Monday, December 22, 2008


I had a nice day at the Gallery today: I chopped up a piece of old paper.  

Then I boiled the bits of old paper for about 4 hours, strained the paper out, and then boiled down the stuff until I had about 2 mL of concentrated paper extract collected in it.  Look at that boiling!  

I'm going to use it to tone something the appropriate color.  This still needs to loose about 8 mL of water, but you can see the color!

And Hye-Sung surprised me with little fruit tarts and gigantic candles!  We decided not to light them, as it would have been a little awkward if we'd set off an alarm or something.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shouldn't You Be Offering Me a Jelly Doughnut?

Today, I met a very rude Canadian.  I was shocked!

One of the unwritten but universally understood rules of walking in a city is that the slower people will be passed by the faster people.  Walking today, cutting through the big Rideau shopping center, like I've been doing since the manifestation began (still manifesting, FYI) I was behind a slow-moving woman, late fifty-ish, in a long puffy olive-drab coat and a green scarf.  I walked past her, thinking of what I wanted to accomplish during the day, 'maybe take that print out of the press, put together one of those daguerreotypes, we're going for Indian for lunch today...'

Woman: Excuse me.

Me: Yes?  (thinking that maybe I've dropped something... why else do strangers talk to you as you are walking past them?)

Woman: You just cut in front of me.  Do you think that is appropriate?  You stopped me right in my tracks.

Me: And you think that this is an appropriate comment to say to a complete stranger?

Apparently she did not pick up on how appalled I was by how utterly rude she was being.  Did she not know the rules of the urban jungle?

She keeps talking.  And the whole time this is happening we are still walking.  I, being the faster, have moved fairly far from her, but she's still talking, calling me rude!  The temper is starting to rise: I have the incredible urge to turn around and say, "Your mother taught you that this was polite?  Grow up.  Next time I pass you I won't just 'stop you in your tracks', I'll be sure to trip you.  And then kick you while you're down.  You don't even know what you're dealing with, bitch."

However, since I am being the change, I decided to go for the immature and "I'm ending this route".

Me: (rolling the eyes and saying in a clearly insincere tone of voice) I'm sooo sorry.

Then she thanked me.  She thanked me for an amazingly and utterly facetious apology!  I just kept walking.  I also didn't look at her when we stood at the same street corner a few seconds later waiting for the light to change. 

And the rest of the walk to the Gallery, once I regained control of my temper, all I could think was, "Crazy Canadian.  I thought these people were supposed to be nice?  Where's my jelly doughnut?"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Coming to a Toronto Near You! In February 2009!

Some time ago, Hye-Sung and I spent part of an afternoon with Supervisor John looking at and discussing a group of objects at the NGC solely to be examined before moving on to the next venue of the touring exhibition.  It was really fun.

The inside of a light box backed photograph transparency.  The excitement with this particular piece is that is uses LEDs instead of fluorescent tubes.  Fluorescent light does everything bad and nothing good for art, and the tube need to be taken out and shipped separately when ever traveling an artwork that uses them.  Pain in the butt.

Supervisor John.  He's doing condition reports on each object.  Considering that these photographs are all brand-new, he didn't see much damage.  On that double-layered cart is a big binder with the condition documentation on each object with a page for each venue and areas for specific people to sign off on things.  It's like the file a doctor will pull when you go for a check up.  Except for an artwork.  Clearly.

And no, those are not large chunks of petrified wood.  They are photographs adhered to large chunks of aluminum, the edges cut to mimic slabs of marble.  They are really heavy.  It's like three or four inch thick aluminum, and large portions are even hollowed out to make them lighter.

This work was recently purchased by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), an associate museum of the NGC.  Also photographs, not mirrors.  Often, for large works, installation pieces, and similar, the acquisitions committee will have the piece installed someplace, frequently in the regular galleries.  This was installed in a temporarily closed gallery (regular rotation).  It was really great.

Hye-Sung demonstrates the hanging mechanism.  Magnets!  By the same artist whose steel sheeting I helped yank of a photograph in October.  A more advanced permutation, however, as the metal is attached to the wall and the photograph backed with the same sort of flexible vinyl magnet used to make refrigerator magnets.

What may be in a 'temporarily closed for artwork rotation' gallery.  These crates are from the objects loaned to the NGC for the current, large and awesome exhibition on the sculpture of Bernini.

Hye-Sung is magnetic too.  It really sucks when your skeleton has adamantium plating.  She really has a tricky time of it whenever Magneto drops by for consultations.

