appointment today. We'll see. Good thoughts welcome.

Feb. 2nd, 2016

11:05 am - Jessica Jones

We recently saw Netflix’s adaptation of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. I consider it to be among the best pre-recorded drama I’ve seen. And if some of its sometimes trivial flaws hadn’t been there, it could easily have been the best.

MAYBE some generic spoilers here, but nothing specific.

Here are some of the things I liked.

The two main white male characters were “bad” and abused their power and privilege to the detriment of others. Conversely, all of the “good” characters were either female or non-white, and sometimes both. Did you notice? Did you find this to be unfair? Are you a white man? Do you wonder why people who don’t look like you are often upset about their portrayal in media?

I liked how sexuality was not hidden away; instead it was shown as a key component of personality. Usually in our TV we only get anger and violence, but the real world isn’t like that. These characters had sexual desire as well as sexual need, and were allowed to act sexually with as much freedom as they were allowed to act violently. Not only was there tenderness — sex as connection — there was rutting — sex as an affirmation of self. These are powerful messages that are mostly absent from Western media.

All of the main recurring characters were complex people with varying levels of emotional baggage that deviated their behaviour from the strictly rational. Like most of us, these people are scarred, sometimes badly, and we can’t always see what’s best for us, and even if we can see it, we can’t always do it. And sometimes our instinctive reactions due to previous trauma make things much, much worse. I found the characters to be both very fucked up inside, and very real.

Each character had an arc; each character grew and changed, and you could see how events affected them. And there wasn’t a simple, happy ending. There was closure, yes, but the ramifications of what happened will reverberate in these characters’ lives. And I’m looking forward to seeing how in Series 2.

I liked how some of the episodes freaked me the fuck out. Because they hit so, so close to home. And not just the questions about autonomy and free will, but questions about manipulation, choice, and self-sacrifice. Questions about identity: “who am I”; and even harder: “who will I become?” Questions with no obvious right answer but still demanding that you choose. Questions that keep you awake at night, or make you wake up screaming.

Also worthy of compliment: the acting, the casting, and the fight choreography.

A few things I didn’t like.

The lighting and cinematography were pedestrian at best, and in some cases appallingly bad. There were so many mis-framed and mis-focused shots I tried to stop caring about such things to only moderate success. I desperately hope they find different people to shoot season 2.

Some of the pacing was not great, especially in the penultimate episode. There, it felt like 20 minutes of material stretched out to fill a time slot, as if they hadn’t allocated enough plot beats and just started making things up a day beforehand.

On the whole, though, the Jessica Jones series is a very important addition to our culture. It flips many common Western media tropes on their backs where they flail helplessly, and it introduces new and powerful ideas about empowerment, identity, characterization, sexuality and diversity. I hope the series inspires countless pedagogical analyses, and that it leads to a new era of filmmaking.

Dec. 25th, 2015

09:26 am - The Force Awakens

We saw the thing. It was okay. We saw it in 2D at the Frederick and it was fine. I doubt 3D would have added anything.

(No spoilers next four paragraphs.)

It was yes 80% recycled beats from earlier movies, but that's okay because the earlier movies are 80% recycled beats from every story ever told. That's because they're myths, specifically the Hero's Journey. And with myths, like the commedia dell'arte, or indeed putting Shakespeare on stage yet again, success is measured not by how novel your story is, but how well you tell it.

And Abrams told it well. Nothing really stood out as exceptionally good, but considering how many moving parts there are in the franchise, that nothing stood out as being exceptionally bad either is quite an achievement.

The special effects were okay, not helped by the underlamping in our auditorium. God damn digital projectors. The photography was workmanlike, no "one perfect shot" moments. The soundtrack not quite intrusive and just as rehashed as the plot. The sound effects a bit overwrought at times. The fight choreography was better than expected, so that's something, though expectations were not that high.

I give it a slightly generous 4/5 stars as an encouragement to the filmmakers to keep going in this general direction but do try a bit harder next time.

(Spoilers below.)

