My bassoon teacher

My former bassoon teacher
My former bassoon teacher

On Christmas Eve, my former bassoon teacher was featured on the front page of the Beacon Herald, the local newspaper in Stratford.

I remember the giant inflatable penguin, but she seems to have gotten her hands on a bunch of other inflatable decorations since I moved away.

I have a lot of fond memories of bassoon lessons with her. I remember when she taught me to make my own reeds, and the times she would threaten to hit me with knitting needles when I messed up. When I went away to university, she traced the outline of her needles on one page of my orchestral excerpt so that I would remember not to mess up my audition. I also remember the time she smuggled me into the orchestra loft at the Festival Theatre and all the cats that lived with her.

I like to think that much of what I know about teaching I learned from her.

La Gare Centrale

Montréal's Gare Centrale
Montréal's Gare Centrale

Here is Montréal’s central railway station, all decked with Christmas lights and decorations. When I was there, I overheard some very loud, somewhat creepy laughter from somewhere in the station.

I looked around, and caught the eye of an elderly woman who also heard the laughter and found it disconcerting. We saw each other’s confusion and shared a moment.

Weird to find this in the pages of one of your books

Eat a hamburger. Do it now.
Eat a hamburger. Do it now.

Pickles was looking through some of the books that we don’t plan to keep, either because we have multiple copies, or because we don’t like the book enough to keep it around forever, and she found this. It’s a post-card sized advertisement for the beef that McDonald’s uses in its hamburgers. She was using it as a bookmark at some point in the past.

This is just weird.

If you can give me a good translation of the Chinese phrase at the bottom of the advertisement, you will be awarded 4 points.

My unicorn doesn’t look right

"My unicorn doesn't look right"
"My unicorn doesn't look right"

I’ve been saving this post for a special day. And today is 09.09.09. At 9h, I have my Bioethics Theory course. What were you doing?

The last time that I was in Stratford, visiting my family, I dragged my little sister out of her bed to play a game with me and Pickles and mom and dad. My little sister had gone to sleep early, saying that she was tired from work or VBS or something.

We decided to play Cranium, and part of the way through, she started drawing a unicorn for Pickles. She started by drawing the horn first, and then drawing the horse around it.

My little sister must have been tired, because she stopped drawing and looked at her picture and proclaimed, “My unicorn doesn’t look right, and I don’t know why.”

After a few minutes, she realised that she had put the horn in the wrong place. Does this make it a rhinoceros rather than a unicorn? I grabbed the piece of paper while she was still incapacitated from laughter, before she could correct it. I like the unicorn just the way it is, to be perfectly honest. :)

The Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill

This is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill
This is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill

Here is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit. It is an extremely impressive structure. Just look at it! On the first floor, there are seminar rooms, and a fancy-looking foyer, and there are offices all through the other floors.

After my meeting with the philosophy department, it was recommended to me that I speak with the Biomedical Ethics Unit, to discuss my course choices, and to see what courses they could offer me for the autumn term.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the unit’s administrative coordinator, asking if I was their long-lost bioethicist.

“I might be …” I answered, not entirely sure. Apparently they were wondering when I was going to drop by or contact them. I had been doing most of my communication with the Department of Philosophy, but my programme is very much inter-disciplinary, and so I had neglected to communicate much with the Bioethics side.

We figured everything out and chose the remaining course that I will take this term, and I wandered off and took some pictures of the interior of the building, which is beautiful.

This is the interior of the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building
This is the interior of the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building

Here is a photograph of the sitting area that you’ll see when you first enter the building. Doesn’t it just look warm and inviting? Of course it does.

When I was talking to the director of the Bioethics programme, I finally got to ask about how big my class is. Ready for this? It turns out that there’s four new students in Bioethics this year. Four. Usually it’s a two-year degree, but of course there’s always a few hangers-on, and so there’s about 16 people in the programme, in total.

That’s a small class!

I remember back at Western, in second year, my professor proudly announced that at the time, my Orgo class was the single largest chemistry course ever taught at the undergraduate level, at 1600 students.

Mind you, I’m sure that there will be more than four people in my classes, but still: Four.

Here is a photograph of the door to the Unit, which is also beautiful. I’m going to enjoy studying here. :)

This is the front door to the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building
This is the front door to the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building

Why is that there?

This is the James Administration Building at McGill University
This is the James Administration Building at McGill University

Here is the James Administration Building at McGill. It is a big stone building just to the right of the Arts Building, and that’s where I went to get my student card. I expect that I’ll spend many long hours there in line-ups, just like I did at the Stevenson-Lawson Building at UWO.

But did you notice something strange? Look closely at the photograph and tell me if you see what I see.

Look just above the McGill crest, between the two swirlies over the “ADMINISTRATION” doorway. There’s a frog. Why is there a frog? Below is a close-up. I’ll give you 4 whole points if you can tell me why there’s a frog, and why it’s a slightly different colour than the rest of the stonework above the door.

Why is there a frog?
Why is there a frog?

The best thing in the U-Haul store

The best thing in the U-Haul store
The best thing in the U-Haul store

So after the mess-up with the U-Haul in Montréal, U-Haul generously sent me a gift certificate for the trouble they caused me, Pickles and my parents. I went on the U-Haul store on Sunday night to see just what exactly I can get there.

There were boxes and there was packing tape. There were packing chips and even special little envelopes, but I don’t think that anything could ever top the truck antlers.

Pickles is reluctant to let me get them, even though we have a gift certificate for it. “We’re trying to draw less attention to our car!”

I think they’re hilarious. My little sister says that we should buy them, give one of them to my older sister and my brother-in-law, and keep the other for ourselves. That way, we can affix the one to the front of the van, and rather than being a deer, we can be a unicorn. I would seriously be okay with that.