Friday, 3 June 2011

7 Quick Takes (76)

I'm doing a 7 Quick Takes for the last month or so. Wow. This should be fun.

1. I returned to Fort McMurray for a brief time to visit friends and family. I'm still here as I write this but I won't be here for much longer. As usual, I'm staying with the folks.

2. Twice now we have gone to Elk Island National Park. This is a lesser known park near Edmonton. We did not see a single elk in the park, but we did see numerous bison. The first time we stayed in Edmonton; the second time we camped in the park itself. It was sometimes difficult to sleep because the ducks and geese and frogs and coyotes did not observe the 11 o'clock quiet hours. So the frogs chorused and the geese honked and the coyotes howled and yipped. The second time we also visited the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. This Village is one of those where everyone acts like a historical person, refusing to acknowledge that it's 2011 rather than the 1920's. I suppose many people find this sort of thing annoying but I rather enjoyed it. Perhaps it is because I liked to hear them talk in their fake Ukrainian (or, in one case, British) accents. I learned things about Orthodox church architecture, too; did you know that Orthodox churches have their belltowers detached from the church as part of a separate structure because they do not allow instruments in the church and the bell counts as an instrument? I had not known this.
This was all quite exciting, but in trying to take supermacro photos of water insects, I managed to get water on my camera which eventually culminated in its permanent damage. Now the photos it produces are wonky. However, it was an excellent final shoot for my dear camera. I got clear macro shots of spiders, frogs, dragonflies, and water striders. I might put some of these up at some point.

3. My summer plans, as I think I indicated before, include lots of reading and writing. I am treating this sort of work like a full-time job. You can go over my reading to date here, though I should also add that I have been reading some blogs, particularly Experimental Theology, philosiology, Unequally Yoked, and the best in us. (That last is more of a personal project of a friend relating to people he knows, so it may hold less interest for random Internet people. Perhaps it holds some value for you as a project, though--writing nice things about people he knows--so you may want to look at the mission statement.) I have also been reading and editing a manuscript for a friend's writing project. Where writing is concerned, I wrote a draft of an academic article and am now working on Creative Writing, though I must shamefacedly admit that I spend more time writing journal entries and letters. My tendency to go on theoretical diversions means that I am, at least, thinking.

4. Fort McMurray has been dreadfully smoky. There are forest fires all around us. The one in Slave Lake got news attention, but there is also an enormous one north of us. The wind often carried think clouds in to the city, preventing me from running outdoors. It's worrying and inconvenient, but at least our community hasn't been destroyed.

5. My birthday occured. The most noteworthy things concerning this event are going to see Thor, having a picnic in the park, and getting The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. If you are a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, I encourage you to see this series Dr. Beck produced giving a theological reading of it. (If I'm not careful I will start recommending it as often as Leah does a certain Harry Potter fanfiction.) If you are not a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, I encourage you to become one. Otherwise my birthday was very quiet. I will have a joint (half-)birthday party with a friend in Vancouver when I return.

6. A little while back I saw the next installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. I realize that not many people liked it. It certainly was not as good as the first. Notwithstanding that, I enjoyed it, mainly for the mermaid-missionary sideplot. It was good that they excised the Elizabeth-Will story from the series; it had reached its logical conclusion and any further story there would be of incredibly shoddy value. They needed to have a morally steady character, though, and the missionary filled this admirably, I think. He is certainly less annoying than Will was. I also find mermaid myth and lore fascinating (but I mean the old stuff, where they're fay, wild, ammoral creatures as much as amorous ones, where they can get human legs without having to make a deal with a witch, where they can't quite decide whether to drown you or love you). While the Pirates of the Caribbean version wasn't exactly like that, I was still pleased. In fact, I was rather OK with the depature made at the end. (For excellent mermaid-related storytelling, please visit Hark! A Vagrant's mermaid story. In fact, visit anyway. World history, canonical literature, and Canadiana have never been more awesome.)
In related news, I'm coming to understand that my tastes in what makes a movie good vary significantly from almost everyone else's. I tend to gravitate towards elements I like without seeing the chaff that is the rest of the movie. If I like that element strongly, I like the movie. If there is nothing outstanding, I tend to dislike the movie. If there is something else that is not simply unartful but outright repulsive, not much can make me like it.

7. I have watched a few TED talks which I want to recommend. In no particular order:
Mustafa Akyol's Faith versus tradition in Islam
Kathryn Schulz's On being wrong (this is crucial for anyone who has an overwhelming confidence in their own rightness, aka most people on the Internet)
Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation
Dan Meyer's Math class needs a makeover (on making mathematics a good sell)
Nate Silver's Does race affect votes?

Please visit Jen at Conversion Diary, host of this fine carnival.

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