New characters: Very pleased with Rey's arc so far, and the actor who plays her. Less so with Finn's arc -- too many uneven beats, too many questions glossed. The actor turned in a reasonable performance anyway. Ren is awful, a ghastly emo mess, but he's supposed to be awful, that's his deal, he's entitlement embodied. The pilot, I found utterly forgettable. BB8 somehow had less personality than R2D2, possibly because he didn't have C-3PO as foil. On a sour note god damn Andy Serkis, I am so tired of hearing him strain at the toilet. It seems like he's turning into this generation's Frank Welker and it makes me sad.

Of the olds, I found their performances nuanced and at times touching. Reasonable story arcs there. Fischer particularly stood out for me in her scenes with Ford, lovely subtle delivery there conveying acceptance, regret, helplessness and love. On the other hand I have to wonder if Chewbacca dyes? Would there not be a few grey hairs in there? I'm amused Hamill got second billing without speaking a word.

Nov. 29th, 2015

10:12 am - 202

I'm certainly losing fat but also certainly gaining muscle. So the weight is kind of hovering. Have been doing some core, upper body & arm exercises with large elastic bands. I like them but I really need to sink a couple of anchors in the wall or ceiling.

Have been moving some junk around in the house. I get freaked out doing this because I see a huge pile of stuff and panic and have to leave the room. I know the right approach is one thing at a time. But it is nevertheless often just overwhelming. And ridiculous; there are empty cabinets all that stuff could go into. But I just took it out of there to sort it.

I am theoretically trying out for Royal City Musical Productions' _Into the Woods_. Because it's a musical, I have to sing. No problem. But because it's Sondheim, I have to sing Sondheim. I mean, yeah, duh. But Sondheim is just so depressing. His plays are always a box of chocolates where the flavours are all Yiddish deprecations. (Not unlike real life, but magnified. Depressing!) But the director seems very strong. And it would be Something To Do in the Winter.

However right now I just want to crawl in a blanket fort and play video games for four months. But that would probably not be great. I guess? Seriously if I replayed the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games over again that would probably get me to March at least. And I still have to finish Bloodborne, and the occasional fucking around with TESO. Could get me to the equinox!

On the other hand D is also trying out for it. And if she gets a part I wouldn't mind so much if I got a part because it would be something we could do together. If she didn't get one but I got one that would probably not be great IMO. Because driving to Guelph 2x a week when we don't have a car just for my benefit would suck.

On the camera app front, I'm trying to get into beta test mode. There's a few small features to add but overall it's solid and ready for other hands than mine. I've been hampered this week by a compiler optimization error that caused the test version to fail for Apple's beta review team, but not me. Not fun to get reports of freezes or crashes on app startup when I haven't seen those in months. But I could reproduce it by debugging in release mode, which allowed me to at least see the Swift library code path triggering it; and it was something I could work around.

I keep looking at real-estate in tiny little towns. Like, oh, I could buy a run down century home for $70K. But my neighbours would be Conservatives. At least small town Ontario's like that. Probably small town everywhere. I'd probably be bored out of my gourd. And there's not so many great jobs for technical managers in small towns.

I've put in an application for a three month artist residency next summer in Newfoundland. I hope I get it. It would provide a much needed reboot of my artistic chops. And a nice reboot of my personal interaction dynamic. My habits are too ossified, I feel like I just can't break free of them. A change of scenery would help.

That's it for now!

Nov. 16th, 2015

10:23 am - 204

I missed a couple week's posts. Felt poorly about gaining a few pounds. Which I figure was due to starting some mild strength training. And having more dried fruit rather than (out of season) fresh fruit. Fucking winter. Fucking, fucking winter.

Still working on the camera app. Very, very close now. Just minor polishing. I need most importantly now to get the documentation written so I can put it in the hands of testers. It's that moment of uneasiness in a big project where one wonders, is anything important missing? Is it as good as I think it is? I know the work has been worth the months of effort because I love the resulting app, but it would be very nice to make some money from it too, and I don't know if that's just a pipe dream.

