the view at 65 is worth it

Monday, May 31, 2010

The best soup ever!

It’s been a week after and I’m still stuck in overdrive. Needless to say, a research paper that’s due next Monday helps drive the machinery of learning with deadlines. But every Saturday morning I make a 6 litre pan of the best homemade soup. Think creamy thick vegetable with a perfect secret blend of spices and a chicken stock base, so rich, the aroma makes me dizzy. I make enough to last me all week, and anyone else who would like some. Lunch – the proverbial large bowl of my soup, a freshly baked Kaiser with ham and cheese and a touch of Dijon. Now, that’s fuel in any engine to keep up the drive for better research and a passion to continue. Could have used some of that in Edmonton. Wouldn’t that make a superb Project Portfolio – Soup as metatheory. Check out the island picture. I thinks that’s me 3 cars back from the front.

The ol' ferry home

I think that's me 3 cars back from the front. That's Vancouver Island on the horizon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Goodbye Edmonton

Goodbye Edmonton, goodbye MACT 2010, until I see you again. Lest you forget, you may be distant from my island home but you are as close as my heart and memories. I cannot forget you nor do I want to. We have much to do as a newly created community of friendship and scholarly kinship. Yes, I had my doubts. Now that the Spring Institute is over I don’t mind sharing them. When our oldest son was critically injured in a vehicle accident in Vancouver on February 11 ( broadsided by a 10 ton truck leaving him near death ) the next two months were extremely stressful for Alice and I as he needed all the help he could get. It meant a lot of commuting from our island home to Vancouver. It was difficult to stay focused on the fact I was going back to school and I was prepared to drop the whole thing if my son needed me. Thank God, our son ( he’s 40 ) became our “miracle baby,” and he had a remarkable recovery. By early April, I felt confident I could re-focus on the Spring Institute. My son’s journey is a long climb back up the mountain of full recovery, but he is doing well by himself again. So, unbeknownst to you my fellow cohortians, your friendship and collaboration meant a lot. And I thank you. Now, where’s that elective I signed up for? It’s gonna be the summer of island love, I mean theory, I mean ….. I need a rest.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A tranquility moment

I had been acutely aware of the amount of stress during graduate studies in such a compressed time frame as our May, 2010 Spring Institute at the University of Alberta. Very soon I realized that this stress was not just my own. The faces of everyone showed how we hit saturation and could go no further unless we took a moment to regroup, repair, and re-kindle. For that reason I created a 3 minute little video clip using my drawings as a moment of reflection, with no dialogue, no text, just a gentle sound track. My fellow cohortians appreciated the gift, so I decided to share the gift with you. It’s on Youtube, and here’s the link. Hope you can connect.

Please don't squeeze me

It’s the day before tomorrow. One day to go, and the Spring Institute will be finished, at least on campus. However, the journey continues in my island studio. But, I will need to warn fellow islanders, perhaps even wear one of those atomic energy warning labels on my sleeve. You see, the reason is, I have become an ecological time bomb. Squeeze me and I’ll rupture into an avalanche of metatheory, traditions, linguistics, cybernetics, social networks, protocols, file sharing, and a host of names and acronyms that feel like the proverbial Noah’s flood. It’s like Gabriola Island’s rainy season, when so much rain falls, the earth is saturated and the rest runs in small waterfalls and bit torrents ( I know, couldn’t resist ) down the road, through culverts, “over hills and through the valley,” to end up in the ocean and to start all over again. Yes, you may hug, but be warned. Tbc.

Monday, May 17, 2010

So what have I learned so far?

One thing I have learned is that the cliché about “rusty brains,” is only partially true. Add a good measure of the oil of learning and those gears will soon hum with activity again. Except for that habit of having an afternoon nap ( aka HPI – Horizontal Processing Initiative ), I’ve managed to survive the first two weeks of “back to school.” Tons of work, more tons of reading and writing, making presentations, and little sleep. But my vocabulary has grown, my insight expanded, my thoughts clearer, and the whole reason for going back to school is beginning to come into a clearer focus. Not bad eh? Except my legs complain from all that walking and I have not been very efficient in getting regular balanced meals. Too many vanilla lattes ( hey, they sell them right inside our university building ), big homemade muffins and Subway sandwiches.Mmmmm.
I see it’s almost dinner time. Oh yes. I also learned to be patient. With myself.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010


One week to go, but this time no TGIF. The Spring Institute is only a preview of what’s to come, and despite the rollercoaster ride of graduate studies compacted into three weeks of intense on-camps work, I actually am looking forward to a summer and fall of study. Mind you, this time it’s from the spacious enclave of my studio. Did I mention it has three large windows, glass sliding doors and two skylights. And then there’s nearby Berry Point with a panoramic 200 degree view of coastal BC, just 3 minutes from my house. I make the 2 ½ hr drive to the Pacific Rim on the West Coast of Vancouver Island at least once a month. Imagine an endless Wild West sandy beach, where on a very busy day there are never more than maybe 80 people. Hello downtown Edmonton. But, the big city’s been kind to me. The smiling people who make those awesome coffees at a host of cafés are as welcome as the vanilla bean lattes themselves. Make sure you check the picture I’ve posted of my studio ( next entry ). Not braggin’. Just looking forward to solitude. And getting back to some creative work. But, should you ever make it to “the coast” feel free to come and see me.

my place of solitude

Ah, the studio, my sanctuary, my refuge, my place of solitude, and the view, trees, trees, more trees, very tall trees over 100 feet tall, trees that creak and groan and fall over during those roaring Pacific windstorms we get, and the power goes out. Solitude, yes, but not always stress-free. But, there’s always my big jar of double salted Dutch licorice which keeps on being filled by a fan of my journey. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Put my foot in that one

