Sunday, May 27, 2007

Green Stripe Exam

In happier news closer to home, Corwin successfully passed his green stripe exam in his tae-kwon do class. The exam consisted of several parts -- demonstrating command of the moves, sparring, and applying the moves to break a board. In this case, he was required to use an axe kick to do so. In his orange belt exam last year, he had some trouble -- he had to repeat the attempt many times. On this occasion, he got it in two tries.

This may still be too early to introduce him to McNair and Feld's work (expanded on by other people) on "The Physics of Karate". But in fact, it looks like he has gotten a good intuitive grasp of the basic requirement -- hit hard and fast.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fire in Wonowon

Hall's Food and Gas in Wonowon, B.C. was destroyed by a fire on Friday, May 25, 2007. Jill and I stayed here in August 1996 when we did our BC visit. I was here for the 2000 Wonowon Community Reunion, and all three of us were here for the 2005 Reunion.

These photos were taken in the morning and mid-afternoon of July 17, 2005.

Back in the 1960s and '70s, when it was Wonowon Services rather than Hall's, it was owned by the Close family. The Lum family lived in part of the hotel when my parents operated the restaurant here.

Thanks to Laurie Dowd for sending the news, and providing a link to Moose-FM for news updates.

Wonowon is located on the Alaska Highway. In this link to an article in the Vancouver Sun, there is mention of closing the highway. The Moose-FM piece indicates that the highway was closed in both directions for five hours. From the Sun article:
A local state of emergency was declared Friday in the northern B.C. village of Wonowon after fire broke out at a hotel and gas station.

Most residents of the community, which has a population of about 200, were ordered evacuated because of fears propane and gasoline tanks in the filling station attached to the hotel might explode.

The RCMP also closed the Alaska Highway that runs through the village.

Evacuees from the village, which used to be called Blueberry, were taken to Fort St. John, about 100 kilometres to the south.

Witnesses say everyone safely escaped the burning building without injury.


The tiny community has no fire protection so the building was allowed to burn itself out.

UPDATE - Laurie went up to Wonowon with Dave and Hattie on Sunday the 27th. She sent the following pictures and gave permission to post them here. The damage looks like it is total -- very sad.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Unofficial Beginning of Summer With The Usual Suspects

To celebrate the unofficial 2007 beginning of summer (which in Canada is the Victoria Day long weekend), our friends Michael and Lorna held a wine and cheese party. The other purpose was to inaugurate the patio furniture in their back yard -- formerly a blasted heath filled with strange, unearthly weeds -- but now, nicely paved with interlocking brick.

In addition to the usual suspects, Mary-Karen and Larry were in town, visiting from Edmonton.

Taken from Lorna and Michael's back patio -- the Moon and Venus (not Jupiter -- see comment) in conjunction.

Update: The Astronomy Picture of the Day for May 23, 2007 has a much better image of this conjunction event -- taken the same night as the party, by Jay Oullet from a site near Quebec City.

Meanwhile, at the party...

A sampling of the exotic cheeses provided throughout the course of the evening. What these static photos do not show is the vast, titanic struggle for food, Darwinian in its intensity, of those who chose to remain inside, versus those who sat outside on the patio. The result was that most of the food ended up "migrating" to the patio, although balance was maintained with the wine supply being inside.

Michael and MK:

Jill and Lorna. Lorna's makeup was done earlier by MK.


Karl, being authorial :-)


The back patio gang, including Janice, Dave, MK, Chris, Sherry, Mark, and Karen.

Lorna and Larry:

Robert and Madelaine:

Jill and Michael, with a lantern made in the shape of a rat. Best not to ask what Michael is doing to the rat.

Jill, giggling at the thought of Michael and the rat...

Bob and Mary, also amused by the unspeakable things that Michael is doing to the rat:


Jill and Lorna:

Chris the daylight savings guy appropriately in front of a clock:

Michael and Sara:

We started this post with an image of two objects in conjunction -- we end it the same way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dave and Marianna's Wedding

I have known my friend Dave for around 20 years. For the last few of those years, the stability of steady employment has allowed his horizons to expand, and as a result, he has been able to reach some of his potential. Dave moved in with his girlfriend Marianna late in 2005, and earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised by a request to be one of Dave's groomsmen for their wedding.

Wedding day was Saturday, May 12.