In other news, I'm applying for an arts residency in Newfoundland. If I get it, I will be away from home for up to 3 months ( hopefully in the summer) focusing on my photography. Yes, being apart from my beloved and my cats and my home and my habits for months will suck. It will also be exciting, wonderful and enlivening. It will be an adventure. I really hope I get it.

Oct. 25th, 2015

10:33 am - 200

Lear's done. It was a tough week with not much sleep. House was very disappointing; maybe 24 the first night and at most fifty the second. Contributing factors I suspect the choice of venue (hidden in a University campus where parking isn't free), lacklustre marketing, it being a "staged reading" (though we did fully stage it with movement), and it being Lear (which is not a happy evening). Still, it was a good show and it would have been nice for more people to have seen it.

Good people to work with. Didn't really connect with them much, which is kind of disappointing. The rehearsal cycle was too short to really bond with people, and we're all from such disparate groups it will probably take a serious expenditure of energy to see them again. Maybe I'm wrong. It did feel a lot more like "bye" than "later" after the last show though.

Still tweaking the toning algorithms in the camera app. I am wanting to break down and put an editor in for the toner, rather than just present a couple hundred procedurally generated options. It would be better to not do that, however, and make it something for an upgrade to the app for later. And yet because the app's for me, why shouldn't I make it do what I want?

"Winter" is settling into my mood and it's not a good thing. Social activity is more important now than ever and yet I'm feeling pretty cut off. There's an audition for another staged reading this week, which I'll go to, but a couple days doesn't stave off four months of dark.

That's about it.

Oct. 18th, 2015

01:00 pm - 200

Lactase pills seem to mitigate my cheese "problem". Thanks Costco for having cheap lactase pills. And cheap cheese. I guess. Well, anyway, more protein sources is good.

Breakfast this morning was dried cranberries, dried grapes, dried cherries, peanuts, and Sesame Snaps. No fresh fruit. Winter is here.

Have had a couple bad mental health days in the past week. Anxiety, feeling trapped, feeling on edge. Walking helps. As does talking with friends. There are probably pills to help with this too.

Making great progress on the camera app this past week. Even working on it today. I've added coloured lens filters and paper tones. Need to clean up the toning a little still but I found the bug that was bothering me.

Lear performances this week. I'm finding the rehearsals somewhat confusing but that's good I guess. I'm learning things. Or at least getting direction. Either is good for the performance.

Later today meeting with Shannon Dea, director of woman's studies at UW, about a short theatre piece I'm working on. Hope to get some good ideas and feedback.

Oct. 12th, 2015

10:00 am - 202

It is annoying to be about the same weight I was two months ago. I haven't been getting enough activity as the colder weather is settling in. Something must be done. I have some exercise bands on order, and I should probably go ahead and join a gym. Or find some actual reason to get out of the house every day for a long, long walk. If only I had to chop wood for heating. That would be awesome.

My daughter got married in North Carolina this weekend. I wasn't there because obviously I would have had to go to the US. And I won't do that for any reason that I can presently imagine. Also, even if I didn't have an attitude problem about crossing that border, driving a thousand miles to be socially awkward with a bunch of Republican gun nuts for a few hours while my daughter is rightfully focused on her new husband doesn't strike me as a good use of my time. I would, however, be very happy to have them come up for a nice chill visit where we can really catch up on the past few years. You may think I'm a monster for not going. I just think of it as weighing costs and benefits.

It's a beautiful fall weekend, and Thanksgiving in Canada. We don't have any plans for the day. We might have chicken soup. Maybe some potatoes. Certainly a nice long walk, and d is going to vote in the advance polls. (I'm going to wait for the day.) Some video gaming. Maybe another episode of the Korean soap opera.


Oct. 4th, 2015

08:59 am - 202

Grr. Well, this past few days has been mostly occupied by recovering from an annoying head cold. So I dunno what my weight is doing. Fortunately the cold was only coming on Wednesday, my last rehearsal, and it's mostly faded now and should be gone Monday, my next rehearsal.

