Monday, April 11, 2022

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Toronto Star: A Positive Outlook Not Always in Your Best Interest

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Globe and Mail: I've Beaten Cancer but Please Stop Telling Me I'm Fine

University Affairs: See You in Court: Five Instructive Cases for Universities

Saturday, August 29, 2015

More Glass Fusing

A couple weekends ago, I did another workshop at Nanopod Studios. This was a glass fusing workshop, which I have done before (and love doing!!!) but Tosca Teran (the owner creative wizard of Nanopod)  did things differently than what I have tried elsewhere.  (You may recall that I did a post a few months ago on Pate de Verre which was also at Tosca's studio).

At this workshop, there were tons of materials to work with, in addition to sheets of glass.  There were colourful glass rods (about the length and diameter of a pencil), stingers (very thin glass rods - skinnier than a spaghetti noodle), and lots of Frit (basically glass sprinkles), plus paint.

Another Budding Artiste named Lori did the workshop with me.  She too has blogged about the experience, and I have to admit her photos are much better than mine, so I shamelessly stole a few of them!

These are the pendants before being kilned.  Mine are mostly the blue ones in the middle (but not the larger ones along the upper and left edge of the frame). I also did the red one near the top.  You can see the use of the stringers on the blue square with white "stripes".  Stringer were cool to work with, they snap so easily.  The two dark blue and turquoise ones to the right - that sort of look like weird blue Lego pieces are the ones I did with glass rods.  The rods cuts fairly easily with a tool that looks like it belongs to an evil 18th Century dentist.  The whitish one at "one o'clock" is layers of clear and light blue glass with lots of Frit between the layers.  And finally, towards the left, the dark blue square with a whitish/clear piece on top is another example of Frit (plus some paint).  And at the bottom left, is a cool piece made by my classmate Lori.  Zoom in a bit and you can see that it's a dolphin jumping out of the water.

Another pre-kiln picture; that's Lori in the background.  My shirt and Lori's pants are a perfect colour match! 

Here's what all of our pendants look like after spending a few hours at extremely high temperatures - like hotter than a Manhattan sidewalk in July.

A close-up of the pendants I made. Too bad the photo above has such glare. But you can see how the ones with stringers turned out - pretty cool, eh? The two mottled dark blue ones in the center/upper right (above) are the "Lego" ones after being baked.  And in the pic below, you can see how nicely the Frit melted.

What made this workshop different than other is that we got to choose one pendant to make into a ring (sterling silver band).  I confess that I suck at metal work (see previous post on Sawpiercing).  So, Tosca did 99% of the work, but I did file the metal a wee bit.  

At any rate, I really like the way my ring turned out!  And I am very, very impressed with Lori's ring.  I think it's stunning!  I love the colours, I love the size and shape, and I hope she wears it often.  It's just gorgeous! 
Lori has more pics on her blog called Frivolous At Last.  You can check them out here.

Lori's ring - awesome, eh?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jewellery: Sawpiercing

Earlier this summer I did a jewellery workshop.  This was my first time working with metals, and it was much easier than I would have guessed.  I've done a number of artsy-fartsy workshops in the past, and I really get a kick out of making jewellery. And, I enjoy trying my hand at various types of creative activities.  Writing is fun, but making something tangible offers a different kind of outlet and a different feeling of satisfaction.  And it's quicker!

In the pic above, I am sawing a little square of brass.  It's fairly easy to saw through... if you have good technique.   What I mean by this is that it does not require a huge amount of strength, but the saw blades are very fussy and if you go too fast or at the wrong angle, they snap.  I broke 15 blades in four hours!

Yikes!  The photo above is my first time soldering.  I'm terrified of fire and explosive gas canisters.  The bits of solder themselves are finicky.  The metal balls up when it melts, and you have to act quickly to spread it into place.

The final stage was buffing and polishing the piece.  This was easy, as the machine does all of the work.  But you need to take your time with it - the metal gets hot from the friction.

Ta-dah!  I don't really love the design (but don't hate it either).  I simply cut random shapes into the metal without any specific plan, and this is what I ended up with.  I guess it's kind of cool - certainly one of a kind!  