Friday night had been the family Mother's Day dinner. From the Forestview, we went west to pick up our friend Catherine, also a guest at the wedding. The plan was for Catherine to spend the night at our place, simplifying some transport logistics on Saturday.

I woke after only a few hours of sleep, and got up to do chores. First on the list was to clean out the car from its winter accumulation of interior junk. Since Dave and Marianna had arranged for an outdoor wedding ceremony, and had asked to borrow my boombox for the music, I made a desultory (and unsuccessful) attempt to clean the boombox of its near decade-long accumulation of grime.

By midmorning, it was time to shower and change. The tuxedo (actually a formal suit) had been rented from Moore's. Dave and I had gone to pick up our suits the previous Wednesday. The suit came with some unfamiliar hardware -- studs, cufflinks, and suspenders. I had to get help from Jill to dress!

With boombox and power supply in the car, I headed up to Dave's place, picked him up, and drove off with him to Marianna's parents' house in Thornhill, just north of Steeles Avenue. Realizing that I had left the house without several critical pieces (laptop, change of shoes, change of clothing) I called Jill (have I mentioned recently how I love cell phones?) who was willing and able to load the items I had forgotten into the other car.

Driving up to the intersection, Dave and I saw the stretch SUV limo on the street, and understood that the schedule, which had been laid out in five minute increments, had already been reset. The bride and bridesmaids photo session was taking longer than anticipated.

I left Dave in the car at a convenient variety store plaza a block away, and ambled over to see what was going on, and indeed, the bridesmaids and bride-to-be were still being photographed.

In addition to Marianna, her bridesmaids, and her parents, some other questionable-looking individuals were also there, loitering around the limo. Mark, who once upon a time had been a room-mate of Dave's, had driven in with Mike, Glen and Gisela. Mark and the other groomsmen -- Dan and Rob (Marianna's brother) were already there when I arrived, and shortly afterward, Rick, the best man, arrived to complete the group.

It took a while, but finally, the photos were done, and the ladies left in the limo, headed for the wedding site at Hunters' Glen Golf Club, all the way across the top of the city.

Dave's mother, along with Mike, Glen, and Gisela had gone over to the plaza to keep him company. When the limo left, I went back, got my car and parked it on the street. Dave sensibly walked over.

I took a photo from Dave's perspective (see his hand holding his garment bag?), just so there would be a record of at least one thing that he saw on his wedding day. You can see from Dave's face where he is standing beside his mother that he is staring blankly at Mark, Gisela, Mike, and Glen with a big "I'm gonna be married" grin on his face.

The photo of the short, fat, balding geek in the rumpled suit was taken by Mike, using my camera. Can't imagine who let him into this gathering...

Eventually, we got Dave into his suit and finished off the groomsmen photos. I headed out to the golf club, getting there more or less at the same time as the others in the limo. There was a bad moment when I thought I had forgotten the power cord for the boom box, but a few minutes of frantic scrabbling in the trunk of the car turned it up, much to my relief and that of the guy responsible for playing the music.

From our staging area, we walked in pairs with a five second separation interval down to our seats in the front row. I escorted a bridesmaid named Michelle who had come in especially from Montreal to share this day with her friend Marianna. Michelle and I led the way in. Dave and the officiant were waiting under a canopy. Marianna, escorted by her father, was last to walk up the rose petal strewn aisle. She joined him there under the canopy and the ceremony began.

The ceremony itself was over fairly quickly, as was the register signing. Out of respect to the happy couple during their actual wedding, I took no photos while the officiant was speaking, but once the document signing started, I figured all bets were off.

I found my family in the audience, which made me happy. Corwin was only one of two children in attendance -- the other child was a little boy named Nicholas, who was the son of Rob, Marianna's brother, and another groomsman.

All brides are especially beautiful on their wedding day and Marianna was no exception. (And speaking of especially beautiful brides -- note to self -- 15th wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks!)

With the wedding and paperwork completed, the bride and groom wandered off to picturesque parts of the golf course for yet more photos while the rest of us waited.

It was at this point that Mark realized that his passengers had gone AWOL. Thinking quickly, I proposed a theory: Gisela, actually a ninja in secret, had somehow been mortally offended by some act of Mike's or Glen's (or perhaps both). She killed them (silently and unnoticeably, of course, being a ninja), hid the bodies in one of the ponds, and was even now crouched in the underbrush waiting to make her escape.