Hiding from my responsibilities.  Like figuring out how I'll get health insurance post-22 December.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flashback: Dinos and Poutine

So the other day Hye-Sung and I finally got around to exchanging a bunch of photos we had of each other.  These are some gems from the day we were first introduced to poutine.

It's like you're sitting across from me, in a shiny shiny diner, marveling at your own massive plate of artery-clogging heartattack.

We agree that the poutine is both terrifying and hypnotizing, but nether of us have started eating any of it yet.  Eek!

Anthropological field work: documenting the foodstuffs of the local people.

And the second half of the dino-diptych: the other panel is Hye-Sung kissing the triceratops on the horn.  Like a paleopostmodern altarpiece.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Which Hye-Sung Chases a Table

A little medley of our recent activities at the Gallery:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Manifestation! Workers of the World: Manifest!

The bus drivers of the Ottawa City Transportation conglomerate, or as they like to call themselves OCTranspo, have been having a manifestation since Wednesday.

Hye-Sung told me that it was a planned manifestation - she saw it on the news.  What she really meant was that the bus drivers were going on strike.  Manifestation is one of the French terms for going on strike.

The bus drivers have been manifesting since Wednesday.  The day the entire city was blanketed in snow.  Traffic is awful: snow piles are everywhere: loads of people just bite the bullet and walk to work.  Half the staff at the museum has either come in late or left early in a futile attempt to avoid the madness on the roads.  Supervisor John gave Hye-Sung and I a serious little talk about making sure that we were very careful walking to and from the museum, which was really nice of him.

The definition of the English manifestation (courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary, which my computer miraculously contains and updates as needed) is as follows: an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, esp. theory or an abstract idea.

I believe the abstract idea that OCTranspo is manifesting is that they feel it is okay for people like me to slog forty minutes through twelve inches of squeeky snow in freezing temperatures to and from work.

Why are they striking any way?  What benefits can they gain?  I mean, really.  This is Canada, which is fairly socialist in several aspects.  Not really face-punching material, but definitely a trial and/or tribulation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow, Many Centimeters of Snow

It has been snowing for nearly 24 hours now, non-stop.  And it's supposed to keep falling until tomorrow.  The entire Ottawa River is covered in snow, as yesterday it had a sheet of ice across the surface.  This is this morning's view from the lab.  No - the wind isn't blowing existing snow around.  That's new snow falling.

Our lovely skylights!  Not so skylight-like anymore, but if you look closely, a good lesson on how glaciers can form.  Taken this morning around 9:30.

After lunch time Hye-Sung and I decided to track the snow build-up progress.  Hye-Sung checked with her larger ruler, and we were up to 20 centimeters before that chunk of snow fell off the sill.

After work, clinging to the giant spider.  And just so you know, my legs aren't really that stubby, I'm just standing in like twelve inches of snow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lost Dog

This caught my eye one day, leaving the museum for brief lunchtime hunting and gathering.

My first thought was, "Oh, I've seen that dog.  Wait...  No, that dog only has two heads, not three, so I haven't seen it."  

Sitting on the radiator to keep warm: the windows are double panes of glass so it's not too cold.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Toujours Frais: Timmy Ho-Hos

Yesterday Hye-Sung and I went to Kingston to visit the Art Conservation Program at Queen's University.  (Fun fact: Anne of Green Gables attended Queen's).  After our visit, on the way back to Ottawa, we stopped at a Canadian landmark.

Tim Hortons!

Ainsley (conservator at NGC) once referred to Tim Horton's as 'Timmy Ho-Hos," which is just fantastic.  The real Tim Horton was apparently a really good hockey player who opened a side business selling doughnuts and coffee.  And the Canadians really love their doughnuts, so Tim Horton's business quickly became a chain and took over the entire nation.

Hye-Sung and I were standing in line along with a bunch of flannel-shirt and work-boot wearing Canadians.  Out-loud I said, "I hope they have doughnut holes."

The Canadian in front of me turned around and said, "Timbits."

I said, "Excuse me?"

"You mean Timbits."

So, at Tim Horton's, doughnut holes are called Timbits.  Just so you know.  And you can purchase them in units of ten: observe below.  I keep screwing the name up, calling them TimmyBites

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Press Awesome

I stumbled upon a conservation supplier selling massive and expensive cast iron Victorian copy/book presses.  Who wouldn't want such an attractive and useful addition to their studio?  Provided that the table can handle the weight.