I have to admit, even though I learned a lot and enjoyed trying something new, I do not LOVE working with metal.  It's a very precise skill; you have to be very exact and really pay attention to the details.  That doesn't jibe well with my usual bull in a china shop approach to so many things.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dating Post #1 - Ick Ick Ick

Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick 

People often ask me about inspirations for my characters. Ha!  The answer is Real Life!  I swear to gawd, I have a magnet in the middle of my forehead that draws freaks and weirdos to me.  I seem to meet a great number of them via the dating world. So, I'll be doing a few posts in the coming weeks about dating in general, but for now, let me begin with El Jerko Supremo.   

I had one date with Super-Doofus, and it was so bad it almost made me want to give up on dating all together.  

Dickhead and I arranged to meet at a restaurant.  He had arrived a little early and was already seated at a table when I got there (that detail will be important a little while from now...)

Dude is middle aged.  He told me that for his "midlife crisis" he decided to get some tattoos.  He got his first tattoo a few months ago.  Now, I am not against tattoos, and any adult who wants one, should go ahead and get one.  But...

On Mr. Moron's forearm was a tattoo, a German quotation, comprising a few lines of text.  Did I mention it was in German? Yes, German.  Dingbat does not speak German.  But he still got a tattoo in German. 

Loosely translated, the tattoo said: "I have no God, I have no master. I am my own master, I am my own destiny."  Something like that.  But in German.  I have no comment on the content of the tattoo, or the "philosophy" of it.  (Nietzsche anyone???) 

The tattoo had the German pronoun "I" four times.  The German first person singular pronoun in the subjective case is "Ich".  The pronunciation is exactly the sound a cat makes when hacking up a hairball.   Remember: There were four instances of the 1st person singular pronoun on his arm.  Four. 

A sloppy pronunciation of "Ich" might sound like "ick" (rhymes with "sick" or "dick" or "prick".)

Well, Mr. Dumb Dumb - who apparently has never heard of  a German-English dictionary - had it spelled  "ick" in three of the four instances.  The fourth time, it was spelled correctly (Ich).  It's 2015 for gawd's sake... Look it up online before getting PERMANENT ink on your 

I commented on the three misspellings and he replied: "Yeah, it's got a few typos."  Typos?  Are you kidding me?  I really wanted to stick a fork in my eye at that point.  But I politely sat through the WORST DATE EVER IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF DATING. 

When it was time to leave, Dorkface stood up and put on his... hoodie.  Captain Idiot told me  where he got the hoodie (in case I want to get one for myself?)  Here's the link to the site from whence he ordered a Hyena Hoodie - complete with a tail.  YES... MY DATE HAD A TAIL!   
And, yeah, Sir Loser Lose-A-Lot is about 50, and he's still single.  I wonder why?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Recent Reads: Heist Bandidos Takedown

This was off to a rip-roaring start.  I loved the first half of the book!  But then... meh...  The second half felt unrelated to the first half, and I found it rather predictable at times, and a little bit forced (plot-wise) at other times.  I generally enjoy Da Silva's books, so my lukewarm feeling about this one won't deter me from reading more by him.

WOW!!!  This was terrific!  A weirdly, wildly wonderful tale of some of the most inept would-be tough guys ever!  Edwards has a terrific voice, and he gives enough detail to make you see and feel the places and people, but not so much that it feels bogged down.  A thoroughly enjoyable book - highly recommended!!

Totally MEH.  I was a die-hard fan of Evanovich/Plum from day one, but now... The books just feel forced and silly now.  Once upon a time, Stephanie's shenanigans were a delightful romp, but the magic is gone.  I'll probably read the next installment - because, hey, there's still Morelli and Ranger - and I hope the next one harkens back to earlier books.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Recent Reads: Great Angel Jury

It was okay, I guess.  Ferguson made some great points and I agreed with some of what he had to say.  I particularly liked his discussion of community involvement.  But... there were a number of points I disagreed with.  Overall, I guess it made me think, so that's good, but overall, I was a bit disappointed.

Hmmm... now, let's see... I read this in 2015 - about six decades after it was first published.  Had I read it way back when, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it more.  The depictions of women, the interactions between Hammer and women, the dialogue, etc. all really grated on me.  I liked the plot and the pace, and Hammer is the ultimate Hard-boiled PI, but still, it was hard to take at times... And I figured out whodunit before I got to the end.  

This was a good read - and different from my usual tastes in crime/mystery fiction.  The plot was terrific, with lots of twists and turns.  The settings and description - the research that must have gone into this!!! - were great, very detailed.  I could see the places, and I could feel the tensions the characters experienced.    Recommended.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Glass Blowing!!!

