Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer project

I'm working on an interesting project that I hope to complete by September.  I've got many boxes of slides that date back to the 1950s, mostly taken by my mom.  The earliest ones date from before her marriage to my dad, when she was working as a secretary up in Whitehorse.  They're from the late '50s, then I believe there might be some wedding photos, then the bulk of the pictures are of me and my sister, from birth up to early school years.

Watching these slides used to be a big, once-a-year event when we were kids.  Of course, it was a lot of work and bother: we had to haul out and set up the projector screen, then get the old projector set up on a chair.  And of course, we had to wait until it was nighttime, so the living room would be properly dark for the complete theatre experience.  But it WAS an experience!  We'd make popcorn and even have the treat of a Coke! This was an exciting novelty for us, even though the slides were the same every time.  But we only got to see them once a year (if that) so we were never bored.

When my mom died, somehow I ended up with all the slides, probably because I was the only one who still had a projector and took slides myself.  The boxes of slides travelled around the world with us, and at one time I transferred them from the old square metal boxes they had originally been in, to a plastic carousel that held many more.  I also took the trouble of writing down titles for as many as I could on the numbered sheet that came with the carousel.

Well, times change and technology moves on.  We got rid of our projector and screen after we moved to this house, and I'm sure we hadn't seen the slides for almost 10 years prior to that.  Our interests moved on to computers, and soon I was scanning documents to save to the hard drive, when I read about photographic services that would do the same thing for slides.

I looked into it, but besides the cost, the problem was that most of these places would remove the slide from its little cardboard frame, and then leave it like that!  I figured that would make it difficult to store the original slide, so I never went any further with the project.

Well, a few months ago I was in Canada Computers when I saw a little machine for sale that looked very like the old-fashioned slide viewers we used to have when I was young.  It's the Ion Film 2SD Plus slide and film scanner. Considering the number of slides I had, it would be a lot cheaper to get this machine and scan them myself, so I took a gamble and bought it.

Today I started on a carousel I'd found on a rack in the garage - stuffed in there years ago to keep it out of James's clutches, no doubt.  These were pictures from 1963 to 1965, covering my 4th birthday to the Christmas after my sister was born.  Except for the fact that the scanner can't quite cover ALL the area of the slide (it crops a little on the sides), I think the pictures look very good:

These are me from 1963 - just think, the slides themselves are 50 years old!  It's amazing that they've survived this long.

My mom, my sister and me.  Note the matching velvet dresses!  My aunt made those for us.

A last one of my sister.  I've always loved this picture.  PerSPECTive, Mrs. Brown!

Anyway, I went down to the basement to start hunting down more slides, and I found several more carousels, going up to about 1967.  Then there are 2 carousels of pictures I took myself on a trip to Germany in 1977, when I was 17.  Pretty good, too, taken with my mom's old Voigtlander camera.

But I haven't been able to find the slides of the trip to Yugoslavia we took in 1967 - Mom, my sister, me and I think Auntie May.  That was to visit the relatives we'd never seen, whom my grandma had left behind when she immigrated to Canada after WWI.  There were a lot of pictures from there, and I hope I can find them again.

When I've scanned them all, I'm going to put them on dvds, and perhaps even make a slide show with music, and send it to family members, so we can all see these pictures again.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mars Needs Women!

Well, they needn't bother looking for them at Cambridge.

"It ain't no place for a woman, gal, but pretty men go thar."

(Hat tip: The Thinking Housewife)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Weddings in the land of the truly vulgar

My sister sent me this story, which happened in Ontario (Hamilton, I think), but is starting to get noticed elsewhere.
Allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine you're asked to attend the wedding of a former colleague, and suppose you say yes. Instead of giving a more traditional wedding gift, you decide to go rogue by curating your own gift baskets filled with culinary delights like marshmallow fluff and Jolly Ranchers. You attach a note that reads, "Life is delicious...Enjoy." You are clever, and you enjoy the satisfaction of yet another wedding gift well done. Then, out of nowhere, your fun daydream is interrupted when you receive the following text from one of the brides:
Heyyy I just wanna say thanks for the gift but unfortunately I can't eat any of it lol I'm gluten intolerant. Do u maybe have a receipt
It gets better. After another exchange of texts, in which the gift-giver obstinately refuses to take a hint, the "bride" lays her cards on the table:
I want to thank you for coming to the wedding Friday. I'm not sure if it's the first wedding you have been to, but for your next wedding... People give envelopes. I lost out on $200 covering you and your dates plate... And got fluffy whip and sour patch kids in return Just a heads up for the future :)
And believe it or not, that's just the beginning. I didn't mention that this was a lesbian "wedding", but that really doesn't strike me as the biggest problem here. The comments that follow, both on this site and the original newspaper, are filled with comments by people who aren't homosexual, but basically AGREE with the sentiments of the complaining gift-getters. They just deplore the rude tone, or the crassness of openly brandishing a calculator and braying about actual dollar figures. THAT is going too far, they concede, but they don't question the basic right of the host of a wedding party to exploit her guests for financial gain. And they blame the gift-giver for not conforming to this very basic rule of the jungle.