I had conceived a brilliant idea for a new interactive social network.
So “MACT 2010” and right in there with all my fellow cohortians. After all, I am capable of new thoughts despite my ‘seniors’ status, right? Thoroughly impressed by three fellow graduate students who gave a brilliant presentation on Twitter, I proposed they start the network. I even asked if I could join their club. One student remarked that the idea was interesting ( not his words, but I was determined to believe he thought so in his head ). But his words were ”that’s so 1994.” Undeterred I pressed ahead advocating the merits of my creative deliberations. “But, it is a good idea,” I replied. Another member of the club smiled and said, “1994? I was in grade 10.” The resulting roar of laughter could be heard throughout Enterprise Square. I mumbled my parting shot, “but 1994 was good year.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

a valuable lesson

Cohort 2010 is the name of our group as we study, research, and discuss together at Enterprise Square in downtown Edmonton. We are a mixed lot yet there is a collective energy among us all including the professors, that I have not experienced in a very long time. We all have lots to contribute, yet everyone respects the other’s “place in line.” No free-for-all and everyone can speak freely. No one is “lording it over” the other. Refreshing. We are a diverse group, yet there is an unspoken professionalism that we truly care about one another’s thoughts and opinions. Twice refreshing. They’re even open to a Gabriola hug. The content and context of what we study together and on own are mind-boggling, often confusing and intimidating, but then there’s that epiphany when the lights go on and you understand. You can disagree with conventional thought or challenge every author’s contribution in the course reading material. So, what’s the valuable lesson? If the heart’s in it, then the rest will fall into place. I see a lot of heart in Cohort 2010.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to escape noise?

A restless Sunday morning while northbound on highway 2. Going for a long drive – anywhere. They were noisy at TH. Just a few pages of coffee shop people this time. My head is swimming in metatheory. Through Westmount towards Slave Lake. Noise following me in the shadows. Then there were the voices of my loved ones. I miss them very much. Back on campus in my cell, I have company all afternoon. Gordon Lightfoot, The Doors, Iona, Toby Emerson, Ennio Morricone, and Dire Straits. Life without television. And they can only connect me to wireless on Monday, when the office is open and I’m downtown attending classes. Even knowledge has bureaucracy. Those who stroll on campus look down at the pavement. I checked. It wasn’t my cologne. Nobody smiles. But it’s the noise of loneliness that drives my thoughts. But, there was an escape. I fell asleep while praying. I woke and the noise was gone. But, what’s with the rabbits? UofA, like UBC, VIU, and UVIC, all have resident rabbits. Lots of them. They stare at me. Is it a new campus security initiative? I was sure I saw a couple of them with bunnycams.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our "head office" downtown Edmonton

Excellent location. Scholarly pursuits surrounded by coffee shops. Inside view is the Atrium. Now if only our classrooms looked like that....

Week 1. Phew! What a ride!

I’m not one for mountain climbing. Like to watch it on National Geographic, but personally, I prefer a paved highway. Mount Washington, about 1 ½ hrs. north from where I live, is a spectacular snow-covered mountain, one of the best for skiing in BC. Don’t do that either, but loved the Winter Olympic’s giant downhill events, on TV of course. There’s a paved highway to the top. I don’t do rides at theme parks either. Not so this past week. Had to climb a pretty tall mountain called “sociopsychological theory,” and race down its rollercoaster slope, otherwise known as “stand-up presentation time with back-up Powerpoint.” But, I had a tremendous partner for the event. I think we aced it. Oh yes, forgot to mention. We had a blizzard this week. Got blown off my feet ( almost ) in a cool way. Haven’t had to “bend into the wind” for a long time. But there’s always week 2.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day 1: thump, thump!

At first I thought it was the sound of steel wheels pounding down a track as two freight trains, No.’s 502 and 503 came barreling towards me. Somebody! Help! But then I realized the thump thump was my own heart beating with anticipation at the prospect of having to answer the question, “so Gerrit, can you tell us something about yourself?” A dangerous question to ask me, so say my friends, unless you have at least an hour to spare.
But then, isn’t that the grand design of communication, to say much with little? Dare I say, perhaps Twitter is a better deal than Wikipedia? But how to define “much” and “little?” Well, tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meet‘n Greet Jitters

There we were - a cohort of some 30 people, dressed business casual, our only communications tool a name tag on a string. Easy for short people, but when you’re tall like me it means a lot of bending. What a thrill to meet so many interesting people, from literally all over the country and overseas, and faculty members too. Within minutes, conversations sprang up as if we were at a family reunion waiting with anticipation to tell our stories since last we met. Wonderfully catered, a quick tour of classrooms, introductions, and whatever jitters I had accumulated over the long drive from Gabriola Island to Edmonton, soon dissipated in the anticipation of friendships to be born during our Spring Institute. Tomorrow it’s “show time” at 8:30 am, unless I count coffee and muffins at 7:30 as the real curtain’s-up at centre stage. But, I confess, I missed my afternoon NAP ( Not Actively Participating). I must not underestimate the degree to which I will be engaged in a scholarly pursuit of something as enigmatic as theory. Intimidating sometimes. Tiring for sure. One fellow cohort member said “I’m good till midnight.” Me? I’m done for the day and it’s 5:30 pm. Tbc.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

happy trails

The ferry leaving our small island on early Thursday evening was nice, and so was the Friday 5:45 am view of a full moon setting over Vancouver Island, but when I got to Rogers Pass, brrrr. It was the 1st of May. Banff was better.

accutane lawsuit