On Saturday, I tried glass blowing for the first time ever.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I really enjoyed doing it.  The workshop was at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and I was working with instructor Anne.  She's been doing glass works for many years, and she is now in her third year as a resident artist at the Centre.  

The hot, fiery furnace looking thing above is actually called a Glory Hole.  Yes, really. 
The process begins with a scoop of molten glass (from the boxy looking furnace in the right hand side of the photo).  The glass is stuck on the end of the metal rod.  

The temperature of the Glory Hole is about 2250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Holy shit that's hot!  So, you stick the rod into the Glory Hole and keep rotating it to get some shape.

Then, you dip the mushy lump of molten glass into trays with bits of coloured glass.  You then stick it back in the heat so that the added colour melts in.  The process is repeated a couple of times (as more colours are added). 


Then, Anne used tongs to shape the top a bit and to smooth out any stray pieceds around the neck (of the metal rod).  

Then it was time to blow, blow, blow.  The harder you blow, the bigger (and thinner) the ornament becomes.  Throughout the process, the rod must continually spin, or the glass will droop and sag (and your sphere will become a deformed oblong or some other odd shape). 

Because the glass is so darn hot, it needs a day or so to cool down, so I picked it up today (Monday).  


My three ornaments!  The small, turquoise one was a deliberate SNAFU - I just wanted to see how it would look without being forced into shape.  Kinda cool...

Ed and Aurora - two other instructors/resident artists - stood at the ready to add the stem (so the ornament can be hung on a Xmas tree).  It's juts done with more molten glass and a pair of pliers to twist it into shape.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pate de Verre

After burying myself in school for the last several weeks, I finally got busy doing something new and different, and very cool: Pate de Verre.  I had no idea what this was all about when I stumbled upon the website for Nanopod Studio and saw their list of upcoming workshops.  

But since it wasn't terribly expensive and was just an afternoon, I figured: What the heck - might as well give it a try...  

The instructor was Tosca Teran y Hidalgo, and she was amazingly patient.  I think I asked her 627 questions (many of which were duplicates!)   

The inside of the mold is "painted" before you do anything else.  The paint is not what you'd expect.  It's very finely-powdered, coloured glass to which you add some kind of magic solution to bind it enough so that it will hold in place.  Once you have the outer (or bottom) layer painted, then you fill the mold with little bits of ground glass - the pieces are so small and so fine that they looks like grains of sugar.  

Next, the masterpiece is kilned for several hours.  The temperature of the kiln is fairly low (comparatively speaking), which is why the glass granules retails their shape, as opposed to melting together. 

Here's a short YouTube video that gives a brief explanation of what Pate de Verre is and how it's done.  

*  *  * 

So, I did the first part (above) on Dec. 13, and went back tonight to pick up my finished piece.  Very cool! 

I had to use a little chisel  and a pick (it looked like a medieval dental instrument!) to gently smash away the plaster cast.  I literally broke the mold.  Anyhow, the pics tell the story and you can see my colourful skull end result.  

Did I mention that this activity was very cool?!  I had a lot of fun doing this and look forward to doing it again some day.

The five photos above were taken by Tosca Teran - the artist-instructor who owns Nanopod Studio.  Tosca is awesome - and very patient!  Her studio is filled with all sorts of her creations: jewellery, metal works, glass works, a wild pair of shoes and a very funky pink felt headpiece/wig! I can't wait to return and discover some new creations.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm in good company!

It was a pleasant surprise to see Blood and Groom listed in this "tour" of Toronto mystery novels, especially since the book came out just over five years ago!   And I have to say, I'm in great company.  I've read just about all the other authors mentioned on this page (which is from the January 2015 issue of Toronto Life Magazine, on page 97).  Pretty cool that Blood and Groom is listed as one of the "ten grisliest" whodunits!  Since it was PI Sasha Jackson's first case, I'm sure she would agree.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 7

Very good!  Of course, in my case, they were speaking to the choir.  Lawrence and Richard put forward a pretty solid, very coherent argument.  

Kind of neat, but not exactly Earth-shattering.  Fun to see a face and say "Ooooh!!  Him!!!  I didn't know he played that character..."  

As as fan of improvisation, this was a treat.  Again, not exactly Earth-shattering, but interesting.