The text at the bottom reads, "This lovely selection of antique copy presses have been recently imported from England by Talas.  Commonly used in bookbinding studios for pressing books, these presses make an attractive and useful addition to any studio.  They also make great gifts!"

"These presses are heavy, please inquire for shipping rates."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pennsylvania Poutine

Yesterday after work I stopped at a little shop in the Market and picked up some 'Fresh Cheese Curds,' then I called Mum to ask her to pick up some french fries for tomorrow (Wednesday) and said that I had gotten a packet of dehydrated instant-poutine sauce at the grocery over the weekend.  

Pennsylvania Poutine!  Joey liked it, but The Timmy seemed to like it even more!

Thanksgiving Snow

Sunday night into Monday it snowed, and continued snowing all day Monday.

Looking up the incline of the museum grounds.  (They set up a new temporary Plexiglas wall where there had not been one before, to help prevent the killer wind gusts that sweep between the gallery proper and the curatorial wing.)

Somewhere in southern Ontario, on my drive back to Pennsylvania today.

Another shot of the snowy, but still lethal, spider.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rahm Emanuel: Let's See Another Pirouette Please!

Our soon to be Obama Administration Chief of Staff.  And former ballet dancer.

I don't think this is a real photo, but he really was a ballet dancer.  Apparently he got a scholarship for dancing...  Any way, a spokesperson for the American Ballet Theater commented that, "We're very proud to know Mr. Emanuel was a dancer... in a small way, he's put ballet on the world stage."

Mikhail Barishnikov.  Just because.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Today I stayed late at the museum to attend a lecture about the bizarro photographic processes invented by Hippolyte Bayard circa 1838-1840.  The lecture was really enjoyable and I'm glad I stayed, but it was pretty late by the time I got home.  I was too tired to cook anything (so no Polaroids).

So my day began and ended the same way: cream cheese on a cinnamon raisin bagel.  Just like the Lion King and the Circle of Life, but with Breakfast Foods.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sweet New Layout!

I decided that everything looked too brown, so I changed it.

The above photograph is one I took of my palette during a project I was working on a few weeks ago.  Conservation in action!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why the Silence?

You may be asking yourselves, "Why no sharing?  Is nothing going on up there in Canada?  Has Canadian winter set in and become so cold that the electrons have slowed down so much that the Awesome Mac Laptop can't get any juice?"  No - I've just been busy at the museum and catching up via the interwebs with the Daily Show/Colbert Report.  I'm completely up to date now, so life can move along. 

I also cooked polenta: it was instant polenta and I only had to stir for two minutes so don't be too impressed.  I took this Polaroid of it, and while it looks pretty awful, it was actually awesome.  Almost as awesome as the Italian grocery a few blocks from the NGC.

Why did I take a Polaroid of it?

That's weird.

Not really.

I had an Idea that seemed like a a cross between an art project, a journal, and a recipe book.  It starts with the basic principle of always having the Polaroid One600 Instant Camera around (as opposed to the Polaroid Peel-Apart Camera).  Life being what it is, every now and then I cook something awesome.  The Idea involves snapping a Polaroid of whatever was awesome, noting the recipe down into a blank book, and then attaching the Polaroid of the item below/next to the text.  An important part of this project is to take a non-repulsive Polaroid of whatever I cooked, a goal that can be achieved more easily when being able to properly focus the camera.  Here's to wishing that the Polaroid One600 had a manual focus: a Polaroid SX70 it is not.

I've also been knitting.  Usually sitting on my bed listening to Canadian Public Radio with a hot water bottle sitting on the tops of my feet.  I really need to work on my circulation - another thing to add to the 'Stop Whining and Be The Change' list.  (Perhaps all Americans should have a 'Stop Whining and Be The Change' list.  I think it's a grand idea.)

Anyway, I made this awesome hat in preparation for the no-doubt terrible and soon-to-arrive Canadian winter.

I also made a sort-of-mod green dress.  Which can also be worn over pants, which is what I did on Friday.  This picture doesn't really do it justice, but I like it, and since I am the ruler of this little prose universe, it gets to stay.  It's polyester, which doesn't breath, a factor that I considered would be advantageous for me and my poor circulation in cold Canada.

I got this pattern a while ago because I liked the sleeve options.  The pattern I used most was the blah-yellow colored top left drawing.  Good sleeves, but I though the darts sucked, so I totally changed it, making the front out of two pieces, putting little darts in and totally nixing the darts (which sucked, trust me).  And making a sash like in the bottom right drawing.

