Creature Comforts and the twelve days of Christmas

Nick Park and his crew are geniuses. An amazing group of creatures try to remember the words and sing The Twelve Days of Christmas in this half hour 2005 clayanimation special. Park is the mastermind behind Wallace and Gromit.  The crow, various dogs, fox, the bats, and the hamster (I am leaving out a bunch), are remarkable matches to the voices of the “great British public”.  I especially admired the hamster’s impression of the Queen’s Christmas Message. I hope you get a chance to see this Christmas treasure this year.  Oh, the singing dish of oysters (or were they clams?) were also very good.  Thank you, CBC for broadcasting this treat.

wintry blast from the past

The photo is of snow covered section of the Simcoe County Forest taken around 1970. The image is a scan of a 126 film size colour slide.

The camera used was this one:

It doesn’t always take an expensive camera to make a good photo.

Here is a cropped version of the image:

all photos stored on flickr

handwriting, the lost art

Oddly enough I found several articles in newspapers this past weekend about the dying art of cursive handwriting. One story reported that an 18 year old had not done any handwriting for school work since grade 4. Students did not remember how to form the letter “I”. All school work was done on the computer and sent as an electronic file or printed and submitted.

The stories pointed to the difficulty teachers face trying to decipher handwritten tests. One private school in Scotland has reintroduced fountain pen handwriting as a curriculum element, almost all work is done with fountain pen.

Handwriting is still part of everyday life. A basic form of communication.

I wonder where those Scottish students buy their fountain pens. My local Staples store had no fountain pens the last time I enquired when I was trying to hunt down some fountain pen cartridges. My next trip down to Toronto, they will be on my shopping list.

My favourite pen is a Rotring 600 fountain pen. On my favourites list of pens: Pilot Fineliner and the venerable Parker T-ball Jotter. I find the Cross ball points a little on the skinny side, but the quality is undeniable.

At the other end of the spectrum but still serviceable, the simple BIC ball point pen with the transparent barrel. I try to keep one or two in my car. I jot notes when I sit with a coffee or am waiting for a friend to show up.

Every year before school resumes, I see bags of a dozen of these simple writing instruments for less than $2.00. I usually pick up a bag or two of BICs. It is an annual reflex and its accompanying purchase is a package of 500 sheets of lined 3-hole punched note paper. Part of the cycle of my seasons. Both are an irresistable urge.

I remember using a Sheaffer fountain pen with cartridges in grade school, 4th grade? The pen’s cost $1.49, if my memory is accurate. A package with pen and a box of 5 ink cartridges. They use to leak a little and my fingers got ink on them as I wrote. I enjoy writing with a fountain pen. Call me old-fashioned and be careful when we shake hands, the ink on my fingers may be fresh.

kittens, Cadbury and Emma, catch some sun

Cadbury and Emma catch some sun

Originally uploaded by canuckshutterer.

December 10th, a sunny day so the kitchen furniture gets moved around a bit, so that the kittens can curl up and sunbathe near the kitchen door

still I struggle to get a decent shot of these black kittens and tortoiseshell kittens……

In this one you can see just how shiny Emma’s coat is these days.

off to the left out of frame is Sugarfoot and Bella, tortoiseshell and black kittens respectively….

festina lente

make haste slowly

Erasmus defined it as “the right timing and the right degree, governed alike by vigilance and patience, so that nothing regrettable is done through haste, and nothing left undone through sloth.”

p. 11 “Katherine Graham: The Leadership Journey of An American Icon” by Robin Gerber

cat bell shadow – a little background

cat bell shadow MVC-007F

Originally uploaded by canuckshutterer.

This is the back (road) side of my home on Georgian Bay. These vertical tongue and groove boards are original to this cottage (fully winterized over time) built in the winter of 1969/70 by a local carpenter employed by my folks. I am not sure that you can get cedar siding boards in this dimension width any more. Or if you can, you had better be sitting down when they explain the price.

It needs a new coat of stain. My legs just were not strong enough this year for the climbing, 2005 was a real bad year for me and the art of walking. I hope to get it done in 2007. The setting sun hits this back wall from early afternoon and consequently it has taken a pounding over the years and looks the worst of all the walls.

When it was first built, I stained the whole building, 16 foot high sections in places, I hate ladders and heights. Not only did I stain it, I started by using varnish to seal ALL the knot holes, then applied a wood preservative (Pentox probably considered toxic these days), and then finished up with stain. When I stained it I worked all the way from top to bottom for a “set” of three boards, so as not to leave any “join” marks. My mom insisted that I do it that way. I was glad I did when I saw a neighbour’s stain job where they worked halfway down and the “join” looked like hell.

The humorous part of the cat bell is that no one has ever rung it. They go past it and hammer on the door. But it looks nice.

Trumpeter Swans still around

Heard them last night as I was sitting reading on the closed in (insulated and heated) sun porch. The kittens and the dog were keeping me company. I cracked open a window and could hear clearly, many trumpeters “playing” their trumpets. Georgian Bay is of course still wide open, it may start freezing over later this month. Enjoyed listening to them tuning up.

This morning a family swam by in front, two white adults, three greyish juveniles…a beautiful sight.

1920s filing cabinets

there were stories in the past year about the virtual case file systems development project debacle by the FBI, I reread one from the Washington Post

I didn’t sleep well last night considering the implications of the fact that FBI agents use paper files

I may be an idiot but why didnt they buy a copy of the Scotland Yard system, NYC  has a crime  tracking system, the serious geeks at NSA, and on  and on.

Makes me wonder what CSIS has in place in Ottawa