Well, the last two "rehearsals" haven't so much been rehearsals as workshops; basically excerpts from Kristin Linklater's Freeing Shakespeare's Voice book.

Monday, we started with a warmup exercise, starting below the diaphragm and exercising resonances and sound production from there up to the top of the head, and back down again. The same sort of stuff one would learn from a good voice coach, but focused more on clear & emotive speech production.

Then he gave us words to think about, like "stone" or "sea", and then asked us to feel the sounds that made up the words and then speak them aloud at our own pace. Then asked questions, like "what does it feel like?" or "what colour is it?" and had us use our answers to those questions to modify how we said them. Exploring emotion and thought and how they modify sound production.

Then he gave us nouns and verbs excerpted from a sonnet, and asked us to say each word by itself, and after that, to start stringing them together and seeing how their proximity modified each other, but still allowing each word to be its own sound.

Wednesday he gave us a monologue and had us start by reciting it silently, but moving our lips in a very exaggerated way. Then we had to whisper it. Then we had to recite only the vowel sounds -- no consonants, exploring the emotion and feelings. Then again just the consonants, exploring the meaning and intellect of the words. (It took much longer to do the consonants.) Then to put everything together a word at a time, then a line at a time.

Then we went into iambic pentameter, and how it should be thought of only as a heartbeat, not a rule. And we worked on some new monologues, taking turns reciting each phrase, and sometimes more than one person at a time, and that was really cool. And that was about all we had time for.

Tomorrow we do our first read through of the play itself, and the two other professional actors will be there also. (The cast mixes three seasoned pro actors [one of whom is also our director] with us community and student players.) It should be very, very interesting. I'm learning a lot.

I've had the new iPhone for a week, a 6S+. It's very, very good. I'm working on my photography app, which I believe I've mentioned in this space before, and hope to get it out before the end of the year. I was also chosen to receive one of the new Apple TV developer kits. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but I have some ideas.

Sep. 27th, 2015

10:16 am - 200

I had some cheese last night, just a little, and by itself. Well, with some wine. But I also had some lactase. And I don't feel gross this morning. Although it wasn't much cheese, it's not a contraindication, and possibly good news. Because I like the taste of cheese. And it's good food.

Past couple of days I was doing more motorcycle training, culminating in a test for my full M license. I've been riding on an M2, which is a long-term learner's permit. You have to hold an M2 for about two years before you can test up to an M, but if you don't pass the test within five years, you lose your M2. I suspect the province figures most people will quit riding a bike after a short time and doesn't want people licensed to ride permanently if they're not riding actively.

The M2 exit is a road test, so they give you a radio and an earphone and send you out on your bike and follow you around in a car and tell you what to do, and they grade how safely you did it. There are 418 points you can accrue for fucking up. If you get 26 or more points (or if you break any law, have an avoidable collision with anything, or drop your bike), you fail the test. Perhaps half of the points are variations on "looking at things" like mirrors, over your shoulder, at driveways, at cross streets, at busy businesses like Tim Hortons, over parked cars. (The rest of the points are safety things like which tire track to ride in, when to use your signals and brake lights, not driving on painted lines, etc.)

The training is optional; one can go to Ontario Drive Test and pay $30 and they will give you an M2 exit test to anyone walking in off the street. And I understand that most people fail. Because they don't know what the tester is really looking for. You could go to the test and obey every law and regulation and fail it miserably because you weren't checking your blind spot during a turn or lane change. So the training, which is $400, is about six hours of riding a motorcycle and being coached on exactly what the test will look for. It's drilling, endless drilling, stop signs, turns, lane changes.

Check your mirrors. Turn on your signal. Check your blind spot. Change lanes into the correct tire track. Turn off your signal. Check your mirrors. Put on your turn signal. Make sure your brake light is on. Come to a stop. Keep the brake light on. Keep the bike ready to move. Look behind you. Check cross traffic. Check your blind spot. Accelerate briskly but not hastily, turning left into the right tire track of the left lane without driving over any painted lane markings. Turn off your signal. Check your mirrors. Turn on your turn signal. Check your blind spot. Change to the left tire track of the right lane. Turn off your turn signal. Check your mirrors. --- Hours of it.