This is so removed from my idea of propriety, I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up to inexplicably find myself in a wholly alien environment. I can't remember actually receiving lessons from my mom on how to behave when receiving a wedding present. I think I'd been trained from a young age through smaller events like birthdays that a present is a present, and you always say "Thank you", no matter what you may privately be thinking. I suspect that started with Christmas presents of socks and underwear, when a kid's natural reaction would be "BUT I WANTED A SPIROGRAPH!!!!!" and that impulsive statement had to be suppressed to preserve family peace.

By the time we got to weddings, I think I had the rule down pretty well. But even if mercenary thoughts tried to creep into my mind, I could put them down by reflecting on the serious and important event the gifts were honouring, and that is what I see completely lacking in these wedding imposters.

Maybe it's inevitable. For years, decades now, weddings have shrunk the solemnity of marriage while aggrandizing the material festivities that adorn it. When normal people see weddings as an excuse for exhibitionism and acquisitiveness, how can we really be surprised when people who don't even have the example of tradition and nature shove their way into the picture?

So many things in life have become separated from their reasons for being. Decades ago, when homosexuals began lobbying for the right to inherit their deceased partner's pension benefits, I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that people have completely forgotten why these survivor's benefits exist in the first place. They were designed to provide for *widows* - married women who'd damaged their own earning ability by leaving the work force to have children. It was a logical rule: society had an interest in encouraging women to marry and have children; they'd be reluctant to do so if they feared that they could be left destitute in their old age, so it was agreed that their husband's pension would continue for the rest of their life. Yes, this ended up benefitting some people who didn't really need it: married women with their own careers, or without children, who could actually have their own pension. But there was no good reason at all for extending this benefit to two men, both capable of earning their own living, and neither of whom had to sacrifice a career to have and raise children.

But such a common-sense reflection is entirely beyond society today. Instead, the survivor's benefit is considered as a sort of consolation prize for the loss of a bed partner, and is extended to people who don't deserve it under any other name. Indeed, I think that properly married people today have probably forgotten why this benefit was instituted in the first place, and wouldn't be able to describe why they get it, except that it's a sad thing for a spouse to die and the money might make them feel a bit better.

So now we have two women without any of the old, natural undergirding assumptions that go with marriage, and they have no idea why anyone should give them presents when they announce that they're going to play house together, but they're just determined to get as big a pot of gold as they can anyway. Do they ever wonder why people receive gifts at a wedding, and not when they're on a date? I don't think it's ever occurred to them that a young man and woman getting married would soon have a lot of expenses because they'd probably have a baby within a year. So money to buy a house would be useful, and things like toasters and cutlery would be welcome because they could save the money they'd normally have spent to buy them to save for the baby. No, too practical. Instead, these parasites on a dying culture don't know what they're doing, but they see other people going through these mystifying rituals so they must too. No wonder such shallow, stunted people would focus on the dollar value of gifts and food. If chickens could talk, I wouldn't expect to hear anything more enlightening than the greedy squawking for loot in this article.

Thursday, June 06, 2013


By the way, I'm now on Facebook. Yes, probably the last person in North America to join, and one of those middle-aged adults whose presence has contributed to making it uncool and no longer trendy.

But if anyone of you want to follow me there, here's my address:

Mention who you are from the blog, so I can add you to my friend list.  I haven't yet figured out how to put one of those buttons on the sidebar; the process looks a bit complicated and hard to find among all the Facebook instructions pages.

The only reason I have this page is because we were trying to set one up for the WAVE Program, and couldn't get access to the email to activate it. So I said, "Why not make one for me, so we can practice on it and see how it works?" Once our web expert set it up, well, it was THERE, so I figured I might as well use it! It may be easier to post family updates on there instead of the blog, because it is faster and easier to use. If I have longer essays to write, the blog might be more suitable.

The Garden of Eden look

Thomas went out last night to see a movie with the Young Challengers group - it's a social group for young adults with autism. He usually comes back home around 8:15PM.
 Last night I became absorbed in watching a 1984 BBC adaptation of The Invisible Man, and forgot about everything else. Finally I saw him flitting about and realized, 'Oh, he's home!' and went back to my program. 
Next thing you know, I hear James's voice.... coming through the open bedroom window. From outside! Oh, no, I thought - Thomas came in and didn't shut the door behind him! I ran downstairs and out the front door and sure enough, there was James standing in front of the house. STARK NAKED. I hustled him inside. Hopefully he wasn't out long, and ours is a busy street with few pedestrians, plus we have a very big tree in front of the house.  I hope the cars were going past too quickly for anyone to get a very good look at him, and he did have his back to the traffic when I caught up with him. At any rate the police never showed up, so if anyone saw anything they didn't take any action. 
But when I heard James's little babble coming through the window it was like a horror movie:  "The voice is coming from outside the house!!!"  AUUUUGGGGHHHH!