You can see the bodice-alteration a little better here, and the little darts.  And the sash and the awesome sleeves.  The sleeves are even better in real life.  I'm still debating as to whether I should keep the hem where it is or make it a little longer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Problem with Teleportation

Flatmate Steve has introduced me to my New Favorite Show (TM) [TV], since TV no longer has shows about archaeology and/or medical oddities.  So I guess, really, this is my only favorite TV show, since I can't stay up late enough to watch the Daily Show/Colbert Report because of this eye twitch thing.

(My eye has been twitching sporadically throughout the day, every day, since I moved to Canada.  It may be a lack of sleep, or stress, or maybe Canada is just trying to make me go crazy.  But either way, I'm trying to sleep more so that it will stop.)

Anyway, the New Favorite Show (TM) is the Big Bang Theory - where geeky scientists are the main characters.  Sounds like the family.  

Welcome, Gravity-Aware Metric-English-Converting Astronaut Twins!  

Friday, November 7, 2008

Absolutely Infuriating

An old high school classmate posted a note of Facebook, calling for unity after the results of Tuesday's election.  Commentary was friendly and quite decidedly pro-McCain and Palin.  I decided to add a comment, more centrist and apolitical, topical in that it would be about unity.  Unity and the fact that I think we, as a nation, should back whoever is elected, because that is what we do, as Americans, and that Obama's call for change can be embraced by everyone, no matter the politics.  I vetted it by M.D. before posting, and he felt that it was peaceful and appropriate and hopeful.

Any way, this comment was taken completely the opposite of what I intended.  And the childish and obnoxious responses it generated have reminded me why there are only a few people from high school I wish to be in contact with.  Ever.

And I am correspondingly furious.  But, like all things, it will pass.  I am being the change.

The comment in question:
I concur with D-(other high school classmate).  McCain's speech was gracefully done and exactly what his supporters needed to hear.  

What I cannot condone are the people who refuse to support Obama - such as those who chose to interrupt McCain's speech - very discourteously too.  It is childish behavior to sulk and whine and make disparaging comments because one does not always get what one wants.  Though disappointed, a Real American will support the person elected, because that is what we do and the power of our democracy.

What makes Obama great is his ability to galvanize people.  Just think how many people have been moved to action during this election, Democratic or Republican!  just think of the great things we can accomplish if we approach our problems with passion and dedication!  

Be the change you wish to see in this world.
We, and I mean all of us Americans, can. 

I guess Gandhi and his non-violent ways just can't get any respect.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day Light Savings Time

Fourtuitously for me, Day Light Savings Time coincided nicely with Saturday's trip to Montreal (the second trip to Montreal - it is so close, and so Francophone).  A long day of museum-going and wandering through the downtown area was nicely off-set by that extra hour of 'fall-back'.  An hour that I definitely threw to the wind Tuesday night watching the election.

The downside of Day Light Savings Time is that by the time I leave the Gallery, the sun has already set.  And it's only November.  

Look how long those shadows are!  And this photo was taken at noon, outside in the park across from the Gallery!


Hye-Sung attempts to invite one of the large and fluffy back squirrels to have lunch with us.  She even offered it a bit of her sandwich.  The squirrel did not join us.  Typical.

This is Parliament.  For real.  Glaring setting sun!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama is Elected, and I Tell the Tuna Eater How It Is

As we all know by now, the next president will be Mr. Barack Obama

Be the change you wish to see in the world!

I was doing the usual election thing, you know.  For me this involves:
1). drinking lots of tea
2). giving states the thumbs-up or -down, as though I am a Roman Emperor
3). watching Jon Stewart and his cohorts

For about an hour the tea pot and I were alone in the living room, flipping between networks to examine the differently colored states on the various maps.  The tv was silent: I put it on mute because I just couldn't handle the newscasters voices anymore.  I was giving the thumbs-up and thumbs-down like it was my job, doing mathematics in my head like the rockstar I am.  The other residents of the house were occasionally dropping by to marvel at democracy in action.  

Somebody attempted to take the tv remote from me.  
My reply: "No.  Not today."

After it was announced that McCain conceded the election and he came out to speak to the assembled crowd, the Tuna Eater started.  (The Tuna Eater watches anything.  He'd watch static if it were showing.)  

First of all, we had to define the word concede for him.  