I passed the test with one point marked off; I didn't switch into the right lane of a two lane road fast enough after a turn. And I felt it wasn't exactly fair, but fair isn't really what was being tested. They emphasized that you should drive safely no matter what the tester told you to do. It's not that the tester told me to do something dumb, it's just that they didn't tell me to move over after having given me a long series of instructions immediately prior. Kind of sucks, but whatever.

I now have a piece of paper that I can take to the bureaucracy that will get me a permanent M designation on my Ontario driving license. And that's a good thing.

I have news about the audition for King Lear but I'm not supposed to share it yet.

Sep. 20th, 2015

09:28 am - 199

Nine pounds to go. Probably won't get to 190 until the end of the year. And that's okay. I was 220 in April. A pound a week is good steady sustainable progress. Had to take in the drawstring on my fuzzy pjs this morning. I am also looking forward to introducing some very light physical conditioning once the exercise bands I ordered show up. And I should be doing more bike rides while the weather holds. But I've been so busy during the day with all my projects.

I finished the seventh revision to my stage adaptation of House at Pooh Corner. It's just 132 pages now. Mostly because I removed every bit of non-essential stage direction. People will figure things out. And if they figure out something different than what I had originally put in, that doesn't mean they're wrong. It just means they found a different truth out of Milne's words.

I auditioned for a staged reading of King Lear yesterday. The production intentionally mixes experienced professional actors (they already cast three roles, including Lear) with community shmoes like me. It went okay, and what was nice is that I didn't recognize anyone else auditioning. But it's a longer rehearsal process for a reading than I'm familiar with (like 8 rehearsals), and it includes some Shakespearean dialogue workshops which I'm eager to participate in. I don't have an answer yet. I hope I get cast!

Moving in the past week or two seemed to switch from something we hope do to someday to something we will do when we are able. It's best for both of our careers. While it makes sense that there are many more opportunities for strategic IT management work in Toronto, it is even more the case that if I ever hope to make money from my art -- any kind of art -- that I have to go to a city where people actually care about art. Because, I'll be frank, Waterloo Region is a hole when it comes to any kind of creative endeavour. No, I stand by this statement. I could rant on it for hours.

I have a slightly swollen lower eyelid the past day or two. It's tender in one spot. I'm figuring it's a nascent stye, and I'm hoping it doesn't develop much further. Styes are no fun.

Sep. 13th, 2015

09:09 am - 201

Oogy. I look quite different in the mirror. Still want to lose another 10lbs. It's more difficult with the colder weather coming in. Discipline. Or just bacon.

Unfairly annoyed with lack of progress on several life-related fronts. Had an "everything is the same, my life hasn't changed in 10 years, I've wasted the last decade" attack on Friday, said I was ready to just burn the house down (saving cats, backup data) and walk away. It's one of those things that surfaces now and then. Like many such attacks, the feeling is strong in the moment, and when the moment passes it's less urgent but still there as part of my psyche.

How do people look back on their lives and value what they've done? I know I've done a lot of cool shit in the past 10 years. But sometimes it just feels like I've done nothing and have nothing to show for it. I suspect this is rooted in the "lack of multiple strong friendships and a good support network" problem. Which I am now feeling upset about. Great, thanks, journal counsellor. Now I need to talk myself down from freaking out again.

So Thursday we went to see a queer variety show; music, dance and theatre. Some good stuff there. The musical numbers were cute, even pleasant. Some disappointments in the theatrical performances. Learning more about theatre as a director has the super-power of seeing where problems are in productions. Like if there's a particular performer who clunks, that may just be bad acting, but if everyone is mostly on the same level, that's a director problem. Or if you get great acting moment-to-moment but scenes don't flow, or if need/intent isn't visible, also a director problem. Or if scenes just don't make sense, or don't connect together, that's a script problem. Or if an actor emotes well in some places but not others, or feels like they are not connecting to the audience or other actors. Could be a lack of warming up.... or it could be that rehearsals didn't really push the actor.

