Monday, October 28, 2013

All decked out for Halloween

...and I didn't have to do a thing. This perfectly ghoulish draping comes free of charge, thanks to a hard-working spider.

Happy Trick or Treats!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nothing to curse about

Not long ago a friend wrote to share a small rant of his own. Since it doesn't take much to put me into rant mode, here I go, taking up his cause and blathering as usual.

A friend of his had expressed concern to her child's teacher over the fact that the students weren't learning the art of cursive writing, or as we probably refer to it most of the time, handwriting. The simple act of connected writing is apparently a dying art, no longer even part of the curriculum in most jurisdictions.

And no, the term cursive has nothing to do with cursing (even though my frequently flying-away cursor often sets me off on a string of curse words). Origin of the word relates to 'running' -- the letters all running together in a connected line.

It's become a skill parents have to teach kids on their own -- a situation some parents might say also applies to arithmetic, spelling and grammar. Naturally, the Internet offers everything from animated teachers and practice sheets to patterned images you can follow to learn cursive handwriting, but as with anything, it takes time to learn.

Sadly, if you look at my page of notes in the photo, you'll see that somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the art of connecting my letters -- that my notes have devolved into the more common print scrawl we mostly seem to encounter these days.

About the only people I know who have retained their lovely handwriting are friends who are hovering near eighty. Both of them were elementary school teachers, who no doubt offered examples of evenly spaced loops according to the MacLean Method (or, for those in the U.S., Palmer Method) for their students to copy.  

Yet my pal and I aren't the only ones who wonder about this disappearing skill. Still, in the great end, at the rate we're going, will it matter? After all, how long can it be until all of our 'word' processing/writing and reading are done via voice-activated commands?

Monday, October 14, 2013


Over the past few months, while driving to New Westminster, I've seen a large (too large for safety, I suspect) video signboard by the road. Often the message there says simply, 'Gratitude'.

Since the sign is beside a bridge where it's impossible to pull over and stop, I've never managed to take a photo of the sign. So, you just have to imagine it.

But probably more than any video sign, this Thanksgiving weekend has seen me grateful for where I live -- for the weather and for the beautiful spots where we got to hike in the past few days. Thus, today's photo represents just one of those many elements for which I express gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Books – a thing of the past?

Being a Luddite in so many respects, I am definitely on the ‘no’ side of this question. And though I admire the idea behind the 'book art' that was displayed in the window at Project Space, I still prefer my books as undesecrated works with words and pages that I can turn. 

Lately, I've been trying to weed some of my many (too many, even I will admit) books. It's a tricky business, as I keep running into treasures that slow me down. 

Oddly, one that I couldn't resist poking into (and keeping) is Frank Ogden's The Last Book You'll Ever Read. About all I can say to the challenge implied in his title is "No, Frank, not quite."

Sure, I have an e-reader, an object that beats the heck out of carrying an extra piece of luggage packed with holiday reading. But in truth, it's not the first place I turn when I'm looking to read something new. I still appreciate the smell of a new book, sometimes even the vaguely musty smell of an old one. And it seems I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Just this past weekend, the Vancouver Art / Book Fair took place at the Vancouver Art Gallery. And only the weekend before was Word Vancouver. Both events are all about books, magazines and reading. This
table at the Library’s concourse had crafts persons helping people make little books of their own.

This morning's newspaper (now there's a form that, sadly, could indeed become a thing of the past) reported community-bonding activitybased in mini-libraries. Again, books as the common denominator between people.

Hmmm. Maybe instead of getting rid of all these books I've put into boxes, I should start a neighbourhood library of my own.

And if you're still not convinced about the case in support of books, borrow or buy a copy of Lane Smith's It's a Book. Or, at least take a peek at the YouTube version of it.