Then, as he did every time anything remotely red-state-ish was going on, started blabbering about stupid rednecks.  Every other day/time this happened, I would leave and make a cup of tea to forestall any face-punching.  This time though, I just couldn't deal with it.  And yes, I actually did use the word dis - it's in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Me: Tuna Eater.  Stop.

Tuna Eater: Why?  They're just stupid rednecks who...

Me: Stop.

Tuna Eater: (starts mumbling something else about rednecks, as though I'm unfamiliar with the stereotypes)

Me: Stop talking.  You are dissing my home part of the country, some of my friends and family.

Tuna Eater: (keeps trying to talk about stupid American rednecks, guns and Bibles and whatever, not realizing exactly what he's dealing with)

Me:  You have no idea what you are talking about.  I can dis as much as I want because I'm American.  You are not American, therefore you cannot dis.  You do and I will take you outside and punch you in the face.  Right now.  I am not even joking.  So stop talking.

Tuna Eater's mouth opens and closes, no sound emerging, he is clearly stunned.

Through his nictating membrane of monosyllabic stupidity, he could see the lazer-bright truth of a possibly imminent face-punching and was silent.  At that moment I was completely a Western Pennsylvania American.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election 2008: Stop British Imperialism!

Everyone one over the age of 18 pumped up and ready to vote tomorrow?  An over-achiever in all aspects of my world, I already voted.  It was very exciting: I had to drop my ballot request off at the US Embassy (no party invites from the Ambassador, sadly) and I dropped off my completed ballot at the Embassy too.  

If you have voting paperwork, the Embassy will mail it to where it needs to go and you don't need to buy a stamp!  Woo-hoo!  That saved me 1.28 Canadian dollars!  Yes!  That's like three zucchini (from the farmers at the outdoor Byward Market).

As you may or may not know, the US isn't the only country with a big 2008 election.  Canada also had a major election a couple weeks ago.  The prime minister was up for re-election, as were many parliamentary seats.  The prime minister can be elected as many times as he can get himself (or herself) elected.  I believe Mackenzie King was the longest 'reigning' prime minister - Wikipedia just confirmed this as true - 21 years, abet nonconsecutive years.  The Canucks tell me that the prime minister calls when the elections will occur, usually every three to five years.  Elections can apparently also be forced upon the Canadians - I'm not exactly sure how, but it's something like if they can't get a balanced budget, they're forced to have an election.

Look at one of our snazzy graphics.  Canada didn't have anything like this.  They just stick red maple leaves on everything.  American companies use their American logo with a little red maple leaf someplace to make it 'Canadian,' like that's fooling anyone.

So, using the same logic, the stars in this logo could be made into maple leaves, thusly transforming this American election graphic into a Canadian election graphic.

Canada is not a two-party country.  It seems that there are a billion political parties.  This makes debates very exciting and much more crazy.  Especially since they have separate English and French debates.  

I've collected the graphics for the larger parties (the ones that registered in my American brain).

My favorite Canadian party is Bloc Quebecois.  Their Ultimate Goal is Quebec's complete independence from Canada, and all of their actions relate back to this one Ultimate Goal.

When I was in Montreal on Saturday, I saw some guy in the street handing out pamphlets, a big poster behind him saying, "Stop British Imperialism!"  

Anyway, as the only American in the International House of Pancakes in which I live, I get to hear lots of interesting observation about the American election.  Nobody understands why Americans get so interested in a candidate's personal life and background... they didn't understand why it is so important to us to know that Sarah Palin played basketball in high school.  They ask me, and my response is, "This is really important!  I MUST WATCH!"

The Hungarians always have some fantastic remarks: their childhood stories always something like, "When I was little, in Communist Hungary, there was one movie theater, and it was full of rats, so you had to hold your feet up the whole time you watched the movie.  And then when part of the ceiling fell down, they closed the theater, so then I did not watch a movie in the cinema for 12 years, until the Communists were no longer in power."  (This is a true Childhood Story from one of them.  Despite how fanciful it is, I did not make it up).

Canada is more excited about our election than they were about their own.  Obama and McCain are all over the news - print and electronic.  A US presidential debate was televised the same time as a Canadian prime minister debate: all the Canadians watched the US debate.  I am constantly getting lectures about who I should vote for and getting quizzed about who I think will win.

As for the Canadian election, not much has changed.  Stephen Harper is still the Prime Minister, the conservatives still hold the most seats/offices.  One of my Canadian housemates put it this way, "We just spent 5 hundred billion dollars to have an election and nothing has changed."