By contrast, yesterday afternoon we saw HMS Pinafore put on by an amateur theatre group in another town (Guelph). It was really rather amazing to see a "little" theatre with 300 seats (half filled on a Saturday afternoon), a real stage, a lighting grid with catwalks, separate rehearsal space, workshops and so on. And a cast of 20 who all pulled their weight; not perfectly, but no clunker performances either. Decent directing, modest but adequate lighting and choreography. With a little pit band. And in a community 1/4 the size of ours. Makes one think. What are they doing right? What is our community doing wrong?

Sep. 6th, 2015

09:18 am - 201

Bloaty. Ugh. Still I feel pretty good so I know the weight is continuing to drop even if there are these rebounds. Hugs are markedly different now than in May. It's very cool.

Lots of relationship work this week. Revelations all around. It's hard, but so, so worthwhile.

I need to start focusing my time on clearing junk and clutter out of this house. I'm terrible at that sort of thing -- not so much that I buy a lot of shit, but that I just never bother getting rid of things. Yeah, I've heard the ideal, "get rid of anything that doesn't give you joy," except that objects don't really give me joy. So I'll need to find some other metric.

I read six scripts this week to get an idea about how other people write and stage plays. I should probably share my notes but maybe another time. I have been working on my 10 minute play project, in addition to reading my directing books.

Looking forward to the new iPhone, which is kind of goofy, but as it will feature a new camera, and I'm writing a camera app, it's a justifiable expense. I hope to get the damn app out before the end of the year, but won't release it until I'm happy with it.

We're running off to Costco now for a few staples. Hope to get there as the doors open to beat the Labour Day crush. (How do we keep from buying lots of crap at Costco? We take the motorcycle.)

Aug. 30th, 2015

08:08 am - 200

Progress. Weight hasn't been on my mind much except for occasional glaring at the excess skin. I was just told that I'm sexier when I'm not worried about how goofy I look. Truth.

It has been a painful week for personal and relationship things. Miscommunications. Assumptions. Overreactions. Thoughtlessness. People have been hurt, and unnecessarily.

I try to be authentic and mindful and kind and considerate but when the world seems to be exploding I just flail. I need to do better. I need to be better. At least I can say "I'm sorry" and mean it. But it would be nicer to not have to.

We've talked for years about relocating, and after many years and months of thoughtful discussions about pros and cons of places all over the world from Amsterdam to Vancouver -- it looks like we'll be trying Toronto. Big surprise.

Job opportunities are much better there (for both of us), it's a more socially diverse community, less rife with asshole tech bros (asshole finance bros are much easier to handle), better walkability, MUCH better arts/culture, and not too much more expensive (at least when you look at Vancouver for contrast).

And to be perfectly honest we're almost 50 and it will be much easier to extend a social network in a city just down the road as opposed to half-way round the world. If we were 20 years younger, or even 10, Europe could be a thing. I don't see it being a wise choice now. I don't want to be 60 in Amsterdam just hanging out with maudlin expats grousing about how distant the locals are and wondering who's going to give up and move back home next.

Another great thing about TO -- visiting people back here will be easy!

There's no timelines -- the house isn't on the market, there's no job interviews scheduled -- but now there's a target.

Aug. 23rd, 2015

12:04 pm - 201 addenda

The kilt fits again.

It's so nice to be free!!!

And I'd also forgotten how ... invigorating ... the gentle rhythmic motion of soft pleated fabric can be.

09:48 am - 201

I shouldn't bother analyzing why I weigh what I do. This morning was unexpectedly good direction, like last week's was unexpectedly bad. Weight continues to overall trend downwards. Yay.

It's been a difficult week, but also a good one. My partner and I have mostly been in a particular pattern and level of interaction for quite a while, and the past two weeks have shaken that up; the first week being completely apart, and the second week being home together full time.