Mark didn't buy it, although as I pointed out, the virtue of my theory was that it explained all known facts. Luckily for Mike and Glen, they hadn't actually been killed, but had only gone off with Gisela to eat.

While all this was happening, Jill had transferred a knapsack filled with high tech essentials into the trunk of my car. She, Corwin, and Catherine also set off to eat lunch -- leaving me to the realization that I hadn't had breakfast yet.

Eventually, the bride and groom photos were done, and we proceeded north to Kleinburg for more photos. Thus it was that I found myself walking the streets of Kleinburg, following Vicky and Ursula, with various other members of the group dispersed around me.

Kleinburg is a very picturesque small town. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is here. On this perfect Saturday, we shared the streets of Kleinburg with at least four other wedding parties.

Dave's Best Man, Rick, and Marianna's Maid of Honour, Candace were enormous calming influences on the newlyweds. Candace was also affectionately referred to as "the schedule Nazi". I spent a goodly portion of the day trying to increase her stress level by speculating on the meaning of the Chinese character that she had tattooed on her (ahem) bosom.

With the photos completed, we headed back south toward the reception hall. There was some time before we were due to be at the Le Jardin Special Events Centre. It was at this point on the trip south that I ditched the rest of the wedding party and slipped into the Legendary Salty Dawg Saloon for a late afternoon breakfast consisting of beer and a cheeseburger.

While we waited for the wedding guests to arrive, there were more photo opportunities. The hall was a basement room, and at the beginning of the evening, was cool and quiet.

I took a lot of pictures. My complete collection of photos from Dave's stag to the wedding totals over 400 images, most of which were taken on the wedding day.

This was the first chance that Corwin had to make the acquaintance of Nicholas, the other boy who was at the wedding. Within minutes, Corwin and Nicholas were tearing around in ever widening circles at higher and higher speeds. In order to establish some semblance of order, I told them that the first one to knock over the wedding cake would cause both of them to be killed. The extra caution that this caused lasted maybe five minutes.

The bride, and groom were seated at a table on on a raised platform between the maid of honour and the best man. The rest of us were seated immediately in front of this head table, facing the rest of the room. From a vantage point facing this table, I was fourth from the right -- Dan and Kristy, a groomsman and bridesmaid who are also married to each other, were on the end, followed by Michelle, then me. Moving further to the left, immediately beside me was Vicky, then Ursula, Mark, and Rob. Rob's son Nicholas occupied a spot right at the end of the table. From my perspective, of course, these directions would have been reversed.

The dinner was good, the speeches were mercifully short, and by this point, my feet were killing me.

I finally got a chance to meet and speak to Dave's grandmother -- a very important person in his life, and the family member who I gather provided the anchor for his own sense of family. This image of a happy Dave, surrounded by a happy parent and a happy grandparent, is a nice family picture from the evening.

Instead of a guestbook, Dave and Marianna had arranged for a photo booth. At the end of the evening, Marianna and her bridesmaids did a last set in the photo booth which I observed and photographed. I had been hoping that these could be used for my new website concept -- -- but no such luck.

For Jill, Corwin, and I, the evening ended much too quickly. Jill and Corwin headed back home, while I, after a shoe change (my feet were REALLY REALLY killing me at this point) took Catherine back to her place.

It was a cool evening when we got outside, a blessed relief from the heat in the reception hall. The night was clear and moonless. In the west, Jupiter burned like a beacon, brighter than anything else in the sky.

I manged to get home well before 1:00 in the morning.

On Sunday, I found an ICQ message from Dave on my computer, with a timestamp just before 3:00 AM:
thank you so much. it meant so much to the both of us for you, jill and corwin to be there. poor nicholas was so bummed out when corwin had to leave. I have never seen him so active and happy. I was floored.

Later in the afternoon, when I went up to get Dave's tux to return along with mine, I learned that Dave and Marianna had left Le Jardin around 1:00 and had gotten back to their place sometime after 2:00, with a stop at her parents. They were happy and relaxed, and looking forward to their tropical vacation which would begin on Monday.

It had been a memorable day and evening to start off a marriage which we sincerely hope will last Dave and Marianna a long lifetime together.

Post History
1 - originally created 2007 May 15
2 - minor editing (typo fixes), wording changes, and content added to improve readability and flow 2007 May 17