Sat, Jan
17
2015

Leaves of Snow

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Minus 18 and sunny is the cold that lifts your spirit. Zero degrees and cloudy is the cold that crushes your soul.

Discuss.

Fri, Jan
9
2015

Fear and Delight

Wow. Just watch.

Though you would expect it, the video wasn’t made just with CGI, but a clever arrangement of digital cameras pointed against a green screen. The “composite camera” technique was first pioneered by the video’s director in an experimental film, seen below.

Mon, Jan
5
2015

A Question...

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Has anybody seen Yoda and Waldorf in the same place at the same time? Hmm…

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The upper image was snapped by me in the gift shop of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport.

So, as you know, our car broke down yesterday near Mars, Pennsylvania. Coming off the Turnpike, we whacked the median (the turning lane suddenly became a median when I wasn't looking, so there was a fearsome BANG! from the bottom of the car; fortunately, the median had a low enough profile that we were able to drive over it, otherwise), then managed to park by a Five Guys Burger and Fries and eat dinner before we discovered on our return that the car was dead. The car jumpstarted fine, and I was able to get to the hotel, but I needed another jumpstart to take the thing to the nearest Firestone Auto Care Centre for an assessment and repair.

Well, now it's the morning after, and the repair is now done. The diagnosis: a dead battery. Nothing else. A full electrical assessment found no phantom draws, and a look beneath the car showed nothing untoward save for the usual wear and tear. A new battery fixed the problem. So, having the battery die after whacking the median? Total coincidence. The fact that we parked beside another car that had also broken down that evening? Also a total coincidence.

And we were fortunate to break down within steps of both a garage and a hotel, near where we were planning to stop anyway. Yes, we're out $200 for the breakdown, but things could have been much, much worse.

So, now we head home, hoping that the good side of our strange luck holds.

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Erin once said to me that she had “strange luck”. Strange luck is neither good nor bad, but it is unusual. Things happen. They may be good, or they may be bad, but they’re not boring. And soon after she said this, the television series Strange Luck debuted on Fox.

So, this past year has felt like a series of two steps forward followed by one step back. We successfully helped Michael and Rosemarie land in Canada. I successfully sold Icarus Down to Scholastic Canada. Erin’s Sorrow’s Knot won the Monica Hughes Science Fiction and Fantasy Award at this year’s TD Canadian Children’s Book Awards. We travelled to Calgary, Lethbridge and Saskatoon. Our writing careers, and our lives with our kids have had their ups and downs, but mostly ups.

But Erin is also still recovering from concussion. We’ve had a frustrating time selling our house and moving to a new place (things seem to be coming together at last — fingers crossed!). And, today, driving home from seeing my father-in-law, his wife, and an assortment of cousins at Washington, DC, our car inexplicably stopped working after a stop near Mars, Pennsylvania (I suspect it has something to do with a battery cable or a starter motor).

Life, in short, has been interesting. And while it would be nice if we could take the good without the bad, if it is the case that some of the bad has to be mixed in with the good in our lives, I’m grateful for our lives overall, for our kids, the city we live in, and the fact that we are able to make a living on our writing.

The year 2015 promises to be pretty active in terms of writing work (fingers crossed), and the year promises to be a lot of hard work. But the opportunities ahead of us are exciting, and worth the effort. They also wouldn’t have been possible without the support of friends and family.

So, here’s hoping for another “strange” year — hopefully one where the balance of luck is more on the good side, not the bad side.


How We Spent Our Christmas Vacation

After arriving in Washington and touring the Air and Space Museum, we rode the Metro into the Washington Mall and checked out the Museum of Natural History, as did all the rest of the population of Washington. The kids had a great time, but the crowds were a little draining. Still, nobody said we had to see everything Washington had to offer on one visit.

The next day was far more low key, with the kids visiting their cousins and, among other things, going to see the new Annie movie. I quite liked it. The only real problem I had was with the music, which I felt was far too auto-tuned for my liking (surprisingly so, because I thought several of the principals could have done just fine without it), but the acting and the direction were very strong. It’s a nice, light, heartwarming story well acted, and the dance numbers were well done. All in all, it was a pleasant time to spend the afternoon. And Nora loved it.

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