I continue to marvel at our dedication to each other and to the partnership. Even when we're angry, down, stressed or communicating badly, there seems to be an undercurrent of heartfelt care. I feel that we're mutually engaged in making things better.

I'm working on reading a lot of plays right now. I ran down the list of the Canadian Governor General's awards for English Language Drama and checked out a half dozen winners and nominees from KPL. Although I can't change the text of my play much (as it's Milne's words, not mine), I think there is work to be done in the staging and setting of Pooh Corner for the next draft.

I also mentally resolved some UX issues in my phone camera app, so I should be able to move forward on that as well.

Aug. 16th, 2015

09:56 am - 206

Didn't eat all that great during my workshop but given the 16-18 hour days I needed to keep my energy up. I did a lot of walking and stair climbing and I don't feel like I over-ate, but I had less protein/fat and more carbs than I prefer.

It's hard to get dense nutrition from a student cafeteria where they ration protein and push the cheap carbs. Anyway, I feel like most of the extra is retained water as the rings are tight on my fingers. So it's fine.

Also I think I broke personal records for coffee consumption, regularly exceeding 1.5L, and sometimes even having an energy drink in addition. I'm sc-c-c-caling back to n-n-normal now.

The Theatre Ontario intensive was fantastic. I recommend it highly. It felt like a month or more in that there were so many experiences and so much knowledge/learnings crammed into it. I would be happy to talk about the experience with folks in person but right now there's just way too much to write down.

And, yes, I believe I am now ready to direct a main stage production and do a damn fine job of it. I might pitch something light-hearted and fun for KWLT and take Pooh Corner to a bigger venue. We'll see.

Also I wrote a play (in my head). A short one. I'll talk more about it later but I have to do some research first before I can actually write the script.

Yesterday I did very little. Napped. Watched a Jet Li movie. Walked. Did a few errands.

Today it's going to be stupid hot outside so I'm not sure how the day will pass.

Tomorrow an old -- I guess I can't call her a "flame" as we never actually dated, but that was only because at the time I was totally inept about relationships -- high school friend is dropping by. It will be the first I've seen her in 31 years. I expect we'll both be completely different and yet exactly the same.

Aug. 9th, 2015

08:54 am - 203

Actually just 203.8, down from last week's 204.0, but I'm not tracking tenths, because it's how my clothes fit that matters. Speaking of, I did put away the 38" pants and I unpacked, washed and am wearing the 36s. They're a little snug at times but not uncomfortable.

I won't be sleeping in my own bed tonight, nor for the next six nights. I'm going to a week-long director's workshop with Theatre Ontario. Since it's held at Wilfred Laurier university, which is right up the street, I could conceivably eat/sleep at home, but then I would miss out on all of the social interaction -- which is at least half of the point of residential retreats. And I doubt they'd give me a break on the price anyway.

The residence rooms don't even look like a crappy motel. Cinderblock walls, a single overhead light, a bed the size of a cot, a desk and a chair, and a shared bathroom. I guess I won't be having any wild orgies in there. Maybe that's what the lounges are for? I just don't have the frosh mindset.... yeah that's probably it. I just don't find rug burn that sexy.

Anyway, the rooms are just there as recovery from exhaustion. Our schedules are full each day from 730 to 2100. And Wednesday night they'll be bussing us to Stratford for The Sound of Music. Which I have heard is pretty good!

We're told to dress up as a famous Canadian for the party on Friday. It took me a while to choose one, but I found one who closely represents my own values ... and typical appearance. I did have to pick up one item from a costume/party store, though. Not telling who, yet.

See y'all on the other side.

Aug. 2nd, 2015

09:23 am - 204

I'm not surprised to see a big drop after a month of no change, given the number of variables that affect body weight. Still, it's nice to be well away from 220 where I was feeling quite unpleasant. Not yet back to the 36" pants but I suspect that will happen before too long. The goal is 195, at which point I will start adding in a physical regimen. I'd like to be reasonably fit, rather than kinda flabby. I have quite a bit of extra skin from my 300+ era; it doesn't just vanish. And rather than surgery, I think it would be smarter to just fill in the space with a bit more muscle.

Progress is good on my camera app, which has a new name that I'm happy with. I'm filling in features now, though I still need to address the reliability of self calibration. I really like the images it produces.

d has completed all the requirements and deliverables for the MBA program, which is fantastic, as is the two week vacation coming up a week from now.... which I will not be around for the first half, due to theatre camp. But we both agree that's a good thing: a time to reconnect with self, without the presence and pressures of work, school or me. We'll have the week after that to reconnect with each other.

Jul. 26th, 2015

08:06 pm - 12

A different number; this one counting the years I've been married to d. The person whom I look at now is a very different person than the one I looked at then. But, the person doing the looking is different, too. It hasn't been a simple nor a straight path down through the years, nor has the journey been at all easy. But it still feels like the right path, and I want to keep walking it with you. Happy Anniversary, love.

07:45 am - That's me, sucking all the joy out of the room, but quietly, by myself

It is disappointing when I attend parties, getting there earlyish as I often do, and the party is chill, and sociable, and not loud at all -- where one can have conversations and share stories with the whole room, able to hear everyone clearly -- and then a certain type of person (a "loud" person) arrives and then the party very quickly becomes hyper, and obnoxious, and not quiet at all, and one is hard pressed to even hear what anyone standing nearby is saying through the din, and if there is a rare room-wide conversation then it revolves around "that" person or their experiences or their comments or thoughts.

Last night at the One Acts strike party two such "loud" people arrived. That's when I left, not saying goodbye to anyone, just fading out the door. So if you happen to be reading this and you wondered at the time when or why I left without bidding adieu, now you know.

I am thankful that the "loud" people were in general easy to avoid during the production, but I am also thankful for earplugs because there were times when even though I was wearing them and on the other side of the building I was seeing red because of unnecessary boorish loudness. But two "loud" people in a small townhouse with two dozen other people after a long hot day, with alcohol, is basically a recipe for me suddenly and silently leaving the party.

Jul. 25th, 2015

08:22 am - 207

Again. I thought I was being more mindful this week. Clearly not. (Saturday, because the strike party is tonight and I expect that I will have snacks.)

Last performance of the one acts tonight. I am glad to see the end. I have fun on stage & many of the people are fine. There is nevertheless way too much shouting, dick slapping, obnoxious commentary and a general lack of respect for other people, the performance and the space.

Still, if you haven't seen it, you should see it. Ange's opening show THE STEPMOTHER is hilarious and well acted, and the finale MISSED CONNECTIONS is delightful and poignant. QUARTER LIFE CALAMITY is narcissistic angst turned up to 11 so if you find that kind of thing funny, it might work for you.

My show, THROUGH THE MIRROR, isn't bad, it's just forgettable. Nevertheless, Rachel and Evelyn as Teri and Tori manage some genuinely funny physical business; all that dance training and innate hyperactivity really pay off. Also, it's probably your only chance if you want to see me deliriously huffing a catnip toy.

App development is going well. I solved the UX problem that was giving me fits last week. Now it is largely a matter of backfilling features. Then I need to do some shader optimization. Realistically it's probably a month or two from being done, but that's not *forever*.

I have to send a Bio to the instructor for my director's retreat, which is just two weeks away now. Also a copy of my Pooh Corner script. Because they ask what play you want to work on during the retreat. Well, that's the one I want to work on. So I'm kind of nervous about that. I'm sure it'll be fine.

I've got a couple books on directing and am working my way through Lenore DeKoven's "Changing Direction" and already learning quite a lot. Nothing surprising; nebulous stuff that's been in my head as an actor and playwright have been given concrete words: kind of confirmation that the way I want to approach direction is a good way. Or at least Lenore's way. It's a dense book; read a couple pages, put it down and absorb, then read a couple more. I also have Elia Kazan's "Kazan on Directing" which should be a fun read as well.

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